Tales from Real Life: Searching for Your Undergird
After a stint in the School of Education, I moved to the School of Nursing for a midlife jolt. Soon, it was close encounters of the jolt kind: my clinical skills were rated, on a scale of 0—10, a big fat goose egg. How was I supposed to develop statistics problems with clinical applications?
My solution: make them up. Drawing on my fertile imagination and twisted mind, I created humorous diseases, medications, body parts, and bizarre, but realistic clinical trials. The music, games, parodies, and dramatizations followed. Biostatistics met Broadway and the trajectory of my career changed forever.
My research that followed gave these methods a smidgen of legitimacy. The evidence reported in my articles and books established the links between students’ characteristics and multiple intelligences AND humor and multimedia as teaching tools.
I confess that my methods were created initially to cover up my incompetence in clinical knowledge. I’ve been totally ashamed of this for 19 years, but it’s amazing what can result serendipitously from incompetence and scrambling for ways to cover it up.
—Ronald A. Berk
The Johns Hopkins University