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.

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”

Flashback: Let Them Eat (Unbundled) Cake!

Oh, look–the “unbundling” folks are back at it, with a spate of recent articles in edtech and “edupreneur” sites dredging up the idea of finding “efficiencies” by stripping off certain components from the “process” of college/university education to make learning (which they define exclusively as degree completion, which should tell you something) more “streamlined.” Josh Kim has a good piece up today on Inside Higher Ed that pushes back against this “unbundling” fetish, rightly suggesting that it will do no more than exacerbate the divide between the privileged and everyone else. But this isn’t a new criticism of “unbundling.” We rail against Bryan Caplan’s blithe lack of self-awareness and is wrongheaded screeds “Against Education,” but let’s not forget that the disruption crowd has been riding this unbundling horse for a while. In fact, yours truly railed against this very trend three years ago, so instead of writing another rage-blog, I’ve decided to repost the original essay. The fact that it is still relevant today is a gloomy reflection on the state of higher education reformism. Continue reading “Flashback: Let Them Eat (Unbundled) Cake!”

Lecture-Based Pedagogy and the Pitfalls of Expertise

Every few months, higher education is witness to a curious ritual where one’s stance on particular pedagogical issues assumes an affect of Calvinist-style salvation or damnation. You can set your watch by the recurring debate over laptops in the classroom. And when that particular vein of argument is exhausted for the time being, the blood feud between the proponents of lecture-based pedagogy and active learning rears up to keep the sharks-and-jets mood alive. Continue reading “Lecture-Based Pedagogy and the Pitfalls of Expertise”

Keynoting on Purpose, Strategy, and Pedagogy

I had the honor of being invited to deliver the keynote talk, and to lead a workshop, at the University of Wisconsin System’s Faculty College from May 30-June 2. This event is an annual gathering of faculty engaged in the scholarship of teaching and learning from almost every UW campus. For three-plus days we engaged in wonderful discussions, workshops, and informal conversations on teaching and learning. In these fraught times for higher education, it was remarkably energizing to be with this group of dedicated practitioners. I got see the passion and creativity with which they approach our work with and among students, and I’m grateful to have been invited to participate in the week’s events. Continue reading “Keynoting on Purpose, Strategy, and Pedagogy”