Active Classrooms Passive Students

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An ongoing attempt to encourage students to become engaged learners - PowerPoint Summary plus Associated Handouts

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Active Classrooms Passive Students

  1. 1. ACTIVE CLASSROOM – PASSIVE STUDENTS John Bennett School of Engineering University of Connecticut
  2. 2. SETTING THE SCENE • Faculty member really works to develop the materials and pedagogy to facilitate an active classroom • Knows that engaging the students should keep them interested and enhance the learning • Expects them to review their notes, try something, read something, etc., in preparation for the next class • Very few actually do • Most of them become “dumb terminals” limited to taking down everything said or written – certainly not very usable • There goes any chance of enhanced learning!”
  3. 3. OPTIONS THAT CAN BE CONSIDERED • Revert to “Lecture / Homework / Exam” approach – as the students probably want • Continue with the active classroom approach, knowing the students are “missing a good opportunity” but too bad for them • Collect a homework “problem of the day” or give daily or frequent short quizzes RESULT: Virtually no Engaged Learning and very poor preparation for Lifelong Learning – no student self-control of the learning, only faculty control.
  4. 4. MY WORK IN PROGRESS - FSPA • FSPA: Faculty Student Performance Agreement – the Personal Course Contract. • Students are encouraged to utilize the syllabus, introductory handouts, and initial course discussions to determine: • what pedagogy is used and handout materials provided • what is personally required to learn the material • how what the instructor is offering can enhance the learning • how a good grade can be obtained in the course • Each student is encouraged to develop a very dynamic [upgraded regularly as feedback is obtained] personal course contract • It is argued that indeed student engagement will occur.
  5. 5. FIRST INTRODUCTION • Sophomore Mechanical Engineering Required Course • Started with First-Day Handout and Homework Assignment • General Follow-up Handout of Proposed FSPA • Suggestion to Individually Personalize It • Mid-semester Re-visit / Homework • Total Class Time: Ninety Minutes • Two Homework Grades [about 2% of final grade]
  6. 6. LESSONS LEARNED -FIRST • Students appeared to give it careful consideration at the start of the semester • Good ideas for FSPA from students • Good class attendance, good class participation • At revisit, mid-semester: • Consideration had begun to wane • Students reported “good idea” – just not giving it the attention it deserved; no changes suggested • A slight improvement but then drop-off in attention as the crunch of level of class assignments made all efforts urgent ones • Am curious if the approach made an impression on them enough for them to try again. • Fairly low student surveys – bimodal; no real mention of FSPA
  7. 7. SECOND INTRODUCTION • First Year Experience Faculty Student Seminar: “Engineering Problem Solving” • Spent a class period introducing FSPA • Alternative approach: Student-generated from instructor syllabus and early class discussions • Assigned students to choose one or more of their other classes for developing the FSPA • Periodically revisited the notion of the FSPA in later classroom discussions • Maybe 150 minutes of class time • Asked that the FSPA be considered in their in-class presentation at the end of the semester
  8. 8. LESSONS LEARNED - SECOND • Students seemed to be able to generate the FSPA without instructor leadership • Students seemed to identify with the value of the FSPA, referring to the concept from time to time in class discussions all semester • Especially given the other introduction, believe it to be good to introduce “one year earlier” • Repeated reference to the FSPA in end-of-semester oral presentations as valuable “tool” • High student survey outcomes – but no reference to FSPA in written comments • Am meeting with students to follow up on FSPA and other topics; stay tuned …
  9. 9. FINAL THOUGHTS • The efforts will be repeated • I am seeking assessment data [focus groups, maybe GPA, voluntary use in later classes, etc.] • I am seeking an opportunity to pilot the approach in the K-12 environment • Particularly for the first year students, I am seeking to maintain an ongoing, informal learning community to provide encouragement for ongoing development – hopefully leading to habitual use
  10. 10. August 2008 A FACULTY / STUDENT PERFORMANCE AGREEMENT Classes are offered by faculty to promote the learning, for long-term retention and subsequent ease of application, of knowledge deemed important to the educational experience of students in a particular academic program. It is my thesis that, for this knowledge to be both retained long term and successfully applied to problems encountered, there must be an agreement among the faculty member and the students enrolled in the class with respect to the responsibilities of each to the other. It is expected, I would hope is obvious, that the faculty member has a good command of the knowledge content and an ability to apply that knowledge to the addressing of situations or problems to be addressed. Having written that, however, I do not believe that the faculty member’s responsibility is simply to transmit that content to the enrolled students via classroom presentations. I would suggest that, given the availability of textbook[s], other forms of refereed materials [e.g. journals], as well as access to expert material through electronic or in-person dialogue, the simple transmittal of content is the least important faculty responsibility to her/his students. My more important responsibilities include the following: • Contributing to the individual student development of an effective problem solving procedure. • Contributing to the individual student development of an effective procedure for lifelong learning. • Contributing to the individual student development of effective teaming skills. • Providing the opportunity for the application of knowledge learned to real-world situations. • Providing access of enrolled students to me and my teaching assistants via in-person visits as well as electronic mail access. • Fairly assessing student progress in learning the material and applying it to appropriate assignments – through regular feedback during the semester as well as a summary final course grade. What is your feedback to me with regard to my responsibilities to each of you? To address these responsibilities, I intend to use a pedagogy that emphasizes proactive and collaborative work in the classroom as well as the expectation of collaborative efforts on a semester-long project. It is through the classroom activities, the homework assignments, and the project efforts that the engineering learning objectives in terms of content will be addressed and assessed. If I am to be successful in addressing these responsibilities, clearly I must rely on the active engagement of each enrolled student in the course as well. In other words, for the class to be a meaningful contributor to the program educational experience, students must accept responsibilities for that success as well. What are the responsibilities each of you see for yourselves in this regard? Once I receive your individual feedback on the questions posed above [see the related item on the “first day handout], our collective responsibilities to each other and to the success of the course will be discussed in class – to establish a faculty / student performance agreement agreeable to all. Believing such an agreement to necessarily be dynamic in nature – becoming stronger with periodic revisits, we will indeed return to this dialogue from time to time throughout the course. “Dr.B”
  11. 11. ME 2233 – Fall Semester 2008 Initial Class Period Handout Individual Assignments [Due at the start of class on August 29th]: 1. In this class, we will be covering the first SIX chapters of “Fundamentals of Engineering Thermodynamics” by Moran and Shapiro – with essentially equal emphasis on each chapter. Read Chapter One. From your current thermodynamics topic understanding, from your personal connections and interests, and from a review of the Table of Contents for these ME 2233 chapters, develop a list of connections, questions, and/or applications – related to thermodynamics in some way – for which you, personally, would hope to have some better understanding at the completion of this course. A minimum of three is expected – with some background on interest given for each. 2. One important “tool” in the addressing of all situations in general and thermodynamics assignments in particular is the consistent use of an effective problem solving procedure. Discuss in writing your experience with such a procedure in the past. If you believe you have a useful [and thus effective] procedure, describe it – including any ongoing concerns you still have if any. If you consider yourself without a useful procedure at this point, discuss what efforts have been made in other classes to assist in developing one – together with your perceived reasons for lack of success. If you believe such a procedure is not important to you, discuss your reasoning in coming to this decision. PLEASE KNOW that while I believe having such a procedure is very important to your success in this course, other courses, your personal life, and your career [and will be considering effective problem solving throughout this course], the grading in this course will NOT be based upon your regular use of any problem solving procedure and certainly not upon the specific use of the problem solving procedure that I champion and utilize myself! 3. Included with the materials distributed in the first class meeting today is one titled “A Faculty / Student Performance Agreement.” It is the thesis of this handout that your success in this course is dependent upon our agreed upon responsibilities to each other. I have listed what I believe are my responsibilities to each of you. I would like your feedback to me with regard to that list. In addition, I would like you to list what you believe your responsibilities are as well. 4. In this course and in addressing most assignments in general – while at UCONN and subsequently in your career, you will be working in teams. Once teams have been identified in this course, it will be the initial assignment of each team to create what I’m calling a Team Performance Agreement. This agreement is essentially a contract among team members as to how the team is going to manage their efforts. Important to a successful team outcome on assignment[s] are two considerations: [1] how to go about finding team members that will contribute to the team efforts – e.g. having skills or interests that add to the capabilities of the team; and [2] having meaningful and clear agreement on how the team will conduct its efforts [its TPA]. Given that the project will involve an investigation of the thermodynamic links to some real-world engineering problem, what capabilities do you believe are important to team success? Also, what items do you think should be considered by your team in developing your TPA? “Dr.B”
  12. 12. September 4, 2008 ME 2233 FACULTY / STUDENT PERFORMANCE AGREEMENT Classes are offered by faculty to promote the learning, for long-term retention and subsequent ease of application, of knowledge deemed important to the educational experience of students in a particular academic program. For this knowledge to be both retained long term and successfully applied to problems encountered, this agreement among the instructor and the students enrolled in the class is intended to provide a guide with respect to the responsibilities of each to the other. Instructor Responsibilities It is expected that the faculty member has a good command of the knowledge content and an ability to apply that knowledge to the addressing of situations or problems to be addressed. Transmittal of content is the least important faculty responsibility to her/his students. My more important responsibilities include the following: • Contributing to the individual student development of an effective problem solving procedure. • Contributing to the individual student development of an effective procedure for lifelong learning. • Contributing to the individual student development of effective teaming skills. • Providing the opportunity for the application of knowledge learned to real-world situations. • Providing access of enrolled students to me and my teaching assistants via in-person visits as well as electronic mail access; it is my responsibility to work with each student that seeks assistance. • Fairly assessing student progress in learning the material and applying it to appropriate assignments – through regular feedback during the semester as well as a summary final course grade. Student Responsibilities From the suggestions provided by you, the students in this class, I would provide the following list of student responsibilities that were frequently mentioned: • Making the efforts necessary to be as prepared as can be anticipated for each class • Attending class regularly and actively participating in classroom activities • Initiating efforts on assignments in a timely manner in order to have the opportunity to seek assistance as appropriate • Asking questions of the instructor, the TA, and/or the other students in the class when difficulty and confusion arise in current efforts being attempted • Making the efforts necessary to develop the skills identified as important by the instructor • Contributing with the instructor to the development of a mutual sense of trust This agreement will be revisited periodically during the semester to examine the agreement for possible revision. “Dr.B”
  13. 13. Navigating Your Courses Student Past Syllabus Experience Instructor Instructor / Learning Student Periodic Review Objectives / Performance Expectations Agreement Introducto Textbook & ry Lecture References

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