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

Language Networks on LiveJournal (pdf)

Adolescent Diary Weblogs and the Unseen Audience (pdf)

A Longitudinal Analysis of Weblogs: 2003-2004 2005
Conversations in the Blogosphere: An Analysis "from the Bottom Up" (pdf). Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences (HICSS-38) Best Paper Nominee.

Weblogs as a bridging genre (pdf)

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
I do not plan on submitting articles for publication until I have defended my qualifying paper - expected to happen during Spring Semester 2008.

Links to my conference papers online
The Performativity of Naming: Adolescent Weblog Names as Metaphor

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

Time until my next conference submission deadline
1 December 2007 23:59:59 UTC-0500

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

Weblog and Blog Bibliography
Last Updated November 22, 2005.

A weblog to gather quotations from my academic reading.

My CiteULike Page

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

October 11, 2007

Have you got what they want to hire?

The following long quote was taken from Inside Higher Ed's article The Graduate Education Mismatch. While few of us hit all the notes listed here, it's really useful to know what notes are expected, or at least highly desirable.  You can't be competitive if you don't know the game.  *w*  And to win you have to be ahead of the pack.

The results show that many hiring departments that do not offer doctorates would value the kinds of training that are far from uniform — and in some cases rare — in the departments training new Ph.D.’s. In almost all of the cases, skills related to teaching were much more valued at institutions other than those that train doctoral students.

Training vs. Hiring Priorities

Type of Training

% of Graduate Departments Offering

% of Bachelor’s Institutions Finding It Desirable for New Faculty

% of Master’s Institutions Finding It Desirable for New Faculty

% of Doctoral Institutions Finding It Desirable for New Faculty

Course on teaching undergraduates





Faculty mentor to train graduate students





Opportunity to teach intro courses independently





Workshops on teaching writing to undergraduates





Workshops on using simulations and film in teaching





Training as an undergraduate adviser





Workshop on how to retain students





At first glance, the data would appear to reinforce the views of those who say that undergraduate oriented institutions are the ones these days that care about teaching, and consider teaching issues in hiring. But as the study notes, the researchers also found evidence that undergraduate institutions may be almost as focused on research output — when it comes to faculty hiring — as are graduate institutions.

The chairs were asked if three measures of research quality would make candidates more desirable to hire for faculty jobs.

Preferences for Faculty Hiring

Research experience

% of Bachelor’s Institutions Finding It Desirable for New Faculty

% of Master’s Institutions Finding It Desirable for New Faculty

% of Doctoral Institutions Finding It Desirable for New Faculty

Presented one or more papers at professional conferences




Published one or more articles in professional journals




Published one or more books




The paper on the study was written by John M. Rothgreb Jr., professor of political science at Miami University; Annemarie Spadafore, a graduate student at Miami; and Betsy Burger, an administrative assistant at Miami.

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August 18, 2007

Fall Teaching

Well it seems that both of my classes - I101 Introduction to Informatics, and I202 Social Informatics - have been canceled because of low enrollment. I101 is required for undergrad Informatics and Health Information Administration students, and while I have taught it twice at IUPUC it has never been a very large class. I202 is required for Informatics students and a "select one of the following three classes" elective for Health Information Administration students and has been offered at IUPUC but as yet has never been taught. We just have to work to grow the program at IUPUC...because we should and because I want to teach. LOL

I'm not sure what I will be doing for cash this fall. I know something will either turn-up on one of the campuses, or I will be folding clothes at the Edinburgh Discount Mall or leading people around the Exit 76 Antique Mall. Campus work is best of course because it pays better with hours that let me write...and some of the jobs might not require that I actually go to campus...which would be nice too, from a time and cost perspective. Time will tell and until then I think I'll just keep writing. *w*

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July 31, 2006

Class assignments for the Fall

Got the word today that my Social Informatics class was canceled due to low enrollment.  It's probably a good thing as it gives me more time to work on finishing my quals paper.  Though I'm really sort of bummed, I was looking forward to teaching a class in my general research area.  Oh will come around again.

Posted by prolurkr at 04:08 PM | TrackBack

June 30, 2006

Assessing students blog posts

I love the synergy of the blogosphere.  Today I was driving around thinking about how I can assess the blog posts I will be asking my students to write.  Of course my first answer is "read them all."  Which might be do-able in a small class but it time consuming no matter saying "good job" over and over loses some effect.  So what did I find will doing blog reading?  I found Weblogg-ed's link to 2 Cent's Worth's post Blog' What's in Gaston County, which among other things talks about writing and assessment questions for students and for teachers.  This is good stuff to think through, it's not the full answer I'm looking for but it is a start.

So I will be suggesting five questions that will be asked, not by the teacher, but by the student, as a way to assess blogged content.  I call the questions “Blog’Whats?”:

- What did you read in order to write this blog entry?

- What do you think is important about your blog entry?

- What are both sides of your issue?

- What do you want your readers to know, believe, or do?

- What else do you need to say?

These questions assume that blogging is seen as a practice of literacy, accessing, processing, and communicating information.  They also serve to help the writer to focus on the broader aspects of the issues being written about, exploring all sides and perspectives, and even exploring the next phase of the communication.

I think that these same questions, reworded only slightly, can also be used to examine and evaluate the blog writings of others, other classmates, and other blog content being used for learning.  Those questions would be:

- What did the blogger read before writing?

- What was important about the blog entry?

- What were both sides of the issue?

- What do you know, believe, or want to do after reading the blog?

- What else needs to be said?

Posted by prolurkr at 03:51 PM | TrackBack

February 21, 2006

Time responding to written assignments of all sorts

Bardiac has a post on Responding to written assignments. This is an issue I personnally keep working to improve. Or as a friend of mine reminded me, "Like most things academic. grading will take up exactly the amount of time you allot it." I'm now working with a timer so that at 15 minutes I get a warning to move on to the next paper. Using a timer doesn't make me a slave to the clock, rather it means I am consious of the time I am giving to some papers. It still takes far longer than I would like for me to finish grading written assignments so if you have suggestions I and Bardiac would love to hear them.

I spend a large part of my time responding to written assignments of all sorts in all of my classes. I'm guessing most academics do, no matter what we teach.

What I'm looking for is strategies that will help me respond more usefully overall, while spending less time writing respones. Part of that means targeting my responses at the more engaged students, and spending less time responding in depth to minimally engaged students.

I often feel as if I'm writing responses to justify the low grades essays earn; instead, I want to write responses aimed more fully at helping students do solid revision work and do better on future assignments.

I know from studying composition research that marking up lots of grammar or proofreading problems doesn't help most students, so I generally put a tic in the margin, and a note to come talk to me about this grammar issue. The benefit is that I can usually explain the grammar issue in a few minutes, and the student may actually learn something (if I write an explanation, most students won't really read or work through it) because they've chosen to come to learn, and so are ready at that moment. Then you also have the benefit of one on one communication, which is important both to teaching and my own job happiness.

I've started taking to making bulleted lists on the work of students who are most minimally engaged. Usually the lists start with the need to address the assignment, lack of a thesis, and so forth.

Happily, the vast majority of my students are relatively engaged and interested in their studies, and do try to write a good assignment.

What are the most helpful responding strategies you've found?

What are the most helpful responses you've received for your own writing? Is there a way to transfer that sort of helpfulness to my students' work?

(The single most helpful response I've received from a professor came from a professor who let me turn in a dissertation chapter for a pretty unrelated seminar. It was helpful because she was able to help me visualize the overall structure of the chapter argument and rethink it totally, which made the whole chapter stronger. She may have been genius [well, yes], but I'm guessing it took her a couple hours. Admittedly, the chapter was 30 some pages, and I was a pretty engaged student. So I hope I was worth her effort and repaid it with my own in class.)

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February 16, 2006

Insight into what an award winning instructor does in his classroom

From the Tomorrow's Professor Mailing List:

The posting below give some simple and important suggestions for all of us to keep in mind when giving a class lecture. It is by Professor Rolf E. Hummel at the University of Florida, Gainesville, and is now required reading for all new professors at the University of Florida. The article first appeared in the University of Florida, "Pedagogator," Vol. 3, Issue 13, July/Aug 2005. Available:

What I do is simply the following:

1) I prepare at least one hour per period for classes which I have given before and about 5-7 hours for each new class. This preparation allows me to teach without reading from or referring to notes.

2) I arrive in the classroom at the right time, or even a few minutes earlier to have the chance to chat with my students or answer any questions they may have.

3) I start my class with a one or two minute review of the previous lecture.

4) I am a great supporter of the old fashioned blackboard. The larger it is, the better. I write as much as possible on this board, and highlight important parts with colored chalk and/or put a box around important equations. (I do not like so much the new whiteboards because one has to always remember to cap the markers before they dry out. And those markers available in the lecture room often do not work anyway, so you have to bring your own.

5) I start at the upper, left-hand corner of the blackboard. I do not erase anything during the entire hour. At the end of the lecture I have reached the lower, right-hand corner of the blackboard. Admittedly, this takes some advanced planning and practice, but can be eventually accomplished by everybody.

6) I attempt to write large and legibly enough so that my "hieroglyphics" can be read from the last row. After class I often walk to the back of the lecture room to see if I succeeded in doing so.

7) During the last three minutes of the lecture I repeat briefly what was discussed that day by showing with a pointer the relevant graphs or equations on the board and mention how they were arrived at. This lets the students see the larger context in which the individual steps have been developed.

8) I attempt not to block the blackboard with my body so that virtually everybody can see what is written on the board; at least most of the time. This is accomplished by stepping aside after writing.

9) When drawing a graph on the board, I carefully label the axes by saying what they represent and describe a curve while drawing it. If there is more than one curve in a given graph, I distinguish them with different colors and write on each curve what parameters they represent.

10) To each class I bring a bunch of "show-and-tell" items, such as a transformer, a computer chip, a computer hard drive, a laser tube, a silicon crystal, several magnets, a transistor, a shape memory alloy etc., so that students have hands-on experience of the subjects I am talking about. Occasionally, I show movies that depict manufacturing processes of what was explained before in theory.

11) I encourage questions during class and answer them in a respectful manner (even the supposedly 'stupid questions'). If I do not know the answer immediately, I admit so (which makes a student feel good) and promise to answer it next time.

12) I feel that overloading the students with information during class does not serve them properly. Often less information, but that in more depth, is pedagogically better. After all, the students can learn supplemental information from their textbooks.

13) I am a supporter of the Monday/Wednesday/Friday rhythm rather than the two or three hour-long lecture on one day. Students need digestion between lectures and catching up with their homework.

14) I try to speak loud and distinctly so that everybody should be able to hear and understand me. I aim my voice toward the last student row. Foreign students particularly appreciate this.

15) I address my students by looking at them during the lecture, that is, I keep eye contact. This way I can see if some students drift away, requiring me to change the pace.

16) I take a class picture during one of the first lectures and ask the students to write their names next to their image. This gives me the chance to memorize their names and to address them with their names during lectures and in my office. (I admit memorizing names becomes increasingly difficult with age).

17) Student like my "war stories," that is, practical examples in which the subjects just taught have been used (or not been used with negative consequences). This loosens up the flow of information and demonstrates the relevance of the often theoretical-appearing subjects. In other words, a proper balance between theory and practical aspects needs to be maintained.

18) I am not a friend of projected transparencies because they are frequently removed before the students are capable of fully comprehending what they want to teach. Still, occasionally even I use overhead projectors when putting the respective information on the board would require too much time or when the students have the same graph in their textbook and I need to point out certain details on the image. Flashing slides in five second intervals on a screen turns students quickly away from paying attention. In other words, each transparency needs to stay on the screen long enough so that all details they contain can be fully explained and understood. On the same line, I am not a friend of PowerPoint presentations in the classroom. They have their merit in seminars and conferences where a substantial amount of information needs to be transmitted in a relatively short time.

19) Before an exam, I hand out tests from previous years, whose answers we discuss in the class immediately before the upcoming midterm or final.

20) I allow my students to prepare for the test a one-page, hand-written, personal "crib sheet" on which they may write all the equations and graphs they consider to be important. They have to turn-in this sheet along with their tests. This promotes academic honesty and gives those students some confidence who otherwise "draw a complete blank" during tests. Interestingly enough, most students admit that once they have written a crib sheet they don't need it any more during the test since they are now well prepared for the exam and they feel confident that they can turn to their sheet when need arises. Needless to say, my tests do not allow mere regurgitation of crammed information, but usually require some thinking. For this reason, my exams are often labeled as "difficult," ("because asking a student to think is unfair").

21) Most of all, however, I consider my students to be my friends. I am kind to them and am available most of the time for questions and for airing concerns. My door is virtually always open. I teach all classes myself, I write the tests and grade them myself and use teaching assistants only for looking over the homework, which I assign, (because one can only learn by "doing" and not so much by just listening). As a former student once wrote in retrospect: "Dr. Hummel does not only teach class, he adopts it." In summary, I love teaching and showing my enthusiasm about the subject matter. This spark flies over to my students and makes them enthusiastic too.

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February 13, 2006

Remembering names of students and others

I am terrible with names, it was one of my deep dark secrets as an HR person. You see I often remembered lots of details about employees, which department they worked in, who was their supervisor, how many kids they had, and lots of unusual information that ones sees in an HR roll. Now that I am teaching classes of 40+ my problem is a much more apparent. I simply have a terrible time with names, so this Inside Higher Ed article, What's Your Name Again? by Mary McKinney, caught my eye. Here is their advise on remembering student names.

How To Learn Student Names:

1. Make it a priority. Focusing on any goal is the first step towards making it happen.

2. Read the registrar's list before the first class.Pay attention to the names that may be difficult to pronounce.

3. Take roll call on the first day of class. Take your time, pay close attention and repeat each student's name. Make sure that you have the proper pronunciation. If a student's name is unfamiliar be sure to ask explicitly if you've got it right. Students who are shy, or from cultures where greater deference to authority is the norm, may hesitate to correct you unless prompted and yet will still find it grating to be referred to incorrectly the entire semester.

4. Ask the students what they prefer to be called and be sure to write down nicknames on the class roster. You may want to preface your roll call with a request for nicknames: while you are likely to wonder whether Elizabeth whether goes by "Liz" or "Beth", you'll have no idea that Amy Jones goes by "A.J."

5. If you have access to students' photos, use them to familiarize yourself with names as part of your preparation in the first weeks of class. My client Jim had been unaware that he had access to student I.D. photos until he checked with the registrar.

6. If there are no photos available, consider taking your own photographs. In Tools for Teaching, Barbara Gross Davis suggests taking Polaroid shots of students and pasting them on index cards with the students' names and other personal information. Creating class "I.D. cards" is even easier with access to digital cameras.

7. Often it is most difficult to remember foreign students' names, which may be unfamiliar to Western ears. Be sure to write a phonetic version of the name if needed. For example, in one of my classes the name of a Chinese student was transliterated as Xiou -- but pronounced something like "Shaw."

8. A common memory trick is to link the name with something or someone else - thus my student Xiou became the unforgettable George Bernard "Shaw" in my mind.

9. Think of another person you know who has the same first name as the student. Then make a link using a visual image. For example, I imagine my short-haired brunette student Susan with the wild grey mane of my cousin Susan, who hadn't changed the style of her coiffure since the late 1960's. The incongruous image cements the student's name in my cortex.

10. Use humor in your associative links to make a lasting impression. I kept getting confused about whether a student was Egla or Elga until I imagined her with a hard-boiled Egg of a head.

11. Find a rhyme to create mental associations: Is Jim slim? Or an adjective that tips you off about the name's first letter: Is Thomas tall? Can you visualize Sarah in a sarong? Again, humor helps. Thus Slim Jim becomes a life-size stick of dried beef sausage. And Sarah, well, sarongs fall off easily, right? (Need I admonish you that the mnemonic devises should be kept to yourself?)

12. Use your students' names frequently both to call on them to participate and to refer to previous points made in the discussion. Davis points out that this technique can be used in even very large classes: Ask students their name when they make a comment and later refer to it as "Jeff's point" or "Audrey's contribution."

13. When you take roll, consider creating a map of the seating arrangement labeled with student's names. I'm always surprised at how consistently students sit in the same seats, or at least the same quadrant of the room. In my small classes, we sit around a large table and for the first few classes I write down who chooses to sit where as students arrive. Writing the names down also helps commit them to memory. Some professors ask students to sit in the same seats for a few classes, a request that communicates their earnest efforts to learn names. I prefer to keep my mnemonic methods mysterious. Either way works.

14. Using name tags for the first few class sessions can help students learn one another's names at the same time it helps you. I ask my students to write their first names in very large letters so that I can read them from the front of the classroom.

15. When teaching very large classes it is tempting to give up. Resist the temptation. Try learning five names per class and try to use those names.

16. One professor I know uses name cards for her large classes. Students pick up the cards as they file into class and place them at the front of their desks. This United Nations style name card strategy is also useful because the tags that aren't retrieved indicate absent students.

17. With any sized class, look at registrar's list during week and see how many faces you can recall.

18. Make sure you know the names of students who visit you during office hours. Take a few minutes to ask the students about themselves, their major, where they are from, etc. Personal contact is one of the ways you can increase the effectiveness of your teaching.

Becoming an expert at memorizing names is a small but respectful step toward demonstrating personal investment in your students' well-being. Building a mutually respectful relationship with students is as important as having an organized lesson plan, giving a dynamic lecture, or encouraging enthusiastic class participation. Positive student-teacher relationships foster engagement and achievement.

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January 19, 2006

Ancarett’s Abode has the latest Teaching Carnival...

Ancarett's Abode has the latest Teaching Carnival. Number "V" that is.

Posted by prolurkr at 07:39 PM | TrackBack

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.

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December 16, 2005

Oh dear I HAVE to put this in the syllabus for next semester

Do students cell phones ring while you are giving a lecture? Well it has happened more than a few times in my class and I even begin each PowerPoint presentation with a request that they be shut off for the duration. Well next semester I'm adding this Cell Phone Policy as well as adding a point deduction.

The dedicated readers who have persisted through the horrific recent lack of blogginess on my part, will recall that at the start of the semester, I told my students that if their cell phone rang in class, I would answer it and cause them some slight embarrassment that they may wish to avoid.

Well, Friday, I got the chance to put my money where my mouth was.

Posted by prolurkr at 07:45 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Gonzo teaching at it’s best

I just love this can I use it next semester? Welcome to Class. Just a snip follows:

On the class wiki I have provided a set of 250 homework problems of varying complexity and difficulty. These are your assignments for the semester. These problems are what you are graded on.

Some of these problems can be answered with a quick and simple Google search and some writing. Some would make good Masters Thesis projects. Some have one right answer; some have no right answer; some have many. Some require explanation, some require programming, some require mathematics, some require historical background, some require number crunching, some require experimentation, some require intuition, some require asking the right person, some require advanced domain skills from outside our department. Some are trick questions; some are so obvious you'll imagine they're trick questions; some are inherently time-consuming; some have hard and easy ways to solve them. Many are ill-posed, and need clarification. Some are problems you should already know how to answer. Some are problems you might not be able to answer by yourself when we arrive at the final exam.

All of them are important. None are throwaway, or filler, or make-work. I want you to answer each and every one of them.

No, not smiling now. Buck up. It's not that bad.

You yourself -- the individual you -- you are not responsible for doing any problem at all. Frankly I don't care if you do no work whatsoever, as long as you show up for class. You do need to come to class.

I will not grade your personal contribution to any answer, ever. Indeed, no matter how the questions get answered, I personally will not care one whit whether you, Jane Q Student, did the lion's share of the work, or looked it up and copied it out of the encyclopedia, or took that week off and went to Florida.

But some of the problems must be answered, on the website. On time. Correctly.

I see there are 30 of you in the class today. There are what? Twelve weeks in the semester? 250 questions, worth I believe a total of 7200 points. And then the final exam.

You see, that's a lot of problems.

Every Thursday at noon I will select the problems that are most important for you to complete in the next week. I'll publish this list on the wiki.

In Friday's class we will spend the entire session negotiating the assignment. I will stand up here and tell you I want all of it done, and why. And then you will sit there and (because you've prepared for the class ahead of time) tell me it's impossible for you to do all that in one week. And you'll ask me questions about what I'm looking for, and you will talk to each other, and you will propose which problems you think can be done by the noon the next Thursday. I may have some problems I really want you to answer that week, and I may try to force them onto your list by cajoling you, or by teaching you cool stuff, or by giving you hints, or by making them worth more points. I may even add new questions to the main list, and delete questions from the main list, now and then.

By the end of class each Friday, we will have finalized what problems need to be done, and how many points they're worth. You will have, collectively, promised that you'll try to get them done.

In order for the problems we choose to be answered correctly, you will have to "cheat". You are not only allowed to search the Internet, you'll have to. You are not "encouraged to work in teams", you'll have to. You will have to ask professors in other classes, and students who took the class before, and go to the library, and talk to each other, and share notes, and make reports, and read things in foreign languages, and write simulations. You will need to do background reading, and express your opinion to one another. You'll need to edit each other's writing, and depend on each other's authority.

These are the things that are prohibited in your other classes. Some of them are even explicitly prohibited by the "honor code", that rag we use to mask our educational laziness and our own unquestioning buy-in of the status quo. If you prefer the other approach, then I suggest you withdraw from this class early on and go back to the status quo, before it makes your head hurt.

One hard and fast rule: your answers cannot include any plagiarized material. In case you do not know what plagiarism is by now, I have provided a handy and very explicit definition on the class wiki. If any answer on any of a week's problem set is plagiarized from an outside source, the score for the entire problem set is zero, and that week's questions will appear on your final exam. You may, however, cite the work of others all you want. You may even quote it, so long as fair credit is given where it's due.

You may (by whatever mechanism you want to work out) decide not to answer some of the questions that week. For each answer, there is a "commit" button, and only when a majority of the class members have pushed that button will the answer count for the week's assignment. Whenever a substantive change is made to the answer, the "commitment" is reset, though the people who pressed it before will get an email alert. All your (committed) answers must be posted in the class wiki in order to be graded. At exactly noon on Thursday, an archive of the Answers section for that week will be saved for grading. The committed answers will be graded; the rest of the problems will return to the pool to be attempted again later.

Some of these questions are very hard, and some are off-topic. Given a cogent argument to that effect, provided as a committed answer, I will consider eliminating such questions from the roster before the final exam comes around. Such arguments to dismiss work will have to be robust and skilled, not petulant or confrontational. That said, even such questions will be considered answered, and your argument will be graded like any answer would, on all five scales. It may appear on the midterms, too.

So. How will you coordinate? How will you divide up the problems? How will you check each other's work? How will you find out who knows what? How will you compose your answers?

Posted by prolurkr at 06:55 PM | TrackBack

Lots of higher ed reading today and a few giggles

I've been working my way through New Kid in the Hallway's Teaching Carnival IV post. Lots of thought provoking readings, some of it down right everyone really fighting plagiarism all the time because there is that much of it going on? Others think this has been an inordinately rough semester? Wonder why it has been so? Oh and all the great teaching ideas to implement next semester.

One of the links from a post has me laughing - Severus Snape: One teacher's hero. First it's funny because in every other role, ok most every other role, I think Alan Rickman is a hottie, ok an over 50 hottie...but I'd be like Ron and the buggart picturing Snape as the scariest thing I could imagine.

I think this article appeals to me because on some level I know that what makes me a good teacher is the level of humanity and caring I bring to a classroom, though like most educators I wish my heart got broken a lot less. Snape's heart is unbreakable...or at least hermetically sealed. Well I don't really want that but well you know...I know you know...we all know.

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A itty bitty shaker on the New Madrid fault

Magnitude 1.6 - SOUTHEASTERN MISSOURI 2005 December 16 07:51:55 UTC. A note to make for next semesters class on Informatics and Disaster.

Posted by prolurkr at 12:46 PM | TrackBack

Teaching Carnival IV

New Kid in the Hallway has hosted the most recent Teaching Carnival. The post is totally worth reading. I have a feeling I will be spending a fair amount of time today clicking on all the links and reading posts.

Posted by prolurkr at 11:26 AM | TrackBack

December 14, 2005

Handling criticism - some do it well...and some...

Confessions of a Community College Dean has a post that really struck me. After years as a manager I understand how some people can attack improvement after receiving criticism and how some can attack the critic. It makes me wonder if these categories map one-to-one on the teacher/student relationship. As usual the extremes are more obvious and I can certainly picture a student, from a previous teaching assignment, who carried the last category to the extreme - they often said and wrote in reflective work that all their shortcomings were really my shortcomings and if I would just leave them alone (no feedback and no review) than they would have been the best student in the class. If there ever was a collaborative activity in this world it's teaching/learning but do collaborate both parties have to be willing, if one is not than the collaboration is doomed to fail.

I do wonder if the Dean is correct though, is the last category really the most common? I sure hope not because that is massively basically means there is no room for improvement. While on a quick read one could argue that the previous statement should be "no room for improvement without trust," I think that the trust issues are actually present in the second statement...they receive the criticism, evaluate it, and decide to ignore it because they trust the critic but simply don't agree with them. Of course this isn't always what we want to happen but it is at least healthy for the receiver and it shows a healthy, or healthyish, relationship. Even in the third category there is trust that no one is following them as "they move on."

No that last category are the people I would be forced to explain to General Mangers, back when I was a Human Resources Manager, as the folks who aren't happy until they hit the plant door, no those folks are never happy. They are also never reflexive because they themselves are perfect and always right. *sigh* Wouldn't it be nice to always be right? Written by a woman who usually falls into the first two categories, though who also has no doubt that instances of the third and even the fourth have been exhibited as well over time.

As a manager, this is physically painful to read. When people have shortcomings of which they're aware, it's possible to train them. When they have shortcomings of which they're unaware, several possibilities exist:

  • they never thought of it, they're glad to have it pointed out, they'll get right on it
  • they never thought of it, they don't consider it important, please go away now
  • they deny it and move on
  • they indignantly deny it, dig in their heels, and question your motives

You'll notice that three of these four possibilities are negative.

The last response, which is the most common, is also the most frustrating. It casts the manager as the villain and the underperforming employee as the victim in a bizarre psychodrama.

Posted by prolurkr at 07:56 AM | TrackBack

December 04, 2005

A long and wearing semester

This has been a long and wearing semester, so much so that I took yesterday off just to rest hence the graphic with this post. The primary reason it has been so hard is that the university is in the process of changing to a new online teaching tool and that has been a serious problem for me and my students. In short the software is very green to be in beta, at least it was at the beginning of the semester. We have come some distance getting it all up to speed during the semester but I have to say that I feel like a fair amount of my blood has been used to coat the tracks, ritual human sacrifice as it were. I've spent considerable time trying to resolve problems and waiting for responses because processes would not work at all or when they did work did not work correctly. Sadly you often don't know they didn't work right until much later when students complain.

Well last week was the topper of all with the system. I can't go into it on the blog, maybe there is a paper in all of it that I can share someday, but suffices to say that the wind has left my sails, I am floating in the doldrums. Luckily I am only trapped for a couple more weeks watching the sails lay still, I have one more lecture this week and lots of grading to complete. Beyond that I am looking to Christmas housecleaning, which should tell you how low I feel since cleaning is not something I usually gravitate toward. In this case cleaning will be a nice repetitive project against which I can measure daily, viewable progress. I need that right now.

I'm guessing that I will be somewhat quiet for the next week or two, with mostly filter posts being added to the blog. Be advised that as usual I will be sending out good thoughts to all of you who are teaching so that the end of your semester goes smoothly and this year I can use the positive vibs as well.

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October 24, 2005

The Professor as Personal Trainer

Inside Higher Ed has a very thought provoking point of view article, The Professor as Personal Trainer.  Give it a read yourself and put some thought into how you view what you provide your students...I am doing the same, but there will probably be more on that at a later date.

I like the image of the personal trainer because it provides a positive account of what people are getting for their money without modeling my job on retail or fast food. I provide students an opportunity to undergo a personal transformation -- an opportunity which they may or may not take advantage of. If you want to loose 20 pounds of intellectual flab, you can spend three hours a week in classes with me and I will show you how to do it. But I can't make you do anything, and if you never exercise at home by doing your home work and reading, you are never going to acquire the lean, rock-hard intellect that so many employers swoon over.

< snip >

Another reason I like the idea of the personal trainer is that it helps underline another, very un-PC aspect of the teacher-student relationship that I believe in quite strongly despite the prevailing egalitarianism of our times: I don't think students necessarily know what they want or need out of an education -- like Odysseus or Cinderella, they need patrons willing to use their awesome magical powers so that they can fulfill their destiny. I'm often struck by pedagogies that oppose the commodification of education with a notion that instead of producing customers who are satisfied they should be turning out students who feel "empowered." My hunch is that this sort of talk is already infected by a commodification which these teachers consider to be so tainting. I'm reminded of a line I heard recently from (of all people!) a Unitarian pastor who remarked to me that he didn't want his congregants to have a better self-image -- he wanted them to have better selves.

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October 21, 2005

In the Classroom Easy Doesn't Do It

Today's email brought me a thought provoking contribution from the Tomorrow's Professor mailing list.  I thought I would share it with you.  If you aren't already on this mailing list I strongly recommend it, check out the sign-up info at the bottom of the post
Teaching is serious business. We have wonderfully bright and talented students here at Richmond. They have almost unlimited potential. For most, this is their one shot at college; they deserve nothing less than an excellent education, an academic experience that challenges them to excel from their first day to their last.  Faculty members have a responsibility to the world to coax the very best from their students because they will certainly become the next generation of leaders. Where they go from here, what they accomplish, how they impact the world, depends in large part on how much we are able to push and nurture their development. I want every student to leave my class at the end of the semester saying, "I didn't know that I could work so hard, and I didn't realize that I could learn so much." Anything less is unacceptable.

If a teacher challenges students to think and do their best, word gets around campus quickly, but having a tough reputation is both good and bad.  When students walk into my class on the first day, they tend to be very quiet and pay attention right away. On the other hand, I am always so disappointed when a student says to me "I hear you are a good teacher, but I didn't take your class because I know you are very demanding."  Isn't that just incredibly sad? I think Richmond will be a better school when students sign up only for classes where teachers push them each day to do their best.

Many times during each semester, I point out to my students that the grade of A, according to the University catalogue, reflects "outstanding" work. A student does not earn the grade of A for a good effort, only for consistently outstanding work. Grade inflation has hurt college education across this country and could be fixed simply by faculty members saying, "You earn an A when the work that I see is truly outstanding." Don't fool yourself; students are well aware of the difference between "good" and "outstanding."

I use the Socratic method. I call on every student every day in class. I don't ask them to regurgitate material; I ask them questions that I believe will cause them to think and reason-on the spot. That is what adult life is like, especially in the business world. I then follow my initial question with others based on their answers. If I don't get good replies from a student, I don't just nod and smile; I demand better of them. A student once compared my class to a contact sport. Richmond students should be ready, willing and able to discuss and debate issues. This is college, not high school.

I want a reasonable effort from my students because students get back based on what they put in. I expect them to study four to six hours each week outside of class so they'll be ready to participate in class discussions. I use carrots and sticks. I say, "Good job!" when a student gives me a thoughtful, well-conceived answer, and I say, "Listen, you can do better than that!" when a student gives me a bad answer. I don't view that as being disagreeable, although I do realize that it injects a bit of tension into the class. But this is not Sesame Street; a bad answer is a bad answer. There is only one primary goal in my class: to improve each student's ability to think, reason and understand. Our students realize how capable they are, but human nature loves to take the easy path.

A good basketball coach adapts to the talents of his or her players. A good teacher does the same. You cannot take an identical approach with every student. Some love to be pushed and pushed hard. They enjoy "in-your-face" challenges. Others are more fragile. You have to coax and nurture them. So toughness comes into my class where toughness is necessary. You teach each student, not each group. However, every student needs to be willing to prepare and to think. That is not negotiable.

One of the keys to becoming a good teacher is learning to walk into a room of students and "see" what is happening to the individual members: Billy needs a few extra seconds to formulate an answer, Susan loves to be called on, Andy doesn't know what is happening right now, Ellen is not prepared. You have to be able to adapt to your students on the spot every day.

Our students can do amazing things, but if we don't challenge them fully, they will never realize what marvelous talents they truly possess. Signing up for demanding classes might hurt a student's GPA, but which is more important: developing a good mind or a good GPA?

Joe Ben Hoyle is an associate professor of accounting in the Robins School of Business. He has been teaching at the University since 1979. He is a five-time recipient of the University's Distinguished Educator Award, and he was named "Most Feared Professor" in April 2005 by seniors at the business school.

© 2005, Richmond Alumni Magazine
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Posted by prolurkr at 07:53 AM | TrackBack

October 18, 2005

Worn out from test writing

Oh my goodness am I tired, I spent the day writing test questions for my introductory class a very draining activity to be sure. Well the output is not so much a test as an advanced worksheet.  In truth my goal is to have them assimilate more information not to evaluate their previous assimilation...fine point I know but a telling one.  So the "test" is 112 questions, none terribly difficult and most are fill-in-the-blank straight out of the book.  We shall see if this works.  *crossing my fingers*  I'll keep you posted.

Posted by prolurkr at 10:46 PM | TrackBack

October 17, 2005

Teaching Hurricane Katrina

I think I forgot to link my AoIR pedagogy presentation, Teaching Hurricane Katrina, to the blog.  Here is the PowerPoint Presentation I used for handouts during the panel. 

Previous posts on this topic include:

Teaching Hurricane Katrina - What can an Informaticist do? (includes the link to the actual teaching presentation)

Hurricane Katrina...a teaching moment

Posted by prolurkr at 03:29 PM | TrackBack

October 11, 2005

Flyer for my CMC class

Elizabeth Lykins designed a great flier for my Computer-Mediated Communication class for Spring 2006.  I believe the class will make with both undergrad and grad students.  Should be fun, I'm looking forward to it.

Posted by prolurkr at 05:42 PM | TrackBack

September 08, 2005

Teaching Hurricane Katrina - What can an Informaticist do?

Teaching Hurricane Katrina - What can an Informaticist do?

Last night I lead a discussion in my Introduction to Informatics class loosely based on the recent happening along the Gulf Coast. You can check out my PowerPoint slides at .

My goals for the hour and fifteen minute class was for the 45 undergrads to begin to think about how such disasters are possible for all of us. In other words it is not just something that can happen to "them" but something that could happen to any of us. Secondly my goal was for these budding Informaticists to begin to see how their current and future skills can be used to assist those in need and can be used to help prevent, or at least limit the magnitude of, similar disasters.

First I contextualized the discussion by introducing the New Madrid Fault to the class. The New Madrid is a major fault line that runs through parts of five states - Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Arkansas. Secondary fault systems also pull in parts of Indiana and Mississippi. See for a bit of history and a map.

Then I showed the students a map of Indiana with known and inferred fault lines marked. This map shows that very few if any of the student's life more than 20 miles from a fault line that is in communication with the New Madrid Fault.

Once we had the context in place I talked a bit about the history of the New Madrid. In particular that the last major earthquake along the fault in 1811 was so strong that the Mississippi River flowed backwards and aftershocks were felt across the United States. Many geologists estimate that the 1811 earthquake was at least an 8 on the Richter scale.

Lose of life was low because the immediate area was sparsely populated almost 200 years ago. However if a similar earthquake were to happen today it is estimated that 60% of Memphis would be destroyed. Likewise St. Louis would experience significant damage. The loss of life would be, will be, staggering.

Then I announced that geologists have developed a method that will accurately predict an earthquake no more than 24 hours before the incident. (We wish that prediction were a true possibility!) And they have predicted an earthquake of minimum 6 on the Richter scale which will impact all of us in only 24 hours. I then gave them five minutes to individually list a minimum of five things they would do before the earthquake hit.

At the end of the time I asked the class who had either listed or developed their list with the idea that they were leaving for a safer area. The majority of the class raised their hands. Then I asked who had either listed or framed their list with the idea that they were staying in their homes. About 10% of the class raised their hands.

I then talked to the group that had said they were leaving for a safer place and asked them where they were going and how they were getting there. Most said they would head for the homes of family members who lived away from the projected damage area. Some said they would head for preferred vacation-type locals using commercial airlines.

We then pulled together their lists of what they needed to do before they left into a master list on the board. Examples from those answers include arranging rendezvous points with family members and friends, securing their places of residence, buying supplies including food and water, contacting their insurance agents, and arranging for pets. As we completed the list one student pointed out that none of them could do everything they listed and still drive out of the danger zone in 24 hours.

Next we moved to the students who said they would stay. When asked their reasons for staying even after a warning that this would be a very dangerous earthquake they gave reasons such as:

- Since the roads would be clogged with others trying to get away they figured they were better off preparing as well as they could and staying at home so they would not be caught by the earthquake while still on the highway.

- One student said that unless the prediction specifically said that their home would be in the direct path of the earthquake they would stay because there was no proof that they might not be in more danger by moving then by staying.

- Another student said they knew what resources were available to them where they were and would not have the same knowledge in a new location.

Then as we did with the students who said they would leave we gathered their to-do lists on the board. There were, of course, many areas of overlap with the lists of those that were leaving including purchasing food and water, batteries and battery operated appliances like radios, and gasoline. In addition to those items the students who were staying listed things like generators, wood to secure their homes, and emergency supplies like sleeping bags and tents to their lists. Once the list was completed they commented that they would have a difficult time making most of the purchases on the list within the 24-hours after the announcement of the impending earthquake as those items would sell out quickly.

Then we talked about how the exercise is a thinly veiled effort to have them look at their situations in light of what has happened to those along the Gulf Coast. I asked them what they thought our responsibilities as Informaticists were in light of what they have seen happen in the last week and with the insights we have garnered through the individual exercise. I had a list of Informatics areas of specialization on a slide including, Bio Informatics, Chemical Informatics, Health Informatics, Human Computer Interaction, New Media, and Social Informatics. We then discussed ways that people with these specialties could help those that have been impacted by Hurricane Katrina and ways that they could help to prevent the level of disaster we have seen in Katrina's aftermath.

In specific we talked about the problems of lost medical records of those that have been displaced and what solutions were possible to reclaim information now and prevent the loss in the future. Likewise we talked about large scale databases to provide information on chemicals that could become hazards after a disaster. Due to the limited time for this lecture, one hour and fifteen minutes, we did not focus on other issues surrounding large scale databases such as the ethics of gathering such information, information security, or infrastructure issues. Though I did include comments that there were many associated issues with these solutions that would have to be considered before one would implement them, in specific I did list the three areas mentioned here.

Lastly I introduced this week's lab assignment, the text of which follows. The lab assignment is designed to promote volunteerism by asking students to use their Informatics skills, if possible, to assist others or to have them think through ways their current or future Informatics skills could be used to prevent some facet of the disaster or to improve the quality of life for those impacted.

You have two choices for this lab from which you must select one for credit. Please feel free to do both if you have the time to do so or to exceed the volunteer times listed here.

  1. Volunteer a minimum of one hour and fifteen minutes to assist those displaced by Hurricane Katrina. Examples would be volunteering at the Red Cross Call Center (see ), or through the Red Cross efforts at the State Fair Grounds. There are many many opportunities out there to donate this minimum amount of time. Use some creativity and find an organization that has need of your skills.
    1. Document your time with a note or letter on official organizational stationary.
    2. Or though a copy of the internet screen that annotates the completed project, for online work.
    3. Or a snap shot of you working will do as well. Just make sure I can identify what organization you are helping.
  1. Scan newspapers and news magazines in paper form or online. Find a minimum of three articles related to the Hurricane Katrina disaster where someone with either 1) the informatics skills you currently possess, or 2) the informatics skills you expect to have upon completion of your degree could assist or could have assisted those impacted. The assistance must have a positive impact upon their life situation either through preventing injury, prolonging life, improving current conditions, or positioning them for future survival and success.
    1. Once you have your articles write a short paper (3 pages maximum) that describes how your skills could be used to improve conditions for those described in the news stories.
    2. Turn in your paper through the Oncourse Assignment page. Include full APA or MLA citations for your three articles, and URLs if available. Check the IUPUI Libraries Quick Reference Resources: Style Guides (see ) for information on both formats.
    3. Please do not use examples given in class. Thank you.

The class is racially, economically, and age diverse and there is a roughly even split between men and women. I was pleased that many of the students participated in the class by giving ideas and insights during the hands-on exercise. As we moved into the section asking how we as Informaticists could help discussion declined though the students were attentive with strong backchannel communication from head nodding, direct eye contact, and note taking.

As for the lab, I have already had several emails and comments from students about volunteering including at least one who completed her lab requirement earlier this morning.

Posted by prolurkr at 03:05 PM | TrackBack

August 15, 2005

Death of CMI at SoI at least for Fall 2005

Well it appears that today is the day that School of Informatics will have to pull the plug on my Computer-Mediated Instruction class, registration level equal one student.  The class has not filled for a number of reasons including marketing...I didn't know I was teaching the class early enough to get a good leg up on my preparatory reading in time to have anything about the class in writing soon enough to market it to students.  We shall fix that problem before the spring when I will be teaching a Computer-Mediated Communication (CMC) class.

But at least I have another class I am prepared to teach, the syllabus is done all it needs is a completed "policy" section.  Of course that would vary from university to university and across subdivision within said universities so I don't think missing that part is a big deal.  If you are curious you can see a copy of my working CMI syllabus and let me know what you think about the design.  I will be doing notes for a class portfolio on this one, it took a lot of thinking and reading to design so I want some bang for the buck.

 I400 Topics in Informatics/Computer Mediated Instruction (3 cr.) This course will introduce students to the selected concepts of Computer-Mediated Instruction (CMI). The course is run as a seminar and students will be required to read and prepare for each class discussion. The semester is divided into three modules. First the class will examine the theories and techniques for developing training programs. The second module will look at ways that computers are used in the classroom with an eye to new and developing technologies that may be useful in classroom settings. The third module will focus on distance education including design and delivery issues. Students will be required to create and maintain a class related blog that will include their writing on class readings, discussions, projects, etc. Instructions on this requirement will be given early in the semester. Students will be evaluated on their preparation and participation, blog entries, three projects - one for each module, and a final examination. P: at least junior standing or permission of instructor. Variable topic. Emphasis is on new developments and research in informatics. Can be repeated twice for credit when topics vary, subject to approval of the dean.

Posted by prolurkr at 10:35 AM | TrackBack

August 12, 2005

Using content in the classroom

Will at Weblogg-ed News has a very interesting breakdown of issues/categories related to how we as educators should be able to use the web.

1. We need to be able to Access Content--The Web is the greatest repository of knowledge and information that we've ever had. The fact that a good number of children in this country (and elsewhere) still don't have access to it is downright sinful. These days, when it seems like knowledge doubles every couple of days, how can those kids be expected to compete, not just with kids around the world, but with kids from my district, for instance? The ironic thing to me is that now with this two way relationship, the one technology that could put everyone on an even playing field is instead just growing the divide between those that have access and those that don't. Sinful.

2. Teachers and students have to learn to individually and collaboratively Create Content--Especially now when it's becoming easier and easier to do, teachers need to do this to provide models to students of how to use the tools effectively. Students need to do this to begin creation of a digital portfolio of work that can serve as a lifelong repository of personal learning and reflection. We need to do this collaboratively so as to create our own networks and systems of support that go beyond the traditional classroom and the traditional school day.

3. We need to effectively Collect Content--With so much to consume, the ways in which we find, assess and archive relevant, interesting, important information is a crucial new literacy. This means being able to, manipulate search engines, evaluate sources, read critically, synthesize information, use technologies like RSS, and organize the results in effective ways.

4. We need to effectively Connect Content--Learning is a social act, and very little of what we learn is static and absolute. As George Siemens says, "learning is no longer an internal, individualistic activity." And so we must be skilled at finding ways to connect what we know to the database that is the Web, and, in turn, learn even more from those connections.

I've thought a lot about these issues this summer as I was heading into class design. How to engage the students not just with the class content but also with the available related content that is open to them on the web and through IUPUI resources. I have a great, well at least I think it is great, plan that I hope I get to use - class enrollment is low at the moment - but if not it will turn up in class design for the spring semester.

Posted by prolurkr at 12:59 PM | TrackBack

July 22, 2005

The Portfolio: Capturing What You Do In The Classroom

Information is available from:

A Teaching Portfolio is a goal-driven collection of materials that document one's teaching performance over time. They serve to highlight one's teaching strengths and accomplishments.

A Teaching Portfolio must display work indirectly, through description, documents, and various forms of evidence.

"Portfolios are messy to construct, cumbersome to store, difficult to score, and vulnerable to misrepresentation€"


Some Don'ts:

Some Do's:

What should you collect for your portfolio

Keep of a list of the courses you teach

Posted by prolurkr at 09:32 PM | TrackBack

Cooperative Learning Strategies

Following are some Cooperative Learning Strategies we practiced and discussed.

Numbered-heads together

Think in Pairs


Round Robin Approach

3-Minute Review

3-step Interview

Posted by prolurkr at 09:15 PM | TrackBack

FFFSI - Teaching Tip #2 (Reflection)

At the end of class save enough time to allow for students to write a Reflection on the readings and the class discussion.  They should use one paragraph to summarize and the rest of the page to reflect (one page max). 

I have planned to use a similar technique in my upper-level class so that their Reflections are part of their blog entires.  The discussion about page limits makes me wonder if I should have a word count limit for the blog posts.  I am of two minds on it, so I may try working with a limit this semester and see how it goes.

Posted by prolurkr at 09:01 PM | TrackBack

FFFSI - Teaching Tip #1 (Think-Pair-Share)

Give students 2 minutes to think about a question you have posed.  Then have an adjacent pair of students discuss what each thought (2 minutes each).  If they finish before the time then they should sit quietly and see if any additional ideas surface.  Finally the pair share with the class, in particular they share each others view point.  

Posted by prolurkr at 08:55 PM | TrackBack

Just-In-Time Teaching hints

Last weekend was the annual Future Faculty Fellows Summer Institute (see Pictures of Fourwinds Resort & Marina for shots from last year so there is no rain). The weekend is an intensive workshop with sessions on teaching, and being a faculty member. I walked away with lots of notes some of which I will be sharing here through a set of individual entries.

First is the recommendation of the book, cover art is on the right. Full citation: Novak, Gregor, Gavin, Andrew, Christian, Wolfgang, & Patterson, Evelyn (Mar. 1, 1999). Just-in-Time Teaching. New York: Prentice Hall.

One idea that we were given to us by Jay R. Howard relates to undergrad students interest in reading textbooks (he has an article on the topic but I can't find a citation through database search).  Jay said that he had a problem in his Sociology classes that students would not read the textbooks.  So he started using a tip from Just-in-Time Teaching and now there is a short quiz due 2 hours before class, submitted via electronic resources.  Now more students are reading the text because:  First the quiz itself prods them to read the material, and second he uses the 2 hours to pull detail from the short answer and essay question that is then used in his lecture - what student doesn't like to see their work called out in a positive way.  I like this tip.  Not sure I will use it this year but it will be in my teaching tools kit.

Posted by prolurkr at 08:46 PM | TrackBack

July 13, 2005

Wikipedia in the Lesson Plan

Will Richardson has an interesting post on using a Wikipedia Lesson Plan drawn from Turning Wikipedia into an Asset for Schools. The plan uses a Wikipedia entry as the basis of a literature search and has students, in their case grammar school students but I see no limitation on the exercise, critic the entry and edit it with citations for the facts. It's a nice neat plan to get students to think about the accuracy of information, and to help fix problems so that others don't encounter then as readily. I will have to work this in to one of my syllabi for the fall. Read both entries for details.

Posted by prolurkr at 10:38 AM | TrackBack

July 09, 2005

Adding a new category for my teaching portfolio

Adrian Miles at got me thinking with his comments about adding a category for "teaching portfolio" to his blog. I'm stealing the idea with my own "Teaching Portfolio...thoughts on the art and practice" though I have credited the source.

As I am now diving into syllabus development with both feet I think it will be very helpful to have prolurker as both an outlet and a record for my thoughts as I work up two classes. No doubt there will be much written about it here as I work my way through the stack of books on the floor to my left...maybe 4 feet of them. I always have done a lot of literature search before I settle on what I want to use so why should this be differen. LOL

I had planned on keeping notes in an offline format to later be gathered into a teaching portfolio. But that does seem rather duplicative so I will give this a whirl and we shall see how it goes.

Posted by prolurkr at 01:58 PM | TrackBack

June 08, 2005

Qualitative vs. quantitative grading

New Kid on the Hallway has a very good discussion of qualitative vs. quantitative grading in their post Grading and grade complaints (another cross-blog comment).

I much prefer to give letter grades rather than numbers because I'm very comfortable describing the qualitative difference between a B paper and an A paper (or even a B, B, and B+ papers); given the way the 100 point scale works, however, a B can be anything from an 83 to an 88 (or whatever range you use), and I'm much less comfortable making distinctions within that point range - what is the difference between an 83 B paper and an 88 B paper? or an 83 B paper and an 84 B paper? Because you know there's going to be that student out there who has calculated their grade and figured out that if they get the 84 instead of the 83, they will get the A- instead of the B+, and they're going to argue for that damn point. But if I give a student a B, then they've earned a B. I'm sure some would argue that the B should be a B+, but to me, the difference between a B and a B+ is much more significant than the difference between an 83 and an 84 (and I know an 84 isn't a B+; my point is that a B and a B+ feel like much more different grades than an 83 and an 84 do). I suppose one of the things this reveals, really, is that I don't think in terms of numbers when I grade papers. Instead, I think in terms of scales, or degrees. Paper X does this, this, and this that I asked students to do; it goes in the A category. Paper Y does this and this but not that; it goes in the B category.

I agree and I wonder if all of the "purely" quantitative researchers can explain the difference between say an 89, 90, and a 91 grade in their classes. My guess is they can't because the distinctions are too fine. I certainly have never heard anyone talk about writing rubrics that cover all the point levels individually. Man now that would be a master work to read...but I sure don't want to write the thing that way.

Read the whole post it's very well done.

Posted by prolurkr at 10:40 AM | TrackBack