Thursday, October 1, 2015

Declining Student Resilience: A Serious Problem for Colleges

A year ago I received an invitation from the head of Counseling Services at a major university to join faculty and administrators for discussions about how to deal with the decline in resilience among students. At the first meeting, we learned that emergency calls to Counseling had more than doubled over the past five years. Students are increasingly seeking help for, and apparently having emotional crises over, problems of everyday life. Recent examples mentioned included a student who felt traumatized because her roommate had called her a “bitch” and two students who had sought counseling because they had seen a mouse in their off-campus apartment. The latter two also called the police, who kindly arrived and set a mousetrap for them. Read more...

In the Mind of a Student

Imagine if schoolteachers and college professors were immediately able to identify how each of their students learns, what learning style works best for each child and what new topics he or she is struggling with. Research faculty members at the University of Wisconsin at Madison are hoping that this can be the future of education. Their research uses a combination of psychology and computer science to determine how best to optimize teaching for individual students. This means teachers and professors will be able to immediately know what subjects students are struggling with and be able to address those needs, instead of teaching an entire class of students with ranging difficulties. Jerry Zhu, an associate professor of computer science at Wisconsin, has dubbed this technique “machine teaching,” a flip of machine learning, or when computers recognize patterns during data analysis in computer science or statistics. Instead of the computers recognizing a pattern, an equation that represents a student’s mind would be punched into the computer, which in turn would tell the teacher the student’s specific learning style and needs in the classroom. But Zhu said that those equations have yet to be developed, and it will be years before they will be created, an effort he says researchers in both computer science and psychology are working toward achieving. Read more...

Teaching Faculty Forum Digital Liberal Arts Discussions: Fostering Close Reading

Helping students develop skills in close reading can be a challenge. Join Pedar Foss, Kayla Birt, and Donnie Sendelbach for a demo and discussion of resources available to assist with close reading, including annotation, mark-up, and search tools. An overview of appropriate file formats to assist with close reading will also be covered.

Please RSVP for lunch.

Research Faculty Forum Matthew Oware "We Stick Out Like a Sore Thumb: Underground White Rappers' Hegemonic Masculinity and Racial Evasion"

Come hear Matthew discuss his research on hegemonic masculinity and racial evasion.


Designing Learning Spaces with Learning Theory in Mind

Monday, October 5, 2015

Join Malcolm Brown, EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative director, and Veronica Diaz, ELI associate director, as they moderate this webinar with Scott McDonald. From K–12 schools to institutions of higher education, there is an increasing emphasis and investment in developing spaces to support student learning. Space is becoming the hidden technology in learning that can support face-to-face student interactions, as well as how digital tools can be blended into face-to-face contexts. This webinar will draw on contemporary theories of learning and research on learning spaces to offer design principles for learning spaces. Learning spaces are often taken for granted as simply a place where the learning happens, but this webinar will lay out the case that space can play as important a role in supporting new kinds of teaching as other technologies. Design principles will address and provide examples in the areas of engagement, activity, flexibility, and access. For more information on the webinar, click here.

No RSVP is needed.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Getting Them to Read Our Comments

Most of the time we think of teaching as something that only happens within classroom walls. But in fact, most of us do our teaching in a variety of environments now. Meeting with students in our offices, exchanging emails about their work, interacting online through a learning management system or course blog — all of that is teaching. Writing comments in the margins of a student’s paper is a form of teaching, too, one with great potential to spark learning. Far too often, though, that last kind of teaching can feel like a one-way conversation. Research seems to suggest that the feedback we provide on student work has minimal effect on their future work. It’s worth asking: Are our students even reading the comments we leave on their papers? And if they do read them, do they think about them long enough and deeply enough to actually learn from them? Many instructors I know worry that their students look at returned work just long enough to find out their grades, and then shove the papers into their bags to be forgotten forever. Consequently, many of us write our comments with a grade-centered approach in mind: Our feedback is there to justify the grade in case the student complains. It’s a paper trail, rather than a constructive document aimed at helping students improve. Some have blamed that state of affairs on our tendency to correct — to focus our efforts retrospectively, on what students did wrong, rather than on how they might improve. Instead, we should recast our feedback as “feedforward,” and focus on making suggestions for future practice. That is sound advice. But perhaps as important as what we’re writing on student work is when we’re writing it.
Read Getting Them To Read Our Comments

The Unwritten Rules of College

. . . As an increasingly broad and diverse cross section of students enters higher education, knowing those rules matters more than ever. Without them, students stumble. They might miss the point of a paper, drift during discussions, or feel overwhelmed or aimless. But all students can thrive, Ms. Winkelmes says, if the tacit curriculum is made plain. When teaching is what she calls "transparent," students better understand the rationale for assignments and how they’re evaluated. New research on several campuses shows that students taught that way are more confident academically and feel as if they belong in college, which helps predict whether they succeed and remain enrolled. The data suggest one practice in particular — giving assignments — that, done transparently, has a significant effect on students. Here at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas, where Ms. Winkelmes is now principal investigator of the project Transparency in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, she has distilled that finding into a straightforward protocol. Professors who have signed on to the project consider three questions when creating assignments: what, exactly, they’re asking students to do (the "task"); why students have to do it (the "purpose"); and how the work will be evaluated (the "criteria"). Then the instructors explain those things to their students. That’s it.

Read The Unwritten Rules of College