Monthly Archives: August 2015

Laptops: the enemy

2392943071_4421c4affaI ban laptop use in my class. I do this because laptop screens greatly distract surrounding students. This is called the halo effect.

It turns out the ban is good for another reason. Apparently, fast typists can write down everything, so thinking is required to take notes. Pen and paper requires some processing of the material, and evidently this leads to better test scores.

First class session

2015-08-24 17.09.58Classrooms can looks so big when they are empty.  And then, when the students arrive2015-08-25 14.27.21they somehow seem both bigger and smaller,
IMG_2716with a lot less air, but a ton of energy, especially on day 1 in a freshman-dominated class.

The first session went well I thought. A few technical difficulties with the cell phone polling technology (it might not be able to cope with 350 students texting in at the same time), and it always takes me some time to get used to the inertia of large classes (slow to start laughing, slow to stop). Most amazing to me was to see the students more riveted watching a video of me than they were watching me. Not sure whether that says something about me or the modern age. Whatever, it was an experiment I tried, and it worked. A keeper.

Fall 2015: Kick-off

It’s the end of the last Friday of the summer break. Outside my office window, the streets are clogged with parental cars disgorging the class of 2019.

At this time of year, I always ponder what I am doing well on the course, and what needs improving.  Prompted by one of my memos to self from last year, and subsequent discussions with Larkin Hood from the Schreyer Teaching Institute, I have spent some of the week thinking about the rare but important problems in past years of plagiarism, integrity failure, and whispering in class. I recently learned that there are people that research undergraduate classroom behavior, and one of them thinks (p.470) that controlling for everything else, classroom incivility (the technical term for bad student behavior) is worst in classes – get this – that have non-majors enrolled to meet graduation requirements in which the teacher is trying to infuse the class with conceptual material and attempts to teach critical thinking.

Oh my.