Of Pandemics and Pedagogy – Trevor Holmes

Coughing Girl
Coughing Girl

At the risk of sounding like a curmudgeon, I must say I have mixed reactions to the Daily Bulletin’s story about dealing with students who have the misfortune of coming down with the H1N1 influenza virus. In short, while Senate has tightened up the rules for documentation of illness as prerequisite to any accommodations, the University has simultaneously declared H1N1 to be free of any documentation requirements whatsoever. Continue reading Of Pandemics and Pedagogy – Trevor Holmes

Social Networking (and Peer Tutoring) for Second-Language Learning — Mark Morton

My nephew, who is studying Korean, recently told me about a free website that facilitates the learning of a second language by making use of social networking in the form of peer tutoring. The site in question is called LiveMocha, and it’s like many websites devoted to learning second languages in that it includes content such as flash cards, vocabulary drills, and so on. What makes LiveMocha unique, though, is that its more advanced language exercises require a user to write phrases or sentences in the target language that are then assessed by another user of LiveMocha, one whose first language is the language that you are trying to learn. Continue reading Social Networking (and Peer Tutoring) for Second-Language Learning — Mark Morton

Letting Your Students Do the Work: Student-Generated Exam Questions – Veronica Kitchen

exam-photo2My first year at Waterloo was also my first year teaching my own courses. In mid-November I found myself overwhelmed by the task of writing exams for my large second-year political science course. Since I’d never taught the course before, I had no question bank, no old exams to adapt, and not a whole lot of spare time. I struggled to write enough questions to populate my exam, plus a make-up or two. I mentioned this demoralizing state of affairs to Nicola Simmons at a CTE event. Continue reading Letting Your Students Do the Work: Student-Generated Exam Questions – Veronica Kitchen

Are undergraduates really less prepared than three years ago? – Trevor Holmes

So… last night Dave DeVidi of UW’s Philosophy Department (and current FAUW Prez) was on TV. I love it when philosophers are on TV (that’s an aside). I always like to hear what Dr. DeVidi has to say, and often find myself agreeing. In this case he was talking about a survey recently done by the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations, in which just over a thousand faculty of the 2000 surveyed believe that students are less prepared than they were even three years ago. Continue reading Are undergraduates really less prepared than three years ago? – Trevor Holmes

The Coolest Exam Review Game in the Universe? – Trevor Holmes

So for the past century or so, I’ve used variations on a review game when it’s time for students to think back across an entire course. It works for large introductory courses, medium-sized advanced courses, even PhD comprehensive exams! Sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? Before you think I’m selling the academic term-end equivalent of snake oil, I implore you, gentle reader, to download our latest Tip Sheet; it describes the game in its simplest form. While it’s too late in the term to ask students to come up with key terms (ideally week 10 is a good time to start), there is still value in trying the game in the last class, or recommending it to students for post-class, pre-exam study groups. Continue reading The Coolest Exam Review Game in the Universe? – Trevor Holmes

Is Grade Inflation at UW Affecting How Our Students Choose Their Courses? – Greg Mayer

gradeinflationI once had a student in a class I was teaching tell me that although he found my course interesting, he was dropping it so that he could instead take another he thought would be easier. He was concerned that my class, being offered by the Faculty of Mathematics, would lower his overall average, and might affect his chances of getting into a pharmacy school after he graduates. His decision was made after only my second lecture in the first week of the semester, and I am still wondering to what extent he made the right choice. Continue reading Is Grade Inflation at UW Affecting How Our Students Choose Their Courses? – Greg Mayer