“There is nothing more unequal than the equal treatment of unequal people.” This quote, attributed to Thomas Jefferson, is often used in gifted education to justify the attention, resources, and opportunities provided to those who are more academically talented than others. It’s intended to connote a sense of fairness, a feeling that not every student should have the same classroom experience. Rather, there should be an emphasis on appropriate instruction, instruction that is responsive to individual needs, interests, and abilities.
The “testing effect,” as it’s called by cognitive psychologists, seems pretty obvious to faculty. If students are going to be tested on material, they will learn it better and retain it longer than if they just study the material. And just in case you had any doubts, lots of evidence has been collected in labs and simulated classrooms that verifies the existence of this testing effect. But as with much of the research done in cognitive psychology, it has not been studied much in actual classrooms, and of specific interest here, in college classrooms. When it has been studied in college classrooms, the results aren’t as consistent as might be expected, but then the study designs aren’t all that similar.
So many important messages are communicated nonverbally in face-to-face courses. There’s tone of voice, facial expressions, gestures, and the use of space—all with the potential to enhance the meaning of the verbal message. In online courses with the instructor not physically present, nonverbal communication is not an option—at least that’s what many instructors think. Authors of a recent study appearing in Communication Education take issue with that conclusion. They describe three kinds of nonverbal communication that occur in online courses, each with the potential to create the sense that the instructor is present in the course and interested in fostering student engagement.
Student peer reviewers can provide feedback that improves writing. Lots of research can be cited in support of that statement. The problem, as Kimberly Baker sees it, is there’s “substantially less research available on the process of structuring the peer review to maximize these benefits” (2016, 180). She raises questions about three structuring decisions that teachers face when designing a peer review activity.
Two articles in this issue explore students learning from and with each other—one deals with peer feedback on writing and the other with the relationship between peer learning experiences and psychological well-being. Both contribute to the now voluminous literature on how and why students can and should learn from their peers.
The reasons we should be letting students learn from and with each other continue to accumulate. Here are highlights from a large cross-disciplinary and cross-institutional study that explored the relationship between psychological well-being and peer learning experiences.
How much will students remember from your course tomorrow, next week, next month, next semester, or next year? Let’s be honest, in most cases, not as much as we would hope or as much as they should. What’s at the root of this problem? Students often get distracted during class, and they don’t listen well. They cram before exams, take the tests, and then promptly forget most of what they “learned.” But there is good news: teachers can use proven strategies that help students break this nonproductive pattern and learn course material more deeply.
Call for Proposals - The Magna Teaching With Technology Conference - October 6–8, 2017 Baltimore, Md.
Call for Proposals: The Leadership in Higher Education Conference - October 19-21, 2017 Baltimore, Md.