Conclusions to conclude

Lessons from 2014 for 2015?

  • The fundamentals are sound
  • The attendance algorithm works
  • Try to figure a way to work some class activities into classroom time. Hard to do for big classes, but evidently it can be done*.
  • Figure out how to stop the whispering in class. It has to stop for so many reasons (1, 2, 3, 4, 5…)*.
  • Obsessively check Angel test settings. Especially for the final exam.
  • Raise blog standards. I think the bar is set about right. Get more students to hit that. Point out to them that it is in fact easier than getting a good test score. I wonder if one way to do it might be to get them to do some peer grading of the first blog period. Show them more examples in class of excellent practice. Grade the first blog period harder.
  • Keep the restriction on making this a course of Freshmen. More impact. Fewer cynical students.
  • Important stress-reduction tip Andrew: do not get on an airplane during semester (1, 2).
  • A perpetual source angst for a small minority of students is the blog grading. Some students try harder in a subsequent blog period but get about the same grade. When I investigate, it is almost always fair. Get the same grader to grade the same students each time? Get the graders in the later blog periods to look at the comments and scores from the earlier periods? Make sure not generosity is going on in the grading of the first period. Try to teach students that hours/effort is not what counts. It’s well directed effort and hours.
  • Do a class project (e.g. test the cell phone hypothesis?).
  • Do a few pop quizzes early on which test run the first parts of the class tests better (general material).
  • More use of phone polls to reinforce material in class, especially early on.
  • Set up a glossary of words – something students can post to so I can see what they can’t understand.
  • Produce a final list of all the key concepts covered for review purposes. Could give this out at the beginning of the year (or put it in the syllabus). It could work as a study guide.
  • Consider pop-quiz like homework. They could hand it in next class for attendance? Could use old exams; make the answers available on Angel etc. This might work for review just before exams.
  • Throw more questions at the audience. Get the mike and show it in people’s faces? Scary stuff for the students, but if gently handled at the beginning, might work.
  • Figure some ways beyond tests and pop quizzes to do hands on learning*.
  • Do a class on Evil.

The plan is try a class of nearly 400 in 2015. This to scale the impact. But to stay sane, I’ll need to do various things.

  • Get a class email account set up – which staff assistant Monica monitors and deals with as much as she can, re-routing as much else to the TAs as possible.
  • Get another three blog graders. Make the most experienced of the six responsible for coordination, and quality control.
  • Get an extra TA to help the students (total three).
  • Get a side-kick or two to run review sessions (one of the graders?). They review sessions are important, but I can’t do twice as many.

*Andrew: well before Fall 2015, ask the Schreyer Institute for Teaching Excellence for suggestions

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