Adjusting the Prescription | The University of Virginia Magazine

One of the great things about our job is that we are often consulted about new and interesting ideas from The Great Beyond. This week the three of us were sent a link to an article in the online University of Virginia Magazine and asked to share our responses.

While it would be tempting at first blush to read this article as an endorsement of the “shiny, new things” approach to innovation, it actually presents a fascinating look at curricular re-imagining for this university medical school program. The photos seem to showcase the technology/tools (large screens, round tables, student laptops, high-tech mannequins) but the real star of the show is the dramatic changes in teaching and learning styles (professors as guides and co-learners, students as researchers and constructors of knowledge).

Adjusting the Prescription | The University of Virginia Magazine


  1. As I read the article I thought about whose patient I would rather be: the patient of the doctor who was trained under this new structure of learning or the patient of the doctor who had spent several years of medical school listening to lectures and taking notes. I'll take the doctor who is getting simulated clinical experience from the first year of medical school. Think of how much more prepared that doctor is intellectually and emotionally.

    As you say, Aaron, what's exciting here is not the technology but the complete rethinking of what students need to learn and how they learn best.

    I noticed that the first comment below the article was written by a man named Dee Fink, a higher education instructional design consultant. He mentions his taxonomy of significant learning. Chapter 2 of his book explains the new taxonomy:

    Let's talk more about creating significant learning experiences.


  2. The other thing that struck me about this article was the extensive, intentional, “big picture” planning that went into this project. For example:

    • “it [is] apparent that the rules [are] changing”
    • “a huge culture change within the [school]”
    • “new curriculum […] a learning experience unlike that of previous generations”
    • “habits of mind—curiosity, skepticism, compassion, wonder”
    • “integration of formal knowledge and […] experience”
    • “a learning process that is individualized, not one-size-fits-all”
    • new pedagogy”

    It is exciting to read about a school that created a brand new vision for its entire program, redesigned its curriculum, changed its pedagogical approach to teaching and learning, and then selected the best tools for the job ahead. After all, a purpose-built facility is only possible if you have a well-defined purpose.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for taking this so seriously. I guess, as a follow up to our last meeting “Stop Talking Tools” I need more direction and guidance from you guys.I feel slightly overwhelmed by the plethora of viewpoints and possibilities out there and need some incremental steps on how to move the faculty forward.

    Liked by 1 person

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