How well does a college teach, and what do its students learn? Rankings based on the credentials of entering freshmen are not hard to find, but how can students, parents and policy makers assess how well a college builds on that foundation?
What information exists has often been hidden from public view. But that may be changing.
In the wake of the No Child Left Behind federal education law, students in elementary, middle and high schools take standardized tests whose results are made public, inviting anyone to assess, however imperfectly, a school’s performance. There is no comparable trove of public data for judging and comparing colleges.
Pieces of such a system may be taking shape, however, with several kinds of national assessments — including, most controversially, standardized tests — gaining traction in recent years. More than 1,000 colleges may be using at least one of them.
Read Trying to Find a Measure for How Well Colleges Do in today’s New York Times for more….
In an interview with NPR today, Bill Gates:
said if Microsoft didn’t have evaluations, “it wouldn’t have worked.”
He said that seniority and educational degrees didn’t correlate with “who was writing the best code.”
I “tweeted” this NPR interview when it first came out.
Here’s Jason Middlekauff’s response:
He seems to think teaching is analogous to code writing. Codes have learning styles, distractions, apathy, home influence.
“What I Cannot Create, I Do Not Understand”
That’s what was on Nobel-Prize winning physicist Richard Feynman’s blackboard when he died:
I found this image in an article at Scientific American titled Hunters of Myths: Why Our Brains Love Origins.
The entire article is somewhat interesting, but here’s what I think is the really important and useful part to teachers, and the paragraph that accompanied the blackboard photo:
…when we explain something to someone, we understand it better ourselves. It’s called the self-explanation effect and has been demonstrated numerous times in the real world. For instance, students who explain textbook material perform better on tests of that material than those who study it twice. Students who are trained in self-explanation perform better on math problem-solving tests—and are better able to learn new mathematical concepts. And how’s this for a story: when Nobel-Prize winning physicist Richard Feynman passed away in 1988, after a struggle with cancer, these words graced his blackboard: “What I cannot create, I do not understand.” His final injunction to his students and the world.
I think this paragraph reinforces the importance of creating opportunities for our students to teach their classmates, as I’ve previously described (see Teaching Students To Teach (& What School Reformers Are Missing) ).
Of course, students could “explain something” to the teacher, or in a paper that would just be seen by a teacher. But I think that lack of an authentic audience reduces its value and effectiveness, not to mention all the real-world skills that having to actually teach develops (refining storytelling techniques, picking up on “cues” from others, putting themselves in the “shoes” of a teacher).
What has been your experience of having students teach others?
Dani Lyra has posted specific info on the upcoming May 1st Edition of the ESL/EFL/ELL Blog Carnival!
It will have two themes:
Critical Thinking and EFL/ESL
Using Technology to Raise Cultural Awareness
You can read more details at her post.
Either post your submissions at her Carnival post, or you can send them to me.
Adam Simpson posted the 27th Edition of the ESL/EFL/ELL Blog Carnival. It’s filled with excellent posts where teachers are describes lessons when their students were in the state of “flow” — when they were completely absorbed in what they were doing.
Sharon Turner will be the host for the July 1st edition.
Let me know if you might be interested in hosting future editions.
You can see all the previous editions of the ESL/EFL/ELL Blog Carnival here.
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