Mind Games 2.0

Bloggin' 'bout science and life

Category: Dartmouth

But Nobody Will Get Into Medical or Professional Schools?

I’ve been getting nasty e-mails from some Dartmouth alumni about our effort to stop the pernicious effects on grade inflation.  Their arguments are effectively that every Dartmouth student should receive all A’s so that all Dartmouth students look great when they apply for admission to Medical/Law/Graduate school.  

Their reasoning is that if Dartmouth students get lower grades, they will be at a disadvantage on paper, relative to students from all the other schools who give high grades to low performing students.  Apparently, they think we’re caught in some bizarre prisoner’s dilemma.  On it’s face, this position has absolutely no regard for the actual education that Dartmouth students receive.  

Read More

Share

Do We Really Have To Come Up With A Grading System That Faculty Can’t Game?

The first thing you hear from people about how to fix grade inflation is that we should change the grading system.  Give students their percentage rank in the class.  Go exclusively to Pass/Fail.  Redefine what the various letters mean.  Go to a numerical system.  Write evaluative essays about each student instead of trying to distill their performance to a single number or letter.  Get rid of grades altogether.  We heard them all over the course of the past month.

If you ask people why they want to change the grading system, the overt statement they’ll give is to prevent other faculty from cheating and gaming the system.  For a few, the undercurrent of their reasoning is to prevent themselves from gaming the system.  

Read More

Share

Student Effort Declines When The Average Grade In A Classes Increases

If something is important to me, I would work like a dog to achieve it if I had to.  However, if I could achieve this important outcome without hard work, why would I work hard for it, even though I would accomplish much more by working hard for it?  That’s just simple human nature, and it encapsulates the major harm to our educational system done by grade inflation.

Students want high grades for many different reasons (e.g., admission to post-secondary professional schools, jobs, a sense of accomplishment).  When high grades are difficult to achieve, students will work exceptionally hard in their effort to achieve them.  However, why would students bust their butts studying in a class where everybody gets A’s regardless of their effort?  The answer is they won’t, and it turns out, that’s what’s happening.  

The most pernicious effect of grade inflation on education is to cause a substantial diminution of student effort in their coursework.  Students now get better grades for much less effort.  The corollary of this is that students are learning much less now from the same course material than when average grades were much lower.  And there’s data to prove this!!

Read More

Share

But I Use The Latest Innovations In Teaching?

Teaching innovations are all the rage now.  Flipped classrooms, no-talking-heads, experiential learning, MOOCs – they all are ways that educators are trying to innovate ways of teaching students.  They each have their benefits, and they each have their disadvantages.  They each, therefore, work best in a different type of class.  However, if utilized properly, each can increase the learning and skill acquisition that students can achieve as compared to a classical classroom setting.  However, for some classes, the traditional big lecture/talking-heads format of the traditional classroom is also the best approach.  What an instructor should do in a particular class is to find the best teaching methods possible for the material being conveyed and the skills being exercised in a class.  

Read More

Share

Are Entering Students Better Prepared For College?

Grades have been increasing at United States colleges and universities for at least 50 years. That’s simply a fact. Many want to argue that at their university this is because students have been getting better over those 50 years. However, if this is happening everywhere, the same set of causes must be largely contributing everywhere. It’s a very hard argument to make that grades are increasing for unique reasons at each university (essentially an argument of “my place is special”). So let’s consider the premise that students are getting better over the last 50 years.

Read More

Share

What If Every Student At A University Truly Deserved To Get A’s In Every Class?

Grades are increasing everywhere – at colleges and universities and high schools across the country — despite the fact that we have been in a panic about the quality of our entire US educational system for at least the last 20 years.  Imagine the day, and it’s coming if we don’t do anything, when every student at every university in the USA gets an A in every class that she or he takes.  What should we do on that day?  Or before we get there?

Read More

Share

Do Students Care About Their Education Anymore?

Yesterday, we had our third student drop our class Seeing Nature: How Aristotle and Darwin Understood Nature and Human Society because the student was on track to get a B in the class.  Let that soak in for a minute – dropping a class because they were going to get a B.  This has become routine.

In this class, we ask students to write two paragraphs about the readings on Monday, two paragraphs about the readings on Wednesday, and a six paragraph synthesis essay about a topic they choose from among a set of possible questions on Friday.  We began with 35 students the first day, and 13 found this too much to handle.  As a consequence, we were down to 22 last week.  That means 13% (3/22) of our class dropped because their grade might be a B.

Read More

Share

Helping Scientists Communicate Better Through Improvisation


Warning: Division by zero in C:\www\wordpress\wp-content\plugins\nextgen-scrollgallery\nggScrollGallery.php on line 296

Warning: Division by zero in C:\www\wordpress\wp-content\plugins\nextgen-scrollgallery\nggScrollGallery.php on line 296

Warning: Division by zero in C:\www\wordpress\wp-content\plugins\nextgen-scrollgallery\nggScrollGallery.php on line 296

Warning: Division by zero in C:\www\wordpress\wp-content\plugins\nextgen-scrollgallery\nggScrollGallery.php on line 296

Warning: Division by zero in C:\www\wordpress\wp-content\plugins\nextgen-scrollgallery\nggScrollGallery.php on line 296

Warning: Division by zero in C:\www\wordpress\wp-content\plugins\nextgen-scrollgallery\nggScrollGallery.php on line 296

Warning: Division by zero in C:\www\wordpress\wp-content\plugins\nextgen-scrollgallery\nggScrollGallery.php on line 296

Warning: Division by zero in C:\www\wordpress\wp-content\plugins\nextgen-scrollgallery\nggScrollGallery.php on line 296

Warning: Division by zero in C:\www\wordpress\wp-content\plugins\nextgen-scrollgallery\nggScrollGallery.php on line 296

Warning: Division by zero in C:\www\wordpress\wp-content\plugins\nextgen-scrollgallery\nggScrollGallery.php on line 296

Warning: Division by zero in C:\www\wordpress\wp-content\plugins\nextgen-scrollgallery\nggScrollGallery.php on line 296

Warning: Division by zero in C:\www\wordpress\wp-content\plugins\nextgen-scrollgallery\nggScrollGallery.php on line 296

Warning: Division by zero in C:\www\wordpress\wp-content\plugins\nextgen-scrollgallery\nggScrollGallery.php on line 296

Warning: Division by zero in C:\www\wordpress\wp-content\plugins\nextgen-scrollgallery\nggScrollGallery.php on line 296

Warning: Division by zero in C:\www\wordpress\wp-content\plugins\nextgen-scrollgallery\nggScrollGallery.php on line 296

Warning: Division by zero in C:\www\wordpress\wp-content\plugins\nextgen-scrollgallery\nggScrollGallery.php on line 296

Warning: Division by zero in C:\www\wordpress\wp-content\plugins\nextgen-scrollgallery\nggScrollGallery.php on line 296

Warning: Division by zero in C:\www\wordpress\wp-content\plugins\nextgen-scrollgallery\nggScrollGallery.php on line 296

Warning: Division by zero in C:\www\wordpress\wp-content\plugins\nextgen-scrollgallery\nggScrollGallery.php on line 296

Warning: Division by zero in C:\www\wordpress\wp-content\plugins\nextgen-scrollgallery\nggScrollGallery.php on line 296

Warning: Division by zero in C:\www\wordpress\wp-content\plugins\nextgen-scrollgallery\nggScrollGallery.php on line 296

Warning: Division by zero in C:\www\wordpress\wp-content\plugins\nextgen-scrollgallery\nggScrollGallery.php on line 296

Warning: Division by zero in C:\www\wordpress\wp-content\plugins\nextgen-scrollgallery\nggScrollGallery.php on line 296

Warning: Division by zero in C:\www\wordpress\wp-content\plugins\nextgen-scrollgallery\nggScrollGallery.php on line 296

Warning: Division by zero in C:\www\wordpress\wp-content\plugins\nextgen-scrollgallery\nggScrollGallery.php on line 296

Warning: Division by zero in C:\www\wordpress\wp-content\plugins\nextgen-scrollgallery\nggScrollGallery.php on line 296

Warning: Division by zero in C:\www\wordpress\wp-content\plugins\nextgen-scrollgallery\nggScrollGallery.php on line 296

Warning: Division by zero in C:\www\wordpress\wp-content\plugins\nextgen-scrollgallery\nggScrollGallery.php on line 296

This week Dartmouth formally partnered with the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science, Stony Brook University, in our efforts to teach scientists how to better communicate their science to the public and to each other.   To celebrate the establishment of this partnership, Alan Alda visited Dartmouth as a Montgomery Fellow, along with Elizabeth Bass, the Director of the Alan Alda Center.  Their approach uses improvisational exercises to teach scientists how to be aware of their audience, make a more direct connection with their audience, and understand the language that is needed to make that connection.

Last spring, Nancy Serrell (Director of Science and Technology Outreach) and three Dartmouth faculty took one of the Center’s courses.  This motivated Nancy to bring this approach to teaching communication to scientists at Dartmouth.  This term, Nancy, Christian Kohn (Lecturer in the Department of Theater), Gifford Wong (a graduate student in the Department of Earth Sciences), and I are teaching the result of her vision – a graduate course in Communicating Science that is modeled on the courses and workshops offered at the Center at Stony Brook.  Mr. Alda taught our class during his visit.  He also taught a Master Class to Dartmouth faculty, and visited two undergraduate classes while here, among other activities during a jam-packed two-day visit.  (I think he also attended the Homecoming Bonfire on Friday night.)

Here are a few photos from his leading the Master Class with faculty and our graduate class.

NextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnail
Me talking to Mr. Alda before he led my Introductory Biology class.
Conversation with Alan Alda
Alan Alda leading undergraduates in an exercise.
Leading undergraduates
Alan Alda leading undergraduates in an exercise.
Leading undergraduates
Alan Alda leading undergraduates in an exercise.
Leading undergraduates
Alan Alda leading undergraduates in an exercise.
Leading undergraduates
Alan Alda speaking to Dartmouth Communicating Science class.
Alan Alda
The Dartmouth Communicating Science class playing improv volleyball with coach Alan Alda viewing.
Improv volley ball
Alan Alda coaching Jane Lipson & David Kotz in playing vocal mirror.
Vocal mimicing
Alan Alda speaking to Dartmouth Communicating Science class.
Alan Alda
Alan Alda coaching a game of improv volleyball
Improv Volleyball
Faculty pulling an imaginary boat out of a swamp.
Move a boat
The Dartmouth Communicating Science class physically mirroring one another with coach Alan Alda viewing.
Mirroring
Alan Alda coaching Dartmouth faculty playing imaginary tug of war.
Tug of War
Alan Alda coaching an improv exercise.
Alan Alda coaching
Alan Alda coaching two graduate students in an exercise.
Preparing for an exercise
The Dartmouth Communicating Science class physically mirroring one another with Alan Alda coaching.
Mirror the body
Alan Alda speaking to Dartmouth Communicating Science class.
Discussing communication
Alan Alda coaching two graduate students in an exercise.
Coaching graduate students
Gifford Wong and Philip Fernandez being coached by Alan Alda before vocal mirroring.
Vocal mirroring
Alan Alda coaching two graduate students in an exercise.
Vocal mirroring
Alan Alda giving Phil Fernandez his audience during a round of Change Your Audience.
Change your audience
Phil Fernandez speaking to his Audience with Alan Alda thinking of what Phil's next audience will be.
Change your audience
Jessica Trout-Haney and Zach Hamaker being coached by Alan Alda before vocal mirroring.
Vocal mirroring
Alan Alda coaching two graduate students in an exercise.
Vocal mirroring
Our Science Communication Class 2013
Our Science Communication Class
Alan Alda coaching two graduate students in an exercise.
Coaching graduate students
Some of Dartmouth's and Stony Brook's collaborators in Communicating Science.
Some of us
Some of Dartmouth's and Stony Brook's collaborators in Communicating Science.
Some of us

Read More

Share

Returning to the Small Teaching College?

Many of Dartmouth’s disgruntled alumni feel that President Wright’s emphasis on increasing the research and scholarly profile of the faculty to be antithetical to Dartmouth’s mission. That mission in their minds seems to be defined as undergraduate teaching to the exclusion of all other activities.

Read More

Share

Getting Tenure at Dartmouth

In many respects Dartmouth is a very unique institution of higher learning. Across much of the undergraduate college, the place is simultaneously a major research university and a small teaching college. Many of us here think it has the best of both.

Read More

Share

Page 2 of 2

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén