Presentation on theme: "How to cheat at teaching Peter Hadfield James Atherton PCE Study Day 28 March 09."— Presentation transcript:
How to cheat at teaching Peter Hadfield James Atherton PCE Study Day 28 March 09
It’s only cheating in the sense of knowing where to put your effort, as Delia argues
Pareto Principle 100%80%60%40%20%0 40% 60% 80% 100% Amount of effort expended Amount of task achieved The principle, or 80/20 rule, suggests that in some situations you can get 80% of the effect for 20% of the effort. Teaching may be one of those situations.
We asked you In your discipline, where do students typically get stuck?
Now spend two minutes on… What is it about these topics, that leads to students getting stuck on them?
Some possible threshold topics These are both places where students may get stuck, but also ways in to further learning
Reminds us of how basic it is to be able to read. And how impossible it is not to read once you know how
Keep your eye on the ball. It is suggested that this is a physical (psychomotor) counterpart to a threshold “concept”
The sharpest tool is the safest tool Is this any more than a sound maxim? Perhaps, if it makes you think about tool use differently
Always use a hand basin provided exclusively for washing hands Use comfortably hot water. Rub your hands vigorously to work in the soap Don’t forget the areas in between your fingers and around your wrists Rinse your hands before drying them Wash your hands properly Can you get more banal than this? Perhaps not, but raising awareness of what is implied by such a routine act may be part of the realisation of taking on a specialised role e.g. chef, nurse
“Well, that was a waste of time. I could have been doing something/anything else more productively” (potential response to previous Study Day) And this is a more mainstream threshold concept; it is a common-sense statement of opportunity cost, which is a threshold concept in economics
It’s not people’s impairments that disable them, it is society Another kind of threshold topic; this is an overall organising perspective rather than a concept—but it makes a big difference once you get it.
“Awareness of the concept that 'energy ' exists. Methods that I have used to bring about this awareness include encouraging students to sense each others' energy field, forming Reiki energy balls and working on seeing auras.” Cert Ed student 2007 Slightly contentious! Yes, you won’t get anywhere learning some forms of alternative medicine until you get this. So it “works”, but it does not have to be true to work.
Do you get that? Not really—explain more please Just about—carry on Yes—carry on Just checking understanding!
Those are all examples of threshold topics. What is it about them that makes them so? Three minutes, talking to your neighbours We’ll pick on just a few to reply
Three kinds of threshold topic We are suggesting that there are different kinds of threshold topics corresponding to the three domains of Bloom’s taxonomy.
Particularly in vocational and professional fields, it makes sense to seek threshold topics beyond abstract concepts. “Only in education, never in the life of farmer, sailor, merchant, physician or laboratory experimenter, does knowledge mean primarily a store of information aloof from doing.” Dewey J (1916) Democracy and Education New York; Macmillan ch.14 One student thought we were really out- of-date using a quotation as old as this!
Crossing the threshold (liminality) is not necessarily a straightforward experience.
Changes how a topic is understood A guide to recognising what may be a threshold topic.
Changes how a topic is understood Misunderstanding often not apparent until later
Changes how a topic is understood Misunderstanding often not apparent until later Hard to assess; Many proxies
Changes how a topic is understood Misunderstanding often not apparent until later Hard to assess; Many proxies Misunderstanding disproportionate to technical difficulty
Changes how a topic is understood Misunderstanding often not apparent until later Hard to assess; Many proxies Misunderstanding disproportionate to technical difficulty Back-sliding!
Changes how a topic is understood Misunderstanding often not apparent until later Hard to assess; Many proxies Misunderstanding disproportionate to technical difficulty Back-sliding! TT When many or all of these criteria are met, you may be dealing with a threshold topic.
“The idea of threshold concepts carries an important pedagogical message: where we can find likely threshold concepts, we would do well to organise learning around them … [T]here is a cost, … but one generally worth paying. Threshold concepts are likely to be troublesome … Their reorganising power brings with it an unfamiliarity that sometimes proves acute and off-putting. You can’t re-balance the boat without rocking it.” Perkins D (2008) “Beyond Understanding” in R Land, J Meyer and J Smith (eds.) Threshold Concepts within the Disciplines Rotterdam; Sense Publishers, 2008 p. 13
Do you get that? Not really—explain more please Just about—carry on Yes—carry on
Briefing for Interest Groups Start off by checking your understanding of this approach to targeting teaching, and formulating questions for each other or for tutors. Then look for two or three topics you have to teach which have threshold status. Discuss why these topics have threshold status, and why students may not “get” them. Itemise the benefits to students and to your overall curriculum when they do get them. Finally, set up a systematic way of exploring how you might improve teaching of these topics, […] between now and the next Study Day.