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Posts Tagged ‘course redesign’

Twearning: The Experience

In assessment of learning, Education, innovation in teaching, teaching with technology, technology, Uncategorized on May 18, 2012 at 9:51 am
Chart Comparing Grades

Chart Comparing Course Grades Spring 2012 to Spring 2011

The jury’s in. The verdict is: Twearning was modestly successful.

Twearning

Twearning is the use of Twitter in the classroom to promote student engagement and learning. In this post I explained how I had incorporated the use of Twitter in the Sports Marketing Law and Ethics class at my University. The class was composed of juniors and seniors at my university. It is a required course for the Sports Marketing major. Most students were Sports Marketing Major.  The class was taught as a face-to-face class. The class had 18 students. One student was female; the remainder male. Students represented a variety of ethnic backgrounds.

Use of Twitter in this Course  Follow Icon-Twitter

Students were required to do several things:

Tweet one time during class and twice weekly outside class (15/315 points)

Provide group summaries of tweets for the previous week (15/315 points)

Follow tweets of 3 professional athletes and write a social media policy based on the information (50/315 points)

Student Reaction

The following are unedited student comments.

Best of Using Twitter

  • it helped me with my classmates easier. If I had a comment or curiosity, it was easy to get a response and the information i needed.
  • Seeing how it can be used both professionally and casually as well.  As well as quick communication with a very wide

    variety of people.

  • Best thing was the social interaction in and out of the class. If someone needed to ask a quick question, they could easily send a tweet or direct message to someone and get a response back, fairly quickly.
  • Made me stay up to date with the course material, made sure that I was engaged during class time as well.
  • Following athletes (2 students)
  • That every chapter was summed up with the use of twitter and in our own words which helps us learn because most students can relate to the way we learn information.
  • That it made everyone post something about the course in their own words.
  • I got to communicate with my class mates and view the most popular topics and it helped me review and memorize course material
  • The best thing about using twitter was that it kept me active in the class and out of class.
  • learning new social media
  • I appreciated using twitter in class because it allowed us to read material and summarize what our findings. It also helped keep us up to date with a world of technology that is evolving very fast.

Worst of Using Twitter

  • It the hard was remembering to tweet all the time. it was not bad to use at all.
  • Sometimes the character limit.  But that forced me to be concise.
  • Having to tweet twice outside of class was probably the worst thing. Students would wait till the last minute to tweet and it would consist of some random fact in the book. I feel that tweeting during in class is more effective.
  • It was another thing to have to remember to do outside of class, also finding the tweets of my classmates for the group summaries was time consuming.
  • Posting 2 tweets outside of class
  • Saving the tweets and having to read through them for possible legal issues.
  • On the learning aspect nothing was wrong, just making every tweet count and worth giving the right information.

  • It kind of became too much after using it over and over again
  • I did not have any problems
  • I have nothing bad to say about twitter. It was fun to use for class.
  • use was unrealistic
  • I found that using twitter sometimes took away from personal interaction with classmates and professor. However, it seems that technology is taking us that way everywhere we look.

Preliminary Conclusions

Student performance, as measured by exam results and course grades, was better. An implication from the exam results (noted in earlier posts) and the course grades was that students in the middle performed better. Students at the top tended to perform well no matter what the format.  Note that I’ve only included raw, unedited student comments here. I have not yet conducted an analysis of the pre and post exam results nor have I compared the pre and post surveys of student perceptions of Twitter use and student engagement.

The following are first-blush comments. The student comments summarized here indicate:

  • It was a useful tool to communicate with each other
  • It was a useful method of learning by summarizing and seeing their classmates’ summaries of the material

Students liked least tweeting outside of class. That’s an interesting point because  the students also seemed to find the summaries of those tweets one of the best things about using Twitter in this course. One thing which I noted in a previous

post, is that permitting students to use their laptops and, gasp, cell phones, did not hurt students’ performance in the class. This was contrary to what I expected when  decided to, for the first time, drop the no cell phone rule.

This may seem like the end of the road. The exciting part is to conduct more analysis to determine what worked, what didn’t and why.

I’m considering this for one of my online classes in the fall; it may help foster more student engagement. Also, the withdrawal rates tend to be high in the particular class I’m thinking about and Twitter use might help reduce that rate. I’m also considering other uses.

This has been an interesting journey. More to come…..

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And You Thought I Was Just Goofing Around

In how people learn, innovation in teaching, teaching on May 17, 2012 at 12:10 am

sleeping puppy

I can’t count the number of times I have discovered a new way of teaching a concept or solved a problem while taking a walk, driving aimlessly or riding my bicycle. Those “aha” moments occur when I least expect them and when I’m not concentrating on the unsolved issue.

According to Jason Gots, who wrote Why Top Innovators Make Time to Waste Time, 3M, one of the most innovative companies in the U.S., has adopted “wasting time” as a core philosophy. According to Gots’ article, 3M has a 15% rule that encourages employees to spend 15% of their time “doing nothing.”  During this 15% time, employees are encouraged to do what helps them be creative: take a nap or play games. This was to encourage employees to solve problems in different ways and to think creatively.

And according to the article, science supports that philosophy. Quoting from the article:

Joydeep Bhattacharaya, a psychologist studying attention and creative problem-solving at Goldsmiths, University of London, has managed to pinpoint creative insight in the brain. Moments before subjects solve a tricky creative problem, a steady stream of alpha waves emanates from the right hemisphere of the brain – the half more closely associated with abstract thinking than with tightly focused logical reasoning.  What stimulates alpha waves? Laughter, a warm shower, a game of ping pong – activities that we find relaxing and pleasurable and that give the mind freedom to wander. Creative workers consistently report arriving at solutions to problems they’ve been struggling with for weeks while lying in bed on a lazy Sunday morning.

3M’s philosophy and the science of creativity are consistent with my own experience. I find that when I “work” or concentrate intensely for too long, I get work done, but I may feel incredibly rushed and unsettled. Occasionally I feel as though I’m missing something. During that time, I feel as though there’s another solution somewhere–a solution that’s elusive.

How can we use”time wasting” to promote learning? Should we provide “play” time during classes? I know that when I assign cases or scenarios for  small group discussions in class, some groups finish earlier than others. To keep those students busy, I plan an additional step for the students in that group. I might add a question or ask that group to complete an additional task. Cat looking into the camera

But maybe I should relax. Maybe I should permit the students who finish early to discuss other classes they’re taking and how well they’re completing work in another classes. Those off-task discussions seldom last more than 3-4 minutes during a 50 minute class [that’s only 8% of the time]. And maybe those discussions help students reflect on the information.

Are there other ways we can use this information to improve learning?

So, the next time you see me staring into space, don’t disturb me. I might just be creating new and innovative solutions.

Professor Rock Star

In innovation in teaching, teaching, teaching with technology on May 13, 2012 at 12:01 pm

Examples of a change in teaching: keeping students engaged, promoting learning, edutainment. Does it work to promote learning? Some of the students say “yes!”

Professor Rock Star.

Twearning: And the Learning Goes On…..Exam 2

In assessment of learning, Education, how people learn, teaching with technology, technology, tests on April 10, 2012 at 2:11 pm

Good news. Look at the chart! Twitter in the classroom seems to work; even with the more complicated materials. This chart shows that the spring 2012 grades lean toward As and Bs.

spring2011-12gradecomparison

The second exam is more difficult than the first because it requires more application of concepts to scenarios and less of the basics. You can see from the chart that in Spring 2012 there were more As (2, instead of none in Spring 2011).  There were an equal number of “Bs” in Spring 2011 and Spring 2012. There were more Cs in Spring 2012 then Spring 2011 (7, instead of 4 in Spring 2011) and fewer Ds and Fs. This result is consistent with the results of Exam 1.

So, what does this mean? Grades are one measure of determining whether learning has occurred. To the extent that exam scores improved over last year, I have evidence that using Twitter may have had an impact. As I noted in the earlier post, though, this result may not be terribly surprising in light of the fact that requiring Twitter required an extra review of the material (because students, in groups, had to summarize the weekly tweets and present those summaries to the class).

Then again, the fact that I permitted students to have their cell phones cell phoneavailable during class demonstrates that, at least at this level, and at least with a small class, that it did not hurt overall class performance on exams. It is equivalent too, in the old days (when I was a student), to students reading a newspaper reading_a_newspaperduring class (some faculty permitted it, some didn’t) or passing notes to other students. Students are distracted, at least for that time, but it didn’t hurt their overall performance.

Keep tuning in: students must turn in ePortfolios and final projects later….

Twearning-First Exam Results Updated

In assessment of learning, critical thinking, Education, how people learn, innovation in teaching, teaching, teaching with technology on March 21, 2012 at 12:14 pm

I’m using Twitter in my class this semester. This class is composed of 18 students taking a required course in the Ethical and Regulatory Environment of Sports Marketing. Students range from second semester juniors to graduating seniors. Students must use Twitter to post tweets during class, post two tweets about course content (textbook readings or current events) outside class and prepare group reports summarizing the weekly tweets and present those summaries in class. This means, that during the class, students have laptops, smart phones and other electronic devices open during class.

I haven’t analyzed the data on the number of tweets per week, but my estimate is an average of nearly 50 tweets total each week (some students forget). I’ve found that the weekly summaries are good reinforcements and these summarizes also give me the opportunity to correct any misconceptions that arise from the tweets.

In the earlier post, I briefly compared the exam results between the Spring 2011 and Spring 2012 courses.  I had only the results of the objective portion of the exam, so it was a preliminary comparison.

After completing the full exam, I’m now comparing the results this semester to the results last spring for this course. The following is the chart comparing the grade distribution.

Online Graphing

The results remain positive.

Grade distribution

There was a larger number of As and Bs in the Spring 2012 course (10/18 or 56%) compared to the Spring 2011 course (5/18 or 23%).  Interestingly, the number of Ds and Fs remained the same. The shift in grades was in the number of Cs: down from 33.3% in Spring 2011 to 16.5% in Spring 2012. There was a greater percentage of As in the Spring 2012 class (an increase of 400%).

Interpretation of results

These are small classes so although these results are promising, this doesn’t mean they can be translated to larger courses.

It appears that the use of Twitter in this way fostered student active engagement (I conducted a pre-survey and I’ll conduct a post-survey on engagement to determine whether that the students felt that Twitter use improved engagement with the course and the material.).  Twitter use apparently fostered  more focus on the course material-students were actually engaged in taking notes in class (at least to send the tweet during class and then the two tweets outside of class) and reviewing the material (at least when the groups submitted and presented the group summary). That fits with more traditional theories on learning that the more you engage with the material, the more you will remember.

A portion of the exam was answers to essay questions. I graded those answers anonymously, but I could have been biased toward students doing well.

One interesting conclusion from this small amount of data was that use of laptops & cell phones in class didn’t decrease performance. Even if Twitter use wasn’t the cause of the increase in As and Bs, it doesn’t appear that it had a negative impact on performance. Because this was a small class, and because I typically walk around when I teach, it may be that students were more careful about using the laptops and phones appropriately than in another, larger class.

There are undoubtedly other, better measures to assess impact-I’m using a a simple one. Behavior analysis through using observers who rate behavior, would probably be more accurate in addition to the exam results, but this is the beginning of this journey, not the end, so stay tuned!

Lecture Fail? Long Live the Lecture!

In how people learn, teaching, teaching with technology, using videos in teaching on March 9, 2012 at 9:57 am

I love a good lecture!

Lecturers can be humorous, thought-provoking, information-filled, interesting and inspirational ways to stimulate the mind. 

Haven’t you attended a lecture and left laughing? Or thinking that you’d love to learn more about that topic? Or been impressed with the presentation style of the lecturer? I have, many times.

Lectures have served valuable purposes in higher education. It’s how I learned much of what I now know. I still listen to lectures available on Ted Talks to gain different perspectives and to find presentations that I use to stimulate students’ reflection on and critical evaluation of a myriad of topics. Lectures can make you say “I knew that!” and thus confirm what you know or “I had no idea!” to wake you up to a different viewpoint.

[I also love reading good books. StudyI now read most of them electronically. I can become immersed in a good book. I find it quite exciting to purchase a book about which I’ve heard interesting things, or to purchase a book by my favorite author, then set aside time to read and think about the book. Some of the books are for work, some are for pure pleasure but either way, it’s an exciting journey to select and read a new book. My excitement is palpable…but I digress.]

So before we declare the death of the lecture, we should consider how it can be used:

  • To convey information (now available through Wikipedia or a Google search?)
  • To model a way of thinking (which now can be recorded for students to review; which may now be available through video resources created by others)
  • To integrate diverse perspectives and views into a relatively short presentation (Now available through mashups that can integrate vocal, photography, video, text and other delivery methods)
  • Others?

Although there are other ways to present information, lectures can and continue to be one valuable tool in the in an educator’s toolbox.

I have also attended boring, uninspired, lectures presented by some who seem to drone on forever, either making the same point in exactly the same way multiple times, who read from lecture notes only, who are not engaged with the audience [or even, it seems, aware of the audience!]. So students have a valuable point when they talk about boring lectures.

I’ve explained how I can enjoy (and learn from) a good lecture. I’ve also explained how some lectures can be boring.  But not everyone learns in exactly the same way. And I must admit, I learn better, sometimes, when I work with something. Haven’t you been working on a lesson and realized that you learned it much better now that you’re teaching it?

And I frequently learn better when I have to manipulate, say, objects on a map, or draw a diagram. So, although I enjoy (and I hope sometimes deliver) good lectures, I know that listening to lectures is not the only way to learn. It may not even be the best way to learn. And it is not the only way to teach. Look at my initial success using Twitter.

There has been a great deal of research on learning since educators first began using lectures extensively. I will refer to that research in this blog-I referred to some of that research in another post. That research should help drive instruction in higher education.

Teaching (and learning) are great challenges!

Twearning-Twitter + Learning: First Exam Results

In assessment of learning, how people learn, innovation in teaching, teaching, teaching with technology on March 3, 2012 at 12:29 pm

I am very excited! The results for the multiple choice-true false section of the first test were great! In Jumping in excitementthis class, I am testing the use of Twitter as a social media supplement to the class. I explain how I’m using Twitter in this post. In sum, students must post tweets 4 times per week (once during each of two classes per week and two outside of class).

Why am I excited? There were more “Bs” and less “Ds” this semester than with the first exam for last spring’s course. I haven’t made a complete analysis yet-I’m waiting to finish grading the essay portion of the exam, but compared to last year, the numbers are up. Last spring, on the first exam, the grades ranged from 12-27/30; the median was 73.3 percent; and the average was 72.6 percent. This semester, on the objective portion of the test, the range was 11-18/20; the median was 80%; and the average was 77.5 percent. Look at this comparison of the grade distribution for spring 2012 and spring 2011:

Graph of First Exam Grade Distribution

Graph of First Exam Grade Distribution

These are promising initial results, although I need to do more research and analysis to determine the cause of this good result and whether it can be sustained.

This is what Lolu, one of the students said about the way Twitter was used in this class:

Ditch the Technology-Just Teach!

In assessment of learning, critical thinking, faculty responsibilities, how people learn, innovation in teaching, teaching, teaching with technology on February 21, 2012 at 6:02 pm

I love new technology tools. I’m waiting for the first truly functional house-cleaning, grocery-story-shopping, laundry-washing and folding, meal-preparing robot á la the Jetsons’ Rosie, the robot maid. I prefer playing around with my computer, my iPad, my tablet and my iPhone instead of….working. And lucky for me, my day job permits me to play around with technology and work at the same time.

I was also moved by the video produced by Michael Wesch’s anthropology class that focused on students’ lack of engagement with teaching, with learning, and with the material. The video highlighted issues that many of us (faculty) had ignored about students’ world. And I agreed with Wesch’s focus on creating technology-based and enhanced real-life projects to reach and engage students.

Now Wesch is re-thinking his focus. In Jeffrey Young’s recent interview of Wesch, summarized in the Chronicle Article article, “A Tech-Happy Professor Reboots After Hearing His Teaching Advice Isn’t Working,” Wesch noted that other professors had tried his suggestions on technology use and had informed him that the technology did not work. In the article, Young describes Wesch’s encounters with faculty who lecture and who make a connection with students in the lecture (and who therefore believe learning has occurred). Those faculty connect with students despite the decision to forgo technology. According to  Young, Wesch’s key point was that with all technology-enhanced teaching techniques, the technique’s success ultimately depended on the intangible “bond between professor and student.” Wesch’s point was that although technology can engage students, the students’ connection with the faculty helped determine student success.

I agree, with reservations.

The article does not refer to the research that supports the position that if the students “connect” through lecture that the expected learning occurs. My own research (of one, as a student in college, 30 + years ago!) supports the idea, in part, that a dynamic lecturer can connect with students and encourage them to want to learn. My own research (same standard as before!) also supports that there were some “dynamic” lecturers who neither engaged me nor fostered my desire to learn. My desire to learn in those situations was internal: I wanted to maintain my high grades so I could know enough to get into the courses I really wanted! And frankly, if dynamic lectures are truly the only significant ways to impart knowledge, I have a heretical suggestion: hire actors/actresses, train them well to express enthusiasm and “connection” and let them teach the courses! If research supported that lectures are the best/only way to promote learning, then students would succeed at much higher rates than they do now. Learning is more complicated than listening to a lecture. And there are multiple ways for faculty to connect with students.

There are intangibles that promote a connection between faculty and students so that students learn. Some exist with lectures. Some exist in online classes when TN_crca_dogs_friendsstudents, when prompted appropriately, engage in thought provoking discussions. Some exist in face-to-face small group discussions where faculty and students examine topics. Some exist when students meet with faculty outside of the classroom. Some exist when students participate in out of the classroom service-learning projects. Some exist when students are immersed in the topic through technology or through, for example, performance. The point is that as faculty we can choose, adapt test and research teaching methods to determine which works well for students and for the faculty. And if it promotes critical thinking, deeper inquiry or other noteworthy educational goals, then learning has occurred regardless of the technology.

That’s the real message!

So yes, Rosie would be a wonderful addition to my household! But if I had a house filled with young children (as opposed to my current household that includes one grandchild to whom I’ve introduced technology and who embraces it just as her grandmother does!) I would be sure to let those children know that Rosie’s there to Jetsons_TVfamilymake one aspect of life easier, but that Rosie is not there to substitute for every aspect of life. Rosie may clean, for example, but I would want my young children to know what it means to make things dirty, what dirt is, and why it could be harmful (or useful, depending on the discussion). In other words, the technology is a tool that can be used to broaden students learning and to appeal to, or reach students. It is not a substitute for the hard work of learning (and teaching).

Still Adrift in Education

In assessment of learning, course evaluations, critical thinking, faculty responsibilities, institutional responsibilities, teaching on February 15, 2012 at 1:19 pm

In his essay,’ Academically Adrift’: the News Gets Worse and Worse, Kevin Carey, explains that there is more information that not only do college students fail to learn in college, but also that students who perform lower on the CLA (Collegiate Learning Assessment) also fail to find financial security after graduation.

In an earlier post, I discussed some of the conclusions I reached from the sections of the book which I had read. Those conclusions were:

  • There is an inverse relationship between the number of faculty publications and a faculty orientation toward students.
  • The higher students’ grades in the course, the more positive the student evaluations.
  • Grade inflation probably exists.

In a later post, I discussed critical thinking as a concern: that students don’t “enjoy” the challenge of traditional problem solving the way I (and other faculty) do and that has an impact on whether students learn. If students do not see tackling and solving problems as a challenge (and we as educators should do as much as we can to make problem-solving interesting), then there will be a significant impact on student learning.

A Not So Radical Transformation in a Core Business Course

In the introductory business law course that is required for all business majors, all the faculty teaching the course agreed to make substantial changes in the way the course was taught in order to acknowledge and address perceived efficiencies: students lack of college-level ability to read, college-level ability to write and need to improve critical thinking. Students complained a great deal about the additional work.

Assessing and Working to Improve Reading Skills

Although my own experience with students confirms that it would help for them to have more practice reading and writing, the students did not agree. When asked whether My Reading Lab (a publisher-created product) helped them, students said no:

WhetherMyReadingLabHelped-BA18F11

Note that this response is only the student’s perceptions. We have not yet completed an analysis to determine whether those who performed better on My Reading Lab performed better on the tests or in the course. We will work on analyzing that data later. This also does not included longitudinal data, i.e. would students, upon reflection, decide that they had learned more than they thought by the additional practice reading. However, what this data does show is that students did not embrace the additional reading practice and testing requirement.

Reading the Textbook

Student preparation for class is a concern. Many students do not read before attending class; they attended class then read after class.  In addition, students did not study. As part of the course redesign, we required quizzes prior to students attending class. Students (74.2%) agreed that the quizzes helped them keep up with the reading.  Even though the students said the quizzes helped them keep up with the reading, many still didn’t read everything. The following graph lists the students responses about whether they had read the textbook (this is at the end of the semester):

Percentageofreadingscompleted-BA18F11

Note that 40/202 or 19.8% read 90% or more of the readings and 80/202 or 39.6% read 80-89% of the readings. That means that nearly 60% of the class read 80% or more of the readings. These are the results obtained after faculty required that students read and take a quiz on the material before attending class. Thus, students were more motivated to keep up with the reading. How would these results differ if the students had not been required to take a quiz before attending class?

Studying

Student preparation and studying. The following graph includes information on the hours that students studied.

TimespentstudyingBA18F11

According to these self-reports, 21.2% of students studied between 1 and 3 hours per week, 27.7% of students studied between 3 and 5 hours per week, and 21.7% of students studied between 5 and 7 hours per week.  Students should have studied nearly 8 hours per week (2 hours per week outside class for each hour of class-this was a 4 unit course). In Chapter 4 of Academically Adrift, the authors note that students report spending 12 hours per week on their courses outside of class.  According to figure 4.2 of the book, in a 7 day week, students spent approximately 7% of their time studying.

Conclusions so far

The educational process requires that the faculty and the student participate, and if the students have not completed their share, then education and learning wouldn’t necessarily take place. I don’t know how this data compares to other studies on student reading, but it is challenging to help learning if both parties are not fully invested. Students have a variety of reasons for that lack of involvement, but if the investment in education is relatively small, then improvement in learning will be small.

In addition, this past semester, my student course evaluations were much lower (this was also partly due to a change in the institution’s survey evaluation instrument). Because I am tenured, I do not face losing my job over the changes in my student evaluations (although adjunct faculty face a different reality when it comes to being rehired). However, adjunct faculty depend on good student evaluations in order to keep their jobs. If that is the case, adding rigor to a class could cost that faculty member his or her job.

Using Research on Learning to Guide Teaching: Huh?!

In how people learn, innovation in teaching on February 6, 2012 at 7:21 am

It seems perfectly sensible and logical. As educators, we should take advantage of the research on how people learn and use it to guide our teaching. But we don’t! Instead, we stick with the tried and true (I did it this way, I learned this way and if students don’t get it, that’s their problem!) I’ve discussed this issue in other posts, for example, Is Higher Education Ready to Change, but it’s worth repeating.

Harvard recently held a one day symposium on the issue to try to encourage faculty to incorporate cognitive research findings into their teaching. This conference kicked off Harvard’s receipt of a $40-million dollar gift. The gift forms the basis of grants to faculty for Harvard’s Initiative on Learning and Teaching.

In a Chronicle article, Harvard Seeks to Jolt University Teaching, Dan Barrett summarizes explanations of the purposes for the symposium and workshop. Barrett quotes Dr. Weiman, a Nobel prize winning physicist, who has conducted research on science education and how students learn, and who explained that faculty often teach by “habits and hunches.” This is partially because most faculty are content experts and not pedagogy experts.

Other conference speakers noted that students are changing, and that, for example, students are not as curious as before.  Dr. Mahzarin R. Banaj debunked the popular belief that teaching should be designed to fit diverse learning styles-e.g. kinesthetic or visual styles. Others noted the importance of quizzing and frequent writing.

So what dDivingoes this mean? It means that Universities should encourage faculty to develop evidence-based teaching practices. It means that faculty workloads would have to be adjusted to permit time for faculty to implement and evaluate new methods of teaching. It means that Universities should assist faculty to assess the impact of these new methods of teaching. The University of Central Florida has a center devoted to helping faculty assess the impact of their teaching.  I’m ready to try it!