Adams Center Lecture: Teaching and Learning

File drawer problem: journals don’t publish null findings
THERE is a usefulness to digital scholarship

4 phenomenon cause pop ideas w/out scientific support
1. Pop culture – reification
As long as concept stays in lab, everyone using it has knowledge and awareness of limitations. Once out– no realistic awareness (evolution, climate change, learning styles/preferences, social Darwinism, the unconscious–scientists know it is scientifically untenable)
Part of the sociology of knowledge
2. Barnum Effect
If you ask people if that seems like you, they will most often say yes.
Forcher 1949 study (horoscope effect idea)
Barnum Effect is more powerful. Enhanced by 4 pts:

  • 1. Subject must believe only applies to that subject
  • 2. Must believe in the authority of the tester.
  • 3. The more positive info, the more likely they are to agree.
  • 4. People don’t do these tests unless they want to know something, feel uncertain about.
  • –people adopt this feedback into their self-concept. Teacher believes Barnum Effect because students do.

3. Students’ judgement of how they learn is most often wrong. Overestimate how much they know, how hard something is to learn.
–Science Feb article
—concept maps
—take tests w/out feedback
(what Live Science article says– I use this to teach test-taking skills for my developmental and FYC students)
!!!give regular quizzes on visual rhetoric!!!
4. Marketing
Publishers have a financial investment in learning styles.

GRE: no data that supports its use, except in high demand fields at high demand institutions

As an institution, what level if evidence should we be expecting to have?
Evidence= info useful to us for making decision. More imp decisions need more evidence.

What evidence must we have to change what we are doing in the classroom?

Q? Mixing up teaching for learning?
Material presented in different ways (mixing it up) is that useful.

What was the question? (meaning, why did we start studying all this?)
What leads us to better teaching?
–differences in aptitude or ability
(teach analytic students to analyze, creative students write end of sonnet started by Shakespeare, practical folks figure out…
–prior knowledge
This matters. Mental/situational models. New info just gets sucked into the faulty model. You have to get the person on the hook for how the faulty model would predict– then do the experiment and show wrong
What do they know and how is it organized. Like brainstorming cloud.
Note: Core is 12 hours of classes required for all our students. There is one majors-only capstone in each department, but the other nine are interdisciplinary.
Core class–different from every other class because we are experts at our subject, but we have no mental model for teaching an interdisciplinary class.
Most successful Core teachers have been those who teach what they know.
–curiosity and interest
Curiosity sells every mystery novel. Anytime there is a gap, there is a pull.
–self-regulatory capacity
Give beginning students text w hyperlinks (to find new stuff) or more pictures, it impairs the cohesiveness if what they were learning. Breaks up coherence. I think this is very important, especially since we are working on online learning and ebooks. We need to consider that maybe the text that is “boring, professional, dry” may be just what the students need–at least at the beginning of their education in a subject.
Just by coloring the page the student learned less.
One example from Richard Mayer UC Santa Barbara– online on how lightning works
-1 video. 2 cartoony stuff—cartoon helped them learn better.

Used to have more external motivation through grades.
? Attribute success to being smart or talented versus to working hard?
Incremental learning is important.
Research by Carol Dweck

For novice learners pics etc bad, but for those with more knowledge hypertexted text is good.

Curse of Knowledge: impossible once you know a thing to remember how it was to not know

Interesting idea– learning as teacher is useful. (Exactly.)

Take Non-knowledgable students and teach them self-regulatory skills

Self-regulatory skills
Survey, question, read, recite, review (SQR3)
–good skill. Works really well. From 1930s.

Meta-cognitive objective built into their SLOs. Tell students what they need to think towards

Rachel Carson book on wonder. ???Any study on that?
Wonder cognate with curiosity.
Difference is existential.

Wonder/ curiosity could help students learn better.

Paschler in 2008– speaker will send PDF
Ask for name of Dweck’s book

2 of series
This talk will have 2 parts:

  • 1. studies on learning–
  • accessible
  • about behaviors students can control (except 1)
  • not all research created equal
  • 2. Should we tell them?
  • 3 or 4 ways students can learn better
  • We know it. Students don’t. If so, when? Where?

Cannot trust what students say about how they learn
Students were asked how many times they switched between tv and computer (They could watch either one.)
Observed 100s
Reported less than 50
Problematic to ask what and how they learn
?how did they measure? Answer on his blog.

Student is going to study a total of 4 hours. Results differ if separate the hours of study. Massed practice gets far lower grade on test
Longer the student waited for the test, the more important it is that they distribute their studies

Survey, question, read, recite, review
Studies on the Read-recite-review part show that those who do the R3 = 50% better on exams

Current study on relationship of music and learning. Listening to music while studying makes grade go down.

60 minute intervention changed minority averages by half a letter grade for 4 years. The 60 min is on how everybody has doubts, confusion, questions. My students seem to have no trouble acknowledging this.

This normalizes their (the minorities’) experience and helps them recognize that they are not alone.

This came at the perfect time as I offered a second option for the Xtranormal video we are doing in class. The students may choose something that they were confused about as a beginning freshman to explain.


Testing effect
Study- told to study until they thought they knew it
Repeated study- study over and over again until required time up
Concept mapping-elaborate rehearsal
Retrieval practice- notion that students learn and then we give a test to measure learning- study and take the test x3 w no feedback

Inference questions
Retrieval practice scored better. 50% better
Students write out answers. Practice answers. This is retrieval practice.

What would happen if we combined concept map (or repeated study) with retrieval practice and feedback?

For a sequence of texts:
Concept map .5
Retrieval .7
Next test
Concept map .28
Retrieval .42
Note: Retrieval practice involves asking the students to retrieve and reconstruct knowledge (Kapricke and Blunt 772).
When test was concept mapping, retrieval practice did better on the test than those who studied with concept mapping.

Discussion section:
Question: should we tell them? If so, how?

Student success program did the research that he recommended.

Ask for prep questions prior to discussions. That begins retrieval practice.

In Univ Seminar (an early student success class) one of the early themes of students was: “I already know all that.”

Do we know what to tell them?
Should we show them?

Rote memorization is important. You must have some basic knowledge of facts and names in order to build on learning. However, you don’t have to do the retrieval practice for rote memorization alone. In the study it was done for more than that.Do the practice for the details. Learning facts helps the higher learning.

Is there a place in upper level classes for this?
Should inform pedagogy.
One is value of repeated questions on tests. Second is value of comprehensive testing. Third is value of frequent testing.

One person said: I teach statistics. Like the idea of them testing themselves. Don’t want to grade. — online quizzes for immediate feedback
No grades except tests.
We do test. Then they get to rewrite for half credit. Then the second test did a better job. Iterative process is working.

Good bad question. Just telling someone something doesn’t teach them. Need to create learning ops

Appears to me that some of our brighter students need to know these things. Some of our brighter students may be learning less.
28 on ACT keeps poor students off academic probation but their grades are a letter grade lower than it could/should be.

Learning Across the Curriculum

Identity class used a concept map. Showed them concept maps in one core class

Greatest resistance is against critical thinking because students think they already know it and just refuse to apply it.
Doing an essay — low grades– rubric for assignment.

Breaking point for students. If they can make the grades, then they keep doing what is working

Do they want to know? Is it our job to make them want to know?
If they want to know, some of this can be found by themselves.

Question for McKelvain: You have been studying students with high ACT scores but who are less successful in college than expected. Do you know the variables that predict why there is underachievement?
McKelvain’s answer: So far this is simply speculation– personality difference about why they believe they succeed (smart or work hard?)
Working hard is good for feedback. If they think assignments are to show they are good/smart, they are not open to feedback.
Big differences for students. See Dweck.
The smart students need actual knowledge of how to manage learning. Have never needed this knowledge.
My sons, whom I homeschooled, were required to revise their work until they made a 100 on math, science, multiple choice and fill-in-the-blank-tests. I told them they were smart, but I also told them that when they had failed to do their work. “You are smart, so you might be able to get by without this right now. However, hard work is going to be what helps you get ahead, get a job, and make good money. There you have to be smart about what choices you make for working even when it is difficult.”

Students are the equivalent of self-employed. They have to manage self and do the learning.

We need to give regular assignments and good feedback. (Apparently there are some folks who only give finals. My freshmen agreed that this is true of their professors. I find this disconcerting for my students, who go into the final and their whole grade depends on that one exam.)

I do this particularly well. In my freshman composition course, we have had forty smaller writing assignments and four communicative works of art (essays in rhetorical and visual forms).

Getting connected also impacts grades. Doing Freshman Follies (a musical for freshman participants) brings grade ave up by half a grade.

Robert McKelvain of Abilene Christian University, presenting.

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