Goldilocks and the Three Lectures

Bruce A. Leibert, MD


Summary – a series of faculty development talks were given over a 5 hour period during a Family Practice symposium.  The lead speaker tested the immediate and delayed recall of one participant.  This qualitative study suggests that the message sent and the message received tended to drift during an intervening busy day of clinic.


Educators too often assume that a lecture is equivalent to learning, which leads to knowledge, understanding and wisdom.  The investigator posed this question: does the message sent by the presenter truly end up bringing about the expected change or thinking intended.


The presenter gave three separate one hour lectures from 0730 hours to 1300 hours during an accredited family practice program’s monthly lecture symposium.

Immediately after each talk, the presenter completed a fifteen minute review of the talk with one participant.  This participant had 30 years of experience in family practice and thus was not a novice in the area of participation in CME.

Eight hours after the complete of the lectures, the presenter again reviewed the material with the same participant to determine the recall and/or impact of the presentations on the listener.


The investigator found that the participant recalled detailed specifics of the three lectures during both the immediate and delayed intake.  The lecturer used 9 word-pictures (three per lecture) designed to help recall with learning objectives.  The participant easily remembered all 9 word-pictures.  The participant had a significant alteration in what these word pictures represented to him from the immediate recall intake and the delayed intake.  The delayed intake revealed a deeper level of thinking and understanding and application.


The investigator was surprised to hear the depth of understanding and insight that the participant developed during an eight hour time lapse from the material presented to the delayed intake.  The discussion at the eight hour mark was rich in detail and breadth of perspective, so much so that the presenter was greatly encouraged.

The presenter will now further test his hypothesis that clearly stated word-pictures may have a powerful impact on learners: an impact that may increase with time.  The implications for medical educators borders on pure – WOW.