Technology and Distracted Students: A Modest Proposal

A few days ago, news broke in the higher-ed sphere about a new paper in the Educational Psychology Review, “How Much Mightier Is the Pen Than the Keyboard for Note-Taking? A Replication and Extension of Mueller and Oppenheimer (2014),” which seemed to undercut a study that’s become the go-to for those in favor of unilateral technology bans in the college classroom. The Mueller and Oppenheimer paper  purported to show students who took class notes in longhand performed better[1] than those who used laptops. But this new paper–authored by Kayla Morehead, John Dunlosky, and Katherine A. Rawson–could not replicate those findings, even when they extended the study to students who used other devices or those who took no notes at all. There were no statistically-significant differences in test scores among these groups, the authors point out, which means “concluding which method is superior for improving the functions of note-taking seems premature.” Continue reading “Technology and Distracted Students: A Modest Proposal”

  1. [1] Mueller and Oppenheimer defined “perform better” as higher test scores.

The Fallout from Paradigm Shifts; or, Scaling Kuhn Up.

Earlier this week, a cool Twitter thread happened, started by @_Varsha_Venkat’s query to historians about any pivotal, paradigm-shifting (for them) books they’d read

Continue reading “The Fallout from Paradigm Shifts; or, Scaling Kuhn Up.”

Solving the Silent Sam Problem: A Speculative Account

By now, all of the higher-education world is familiar with the saga of Silent Sam, a statue of a Confederate soldier erected on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus by the United Daughters of the Confederacy in 1913. As a symbol of the racist history of the South’s effort to create a slaveholders’ nation, the statue has been (accurately) characterized as being entirely inappropriate for the campus of a purportedly modern university.

Defending White Supremacy: the Silent Sam statue under guard during 2017 campus protests (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

Continue reading “Solving the Silent Sam Problem: A Speculative Account”

An Ambivalent Milestone; or, How’s the Book Coming?

The fear that hangs over all of my writing is that I will never finish the big projects. Actually, it’s even worse than that: I fear not knowing how to finish. Shorter things, I can do. I can whip out a blog post in a couple of hours, even quicker if I’m writing about something that pissed me off. (My most-read post on this site, with nearly 400K views, was one I rage-wrote at the Asheville, NC, airport in under two hours.) But longer projects paralyze me, and I get to a point where I literally wake up in the middle of the night, with an anxiety knot in my stomach, and wonder if I will ever be able to finish them.

Continue reading “An Ambivalent Milestone; or, How’s the Book Coming?”

Some Thoughts on Pedagogy and the Problem of “Empathy”

Last week, my provost asked me about the research on “empathy” in teaching and learning. He’s interested-as I am-in how my university can improve student success, become more inclusive, and create a climate in which all of our students may learn in meaningful and powerful ways. Any faculty developer would love to be having these conversations with their chief academic officers, and to see administrative support for these objectives. Therefore, I’m quite happy for the opportunity to dive into the research in this area; I’m familiar with some of it, but I know I have a lot to learn. So I tweeted out a query:

And, wow, did y’all respond! I received a bunch of great references and suggestions, which I have compiled below this post for anyone to use as they wish. Continue reading “Some Thoughts on Pedagogy and the Problem of “Empathy””

Pedagogy is not a Weapon: Defending Trigger Warnings and Safe Spaces

[CW: discussion of sexual assault, trauma]

Ever since Socrates upbraided his followers in the Agora, there has been a strong tradition among educators to bitch about students and/or their various foibles. We all do it, and there’s no denying that this type of venting can serve a valuable purpose, if kept to the private and confidential realm of office talks or water-cooler chatter with colleagues. But student-shaming has moved beyond the confines of faculty lounge venting and become a cottage industry of sorts, as the past few years have shown that it can pay to be an educator with pissed-off hot takes about Kids These Days™.

Continue reading “Pedagogy is not a Weapon: Defending Trigger Warnings and Safe Spaces”