One of my most memorable experiences with congruence in education took place during my undergraduate studies. As a requirement for graduation from the Physical and Health Education program, all students needed to take two anatomy courses. On the surface, this seemed completely reasonable, however, although the university offered several anatomy course options, the two required courses were the same two courses that every medical student also had to take. In other words, they were super intense and comprehensive! There were three hours a week of lectures along with a minimum of two hours a week in the lab, where we studied cadavers and an endless number of jars filled with literally every part of the human body.
All of this was completely understood and accepted; however, the problem lay in the assessments, or lack thereof. Your entire grade for the course was based on one massive bell ringer exam at the end of term. Upon reflection, I did understand what the learning outcomes were for the course and what the evaluation would consist of, nevertheless, I do not feel there were ample opportunities that allowed students to demonstrate their knowledge. I think to my own classroom where I give students a wide variety of options to show their learning. This might be an oral presentation, a debate, a classroom discussion, a written report, a poster, or a diorama, for instance. I certainly would never have the weight of an entire course resting on one test (especially one that elicits such anxiety!) Additionally, the course was not meant to simply be an exercise in memorizing body parts. There was also a ton of information that we learned about how all the body systems work together and the functions of each component. I believe the course should have included several smaller tests (at the end of a particular body system unit perhaps), along with some sort of a presentation where our understanding of how the biological processes function.
Being able to study in a lab with cadavers was an amazing experience, however, for the times a student was not able to attend a lab section, there should have been an online tech tool we could access from home. Bates (2015) would argue that my professor failed to consider the characteristics and needs of his students and the resources that were available to him (Bates, 2015, p. 334). Furthermore, being in a massive auditorium with hundreds of other students is not an ideal learning environment for many people. It would have been beneficial to many if he had incorporated some sort of a flipped classroom model for his lectures. Out of curiosity, I looked up the existing assessment used for this course today and it indeed has changed. Replacing the 100% bell ringer exam are three smaller tests, a final exam, and a final lab exam.
At the time, it was the undergraduate course with the highest failure rate. It appears that the professor may have learned something over the past 20 years (and yes, it is actually still the same prof!) I am happy to think that with less importance being placed on one final exam, students are less likely to be trembling when they see a pin inserted in a nerve and they are racking their brain trying to remember whether the least splanchnic nerve innervates the superior mesenteric ganglion or the adrenal medulla!
Bates, T. (2015). Teaching in a digital age. SFU Document Solutions, Simon Fraser University.