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.
Up until a few months ago, I didn’t even know that DBER stood for Discipline-Based Education Research. Now I’m its biggest fan, in large part due to a journal club I joined here at Cornell.
Ileen Devault is a historian in Cornell’s Industrial and Labor Relations School. In this episode she talks with us how about how she shares teaching responsibility with her students by having them lead discussion of topics using primary sources. In the process, they learn about archival research, they bring fresh energy into the classroom, and perhaps most important, they learn to think like historians.
I’ve been teaching by the seat of my pants for almost 9 years now. I try new things in the classroom and pay attention to whether they work. And I like to think I have decent instincts. What I haven’t done until this summer is invest serious time reading research on teaching and learning. That’s why I jumped at the opportunity to spend 6 intensive days at Stanford studying with Carl Wieman (and about 40 like minded people) at his first ever summer Departmental Education Specialist Training Workshop.
Our guest is Natasha Holmes, an Assistant Professor in the Cornell Physics Department who specializes in physics education research. For the last several years, Natasha has been figuring out ways to increase the amount students learn in science labs. While some students find traditional lab courses to be transformative experiences, many more find them to be mindless recipe following exercises. In this episode, Natasha shares her experience with a new kind of science lab that gets students thinking critically, carefully, and creatively. We also talk about the value of doing educational research in our disciplines.