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Two Pills Tips: Motivate Students to Come to Class Prepared!

February 23, 2019

Check out our crossover podcast episode with Queer Meducation! Queer Meducation is a platform to educate medical professionals and the public on LGTBQI and nonbinary healthcare.  On our episode, KB and I discuss HIV meds then and now! Thanks to the host KB for such a fun episode! 



How do I motivate students to come to class prepared?? 




Dirksen, J. (2012). Design for how people learn. Berkeley, CA: New Riders. 





Up to 70% of learners do not come to class prepared 


-Often begin semester prepared due to concerns of being called on or out of respect for instructor, but often gradually drops off throughout the course 

-Influencing human behavior, which is complex and challenging 

-Many factors we cannot control, so let’s focus on those that we can 

-Have to overcome habits that have “worked” for them in the past 



No prep assigned?  


-Instructor reviewed in class 

-Instructor did not plan class activities that depended on them being prepared 



Reasons that they do not come prepared: 


-Didn’t have time or had other priorities 

-Didn’t find the readings of interest 

-See a weak connection between doing course readings and doing well in the class 


-No justification given for why they should read, or the reading selections chosen 

-Believe important course content will be covered in class anyway 

-Do not see connection between readings and class material 

-Found the readings too hard 


What’s in it for them? 


-Using stats, a story/case study/testimonial or learning outcomes that they care about, present the learning experience as something they will want to do instead of something you want them to do 

-Enlighten them about why they may care and why they should buy in 

-Make it compatible with their values & current needs 


-If during a busy exam week, probably won’t happen 

- Invite testimonials from other students/peers about how coming prepared improved their learning, performance in class, learning beyond the course or development of needed skills. 


Make it doable 


I do not assign full chapters in Dipiro or other textbooks.  The students will not read it.  Make your readings applicable and doable. 

-Make your readings relevant-sections of a guideline or a resource that they are also able to use on rotations 


-I have assigned guidelines such as IDSA and then I take a few minutes in class  to show students how to find that guideline in the future (since it will likely change within just a few years) 


-Choose your objectives wisely 


-Preparation should be about recognition, practice, or content exposure 


-Know what you want your students to get out of each reading that you assign 


-Not typically aiming for higher levels of Blooms since students are learning independently 


Provide immediate consequence if do/do not prepare 


Preparing for some delayed consequence, such as a midterm exam, is not sufficient for most students. That's why it is also difficult to not text while driving, stop smoking, maintain weight loss or save for retirement – the positive 

consequences are too delayed!  




“Just in Time Teaching”: short online quiz before class, a small group activity when they arrive in which they must be prepared to share the load with their peers, an in-class problem/scenario that depends on class prep to solve 


-Use specific prompts such as RDQ (Resonate, Disagree, Question) or RSQC2 (Recall, Summarize, Question, Connect and Comment) or a 3-2-1 assignment (list 3 important aspects from the reading, 2 areas where they had confusion, and 1 question they would like to pose to the author) 


-Muddiest point/minute paper 




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