Elephant in the classroom @ The Berkeley Beacon

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Sep 192013

One of my close friends at Emerson, who also happens to be a Republican, recently told me: “I like to give off the vibe that I’m not conservative sometimes because social interaction is hard enough as it is.” This is not the mentality to carry around on a college campus. We shouldn’t have to apologize or feel the need to defend ourselves and our beliefs on a regular basis.For such an open and tolerant school, I find it ironic that some conservatives on campus, including me, feel ashamed or scared to proudly claim their political identities. On Emerson’s campus, the stigma of “coming out” as a conservative seems to mimic “coming out” as gay on a less progressive campus.Not only do I fear the judgment from my fellow students, but I have the same fear of being judged by my professors. I have hesitated to speak up in class, feeling trapped into representing views that I simply did not share.

~ Elephant in the classroom @ The Berkeley Beacon

In light of our conversation about the many facets of diversity in yesterday’s FYWP program meeting, this opinion piece written by a student caught my eye. The position the writer describes being in is one I think about often, and at times I find myself deliberately making a case for political positions not my own (playing devil’s advocate, I suppose) to make sure they’re taken seriously as arguments rather than dismissed out of hand — not to change minds, necessarily, but to reinforce and demonstrate the “generosity” Harris urges upon us as writers. It’s a complicated, negotiated decision to decide how your own politics will enter your classroom, but one that matters to me.

Do the Best Professors Get the Worst Ratings?

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Jun 032013

When you measure performance in the courses the professors taught i.e., how intro students did in intro, the less experienced and less qualified professors produced the best performance. They also got the highest student evaluation scores. But more experienced and qualified professors students did best in follow-on courses i.e., their intro students did best in advanced classes.

The authors speculate that the more experienced professors tend to “broaden the curriculum and produce students with a deeper understanding of the material.” p. 430 That is, because they dont teach directly to the test, they do worse in the short run but better in the long run. To summarize the findings: because they didnt teach to the test, the professors who instilled the deepest learning in their students came out looking the worst in terms of student evaluations and initial exam performance. To me, these results were staggering, and I dont say that lightly.

Bottom line? Student evaluations are of questionable value.

via Do the Best Professors Get the Worst Ratings? | Psychology Today.

An Ethics of Social Media for Teachers of Writing

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Dec 032012

I was surprised this week at the responses to a friend’s facebook post about college teachers anonymously quoting, and making fun of, on the internet, “amusing” mistakes from student papers. My friend, correctly, identified this practice as an ethical lapse. What surprised me was not that people do it, but that anyone would try to defend it once their error was pointed out to them, as some commenters did on the thread in question. Quoting student papers on social media without the student’s permission is unprofessional and wrong. Even if you’re praising the work, it’s wrong, but it is far worse when you’re making fun of it. I’d like to make a case for this, focused on the teaching of writing, which is the only kind of teaching I’ve done.

J. Robert Lennon


How College Graduates Solve Information Problems Once they Join the Workplace

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Oct 272012

A few days ago Project Information Literacy released a new research report called “Learning Curve: How College Graduates Solve Information Problems Once they Join the Workplace.”

The findings are based on interviews with 23 different employers in the U.S. and 33 “recent graduates” from four different college and the universities. The report hopes to give readers a deeper understanding about the different kinds of research strategies students need and are expected to have on the job and as lifelong learners.

According to the report abstract, the study found that  “there is a distinct difference between today’s graduates who demonstrated how quickly they found answers online and seasoned employers who needed college hires to use a combination of online and traditional methods to conduct comprehensive research”

@ PaLA

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