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Posts Tagged ‘research’

MOOCing around: Week 1 Ending

In assessment of learning, Education, how people learn, innovation in teaching, teaching, teaching with technology, technology on September 10, 2012 at 9:32 am

Group of FishIt’s so interesting to take a class in a subject I haven’t taken in a looooooooong time (statistics).

I’m in a MOOC with 74,999 other students. I’ve used the Khan Academy videos on statistics to help me (and I’m just finishing week one!). I finished the video Koala Sleeping in Treelectures and the first quiz (no score yet) and I’m working on the first assignment due tomorrow (Tuesday, 9/11).  It’s taken me at least 4 hours so far.

Fun, yet daunting. I plan to finish, even if I have to pull a few all-nighters!

According to Kevin Carey, in the article Into the Future With MOOC’s in the Chronicle of Higher Education, MOOCs represent the future of education. He refers to his own experience in a mega-sized face to face economics course as evidence that mass-produced education is not new and that it can be more cost-efficient.

I agree, but only to a certain extent. MOOCs are useful, even for credit (although I’m not taking the stats course for credit). However, the structure of MOOCs must Teacher and classchange to incorporate critical thinking and higher order skills. I think MOOCs are great for those of us who want access to learning…period. I want MOOC creators to keep expanding their subjects and use. For those who need more hands on and for those subjects that require more analysis, MOOCs will not work. Not yet. Not without a mass infusion of ….. je ne sais quoiCalculator & Math Symbolss….a more in depth relationship among  learners, instructors and the critical thinking skills/content.

How will I know whether I’ve learned from this MOOC? There are tests, assignments and (my goal) my increased comfort with and ability to read articles that include statistical analyses. And isn’t that truly what learning is about?

The Semester Has Officially Started….And Yet Another Cheating Scandal

In cheating, Education, institutional responsibilities, integrity, tests on September 5, 2012 at 7:56 am

What is it about learning that inspires cheating? If seems that if you make it to Harvard, you are one of the “smartest [people] in the room.” Picture from movie: Smartestguysintheroom Yet the latest from Harvard is about a number of students who cheated on a take home exam. And according to MIT behavioral economist Dr. Ariely’s blog, there were LOTS of students who (allegedly) cheated–125!! Students claim that they thought collaboration was allowed (although the exam instructions said something different) because they collaborated for other things during class, they skipped lectures and shared notes and because the student guidebook, the Q Guide,  said students in the past had collaborated with the teaching fellows (of course, that’s probably why the instructor included the statement NOT to collaborate!). (Source of this student perspective: Harvard Students Fighting Allegations of Cheating on Exam).  And these are students that educators claim are the brightest and best–that’s how they merited entry into Harvard.

How can educational institutions encourage learning without promoting cheating? I am disappointed, but not surprised, that the “smartest people in the room” remained there and graduated by cheating. Maybe we need to figure out  different ways to measure intelligence.

 

You Work Only 12 Hours Per Week, Do Not Work in the Summer & Have a Sabbatical Every 7 Years?!

In course evaluations, Education, faculty responsibilities, institutional responsibilities, teaching, universal design for learning on June 11, 2012 at 10:58 am

Consumatory Scholarship!?! Sounds like someone eating books and articles!

In the Chronicle article Just Because We’re Not Publishing Doesn’t Mean We’re Not Working, Bruce Henderson argues that faculty Eatingwork is inadequately recognized by the public and by legislators who make demands for accountability. He also notes that “teaching” as an activity in higher education, is not respected. He notes, as an example, that those who do the most teaching (adjunct faculty) receive lower pay.

I agree.

We do not honor teaching as we should. Universities usually measure and reward teaching by counting publications (research), looking for a key number on student evaluations (e.g. 4.0 on a 5 point scale or meeting the department average) and relying on peer evaluations, Publications in one’s area of expertise do not necessarily translate to good teaching, student evaluations are notoriously unreliable (see my latest post on student evaluations) and peer evaluations are only an indicator of one (or two) colleagues’ attendance at one or two classes. Adjunct faculty’s jobs are at risk if they have low student evaluations, even though the link between student evaluations and teaching is tenuous. So, let’s begin measuring teaching effectively: let’s show students, faculty and legislators how and what students learn. Let’s do that using evidence-based teaching practices, explaining how innovations can help improve learning and reward faculty who do their part (and remind others how learners must do their part).

University administration should reward faculty for their teaching accomplishments. And that means ALL teaching faculty, not only tenure-track faculty. Then, the public can begin to see that not only do many teachers work hard, that they work more than 12 hours per week but that we provide a substantial benefit to society.

I sometimes wonder whether there’s an element of classism, anti-feminism and racism in the continual demands for accountability. The University faculty and administrators were overwhelmingly middle-class white males in the 60s. Now, it’s much more diverse. The increase in diversity parallels the increased demands for accountability. And while I know correlation doesn’t mean causality (and accountability demands have complicated causes), it is frustrating to know that for years, higher education faculty faced no obligation to justify existence. During those times, faculty presented material in a way that only certain types of learners (those you might call read-write learners) could succeed. Student studyingTenure was awarded based on a handshake (at least according to some of the faculty who retired just as I came on board) or solely based on the school from which the faculty member obtained his Ph.D.  And while I was successful in that environment, I recognize that my success shouldn’t be the only measure of whether anyone else can garner educational success. I have met students and others who were just as intelligent, but who learn in different ways. So, I recognize that this system of teaching is not the only means of communicating.

I also wonder whether the accountability demands reflect an attack on intellectualism; that the demands represent an attack on those who want to explore and learn. In his blog posts, The Real Ken Jones discusses this in more depth in his “Celebrating Stupidity” series. He focuses on some of the contradictions between science and what some what to believe. Whether the attack on education is related to an attack on intellectualism in general is subject to debate, but there does continue to be a significant attack on education: justified on some grounds but not on others.

So this discussion returns to the topic line: what should we as educators do to let the public and legislators know what we do in the classroom? Regardless of the cause of the controversy, we need to figure out how to address it–how to rebuff the attacks and to go on the offensive. We provide an invaluable service to the community, yet that gets lost in the rhetoric about accountability.  Is using the term “Consumatory Scholarship” and defining it a way to address it? I think not-the essence is in the details. But to the core question I do not yet have an answer.

Do you?

Twearning + Motivation

In Education, faculty responsibilities, how people learn, institutional responsibilities, Motivation, teaching on April 17, 2012 at 12:53 pm

JumpingMotivation to learn, to explore, to engage, seems to be less prevalent in my classes. I seem to have more questions about whether something will be on the test, than curiosity about what a theory means and its implications for individual or business conduct.

Yet according the article Can Colleges Manufacture Motivation, by Dan Barrett, posted in the Chronicle of Higher Education, it seems that motivation is a key factor for student success. According to the article, as students continue with their college careers, motivation declines.  And it seems to be faculty rather than institution-inspired. According to one of the studies cited in the article, there were wider disparities in motivation generated within universities rather than between universities. Recommended ways to motivate included multiple opportunities to review assignments and re-submit, permitting students to choose topics and permitting students options on formats. Institutions can motivate students by determining which faculty motivate students most and assigning them to teach the introductory courses. At the same time, different people are motivated by different things and what inspires one can sound a death knell for another.

Can motivation also explain the success of the Twearning exercises where I’ve combined Twitter with Learning? I’m going to add a few questions about motivation to the post-survey about Twitter use; I wish I’d thought to add them to the pre-survey. Perhaps motivation is part of the explanation for the success of Twearning to date. So far, no students have dropped the class, altho there have been varying degrees of participation. If all stay until the end of the course, that itself will be a first during the five years I’ve taught this particular course.

Fair Use, Smair Use….If It’s on the Web or Digital, It’s Free, Especially to Educators, Isn’t It?!

In Education, technology, using videos in teaching on April 16, 2012 at 12:42 pm

Information on the web is free for anyone to use. That’s what I’ve heard students say from time to time. It is relatively easy to debunk that myth by discussing creator’s rights under copyright law.

What’s more challenging is helping faculty identify that same principle: we know there’s a a copyright law. We know there’s an exception to that law called fair use. What is more difficult is to determine whether our conduct fits within the definition of fair use.In the article Have College Professors Become Digital Pirates?, Andrew Chow, J.D., discusses this very issue. Universities and faculty have been sued for including copyrighted material in e-reserves, for copying videos from film to digital format (UCLA won that one) and for digitizing books. As the article notes, there are several factors courts consider in determining whether a use constitutes fair use, including the purpose and  type of use,  the amount of use and the potential impact copying would have on the market. Many Universities devote websites to assisting faculty (and students) determine fair use (see e.g. the Copyright Clearance Center’s Checklist).

This does raise a question I’ve raised before: shouldn’t copyright law be changed to address the new ways information is made available? Shouldn’t videos, as digital information, be priced differently? Should copyright law be changed to make it easier for educators to use copyrighted information in the interests of furthering knowledge? I consider it a great compliment if someone uses what I’ve created (it’s still a rare occurrence, though!). I would like acknowledgement, so others can find and use it, but feel no obligation to chase after someone who used what I created.

Would I feel differently if that someone was not an educator, but a corporation that made money from my work? Probably-I’d Giantexpect that corporation to provide me some compensation, that way we could both share in the profit made. More importantly, though, my work, my words, what I’ve developed, has not been developed in isolation. I have stood on the shoulders of giants to get where I am today. So, I am happy to share and help others learn.

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….

Oh, No, We Won’t Go-Academia and Digital Information

In Education, institutional responsibilities, tests on April 2, 2012 at 9:06 am

Digital information everywhere. Digital books. Digital images. Digital videos. Digital…but not in the academy. In the academy we still place extraordinary attention to print media as the basis for tenure and promotion. We ignore the digital revolution that has occurred all around us.

typewriter

Instead, the structures of universities often fail to reward and champion digital innovators, particularly in guidelines for promotion and authorship that privilege traditional scholarship.

If we do not create mechanisms that reward faculty and students who form digital-research communities, then innovation may bypass universities entirely, putting us at risk of falling behind institutes, private companies, and even individuals.

Randolph Hall, Vice President for Research at USC, made this point in a recent article titled Scholarship, Liberated from Paper at Last in the Chronicle of Higher Education. He notes that after discussion with faculty at his institution, the faculty agreed to include revise the process for tenure and promotion to include recognition of the value of a faculty member’s digital research.

Change occurs slowly in academic institutions. I’ve made that point in other posts. You would think academia would be at the forefront of forging new directions and new research areas. You would think that academia would be the first to devise new ways of thinking about how people learn and in fostering an environment of analyzing tradition and also challenging tradition. If you thought that, you would be wrong. Academia is tied down to traditional methods despite the progress in the rest of society. For example, information forwarded for academic tenure and review at my university is still wedded to paper documents. The process includes, for example, instructions on how the faculty member should label his or her [paper] binder. So, even though all the documents are created electronically, they must be converted to paper for the review. ePortfolios (see .e.g. Trent Babson’s ePortfolio links) or programs like LiveBinder could allow for that same information to be provided in electronic form.

u_s__supreme_courtWhy are academic institutions wedded to paper? Paper is perceived as more permanent; however there are ways to preserve electronic documents. And if the courts permit electronic filing of documents (see e.g. e-filing of electronic briefs) where finances and other matters are at stake, then our University should recognize the value of electronic documents. Also, if the concern is the rigor of the scholarship, public exposure and peer review can help to increase rigor. Research that is available to the public helps to promote additional learning for the public and for the researcher. It could also lead to additional research and creative use of that research.

So, as noted in the Hall article, academia must recognize the value of digital research. Hall notes that Universities like Harvard have createst tubested ways to disseminate research to the public more quickly so that others can read and comment on it. My own experience in posting on SlideShare and on this blog has allowed me to present research findings, (e.g. results of using Twitter in the classroom) to many others. I have had 80 views on a presentation on plagiarism-far more than attended the actual presentation. And with more exposure, I have more opportunity to learn more, test my research and work to make it better.  That’s much more exposure than posting the article in a paper journal that requires that people go to a physical library to access it.

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: