This was the first lecture at the 2018 Community Health Workers Conference for the NE TX CHW Coalition, July 13, 2018.
The NE TX CHW Coalition Conference featured two main lectures and three breakout sessions. The first main lecture was by Dr. Shannon Cox-Kelley –Dean of Health Science–who teaches in the Community & Public Health degree program at NE TX Community College. She received all of her degrees at Texas A&M at Commerce and is a noted online distance educator.
Dr. Cox-Kelly cited four occasions to use discussion: (1) Evaluate evidence. (2) Formulate application of principles. (3) Foster motivation for further learning. (4) Articulate what has been already learned—theory behind the discussion.
Memory is linked to how deeply we think about something. A research interest cited in Dr. Cox-Kelley’s biography really clicked with me: “the impact of educational attainment on health outcomes in diverse communities.” My disabling condition is COPD, but as a Master’s degree holder and former all-level teacher (mainly Developmental English/Writing: the Pre-College Composition course), I’ve learned to study my conditions. (Yes, I have other health issues). I write Word Press articles on health and make binders full of info on medicine, ER reports, and journal articles.
Returning to Dr. Cox-Kelley, she notes that relationships are key, and we have a need to know why and how information is needed. The CHW Instructor could start with controversy like a “devil’s advocate,” but one should announce it in advance to maintain trust. Uncertainty arouses curiosity; switch sides. Focus on solving problems rather than the solution.
Many students are passive and quiet since we’re taught to memorize in secondary education. An increasingly popular practice is to flip the class and have the lecture at night on You Tube or something like it. Then the classroom becomes a place for total discussion. This flip improved passing rates at Dr. Cox-Kelley’s junior college. Think, don’t memorize.
How to start with questions means to start with desired outcomes. Factual questions increase problem-solving. Application and interpretation questions find connections. Problem questions can induce critical thinking. Comparison questions can evaluate readings.
Dr. Cox-Kelley cites principles behind case studies: (1) Increase focus. (2) Break cases into sub-problems. (3) Socratic questioning, and (4) Lead students toward intended outcomes. Once again, passive students can be a possible barrier, as well as failure for students to see value.
Dr. Cox-Kelley cited Discussions as a Way of Teaching, by S.D. Brookfield and S. Breskill (1999) as a fine relevant book. Students can experience a fear of looking stupid and the inability to consider alternative sides because of emotional attachment. Are they trying to find a correct answer or explore? Helping emotional reactions includes asserting the value of discussion and keeping opinions and verbalization in perspective. To conclude, collaboration is better than competition.
“Skillful Teaching through Facilitating Discussion” lived up to its subtitle of teaching skills being an essential pillar of both the Community Health Worker (CHW) and CHW Instructor (CHWI). Furthermore, Dr. Cox-Kelley’s lecture reached out to teachers looking for a second career or a stimulating cause in retirement.