Wednesday, 22 August 2012

To Lecture or Not? - Tomorrow's Professor post

http://derekbruff.org/blogs/tomprof/2011/04/26/tp-msg-1096-lose-the-lectures/


TP Msg. #1096 Lose the Lectures

As a young physics professor at Harvard in the 1980s, Eric Mazur was certain his lecture-hall classes were a huge success. And why wouldn’t they be? His students got top grades, and his teaching evaluations were stellar. But in the early ’90s, Mazur gave some of his students a series of tests that clearly showed they didn’t understand the underlying concepts of what he was teaching them — even the most basic. “My illusion of being a good teacher became unraveled,” Mazur admits.
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Folks:
The posting below looks at the work of the innovator of "peer instruction" and the huge impact this approach= is having on student learning. It by Thomas K. Grose and is from Prism, February, 2011. Copyright 2011 American Society for Engineering Education 1818 N Street, N.W., Suite 600 Washington, DC 20036-2479 Web: www.asee.org Telephone: (202) 331-3500. Reprinted with permission.
Regards,
Rick Reis reis@stanford.edu UP NEXT: Joining Your Department and Discipline - Negotiating Tips
Tomorrow's Teaching and Learning
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Lose the Lectures A physics professor relies on Q&A, class discussions.
As a young physics professor at Harvard in the 1980s, Eric Mazur was certain his lecture-hall classes were a huge success. And why wouldn’t they be? His students got top grades, and his teaching evaluations were stellar. But in the early ’90s, Mazur gave some of his students a series of tests that clearly showed they didn’t understand the underlying concepts of what he was teaching them — even the most basic. “My illusion of being a good teacher became unraveled,” Mazur admits.
His students were merely memorizing facts and regurgitating them and reproducing mathematical solutions that were not new. To Mazur, that’s not learning; for him, education is assimilating information and being able to use that knowledge to solve new problems. Stuff learned by rote is quickly forgotten; but understanding is something students never lose, he believes.
So Mazur – a world-renowned researcher of ultrafast optics, particularly short-pulse lasers – began investigating another topic that’s since become a second, major research area for him: science education. And he ultimately developed a novel, interactive teaching method for lecture-hall classes – Peer Instruction – that over the past decade has come into wide use around the world in a variety of disciplines.
Essentially, Mazur dispenses with lectures. Instead, he teaches by asking questions – after all, isn’t science an inquiry-based discipline? Ahead of classes, students are assigned to read a certain text or watch a video, but in the classroom itself, it’s Q&A time. And integral to the method is students teaching students, hence the title, Peer Instruction. Mazur asks a question about a concept, and gives students a minute or two to reflect, then another two to three minutes to discuss the question in groups of five or six and come up with a consensus answer.
Mazur stumbled upon the method when he had trouble getting a group of students to understand a simple (to him) principle, Newton’s Third Law. In frustration, he told them to discuss it among themselves. They did. And they came up with the right answer.
Recent research by his Mazur Group indicates that the method does help students grasp concepts that once eluded them. There’s also evidence it helps close the gender gap in grades, and improves the retention of freshman and junior students in science majors. It works, Mazur says, because those students who have deduced the correct answer have only just mastered that knowledge, so are more attuned to why their peers are still in the dark and hence can more intuitively guide them to enlightenment. The method’s been documented in his book, Peer Instruction: A User’s Manual, and in an award-winning DVD he coproduced, Interactive Teaching.
Mazur also pioneered the now popular use of wireless remotes, or “clickers,” in the classroom to help gauge student understanding of material. He stresses, however, that “it’s the pedagogy that matters, not the technology.” His earliest attempts at interactive teaching used flashcards in lieu of clickers. The Netherlands-born Mazur, 56, who is also dean of applied physics, continues to look for better ways to teach science. Lecture demonstrations are perhaps the most enjoyable aspect of physics classes, but passive viewing of demonstrations doesn’t enhance student understanding, studies show. So his group is looking for ways to make demonstrations more effective, while keeping the fun intact.
He’s also critical of researchers who find teaching a chore. Mazur finds it “shocking” that academia is so unsystematic in its approach to instruction. “I am a professor. I am supposed to be a teacher.”
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Online learning - Tomorrow's Professor post

http://derekbruff.org/blogs/tomprof/2011/05/24/tp-msg-1104-rethinking-higher-education-in-an-online-and-recession-wary-world/



TP Msg. #1104 Rethinking Higher Education in an Online and Recession-Wary World

“I do not think we understand . . . how the Web is going to reshape what we do. All you have to do is look at the press. Five years ago no one anticipated the situation the press finds itself in now economically. And, while universities are different, you have to ask, are we the last institution to feel and experience the full very, very significant effects of this new technology and all that can be done with it?”
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Folks:
The posting below looks at the changing role of technology and its impact in higher education. It is Eric D. Miller, Kent State University, East Liverpool, Ohio and is #55 in a series of selected excerpts from The National Teaching and Learning Forum newsletter reproduced here as part of our "Shared Mission Partnership." NT&LF has a wealth of information on all aspects of teaching and learning. If you are not already a subscriber, you can check it out at [http://www.ntlf.com/] The on-line edition of the Forum--like the printed version - offers subscribers insight from colleagues eager to share new ways of helping students reach the highest levels of learning. National Teaching and Learning Forum Newsletter, Vol. 20, Number 3, March 2011.© Copyright 1996-2011. Published by James Rhem & Associates, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide. Reprinted with permission.
Regards,
Rick Reis reis@stanford.edu UP NEXT: Advising Undecided and Indecisive Students
Tomorrow's Teaching and Learning
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Rethinking Higher Education in an Online and Recession-Wary World Educational professionals and laypersons alike often try to make sense of two seminal changes that continue to impact our world: The ever-growing use and availability of sophisticated technologies and the consequences of a crippling economic downturn that have sent unemployment levels to their highest since the era of the Great Depression and World War II. Higher education is not immune to these two dramatic developments. In fact, in order to ensure its relevance, higher education must accept and adjust to these new realities.
The Rise of the Online Education
For centuries, American universities have followed conventional teaching methods: All knowing professors were to lecture students about a certain subject generally in a fixed location and at a specific time. Until recently, it would have been academic heresy to suggest any other mode of instruction. Dramatic advances in Internet technology now seriously call into question the rationale of these conventional teaching methods. Instructors can easily teach students online from any location and at any time using a wealth of resources, such as ebooks, Web links, and YouTube video clips. Indeed, the proliferation of online education has grown tremendously over the past decade (e.g., Li & Irby 2008). Online education has even been embraced in terms of its use for nontraditional students (e.g., Karber 2003) and applied fields such as health sciences (e.g., Nelson 2008).
Certainly, online education has potential benefits and drawbacks. Some benefits include constant availability of instructional material, conservation of university and student resources, and educational flexibility. Some potential drawbacks, however, include skepticism by some faculty regarding the quality of online classes, the capability of some faculty to teach such classes, and whether students can learn in a more selfsufficient manner (e.g., Li & Irby 2008).
Even so, many in higher education appear to have (at best) an ambivalent attitude towards online learning. Chronicle of Higher Education (CHE) columnist Thomas H. Benton (2009) cites two seemingly contradictory studies. A Department of Education investigation suggests that online learning is at least as effective as traditional classes. Yet, a study by the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities found that 70 percent of 10,000 faculty members surveyed viewed online courses as either “inferior” or “somewhat inferior” to traditional ones; even 48 percent of professors who have taught online did not view them as favorably as face-to-face teaching. Benton suggests that there is no logical reason as to why many faculty should be wary of online teaching.
The Reality and Consequences of the Economic Crisis
The long-term consequences, especially in regards to higher education, of the economic recession that officially began in December 2007 are still difficult to access. Political columnist and commentator Michael Barone (2010) suggests that those in higher education should be very concerned about a coming “bubble” that may burst in academia. In particular, he warns that many individuals will question the worth and expense of a college degree if it is virtually impossible to find a good paying job. Further, if students do not receive sufficient funding to attend college, then colleges and universities will have additional hardships to bear. A recent Newsweek cover story by Senator Lamar Alexander (2009), former U.S. Education Secretary and University of Tennessee President, argues that higher education needs to work to revitalize itself in order to remain relevant in our ever-changing society, or else it may face the same perils as the U.S. automobile industry.
Interestingly, the economic crisis and the rise of Web technologies may share many interconnected consequences. In the same issue of Newsweek, Columbia University President Lee Bollinger (2009) opines:
“I do not think we understand . . . how the Web is going to reshape what we do. All you have to do is look at the press. Five years ago no one anticipated the situation the press finds itself in now economically. And, while universities are different, you have to ask, are we the last institution to feel and experience the full very, very significant effects of this new technology and all that can be done with it?” (p. 33).
Carey (2009) adds that higher education needs to heed the warning signs currently being experienced by traditional newspapers increasingly threatened by online resources. That is, traditional subscriptions and revenues continue to decline whereas Internet growth continues to grow. If higher education fails to appreciate the importance of online education to its future, it too may increasingly struggle to find its relevance.
Looking Back and Thinking Ahead for Higher Education
Imagine and revisit the general state and nature of higher education just twenty years ago. Twenty years ago, most of us could not have envisioned the use of email, ebooks, Web links/clips, and social networking sites for educational and personal use. Arguably, it is even more challenging to try to imagine higher education twenty years from now.
But, the reality is that a simple— but profound—shift has taken root in academia. It used to be that students had to physically travel to a specific place to be taught “face to face” by a given instructor at a specific time. Moreover, in order to have regular access to scholarly information, one usually needed to be part of a given physical community, such as a particular college or university. Those days are over. Students increasingly can take online courses that do not require travel or face-to-face interaction with professors. Additionally, the Web affords most individuals much greater availability of information and knowledge than arguably at any point in history.
Those who fail to appreciate this new paradigm, or even outright reject it, should consider whether traditional educational practices generally make good pedagogical or economical sense. Indeed, many suggest that they do not. In their provocative book, Higher Education?: How Colleges Are Wasting Our Money and Failing Our Kids—and What We Can Do About It, Hacker and Dreifus (2010) suggest that higher education often has its priorities misplaced. Instead of focusing on providing students with a solid education, colleges and universities generally prioritize faculty research over teaching and spend exorbitant amounts of money on sporting and social events.
In order to accentuate the urgency of appreciating the relevance of new technologies for higher education, consider the following point: Children enrolled in elementary school today have never experienced a world where the use and prevalence of technology in their education and daily lives was not present. Most of these children utilize advanced technologies on a regular basis. Presumably, most of these children will be enrolling in colleges within a decade or so and may expect to continue to utilize these technologies as part of their education. How is higher education preparing for these students? The answer to this question, which is still unclear, may help to explain how higher education has adapted to both the realities of online education and related technologies and the fallout from the economic crisis.
References
• Alexander, L. October 26, 2009. “The Three-year Solution: How the Reinvention of Higher Education Benefits Parents, Students, and Schools.” Newsweek, 154, 26-29. • Barone, M. September 6, 2010. “The Higher Education Bubble.” National Review Online.Http://www.nationalreview.com/ articles/245715/higher-education-bubblemichael-barone. • Benton, T. H. September 18, 2009. “Online Learning: Reaching Out to the Skeptics.” The Chronicle of Higher Education. Http://chronicle.com/article/ Online-Learning-Reaching-O/48375. • Carey, K. April 3, 2009. “What Colleges Should Learn from Newspapers’ Decline.” The Chronicle of Higher Education. Http:// chronicle.com/article/What-Colleges-ShouldLearn-/15693. • Hacker, A., and Dreifus, C. 2010. Higher Education?: How Colleges Are Wasting Our Money and Failing Our Kids—and What We Can Do about It. New York: Holt. • Karber, D. J. 2003. “Comparisons and Contrasts in Traditional Versus On-line Teaching in Management.” Higher Education in Europe, 26: 533-536. • Li., C. and Irby, B. 2008. “An Overview of Online Education: Attractiveness, Benefits, Challenges, Concerns and Recommendations. College Student Journal, 42: 449-458. • Nelson, J. A. 2008. “Advantages of Online Education.” Home Health Care Management & Practice, 20: 501-502. • Rosenberg, D. October 26, 2009. “What’s College for Anyway?: A Debate over the Role of Higher Education.” Newsweek, 154: 30-33.
Contact: Eric D. Miller, Ph.D. Associate Professor of Psychology Kent State University 400 E. 4th Street E. Liverpool, OH 43920 Email: edmille1@kent.edu Telephone: (330) 382-7436

Peer-based learning - Tomorrow's Professor post

http://derekbruff.org/blogs/tomprof/2011/06/03/tp-msg-1106-asking-students-to-help-each-other-understand-ideas-or-concepts/


Students helping each other learn mimics humans’ innate learning process, a process for which we are genetically and environmentally engineered. This is enough of an explanation, and a powerful one, to help your students understand why peer learning is suitable in the college classroom: their brains are built to learn via collaboration.
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Folks:
The posting below gives some good suggestions on how to make the case for collaborative learning to your students and your colleagues. It is IDEA Item #18 by Jeff King of the Art Institute of Dallas and is from POD-IDEA Center Notes on Instruction series. Michael Theall, Youngston State University, series editor. POD is the Professional and Organizational Development Network [http://www.podnetwork.org/] and the iDEA Center is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to serve colleges and universities committed to improving learning, teaching, and leadership performance.[http://www.theideacenter.org/] July, 2004. ©2005 The IDEA Center. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission.
Regards,
Rick Reis reis@stanford.edu UP NEXT: Writing an Article in 12 Weeks
Tomorrow's Teaching and Learning
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Asking Students to Help Each Other Understand Ideas or Concepts
Background
Having students help other students learn is a powerful classroom technique. Collaborative learning uses this approach to achieve content focused and process-oriented goals, both of which are important for college learning success. Research (1) shows that cooperative learning improves students’ achievement, persistence, and attitudes. Collaboration with fellow learners increases motivation and helps students take responsibility for their own and their peers’ learning (2, 3, 4). Included among the process oriented goals achieved by collaboration is the development of marketable skills such as: problem-solving, project management, team player competencies, communication, and social skills (5). Cooperation is one of the “7 Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education” (6) and well-structured group work and other collaborative activities that ask students to help each other learn pay big dividends in student success.
IDEA Item #18 highly correlates with other teaching methods addressed in the IDEA questionnaire. These include item #1 (displaying a personal interest in students), #2 (helping students answer their own questions), #5 (forming teams or groups to facilitate learning), #7 (explaining the reasons for criticism of student academic performance),#15 (inspiring students to set/achieve challenging goals), and #16 (asking students to share ideas/experiences with others of differing backgrounds). In addition, this method also correlates strongly as a learning strategy with learning objectives related to item #25 (working in a team), item #26 (developing creative capacities), and item #32 (interest in learning more by asking questions/ seeking answers).
Helpful Hints
Because learning experiences built around student collaboration are not prevalent in lecture based classrooms (the kinds of classes that predominate in many college experiences), you may not have many models for designing an environment that prompts students to help each other learn. It is also true that your students may not have done much successful collaborative learning. Address learners’ inexperience with successful peer involvement in the learning process by providing an explanation of why this approach works and how your students will benefit. Students helping each other learn mimics humans’ innate learning process, a process for which we are genetically and environmentally engineered. This is enough of an explanation, and a powerful one, to help your students understand why peer learning is suitable in the college classroom: their brains are built to learn via collaboration. One of the reasons learning is often difficult in college is precisely because it is not collaborative (see Smith [7] for fascinating reading and plenty of support to convince your students that peer learning works). You can also share with students the idea that most employers will not lecture for fifty minutes and give a test a week later to determine whether employees have earned paychecks --- your students will do in your classroom what they will be doing on the job as they work in groups, make presentations, tutor each other, etc. Their future on-the-job learning will mimic their learning in your classroom. This is a powerful convincer for the process. That peer learning skills help make life-long learning easier is an additional convincing argument given the need for future worker-earners to adapt to, and survive in, the workplace.
Next, describe what the process looks like, what students will do, what outcomes they will produce within what time frame, and how they will access support and resources during the process. This is the key to successful peer learning, and it requires careful planning on your part.
Some planning tips are: 1) peer learning can take many forms --- use a variety of approaches (group work, presentations to the class by teams or individuals, jigsaw technique [8], class discussions in which you solicit alternative explanations from students, etc.); 2) for group work projects, provide a group charter for groups to complete in which they specify who will do what, operational guidelines, contact information, deadlines, etc. --- this gives students confidence you know what you are doing and have the ability to help them succeed with peer learning, and it provides one measuring stick against which to assess performance in many areas; 3) structure the collaborative learning process so that there are assessment points throughout for you and for the students’ self- and peer-assessment (this requires that you identify how you and they will know whether they are succeeding in helping each other learn; progress reports, for example, are one way to accomplish this); 4) support your students by facilitating and acting as a resource in both content and process, a different role from the implicit possessor/dispenser of knowledge role sometimes assumed by lecturers; and, 5) celebrate students’ inventiveness as they discover teaching metaphors, techniques, and approaches you may never have considered in your own presentations.
Assessment Issues
The rules of good formative assessment apply to peer learning (9). Particularly important among these are providing immediate feedback, frequent feedback, and feedback that enables students to clearly distinguish between good and bad choices and decisions (3). You can structure such feedback in group work by defining it and the required check point reports each group creates in the group charter. All peer learning demands careful overview by the instructor in the form of facilitation and oversight; this is why frequent input from learners is important --- it affords you the chance to ensure that no misinformation or misunderstanding exists. Also, it is extremely important in peer learning activities to provide learners guidance in the form of solid rubrics for their output. One successful method is to provide examples of output meeting varying levels of achievement as defined by the rubrics. Journals and other ongoing reports (oral or written) will also keep groups on task and help you to follow their progress.
References and Resources
(1) Springer, L., Stanne, M. E., & Donovan, S. S. (1999). Effects of small-group learning on undergraduates in science, mathematics, engineering and technology: A meta-analysis. Review of Educational Research, 69, 21-51.
(2) Paris, S. G., & Turner, J. C. (1994). Situated motivation. In P. R. Pintrich, D. R. Brown, & C. E. Weinstein (Eds.), Student motivation, cognition, and learning: Essays in honor of Wilbert J. McKeachie (pp. 213-238). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
(3) Michaelsen, L. K., Knight, A. B., & Fink, L. D. (2003). Preface. In L. K. Michaelsen, A. B. Knight, & L. D. Fink (Eds.), Team-based learning: A transformative use of small groups, (pp. vii-xi). Westport, CT: Praeger.
(4) Weimer, M. (2002). Learner-centered teaching: Five key changes to practice. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
(5) Sheetz, L. P. (1995). Recruiting trends: 1995-1996. East Lansing, MI: Collegiate Employment Research Institute, Michigan State University.
(6) Chickering, A. W., & Gamson, Z. F. (1987). Seven principles for good practice in undergraduate education. Wingspread Journal. June
(7) Smith, F. (1998). The book of learning and forgetting. New York: Teachers College Press.
(8) Aronson, E., & Patnoe, S. (1997). The jigsaw classroom: Building cooperation in the classroom. New York: Addison Wesley Longman.
(9) Huba, M. E., & Freed, J. E. (2000). Learner centered assessment on college campuses: Shifting the focus from teaching to learning. Needham Heights, MA: Allyn & Bacon.
IDEA Paper No. 15: Improving Discussions, Cashin and McKnight
IDEA Paper No. 38: Enhancing Learning-and More! - Through Cooperative Learning, Millis ©2005 The IDEA Center
This document may be reproduced for educational/training activities. Reproduction for publication or sale may be done only with prior written permission of The IDEA Center.
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