Monday, December 10, 2012

A low-tech solution that works

students using hand-made response devicesRoger Lunt was fascinated by the idea of using clickers—those electronic devices through which instructors can record students’ responses to questions on-the-fly during class—but he wasn’t so drawn to the idea of managing the technology. “I was not sure I wanted to learn how to operate the software and the hardware,” he says, “so I decided to come up with my own way of doing it."

Lunt, an economics and business instructor in Arts and Sciences, made a pile of “homemade response devices” by stapling the letters A to D on either end of half a yard stick. To make a second set, he was able to get Home Depot to give him enough paint stirring strips to make the handles. Cheap, pretty quick to make, and rarely does the software fail!

So how well do they work? Students say they like using them because it keeps them involved in the class as they answer questions scattered throughout a class period. Roger has used them for much of fall semester and plans to continue using them. As for the second set of "clickers" he made, they are available in the CTE for use by the first person who asks for them.

Friday, October 12, 2012

What she did on her "summer vacation"

Dr. Jenny Harper in Spain

Dr. Jenny Harper began participating this past summer in the University System of Georgia’s European Council—a study abroad initiative with programs in Madrid, London, Paris, Berlin, and now Scotland (thanks to our own David Nelson). Dr. Harper applied for a fellowship to the Madrid, Spain program last year and was accepted, she believes, “because they had never had a biologist travel and teach with them before.” The fellowship included her flight, room and board, and most meals for 10 days this summer. “While I was there,” she says, “the goal for me was to use the time to plan what I would teach, how I would teach it, and what field trips I would take my classes on.” She is now obligated to teach in the program in Spain one semester between now and 2015.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Teaching to the Test?

If you knew there was an end-of-program test that would measure your students’ comprehensive knowledge from you entire program, and make the results public, would you teach differently than you do now? “No,” is the answer BC instructor Randy Williams gives, and he practices what he preaches.

Williams is our paramedic program instructor. Recently, his last cohort of paramedic students all passed the national exams required for licensure. “I think I get more nervous than they do,” he says about the days when students take both a practical, clinical exam and another when they take a written exam all supervised by a national organization. But this time, he says he was not nervous about the group. “A calm came over me,” he says, “because I know they worked hard.”

Williams says he knows what the exams will cover, but his primary focus is on making sure that students understand the content and know what they are doing. “They will be working in the real world, after all,” he says. In other words, it doesn’t matter if a paramedic passed the exam if they do not know what they are doing when they get to the scene of an accident. But making classes rigorous prepares them not only for the job they will be doing but also for the test. This last year, with a slight nod to the nerve-racking demands of the licensure exam, Williams made classes even more demanding. The increased pressure better prepared them for the stress of the exam, he says, as well as the stress of the real-world job.

One of his chief means of instruction is the frequent use of case studies—from elaborate situations to shorter, simple situations—in which students must decide the next step: what drug to administer, what procedure to apply or any of a thousand, life-saving choices. The application of what they have learned to the scenarios not only ensures they know what to do when faced with that situation on the job, but develops their critical thinking skills and prepares them for the exam.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Why Jeffrey Ross uses clickers in the classroom

In this short video, Assistant Professor of Nursing Jeffrey Ross explains why he finds clickers a useful tool to use occasionally in his classes. If this gets you interested in trying them, Jeffrey will be doing a workshop soon to explain how to use them.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

McLendon tries QR exercise for math

Sheila McLendon tried-out an active learning exercise Monday, October 03 in her Alebra/Trig class. Students were sent-out around campus in groups to find QR codes McLendon had placed in various locations. The resulting message students received from scanning the QR code with their smart phones directed students to use various formulas and methods to complete tasks such as measuring the area of a parallelogram and the volume of a container.

“Students loved it,” she said. “One group was measuring an area incorrectly, and when I asked them how their method was going to work, they were able to see how their approach was not working and make a change. Having that direct, hands-on experience means so much more to them than just doing it in class.” Look for the “Using QR Codes” link in the Active Learning area of the faculty wiki for more information.