September 15, 1989

Learning Theories and Medical Lectures: Add Little to Little and There Will Be a Big Pile

Author Affiliations

University of California, Davis, School of Medicine

University of California, Davis, School of Medicine

JAMA. 1989;262(11):1472. doi:10.1001/jama.1989.03430110062025

To the Editor. —  I thoroughly enjoyed reading the commentary by Dr Cook.1 As a medical student, I have found at least one instructor representative of each theory. However, one type of lecturer, whom I have encountered on numerous occasions, was not described. This is the practitioner of the exhumation theory.Practitioners of this method believe that all medical students have an unlimited amount of time, energy, and interest; that this is the only course worthy of a lifetime pursuit; and, of course, that medical school is the student's entire life. Lecturers assume that students will have the passion to dig down into, and eagerly wade through, multiple layers of minutiae to unearth, on their own, a few deeply buried pearls of wisdom. These pearls often appear so small and insignificant that they are readily overlooked. The first problem with this method is the failure of the instructor to