Elementary and high schools spend so much time on the content-laden curriculum that students are unprepared for the analytic and conceptual thinking they'll need at university
Has Ontario’s educational system taught a decade of students not to think? There is growing evidence that the combination of standardized testing with a content-intensive curriculum that’s too advanced – both introduced by the Conservative government between 1997 and 1999 – has done exactly that.
A dramatic indication that there could be a serious problem was the performance of my introductory physics class on their November test last year. It was identical to one given in 1996, but the class average over this 10-year period had plummeted from 66 to 50 percent. There is about a five-percent fluctuation in this test grade from year to year due to variation in student ability
and the difficulty of the questions but, when I looked at the class average over the many times I have taught the course since 1981, I found that four of the five lowest grades have occurred in the last four years, with the lowest this year. When I enquired elsewhere at Trent University, I found the same pattern in the mathematics department, where the first test in linear algebra was down some 15 percent from its historic mean, and the calculus average had dropped nine percent from the year before.
When Emzhei Chen moved into residence at the University of Waterloo about 10 years ago, she found the experience nerve-wracking. Her parents supported her, but her dad was a machinist who had never gone to university and her mom hadn’t finished high school, so they were as unfamiliar with universities as she was. She saw a reference to “first generation” on the application form (a term that meant your parents hadn’t attended a postsecondary education institution or had done so abroad), but she doesn’t remember checking the box. “It didn’t seem to be a pressing characteristic,” she says. “I didn’t think it was important.”
Veteran researchers present five strategies—like maintaining success files and allowing choice—to help struggling students develop a positive attitude needed for success.
The current public assumption that safe spaces and trigger warnings conflict with academic freedom and are the result of political correctness gone mad is a false dichotomy. If students today are indeed more fragile, then it is vital that we in higher education understand: (1) the specific nature of this sensitivity and (2) what colleges can do to help.
After this divisive election, we will need more capacity for talking about controversial issues. While the anonymity of social media may have escalated invective, it has not made for more ease with difficult conversations. Technology has allowed a generation to end relationships by text message, or even by “ghosting” an ex -- deleting a relationship from your life without any conflict or effort.
If a student wants to earn an A in a class, the best way to do that might not involve concentrating on the grade at all.
Instead, students should set their goals on the shorter-term, more tangible parts of a class -- committing to doing homework, showing up to a certain number of classes or dedicating a set time for exam preparation -- according to a working paper (abstract available here) from the National Bureau of Economic Research.
Background/Context: The rapid pace of technological change, undergirded by near ubiquitous access to the web, is producing a new learning ecology—a new ecology of information, of knowledge, of reading, of teaching, and of thinking. This instant availability of digital resources frees both time and cognitive energy that may be used to facilitate higher order thinking. This article provides a framework through which to better understand, evaluate, and scaffold the generative synthesis of knowledge in a web-mediated world.
Purpose/Objective: The purpose of this article is to describe a theory that can stimulate additional scholarly work examining higher order, or generative, thinking in web-mediated environments.
Scan the vision and mission statements of schools and it is nearly impossible to find a school that doesn’t commit to educating “all” students or meet “each” or “every” student’s need. Yet we know that many schools fall far short of this mark. Too many students don’t experience the same high-quality learning experiences that even their peers across the aisle, hall, or county have access to. This is an equity challenge. Combine the uneven results within and across districts with the fact that the students more likely to be lagging are students of color and students from high-poverty contexts and the equity challenge is compounded.
Among the factors that schools have the power to address, the quality of teaching and the quality of the curriculum materials are two factors that, when integrated and improved with intention, have the potential to answer those equity challenges. When all students experience high-quality teaching, they are more likely to learn. When all classrooms are filled with high-quality instructional materials, students are more likely to learn. Establishing these conditions for all learners will help close achievement gaps.
This report explores the premise that there’s nothing more powerful than great teachers skillfully using great instructional materials to motivate and engage students in their learning. Three real-world examples illustrate how schools and school systems are working to support teachers to skillfully use high-quality, standards-aligned curricula, by providing teachers with the time and expertise to use those curricula well, with a focus on team-based, collaborative learning. The report also provides lessons learned across these sites and action steps to get schools and districts started on the journey.
OUSA asked students about their experiences of living in the community where their university is located: from how far they felt their municipality sought to engage students, to their housing situation, and their use of public transit.
Overall, students responded positively regarding many aspects of their experiences. For example students were broadly positive about the range and quality of off-campus housing available, and many of the students who relied on public transit to commute to school felt it was meeting their needs.
The student who says “I’m bad at languages” or “I don’t ‘get’ math” is approaching learning with a “fixed” mindset – believing that his or her competence is, and always will be, limited.
A student with a “growth” mindset, on the other hand, understands things differently. He or she believes that with diligence and smart work habits, improvement is not only possible, but inevitable.
The difference in mindset can make all the difference in performance.
The curriculum should pay particular attention to ethnic, gender, and other forms of social difference and inequality. At the same time, it should stress the importance of studying, ideals and experiences of what it means to be a teacher. Courses should be designed to explore these issues in both historical and contemporary settings. Although the concentration needs to be on the content, a good curriculum needs to be designed to foster a community of learning among people and at the same time to offer considerable flexibility and intellectual diversity (J. Yalden, Long, Micheal H., Richards, Jack C. 2001). In this paper we will analyze key aspects of, and changes in, the curriculum, social and economic development in South Eastern Europe in the last twenty years. Major issues covered in this paper will be: the impact of communism on society; political and education reform; the problems of people with special needs; the changing role and status of minority groups and the introduction of a service learning project in the curriculum.
Keywords: Service-learning; education, curriculum, creativity
In the early 2000s, anyone learning about pedagogy might have encountered “learning styles,” a collection of theories that assert people learn differently, coupled with the advice to teach in ways that include visual, auditory, and/or kinesthetic learning.
This paper argues that competency-based training in vocational education and training in Australia is one mechanism through which the working class is denied access to powerful knowledge represented by the academic disciplines. The paper presents a modified Bernsteinian analysis to argue that VET students need access to disciplinary knowledge using Bernstein’s argument that abstract, conceptual knowledge is the means societies use to think ‘the unthinkable’ and ‘the not-yet-thought’. I supplement Bernstein’s social argument for democratic access to the disciplines, with an epistemic argument that draws on the philosophy of critical realism.
Keywords: competency-based training; academic disciplines; sacred and profane knowledge; vertical and horizontal discourse.
Higher education is glutted with courses, many of which are marginal or associated with arcane, duplicative or
outdated subjects. That is at the heart of tuition increases, student debt, budget shortfalls, legislative distrust, poor
adjunct pay and too few tenured or tenure-eligible professors at typical colleges and universities.
Abstract Although the literature on institutional diversity suggests that quality assurance practices could affect institutional diversity, there has been little empirical research on this relationship. This article seeks to shed some light on the possible connection between quality assurance practices and institutional diversity by examining the arrangements for
quality assurance in higher education systems that include two distinct sectors, one of which having a more academic orientation and the other a more applied orientation. The article explores the ways in which quality assurance structures and standards in selected jurisdictions provide for recognition of the differences in orientation and mission between academic and applied sectors of higher education systems. The research identified some features of quality assurance systems that recognize the characteristics of applied higher education, such as having different statements of expected learning outcomes for applied
and academic programs or requiring different qualifications for faculty who teach in applied programs. It is hoped that the results might be of interest to policy makers and quality assurance practitioners who are concerned about the possible impact of quality
assurance on institutional diversity.
Happy Thursday, and welcome to Teaching. This week the newsletter is curated by Beckie. First up, Beth shares a scene that stayed with her from a recent reporting trip — and what it means for colleges’ efforts to innovate. Then I’ll fill you in on an effort to improve introductory math, share a list of new books compiled by two of our colleagues at The Chronicle of Higher Education, and run through the highlights of a report on assessing student learning.
It’s easier than ever for students to buy assignments. Until universities have better measures for rooting out this kind of cheating, professors are focusing on prevention.
How do you deal with cheating if you can’t be sure it’s happening? For universities across the country, it’s an important question as online services and message boards have made it increasingly easy for students to buy whole, made-to-order essays and pass them off as their own. It’s very difficult for professors to catch, and no one is sure just how big an issue it is.
Ten years ago, Lisa Lalonde, now a professor in the faculty of early childhood education at Algonquin College in Ottawa, was cautioned by a friend about her choice to pursue an education almost exclusively online.
"When I first started this journey, someone asked me about what my career objectives were in the long-term … and they warned me that some of the upper crust of academia don't look highly upon this [online education]," she recalls. "Whereas, I'm finding that is definitely not the case any more."
Successfully leading and guiding student discussions requires a range of fairly sophisticated communication skills.
At the same time teachers are monitoring what’s being said about the content, they must keep track of the
discussion itself. Is it on topic? How many students want to speak? Who’s already spoken and wants to speak
again? How many aren’t listening? Is it time to move to a different topic? What’s the thinking behind that student
question? How might the discussion be wrapped up?
As an instructional technologist at the University of Washington’s School of Social Work, Tom Baer is no stranger to
working with faculty who struggle to understand the role of instructional designers. It’s not unusual for him to encounter instructors reluctant to give up their go-to lecture or PowerPoint Presentation, unsure of online learning’s effectiveness or resistant to a change in teaching style.
Enrollment in online courses at colleges and universities continues to grow, along with the need for IDs who help design curriculum and implement digital tools. IDs work closely with faculty members and subject experts to create measurable learning objectives, produce course content and craft engaging activities. But during the process, faculty may give IDs the cold shoulder for fear of having to give up control or appearing less knowledgeable in front of their students.
For a growing number of student, the post-secondary experience invovles a mixed backpack of university courses, college programs, intrships, an online class or two, and even perhaps a few YouTube tutorials. But whatever the mix,it's bound to be unique for each student.