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View Diary: No Child Left Behind: Doomed to Fail? (116 comments)

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  •  That's a tough one. (1+ / 0-)
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    David Kroning

    I've been working more with small (no more than three) groups, starting out the class with questions they're to answer in writing. One is usually a "did you read question," and one a "connect this to something else" question, along with other questions to start them putting ideas together. Groups are self-selected, and the key is that they can kick people out. They do a pretty good job of keeping everyone on track.

    The other tactic that I've occasionally had to drag out is the reading quiz -- very short, and boneheaded. On the first day I tell them if I get a sense that some are consistently not reading, I'll invoke the daily quiz. The twist -- stolen from a colleague -- is that daily reading quizzes continue until the class average is 80%. The beauty of the system is that the readers keep racking up easy points, while the slugs keep falling farther and farther behind -- but the slugs are responsible for the quizzes continuing :)  Even the sluggiest of slugs catches on to this fairly quickly.

    So far I haven't had to use more than one series of the reading quizzes, and then only for about three days.

    And though I might be projecting, the former non-readers actually seem more interested when they have a sense of what other people are talking about.

    •  Forgot to add: (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      David Kroning

      After small groups, discussion as a large group follows. Sometimes they've found more things to talk about, and sometimes we start by having a group read what they wrote.

      •  I do more and more quizzing (1+ / 0-)
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        fiddler crabby

        at the level of reading comprehension, bone-headed stuff. I find that even when announced in advance, quizzes don't force students to read if they don't want to. I have large numbers of students who just take wild guesses on quiz after quiz. A few take the hint and improve. Most do not, however. Fwiw that's the reverse of my experience with quizzing from when I first began teaching. It was an effective prod back then. Now it's just a waste of class time for me.

        Have had similar experiences in a large lecture course I taught twice on classical myth in recent years. There were a series of hour exams with simple, factual questions. Nearly all the students who failed the first exams badly would continue to fail subequent exams just as badly. The attitude I'm seeing in so many undergraduate students these days is bizarre. The better undergraduates and nearly all graduate students are as good as they've ever been. It's just that there's an abyss that's opened up where good and average students used to be found.

    •  You must add to this whole mix: (1+ / 0-)
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      fiddler crabby

      That we generally work for Deans and Presidents who care only about the number of people we can stuff into our classes and how much money they bring in to the school.  I went to the University of Nebraska, a place where football generally means more to the school than academic success.

      •  Same at my school. (1+ / 0-)
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        David Kroning

        They keep track of our retention rate and grades, somehow believing that it's the only possible measure of "student success." It's possible for those to be useful, but I could crank up my retention rate to 100% pretty easily, and do far less work. No one would complain, and I'd probably get an award.

        And now there's talk of merit pay. I love my job, and had hoped to retire from it, but increasingly feel like staying will create an ethical dilemma.

        •  Yep...I have a colleague... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          fiddler crabby

          whose classes are constantly filled to the brim.  He gives no homework and everyone gets an A.  He's had tenure for years and he doesn't give a damn.

          I'm sure everyone has one of those in their department.

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