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Objective comes first
Through the Learning and Design program, I learned the importance of scaffolding, asking targeted questions and designing activities to truly understand where learners are coming from and building on that knowledge.
William Sullivan
Learning and Design
M.Ed. '13
Instructor in Internal Medicine & Pediatrics
Vanderbilt University Medical Center

I’m involved daily with the education of patients, medical students and fellow residents while also building my knowledge and skills as a physician. Through the Learning and Design program, I learned the importance of scaffolding, asking targeted questions and designing activities to truly understand where learners are coming from and building on that knowledge. By focusing on drawing out what learners do understand during a given encounter, I can build on that rather than just teaching whatever comes to mind.

The second idea that I think about regularly is a much bigger-picture idea: teachers always have to have the end goal or objective in mind before anything is designed. “Backwards design” has allowed me to improve so much of my teaching from case-based patient encounters to lectures and even curriculum and course design.