Tuesday Teaching Talk

Tuesday Teaching Talk is a regular feature which, as the name implies, is an opportunity to talk explicitly about teaching (and learning) in the practical and philosophical sense that happens on, you guessed it, Tuesday. It could be a question, an article or a tip to name a few options.

Chalk it up to Labor Day idleness, but today’s TTT will be brief (and somewhat off the cuff).

Personally I think that Week 3 is a turning point.  The initiation is done and now we’re down to business.  Day 1 class list are due followed closely by the day 10’s.  Committees are in full swing and student’s are adjusting to their new schedule.  For many K-12 students (and some of ours who didn’t realize our semester started 2 weeks ago), school starts today.  Share some first day memories, good or bad, as a teacher or as a student.

Here’s mine (and it’s happened on multiple occasions though most notably my 3rd semester teaching).

I was geared up to teach an actual college level class (college algebra at LUC).  I was the only grad. student at the time given this privilege.  I confidently walked in and handed out syllabi.  I began talking about the course.  About 5 minutes later, a student asked what any of this had to do with psychology.  Red-faced, wind knocked out of my, I recollected the syllabi, looked at the room number, mumbled something incoherent and walked next door to my actual classroom.  Luckily I was a few minutes early.  At the least, the situation was a nice ice-breaker for my actual class.

6 thoughts on “Tuesday Teaching Talk

  1. This is really off topic, but it does have to do with teaching and learning….

    I just finished reading a couple of articles on intelligence, and the gist of them was that a student’s view of intelligence has a great effect on their performance and learning. Basically, if a student views intelligence as something innate, then they are performance-oriented and will compare how “smart” they are to their peers. Performance-oriented students will avoid making mistakes so as not to appear unintelligent. This means that they will stick to tasks that are easier, and avoid more challenging tasks. They are less likely to participate in class unless they are sure that they have the right answer. It also means that if they get a low grade on a test, they will be less likely to study for the next test. Performance-oriented students say things like, “I’m just not good at (whatever subject).” These students are in competition with their peers, and are more concerned with whether they got an answer right or wrong, and will pay little to no attention to feedback.

    On the other hand, students who view intelligence as something that can be achieved, are more learning-oriented. These students are more likely to bounce back from a poor performance or bad grade, will accept more challenging tasks, and are more helpful to their classmates because they believe that everyone is capable of doing well. These students are more receptive of feedback, and will use the feedback to improve.

    Studies have shown that students who watch a video on how learning effects the brain showed dramatic increases in both effort and outcomes.

    I posed the question, “What is intelligence? Are you born intelligent or do you achieve intelligence?” to my classes via BlackBoard, and have been getting some really interesting responses.

    Just thought I’d share, and see what you all think about this.

    • Hi UsuallyConfused ,
      Can you provide the names of the articles or the links? I think this is a fantastic topic.

    • That jibes with the research I read about in a book called Nurture Shock suggesting that telling a kid that they are smart leads to quicker giving up and significantly less persistence, while emphasizing effort leads to longer attempts, more varied attempts, and more likelihood of trying harder and longer on subsequent problems.

      Using the same theory (and some other stuff), I’ve been emphasizing the effort and techniques that skilled readers use, making the point that reading is not something that some naturally do well and others “lack talent” for–it’s an acquired skill and one that can be improved through practicing the application of specific techniques (assuming the adoption of a helpful mindset and broadened understanding of what it means to be a skilled reader). So far so good. I haven’t yet had anyone say, “I can’t read this.” Not yet, anyway; but I did have one student say in my office hours, “I am not a skilled reader,” which opened up a conversation about what he was doing and what he might do differently. It felt like a small victory.

    • That sounds like a really interesting conversation. I had students in some of my classes take a learning style assessment so that they would receive suggestions of study methods designed for their learning style, and I shared with them information about the kind of learner I am. I remember that it was frustrating for me as a student when I realized that things like summarizing and remembering came very easily to some students but that I had to write everything down, rewrite it multiple times, draw analogies, and then review information over and over in order for things to sink in…it was time consuming. At first, I thought that the fact that I needed to spend so much time studying while others didn’t meant that I wasn’t as smart or that they were just better students, but then I figured out that we all just have to figure out what is going to help us be successful in our classes and then commit to doing that.
      After their first short quiz, I had the class brainstorm study techniques together. It was eye-opening for some students to see how much time and effort other students put into learning, whether it was accomplished through note-taking techniques applied during class time or while reading the assignments.
      We talked about how many of us (myself included) have had our eyes move across the lines of a page (especially textbook reading) assignments, only to realize after turning the page (or a couple pages) that we had no idea what our eyes had just passed over. And then we discussed techniques for ensuring that what we’re/they’re reading is being digested. Moving from simple highlighting or underlining to discussing more elaborate methods for annotating, summarizing, etc, we discussed how much it helps to put the author’s argument in your own words (either to explain the ideas to someone else or just to explain them to yourself) in order to make sure that the message is sinking in.
      We’ll continue to discuss reading and study strategies throughout the semester, but I thought that was an encouraging start. It was gratifying to me to hear about what some students were already implementing and see other students perk up when they heard an idea that seemed like it might be one worth trying.
      I appreciate you sharing the synopsis of the research you read and your class discussion about it, and thanks to the others for sharing links for me to check out. Looks great. Thanks!

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