After 145 blog posts and 69 podcast episodes, the Teach Better website needed some TLC. The look and feel were dated, and more important, a ton of great content was getting lost under the more recent great content. Over the winter break, I upgraded the underlying software (Jekyll) and overhauled the navigation of the site. Check out the new podcast and blog pages to browse the archives in brand new ways, and let me know what you think either by mail, on Twitter or in the comments below!
In this episode we take a walk through our archive and share some amazing examples of extreme teaching. These include college classes prisons and chapels, incorporating balloons and cotton candy machines into a student project fair, and holding office hours on the radio. If you’re new to the podcast or just want to be inspired by feats of pedagogical daring, you’re going to love this one.
This might sound crazy, but the best teaching idea I implemented in 2017 was giving a test on the second day of class. And I mean a full on 40 minute exam, not a little quiz.
Laura Gibbs has been teaching mythology and folklore online since 2002 for the University of Oklahoma. For the past five summers, Doug has taught small private online courses (SPOC’s) for the Yale Summer Session, and Edward has taught several courses in a variety of online formats. In this episode all three share the lessons they’ve learned along the way.
Mark Urban-Lurain is the Associate Director for Engineering Education Research at Michigan State University. He’s also the Principle Investigator on an NSF-sponsored project developing methods and software for Automated Analysis of Constructed Responses. Open-ended questions force students to think differently than multiple choice questions, but are much harder to grade. In this episode we talk to Mark about how the project uses machine learning to evaluate and analyze free text answers in order to shed new light on student understanding and misconceptions.
Michelle Smith is an Associate Professor in the School of Biology and Ecology at the University of Maine, and she’s one of the world’s leading discipline-based education researchers. Among many other things, she studies why and how peer discussion works as an effective teaching tool, collaborates with biology teachers in college and high school settings, and develops concept inventories (standard assessments of learning) at the course and program level. In this episode, we talk about the benefits of using concept inventories in your own classes, and Michelle gives advice for finding, creating and/or giving them.
After being invited to help with a wide range of different activities for my girls’ elementary school over the last year, I finally said yes to helping run the Math Club. We had our first meeting two weeks ago and it was awesome.
Modeling Instruction (MI) is a curriculum and pedagogy based on the idea that science learning involves creation, use, validation, and revision of conceptual models. Our guest, Eric Brewe, is a physics education researcher at Drexel University who develops, studies, and uses MI in higher education. In this episode, Eric explains what Modeling instruction is and how it differs from other highly active ways of teaching science. He goes on to share research on how MI increases test scores, reduces drop out, and substantially improves student attitudes toward physics. Eric also tells us how he got started in education research working with the David Hestenes, the creator of modeling instruction.
Teddy Svoronos is a lecturer in public policy at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. He’s most well known for his creative use of technology in the classroom, but he’s actually someone who thinks about pedagogy first and lets that dictate all of his tech choices. In this episode he tells us how he gives exams where students work independently first, and then teach each other during a collaborative second stage. He also shares some analysis he’s done of the results that have encouraged him to increase the amount of collaboration in his classes.