Boris Konrad
Boris Konrad

The passion for education of Boris Nicolai Konrad

In this column lecturers discuss what motivates them in education, to counter the discussion of the ‘burden of education’. This time Boris Nicolai Konrad (Radboudumc, Donders Institute and lecturer ambassador at Radboud TLC) explains what gives him energy in education.

Where do you get your enthusiasm for education from? 

"My own research is about learning and memory. Just before my final exams, I first encountered memory and learning techniques. As a pupil and especially later as a student, I tremendously benefited from knowing how I learn better. But then I started wondering: why are students helped so little with the right way of learning? What happens in your brain when you train your memory? Researching this and sharing knowledge, that is where my passion lies."

What educational moment has stayed with you? 

"The course computer science during my last years at high school. Our teacher was actually a mathematics teacher, but because of a shortage of computer science teachers, he had to teach this subject as well. Instead of acting like he was an expert, he immediately admitted: “I know less than you do about computer science. This is the course material according to the curriculum, find out how it works and then explain it to me. If I understand it as well, you pass.” We did not like this at all, but in the end, we were motivated enough to get to work."

"Later, at university, a few of us sat together during the first few lectures of computer science and said to each other: 'This is easy, we even explained this to our teacher in high school!' And then we realised that the education at our high school was not that bad after all." 

"Sadly, he didn't do it because he heard of student-directed learning or the flipped classroom method. Still, that moment stayed with me the most and it certainly influenced how I view my own education." 

Where do you get inspiration from for your education? 

"I get it from my own field, the neurosciences of learning and memory. But also via my passion for IT and modern apps, tools and gadgets. And through students, who I love to ask how they learned something and what ideas they have about a module or subject." 

What is your favourite educational approach? 

"Letting students try and do as much as possible themselves. And making use of the Testing Effect: by assessing knowledge during the learning process, a memory has a much higher chance of being memorised than by reading or hearing the same thing repeatedly. You can do this well by taking quizzes, playing games, asking questions or completing exercises. For example, if I must explain different memory systems to medical and biomedical science students, I link memory tasks to each memory system. This way, you have to work on it yourself and experience the difference it makes in your memory." 

What tips do you have for lecturers? 

"Keep trying things and talk to colleagues within and outside your faculty. Let yourself be inspired. For example, learn about innovative learning and memory techniques yourself! Not only do they work very well, but they also make education more fun. For your students and for yourself." 

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