What Happens When Two Instructors Tell Students Different Things

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.

For Students

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.

About romduck

Rom Duckworth is a dedicated emergency responder, author, and educator with more than thirty years of experience working in career and volunteer fire departments, hospital healthcare systems, and private emergency medical services. Rom is a career fire captain and paramedic EMS Coordinator for the Ridgefield (CT) Fire Department and director of the New England Center for Rescue and Emergency Medicine. Rom holds a master’s degree in public administration, is a graduate of the National Fire Academy’s Executive Fire Officer program, and is the recipient of the NAEMT Presidential Award, American Red Cross Hero Award, Sepsis Alliance Sepsis Hero Award, and the EMS 10 Innovators Award. Rom is the author of "Duckworth on Education," as well as chapters in more than a dozen EMS, fire, rescue, and medical textbooks and over 100 published articles in fire and EMS magazines. A member of the NAEMT Board of Directors, as well as other national and international advocacy and advisory boards, Rom continues to work for the advancement of emergency services professions. Contact Rom via www.romduck.com