Out-of-Class Materials

General Recommendations:

(based on instructional design recommendations put together by UW faculty members and staff)

1. Be clear about the instructional purpose for each assignment, and how the materials relate to one another.

2. Out-of-class resources need to be assigned with the goal that a majority of students can accomplish the tasks in a timely fashion.

3. If multiple equivalent resources are presented, it should be clearly stated to students that they can choose one or the other.

4. The recommendation is that for every hour students spend in class, their time to complete out-of-class learning materials should not exceed 1.5 hours (total 5-6 hours per day).

5. When a combination of learning resources is being used, we encourage faculty to limit the learning resources per session to no more than two resources.

6. It’s important to estimate the amount of time students will need to spend on each assignment. Sharing those estimates with students can show them that you’re considering their time, and allow them the opportunity for feedback on the accuracy of the time allotted.

Best Practices for Increasing Reading Compliance in Undergraduate Medical Education from Academic Medicine.

Recommendations for specific types of Resources:

1. PowerPoint:

Keep Powerpoints simple and non-dense. They are often best used for summary information, recapping key concepts/themes described and discussed elsewhere.

2. Book or Syllabus Reading Assignment:

The recommendation is 10 or fewer pages of textbook reading per class hour as a general rule of thumb. If students are reading scientific text, it is expected they will read approximately 100 words per minute. The average textbook will have between 500 and 1000 words per page. All required text reading should be associated with learning objectives that accompany the reading assignment. If parts of the assigned reading are not related to learning objectives, the faculty should inform the students that those sections are not required and are not tied to learning objectives.

3. Research Articles Reading Assignment:

Typically the amount of time necessary to read and comprehend the contents of a research article exceeds the time necessary for textbook reading. Having students read research articles can be a valuable way to stimulate an active learning session in class. Generally one research article per day is appropriately challenging yet still allows students to understand all parts of the article in preparation for class discussion. Faculty who provide a learning objective to guide the research reading assignment may find that students will be less likely to get stuck on the unimportant parts.

4. Videos:

Alloting 1.5 to 2 times the length of the video (depending on overall length and density of information) allows students time to review sections of the video, take notes, and pause as needed. Students often prefer a copy of the drawing or slide deck that a video is based on for note-taking purposes. Segment long videos into multiple pieces of media or index them using Mediasite. This allows students to more easily find specific portions for review or clarity on a muddy point. Each video should be clearly directed at one or more learning objectives.



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Brock S, Joglekar Y. Empowering PowerPoint: Slides and Teaching Effectiveness.

Interdisciplinary Journal of Information, Knowledge and Management. 2011;vol 6 .

Prince M. Does Active Learning Work? A Review of the Research. J. Engr. Education 2004; 93(3), 223-231.

Hardena R. Death by PowerPoint: The need for a “Fidget” Index. Medical Teacher, 2008; 30(9-10), 833-835. (PubMed citation)