Newsletter excerpts: Education and Teaching Sept 2016

Michelle Burns
September 9, 2016

Here is some of the information I recently shared in my September newsletter. Each newsletter has a specific focus.  This month is focused on pedagogy, adult learning and teaching information. If you would be interested in receiving my newsletters, please head over to my contact page and sign up.

Tidbits, Updates and Resources

1.David Goobler, columnist at Chronicle Vitae, shares some reasons why rubrics are good and why they may not work. A good rubric:

  • makes clear to students what you expect of them
  • cuts through confusion around what “A” work consists of
  • Pre-empts student complaints about grading
  • Effective weapon in the war against grade inflation
  • Improves your teaching by forcing clarification of pedagogical goals
  • Provides structure to provide more effective feedback, zeroing in on the skills they’re still lacking
  • Provides information about which aspects of the course and working well and which are not

Why they may not work:

  • Do not speak a language that students understand
  • Use vague and abstract language rather than isolate skills to master
  • Abstract from actual assignments may fail to show what is expected of them in real terms.

Potential Solution:

  • Use past student work, with names redacted, that should various levels of success.
  • Give out samples without the grades and have each group discuss them, their strengths and weaknesses, and give each one a grade.
  • Then, reveal what grade each sample actually got and explain why, in detail.

2.  An interesting proposal was written and published by Rick Rosen, titled Continuing Education in the Massage Therapy Field: Proposal for an alternative to state and national regulation in 2013, attempts to address the issue of the regulation of coining education in massage therapy and the challenge of inconsistencies and oversight.

3.  Simon Oxenham posted a link to the video by Daniel Willingham “Believe it or not, ‘learning styles’ don’t exist” on Big Think.

4.  Todd Whitaker published a list, “What Great Teachers Do differently: 14 Things That Matter Most” in Nov 2014. Below is the list: 

  • Great teachers never forget that it is people, not programs, that determine the quality of a school.
  • Great teachers establish clear expectations at the start of the year (or program) and follow them consistently as the year progresses.
  • When a student misbehaves, great teachers have one goal: to keep that behavior from happening again.
  • Great teachers have high expectations for students, but even higher exportations for themselves.
  • Great teachers know who is the variable in the classroom: THEY are.
  • Great teachers create a positive atmosphere in their classrooms and schools.
  • Great teachers consistently filter out the negatives that don’t matter and share a positive attitude.
  • Great teachers work hard to keep their relationships in good repair—to avoid personal hurt and to repair any possible damage.
  • Great teachers have the ability to ignore trivial disturbances and the ability to respond to inappropriate behavior without escalating the situation.
  • Great teachers have a plan and purpose for everything they do.
  • Before making any decision or attempting to bring about any change, great teachers ask themselves one central questions: “What will the best people think?”
  • Great teachers treat everyone as if they were good.
  • Great teachers keep standard testing in perspective
  • Great teachers care about their students, and understand the power of emotion to jump-start change.

5.  On the blog, Inside Higher Ed, John Warner shared his response (The Most Important Work of Pedagogy I’ve Read in Ten Years) about a book for teachers, For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood…and the Rest of Y’all Too by Christopher Edin.  While Warner is white, does not teach in the hood and actually teaches at the college level, he found wonderful insight into ways of making his classes more interactive and relevant. If you are looking for suggestions, this book can help.

6.  A research article, Demystifying the rubric: a five-step pedagogy to improve student understanding and utilization of marking criteria, by Lorraine Jones and published in Higher Education Research & Development, “investigates an intervention designed to encourage effective utilization of rubrics.”

7.  Free webinars on educational topics are offered quarterly through Sohnen-Moe Associates in conjunction with The Benjamin Institute. The November session, Research - Evidence- Informed Practice in the Classroom, with Merrilyn Cambron will be offered Nov 16th at 2 pm eastern. These webinars are 1.5 hours and include a question and answer period. If you are interested in participating, you can register now.

8. Teachthought published an explanation of Competency-based learning and included a helpful infographic from Rasmussen College.

9.  In the research study, Teaching critical thinking, by N.G. Holmes, and published on Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, July2015, the goal stated is :”we demonstrate a structure for providing suitable practice that can be applied in any instructional setting that involves the acquisition of data and relating that data to scientific models.”

10.  Roger Greenaway provides a monthly free newsletter with facilitation tips: Active Review Tips. “Re-charge your facilitation skills with practical tips and tools for active and effective debriefing”  You can subscribe on his website.

11.  A great free resource, The Science of Learning, can be downloaded at Deans for Impact website. It is a good resource for new teachers as well as established teachers looking to be more effective.

12.  Paul Bruno summarizes learning basics in his article How People Learn: An Evidence-Based Approach. This includes 6 scientific principles he feels it is important for every teacher to know. The principles are summarized below. For more explanation, you can read the full article at Edutopia. 

  • Students learn new ideas by relating them to what they already know, and then transferring them into their long-term memory.
  • Students remember information better when they are given many opportunities to practice retrieving it from their long-term memories and think about its meaning.
  • Problem-solving and critical-thinking skills are developed through feedback and depend heavily upon background knowledge.
  • For students to transfer their abilities to new situations, they need to deeply understand both the problem's structure and context.
  • Student motivation depends on a variety of social and psychological factors.
  • Misconceptions about learning, while prevalent in education, shouldn't determine how curricula are designed or how instruction is provided.

For your visual enjoyment:


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