Not the final countdown you expect

I hope everyone is skidding into home with the greatest of ease! I might have to just see where I land when the skidding is done…

Finals and self-reflection

While this may apply to all exams, finals are currently upon us. Apply liberally. I found an article from The Teaching Professor about self-assessment and exam scores.

As you may know a student’s ability to understand WHY they performed a certain way can help them to change strategies in the future. Since it isn’t an inherent process for everyone, most students may need a (consistent) reminder to evaluate their approach to the material.

Give this a read and see if there are some (all) students that might fit this type of reminding/instruction.

Good luck!

Arrested Development (TV series) | Arrested development, Will arnett, The final countdown

As an avid proponent of “gamification” I was blindsided by a suggested technique last week.

After posting about student rubric creation, our colleague, Lisa Flexner, told me of this technique she learned from The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Choose Your Own Adventure

I liken this to a child psychology trick I learned years ago, where you offer two choices instead of open ended questions (“Do you want carrots or broccoli?” vs. “What do you want to eat?” [it’s always cookies]).

Thus, giving students a choice in how they learn material can still lead them to learning what you want them to, but also gives them the (illusion?) of choice.

For this, students need to reach a certain point value for their grade. They then decide which assignments/exams they want to use to get them there. While you may need to keep an eye out for point loopholes, students will gravitate to what mode they are most comfortable with. Lisa mentioned that this resulted in many students accumulating enough points early on so they didn’t need to take the final.

For students with test anxiety, this can be a course savior. It might also keep some students from being caught with fewer points than expected at the end of the term.

 

Cheating is Natural

How’s that for a sensationalist title?

This post is spurred on by a trend resulting from remote teaching. Students and faculty that are not familiar with remote teaching can fall into some common issues not seen with face-to-face instruction. Many of these issues are salient in our student’s (lack of) understanding material, and we have taken great pains to facilitate learning on their terms.

Yes, you can make an argument for a change in academic rigor, but being flexible can mean the difference between a graduate and a dropout.

But this isn’t my primary point. Incidence rates of academic misconduct have been on the rise. But before we leap to conclusion about the crumbling moral infrastructure of society, I’d like to point some things out.

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When developing a new course there are many different components that we must piece together, from writing lectures and filming videos to conjuring homework assignments and debugging exam questions. Self-check exercises are an important tool for student retention that can be easily overlooked in the tedious process of new course development.

Benefits for Students

The benefits of self-check opportunities for students are numerous. These exercises can be given in small quantities in a low pressure environment. This makes it easier for students to initially engage with new material as opposed to, for example, procrastinating an ominous heavily-weighted homework assignment.

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Ok, everyone, raise your hand if you have your hands full. (get it? …sorry)

We are all jugglers in life; trying to keep a number of things in the air without letting them drop, but never having enough hands to guide each thing through its entire journey. We decide when an item needs our attention and which we can let fly for a little longer. Hopefully, the time you do get with each will set it up for a long, true flight and not need your constant support and guidance.

Just like the expert jugglers, our tasks aren’t all created equal, and that medicine ball that’s in the mix is always taking more time to control than we want. So what can we do? Not to wax nihilistic, but Sisyphus may suggest to sing “Don’t worry, Be happy” by Bobby McFerrin. OR, we could take a more comfortable, controlling approach to how we handle these tasks. Continue reading