For some of us instructors summer courses are in full swing. The spring semester feels like ages ago, but at some point during the summer, the end-of-semester evaluation feedback becomes available. As we’ve already moved on to other classes, looking it over and making any suggested changes to the course may not be at the top of our priority list. It was reported that only 77% of instructors made changes to the course based on feedback received in evaluations (Spencer & Flyr, as cited in McDonnell & Dodd, 2017). This statistic to me seems outrageous! How will our courses/teaching improve if we don’t listen to our captive audience? One idea that’s already been used to alleviate this issue is to implement mid-semester feedback. Using this technique does increase instructor ratings (Cohen, as cited in McDonnell & Dodd, 2017). But isn’t there something more that we can do?
Researchers in psychology know that learning isn’t simple. Learning and memory have been researched extensively throughout psychology’s evolution. They are complex topics that have spawned more than 100 years of research. Despite this, when it comes to teaching psychology, we seem to fall short in extending what we understand about the mind by applying it to those minds that are trying to learn in our classroom. To this end, Chew and colleagues (2018) discuss how we need to “Practice What We Teach” in an article published this month in Teaching of Psychology. In the article, the authors highlight numerous points (9 total) that need to be addressed in our field in order to promote teaching and learning in psychology. The article itself is fairly short (about 5 pages of text, excluding references), so I strongly encourage folks to read their concise review of how we can improve teaching in our field.
I won’t review each point they raised, but there were a couple key themes that really struck home for me. [read more below]
Guest Contributor: Dr. Brian Day, Butler University
Well the title of this article sure did its job – it grabbed my attention while I was browsing through past volumes of the journal Teaching of Psychology. As an instructor tasked with teaching Introductory Psychology for the foreseeable future I was intrigued by the prospects of improving student success through valuable instructor-student relationships. In the article titled “Student Success in Introductory Psychology: The Value of Teachers Knowing More About Their Students”, Wu and Kraemer (2017) discuss a project with the goal of identifying indicators of student success in introductory psychology courses. Their hope was that if these indicators could be identified early, then teaching, classroom methods, and classroom engagement opportunities could be tailored to help particular students succeed. The results of the investigation showed that a student’s ability to engage academically, prepare appropriately, their self-views concerning growth, and some in-class behaviors all correlated with performance outcomes (namely scores on exams). The authors discuss all of these findings in regards to strategies that college instructors can use to promote student achievement in introductory psychology, and this is where I wish to reflect.
The replication crisis has been an important topic of discussion in recent years for psychology researchers. However, are these discussions reaching students? It makes sense that they would because these students will one day be the up-and-coming researchers in the field.
Summer break is well underway for many of us. Here at The Novice Professor, we have given ourselves a summer SoTL reading list for June. We’ve discussed SoTL research in the past, including my post on ethics within classroom research, and our posts about the research discussed at NITOP’s 2018 meeting this past January (see posts here, here, and here).
The goal of SoTL research is to help educators improve their classrooms and better understand how their students learn. With that in mind, we are dedicating our June posts to reviewing SoTL articles, in hopes that it will inspire us (and our readers!) as we design our fall courses. Keep a look out on twitter and follow the hashtag #TheNoviceProfessor to catch all of our SoTL posts this month.
To jump-start this month, I decided to review an article by Harry Hubball, Anthony Clarke, and Gary Poole from the University of British Columbia.