Saturday, October 15, 2011

Past techniques revisited

     This semester has seen a return to teaching and testing techniques that I thought I had abandoned.  This semester I returned to multiple choice exams and have added oral testing in the class (i.e. "come up to the board, please...").
      I have observed a mixed bag of results.  On the upside, I have developed a research-oriented pedagogy that allows me to link students misconceptions to specific learning objectives.  Students also have some instantaneous feedback about their deficiencies regarding basic concepts in the text.  On the downside, however, I have noted a potentially disturbing trend.  It seems very few of my students, especially among the traditional freshmen, are able to study effectively or even have the capability to make the most rudimentary connections between concepts.
     This situation has prompted me to look at my students within the concepts of student development theory to explain the situation.  From what I can tell, my students seem to be stuck within the dualistic position of development described by Perry's theory of intellectual development.  This way of thinking mean students look at the world in terms of right and wrong with no grey areas in between.  now, this situation is quite common among traditional students, but the current crop  seems to have this perspective more firmly entrenched.  For example, I have needed to explain how to study for these studdents, even going so far as to require them to make notecards and explain exactly how to make the notecards.  I have also found myself in the position where I am forcing them to memorize information for the exams. This means I must test them on their ability to learn at the lowest levels of Bloom's taxonomy, rather than giving them information in order for them to demonstrate their ability to apply information.
     All in all, I am rather frustrated at my students' absence of basic work ethic and learning skills.  Lucky for them, however, they have an instructor who cares too much to let them flounder.  They may not always like me, but they will leave my class with a more realistic knowledge of college learning.

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