To quiz or not to quiz

There has been quite a bit of controversy as to whether or not quizzing periodically and consistently is helpful for students.

Recent research by Batsell and colleagues (2016) has found students performed better across all three different testing conditions where tests were either identical to the quizzes throughout the semester, similar to the quizzes throughout the semester, and completely different both on wording as well as concepts from quizzes throughout the semester. Batsell and colleagues (2016) offer several reasons why this effect may be occurring such as instructor style or type of semester, but the explanation that they believe is most plausible is the daily engagement with the course material. By having scheduled quizzes, students are 1) engaging with bits of information at a time instead of gigabytes (i.e., cramming for their exam the night before) and 2) reviewing the material for a sum total longer than if quizzes were not scheduled (i.e., again not cramming for eight hours the night before).

For the primary source, see Batsell et al. (2016)

“I’m not good at this stuff.”

As ambassadors of our fields for higher education, we often face students who struggle in our courses divert blame by simply stating that they do not have the aptitude for a specific area. Research has actually found that this occurs early in childhood — where six-year-old girls lose confidence in their intelligence and believe that a story character whose gender is not specified has to a male (see BBC link). There are several strategies in combating this issue: understand the student’s foundation, make the content relatable, and simply encourage the student that the area is not solely based on aptitude but hard-work.

Have other strategies? Feel free to leave us your thoughts in a comment!

“Bad Reactions to Bad Reactions”

Mercedes Taylor, a UC Berkeley teaching assistant, offer the following  advice on how “to prevent undergraduates from reacting emotionally to ‘bad’ [lab] results and help them learn the intended concept.”

1. Be positive.

2. Walk students through the possibilities of why they ended up with the results they did.

3. Use the opportunity to discuss the philosophy of science .

Read the article. It’s worth your time.

 

Free Speech on College Campuses

A recent survey has found that more college campuses are becoming less rigid on their free-speech policies, but naturally, this may sometimes be difficult to uphold these privileges and alleviate any animosity created in the classroom when discussing controversial topics. If you are interested in this topic, the TA Project will be holding a workshop next semester named “Dealing with Controversial Topics” that will be discussing these very issues! This workshop will be on 3/1/16 at 12PM at the Busch Campus Student Center Room 120 ABC.

Podcast by Maryellen Weimer on “How to Keep Your Teaching Fresh”

The weekend is here! If you are going venturing somewhere this weekend and you are in need for something that deviates from radio music, you should look into this free podcast by Maryellen Weimer on “How to Keep Your Teaching Fresh.” Click here for the free podcast!

Complaining about Students Nowadays

A wonderful piece by Dr. Maryellen Weimer on the cancerous effects of complaining about ‘students these days’ .. In fact, despite continuously complaining about students being unprepared, unenthusiastic, unmotivated, etc., there is little data that supports that “students these days” are any different from “students those days!”

Approaching the Beginning of the “Job Search”

By far the most nerve-racking period of time for a Ph.D. student — finding a “job.” Between research and teaching, it seems like time flies by. Here is a helpful time table to help you keep on track!

The Use of Humor in Classroom: Appropriate or Not?

As instructors, we take what we teach seriously, which is often results in bland and dry material for students. Dr. Maryellen Weimer discusses how we can use humor (article linked here), to engage students and create a sense of community in our classrooms.

A trade-off between meeting preset deadlines and mastery of the material.

Rutgers University Center for Teaching Advancement and Assessment Research’s Twitter often posts great articles! See this tweet about The Atlantic‘s on focusing mastery of skills over meeting (e.g., degree, semester, exam) deadlines.

Fear of Mistakes

Instructors often take on many roles. One of which is being a parent to the students, and like every parent, we often fear allowing our students make mistakes. Our fear is somewhat rational, however, because mistakes influences their grades, mistakes uses valuable time covering the same content, and mistakes impacts students’ motivation. For a more lengthy discussion, view this article: Are We Afraid to Let Students Make Mistakes? by Dr. Maryellen Weimer.