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SUMMER 2016 COMMUNIQU 5 Robert Stephenson WALKS THE CUTTING EDGE TO MAXIMIZE LEARNING by Pat Grauer His quiet demeanor precise speech and scholarly mien belie the fact that Robert Stephenson associate professor of physiology is a fervent revolutionary for educational innovation. And what drives him to the cutting edge is that he values learning far more than teaching. I feed off student achievement he said. Its my main source of inspiration. Its always a challenge to see if I can improve it. And improve he does. When he began teaching physiology at MSU in 1979 he was lecturing to undergraduate and graduate students and quickly added students in osteopathic human and veterinary medicine. Now hes producing high-quality well-edited content in prerecorded modules lectures demos good graphics and lively interaction. My goal is to facilitate any-time any-place any-pace learning he said. In regard to attending live lectures the students have already voted with their feet. So how can we take this reality and HIGHLIGHTS creatively harness technology to turn online materials into richer more effective learning tools In these ipped classrooms students study content virtually and then meet with faculty for personal interaction group work complex questions case problems and role-modeling. For testing he says Proctored examinations are critical to certify that this student sat on this day in this room and performed at this level. During his career the lines among scientic disciplines began to blur with physiology biochemistry genetics and associated anatomy all vying for the same intellectual space. Stephenson decided it didnt make sense from either a scientic or osteopathic standpoint to separate the teaching of structure and function. In 2000 he joined with John Wang biochemistry and Connie Osborn histology to reconstruct their teaching along the arc of structurefunction from the molecular to the whole-person level. By 2011 their Cell Biology and Physiology course sequence taught jointly to MSUCOM and CHM had grown to 525 students 28 faculty ve staff members and four campuses and Stephenson was the coordinator. The process was formidable for faculty and students an overview and precise objectives for each lesson detailed lecture notes with blanks to complete self-study problems practice exam questions. The study guide was more than 2000 pages in addition to assigned reading in texts. Today for MSUCOM this content is introduced in the second semester and then integrated throughout the organ systems courses. Different students learn in different ways and I want to give different styles of learners different footholds he said. It takes substantial time and effort. Students say its challenging but the material is very clear and complete. They can see that and appreciate the enthusiasm and work. Their appreciation has been expressed in more than 40 awards to Stephenson for his teaching. Stephenson credits the basic science departments for the value they place on teaching and the support they offer as being crucial. Because learning is far more important to Robert Stephenson than teaching hes created innovative approaches with the student in mind.