Category: Learning Design

Celebrate the Errors in Math Practice

Dear math students, As you work through your mathematics practice, I’m going to challenge you to embrace making errors in an entirely new way.  Many students believe that every problem in math homework should be perfectly constructed with no errors. It might look something like this:   But when it’s time to study after the initial problem run-through, what does this perfectly constructed problem say? Does it coach you on remembering how you struggled? Does it remind you where you made an error? No. When you make an error as you’re working a problem, please don’t erase it from the face of the...

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The Deliberate Practice Experiment

For some inspiration to try a more active approach to learning, I thought I would share a short video from Dr. Carl Wieman, who is a Nobel Laureate, a physicist, and more recently a researcher in learning science. Wieman has designed and run some very elegant experiments to demonstrate the effects of active learning techniques. Consider this one: What happens if you run two classes for a week with the same learning objectives, the same time in class, and the same assessment. Prior to the experiment, you take care to ensure that the student makeup and performance is very similar...

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To Focus on Learning, Use Words Not Section Numbers

Since many faculty are now approaching that time when syllabi get written and course shells get built, let’s focus on a very simple change that can increase student attention to learning the vocabulary and learning objectives/goals associated with the subject. Take examine your syllabus, schedule, and course shell looking for places where you could have written the name of the course, the topics, or the learning objectives in words, but didn’t do it. When schedules and other course materials are passed out without any reference to the vocabulary of the subject, you are missing a great chance to put that vocabulary and learning objectives/goals front...

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The Importance of Findability for Learners

How do you feel when you go to find information on a website, and you just can’t find it? This happens to me all the time when I want to find out what some new ed-tech wonder product does, and I visit the website and can’t see any screenshots, any descriptions, or any videos of the product in action. I find it incredibly frustrating and this story generally ends by me giving up on even signing up for a trial. The same thing happens to students when they go to find information and it is buried in a non-sensical...

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