I began reading Dr. Riener's blog soon after and am always impressed by the topics he chooses and his analysis. So it was no surprise this morning to see that there was a new fascinating post - but the more I read, I realized that this was something I should share with all of you as well. [FYI to those of you on Twitter: follow Dr. Riener at http://twitter.com/criener)
What Cedar Riener is doing is becoming a "reluctant revolutionary" by actively tinkering with the standard lecture-driven intro psych class by incorporating several different strategies, including:
- increased student choices for learning (podcasts, TED Talks, scientific articles, popular science books)
- pass/fail grading used with many small writing assignments (so the focus is on practice, not perfection)
- an increase in questions and peer discussion, and a decrease in lecture time
- integrating more activities and active learning
In the active learning sessions, it is often like pulling teeth, students are so scared of being wrong, but also sometimes scared to show that they haven’t done the reading. They take a few tentative steps and stop, look up as if to ask “you are going to tell me the answer now?”What I probably like most about this post is this final section, where he admits the difficulties and minor setbacks that have occurred. Changing students - and more importantly, ourselves - is a huge risk beyond their comfort zones and ours, and forces us to reconsider what education really is, and what is and is not effective. It may cause us to rethink some of the sacred tenets of what we have always believed and look at what the research says - Daniel Willingham's book above, for example, is an great place to go for combining what psych research says with classroom implementation.
I hope that you all will go to Dr. Riener's blog and read his entire post, then comment either there or here with your perspective.
--posted by Steve