Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Excellent article on why stating Learning Objectives might not be the best thing.

While going through the Quality Matters training it always seemed a bit odd to share the learning objectives with students right away. From the design side they are absolutely necessary, from a student engagement perspective they always seemed dull. This article by Donald Clark verbalizes what I was having issues with. Definitely makes me rethink reviewing outcomes on the first day of class.

Spring Break! Beer, sun, and crazy parties!... I mean prepping courses, and catching up on friends.

So that whole promise of regular updates was not fulfilled, at all. Not even an epsilon's worth. Sorry about that. I'm good at lists though, so let's write some of those.

Courses for Spring Term 2015

  • Contemporary Mathematics - This is a new course and is part of a state-wide effort to offer an alternate pathway for non-STEM students the demphasizes algebra. It is the first time the course has been run, and we are using co-teaching to ensure there are enough hands available for the first run through. I hope to post more about this course and provide some context on the state and national levels as well.
  • College Algebra - Fifth time I have taught this course, fairly straightforward at this point. However I do want to include more demonstrations of what I expect them to do each week. 
  • Calculus III - Very excited about this course. I taught it last year for the first time and am looking forward to getting back into it. I would like to include daily quizzes, but I am unsure if I can make that happen this term. I need to balance my time with remember most of what is in...
  • Statistics II - This will be the first time I have taught this course, and frankly, I'm pretty rusty on hypothesis testing. I used it when I took the course, touched on some of the ideas in Real Analysis, but other than than, not so much. If you have any suggestions feel free to share below!
Things I Tried Last Term
  • Post Exam Reflection Prompts - I had students complete reflection prompts after they completed their second test, and for the most part it did not have the desired effect. Most of their writing was about the course structure, me, and how difficult the material was. My intent was for students to reflect on their performance, how they prepared, and what they want to do differently for the next exam. I have used these prompts in the past for final exams, which seemed to have the desired effect.
  • Talk about National Adjunct Walkout Day - While I did not actually walkout, I did talk to students about adjuncts, how they are compensated, and how it affects each student's education. It was a difficult discussion for me to have, but I think it educated students on this important topic. The majority of students had no idea what I was talking about, and for the most part we had a good discussion about who is at the front of their classes. I am thinking of having a short discussion about adjuncts half-way through each course to raise awareness and inform students of what happens at their institutions.
  • Using Subjective Measures for Grading - There were a few students this term that were borderline passing. This term I decided to look at their previous exams and really assess what mistakes they made. If they did not understand the basic concepts of the course I did not modify their grade. If it was clear that they understood the majority of the course material, I made an informed decision to modify their grade. Grades should reflect understanding, but purely numeric assessment would ignore my role as the instructor of the course. 
Recently Completed Projects
  • Manuscript edit for a Geometry workbook - This was to align a text to the TEKS/TAKS. Fairly straightforward project, but had to negotiate the initial terms a bit more than I expected.
  • Exam development for Pre-Calculus - Excellent project. Wrote a few exam questions, worked in telecommuting teams to review exam questions, and made a final 'difficulty' assessment.  
Projects on the Back Burner
  • Video series on a specific math applications. 
  • K-12 Teacher lesson prep materials.
  • Developing this blog.
Questions? Comments? Suggestions? Want to tell me how full of it I am? Write below!