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Links to my published articles online
List of Publications with Full Citations

Adolescent Diary Weblogs and the Unseen Audience

Conversations in the Blogosphere: An Analysis "from the Bottom Up". Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences (HICSS-38) Best Paper Nominee.

Weblogs as a bridging genre

Bridging the Gap: A Genre Analysis of Weblogs. Winner of the 2004 EduBlog Awards as best paper.

Common Visual Design Elements of Weblogs

Women and Children Last: The Discursive Construction of Weblogs

Time until my next publication submission deadline
27 March 2006 23:59:59 UTC-0500

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The Performativity of Naming: Adolescent Weblog Names as Metaphor

Buxom Girls and Boys in Baseball Hats: Adolescent Avatars in Graphical Chat Spaces

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Adolescents and Teens Online Bibiliography
Last updated July 8, 2005.

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Last Updated November 22, 2005.

My CiteULike Page

My Book2
New books are added but reading status is rarely accurate.

January 05, 2006

Teaching your students to be good students

Learning and being a student are trained skills. None of us pop out of the womb with a fully formed skills set in this regard. In fact we have been learning to learn and to be students all our lives. Well the process of learning to learn and learning to be a good student have been of real interest to me over the break as I have thought about my class last semester and looked forward to my classes this semester. One of the things that shocked me last semester was how little students understand the requirements of being a college student. There is lots of blame around for why this is true, but blame isn't the way to fix it. I thought of this again when I read Gentleman's C's post On Kinkos, etc.

I should just take this as a sign that I will never be able to make everyone happy. But I'm very stubborn, so I keep on trying.

This quarter I am teaching two classes, one that has no textbook, and one that has a textbook plus a shitload of supplemental readings from outside sources. The plus-a-shitload class I taught last quarter. In an attempt to be nice, and to circumvent copyright concerns under the "fair use" clause, I scanned in all the readings for my classes (well, okay, my secretary scanned them in) and put them on WebCT.

At the very end of the quarter, one of my students complained that I didn't order a course packet from Kinkos, because it was too hard to "find" all those readings. Apparently this person had never ever logged in to WebCT. Now, first day of the new quarter, another person is complaining that I didn't work with Kinkos, because s/he wants all the readings bound together (and apparently doesn't know how to print a pdf file).

I can't believe that someone would really rather pay those bandits upwards of $100 instead of shelling out $15 for a three-ring binder and a three-hole punch. What the fuck?

Underlying all of this discussion is the issue of what students understand their role to be as well as how they have been trained to perform that role. This semester I am taking the time in my classes to work with my students so they know not only what is expected of them but how they can do the things that are often left unsaid. For example the first night of class we are going to be talking about how you study in this class. Likewise we will be having a fairly basic Word lab so that I am sure students understand that when something is underlined in your document by the system you need to take a long hard look at it to make sure it is correct. I had too many students last semester who clearly did not understand that issue.

I agree with Gentleman's C that you can never make everyone happy, and lord know I don't actually try to do that. However I do try to make sure my students are learning and learning positive things, not just the ones that seem negative like deadlines and computer system issues. I remind myself that I have read there is one big difference between good teachers and bad teachers. Good teachers, and those who strive to be good teachers, tend to focus exclusively on the bad comments even if there are far more good ones. While bad teachers tend to focus on the good comments even if there are far more bad ones. This has certainly held true in my experience. So I remind myself to not fixate on the negative but to have a balanced point of view on comments.

I also remember my days working for a training organization. I used to remind people back then that if the only things they had to complain about were the temperature of the room and the quantity of choices available on the buffet then we had done our jobs. Not all my co-workers got that and several drove themselves nutz trying to make everyone happy all the time...sorry that is a no win scenario.

Posted by prolurkr at January 5, 2006 02:44 PM

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In my defense, I always go through how to log in to WebCT on the very first day of class, and I show them where the readings are and how to download them. E.g., "You'll need Adobe's reader for this and here's where to get it if you don't have it already."

But perhaps you weren't trying to suggest that I didn't?

Posted by: Angry Professor at January 5, 2006 03:37 PM

Sure wasn't trying to suggest that.

Posted by: Lois at January 6, 2006 07:21 AM

Sorry - I thought maybe you were discussing my (and others') students' failing to perform the basic tasks necessary to obtain information as being a result of my failing to tell them how to use the tools I provided.

Posted by: Angry Professor at January 6, 2006 07:47 PM

No I was not trying to suggest that. I was mostly using your post as a jumping off point to get into my own thinking after last semester.

I think that I (and maybe many of the rest of us as well) have assumed that because I present the information on tools that students are ready to take that information and run with it. I'm finding quite the opposite. Mostly what I am seeing shows me that reinteration of the basics on these skills is necessary throughout the semester.

For instance my department is tech oriented. I make heavy use of online learning tools in my class. One would think that this would be a good match off the top, but I am finding that I have to consistently restate the need for students to check their campus email adderesses for class information. So this semester I'm sure I will be restating that point throughout the semester but I will also be showing them how to forward their campus accounts to their personal email accounts so they have fewer places to check. It's part of my plan to reconsider how students, especially freshman, see themselves as part of the campus culture.

Posted by: Lois at January 7, 2006 10:01 AM