On Wednesday, Prof. Andy Gavrin of Purdue University, Indianapolis, delivered a seminar in the School of Physics with the title “Engaging Students with Technology”. He outlined two initiatives that he and colleagues have been using in Physics teaching – Just in Time Teaching, and Course Networking.
Just in Time Teaching is a version of the flipped classroom approach, although it began far earlier (in the mid to late 1990s) and goes much further than the “self study” type of flipped classroom. The basic premise is that students are assigned pre-class reading, and an associated online quiz, which closes two hours before the class begins. The quizzes, crucially, are not simply multiple choice. They require students to write reasoned responses to tutor-provided examples, or to describe what is happening in a figure or diagram. The tutor then uses the two hour timeslot to prepare what will happen in the face-to-face class and adapt material accordingly. The class then becomes a dialogue based around tutor-selected excerpts from the anonymized quiz responses (both strong, and weak). The tutor, especially with large classes, does not have to read every response, but as a rough guide, if 10% of the students have a misconception about something then that would be flagged as something to address in class. The process is a constructive one: although both strong and weak responses are used, the emphasis is on improvement and development. Questions can be reused in future classes as Clicker questions, or form the basis of exam questions. Interestingly, data from a class micro-survey showed that the “warmups” (as the pre-class activities are known) have the effect of giving students of all abilities confidence that they are keeping up with the material – and even decrease the number of able students who “cram” for exams. An archive of warmups can be accessed at http://webphysics.iupui.edu/warmup/physics_archive.html
The second, more recent, initiative described was Course Networking – an in-house social network which runs on an internal reward system based on Anar (pomegranate) seeds. It offers the usual facebook-like features such as posting, liking, polling and commenting, but in a secure institutional environment. Students can amass Anar seeds throughout the year based on their interactions with peers, and can use these for extra credit. This has proved popular with students. One example given was one of a student who started a series of “Gym Physics” videos – testing out his calculations by carrying out and videoing experiments using gym equipment. More information on Course Networking can be found here and more information about Andy himself can be found here.
This Wednesday 5th June sees a Seminar take place presented by Professor Andrew Gavrin of Purdue University Indianapolis, entitled ‘Engaging Students with Technology’.
The abstract reads: “Technology has been portrayed as the savior of education, and as a demon that destroys student learning and faculty time. I consider the former to be unlikely, and the later easily avoided. This talk will explore two applications of technology to teaching physics. Just-in-Time Teaching is a pedagogical technique that allows faculty to leverage the time students spend working at home to improve interactivity in the classroom. Course Networking is a new, academically-focused social media platform that enhances interactivity outside the classroom. In both cases, the underlying message is to increase communication among faculty and students.”
Come along and listen on Wednesday at 11 am in Room 338, Physics Building.
At the last Learning & Teaching Committee, we heard about an innovative Honours module that has been running in the School of Modern Languages this year – with Dr Julia Prest as module leader and collaborating with staff in the Music Department. Translating French Opera involves students in translating an eighteenth century libretto by Guillard (not translated in the last 50 years) from French into modern English – their efforts culminating in a performance of the translated opera (Iphigénie en Tauride by Gluck) by St Andrews Opera on 15, 17 & 18 June 2015. The project (in the context of the module) had a collective core but allowed plenty of scope for individual choice. The student versions of the libretto formed the basis for Julia’s own final version, which is what will be sung in June – with some of the students on the module performing, and Julia herself in the chorus.
The opera in rehearsal
The departments of Music, Social Anthropology and the School of Management (as a result of a successful Teaching Development Fund application) are working jointly on a project to build student confidence through video-enhanced reflective feedback. The methodology involves videoing a group performance (Music); role-play exercise (Social Anthropology) or group presentation (Management). The resulting video is then edited by the tutor into small fragments which highlight strong points. These smaller clips are then used as part of tutor-mediated feedback between the tutor and the student(s) concerned. A workshop in August with an external consultant will give staff the appropriate grounding in the VERP methodology; and a relatively small amount of technical training will be required.
For further information on the project, please contact Dr Jane Pettegree, and look out for her blog post reflecting on the first run of VERP in November!