A recent report revealed what many of us already know: Students with a growth mindset (believing that intelligence can be improved) rather than a fixed mindset (believing that intelligence is a fixed trait) are more engaged in class and have higher GPAs. Faculty have tremendous potential to help students shape their mindset to be more growth oriented, but only if they believe that students are capable of learning. A 2018 survey of over 6,000 faculty indicated that 24% believe that student intelligence is “set” and cannot be improved…and that is very concerning. Some training programs are famous for telling students on the first day of class to “Look at the person on your left and on your right. One of them won’t make it through this program.” That is an unfortunate, anxiety-producing, and fixed mindset that can discourage students from persisting after a setback. A better way to inspire students in the face of a setback, such as a poor test grade, is to frame conversations with them around strategies for improvement (i.e. “You could study with a group next time”) rather than innate abilities (“you’re just not good at Math”).
Defining a learning objective is challenging. Accurately measuring a learning objective is even more challenging and requires familiarity with a number of assessment strategies. In 500 Tips on Assessment, best practices include exploring a variety of strategies such as peer and self assessment, portfolios, and practical work that are “authentic” and “redeemable” (i.e. opportunities to redeem failure when things go wrong).
If you’d like to take a closer look at your course assessment plan in a supportive environment and earn a Certificate in “Measuring Student Learning and Success”, join us in a series of three workshops on April 5, 12, and 19 in MLIB 252 from 11-12:30. Earning the certificate involves attending all three workshops that offer a comprehensive look at different stages of a course assessment plan. While you are welcome to attend as many workshops as your schedule allows, earning the Certificate requires full attendance at all three workshops.
April 5: Create and implement a course assessment plan (by Ben Seipel)
April 12: Interpret assessment data and close the loop (by Ben Seipel)
April 19: Create assessment-based evidence for your RTP dossier (by Chiara Ferrari)
If you’re interested, please complete this brief questionnaire.
Contact Chiara Ferrari for questions.
Workshops are offered by the Office of Faculty Development in collaboration with the Academic Assessment Council.
As you begin this fresh new semester and explore innovative pedagogical techniques to enhance student learning, consider active learning as part of your curriculum. There is an enormous body of literature on the topic, most of which demonstrates that students learn more and fail less when they participate in the learning process rather than just passively listen to lectures. Lecture is, of course, a valuable tool for student learning but it can usually be supplemented with active learning techniques to increase engagement and understanding. Here are just a couple strategies but there are countless journal articles, books, and websites you can search that are dedicated to this topic for any discipline from Math to Art to Kinesiology.
The undeniable potential of active learning was summed up in a meta-analysis by Freeman et. al (2013). They examined 225 studies comparing lecturing to active learning. Results showed that average exam scores improved significantly in active learning sections. They also found that students in classes with traditional lecturing were 55% times more likely to fail than were students in classes with active learning. They concluded with one of the strongest statements I’ve ever read in this type of research…“If the experiments analyzed here had been conducted as randomized controlled trials of medical interventions, they may have been stopped for benefit—meaning that enrolling patients in the control condition [lecture only] might be discontinued because the treatment being tested [active learning] was clearly more beneficial.”
Fringe benefit #1 of active learning is that students who resist learningbecome engaged learners and can no longer get away with not participating.
Fringe benefit #2 of active learning is that since students are often out of their chair moving around, they will likely be more awake, more engaged, and getting some physical activity.
Have a great spring semester!
On my way to campus this morning, I walked down First Street admiring the banners hung on the lampposts that show our solidarity as a community. The message is both welcoming and decisive: “We Are Chico State” and “We Are One University.” These banners symbolize the culture of respect and caring that we embrace as a campus.
The announcement today that DACA will be rescinded is unfortunate but it’s also an opportunity to remind your students that you support them regardless of their legal status. In fact, all students need to know that we support them regardless of race, religion, body size, gender identity, socio-economic status, age, disability status, or anything else that makes them exceptional or distinctive. The attached PPT slides about DACA (thank you Hannah Burdette in ILLC) may be helpful to discuss in class and/or post to Bb so (a) undocumented students know what resources are available to them and (b) non-Dreamers can better understand the issue. Other helpful tips include avoiding the words “alien” or “illegal” when referring to undocumented students and acknowledging the anxiety they are likely experiencing right now.
As with most controversial issues, education is the key to greater understanding. You can learn more about how this decision impacts higher education in this article in the Chronicle published this morning. Regardless of your political views on immigration, We Are One University with an unwavering commitment to student learning.