Tuesday Teaching Question

Tuesday Teaching Question appears most Tuesdays (except the last of the month) and poses a single question for consideration and discussion. Suggestions are welcome as are revisions to the question posed. While it’s false that no questions are dumb, it’s certainly true that all questions are educational.

So, it’s Tuesday, and though we’re not teaching (at least most of us who are not presenting at DWFDW), we’re certainly engaged in the process. I’m still struggling with the organization of two of my classes and can’t seem to get settled on an approach to which I’m completely committed.  Part of the problem is that I know I still have time to play with them (and maybe improve them), and so I can’t help but tinker. Philosophers call this sort of thing Fallibilism–the idea that our knowledge is real, but imperfect and incomplete, perpetually perfectible or something like that. I am definitely a fallibilist, at least when it comes to course planning and teaching.

Tinkering aside, though, I try to come back each semester with at least one big, new experiment that I apply across all of my classes. The last three have been either disappointments or flat out failures (like this one). So it goes with experimentation–at least I learned something from all of them. Nonetheless, I have high hopes for this year’s version: Audio Feedback, baby. I learned how to use a digital recorder this summer and so the plan is to read student papers, mark up a rubric, record my comments and email the file to students. Since I type 40 words a minute or so, and write (scrawl) about 25 words a minute (less on the train, when standing) and speak around 160 words a minute, I should be able to give more feedback and do it faster. Plus the file removes the legibility issues and, according to some research on the approach, makes it much more likely for students to perceive the feedback as complimentary/constructive and so put it to use.

I’m very excited about it. I think it could be what they call a game-changer. But that’s MY project. I know I’m not alone in thinking about how to do things differently as we head toward another fall and a new academic year. So, today’s question is this: What are you doing differently this year? Are you using some new feature of Blackboard? A new book? A new pre-test? A new website? A new seating arrangement?

What’s different? How are you going to try to be better than you were last year?