Thinking (and reading) about grading

I just finished my intersession course (yay!), and am trying to catch up on some reading. Schinske and Tanner’s “Teaching More by Grading Less (or Differently)” paper, recently published in CBE-Life Sciences Education includes lots of good stuff: a brief history of grading in higher ed, purposes of grading (feedback and motivation to students; comparing students; measuring student knowledge/mastery) and ending with “strategies for change” to help instructors who want to maximize benefits of grading while reducing the pitfalls. There are many interesting points and suggestions in this paper, and hopefully it will be one of the ones we discuss in an upcoming oCUBE journal club meeting.

In the meantime … anyone else want to chat about some of the stuff discussed in the paper? <:-)

Reference:
Schinske, J., and Tanner, K. 2014. Teaching More by Grading Less (or Differently). CBE-Life Sciences Education 13(2): 159-166.
http://www.lifescied.org/content/13/2/159.short

BYOD thoughts – moving on from clickers

EugeneClickersIs it time for me to move away from clickers? Can I use an online system that will do the job, and make use of devices that students already own (and can use for other purposes, unlike clickers)?

In most of my larger classes, I’ve found clickers (classroom response systems) very helpful in providing feedback to both students and me, encouraging discussion … and waking up students in 8:30 classes!  Classroom response systems, as educational technologies, can be helpful tools but also have potential pitfalls; how they are used makes a huge difference in terms of outcomes. (Want to know more about clickers? Here’s a plug for an essay I wrote back in 2008 – and the references within).

[Note – I find clickers useful in LARGE classes. In my dream-teaching-world, I’d have class sizes that would allow me to do a lot more interaction with all my students that wouldn’t require technology!]

As tools, they may not be the only (nor the best) option available. I didn’t expect clickers to actually be around all that long – I’d figured technology would emerge that allowed students to use their own devices to do the same thing (and, hopefully, more). Indeed, we now have both free (e.g., Four Good Alternatives to Clicker Systems) and commercial systems that provide this functionality (e.g., LectureTools, Learning Catalytics, Top Hat). Until recently, some things discouraged me from using these alternatives – technical barriers, and financial concerns – so I’ve continued to use clickers.

Continue reading “BYOD thoughts – moving on from clickers”

Teaching-stream faculty positions – response to Globe & Mail article

Yesterday, an article was published by the Globe and Mail, “For a new kind of professor, teaching comes first“* by James Bradshaw. The story raised some positive points (e.g., qualified academics may prefer to focus on teaching; educational research is carried out by some teaching-focussed professors). Unfortunately, there were some inaccuracies about teaching-focussed faculty positions at York University,  and some disheartening statements from James Turk, Executive Director of the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT/ACPPU). The CAUT/ACPPU is supposed to represent all sorts of university/college staff members, not only research faculty. (It may not be common knowledge that there are teaching-stream faculty positions at many Ontario universities already, although we are in the minority compared to research stream faculty.)

Continue reading “Teaching-stream faculty positions – response to Globe & Mail article”

Studying/learning resources for students – what to share?

LearnI’m working on some information to share with my students about studying/learning strategies. (Note – in my current position, I’m teaching classes to students who have at least one year of university under their belts.) I keep wanting to expand it, but I fear that the chances of students actually reading it are inversely proportional to its length! I am posting it here so that I can get constructive feedback, and hopefully other folks might be able to use some of it (as students or instructors). (Some aspects are specific to the University of Windsor/microbiology, but most of this is pretty general.)

Some studying/learning tips/resources:

I am often asked how to best study (for my classes, and others). Certainly, many students in microbiology have already developed effective studying/learning strategies for university classes, but here are some points about learning that might be helpful:

Continue reading “Studying/learning resources for students – what to share?”

Possible topics for upcoming #microhangouts

Microhangout Topics - Wordle
http://www.wordle.net/create

After returning from a week away, and (almost) catching up on emails, I wanted to just share a few of the things that came up in our first #microhangout. There are a number of topics that (at least some) microbiology educators appear to be interested in discussing, including: best practises for teaching certain microbiology topics/concepts/techniques; how to foster integration of concepts (within microbiology, but also across other areas);  teaching evolution when students come from a variety of educational backgrounds/exposure to biology; aspects surrounding lecture capture (including privacy); effective use of class time; student attendance in classes (& posting of lecture slides in advance); use of clickers (personal or student response systems); case studies (e.g., see the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science website);  the idea of a microbiology education (virtual) journal club; and sharing educational resources. When I get a bit more organized, I’ll see about setting up a poll for choosing a topic for the next #microhangout to be held in the near future. (Let me know if there are other topics that might be of interest!)

I would also appreciate a chance to chat with some microbiology undergrads and grad students about microbiology (concepts, learning), from the undergrad/grad student point of view. Again, I need to sort through some things, but if you are (or know) an undergraduate or graduate student in microbiology who might be interested in this type of discussion, I’d love to hear from you!

CORRECTION: Microbiology Educator Hangout – July 31, noon (EDT) (which is 5 PM BST)

Apologies for my confusion – my Doodle time zone settings were off

Thanks to all the folks who participated in the Doodle poll (now closed) for our first #microbiologyhangout! Wednesday, July 31 from noon-1 PM (EDT)* was the only time slot chosen by all who weighed in.

I’ll post info about Google+ Hangouts once I’ve had a chance to learn (and play!) more …!

*Update – here are the times in various zones – let me know if I missed anyone!:

Windsor (Canada - Ontario)                     Wednesday, July 31, 2013 at 12:00:00 Noon EDT UTC-4 hours 
Newcastle upon Tyne (United Kingdom - England) Wednesday, July 31, 2013 at 5:00:00 PM    BST UTC+1 hour  
Edinburgh (United Kingdom - Scotland)          Wednesday, July 31, 2013 at 5:00:00 PM    BST UTC+1 hour  
Montreal (Canada - Quebec)                     Wednesday, July 31, 2013 at 12:00:00 Noon EDT UTC-4 hours 
Raleigh (U.S.A. - North Carolina)              Wednesday, July 31, 2013 at 12:00:00 Noon EDT UTC-4 hours 
Hamilton (Canada - Ontario)                    Wednesday, July 31, 2013 at 12:00:00 Noon EDT UTC-4 hours 
Glasgow (United Kingdom - Scotland)            Wednesday, July 31, 2013 at 5:00:00 PM    BST UTC+1 hour  
Corresponding UTC (GMT)                        Wednesday, July 31, 2013 at 16:00:00

Doodle poll now up for first microbiology hangout!

If you’re interested in chatting (online) about introductory microbiology concepts (including common misconceptions, troublesome knowledge, threshold concepts), please participate in the Doodle poll to decide on a day/time next week (July 31, Aug. 1 or Aug. 2):

http://doodle.com/wpfmtgnut6e7bkif

Oh, and if anyone would like to help me test-drive the Google+ Hangout system earlier in the week, please let me know! 🙂

Google Hangouts for Microbiology educators – soon!

I really appreciate the opportunity to talk to other science/biology educators (as I recently was reminded, at WCSE2013 and the annual oCUBE UnConference). At the moment, I’m working on revamping my microbiology courses for next year, developing online versions of them, along with online resources. I’d like to do more with threshold concepts and addressing common microbiology misconceptions in my teaching, and I am sure that I’m not alone.

Twitter has allowed some interesting/useful conversations on microbiology education, but I’m thinking I’d like to chat with microbio educators beyond 140 character chunks. I don’t know how much interest there will be, but I plan to set up some Google Hangouts (or some other collaborative communication system) where we can discuss some of the educational issues/tips/questions that we might share.  I would also like to find ways of sharing some of what we come up with – being as open as possible.

I’ve mentioned this Twitter, and will likely email some folks who come to mind. If you’re interested in this, please drop me a line!