Archive for April, 2013

New Study Links Student Motivations for Going to College to Their Success – Inside Higher Ed

April 25, 2013 – 3:00am



Why did you decide to go to college?

Asking that question of new students in a more formal way might help colleges find ways to encourage more students to complete their programs, according to a new study from University of Rochester education researchers published in The Journal of College Student Development.

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Inside Higher Ed 


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The following is from the linkedin blog group: 

Higher Education Teaching and Learning

and was posted by Nelson King.


Our student evaluation contains the question “Course was appropriately organized and paced” and a similar question “The instructor was prepared for the class”. Both questions are on a 5-point scale from strongly agree to strongly disagree. 

I am concerned about the differences in semantics (how interpreted) of words such as “organized”, “paced”, and “prepared”. I am highly prepared with a richly populated Moodle course that follows the sequence of the course. The “due dates” of assignments appear automatically as Moodle upcoming events so they don’t have to scroll and find. I even create an agenda as an event repeating the readings and due dates. However, I still get a lot of complaints that “Sir, I can’t find anything” [unorganized]. I have flipped many of my courses so I can push critical thinking in predominantly group-based problem solving during class. The questions are structured with ambiguity to promote problem definition and framing but students see this as [unstructured, unorganized, and fast-paced]. They won’t finish on time if they dawdle or don’t come prepared. Note that I only grade the assignment if the majority of groups are able to complete the assignment as there is variance each semester. 

I suspect these evaluation questions have origins from the era of instructor-led courses. I suspect that most students interpret these words as:
• Organized – tell me/remind me what I need to do next so I don’t miss any assignments
• Paced – minimal pressure to complete the work
• Prepared – tell me what I need to know (memorize) to do well on exam – give me the Powerpoints – ask me questions that I understand

I interpret these words as:
• Organized – content of the course is laid out in a structured manner in a learning management system, assignments can be located, and due dates are clearly visible via event notices and agenda of the day
• Paced – enough pressure to reinforce being prepared and develop team collaboration skills to move through the required questions in the time allotted
• Prepared – I have carefully developed the questions to maximize critical thinking at the level of the class (per semester) in the group problem-solving

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Colleges Struggling to Stay Afloat, By Jeffrey J. Selingo

STUDENTS piling on debt to go to college might attract all the attention, but colleges have been on a borrowing spree as well, nearly doubling the amount of debt they’ve taken on in the last decade to fix aging campuses, keep up with competitors and lure students with lavish amenities.

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Why have university admissions become so competitive?

By the spring of 2008, the admissions rate at Harvard University had fallen to 7.1 percent out of an applicant pool of over 27,000 for the class of 2012. Stanford University, also reported an admission rate lower than ever before that same year —9.5 percent, down from 12 percent five years earlier.  The simple explanation for why it is harder to get into four-year colleges now than ever before seems to be supply and demand: more high school graduates than ever are competing for seats in the freshman class. Part of the increase in the USA is the result of immigration, especially from Asia and Latin America, but most of the growth is due to the children of the Baby Boom generation that created the great demand for higher education in the decades after World War II.

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This came to my attention this morning and I thought I would be of interest to many faculty. File it under “Our syllabus gets longer and longer….” from Dr. Fritz Detwiler

Research has indicated that student performance is significantly correlated with cell phone use. A study by Duncan, Hoekstra, and Wilcox (2012) demonstrated that students who reported regular cell phone use in class showed an average negative grade difference of 0.36 ± 0.08 on a four-point scale. Students also underestimated the number of times they accessed their phones while in class. While students reported an average access rate of three times per class period, observation data showed the rate was closer to seven times per period. An interesting finding is that other students are distracted when students text in class (Tindell and Bohlander, 2012). So while a student may claim he’s only hurting himself when texting, studies show that others are affected also.

So what is the answer to this new form of passing notes in class? Faculty must assess their own feelings about their students using cell phones in the classroom. This will include the type of class one is leading.

Other faculty may incorporate the use of the cell phone in the course planning. The ability to quickly access the web for discussion information can be beneficial for the students. It also can encourage participation when paired with software like Poll Everywhere.

Once the instructor has a clear understanding of the potential positive or negative impact of allowing cell phone use, he or she must clearly state policies in the syllabus. If the faculty member allows phone use, he or she then must clearly state how the cell phone can be used. If no cell phone use is allowed, this too must be clearly stated and students need to know the repercussions for violating the policy.

Sydney Fulbright, PhD, “Cell Phones in the Classroom:  What’s Your Policy?” Faculty Focus, April 15, 2013

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The Honor Roll: 50 Must-Read K–12 Education IT Blogs from Edtech Magazine

There’s no question that technology has transformed the classroom. Thanks to the proliferation of mobile-computing devices, social media and online-learning resources, and classroom-based tools such as interactive whiteboards and document cameras, digital literacy has become increasingly important for today’s students. But developing strong technological skills is only half the battle; mastering the subject matter using these tools is equally important.
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Don’t Lecture Me: Rethinking How College Students Learn By MindShift

At the star-studded Harvard Initiative on Learning and Teaching (HILT) event earlier this month, where professors gathered to discuss innovative strategies for learning and teaching, Harvard’s  professor Eric Mazur gave a talk on the benefits of practicing peer instruction in class, rather than the traditional lecture. The idea is getting traction. Here’s more about the practice.
By Emily Hanford, American RadioWorks

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