After learning that when students provided feedback multiple times over the course of a semester, they rated the course higher and did better in the course (McDonnell & Dodd, 2017; see our summary of this research here), I wanted to further explore this idea.
Last school year I was tasked with teaching Statistical Methods (a.k.a. introductory statistics). In our department this class is somewhat special in that it's standardized. There are about 5 to 6 sections each semester. Each instructor uses the same lecture slides, delivers a similar lecture, and gives the same quizzes and exams. The original mastermind behind this course wanted the curriculum to be largely student-directed. As part of this new curriculum, we tell students to study exclusively from the book to prepare for assessments as they are designed to very closely follow homework questions in the book. In this case “closely follow” means the exact same questions can appear on the assessment that were part of the assigned homework questions. Depending on the schedule, there are times during the semester where course material is only lectured on for a day before the students are quizzed on it. For these two reasons it seems advantageous to do the homework; however it is not calculated into the student's grade, so not everyone does it despite the potential benefits and me telling them to.
Here at The Novice Professor, you may have noticed that we regularly review research on the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL). This enables us to stay connected to relevant research findings, and learn new, effective methods for teaching. If you are following TNP, you most likely share our passion for teaching. Many of us are constantly adapting our courses to improve learning outcomes, encourage student engagement, and, occasionally, make our lives as instructors a little easier. But how do we know if our course changes are having an impact?
I chose this article for my SOTL post because in all likelihood I will continue to teach introductory psychology for the foreseeable future. I taught two sections of intro last year, am currently teaching two sections this semester, and am scheduled to teach two more sections in the spring semester. After reading the abstract I was interested in what Pfund et al. (2018) had found during their investigation in regards to the purpose of various intro psychology classes, the student learning outcomes (SLOs) that are employed, and popular assessment practices. It was my hope that reading this article would give me a better idea of the role intro psych plays at other institutions and how I can go about improving my own intro courses.
September 6, 2018
To my peers on the job market,
As part of our series on the Job Market last week, I was tasked to write a letter to you as a sort of wrap-up post. I’ve been putting it off because I have struggled with what to write. It’s been three years since my own experience on the job market (psychology, teaching colleges). When I think back on that experience, there are two things that stick out to me: