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August 25, 2014

Oh, god, I'm going to quote Mr. Spock, from the episode "Is There in Truth No Beauty?"

Dr. Miranda Jones: The glory of creation is in its infinite diversity.

Spock: And the way our differences combine to create meaning and beauty.

August 8, 2014

I carried out an experiment in teaching Physics in a flipped environment:  students listened to my recorded lectures on their own schedule, and we did conceptual problems in the classroom, using clickers to facilitate peer instruction.  This left time in class for microlectures on topics in Unsolved Problems in Physics and Astrophysics — the beating heart of Physics as Physicists experience it.  A pool of ungraded quantitati

May 15, 2014

Summer is approaching, graduation is at hand, and on a campus like Berkeley, faculty colleagues are understandably relieved and excited…very excited.  No class. No office hours. No professional time split amongst priorities. It is research time.

April 20, 2014

“Learning from mistakes is probably the most familiar form of learning for every human being. Every time we make a mistake, i.e., we suffer from an inconvenience due to our behavior, we try to modify our knowledge about the world in order to avoid suffering again in the future for the same reason.“

-Giordana & Serra, 2001

March 17, 2014

Last year, a faculty member in a great state of dismay visited me. He had received his student mid-semester evaluations and they were, in his words, “disheartening.” He went on to tell me how brutal they were; how the students attacked some statements he made in class, questioned his feedback on work, and disliked the readings he selected. I asked him how many students were enrolled – 70 students.

February 13, 2014

Chagrin:  “Ugh, I have to learn another LMS?”

Procrastination:  “Develop my class first, worry about this later.  Wow, my bathroom sink really needs to be cleaned.”

February 10, 2014

It’s 2pm on a Tuesday, and as you walk into your classroom to set-up to teach, filing past the herd of students from the previous class making their way out, you overhear a couple students talking excitedly about the questions posed during the last hour. Another group of students shuffling out debates the best way to solve a particular equation.

January 20, 2014

Theory, argument, archive. Method, stakes, implications. These are among those things that graduate studies in the Humanities aim to teach. Add in an attention to, and an accounting for, silences, obfuscations, gaps, missed opportunities, and the like, and you have the makings of a fairly standard heuristic for effective graduate reading in the service of effective scholarly writing.

January 15, 2014

1. Every talk needs a story.

The introduction should introduce your audience to the problem you’re trying to solve. By the end of it, your audience should know what the problem is and be convinced that it’s an important problem worthy of your time and effort. Establish what you hope to accomplish.

November 20, 2013

Since I get asked this question a lot, including by the media, I thought it’d be useful to blog it.

What MOOCs have I taught?

October 17, 2013

"If you can’t prove what you want to prove, demonstrate something else and pretend that they are the same thing. In the daze that follows the collision of statistics with the human mind, hardly anybody will notice the difference." 

-D. Huff (1954)

October 1, 2013

Since 1975, course evaluations at Berkeley have included the following question:

Considering both the limitations and possibilities of the subject matter and course, how would you rate the overall teaching effectiveness of this instructor?

1 (not at all effective), 2, 3, 4 (moderately effective), 5, 6, 7 (extremely effective)

August 19, 2013

1. They aren’t you.

A large part of your job is diagnosis. Every complex concept requires a grasp of many prerequisite concepts, which you’re already so comfortable with that it’s easy to pretend that everyone else is, too. You’re going to need to identify which of these concepts is holding the student back.

July 18, 2013

The emerging field of Mind, Brain and Education – a confluence of neuroscience, cognitive science and education – has sparked my interest for some time.

June 21, 2013

A conversation with a colleague earlier this week got me thinking about how teachers not only prepare a lecture, but practice delivering a lecture. These are not necessarily the same, nor are they mutually exclusive. Practice is merely one thing a teacher should do when preparing a lecture—but is too often slighted or even ignored. Delivering a lecture is not a far cry from delivering a speech.

June 15, 2013

I was a young 3rd year Ph.D. student. One of my faculty advisors, who taught graduate courses in the Higher and Postsecondary Education program gave me the incredible opportunity to design and teach a course from scratch on “The College Student in America.” I was humbled, honored, excited, and nervous. Right away, I started researching primary texts, then secondary texts.

June 11, 2013

Admittedly, I am a huge proponent of active learning and finding ways to move beyond lecture as the primary and sometimes sole mechanism of engaging students in learning. Even with that said, I think that much of the conversation about pedagogy in recent years has swung too far away from lecture and neglected to recognize the powerful learning that can happen as a result of lecture as just one pedagogical technique.

June 10, 2013

I recently had a discussion with a colleague who wanted to explore ways to keep his students engaged (and attending) his large lecture class.