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ES2012 notes – poster session May 7, 2012

Posted by aquillam in education, teaching.
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I will be posting some brief notes about the Enriching Scholarship sessions I attend this week.Please note (especially for this post) that I have a bias toward teaching astronomy, so what I take away could be radically different from what you might take away,

My big take away from the poster session this morning is that students learn best by doing. From learning the piano to Statistics, if students have something that they can explore further outside of class, they seem to retain more and develop a deeper understanding of the material. The techniques for giving students more range from simply providing screencasts they can replay after class, to interactive computer simulations, or even having the students go out and teach high school students!

Getting appropriate materials to students was also a big topic. Several posters talked about assessing students abilities before they actually enter the class, and tailoring the work to the student. In some cases, it meant assessing the students for placement in the most appropriate class. In others, it meant ensuring that some students got supplemental material or exercises to catch them up with their classmates. For example, the instructor may point one group to one interactive simulation, while another group is pointed to a different simulation. This actually had me wondering, did all students get the same homework to do? They did all get the same exams, and it was clear that tailoring of information did help close the gap between groups with different backgrounds.

The one surprise I saw was a class that used pre-lecture online quizzes to get students to read (aka “reading quizzes.”) They saw no enhancement of exam performance after the use to the quizzes. However, they did not look for other advantages, such as increased long term retention or a greater tendency of students to keep up with the material.

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