Radical Teaching Success

Wired has an article on a radical change in education.

I’ve seen the TED talk that Sugata Mitra gave over his successful experiment in educating the poorest of the poor.

I’m interested in the ideas found here, but am unsure how to implement them in the higher education classroom.

The study found that when the subjects controlled their own observations, they exhibited more coordination between the hippocampus and other parts of the brain involved in learning and posted a 23 percent improvement in their ability to remember objects. “The bottom line is, if you’re not the one who’s controlling your learning, you’re not going to learn as well,” says lead researcher Joel Voss, now a neuroscientist at Northwestern University.

For my literature students, I have given them the opportunity to vote on what kinds of papers they would write over the semester. (All short analysis papers, longer papers, or a single long paper.) They chose the short, regular assignments and the 3 exams (instead of 2). We actually just revised the syllabus yesterday and have added a cumulative final as well.

My business writing students were able to choose the topic of their major project, the primary form that major project would take, and whether or not they had a final exam or a brochure and digital presentation during the final exam period. That is not quite as much control over the entire class as could be had, but I do feel like it allowed them input and means they will be more prepared for the research and production of their major project.

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