Friday, August 16, 2013

Facebook makes people feel worse?

As we approach the time of year when students leave home without really leaving, because they remain tethered via Facebook. That makes reports of this new study a bit more interesting than it might otherwise be. (It reportedly contradicts other studies.) What I do know, just observing, is how addicted students are to Facebook as well as the regular flow of text messages from friends. They can't even enjoy a pleasant walk across a beautiful campus! But that is only half of it. It would be great to see a study of the academic effects. The big problem I see is that they cannot concentrate in class, when doing homework, and probably when writing longer papers. I see the first two cases regularly. The short distractions of "social media" simply feed their impatience with any frustration when working unsystematically on a problem. But it must be particularly bad in the teen years, seeking social approval. I saw a truly classic example the other night when marveling at one of those stories about folks prepping for the apocalypse. You should have seen the look on the teen daughter's face when she learned that her cell phone would not work in their underground bunker where they plan to hide out while crazed, hungry, armed people rampage through the city.

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Thursday, August 15, 2013

Tips on Teaching

Fascinating article today in IHE from a young whippersnapper about what he has learned about college teaching in his first few years in the classroom, all before earning the PhD. I don't have time to do much commentary, but a lot of it looks like what I might have said when I was still wet behind the ears in grad school. And a lot of it is very good advice. Nice way to start the semester. I may get back to this and fill in a few remarks later, but one that I do want to mention is his policy on cell phones. I have moved in that direction as well. I make a mental note of who is not engaged at a time when we are doing something I know is important, and then compare my mental notes to their performance when the exam is graded. Most fail to succeed at their multi-tasking exercise. He also has a rather amusing set of fifteen tips for students. Amusing because getting students to do most of these things strikes me as wildly optimistic! And some are utterly irrelevant to science or engineering majors.

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