Student Centered Learning in a Large, First Year Management Class: History, Reflections and Future Directions

Here are some comments on "Student Centered Learning in a Large, First Year Management Class: History, Reflections and Future Directions" (John Scott and John Buchanan, 1998, http://www.mngt.waikato.ac.nz/depts/mnss/john/vitalscl.pdf).

- Boud (1988) identified student independence characteristics. Should look into that.

- Buzz groups are something I might be able to use in class. Give them

a worksheet and have them discuss it during the next session. Agenda onscreen - summary? Buzz, summary, buzz, summary.

- Maybe allow one 'cheat sheet'?

- Gibbs, G., Habeshaw, S. and Habeshaw, T. (1985) 53 Interesting

things to do in your lectures. Bristol: Technical and Educational Services. - I must find this book. =)

- I like the workbook idea, and I want to put something like that

together for the courses I teach. It's a labor-intensive thing, though, and I will almost probably need help.

Some Realities of a Student Centered Approach to Teaching
John Buchanan, http://www.mngt.waikato.ac.nz/depts/mnss/john/apors2/index.htm, 1997

This presentation warns that students want a more conventional approach in the first year of classes. New content, new style = big challenge. "Limited and traditional view of teaching."? Hmm. Note that I also have to warn CS21A students about CS in college.


<part of this removed because some people are concerned about other people stealing their ideas; sigh>

Voice recognition would also be pretty cool. I wonder...

As for my personal itches, I'm still working on Yet Another Text Menu, a tmm and textmenu replacement for Emacs that knows about checkboxes, radio buttons, enabled and disabled items, and generally all sorts of other things. I just realized that I was kludging it in the ugliest way earlier - hack on it a little bit, run into another special case, try to shoehorn new code into existing structure without a good understanding of what goes where. Now that I've gained a little more familiarity with the data structures (and with the idea of mapcar- and mapc-ing lists of lists of lists), I'm ready to... throw all my code out and try to come up with a cleaner and more elegant design.

I have to get this up and working by Monday, as I have a TV interview and I want to use that opportunity to show that computers _are_ usable without sight. That means that I have to solve my 2.5 OSS emulation problem (/dev/dsp still no workee!) and my Twiddler problem (loose contact, dirty leads) before Monday as well.

Another personal itch would be Microsoft smartphone development. I haven't gotten around to looking at that HelloWorld application again, but I will Really Soon Now. Some of the applications I would like to run on my smartphone are:

- Class pictures: enter an ID, snap a shot, save picture as

studentid.extension. Useful for making seating plans and associating names with faces.

- Threaded inbox, or at least a Contacts menu item that lets me see

all my conversations with that person.

- VCard handling for the inbox.

- A better todo manager.

- "Use number" functionality in inbox messages.

- Tiny expense tracker.

I should also keep the LambdaMOO multilingual project in mind. http://files.moo.ca/multilingual/ is useful.


Not much. I did help Dr. Cuyegkeng with her Powerpoint presentations. She had prepared the presentations with some funky font that was not available on the Faura AVR computer, so she needed to quickly change all the text boxes to Arial. We did a select-all in outline-mode, but that missed a few textboxes - the ones that were manually added, I guess.

Which reminds me - I should probably give the OAA some feedback on their slides. Yesterday's video was informative and the speech about the Ateneo way was amusing and inspiring (hard to be both, but somehow Fr. Nemy managed!), but the Powerpoint presentation was hard to read. The addition of a translucent white background behind the text would help increase the contrast.

I've been thinking of a tool to help student-centered constructivist learning through portfolios. That might be something that other people in the university can use.

Also, I should look into working more on assistive technology, especially with ATRIEV. I met Tony Llanes (ATRIEV) through the IBM Computer-Eyes Workshop, and he's interested in Linux training for blind students. I think that can be done with JAWS if we use a Linux server and we help them learn SSH, or we can go Linux all the way. I need to carefully think about how we can help blind students acquire practical skills. Basic Linux usage might be a good start. Later on, we can offer training in Linux administration, where the students can learn how to set up and maintain mail, web and database servers - but they'll need to gain a good appreciation of all of those first. Hmm. How do we give them those opportunities?

Priorities - A: high, B: medium, C: low; Status - _: unfinished, X: finished, C: cancelled, P: pending, o: in progress, >: delegated. Covey quadrants - Q1 & Q3: urgent, Q1 & Q2: important
A1XFix Twiddler USB problems

1. yatm hmms : 08:16

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Hmm, I will need to store the menu somewhere, as it changes when I'm in the yatm buffer.

2. real-binding : 08:28

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If REAL-BINDING is a symbol and has a non-`nil' `menu-enable' property, that property is an expression that controls whether the menu item is enabled. Every time the keymap is used to display a menu, Emacs evaluates the expression, and it enables the menu item only if the expression's value is non-`nil'. When a menu item is disabled, it is displayed in a "fuzzy" fashion, and cannot be selected.

How do I get the property of a symbol? (symbol-plist symbol)

3. Menu caching : 08:29

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The menu bar does not recalculate which items are enabled every time you look at a menu. This is because the X toolkit requires the whole tree of menus in advance. To force recalculation of the menu bar, call `force-mode-line-update' (see *note Mode Line Format::).

I should probably also do the same.

4. sample popping up : 08:37

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(x-popup-menu `((0 0) ,(get-window-with-predicate (lambda (win) t))) (tmm-get-keybind [menu-bar]))

keymap prompt (keymap-prompt (cadr (tmm-get-keybind [menu-bar])))

5. Direct credit payroll account : 09:25

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- at least ten months contract with the University

6. Ooooh! =) : 15:35

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  First of all, I want to congratulate you for being
19 and successful in your career. I wish that I can be
enthusiastic as you are in the Internet field. I want
you to know that we did try to understand as much as
we can, the importance of web technology. It's just
that we are all freshmen, and haven't fully
appreciated yet the relevance of what you explained,
well not yet. But I know that sooner or later, we will
come to appreciate the wisdom behind the seminar
Honestly, you rock! If you only knew how our class was
talking about you after the seminar. It seems like
you've made a believer out of all of us(well, mostly
all of the boys!) Well as you've said, I think now
would be a good start to be interested in Web
Technology. So I hope that you could forward me the
necessary web links and THANK YOU very much for the
time. What you're doing is cool, do you know that?

7. Teaching journal : 20:14

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I promise to keep a teaching journal on this site. At the very least, it will make me reflect, yes? You can look for it as sections in my daily planner files.

8. Tomorrow's the TFI

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I'm excited about tomorrow's Teacher Formation Institute session because we'll be talking about student-centered learning. I've never been a big fan of lectures, preferring hands-on exercises and individual tutorials to whole-class slides. That probably means that I need to learn how to more effectively use the lecture - it is a tried and true method of teaching, after all - but at the same time, I feel that small-group instruction and individualized pacing might be more effective. Must be my inner grade school teacher; I should tell Mrs. Castillo about this!

I've been thinking of how to make CS21A and maybe even CS123 more student-centered. Right now we have a few exercises and projects, but I feel that we can challenge the students to do more independent learning and construction of knowledge - and I suspect that approach will be more effective, too! Here are some of the changes I would like to implement.

- More examples and exercises. Start out with a set of examples with

no explanations or very little explanation. Ask the students to figure out what's going on and formulate hypotheses about program behavior and what they would have to modify in order to make something else work. Deliverables: individual work (see portfolio) and group notes on topic. Have exercises for them to practice on. This should be a group activity (pairs or trios on one computer) to encourage discussion and to make sure people don't get too stuck. Guidelines for good groupwork should be posted and discussed at the start of the class: for example, we want the students who already know the answer to _not_ just give the answer (counter-intuitive at the start, isn't it?), but rather to ask questions so that the other students can learn more effectively. Of course, this means we have to have some way to resolve group and personality conflicts.

- Have a portfolio of individual and group work. Students are

encouraged to work as a group in the beginning, but they should also complete at least one exercise per topic individually. To qualify for individual credit, students should not have consulted anyone else about the problem or probable solutions, and should not have looked at anyone's code for the same problem. They can only ask questions about the question, not about solutions or implementations, and they should ask such questions on a public mailing list. This allows them to measure their own progress. As a teacher, I should give prompt feedback, especially for incorrect or incomplete solutions. Students should be allowed to propose their own exercises and submit solutions to these and to other student-suggested exercises. The group exercises, on the other hand, will be credited to all of the group members as long as their contributions are properly documented.

- Students should keep a learning journal. As they learn material not

covered in the course notes and as they encounter problems and their solutions, they should write their findings down in a notebook, e-mail it to a specified e-mail address, or submit it online. (Suggested practice: write it down in a paper notebook, then type it up as a plain text file and submit online). They should also write down exercises they've thought about. Sources (or source situations) should be cited at all times. Particularly useful or creative tips will be shared with the class, earning the author a bonus.

I liked Dr. Cuyegkeng's slides today. She had funny headings, and the humor really helped.

I received mail from one of the students who attended the talk I gave at MITC on open source and web technologies. Most of the talk went above their heads because they hadn't tried out web development yet, but they still had an overall positive impression because of my enthusiasm. I think I've figured out a better way to handle newbie crowds - show how to get started, maybe, and how open source makes that easier and more fun?

In any case, I was thrilled to receive that kind of mail, and I want to learn more so that I can help them learn more, too.

While searching the Internet for some more information on student-centered learning, I came across http://www.mngt.waikato.ac.nz/depts/mnss/john/scl1.htm, which has downloadable papers that the CS faculty might be interested in. I would like to find a copy of

- "Teaching a Large First Year Class with no Lectures" [John Scott, John Buchanan and Neil Haigh] (1997), "Reflections on student centered learning in a large class setting", British Journal of Educational Technology, 28(1), pp 19-30.

- "Using Learning Contracts in a Small Management Science Class" [John Scott and John Buchanan] (1992), "Teaching Management Science - Hold the Lectures", OR/MS Today, 19(5), pp 46-50.