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Orgin of REFOCUS

Dr Meers,

As you indicated, in one of the other discussion threads, that "The key to good instruction is creativity. I find that many new instructors coming from business/industry have a hard time with this".As an instructor who came from the above source and a student of educational techniques, I was impressed with the REFOCUS strategy. Would you explain your research and how you arrived with this useful concept?

Mike Aday

Hi Mike,
Thank you for the question about REFOCUS. The concepts came about from experience. I do a lot of professional development with educators on all levels, both secondary and post secondary. As I worked with instructors I started to see a pattern of need in terms of needing to keeping up their enthusiasm, staying focused on the students and the course content at various points within the training phase. Out of these observations I started developing interventions that would help “REFOCUS” these instructors back to quality teaching. I based the components of refocus on my psychological work. The basis of which is the question “What to people need to succeed?”
The components of the model come from common sense and experimentation. I field tested the model with a large number of instructors, revised it, and then put it together as you see it today. I try in all of my research to develop models that will be reflective of the best practices that can be applied in any setting.
In my in-service training as well as the online courses you will see that I strive from immediate use of newly acquired knowledge, relevant content, and application of understanding. Nothing fancy just understandable concepts for improved instruction.
I trust this answers your question. If you have any further questions please let me know.

Hello Dr. Meers,
Two points that resonated with me as related to REFOCUS, first, the inability of some instructors to give credit to themselves for what they have achieved during a given module/semester. Sometimes we are so absorbed with the need to get all the material "dished out" to the student that we do not take a step back and appreciate how far we have come with a group of students from the first day of class.
The other point was "triage" thinking. Due to the fact that we are misguided by our obsession to get every objective covered in a syllabus, we gloss over important concepts. For example, in the medical profession, the metric system is the cornerstone of calculations, yet sometimes we move on to other obscure formulas that may not be used because of our fear of not "getting everything in". Triage thinking allows an instructor to focus on that which is most valuable to the student.

Hi Louis,
You make two excellent points. We need as professional educators to sometimes step back from the forest so we can see the trees that we are looking at. Yes, the content is important, but unless some application is there the level of learning loss will be extremely high. Then we have “triage” taking place with students and how many "hopeless" cases are we willing to accept before the body count is too high. This is where the creative dedicated instructors start to show their excellence. They know how to reach their students, while delivering content that is essential.
Thanks for your input.

I think the point about being determined to cover every point on the syllabus is so true. My school is on five-week terms; talk about being rushed! As far as the math, what purpose does it serve to cover the syllabus if the Med. Asst. student can't calculate dosages?

I have found that students sometimes become concerned when you don't cover everything on the syllabus. When I taught medical insurance, I used to tell my students that if they didn't understand the concept of ICD and CPT codes, what difference did it make if we didn't cover the rest of the material on the syllabus.

Hi LaVerne,
Good coments. The key is to have a clear picture of what the essential knowledge sets and skills are for your area. That is where you have to focus your efforts. Yes, you can cover every point but you may spend 30 seconds doing it and the students haven't learned a thing.
I strive for core knowledge and skills that will help my students to progress in their training and move toward their career goals.

I agree that creativity has to be a concern for all instructors... If one lectures with a monotone voice and presents only "dry" information they will quickly lose the student. I like to mix things up a bit and an occasional laugh is totally appropriate in the classroom.

Ideally, each instructor would have the ability to keep the students focused and interested in the subject matter. If the instructor doesn't enjoy the subjects they teach, how can it not become 'dry' and boring for the students? I am a firm believer that no matter what you do, make it the most interesting thing in the world. I love medical terminology and medical coding, so hopefully, I convey that to my students.

Hi Teresa,
Thanks for your comments. I am sure that your students enjoy your courses since you love your field and is shows in the classroom.

I agree with your points. It is important for each of us as instructors to step back and understand the vastness of what we are teaching, to assess the students progress, as well as, our delivery.

Otherwise, we can get caught up in getting everything delivered to the students. Instead of focusing on if and how the students are learning the material.

I don’t have a lot to say except I have been using the refocus technique for years with out knowing I was doing it. I have tried hard to keep my class exciting and know when I get tired of teaching the course it is due to a lack of focus on my part. I see this as an indicator I have lot my enthusiasm for the class and need to re-channel the energy back into the class presentation.

Hi Oliver,
Glad to hear that you have been working to keep your skills up and focused on your students. This is what good teaching is all about.

Hi Mike,
I Teach at an automotive technical school. I find that geting the students back into discussions over automobiles and what we have learned so far, improves their excitement,and gets them back on track.
Fred Gulliksen

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