Tag Archives: students

April 8, 2014, 2:58 pm

The problem is not the students.

Last week I posted what I considered to be an innocuous and mildly interesting post about a proposed formal definition of flipped learning. I figured it would generate a few retweets and start some conversations. Instead, it spawned one of the longest comment threads we’ve had around here in a while – probably the longest if you mod out all the Khan Academy posts. It was a comment thread that made me so angry in places that it has taken me a week to calm down to the point where I feel I can respond.

It takes a bit of backstory to explain why I was so emotionally worked up over some of the comments in that thread, so bear with me for a minute.

We’re in week 13 of our semester here. I am teaching three courses (two preps), all using flipped learning models. One of these courses is part of the General Education curriculum, and the other serves mostly students in the CS…

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March 6, 2014, 2:25 pm

Getting student buy-in for the inverted calculus class

370413613_6869b53f24_mSo far, regarding the inverted/flipped calculus course, we’ve discussed why I flipped the calculus class in the first place, the role of self-regulated learning as a framework and organizing principle for the class, how to design pre-class activities that support self-regulated learning, and how to make learning objectives that get pre-class activities started on a good note. This is all “design thinking”. Now it’s time to focus on the hard part: Students, and getting them to buy into this notion of a flipped classroom.

I certainly do not have a perfect track record with getting students on board with an inverted/flipped classroom structure. In fact the first time I did it, it was a miserable flop among my students (even though they learned a lot). It took that failure to make me start thinking that getting student buy-in has to be as organized, systematic, and well-planned as…

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July 26, 2008, 12:46 pm

"The faculty/student nonagression pact"

From a 2004 review by George Leef of Patrick Allitt’s book I’m the Teacher, You’re the Student:

[M]atters might improve considerably if the rest of the faculty were also fighting against the student aversion to reading, but few of them probably are. Allitt doesn’t say much about his colleagues, but I suspect he knows that many of them have given in to what Murray Sperber calls the faculty/student non-aggression pact: Students get light assignments and good grades in return for expecting little instructional effort from their professors. Allitt’s willingness to stay and fight when much of the rest of the faculty has surrendered is commendable, but if only a small number of professors insist that students read and understand, the college experience is just the skeletal remains of its former self.

The bolded passage is a dead-on appropriate term for much of what goes on under the guise …

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June 16, 2008, 4:03 pm


I’m looking back over my statements of teaching philosophy from 2001 (when I was searching for my current job), 2002, and 2003 and then comparing them with the new and improved one. I’m noticing that, back in 2001-2003, my teaching “philosophy” was more of a laundry list of pedagogical techniques that I engage myself in when teaching. “I use lots of active learning.” “I measure my students’ progress using a variety of assessment techniques.” “I am a firm believer in the use of computer technology in mathematics courses.” And so on.

Whereas, now, my focus is much more on the big picture — on what makes me who I am as a teacher, what makes me tick, what you will find in any instance of my teaching, regardless of technique or technology used, as well as what goes on behind my teaching. I am saying, “Here’s what drives me. Here are my core beliefs about education, teaching, students, and…

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June 2, 2008, 1:16 pm

Simul kids et adults

I’m working on updating some of my professional documents, including my curriculum vitae and my Statement of Teaching Philosophy (SOTP). Both of these are badly out of date; I don’t think I’ve touched either one since I was up for tenure in 2005. That’s too bad, especially the SOTP; it seems like professors ought to be constantly re-examining their core philosophies behind teaching and having a critical look at what really characterizes what they do in the classroom.

The new SOTP is absorbing some flavor of recent developments in my personal life on the faith front. Since joining the Lutheran church, I’ve become more exposed to — and more appreciative of — the concept of holding paradoxical pairs of ideas in tension with each other and having a real truth emerge out of the dialectic between the two. In Lutheran theology, for example, we have the idea of simul justus et peccator — the…

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January 9, 2008, 12:51 pm

Finding success at MIT, and anywhere else

I completely missed College Chronicles, a “blog-based reality series that follows real students attempting to overhaul their study habits”, until the first of three wrap-up episodes posted today at Study Hacks. That episode checks in with Leena, a student at MIT, who had a successful semester academically after some initial troubles.

The changes she made which had the biggest impact on her success?

  • The act of realistically plotting out when I was going to do things and how much time they would take.
  • GOING TO CLASS. It makes life so much easier.
  • Studying early enough to ask my questions at office hours.
  • Doing homework in office hours.
  • Not going back to my room until I absolutely had to.

Although Leena is probably studying rocket science at MIT, note that her keys to success in college are not rocket science: managing time responsibly, going to class, not procrastinating with…

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January 1, 2008, 9:03 am

Beating bad study habits in 2008

Happy New Year to all of you out there. For those of you about to start back to school (I don’t until February thanks to our January Term), Study Hacks has five bad study habits to swear off in 2008. Here’s a clip from the first one, which is “Studying Without a Plan”:

Do you still use “study” as a specific verb? For example, as in: “I’m going to go study, see you in 12 hours.” If so, you’re in trouble. “Study” is ambiguous. No one can “study.” What they can do is specific review activities, such as “convert first month of lecture notes into question/evidence/conclusion format,” or “quiz and recall study guides 1 to 3.”

I can’t recall the number of times a student has come to the office, having done poorly on a test or other assessment, and plaintively says “…but I STUDIED!” To which I reply, “OK, so tell me what you did.” And there’s often a stunned silence -…

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December 6, 2007, 8:29 am

Calling all student bloggers

The comment on yesterday’s post from Matt, an undergrad in math and computer science at Carnegie-Mellon and blogger at Relatively Speaking, reminded me of just how much I appreciate blogs written by students. As a professor, my job on the “micro” scale is to design and teach mathematics courses and do stuff to help the college operate. But my vocation on the “macro” scale is to help students to think well and to chart their course through life. I like to think that blogging is an extension of that vocation beyond my everyday campus role, and it always excites me to be able to interact with students like Matt who are working hard at the business of learning.

So I’d like to ask any student blogger — especially undergraduates but also high school/homeschool students and graduate students — who is actively maintaining a blog that seriously reflects on their studies and their lives to…

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