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Florence Dujardin

Developing first-year engagement with written feedback - 37 views

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    Assessment feedback continues to be a relatively under-researched area in higher education despite its fundamental role in learning and teaching. This article positions assessment feedback as a complex meaning-making process requiring dialogue and interpretation.The article outlines an evaluative case study investigating a feedback review meeting organized through the personal tutor system. This meeting is designed to support students' engagement with written feedback at their first formal feedback 'moment' when confidence and self-esteem can be at risk. The evaluation of the review meeting suggests students benefit from one conversation about all their written feedback. The article concludes that developing positive learning relationships with personal tutors at the point of assessment feedback can encourage a sense of achievement and success at a time when learners may feel most vulnerable to low self-esteem. In this way, the intervention can be valuable as part of an institution's retention strategy.
D. S. Koelling

Font Size May Not Aid Learning, but Its Style Can, Researchers Find - NYTimes.com - 110 views

  • Is it easier to remember a new fact if it appears in normal type, like this, or in big, bold letters, like this?
  • Font size has no effect on memory, even though most people assume that bigger is better. But font style does.
  • New research finds that people retain significantly more material — whether science, history or language — when they study it in a font that is not only unfamiliar but also hard to read.
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  • “So much of the learning that we do now is unsupervised, on our own,” said Robert A. Bjork, a psychologist at the University of California, Los Angeles, “that it’s crucial to be able to monitor that learning accurately; that is, to know how well we know what we know, so that we avoid fooling ourselves.”
  • “Studying something in the presence of an answer, whether it’s conscious or not, influences how you interpret the question,” Dr. Bjork said. “You don’t appreciate all of the other things that would have come to mind if the answer weren’t there. “Let’s say you’re studying capitals and you see that Australia’s is Canberra. O.K., that seems easy enough. But when the exam question appears, you think: ‘Uh oh, was it Sydney? Melbourne? Adelaide?’ ” That’s why some experts are leery of students’ increasing use of online sites like Cramster, Course Hero, Koofers and others that offer summaries, step-by-step problem solving and copies of previous exams. The extra help may provide a valuable supplement to a difficult or crowded course, but it could also leave students with a false sense of mastery. Even course outlines provided by a teacher, a textbook or other outside source can create a false sense of security, some research suggests. In one experiment, researchers found that participants studying a difficult chapter on the industrial uses of microbes remembered more when they were given a poor outline — which they had to rework to match the material — than a more accurate one.
  • a cognitive quality known as fluency, a measure of how easy a piece of information is to process.
  • On real tests, font size made no difference and practice paid off, the study found.
  • And so it goes, researchers say, with most study sessions: difficulty builds mental muscle, while ease often builds only confidence.
  • To test the approach in the classroom, the researchers conducted a large experiment involving 222 students at a public school in Chesterland, Ohio. One group had all its supplementary study materials, in English, history and science courses, reset in an unusual font, like Monotype Corsiva. The others studied as before. After the lessons were completed, the researchers evaluated the classes’ relevant tests and found that those students who’d been squinting at the stranger typefaces did significantly better than the others in all the classes — particularly in physics. “The reason that the unusual fonts are effective is that it causes us to think more deeply about the material,” a co-author of the study, Daniel M. Oppenheimer, a psychologist at Princeton, wrote in an e-mail. “But we are capable of thinking deeply without being subjected to unusual fonts. Think of it this way, you can’t skim material in a hard to read font, so putting text in a hard-to-read font will force you to read more carefully.” Then again, so will raw effort, he and other researchers said. Concentrating harder. Making outlines from scratch. Working through problem sets without glancing at the answers. And studying with classmates who test one another.
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    Students' raw effort improves learning [No surprise there, huh?]
Kurt Schmidt

A Perfect Storm in Undergraduate Education, Part 2 - Advice - The Chronicle of Higher E... - 43 views

  • But, in the past few generations, the imagery and rhetoric of academic marketing have cultivated a belief that college will be, if not decadent, at least primarily recreational: social activities, sporting events, and travel.
  • Increasingly, students are buying an "experience" instead of earning an education, and, in the competition to attract customers, that's what's colleges are selling.
  • a growing percentage of students are arriving at college without ever having written a research paper, read a novel, or taken an essay examination. And those students do not perceive that they have missed something in their education; after all, they have top grades. In that context, the demands of professors for different kinds of work can seem bewildering and unreasonable, and students naturally gravitate to courses with more-familiar expectations.
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  • Students increasingly are pressured to go to college not because they want to learn (much less become prepared for the duties of citizenship), but because they and their parents believe—perhaps rightly—that not going will exclude them from middle-class jobs.
  • At most universities, a student is likely to be unknown to the professor and would expect to feel like a nuisance, a distraction from more important work.
  • As academic expectations have decreased, social programming and extracurricular activities have expanded to fill more than the available time. That is particularly the case for residential students, for whom the possibility of social isolation is a source of great anxiety.
  • College has become unaffordable for most people without substantial loans; essentially they are mortgaging their future in the expectation of greater earnings. In order to reduce borrowing, more and more students leave class early or arrive late or neglect assignments, because they are working to provide money for tuition or living expenses.
  • As students' anxiety about the future increases, no amount of special pleading for general-education courses on history, literature, or philosophy—really anything that is not obviously job-related—will convince most students that they should take those courses seriously.
  • But at the major universities, most professors are too busy to care about individual students, and it is easy to become lost amid a sea of equally disenchanted undergraduates looking for some kind of purpose—and not finding it.
  • we need to make "rigorous and high-quality educational experiences a moral imperative."
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    ". . . we need to make 'rigorous and high-quality educational experiences a moral imperative.'"
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