On this episode we are honored to talk to Professor of Psychology and President of Yale University, Peter Salovey. While President Salovey has held just about every high level position in the administration, he has also been one of Yale’s most popular lecturers and in fact holds the record for largest lecture class ever taught at Yale with 1,052 students. During our conversation he tells us about that class (Psychology and the Law), teaching Intro Psych, his vision for the future of undergraduate education at Yale, and a whole lot more.
Noah Finkelstein has a BS in Math from Yale and a Phd in Applied Physics from Princeton. He started teaching physics and studying how to teach physics during post-docs at UC San Diego and UC Berkeley. Now, he teaches physics and is a director at University of Colorado’s Center for STEM Learning, and he thinks hard about how to induce and sustain improvements in teaching across the university. In our wide ranging conversation, Noah shares his deep insights into what happens and what should happen in the classroom and at the institutional level. This is a good one.
In this episode we’re joined by Michael Honsberger, neuroscientist and STEM project manager for the Yale Young Global Scholars program. Michael has a background studying memory including a PhD in behavioral neuroscience and a postdoc in Yale’s Division of Molecular Psychiatry. He talks to us about how we can use knowledge of how the brain works to become better teachers.
I have a friend who is an amazing teacher. His students rave about his classes, and when I first started teaching statistical methods, he gave me terrific advice, nearly all of which I’ve followed. A few weeks ago I ran into him at a work dinner, and he said something that shocked me: He doesn’t read his course evaluations anymore.
People vary a lot in the quantity and quality of email they receive. Depending on the time of year, I get between fifty and a few hundred messages per day. Some of it requires a timely response and some is reference material that I want or need to read eventually. Some mail can be quickly read and addressed, while other messages require a fair bit of time and effort. I’ve battled my mail with a range of strategies over the years, but have recently found a combination that work pretty well. I share them here in hopes of helping others move toward email sanity.
This episode is extra-special as we’re joined not by any faculty, but instead by Maia Eliscovich-Sigal and Miguel Goncalves. Maia is a senior economics major here at Yale and Miguel is a senior global affairs major. They give us the students’ perspective on their classes and tell us what they find works and doesn’t work when professors lecture, organize discussions, and use technology.
I think clickers are a great way to get students actively engaged in a lecture class, and a pretty good way to learn whether students are learning what you’re teaching so you can do something about it immediately. This semester I wanted use them for a third purpose: Collect high quality data on who attended which lectures. It was a total failure.
On a recent episode of the Teach Better Podcast, Boris Kapustin told me that he hates the word fun. I actually understand where he’s coming from. What we teach is important and we both want our students to work hard and take it seriously. At the same time, I firmly believe fun can induce hard work and serious learning. That was the idea behind the end-of-semester poster session I organized last night for my econometrics class. It was full of fun, exchange of ideas, and absolutely it was the result of hard work on everyone’s part.
Lecture capture is a relatively new technology that allows fully automated recording of classes. It usually involves a camera at the back of the classroom, a microphone on the professor’s lapel, and equipment that records what happens on the screen. The combined audio and video is then made available to students soon after the end of each lecture. I’m a big fan and have been using it for all my classes for more than two years now. My students love it, but it’s very hard to assess its causal impact on either attendance or performance.