Friday, April 11, 2014

"In union there is strength" or "Too many cooks spoil the broth"?

In this session we will be looking at the positives and negatives of group work, group projects, and group presentations. Please feel free to bring group assignments that have succeeded as well as those that you want to tweak.

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STEM Brown Bag Discussion

Discussion of issues effecting STEM education.

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Thursday, April 10, 2014

Group Work that Works

Too often we ask our students to work in small groups in class only to find that they rush through the prompts too quickly (in order to get to socializing). The result is, at best, mediocre class discussion. The flaw, though, may not be with the students but with the design of the assignment. This article provides a model for what effective group assignments in class might look like, focusing on problem solving and decision making. According to the article, four elements that should be part of every group assignment are: significance, specificity, similarity, and simultaneity.

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Students Can Transfer Knowledge if Taught How

One psychologist described it as education’s holy grail. Another called it ʺthe very measure of learning itself.ʺ

They were talking about the transfer of learning. Such transfer occurs in its most cognitively valuable forms when students draw on something they learned in one context, ideally by generalizing its core principles, and apply it appropriately to a situation that is far different from the original.

For example, a student in a military-­history course might learn about a general who attacked by dividing his army into many small groups so they could safely move through terrain infested with land mines. In a biology course that student might learn how a doctor treats a tumor by using many low doses of radiation to damage the tumor while preserving the tissue. The underlying strategy was the same.

While it is a longstanding goal, transfer of learning has gained renewed appeal as critics press institutions to prove the worth of a college education.

Teaching students to transfer their knowledge, say many faculty members and administrators, is also imperative in a world in which troves of information are a mouse-click away. If professors continue to see themselves as dispensers of content, they will have little of lasting value to offer.

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Academic Publishing Waiver Raises Concern

Faculty authors who contract to write for the publisher of Nature, Scientific American and many other journals could be signing away more than just the economic rights to their work, according to the director of the Office of Copyright and Scholarly Communications at Duke University.

Kevin Smith, the Duke official, said he stumbled across a clause in the Nature Publishing Group’s license agreement last month stating that authors waive or agree not to assert “any and all moral rights they may now or in the future hold” related to their work. In the context of scholarly publishing, “moral rights” include the right of the author always to have his or her name associated with the work and the right to have the integrity of the work protected so that it is not changed in a way that could result in reputational harm.

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