Friday @ the Center
December 12, 2008
Faculty Books of 2008
Check out the Center’s new display of faculty scholarship on the second floor of the library outside the Administrative Office suites. We are featuring the diverse kinds of scholarship in which our faculty engage: teaching, discovery, synthesis, and application. The display includes all the books in these various categories published by SPU faculty during 2008, according to our Faculty Scholarly Activity reporting. (Did you publish a book in 2008 but neglect to enter it in the FSA Menu? Log into Banner to report your scholarly activity today!)
Getting Student Buy-In for Active Learning
Gary Smith, who teaches geology at the University of New Mexico, tells of changing his course from a lecture-and-exam format to sessions in which students worked in small groups to apply the content of their reading to real geological problems. The ironic result? His course evaluation scores went down while student achievement went up. Students were learning more, but they weren’t happy because they were having to work more. (Editorial remark here has been withheld with great effort.) In a recent article in The National Teaching & Learning Forum, Smith explains how he successfully cultivated student buy-in by asking students to reflect on the first day of class on what they wanted to get out of their college education. He gave them three options: 1) acquiring information, 2) learning to use information in new situations, or 3) developing life-long learning skills. Students discussed these options with their neighbors and then responded to an informal poll. Two students voted for 1), twenty-one for 2), and thirteen for 3). (Smith admits, “It was a gamble—I had no idea how they would respond.”)
The class then discussed the options, why they made their own choice, and the (hierarchical) relationship of the goals. Then Smith asked a new question: “All three of these goals are clearly important. However, let’s think of how best to accomplish them. Learning is not a spectator sport—it takes work; that includes work in the classroom and work that you do outside of the classroom. So, of these three goals, which do you think you can make headway on outside of class by your own reading and studying, and which do you think would be best achieved in class working with your classmates and me?” The students unanimously agreed that acquiring information was the easiest to do alone, which then led to a discussion of how to pursue goals 2) and 3), and the reason behind the active-learning structure of the course. Smith concludes, “The results that semester were dramatically different. Not only was the active classroom fostering better learning performance on exams and other assignments but also my teaching evaluations rose to their highest level.” Anyone game to try this next quarter and report back on how it went? (If you’d like to read the entire essay, email me, and I’ll send you a hard copy.)
Last Friday @ the Center in 2008
This is the last Friday @ the Center for the year 2008. We'll be back in the new year and quarter of January 2009. May your Advent waiting turn into Christmas joy!
Blessed Advent and Merry Christmas!