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Designing Effective Activities and Assignments and the Cutting Edge Review Process Heather Macdonald and John McDaris Based on presentation by Barbara Tewksbury, Hamilton College
Importance of having a teaching toolbox • Consider student-active strategies • think-pair-share, discussion, simulations, concept maps, debates, group projects, research and research-like experiences…. • assignments involving data collection and analysis, quantitative analysis, writing and oral presentations, hypothesis testing, service learning…. • Make deliberate choices of the best strategy for the task
Link between course goals & assignments/activities • Course goals – things that we want students to be good at doing by the end of the course • Students need repeated practice - one-off practice is not enough! • Timely feedback • Increasing independence • Assignments/activities are an important part of that practice andof assessing student progress toward the goals
Plan for session • Characteristics of effective assignments/activities • Evaluation of a sample activity and strategies for improving that activity • The Cutting Edge activity review process
What makes an effective assignment/activity? • Students learn best when: • They have a context for new knowledge and new experiences • Example • Launching directly into a lecture on fluvial processes. vs. • Taking ten minutes to have students brainstorm what they already know about rivers and how that relates to their own “real world” before lecturing about fluvial processes.
What makes an effective assignment/activity? • Students learn best when: • Their interest is captured (hook) • Example • Lab on water analysis that covers sampling technique, use of instrumentation, and critique of results. vs. • Activity that also incorporates an introduction that sets the stage for why knowing water chemistry matters, focusing on a problem of interest and/or relevance to students.
What makes an effective assignment/activity? • Students learn best when: • They use what they know to tackle problems and think independently • Example • Assignment that leads students through identification and interpretation of a set of samples, with answers to leading or nuts-and-bolts questions. vs. • Assignment that teaches the above but also provides opportunity for independent thought, work on open-ended questions, application to solve a problem. “What does it mean, not just what did I do?”
What makes an effective assignment/activity? • Students learn best when: • They have the opportunity to synthesize, reflect on what they have learned, explain what they know • Example • Activity that ends after students have answered questions on a worksheet. vs. • Activity that asks students to step back, think about what they know, write a plan for a new analysis, talk about “aha” insights, explain it to a particular audience
What makes an effective assignment/activity? • Students learn best when: • They are motivated • Example • Assignment to make a portfolio of work. vs. • Assignment to make a portfolio specifically designed to be useful for the future (e.g., “showcase” work, annotated list of data sources, techniques matrix, collection of student products) with a clear focus on how the portfolio might be useful
What makes an effective assignment/activity? • An effective assignment also has an adequate mechanism for determining what students have learned • Can you verify what students have learned, not just what they have done? • Students can answer a series of nuts and bolts/leading questions correctly and still not “get it”. • Can you assess the progress that students have made toward the goal(s)?
Summary: what makes an effective assignment/activity? • Maximizes student learning • They have a context for new knowledge and new experiences • Their interest is captured (hook) • They use what they know to tackle problems • They have the opportunity to synthesize and reflect on what they have learned • They are motivated • Allows instructor to determine what students have learned
Task: evaluating a sample activity • Evaluate the activity in two categories • Alignment of goals, activity, and assessment • Pedagogic effectiveness • Could it be better, and, if so, how?
Task: evaluating a sample activity • Goal is to have students • Interpret the sediment record • Determine what the environment was like • Draw conclusions about the nature and timing of rainfall changes in the Sahara • Student background: they know that • Lakes accumulate sediment eroded from the surrounding areas • Sediments can preserve features that reflect the nature of the environment (e.g., fossils)
Task: evaluating a sample activity • Evaluate for: • Alignment of goals, activity, and assessment • Pedagogic effectiveness • Read the activity, paying attention to: • How the activity starts • How the activity ends • The flavor of the questions and what students are asked to do • Don’t get bogged down in the details • Individual evaluation, then discuss evaluation with group and arrive at scores • Could it be better, and, if so, how?
Jigsaw technique • Prepare several different assignments for the class • Divide class into teams • Each team prepares one of the assignments
Jigsaw technique • Divide class into new groups with one member from each team • Individuals teach group what they know
Jigsaw technique • Group task puts picture together • Critical – big difference between: and
Value of the technique • Students must know something well enough to teach it • Gives students practice in using the language • Students can learn one aspect/example well AND see a range of aspects/examples without doing all the work • Well-structured group activity
Critical elements of jigsaw • Students must be prepared and not be wrong-headed • You must be happy that each student knows his/her assignment well and knows the others much less well • The group task is crucial - without it, it’s not a jigsaw • Some type of individual follow-up is valuable
The Gallery Walk • Prepare several posters each with a different question, data set, or object to observe and interpret • Hang the posters around the room • Divide the class into as many teams as there are posters • At first station, team makes observation/interpretation, writes it down • At second station, team reads existing text, makes additions and corrections, and adds new observations/interpretations. • Back at first station, team summarizes and reports to class; class wrap-up.
Value of the technique • Gets students up and moving • Students can work directly with a range of examples without having to do all of the analyses on all examples • Incorporates critical analysis, synthesis, and presentation • Generates a written record of student thinking • Well-structured group activity
Critical elements of Gallery Walk • Topics/objects must be broad/complicated enough for multiple teams to comment • You must be happy that each student knows his/her final topic well and the others less well • The synthesis and reporting at the end is crucial • Some type of individual follow-up is valuable
Jigsaws and concept sketches • Effective pre- or in-class prep is important • Provide time/guidance to prep for peer teaching; ask students to answer guiding questions: • What are the most important messages to convey? • What is the evidence, what illustrations do you need to make your point? • Effective group work is critical • Effective individual follow-up is valuable • List of aha insights after group work • Analysis of new article based on insights from group work • Analysis of hypothetical situation based on insights from group work
On The Cutting Edge Reviewed Collection • On the Cutting Edge is conducting a review of activities in the Cutting Edgecollections • Each activity reviewed twice and ranked: • Exemplary (Part of Reviewed Collection) • Pass (Part of Reviewed Collection) • Keep (Not part of Reviewed Collection) • De-accession
Cutting Edge Reviewed Collection • Activities ranked as “Exemplary” • Come up first in searches • Are designated on an individual ActivitySheet as being part of Exemplary Teaching Activities collection
Cutting Edge Reviewed Collection • Activities ranked as “Pass” • Come up second in searches • Are designated on individual ActivitySheets as being part of the Peer Reviewed Teaching Activities collection
Review process • Activities you submitted for this workshop • Each activity will receive 2 reviews • Authors of “Exemplary” and “Pass” activities receive letters • Explains review process • Indicates activity rank • Indicates that reviewer comments are available on request if the author wishes to revise • If author does revise, the activity will be reviewed again
Your list of items • When you click on Review Toolon Review Team Instructions page, your login will take you to a page that lists only your items to review http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/sedimentary/SGP2014/review_process.html
Your list of items • You will see: • Click the URL to go to the ActivitySheet and download the actual activity and any supporting materials or click on “Review It” to start the review.
The review tool • You will evaluate the activity in five categories • Scientific accuracy • Alignment of goals, activity, and assessment • Pedagogic effectiveness • Robustness • Activity description
The review tool • For each category, questions plus rubric provide guidance for what to consider
The review tool • Summary score will tabulate automatically • Exemplary = 4; Very good = 3; Adequate = 2; Problematic = 1 • Comments help the editors understand your ranking – please don’t leave these boxes blank!
The review tool • At the end of the form, you will add your view about what it would take to raise the activity to Exemplary status if it fell short in your review • The editors will use your comments to respond to authors on request. Please phrase your comments in a collegial fashion.
Your review • Review the activity in the context for which it was designed • Not just whether it’s good for a particular upper level course – many will be for other courses (e.g., intro geo) • Not everything has to be a full lab or major assignment (e.g., a back-of-the-envelope calculation could be Exemplary) • Not every activity needs to be usable by all instructors (e.g., a lab requiring specific software/math/expertise background) • Can be “local” if it is also a good template
Your review • Review Campers have ideas to add?
Your review • Exemplary • Must have good science, good pedagogy, and all materials so that someone else can adapt/adopt, nothing “broken” • Does not need to have answer key or to provide an instructor with background • We have never required these so cannot ding someone for not including them • Scoring • Exemplary or very good in all categories • Exemplary in at least three of the five. • 18 or higher.
Your review • Pass – these become part of the Reviewed Collection • Those that aren’t Exemplary but still have value to others • Must bemore than just the germ of an idea • Must haveall of the components • These must have no scientific errors. • If you think there are errors, confirm this with someone else on the review team. • Those with scientific errors should go into the Keep or De-accession category, depending on the severity of the problem.
Your review • Keep – no designation on ActivitySheet, will come up last in a search • Nucleus of a good idea • Insufficient info for someone to adapt or adopt or hasscientific errors • Author does not receive a letter
Your review • De-accession • Not an activity or very fragmentary • Has truly egregious problems
Your review • Exemplary minus • This is not a formal category, but it would help us to know if you think it is “Exemplary Minus” • Could be made Exemplary with only a small amount of work, such as: • fixing a URL • uploading the latest version of the assignment or adding instructor tips • fleshing out the ActivitySheet • These will be ranked as Pass, but knowing that they are “Exemplary minus” will help the editors craft feedback if authors request it.
Summary • Review each activity using rubric • Score the activity in each of 5 categories • Write a summary evaluation for each • Remember that these were submitted voluntarily to a community collection • Be kind but clear
Your list of items • Once you have submitted a review, your review list indicates completion for that item
Can you revise a review? • Yes – click on the Review It link and then the link to what you submitted previously • Your original rankings will come up, and you can change them and add to/change your comments. • Click submit when done.
Your assignment • Each of you has a few activities to review • You have the rest of the morning to complete reviews. If necessary, complete them before the end of the workshop. • You will be able to ask for reviewers’ comments and, if you see fit, revise your activities and resubmit.