Lois (Ruback) Zuckerman ’78

Lois (Ruback) Zuckerman ’78

As a psychology major at Colorado College I was taught data-based psychology. The focus was behaviorism: sensory psychology, learning and behavior, physiological psychology, etc. Thus, I was quite familiar with the Fixed-Interval Scallop. The Fixed-Interval Scallop is defined as “a gradual increase in the rate of responding, with responding occurring at a high rate, just before reinforcement is available”. It is the typical response rate for most students (or anyone with a deadline): fairly slow to start on homework/projects/readings whatever, followed by serious increase in the work rate right before class, or a test, or whenever the project is due.

What I learned from the Block Plan was to avoid that Fixed-Interval Scallop. An assignment came out, and I went to work. Procrastination meant disaster. It has stuck with me. I started graduate school in a school that was on the quarter system. My fellow grad students were overwhelmed with how quickly the quarter passed and were struggling to catch up as exams approached. I was surprised by how much time I had between the first day of classes and finals.

Now, more than four decades since I attended CC, I’m still loath to procrastinate when given a project. I’m in two book clubs, and I start the next book as soon as it is decided upon. I don’t quite understand my friends who wait for the last few days to begin reading. That’s the Block Plan in my response.

The other huge benefit for me was finding that I learned well from the immersion offered by the Block Plan, and retained that information. I took my licensing exam 15 years after I completed graduate school (a couple kids kept me busy in the interim). Thus, there was a great deal of study and review from my graduate classes needed before I was ready for the licensing exam. Interestingly, I didn’t have to review much from the material I had learned as an undergrad. All those courses: Learning and Behavior Theory, Physiological Psychology, Sensory Psychology, etc. were still solid. It follows that each person learns differently.

Ten years ago my husband and I started a non-profit to provide free help for students and parents as they navigate the college application process (check us out at Mentors4College.org). Our goal is to make sure all students find the best fit school for themselves; just as I was able to do at CC.

Thank you, CC and the Block Plan, for training me to move ahead, not wait for the last minute. Thank you for teaching me how to learn, and teaching me that each student needs to learn in their own style. 

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