Instructors Need To Be On The Same Page, But When They’re not…
This can be a sticky situation for students, fellow instructors and program coordinators alike. All instructors don’t have to teach alike, but students have an expectation of, and some would say a right to, consistency. When they FEEL that they aren’t getting that, not only will they miss the individual teaching point in question, but they’ll have less confidence in the instructors and the program itself, affecting the rest of the learning process.
For Instructors and Program Coordinators
You can help avoid this by making sure that you have solid course policies and that your primary teaching points for each topic are clear (and not 2 1/2 pages of objectives). This will help keep instructors “on the same page”. If different information is still imparted despite your best efforts, identify what information was relayed by each instructor. If the teaching objectives were clear, more often than not the difference was in the format of the message, not the content. If that is the case, it can be quickly cleared up. At this point the students can either take away that teaching point, or remember that “in this class, the instructors argue”, so be sure to stay on-point with your message. Make sure that the students take away the teaching point that you want them to know and acknowledge, and focus less on the discrepancy.
Try to avoid what is called the Distinction Cognitive Bias, which is our natural human tendency to take two bits of information and contrast them as opposing points. Again, try to focus on what both educators where both trying to get across, and you may see that they have more in common than originally thought. All educators can find themselves relying on personal knowledge or experience, which will naturally differ from other instructors in the same program. When this happens it is up to the program coordinator (or an instructor as course representative) to clarify the main teaching point around which the contradiction has occurred. Quick action to address an issue like this will most likely clarify and will highlight the information while ensuring that the students see the discrepancy was not nearly as big a deal as it may first have first seemed.