In my last blog entry, I outlined a brief history of basic writing and outlined several questions that have been on the table in our first year writing program. Let’s get to work on the first question: How do we redress the imperfect educational system of remediation within an imperfect educational system of the United States? Okay, so I’m answering my blog’s title question with another question.
First, remedial writing programs takes different shapes at two- or four-year colleges, and Masters- or PhD- granting universities. The difference rests primarily in the background and needs of students enrolled in these classes. Students entering community colleges may be immigrants with varied educational history, first generation students whose training in U.S. schools didn’t prepare them for college, high school drop outs, returning adults, and lifelong learners. Though writing classes in two-year colleges often have the goal of preparing students to succeed in advanced writing classes, a recent study of 100,000 two-year college students in urban areas suggests that these efforts could better focus on writing needed in workplaces. In two-year colleges, these programs have come into question because of their cost, qualified success, and educational goals: why prepare students to write for advanced, college writing classes when the students’ intent is to find jobs in the skilled labor market?
Students seeking degrees beyond the Associate’s degree often place in remedial classes after taking an entrance exam. These students have high school diplomas, are the best students to have graduated from their schools, have histories of academic achievement, and may be international or heritage language speakers. Many graduated from the K-12 education in the US system, which has seen educational goals limited to teaching to the test thanks to Bush era educational policies. Small wonder there’s been alarming increase in numbers of students needing remedial writing classes.
All this focus on the student who needs the kinds of educational opportunities an intensive writing course prevents policy makers and program administrators from turning our attention to “fixing” the student. This focus on the student places the onus to change solely on the students. But let’s also consider teachers, teacher trainers, and the institution of schooling. Now, I’m not saying that K-12 teachers are to blame for underprepared students. If we want to address the problem systematically as a country, we need educational reform in K-12 settings that 1) increases the number of qualified teachers in classrooms, 2) equally provides resources to schools, 3) allows for varied forms of writing assignments and not just those appropriate to score well on tests (5 paragraph essays), and 4) we need to respect teachers and train them well to meet the challenges of schooling. There are more ways to reform, of course, but these would be a good place to start.
We think there’s another place to begin this work as well—the place where future teachers and professors get trained, or not, to do their educational work in the first place. How are our preservice teachers and instructors of first generation students trained to build upon students’ knowledge and learning as they interact with content? What can we do better?
At MSU, we want to do our part in contributing to educational reform by refocusing our efforts on training future teachers and university instructors. Instead of focusing on what students’ lack, we’re focusing on what we as teachers and teacher trainers owe to students. We think there’s systemic reproduction of teachers who were taught the content areas of their disciplines, but haven’t learned how to teach students this content.
So we did what universities and policy makers do. We set up a committee. The Preparation for College Writing Sub-Committee of the First Year Writing committee created two innovations in our preparatory classes that we’re now piloting. First, we hoped to better address the curricular needs of our students through asset-based, culturally sustaining pedagogies; and second, we hoped to promote teacher inquiry and innovation by placing preservice teachers in our writing classes. The idea is that these preservice teachers can act as peer mentors and teachers-in-training at once, while the instructors gain an opportunity to innovate their practice through engaging these preservice teachers in reflective practice. The preservice teachers work with the instructor to engage in activities and classroom work around the rich reading and writing assignments of a college writing class, that they in turn can use in their future high school classrooms. I’ll explore findings from this pilot project in my next blog posting.
We’ve all been there. You walk into a college lecture hall filled with 300+ people, sit down with your laptop, most likely on Facebook, and listen to the professor talk for an hour, before going home and realizing you didn’t even comprehend anything that was said.
But recently, some professors are rethinking the way they teach. Joe Redish, a professor at the University of Maryland, realized, after a few years of lecturing, that it wasn’t the best way for students to learn and retain information. “With modern technology, if all there is is lectures, we don’t need faculty to do it. Get ‘em to do it once, put it on the web, and fire the faculty.”
The article on Mind/Shift explores the way that college students learn, and why lecture is not the best approach to teaching a large class. Better results have come from peer instruction, where students are given the opportunity to discuss a problem with each other, and come up with the right solution together. With so many different teaching opportunities out there, especially with all the new technology, lecturing is becoming a thing of the past. Though it may seem a little K-12, peer instruction and group work just may be the way to go.
Some extremely simple, and others that contain hardly any white space, each of these business cards are unique in what they do and who they present. With the cards ranging from Albert Einstein to Steve Martin, you’re bound to find some design aspect you like. Check it out, use it to help create your business card. Who knows, maybe you’ll be the next Steve Jobs!
I think it’s safe to say that nobody really sits down with just a book, paper, and pen to study anymore. You walk into the library and see hundreds of computers, phones, tablets, etc. So how does a student study in this modern age? StudyBlue recently did a survey of 500 students to find the answer to this question.
As many times as you see people working in groups in the library, a shocking 70% of the students said that they like to study alone, and 42% said they would rather study in their bedroom, while only 21% said they like to go to the library.
In the age of the Mac and iPhone, it’s not surprising that the number one hardware reported was a laptop, and that 93% of students use study apps.
Why is it important to know the modern study habits? For both students and teachers alike, these results can change the way information is transferred. Knowing that students use these tools to study, teachers can enhance their courses in the same way, therefore increasing interaction and learning from their students.
How do you study? Take a look at the infographic below to see more results from the study.
When you sit back to read a book, do you pick up your e-reader? Or would you rather pick up the old print paperback?
This seems to be the common question since the emergence of the Nook, Kindle, and other various tablets used for reading. As the answer to this question carries importance for publishers, Random House’s Research and Analytics Team compiled statistics on the US eBook consumer. Results relating to age, gender, education, book genre, and more reflect that eReaders are on the rise. Just one interesting statistic dealt with the price paid for books. 38% of eBook readers said they spent less than five dollars on their last read, while only 18% of print readers could say the same. Check out the rest of the statistics in the following infographic.
So you just had a job interview. Now what? Well, you know you should follow up with a thank you, but how? Should you send a quick email? Write out a note? And what exactly do you write?
Lifehacker brings an easy answer to all these questions and tells us how to write a post interview thank you that can increase your chances of getting the job. Career strategist Hannah Morgan suggests a short, succinct 3 paragraph format sent 24-48 hours after the interview. This thank you is a way to express your gratitude, maybe touch on some weaknesses from the interview, and establish your follow up. Check out the article, and learn how to rock that post interview thank you note!
Most would agree that a reading space contributes a lot to how you read or study. A library is usually the perfect place to sit back and relax with a good novel, or to grab a history book and study for that upcoming exam. What about the libraries that are becoming more modern with the times? Libraries now have computers and other electronic devices to use DVDs, eBooks, or audio books. But these libraries are also focused on the modern in more than just their content.
Love These Pics posted 6 Marvelously Modern Libraries, where you can find libraries from all over the world that utilize modern architecture. Some are overwhelmingly beautiful and others stay simple and stark, focusing on the books, like Stuttgart City Library in Germany (pictured here).
As a book enthusiast, it’s safe to say I would love the opportunity to visit each and every one of these libraries. Check them out!
Coding isn’t something that only happens when building a website. It can also be used to put video content on a 120-foot-wide film wall, create clothing, or for data visualizations. Programming has expanded into helping create art.
Code designers working with Processing, the open source programming platform, say of creative coders: “They’re not setting out to solve a problem; they’re setting out to express themselves.” It’s about building art with different tools–or in this case, programs–using a new language: coding.
“There isn’t this need for formal computer science rigor, where you have to understand how every bit of line of code works. It’s fine to just try to learn about how things work through doing.” Creative coding is just as much about learning from the process as it is about the final product. Learn more in the video below about the innovative ways coding is being used.