The Teaching Professor
Current Issue: April 1, 2014
There are three articles in this issue that deal with student assessment and learning. One offers an interesting approach that has students writing and answering their own exam questions; another introduces the idea of feedforward, which provides feedback before rather than after learning; and a third challenges our conceptualization of feedback, suggesting that it’s not something teachers should be doing for students but something self-regulating learners need to be able to do for themselves.
We, as instructors, often discuss our teaching philosophies but rarely consider our learning philosophies and those of our students. I believe that a learning philosophy is different from a learning style, which is often described as an innate student quality. In contrast, a learning philosophy is something that students can develop themselves; they may be constrained by a particular learning style (though some experts now dispute the existence of learning styles), but they can certainly create for themselves their own learning philosophy.
Could you use some tips to help you keep up with how technology is changing teaching and learning? Here are 10 that the authors of the article referenced below call “timeless” because they’re designed to help faculty keep up no matter what form the technology takes. Although they were written by faculty in psychology for faculty in psychology, they can help all of us “effectively seek, select, and place new technology into pedagogical practice.” (p. 69)
There is growing interest in the pedagogical literature in something called feedforward. It is, as the name implies, the opposite of feedback, which provides input after the fact. Feedforward offers input focused on the future. It lets students know what they should be doing or could be doing differently next time. If it’s a similar assignment, the “do differently” is specific advice on changes that will improve the next assignment. If it’s a different assignment, the “do differently” identifies what’s not the same about the next assignment and what needs to be done in a different way.
The rethinking of feedback as proposed by Boud and Molloy in an article referenced here involves something called “sustainable assessment,” and its overarching goal is equipping students to be lifelong learners.
Having students write their own exams is an interesting idea that arose out of the authors’ desires to increase student involvement in learning and self-evaluation, minimize cheating, decrease exam stress, and make exam experiences more meaningful, among other goals. It’s an approach that can be used online or in class.
I have had students who missed class ask if they can stop by during office hours to “catch up” on what they missed. Some of my classes are scheduled for three-hour blocks; we meet once a week. With all my other academic obligations, I rarely have time to conduct a “private” class for a student who didn’t show up. Then there’s the issue of excused absences, those that occur due to a documented and excusable event such as university athletic and academic trips. These students are absent through no direct action or inaction of their own, yet the fact remains, they weren’t in class and missed what happened.
So what is the best way to equitably address missed content due to student absences? Here are some possible solutions:
Permalink to this issue in the archives.