Here came KNORK

I am Gabriele Rizzo, Chair of Physics and Biophysics at CERDO, the oldest Osteopathic Medical School in Rome, where I teach to (usually) two first-year classes, with an average age of 20.

Why KNORK? Because the context of teaching Physics to freshmen studying to get their D.O. appeared to me the best to put in action the “KNOwledge for woRK”, getting them at ease with a discipline traditionally seen with caution (at least) and perceived as “distant” from real life due to its intrinsically “hard” math contribution.

In the beginning I drafted the course program insisting on mechanics and dynamics, trying at the same time not to cancel the rest of the Physics I felt important (from some interviews I ran among the teachers of osteopathic disciplines when I was entrusted the professorship), i.e. statics of fluids, thermodynamics, a bit of electrostatics. However, the many mathematics gaps had their presence felt almost immediately, up to the point of forcing the lesson into just storytelling, also because as soon as the tiniest bit of algebra makes its appearance on the whiteboard, the feedback is the almost complete denial of “risking understanding”. So this completely emptied participation and interaction and, as a consequence, effectiveness too.

Here came KNORK.

My priority was the learning of transversal competencies through a renewal of my teaching methodology: this is why I decided to implement KNORK since the beginning of the academic year. This is also why I had to thin out the course program! A pillar of KNORK methodology guided me, though: we do not have to teach everything to our students, just give them a “structure” and enable them to learn by themselves, autonomously (thanks prof. Cesareni!). Therefore, I focused on just the concepts I find are the real hurdles to learn by yourself – because require a strong and constant anchoring to other pillars of “the structure”.

I apply the Jigsaw both in the classes and in an online forum (and I find it outstanding). We also have a class mailing list and we are currently have some exciting experiments ongoing with Padlet.

The final shared object of our KNORK will be a big, fat, mind map, the “Physicary”, in which the students will merge all the work carried out during the year, namely identifying and exploring the links between the physical concepts of “the structure” and the osteopathic discipline. I aimed at this to strengthen even further the transversality of the competencies developed during the course.

I make no secret that, as a start, the commitment KNORK methodology asks for is important, both for me and for the students. But it is important as well the positive feedback I am getting from them, to such an extent that I would have known KNORK from the beginning of my teaching experience!

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