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Gary King and Maya Sen: How Social Science Research Can Improve Teaching

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Gary King and Maya Sen: How Social Science Research Can Improve Teaching:

Principles: Principle 1: Social Connections Motivate. Coaxing individuals to take actions that benefit themselves…. is often extremely difficult. But getting them to take actions that involve social interaction…. is often far easier…. [O]r argument that they can also be applied to education and learning should be no surprise…. Principle 2: Teaching Teaches the Teacher. Social psychologists have demonstrated that under normal circumstances, we “mind wander”… half of all our waking hours…. [S]ocial interactions eliminate about half of this effect…. If we can turn the students into teachers… we can capture a great deal more of their attention than would otherwise be possible…. Principle 3: Instant Feedback Improves Learning.… Implementing this advice involves frequent evaluation… eliminating waiting periods before questions can be answered, understanding the limits of their knowledge, and encouraging students to ask questions….

Outside the Classroom: Making Lectures into Interactive Homework.* [A]ssign portions of the lecture videos as homework… write in clarifying or substantive questions… provide feedback to their peers in near real time…. Making Reading Interactive.… [W]e put all class readings in a collaborative text annotation system…. students are able to receive fast feedback on their questions (in a Facebook-style discussion forum)…. pedagogical benefits also go not only to those who get their questions answered but also to those answering questions… social connections motivate…. Email Lists to Create Community.… To enhance social connections, we allow students to include non-course related information when it can help build camaraderie… we recently discovered that the class’s longstanding email list was available going back for over a decade. We then turned this information into a searchable knowledge base, as well as a community in its own right, by simply making the email lists searchable.

Inside the Classroom: So… what is the point of the classroom? Understanding Confusions. Informed Lecturers…. We use the information gained to focus more time on material we now know students find confusing or have stumbled over…. Computer-Assisted Peer Instruction.… [W]e spend less time presenting traditional lectures… although lectures may generate a kind of “collective effervescence” that people resonate with, much like they do with concerts, sporting events, or religious rituals… lectures also include minimal feedback…. We thus spend a portion of the class via a version of “computer-assisted peer instruction”… “Learning Catalytics”…. We intersperse CAPI questions at different points in the lecture… begin class with a CAPI question… use others at the most difficult points…. Indeed, many who use CAPI do not lecture at all, thus completely “flipping the classroom” as the practice is sometimes called….