I’m reading through a number of books and articles related to the scholarship of teaching and learning this summer. One that I read recently was this article (PDF), “Connecting Beliefs with Research on Effective Undergraduate Education” by Ross Miller. There are lots of good points, and teaching tips, in this article. But Miller makes one assertion that doesn’t seem right. He brings up the point, under the general heading of “beliefs”, that “questions arise, both on and off campuses, about whether all students can learn at the college level and whether everyone should attend college” [Miller's emphases]. As to the “should” part of that question, Miller says:
According to Carnevale (2000), from 1998 to 2008, 14.1 million new jobs will require a bachelor’s degree or some form of postsecondary education—more than double those requiring high school level skills or below. Given those data…
We’ve finally made it to final exams week in the second semester of what seemed like the longest academic year ever. I thought I would bump this old post from December 11, 2005 (original with comments here) to give props and encouragement to all the students out there who are getting ready for their exams.
(Inspired by seeing so many students on AIM tonight studying for finals, which for us start tomorrow.)
Let those who are filling the library right now with their bodies and their thoughts
Study hard, but also eventually rest.
Let them realize that success on their exams comes
Not from pulling allnighters
Not from cramming
Not from losing sleep
But as the sweet fruits of a long semester
Of diligence, patience, humility, and sweat
Of losing themselves in the laborious doing
That comes when a long-held dream is finally pursued.
Let them know that …
Good advice for college students from Kill Jill, a college student herself: Give up drinking.
Fact: drinking every weekend (or, in my case, sometimes twice in a weekend) quickly drains your bank account, which is tiny to begin with.
Fact: groceries and an upcoming trip to New York City should be a priority, not a few hours of mixing vodka and Raspberry Sourpuss.
Fact: drinking that much can do serious damage to one’s health.
Fact: drinking every weekend at college leads to death 78% of the time.
OK. So, that last one wasn’t exactly a (documented) fact. But still, you get my point. Anyway, I’ve been 100% sober for 10 days and I plan to be sober for a long time. I can’t afford it and I just don’t feel like it.
She goes on to list seven “Ways To Have Fun In College Without Opening A Bottle Of Anything That Isn’t Coke, Pepsi, orange juice or Snapple”. She’s not a…
If you’re wondering why India is earning a reputation for outpacing the rest of the world in math and science, here’s a data point:
Students of the St Michaels Primary School in Mahim celebrated Children’s Day in a unique way. Instead of reciting poems and participating in fancy dress competitions, these students stumped their parents with their expertise with numbers and logical reasoning.
Intelligence enhancement programme, the brainchild of school’s manager Fr Hugh Fonseca, saw children babble out Vedic mathematic formulas and do complex calculations in a flip second with ease.
“It was wonderful to see my child go up onto the stage and fearlessly rattle out those numbers in front of a huge audience without hesitation,” said Naseem Sheikh, whose son Maqdoom recited skip numbers both forwards and backwards. Echoing her sentiments was Uday Babu, an engineer. “My son Ganesh is a lot…
Yesterday on Twitter, I posted a “tweet” venting asking why it is that a student who keeps making the same mistakes over and over again on assignments, and who receives feedback clearly telling him/her about this mistake and even telling her/him that this is the nth time they’ve made the mistake, won’t come to office hours to get some additional feedback or at least ask some clarifying questions about the mistake they are making. I don’t usually expect replies on Twitter, but I got this one:
Two points in response to this.
Professors aren’t scary. Well, OK, some are — but most are normal human beings who really want to help students. And besides, if the student never comes to office hours, on what basis do they say professors are “scary”? How would they know?
Even if professors are scary, so what? You need the help; you take initiative to get it. This is the way life works, and if …
OMG it’s so simple! Roll up a piece of paper with your cheat notes on it and STICK IT INSIDE A PEN! Then TRY TO READ THE TINY HANDWRITING THROUGH THE CLEAR PLASTIC during the test!
I’m sure it’s OK to immortalize dishonesty on YouTube… Because, like, NOBODY important ever checks YouTube — like teachers, employers, or The Chicago Sun-Times.
Do students really think that this works? Having a little rolled-up piece of paper with microscopic notes on so densely packed together that they threaten to collapse into a black hole, not to mention being sheathed in plastic which blurs the resolution of the notes? How could someone even find those notes legible, let alone useful?
If this young lady wants to come to my college and take a class with me and take one of my tests, I’ll look the other way if she wants to use this little pen trick, because if you haven’t learned the…
This past week saw most of the incoming freshman class converge on my campus for an initial round of freshman orientation. At the end of the month is a much more extensive exposure to orientation, taking up what appears to be 80% of students’ waking hours from the Friday before classes all the way up through the end of the weekend. One has to wonder how much orientation leads to disorientation.
I'm thinking these students aren't learning about studying or time management.
The purpose of a freshman orientation program ought to be, well, to orient freshmen in college — that is, to give students a “compass bearing” in the strange and unfamiliar world of college. Many such programs do not even remotely address or even desire this goal, preferring instead to indoctrinate students into the correct political…
Outside of a few exceptions, college extracurriculars are of minor importance to your efforts to find a job after graduation. There is no benefit to be gained by suffering through an overwhelming load of activities at the college level. [emphasis theirs]
The article makes the point that extracurricular activities in college can add a little color to your job applications later, and of course it’s always healthy to be active in things you enjoy. But overall, they advise that college students keep the number of their activities small, use those activities to surround themselves with interesting people, and don’t be afraid to cut back.
I agree, and this fits with the idea I’ve blogged about before that time is a scarce resource that (like any such resource) requires budgeting and careful management. There are only a certain…
“The following are valid excuses for skipping class: I have a fever of 105 degrees; I need to fly to L.A. to accept an Academy Award; today in class we are reviewing a book I wrote; my leg is caught in a bear trap. The moral of this exercise: Always go to class!“
– from How to Win at College
Here are some memorable excuses I’ve had before:
A student missed class because, he said later, he had to go to the doctor. Fine, I said, just bring me the doctor’s note and I’ll excuse the absence. Instead of a doctor’s note, he brought me a bottle of pills that he said the doctor gave him. The bottle didn’t have a label on it.
A student approached me the day before a final exam to request that he be excused and take the final exam later in the week. The reason? He claimed his dad was a famous NASCAR driver and had called him up that morning…
Stanley Fish has a new book titled Save The World On Your Own Time, in which he challenges professors to “to present the material in the syllabus and introduce students to state-of-the-art methods of analysis. Not to practice politics, but to study it; not to proselytize for or against religious doctrines, but to describe them; not to affirm or condemn Intelligent Design, but to explain what it is and analyze its appeal.” Sounds good, in this day and age of the activist-professor, but the commenters at the related piece at InsideHigherEd.com aren’t convinced Fish is sincere.
I am a mathematician and educator with interests in cryptology, computer science, and STEM education. I am affiliated with the Mathematics Department at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan. The views here are my own and are not necessarily shared by GVSU.
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