Lynn trains professors to teach students how to become expert learners

30 faculty members are certified Institute Fellows
Lynn trains professors to teach students how to become expert learners Theodore Wasserman

Published May. 09, 2012

Lynn University’s Institute for Achievement and Learning has started using Accommodated Metacognitive Instruction (AMI), a strategy for teaching students how to learn that focuses on two key principles: individuality and assessment.

With every professor having a different teaching style and every student having a different learning style, the task of AMI is to marry individual teaching styles with individual learning styles so all types of learners are accommodated in every classroom.

“The goal is not simply to help students master a specific body of knowledge or a specific set of sills, but to help them master learning itself and to become expert learners,” said Theodore Wasserman, an associate professor in Lynn’s institute and a Florida licensed pediatric neuropsychologist, who developed AMI.

“Faculty members volunteer to be trained in the AMI pedagogy,” said Wasserman. “After eight hours of training, the professor is certified by Marsha [Glines, dean of Lynn’s Institute of Achievement and Learning] and me as an Institute Fellow.”

To maintain their certifications, Institute Fellows submit their syllabi for review, participate in two hours of additional training each semester for updates and are subject to classroom observations.

Since the program launched in 2011, Lynn has certified 30 Institute Fellows from all five of Lynn’s colleges and the Institute of Achievement and Learning including: the College of Business and Management, the College of Education, the College of Hospitality Management, the College of International Communication and the College of Liberal Education.

These fellows teach all levels of courses, from core classes within the Dialogues of Learning to upper level specialty classes; and they teach to all learning styles, from honors to those with learning differences / disabilities. The goal is to certify all Lynn faculty members by 2015.

As with every teaching strategy, AMI operates in conjunction with a curriculum and adheres to the Universal Design for Learning (UDL), a set of principles for curriculum development that are flexible and supportive of all students.

According to Wasserman, “AMI is designed to work with a curriculum that is backwards designed.” In other words, professors must know the intended result of a course before planning it. Backwards design is described in three stages: (1) specifying desired goals/outcomes, (2) creating a process for assessment and (3) planning teaching/learning activities.

“AMI is not a special education curriculum, it's a state of the art pedagogy on how to instruct all students,” said Wasserman. “It structures learning and reduces the need for individualized classroom accommodations because all professors are prepared for all types of learners.”

Thus far, Lynn’s use of AMI has seen positive results. “AMI students get better grades and fail less,” said Wasserman. “It’s a success-based model that builds confidence by competence.”

More on Wasserman

Wasserman, an associate professor in the Institute for Achievement and Learning at Lynn University, is a Florida licensed pediatric neuropsychologist. He sees children from the ages of 0–18 with a full range of medical and developmental anomalies. Wasserman is regularly retained and appointed in both civil matters, providing expertise to the court to help in determining the extent or existence of neurological and psychological impairment in forensic matters. Most recently, Wasserman developed and instituted Accommodated Metacognitive Instruction (AMI) that trains professors how to teach students to become expert learners.

In this role, Wasserman can speak to the media on issues related to various learning and teaching styles, testing, attention and learning disorders and their impact on school function, child custody issues and school psychological practice, language and executive function, behavior management and cognitive behavior therapy, Autism, Asperger’s Disorder, atypical developmental delays, seizures and traumatic brain injury.