Julie Gosselin and Annie Gagné, University of Ottawa
Summary by Academica Top Ten, 7 July 2014
Giving students options on evaluation method improves achievement
A new report from the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario (HEQCO) has found that offering students choice in how they will be evaluated can improve their performance and their perception of the learning experience. The report follows a study in which third-year psychology students were offered a choice between traditional examinations and differentiated evaluation (DE), in which they had the choice of several term project options. Students who chose DE and were performing below the class average improved their scores on the final exam more than those students who did not select a term project. Students also reported positive perceptions of the DE options, and said that it alleviated some of the stress they experienced writing traditional examinations. They said that the DE option added to their workload but felt that it better allowed them to showcase what they had learned. HEQCO Report Summary | Full Report
Many University Undergraduates Struggle to Articulate Skills Learned in Class
While students understand what many of the transferrable skills sought by employers are, a new report examining psychology students at Brock University by the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario (HEQCO) finds that university undergraduates may not have strong awareness of their skills and the connection to coursework. Students also feel their instructors are not emphasizing the connection between assignments and skills development.
The authors caution that the issue may not be the actual development of transferrable skills but that students may not be realizing what skills are fostered by specific projects and therefore struggle to articulate how their education gave them the qualities sought by employers.
Undergraduates’ Understanding of Skill-based Learning Outcomes: Can e-portfolios Help? also examines if tools like e-portfolios, which require students to explicitly track and showcase skills developed during their education, could improve skill awareness. The study finds that while these tools may be useful over time, they had no impact as a one-time-only intervention or at the end of a degree.
A good lecturer doesn’t just deliver facts but models how an expert approaches problems.
I shall say this without shame: I lecture in my courses.
Yes, I know, in every discussion of "flipped classes" we are reminded that lecturing as a means of transferring basic factual information is a poor way to teach. I agree. I want my students to learn basic information before coming to my class. I can either assign reading before class (the old-school way) or require them to watch a video ahead of time (since proponents of flipped classes assure us that online video lectures are a good way to transfer information). What is important is that students be held accountable for learning that basic information when they come to class, either with a short quiz or written assignment (old school) or with an online assessment (hip and flipped). (...) - The Chronicle of Higher Education, by Alex Small, May 27, 2014
In a recent article, What Would Dr. E. Paul Torrance Do?: A Legacy for Creative Education, the author considers what lies in the future of creativity in our schools?
Retired professor Berenice Bleedorn says we should continue his legacy of sharing information and practice “the art of creative thinking”. We must continue to advocate for its use and move against the current or as Torrance himself called them, “the powers that be”. After all, teachers are the real driving force behind the creative thinking in our schools.
If our schools are lagging behind, we must be the creative minds that urge our students to be curious and seek new answers.
This is a cross-post from opencolleges.edu.au; 30 Ideas To Promote Creativity In Learning
AAUP report says that trigger warnings threaten academic freedom The American Association of University Professors has formally ruled that institutionally mandated trigger warnings constitute a threat to academic freedom. In a statement released on Monday the AAUP said trigger warnings may pressure faculty members to avoid some topics and that nontenured and contingent faculty members “are particularly at risk.” “The presumption that students need to be protected rather than challenged in a classroom is at once infantilizing and anti-intellectual,” the report says. “It makes comfort a higher priority than intellectual engagement.” The AAUP also noted its concern that trigger warnings may be applied to academic libraries, pointing to an American Library Association statement against labeling and rating systems that were also derived from a demand for trigger warnings. The ALA said that such labels were “a censor’s tool.” The AAUP goes so far as to suggest that even voluntary use of trigger warnings could be “counterproductive to the educational experience.” “The classroom is not the appropriate venue to treat PTSD,” the statement says, and suggests that such cases should be referred to student health services. The Chronicle of Higher Education |AAUP Report
How do you conduct yourself in your classroom? As a leader, a learner, an observer, a participant, and a member of a larger group. All of these roles hold so much nuance that your students learn from. It is sometimes easy to forget how much our students are learning from us just by being with …
Nearly 70 institutions are collaborating to better assess learning outcomes as part of a new initiative called the Multi-State Collaborative to Advance Learning Outcomes Assessment. The colleges and universities are a mix of two- and four-year institutions.
The initiative, funded in its initial planning year by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, was announced Monday by the Association of Colleges and Universities and the State Higher Education Executive Officers association.
”The calls are mounting daily for higher education to be able to show what students can successfully do with their learning,” said Carol Geary Schneider, AAC&U president, in an announcement. “The Multi-State Collaborative is a very important step toward focusing assessment on the best evidence of all: the work students produce in the course of their college studies."
To Summary of article by Academica Top 10, 16 June 2014
Adaptive learning increasing in popularity
Adaptive learning—loosely defined as the use of software to create individualized learning experiences for students—is growing in popularity, especially among for-profit institutions in the US. For-profit education chains, with their extensive budgets and streamlined governance structure, are ideally positioned to take advantage of adaptive learning technologies, which typically minimize the role of the professor in providing instruction. Firms like the Apollo Education Group, who owns University of Phoenix, are now experimenting with a variety of approaches to adaptive learning. Apollo is testing adaptive math software as well as an application that will help tutor students in writing and grammar. Meanwhile, the American Public University System, a for-profit chain, has begun incorporating adaptive technology into the instructional design of its courses. Its business school curriculum includes “semantic mapping” technology that searches for gaps between content and learning goals at the course and program level. More platforms are emerging, as well, with over 70 companies now offering adaptive solutions. Inside Higher Ed
To remain relevant, teachers must learn to adapt.
As technology moves more and more to the centre of cultural practices, teachers must make room to enable learner-driven processes to move more and more to the centre of teaching and learning practices. The teacher who resists technology and remains inflexible in the face of cultural change courts irrelevance.
Earlier this year, a couple of contributions to The Teaching Professor (Haave 2014) and Faculty Focus (Weimer 2014) discussed the place of learning philosophies in our teaching. The online comments to Weimer’s blog post (2014) made me think more about how we as instructors need to be careful to bridge instructivist and constructivist teaching approaches for students not yet familiar with taking responsibility for their own learning (Venkatesh et al 2013).
At one time or another, most of us have been disappointed by the caliber of the questions students ask in class, online, or in the office. Many of them are such mundane questions: “Will material from the book be on the exam?” “How long should the paper be?” “Can we use Google to find references?” “Would you repeat what you just said? I didn’t get it all down in my notes.” Rarely do they ask thoughtful questions that probe the content and stir the interest of the teacher and other students.