Issues to Consider: Overcoming Common Problems
Deal with detrimental assumptions
Won’t being C.R.I.S.P. cause me to sacrifice coverage?
Of course. The sciences are especially concerned with complete nomenclature. They are worried that if a Biology 101 student doesn’t learn every bone, muscle, and organ in the body, the student won’t be prepared for Biology 102, not to mention advanced study in related fields such as nursing and exercise and sports science. However, since studies indicate that students will “forget” (they actually put the information in their short-term memories only) 75 to 90 percent of the material in three months anyway, shouldn’t you worry more that students develop skills and fundamental concepts? If students truly comprehend, for instance, how the bones work in general, shouldn’t they be able to figure out how a specific bone functions or know where to look it up?
Isn’t C.R.I.S.P. just another way of saying “Education Lite”?
Wordsworth contended in “The Tables Turned” that “we murder to dissect” when we try to break nature down into simpler concepts. Robert Dorit, a biology professor at Smith College, argues, “If we want to understand the world, perhaps it is true that we must first deconstruct it. But an unexamined belief in the power of reductionism . . . may indeed limit the creative power of insight, the very power that allows us to interpret what we dissect.” Reducing something to its core, however, is basically a means to an end. Our ability to reduce it helps us comprehend it and make it transferable to other situations. While we haven’t the time, inclination, or perhaps even the intellectual ability to expand on every bit of core information, we have a starting point, or as Roethke says in “The Waking,” “I learn by going where I have to go.” All ideas are important, but C.R.I.S.P. allows us to focus on what we consider the most important.
But won’t the constant use of C.R.I.S.P. become S.T.A.L.E.?
A valid concern. Trying to C.R.I.S.P. every class session can become formulaic and lead students to feel bored since, “We go through the same routine every day.” The strategy is designed to allow you to experiment: One day you might emphasize the iteration portion of the class, having your students run through a series of experiences to drive home the fundamental concept; on another day, you might leave more time for the preview period, even using a video clip or slide show to whet your students’ appetites for what’s coming the next period, a la “stay tuned for scenes from the next episode of . . . .” Just as serving only vegetables—no matter how crisp—can become unappetizing, organizing your class exactly the same way each day can render it stale, so constantly search for new ways to keep your presentations fresh.