A bit about me...

I am a Professor of Professional Studies at the University of South Alabama in Mobile, Alabama. I am responsible for the design and development of the technology instruction taken by juniors and seniors in the College of Education. I have been teaching for over 40 years. In 1972 I became Dean of the College of Professional and Community Service at the University of Massachusetts/Boston and served in that capacity until 1979 when I was named Vice President of the Council for the Advancement of Experiential Learning. I came to "South" in 1988 to develop a program in multimedia.
Last Edited on April 22, 2009

No "Burp Back" Education!

I am a vigorous opponent of "burp back" education. Yet it is endemic in our school systems, including our universities. Find some information that you think students should "know"; force it down them through lectures, readings, or even videos; give them a true/false or multiple choice quiz covering the facts you have determined that they "should" know; and ignore the fact that we have excellent evidence that people forget information (and skills) they do not use in just about the same amount of time that it takes them to learn those facts or skills!
Today we have almost reached the place where we have "all information in all places at all times." (Gutenberg II, 1978).
Our task as teachers, it seems to me , is not to teach and test for information but rather to teach students how to ask questions, describe things or events, compare and contrast what they describe, and make arguments for and against a variety of propositions. We need to demonstrate that what is not important is the "facts"you have in your head but rather the ability one has for asking questions and the eagerness with which one seeks to find the "answers" to questions. In learning these intellectual skills students will, of course, have to use facts (which are now easily accessible from a multitude of sources). In my teaching I have thrown out the easily graded tests and quizzes, the regurgitation of facts. Instead, I concentrate on projects and activities that teach students to THINK!