A teacher cannot place a grade upon achievement, only a bureaucracy can do that.
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Learner Centered Teaching
By Don Tapscott, Edge.
There is a huge clash between the model of learning offered by big universities and the natural way that young people who have grown up digital learn.
For fifteen years, I've been arguing that the digital revolution will challenge many fundamental aspects of the University. I've not been alone. In 1998, none other than, Peter Drucker predicted that big universities would be "relics" within 30 years.
Flash forward to today and you'd be reasonable to think that we have been quite wrong. University attendance is at an all time high. The percentage of young people enrolling in degree granting institutions rose over 115% from 1969-1970 to 2005-2007, while the percentage of 25- to 29-year-old Americans with a college degree doubled. The competition to get into the greatest universities has never been fiercer. At first blush the university seems to be in greater demand than ever.
Yet there are troubling indicators that the picture is not so rosy. And I'm not just talking about the decimation of university endowments by the current financial meltdown.
Universities are finally losing their monopoly on higher learning, as the web inexorably becomes the dominant infrastructure for knowledge serving both as a container and as a global platform for knowledge exchange between people.
Meanwhile on campus, there is fundamental challenge to the foundational modus operandi of the University -- the model of pedagogy. Specifically, there is a widening gap between the model of learning offered by many big universities and the natural way that young people who have grown up digital best learn.
The old-style lecture, with the professor standing at the podium in front of a large group of students, is still a fixture of university life on many campuses. It's a model that is teacher-focused, one-way, one-size-fits-all and the student is isolated in the learning process. Yet the students, who have grown up in an interactive digital world, learn differently. Schooled on Google and Wikipedia, they want to inquire, not rely on the professor for a detailed roadmap. They want an animated conversation, not a lecture. They want an interactive education, not a broadcast one that might have been perfectly fine for the Industrial Age, or even for boomers. These students are making new demands of universities, and if the universities try to ignore them, they will do so at their peril.
The model of pedagogy, of course, is only one target of criticism directed toward universities. (more)
The overall percentage of college freshmen who return to the same college for their second year of higher education has declined — again — according to an annual survey released today.
In the 2007-8 academic year, 66 percent of first-year college students returned to the same institution for their second year of college, the lowest percentage since 1989. That figure is down from 68 percent in 2006-7 and 69 percent in 2005-6, according the survey, which was conducted by ACT Inc., the nonprofit testing and research group.
Two-year colleges, however, seem to be exempt from the downward trend. Fifty-four percent of students at two-year public colleges returned for their second year in 2007-8, up from 51 percent the previous year.
Retention rates vary among different types of institutions. They remain higher at four-year colleges (71 percent) than at two-year colleges (54 percent), as has been the case historically. The data, though, provide no specific answers as to why retention rates have dropped over all or why they have conversely risen at two-year public colleges.
The report does note that students who didn’t return to a college after their freshman year might have transferred or “stopped out,” rather than dropped out for good. —Steven Bushong
But now, with physicists across the country pushing for universities to do a better job of teaching science, M.I.T. has made a striking change.
The physics department has replaced the traditional large introductory lecture with smaller classes that emphasize hands-on, interactive, collaborative learning. Last fall, after years of experimentation and debate and resistance from students, who initially petitioned against it, the department made the change permanent. Already, attendance is up and the failure rate has dropped by more than 50 percent.
M.I.T. is not alone. Other universities are changing their ways, among them Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, North Carolina State University, the University of Maryland, the University of Colorado at Boulder and Harvard. In these institutions, physicists have been pioneering teaching methods drawn from research showing that most students learn fundamental concepts more successfully, and are better able to apply them, through interactive, collaborative, student-centered learning.
The traditional 50-minute lecture was geared more toward physics majors, said Eric Mazur, a physicist at Harvard who is a pioneer of the new approach, and whose work has influenced the change at M.I.T.
“The people who wanted to understand,” Professor Mazur said, “had the discipline, the urge, to sit down afterwards and say, ‘Let me figure this out.’ ” But for the majority, he said, a different approach is needed.
“Just as you can’t become a marathon runner by watching marathons on TV,” Professor Mazur said, “likewise for science, you have to go through the thought processes of doing science and not just watch your instructor do it.”(more)
“Five years ago, the most important person — the student — was left out of the parent-teacher conference,” Tefft’s principal, Lavonne Smiley, said. “The old conferences were such a negative thing, so we turned it around by removing all the barriers and obstacles,” including allowing students not only to attend but also to lead the gatherings instead of anxiously awaiting their parents’ return home with the teacher’s verdict on their classroom performance. (more)
THE DEBT TRAP
Colleges Profit as Banks Market Credit Cards to Students
By JONATHAN D. GLATER
Published: December 31, 2008
Bank of America’s relationship with the university extends well beyond marketing at sports events. The bank has an $8.4 million, seven-year contract with Michigan State giving it access to students’ names and addresses and use of the university’s logo. The more students who take the banks’ credit cards, the more money the university gets. Under certain circumstances, Michigan State even stands to receive more money if students carry a balance on these cards.
Hundreds of colleges have contracts with lenders. But at a time of rising concern about student debt — and overall consumer debt — the arrangements have sounded alarm bells, and some student groups are starting to push back. (more)
The Chronicle of Higher Education
Distance Education Becomes a Major Part of Course Catalogues
Washington — A majority of colleges in the United States — 65 percent — offer college-level, credit-granting distance-education courses, according to a survey released today by the National Center for Education Statistics, an arm of the U.S. Department of Education.
It is another sign that distance education is becoming a staple of college life. Although the survey did not compare the present to the past, recent data from colleges indicate a jump in online enrollment. Last summer, The Chronicle reported, the Tennessee Board of Regents noted that summer enrollment in online courses was up 29 percent over last year. At Brevard Community College, in Cocoa, Fla., enrollment in summer online courses rose nearly 25 percent. Harrisburg Area Community College, in Pennsylvania, saw its summer online enrollment climb 15 percent to 20 percent.
Many observers attributed those spikes to $4-per-gallon gasoline at the time — going online was cheaper than driving to class — but others attributed them to a longer-term embrace of distance teaching.
The new survey, done in 2007, polled 1,600 degree-granting postsecondary institutions in the 50 states and the District of Columbia; 90 percent of them responded.
The courses they offered reflected a variety of education methods: 61 percent of two- and four-year institutions said they gave online courses (usually meaning all instruction is online), 35 percent said they gave hybrid or blended courses (combining online and in-class work), and 26 percent reported other types of college-level, credit-granting distance-education courses (which might include postal correspondence courses).
Over all, the two- and four-year institutions in the survey estimated 12.2 million enrollments (or registrations) in college-level, credit-granting distance-education courses in the 2006-7 academic year. —Josh Fischman
Problem Solving Examples
Homework Example 1, 2, 3
Fermi Problems 1, 2, 3, 4
1-D Motion 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7
2-D Motion 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9
Vectors 1, 2, 3, 4
FreeFall 1, 2, 3
Forces 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
Work 1, 2, 3, 4
Energy 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8
Momentum 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
Ballistic Pendulum 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
Rotational Motion 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
Static Equilibrium 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
Doppler Effect 1, 2, 3, 4
Fluids 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8
Electric Fields 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7
Gauss's Law 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
Electric Potential 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
Currents and Caps 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
Magnetic Fields 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7
Faraday's Law 1, 2, 3
Inductance 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
AC Circuits-RLC Circuits 1, 2, 3
180A /180B / 195 / 196
94 / 117 / 79 / 75 (365)
With increasing numbers of students, I reduced the number of DRS Problems from two to one on each test. I also developed
Problem Solution Templates
for various problems in each of the four classes.
I also developed many
Keynote Physics Presentations
(1, 2, 3, 4, 5).
Student Assessment 2008
Communication with Students
180A Study Guide 1, 2, 3, Final
180A / 195 / 196 / NS412
75 / 72 / 81 / 35 (263)
My assessments were maturing around two complete DRS Problems, 3 multiple-choice questions with rationale and 3 short answer questions.
Student Assessment 2008
Progressive / Fairness Pts
Communication with Students
Opening Day PodCast
Physics Education Research Articles
Please email me for the complete article or come by my office.
The Learning Cycle
I have four to five years of American Journal of Physics, Physics Teacher and Physics Today in my office. Please do not hesitate to come in and peruse through the stacks.
Physics Education Resources
Modeling Instruction Program
University of Colorado at Boulder
AAHE Assessment Principles