Monday, November 26, 2012

Helping students differentiate surface from deep learning

One theme engaged in many posts here at ISW (particularly our discussions of how students study) is the contrast between deep and superficial learning. At Faculty Focus, Maryellen Weimer reports on a study done on test questions formats and higher-order thinking, and links to a nice table listing cognitively passive vs. cognitively active learning behaviors:

Cognitively passive learning behaviorsCognitively active learning behaviors
I previewed the reading before class.I asked myself: “How does it work?” and “Why does it work this way?”
I came to class.I drew my own flowcharts or diagrams.
I read the assigned text.I broke down complex processes step-by-step.
I reviewed my class notes.I wrote my own study questions.
I rewrote my notes.I reorganized the class information.
I made index cards.I compared and contrasted.
I highlighted the text.I fit all the facts into a bigger picture.
I looked up information.I tried to figure out the answer before looking it up.
I asked a classmate or tutor to explain the material to me.I closed my notes and tested how much I remembered.
I asked myself: “How are individual steps connected?” and “Why are they connected?”
I drew and labeled diagrams from memory and figured out missing pieces.
I asked myself: “How does this impact my life?” and “What does it tell me about my body?”
I used Bloom's taxonomy to write my own study questions

Monday, November 12, 2012

In search of: A philosophy pamphlet

Bryan Frances (Fordham) writes with the following request:
I want to put together a fancy pamphlet that I can give freshman who are enjoying my intro class.  Something with a title more or less along the lines of ‘Why Studying Philosophy is a Good Thing’.  Something with lots of nice pictures, graphs, glossy pages, etc.  I was thinking it would have several sections:
1.       Why Philosophy is Good for the Mind.
2.       Why Philosophy is Good for the Soul.
3.       Why Philosophy is Good for Your Career.
4.       Famous People Who Studied Philosophy [including testimonials]
5.       Some Questions Philosophers Investigate
6.       Why Philosophy is Enormously Influential in the World
I suppose that this has already been done in many other places—and done well.  Could you let me know where to find such a thing?  I’d like to steal it, maybe adjust it a bit for my university, and then get a few hundred to hand out to freshman whom I think are “susceptible” to philosophy. 
I know I've seen a lot of great promotional materials for studying philosophy. Who can help Bryan out?

Monday, November 5, 2012

The notecard switcheroo

Don't know about you, but I find the humble notecard an enormously useful teaching technology. I usually require my students to acquire 25 of them at the beginning of each term. You can use them for fishbowl-inspired discussionsminute papers, and many other classroom assessment techniques.

I wanted to share a simple way I've used notecards to widen class participation. It's shockingly simple: