Minimizing risk taking

I have been thinking about our topic of yesterday. Obviously the key to success, and the way to avoid bad evaluations, is to enable the students to see that they will do better if they join the journey. We listened to terrible stats about how little our students are willing to read and I think that may transfer into how much they wish to be ‘spoon-fed’ material. I think that this makes them resistant to our innovations.  So a couple of thoughts on which I would really welcome your ideas:

a.  When I was talking to my husband he told me of recent STEM research which shows that students are up to 1.5 times more likely to ‘fail’ in a straight lecture/question format.

Research Shows Lectures Ineffective, Active Learning Key to STEM Learning
A new analysis of research studies from the University of Washington and recently published by the National Academy of Sciences finds that undergraduate students in classes with traditional lectures are 1.5 times more likely to fail than students in classes that use active learning methods. The study concludes:”The President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology has called for a 33% increase in the number of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) bachelor’s degrees completed per year and recommended adoption of empirically validated teaching practices as critical to achieving that goal. The studies analyzed here document that active learning leads to increases in examination performance that would raise average grades by a half a letter, and that failure rates under traditional lecturing increase by 55% over the rates observed under active learning. The analysis supports theory claiming that calls to increase the number of students receiving STEM degrees could be answered, at least in part, by abandoning traditional lecturing in favor of active learning.”

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What I was wondering is whether anyone thinks it is worth taking more than a cursory pass at explaining the innovation to the students and actually take, even as much as a class period, or set reading for them so they understand why we are not ‘spoon-feeding’ but innovating?

b. My CULF 3331 class in Spring did project based learning in place of their mid-term and final papers.  They did an amazing job, some better than others but much better than they would have done in the previous class format. They enjoyed this and worked hard and learned a great deal by applying their knowledge from this course and their majors.  So I think helping the students to see the relevance of the innovation is important.

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