Re: In the Classroom

1

When you post an assignment on BlackBoard, you can already see at least who has opened it up...

I wish people would tell me this stuff at the beginning of the semester.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-10-13 5:50 AM
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I never highlighted important text! Now I'll retroactively fail college.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04-10-13 6:01 AM
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Me neither. Highliters kind of drive me nuts.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-10-13 6:02 AM
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Highlighting is the mark of the beast.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 04-10-13 6:11 AM
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I do highlight things when reading pdfs on my ipad. Not otherwise. What if people print out the reading?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-10-13 6:12 AM
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What if people realize that the teacher will go over all the important parts during class, and that they can get through their undergraduate education reading nothing, as long as they attend class? At least as a math major.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-10-13 6:15 AM
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And then later they feel like they didn't attain certain skills as an undergraduate, which they picked up through blog-reading later on, and they don't make any connection between comment 6 and this one?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-10-13 6:16 AM
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The really weird part of the article is the teacher who says something like "this student is doing really well on all the quizzes and exams, so I thought this was a good student, but now I know otherwise!"


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04-10-13 6:16 AM
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In the old days, teachers knew if students understood the course from the expressions on their faces.

Huh?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-10-13 6:20 AM
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It's hard to read the expressions on my students' faces, but I suspect they're mostly thinking about lunch.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04-10-13 6:22 AM
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My current teacher stands like Daphne in the original Scooby Doo.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-10-13 6:24 AM
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Huh?

If their eyes were open and clear, they understood it; if their eyes were open and they were crying, they didn't understand it; if their eyes were shut, they thought they understood it but they didn't.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 04-10-13 6:24 AM
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I give them quizzes. "5 points - what are you having for lunch?"


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-10-13 6:24 AM
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If they are panting like dogs you know you've got 'em.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-10-13 6:27 AM
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The really weird part of the article is the teacher who says something like "this student is doing really well on all the quizzes and exams, so I thought this was a good student, but now I know otherwise!"

You aren't there to learn organic chemistry. You're there to learn subservient compliance. This student was fooling the teacher into thinking he was compliant by deviously "being intelligent". A good student isn't one who does well, it's one who studies assiduously when he's told to do so.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 04-10-13 6:35 AM
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The best student is the one who needs my special, magical help to move from a B to an A. Without too much sunk time and effort, I've made a real difference to a student who knows how to play the game.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-10-13 6:39 AM
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You call them sheep, because they go "BAAA"


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-10-13 6:40 AM
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But... I don't care if my students highlight texts (I never did), or how they take notes, and if I assign a lot of reading, as I like to do in upper division classes, I want them to learn how to skim!

I'll admit to not being at a fancy school, but I thought the purpose of taking notes was to facilitate learning things, not an end in itself.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 04-10-13 7:32 AM
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15 is correct.

I always used to wonder about friends at university who studied really really hard. It seemed to split fairly evenly between those who needed to, as they didn't grasp the material as quickly as some others, and those who did so fairly neurotically, because they'd internalised that that was what good students did and they were good students, therefore... Quite a few of those could, I'm sure, have done just as well with 20% of the work.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04-10-13 7:36 AM
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Hence the drive to continuous assessment. It allows you to assess the important things - how much work they do, and how good they are at handing it in on time and properly spelled - without being blinded by irrelevant stuff like "knowledge".


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 04-10-13 7:44 AM
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I want them to learn how to skim!

I'm not sure I ever learned this.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-10-13 7:47 AM
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I never learned how to skim. I assumed it would be a great insult to the teacher. Oddly enough the only way I remember anything when I read is when I skim, and if I try to absorb every word it doesn't work. However, the latter method was my exclusive method throughout school.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 04-10-13 7:54 AM
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It seemed to split fairly evenly between those who needed to, as they didn't grasp the material as quickly as some others, and those who did so fairly neurotically,

You're leaving out the medics, who studied really hard because they had a lot more to learn than everyone else.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 04-10-13 8:17 AM
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re: 23

That too. I had two medics as flatmates in first year. Even between them, there was quite a wide difference. Both studied a lot, but one was what I'd think of as 'fuckloads, but do-able' and the other was 'fuck that'.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04-10-13 8:21 AM
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Heh at 20. There's definitely truth there.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04-10-13 8:22 AM
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Snow Crash:

Y.T.'s mom decides to spend between fourteen and fifteen minutes reading the memo. It's better for younger workers to spend too long, to show that they're careful, not cocky. It's better for older workers to go a little fast, to show good management potential. She's pushing forty. She scans through the memo, hitting the Page Down button at reasonably regular intervals, occasionally paging back up to pretend to reread some earlier section. The computer is going to notice all this. It approves of rereading. It's a small thing, but over a decade or so this stuff really shows up on your work-habits summary.

Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 04-10-13 9:30 AM
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wetakeyourclass.com:

How do you guys offer such reliable customer service?
We are dedicated to making sure anyone we help is satisfied 100%. We understand that the whole concept of someone doing your homework can be unsettling. We are here to make it as simple as possible for you and we want to answer any questions you have.
Is this considered cheating?
If you ask us to assist with your economics exam or assignment, we will give you the answers. We are just providing correct answers to your questions. Once we release the answers, its up to you to submit those answers.

Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 04-10-13 10:06 AM
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I could never get the hang of highlighting. Or underlining. Or, really, taking notes, because you were supposed to do so in outline form and I always found this completely baffling. It's possible I just was a horrible student. I like to think I'd be better now that you can take "laptop" "computers" to class.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 04-10-13 10:16 AM
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re: 28

I always find my wife's note-taking baffling. She's doing a distance degree at the moment, and takes these incredibly detailed long-form notes which, to me, are less than useless. If it takes almost as long to read the notes as it takes to read the paper/book, why bother?

But it seems like there are a zillion different ways to take notes. I often took notes just as a method of focusing my reading and fixing key points in my memory. Lots of the time I never read them again.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04-10-13 10:25 AM
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Oddly enough the only way I remember anything when I read is when I skim

I don't think this is odd at all. Skimming, if you're working hard at it, is active reading, and demands a great deal of attention and effort. That's not to say that one can't skim passively or inneffectively, which is probably the worst of all possible worlds. This happened to me recently, actually, and I came to the end of a book and realized that I knew nothing at all about its contents.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 04-10-13 10:28 AM
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Also, the mania for assessment is almost entirely the result of a managerial class of wanking wankers taking over education and funneling money to their wanking friends in the assessment business.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 04-10-13 10:29 AM
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I never understood highlighting as a way of understanding a school reading assignment. I do use the highlight feature a lot in reading cases, but it's only so I can specifically go back later, easily, to the key part that I care about for a brief or whatever, not as a tool to increase comprehension.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-10-13 10:34 AM
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It serves a dual function, Halford, of forcing the mind to retrace the sentence and solidify it in memory, as well as noting the desired selection for re-reading. When I highlighted my old law school texts, it was more to serve the first concern than the latter.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 04-10-13 10:40 AM
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34

I'm thinking of getting a tablet computer and the excuse I'm going to use is that I need it to take notes.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-10-13 10:50 AM
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takes these incredibly detailed long-form notes which, to me, are less than useless

It's for reinforcement, I think: some people learn/remember things when they write them out, while they wouldn't if they just read them.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-10-13 10:51 AM
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a managerial class of wanking wankers taking over education

and they can't tell what the actual job is, just as the same people can't tell what the job is in the private sector and promote by face-time or keystrokes or LoC.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 04-10-13 10:53 AM
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Note taking always seemed useless to me, because it worked under the assumption that one would later review ones notes. Which I never did.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 04-10-13 10:55 AM
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Quite a few of those could, I'm sure, have done just as well with 20% of the work.

More precisely*: They could do 80% as well with 20% of the work, and 90% as well with 50% of the work. After that, it's all diminishing returns.

*not really


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 04-10-13 10:58 AM
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They could do 80% as well with 20% of the work

I always felt that 80% was about as perfect a score as you could get in any class. It gets you a B with the lowest possible effort.

In practice, I usually aimed for an 83%, to allow for a bit of padding on the downside. Or, if it was a class I decided I wanted an A in, then aim for 91%.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 04-10-13 11:06 AM
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40

I agree with text on the value of note-taking. The primary utility for me never lay in consulting them later.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-10-13 11:07 AM
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41

What's 29.last, chopped liver?


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04-10-13 11:13 AM
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I always felt that 80% was about as perfect a score as you could get in any class. It gets you a B with the lowest possible effort.

I never did this in a classroom, because I'm a good girl, but this is my explicit philosophy in life. If you don't have a metric for assessing something, use 80%. Are you on time 80% of the time? Great, you're punctual enough. Is dinner made 80% of the time? No room for improvement. Are you getting along with your kids 80% of the time? Phenomenal. Great.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-10-13 11:16 AM
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43

41: sorry, Ttam, I was skimming.

Are you on time 80% of the time? Great, you're a flake.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-10-13 11:21 AM
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80% OF EVERYTHING IS JUST SHOWING UP.


Posted by: OPINIONATED WOODY ALLEN | Link to this comment | 04-10-13 11:27 AM
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Do you drive to work without crashing into anyone 80% of the time? Great!


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-10-13 11:37 AM
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I Blame The Teachers


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 04-10-13 11:41 AM
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Surely everyone who is a regular commenter here knows how to skim?
I almost never used textbooks in college unless there was a specific problem in there that we had to do. I bought all the books so I still have them in my basement in excellent condition. I did take careful notes in class but didn't study them too much, the act of taking them was enough to learn the material.
I played an instrument elementary school through grad school and almost never practiced, yet somehow I kept being invited to join more selective groups. Eventually in grad school this caught up with me where I was playing with music majors and other serious music types so I said fuck it and quit. Like my textbooks, my instrument is still in the basement as well.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 04-10-13 12:43 PM
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29.2 I'm the same way. Notes are to help fix things in memory, not to be used later study guides.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 04-10-13 12:51 PM
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49

I'm that way with my shopping lists. I almost never remember to take them with me, but once I've written all the items down I'm able to remember at least 80% of them at the store, which is great.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-10-13 12:53 PM
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49: "them" is supposed to refer to the items on the list.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-10-13 12:54 PM
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I'm studying at the moment, and I read the books very slowly, taking pretty long notes. I use the notes to explain it to myself, make sure I understand everything. I rearrange the order of the information, add in bits if necessary. Too easy to just read it and think I know it otherwise. I have used my notes nearly all the time for answering the assignment questions - they cover everything and are written so they make sense to me - and I expect I will use them for revision. It's been quite interesting to see how my style has changed - I didn't use to make notes like this when I was at university, but I think I have more things on my mind than I did then!


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 04-10-13 1:38 PM
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I'm studying at the moment, and I read the books very slowly, taking pretty long notes. I use the notes to explain it to myself, make sure I understand everything. I rearrange the order of the information, add in bits if necessary. Too easy to just read it and think I know it otherwise. I have used my notes nearly all the time for answering the assignment questions - they cover everything and are written so they make sense to me - and I expect I will use them for revision. It's been quite interesting to see how my style has changed - I didn't use to make notes like this when I was at university, but I think I have more things on my mind than I did then!


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 04-10-13 1:39 PM
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It takes me even longer because I have to write everything out twice.


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 04-10-13 1:41 PM
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49 made me laugh.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-10-13 1:53 PM
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re: 43.1

I was just kidding, btw.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04-10-13 1:58 PM
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The Snow Crash quote says it all, but it is precisely the micromanagement of how students should learn that prevents students from learning how to learn. Students figure out very early on that every class is an exercise in determining what hoops the teacher wants you to jump through, then doing precisely and only that.

You would not believe how many of my students freaked out when I gave them a writing assignment and did not specify the page limit or format. They were completely lost.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 04-10-13 2:08 PM
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Surely everyone who is a regular commenter here knows how to skim?

No, I read all the comments, except the ones by people I don't like.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04-10-13 2:19 PM
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I've found summarish responses I've written to books and articles actually pretty helpful years later for reminding me what a book was about, but any incremental as-I-read-notes I've ever taken (and I'm not much of a note-taker) have functioned more as while-reading aids than anything else. Partly because they just don't hold together when I look at them later without re-reading the book.

I have done color coding and highlighting, but I don't like marking up paper and it's really more like making an index of stuff to look at again than note-taking. In high school I'd sometimes make a list of page numbers of quotations I might use in an essay before writing.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 04-10-13 8:14 PM
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I'd forgotten that bit from 'snow crash'. Ugh.

God, being on time 80% of the time would be such an improvement.


Posted by: X.Trapnel | Link to this comment | 04-10-13 9:15 PM
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This thread made me laugh, but I think you all are too cynical by half about assessment. When there is a skill involved, students can really benefit from regular, consistent feedback! Not that I manage to do this very well with large university sections, but it would really improve the courses if I did.


Posted by: simulated annealing | Link to this comment | 04-10-13 10:11 PM
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I wanted to give the students feedback on their practice! I don't want to confuse practices with outcomes, though.

Verily, I have been overruled all term by the other three TAs for harsh grading, and midterm results were woeful. I think if we'd made students be explicit about units & sigfigs throughout, they'd have more to reason on.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 04-10-13 10:33 PM
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So much grading and no-one up to amuse me. the term so short, the craft so long to lerne.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 04-11-13 12:03 AM
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I'm here! The paper I just finished reading has one of the best acknowledgments I've ever seen:

This paper would have never been completed had I not been trapped in a hotel room in Mahaballipuram, India, by the northeast monsoon. I must thank whoever was responsible.

Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-11-13 12:14 AM
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Still not quite as good as the best one ever, which goes in the other direction:

I would like to dedicate this paper to Provost Dr. Paul Puryear, without whose failing support of Social Sciences at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, I would have been done much earlier.

Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-11-13 12:17 AM
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You would not believe how many of my students freaked out when I gave them a writing assignment and did not specify the page limit or format. They were completely lost.

But then how often in life are they going to be set a completely unstructured task like that?


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 04-11-13 2:22 AM
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I had one tutor at Glasgow who liked to set amazingly short writing assignments. For example, he'd set some James Kelman short story (some of which are only a couple of paragraphs long), and then insist the essay be 250 words or less. That was really really hard to do well.

Quite good at breaking you out of the standard essay format: introduction [here is the question, here is some shit I plan to say], paragraph 1 [introduce first chunk of shit, end with sentence summarising chunk], para 2, etc conclusion [as I said I would in the introduction, in summary, here is some shit I said].


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04-11-13 3:25 AM
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66 sounds like a very good idea. More like "Make a couple of really memorable points about this text". And probably made his life easier too...


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 04-11-13 4:01 AM
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68

Here is your reading assignment. Tweet me your conclusions.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 04-11-13 4:10 AM
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60: that's not what I mean by "assessment". I mean the institution-wide practice for accreditation purposes, where every sneeze needs an associated Learning Outcome, and you have to endlessly document to what extent your students are achieving the course learning outcomes, gen ed learning outcomes, and learning outcomes for the major. None of this gets shared with the student.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-11-13 4:11 AM
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Re: 67

Yeah. He set full length ones, too. But he liked to mess with the format, and the short ones were as you say: just summarise clearly your insights/observations, remove all waffle and essay 'tricks', just tell me something interesting.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04-11-13 4:20 AM
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