The Novice to Expert Shift
“Having students pause to think about the context of the problem — what they already know about it, what questions they have, and with humility, to consider what they don’t know — helps them to be open to other patterns and possibilities."
How to Guide Students from Novice to Expert
Prompt students to include context: Ask questions that prompt students to include what they know already and emphasize the need to seek out further information or clarification. Get them to take a step back from the problem at hand and make connections. “Having students pause to think about the context of the problem — what they already know about it, what questions they have, and with humility, to consider what they don’t know — helps them to be open to other patterns and possibilities,” Grotzer says.Try: What information led you to that conclusion? Is there anything that you don’t know yet or that you can wonder about?
Ask open-ended questions: Guide students to reconsider an idea without explicitly correcting them. Generic probes work well but more targeted questions also work. “Students are solving [open-ended] problems the moment they come in [to the MedScience simulation space], and I will say that can be a little uncomfortable at first. It’s stressful being in this situation. But there’s research that [essentially] says if you keep kids on their toes, the information becomes sticky and much more retainable,” Joyal says.Try: What do you mean? Can you say more about that?
Help students transfer knowledge and experience: Have students think back to past experiences and information sources like classroom learning. Also encourage them to consider what is happening in the present moment. “[This is a] pedagogical move that says all of the information and experience you have is useful and you can bring it bear,” Grotzer says.Try: Is there anything that you already understand that might help you here?
Leave room for student ownership: Signal that the choices students make are up to them — the role of the teacher is not to make decisions about what to do next or execute. “Instructors model for students what an expert does but not in a way that takes over,” Grotzer says.Try: That’s up to you. I don’t know the patient. How are you going to handle that?
Invite and manage risk: Allow students to take risks by not immediately dismissing “wrong” answers. This fosters a strong classroom culture where students are willing to try new methods. “When the kids walk in, we tell them ‘This is Harvard Medical School and we have rules. The rules are there are no wrong answers, there’s no raising your hand, and if you have a thought, you’re going to say it out loud,’” Joyal says, noting that these rules set the tone for the learning environment.Try: That’s a good idea worthy of further discussion.
Encourage reflection: Students need to be reminded that they are not just participants but also learners in this process. “Leaving time for a debrief at the end of each class allows the group to circle back to questions from the class introduction and go deeper,” Says Moore Reilly. Instructors can ask students about their performance, thought process, the outcomes, and their feelings.