Lessons in learning

first_img Harvard’s Gen Ed curriculum encourages broad and deep examinations of Big Questions New faculty: Jesse McCarthy For decades, there has been evidence that classroom techniques designed to get students to participate in the learning process produces better educational outcomes at virtually all levels.And a new Harvard study suggests it may be important to let students know it.The study, published Sept. 4 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, shows that, though students felt as if they learned more through traditional lectures, they actually learned more when taking part in classrooms that employed so-called active-learning strategies.Lead author Louis Deslauriers, the director of science teaching and learning and senior physics preceptor, knew that students would learn more from active learning. He published a key study in Science in 2011 that showed just that. But many students and faculty remained hesitant to switch to it.“Often, students seemed genuinely to prefer smooth-as-silk traditional lectures,” Deslauriers said. “We wanted to take them at their word. Perhaps they actually felt like they learned more from lectures than they did from active learning.”In addition to Deslauriers, the study is authored by director of sciences education and physics lecturer Logan McCarty, senior preceptor in applied physics Kelly Miller, preceptor in physics Greg Kestin, and Kristina Callaghan, now a physics lecturer at the University of California, Merced.The question of whether students’ perceptions of their learning matches with how well they’re actually learning is particularly important, Deslauriers said, because while students eventually see the value of active learning, initially it can feel frustrating.“Deep learning is hard work. The effort involved in active learning can be misinterpreted as a sign of poor learning,” he said. “On the other hand, a superstar lecturer can explain things in such a way as to make students feel like they are learning more than they actually are.”,To understand that dichotomy, Deslauriers and his co-authors designed an experiment that would expose students in an introductory physics class to both traditional lectures and active learning.For the first 11 weeks of the 15-week class, students were taught using standard methods by an experienced instructor. In the 12th week, half the class was randomly assigned to a classroom that used active learning, while the other half attended highly polished lectures. In a subsequent class, the two groups were reversed. Notably, both groups used identical class content and only active engagement with the material was toggled on and off.Following each class, students were surveyed on how much they agreed or disagreed with statements such as “I feel like I learned a lot from this lecture” and “I wish all my physics courses were taught this way.” Students were also tested on how much they learned in the class with 12 multiple-choice questions.When the results were tallied, the authors found that students felt as if they learned more from the lectures, but in fact scored higher on tests following the active learning sessions. “Actual learning and feeling of learning were strongly anticorrelated,” Deslauriers said, “as shown through the robust statistical analysis by co-author Kelly Miller, who is an expert in educational statistics and active learning.”Those results, the study authors are quick to point out, shouldn’t be interpreted as suggesting students dislike active learning. In fact, many studies have shown students quickly warm to the idea, once they begin to see the results. “In all the courses at Harvard that we’ve transformed to active learning,” Deslauriers said, “the overall course evaluations went up.”,Co-author Kestin, who in addition to being a physicist is a video producer with PBS’ NOVA, said, “It can be tempting to engage the class simply by folding lectures into a compelling ‘story,’ especially when that’s what students seem to like. I show my students the data from this study on the first day of class to help them appreciate the importance of their own involvement in active learning.”McCarty, who oversees curricular efforts across the sciences, hopes this study will encourage more of his colleagues to embrace active learning.“We want to make sure that other instructors are thinking hard about the way they’re teaching,” he said. “In our classes, we start each topic by asking students to gather in small groups to solve some problems. While they work, we walk around the room to observe them and answer questions. Then we come together and give a short lecture targeted specifically at the misconceptions and struggles we saw during the problem-solving activity. So far we’ve transformed over a dozen classes to use this kind of active-learning approach. It’s extremely efficient — we can cover just as much material as we would using lectures.”A pioneer in work on active learning, Balkanski Professor of Physics and Applied Physics Eric Mazur hailed the study as debunking long-held beliefs about how students learn.“This work unambiguously debunks the illusion of learning from lectures,” he said. “It also explains why instructors and students cling to the belief that listening to lectures constitutes learning. I recommend every lecturer reads this article.”Dean of Science Christopher Stubbs, Samuel C. Moncher Professor of Physics and of Astronomy, was an early convert. “When I first switched to teaching using active learning, some students resisted that change. This research confirms that faculty should persist and encourage active learning. Active engagement in every classroom, led by our incredible science faculty, should be the hallmark of residential undergraduate education at Harvard.” English and AAAS professor on teaching, his path to academia, and reframing the canon Related Ultimately, Deslauriers said, the study shows that it’s important to ensure that neither instructors nor students are fooled into thinking that lectures are the best learning option. “Students might give fabulous evaluations to an amazing lecturer based on this feeling of learning, even though their actual learning isn’t optimal,” he said. “This could help to explain why study after study shows that student evaluations seem to be completely uncorrelated with actual learning.”This research was supported with funding from the Harvard FAS Division of Science. Intensely personal, yet universallast_img read more

Jamaican Drug King Pin ‘Dudus’ Sentencing Hearing Begins Today.

first_img Sharing is caring! 173 Views   no discussions Share Share NewsRegional Jamaican Drug King Pin ‘Dudus’ Sentencing Hearing Begins Today. by: – May 22, 2012center_img Tweet Christopher “Dudus” CokeThe sentencing hearing of alleged drug kingpin Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke is set to begin in the US District Court in New York today.Coke has pleaded guilty to racketeering, conspiracy and conspiracy to commit assault in aid of racketeering in the United States.He was originally facing drug related charges but he later entered into a plea agreement with the US government. Coke is facing up to 23 years in prison, however, in a court filing in March prosecutors said they were would settle for an 18-year sentence.At that time, Judge Robert Patterson upheld a request from Coke’s defence team for the prosecution to provide evidence of the atrocities it has accused Coke of committing.Legal experts said this decision by the judge suggests he wanted to ensure that a decision to impose the maximum sentence would be just.Last September, Coke wrote a seven-page letter to Judge Patterson accepting responsibility for his actions and asking the judge to sentence him below the guideline.After a nine-month wrangling between the US and Jamaican governments, Coke was arrested in June 2010, following a major operation in May to execute a warrant on him.More than 70 people were killed in the operation.Jerome Reynolds, Gleaner WriterGojamaica.net Sharelast_img read more

Paddles up in the Puget Sound: The 11th Annual Dragon Boat…

first_imgFacebook80Tweet0Pin0 Submitted by Saint Martin’s UniversityWith more than 50 local, regional and international teams, including an increase to 16 teams in the women’s division and an all-new junior division, the 11th Annual Saint Martin’s Dragon Boat Festival is set for a record-breaking year.This extraordinary event will involve more than 1,200 participants in a fun, festive day of dragon boat racing and multicultural performances, arts and crafts. More than 4,000 visitors from the surrounding South Puget Sound region are expected to join in the festivities at the Olympia Port Plaza on Saturday, April 30. This day-long event is free and open to the public.The day will kick off at 9:00 a.m. with welcoming remarks by Saint Martin’s University President Roy Heynderickx, Ph.D., and Washington State Senator Karen Fraser, followed by the “Dotting of the Eye” ceremony, a traditional blessing of the dragon boats. The races will begin at 9:30 a.m. A total of 52 local, regional and international teams, including the Seattle Flying Fire Dragons, Team Tsunami and Rip City Paddlers, will hit the water for a day of fun and fierce competition. The paddlers come from universities, high schools, school districts, government agencies, community organizations and local businesses located in various areas, from Seattle to Portland.In addition to the races, visitors can enjoy Chinese traditional art demonstrations, martial arts performances and music, starting at 10:00 a.m. The final heats of the race will commence at 4:00 p.m., followed by a closing and awards ceremony.Saint Martin’s University staff work with the Port of Olympia to put on the annual Dragon Boat Festival.Dragon boat racing is a tradition that dates back to 4th-century China, commemorating famed poet Qu Yuan, who threw himself into the Milo River to protest the political turmoil and suffering of the people at that time. Today, dragon boat races are an opportunity to celebrate culture and community.Saint Martin’s University has been actively involved in education and cultural exchanges with China since 1995. Each year, members of Saint Martin’s faculty travel to China to teach international business, accounting and general education courses. Saint Martin’s students regularly participate in China study tours and internship opportunities in Shanghai and Hong Kong. In addition, 40 students from China are currently studying at Saint Martin’s University.The Dragon Boat Festival draws support from organizations throughout the Puget Sound area and the sponsors are Port of Olympia;  the cities of Lacey, Olympia and Tumwater; Squaxin Island Tribe; 94.5 ROXY; Capital Mall; Capitol City Press; Olympia Federal Savings and the Associated Students of Saint Martin’s University.“We are excited to continue with the tradition of the Dragon Boat Festival that Josephine Yung, vice president of International Programs and Development, started back in 2006,” says Kathleen Thomas, director of Event Services and Dragon Boat Festival planning committee chair. “In the ensuing years, it has grown leaps and bounds with increased teams, vendors and festival attendees. Even if you prefer not to paddle, come out and experience the convivial atmosphere, enjoy the cultural performances and cheer on your favorite team!”Paddles up!For more information about the Dragon Boat Festival, visit www.stmartin.edu/dragonboat.last_img read more