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    Karen Grossman Tabak
    panel presentation posted August 4, 2010 by Karen Grossman Tabak 
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    August 4, 2010 7:00pm - 8:30pm
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    • Robert E Jensen

      Great Lectures May Be Learning Losers
      "Appearances can be deceiving: instructor fluency increases perceptions of learning without increasing actual learning," by Shana K. Carpenter, Miko M. Wilford, Nate Kornell, Kellie M. Mullaney,, May 2013 ---

      The present study explored the effects of lecture fluency on students’ metacognitive awareness and regulation. Participants watched one of two short videos of an instructor explaining a scientific concept. In the fluent video, the instructor stood upright, maintained eye contact, and spoke fluidly without notes. In the disfluent video, the instructor slumped, looked away, and spoke haltingly with notes. After watching the video, participants in Experiment 1 were asked to predict how much of the content they would later be able to recall, and participants in Experiment 2 were given a text-based script of the video to study. Perceived learning was significantly higher for the fluent instructor than for the disfluent instructor (Experiment 1), although study time was not significantly affected by lecture fluency (Experiment 2). In both experiments, the fluent instructor was rated significantly higher than the disfluent instructor on traditional instructor evaluation questions, such as preparedness and effectiveness. However, in both experiments, lecture fluency did not significantly affect the amount of information learned. Thus, students’ perceptions of their own learning and an instructor’s effectiveness appear to be based on lecture fluency and not on actual learning.

      Downfall of Lecturing ---

      Two Ongoing Papers by Bob Jensen


    • Robert E Jensen

      Asynchronous Learning and the Flipped Classroom
      "The inverted calculus course and self-regulated learning," by Robert Talbert, Chronicle of Higher Education, March 3, 2014 ---

      A few weeks ago I began a series to review the Calculus course that Marcia Frobish and I taught using the inverted/flipped class design, back in the Fall. I want to pick up the thread here about the unifying principle behind the course, which is the concept of self-regulated learning.

      Self-regulated learning is what it sounds like: Learning that is initiated, managed, and assessed by the learners themselves. An instructor can play a role in this process, so it’s not the same thing as teaching yourself a subject (although all successful autodidacts are self-regulating learners), but it refers to how the individual learner approaches learning tasks.

      For example, take someone learning about optimization problems in calculus. Four things describe how a self-regulating learner approaches this topic.

      1. The learner works actively on optimization problems as the primary form of learning. Note that I said “primary”; some passive listening might take place, but the primary mode of learning optimization problems for this learner is doing optimization problems.
      2. As the learner works actively, she is monitoring many different things. What’s the process for solving an optimization problem in general? Have I set up my objective function correctly? How is this problem like the other ones I have seen or done? Does a computer-generated graph agree with the answer I got by hand? Am I too tired to work on this right now? How can I prevent myself from checking Facebook every two minutes instead of working on the problem? She’s not just thinking about these but monitoring them, like an airplane pilot would be monitoring the many dials and gauges on his dashboard during a flight, tweaking this and adjusting that as needed.
      3. As the learner monitors all this, she operates with two very important questions in mind: What is the criteria in this case for knowing whether I’ve truly learned the topic?, and Am I there yet? She has a clearly-defined goal state and the means of checking her progress toward that goal state. For example, the self-regulating learner will take the initiative to check her answer on the optimization problem using a graph, or using Wolfram|Alpha to make sure the derivative computation is correct.
      4. Finally, the self-regulating learner doesn’t let external circumstances prevent learning. She selects learning activities that serve as a buffer zone between her progress toward the goal and the items in her life around her. If she’s got to be at work in an hour, she’ll select some activities or a subset of the tasks in a problem at hand that she can do in 45 minutes. If she doesn’t have access to a computer at home, she will select learning activities that she can do at home and save the others for when she can study at a friend’s house or at school with more technology around; or work over the phone with a friend who does have the technology; or something, anything other than I couldn’t work because I didn’t have a computer.

      Even before I started working with the inverted/flipped classroom, what I just described is a picture of what I envisioned for my students. It’s a picture of a confident, inquisitive, independent problem-solver who takes a can-do attitude towards her work, and who is set up well to learn new things for the rest of her life. Because in real life, all learning basically looks like this.

      The theoretical framework for self-regulated learning was developed by Paul Pintrich throughout the 1990’s and culminated in a paper in Educational Psychology Review in 2004. In that paper, Pintrich describes four features of self-regulated learning that correspond to the four items I described above. But of course the idea of self-regulated learning is as old as humanity itself. And it’s worth pointing out that there’s a close relationship between self-regulated learning and the popular admissions-office concept of lifelong learning. When we talk about students becoming “lifelong learners”, what we really mean is “self-regulating learners”.

      Back to the story about calculus. I’ve taught calculus dozens of times since 1994, and what I’ve been seeing more and more, and tolerating less and less, is an environment where students tend toward the opposite of self-regulated learning. This is a state where students do not learn, and come to believe that they cannot learn, without the strong intervention of a third party. There’s no activity, no monitoring, no self-assessment, no persistence – only the repeated cries to tell them how to start, how to proceed, and what the right answer is. A professor can make a career out of catering to these cries and simply giving students what they ask for. But I don’t think that’s in the students’ best interests, or anybody else’s, and by the time July 2013 rolled around I decided I was done with enabling a generation of smart young men and women to enter into a perpetual state of learned helplessness when it came to their learning.

      Continued in article

      "Getting student buy-in for the inverted calculus class,"  by Robert Talbert, Chronicle of Higher Education, March 3, 2014 ---

      So far, regarding the inverted/flipped calculus course, we’ve discussed why I flipped the calculus class in the first place, the role of self-regulated learning as a framework and organizing principle for the class, how to design pre-class activities that support self-regulated  learning, and how to make learning objectives that get pre-class activities started on a good note. This is all “design thinking”. Now it’s time to focus on the hard part: Students, and getting them to buy into this notion of a flipped classroom.

      I certainly do not have a perfect track record with getting students on board with an inverted/flipped classroom structure. In fact the first time I did it, it was a miserable flop among my students (even though they learned a lot). It took that failure to make me start thinking that getting student buy-in has to be as organized, systematic, and well-planned as the course itself.

      Here are three big “don’ts” and “dos” that I’ve learned about getting students to buy in to the flipped classroom, mostly through cringe-worthy teaching performances of my own in the past, along with some examples of how we built these into the calculus course.

      DON’T: Make a production out of your use of the flipped classroom to your students.
      DO: Explain the workflow of the class to students in a clear way on Day 1 and remind students of that workflow on Days 2, 3, 4, …

      You go into the first day of class and enthusiastically explain to students that they will be participating in a new, exciting, and innovative class method called the “flipped classroom”, that they may have heard about on 60 Minutes or elsewhere in the news. There won’t be any boring lectures in this class! Instead they’ll be watching lectures on video at home, and then working on challenging activities in the class, under your supervision. It’s exciting, it’s the latest thing, and it’s going to be awesome.

      None of this is false. But it turns out that when many students hear “innovative” and “new”, their brains translate it as “experimental” and “unproven”. And it turns out that students don’t like being part of an experiment, especially when their grade is the outcome of the experiment.

      In the flipped calculus class, I included a brief but substantial overview of the flipped course design structure in the class syllabus. To summarize, it tells students that:

      • You learn better when you are working actively as opposed to listening passively.
      • In order to make as much time and space as possible for active work in class, we’ve pre-recorded many of the lectures and put them on YouTube.
      • You’ll be expected to prepare for class by watching the videos, doing the reading, and working through the Guided Practice exercises. This should take you roughly 3 hours a week (about one hour per class meeting).
      • By the way, this is sometimes called the “flipped classroom” design.

      So we communicate in the syllabus what we are doing, why we are doing it, and what students are expected to do on a day-to-day basis. As the class got ramped up through the first and second weeks of the term, every day I would take a few minutes in class to explain what students needed to do for the next class and how long they should expect it to take. What I did not drill in every day was how awesome the flipped classroom is. Students don’t want to hear this, and they don’t need to. They want, and need, to know what it is they are supposed to do, and it’s helpful to know why. But leave it at that.

      (Exception: If you have a lot of pre-service teachers in the class, it might be interesting to talk with them about the flipped class, since they may be practitioners of it themselves before long.)

      DON’T: Assume that the benefits of the flipped classroom will be obvious, or even easily grasped, by students.
      DO: Take every opportunity to point to specific examples of student performance in the flipped class that illustrate those benefits.

      The benefits of the flipped class are numerous. The research is showing that students in a flipped class learn at least as much content as their counterparts in a traditional classroom, if not more, plus flipped class students are getting explicit instruction on self-regulated learning behaviors that are useful everywhere. But don’t expect this to be obvious, and don’t expect it to sink in if you put it in the syllabus or make a big deal out of it on the first day. Instead, expect a lot of cognitive dissonance among students as they try to reconcile this new way of “doing school” with what they are used to.

      The best way to have that reconciliation is to point to and celebrate specific student successes. When a class gets all correct answers on an entrance quiz, make much out of it: “Isn’t it great how you can learn this stuff without me?” or, “See? You guys are smart and don’t need some professor telling you what to do.” When a student improves their grade on an assessment from a previous assessment, say, “Look at how your hard work is paying off” and “You know what I think is really great? The fact that you learned most of this without a lot of help.” There wasn’t any formal system for doing this in the flipped calculus class – just a habit of mind that I adopted and deployed on a daily basis to be generous with praise whenever it was merited.

      DON’T: Hide from student opinions on the flipped design of the course.
      DO: Solicit student feedback early and often.

      I’ve blogged before about the value of frequent course evaluations and not waiting until the end of the semester to get student feedback. This is especially so when you are doing something out of your and the students’ comfort zones like a flipped classroom. I recommend having at least one mid-term course evaluation done in addition to the usual end-of-term evaluations and being prepared to make halftime adjustments to meet student concerns.

      Continued in article


      "Creating learning objectives, flipped classroom style," by Robert Talbert, Chronicle of Higher Education, March 5, 2014 --- Click Here 

      In my last post about the inverted/flipped calculus class, I stressed the importance of Guided Practice as a way of structuring students’ pre-class activities and as a means of teaching self-regulated learning behaviors. I mentioned there was one important difference between the way I described Guided Practice and the way I’ve described it before, and it focuses on the learning objectives.

      A clear set of learning objectives is at the heart of any successful learning experience, and it’s an essential ingredient for self-regulated learning since self-regulating learners have a clear set of criteria against which to judge their learning progress. And yet, many instructors – myself included in the early years of my career – never map out learning objectives either for themselves or for their students. Or, they do, and they’re so mushy that they can’t be measured – like any so-called objective beginning with the words “understand” or “appreciate”.

      Coming up with good learning objectives is something of an art form, and I have a lot of room for improvement in the way I do it. However, I’ve been working with the following workflow for generating learning objectives that works particularly well for my students and fits the ethos of the flipped classroom. Here it is step-by-step.

      STEP ONE: Comb through the unit you’re going to cover in class and write down all the things you’d like students to be able to do, at some point in the near future. Very importantly, use action verbs for these things and avoid anything that cannot be measured. In particular avoid the words know, understand, and appreciate.

      For example, here’s the list of objectives that I came up with when I was planning out the unit on the chain rule in the calculus class. These are roughly in the same order in which they appear in the text, and I threw on a couple of additional objectives that address some review items:

      • Identify composite functions (that is, functions of the form (y = f(g(x)))) and identify the “inner” and “outer” functions.
      • Use the Chain Rule to differentiate a simple composite function, for example a composition of a polynomial and a power function (e.g., f(x) = (x2 + x + 1)^{1/2}).
      • State the Chain Rule and explain how it works in English.
      • Use the Chain Rule to differentiate a composite function involving two functions.
      • Use the Chain Rule in combination with other rules from earlier in this chapter.
      • Use the Chain Rule to differentiate a composite function in which at least one of the functions in the composite is given as a graph or a table of values.
      • Identify situations where the Chain Rule should be used when taking a derivative.
      • Use the Chain Rule to differentiate a composite function involving three or more functions.

      In the past when I’d taught the chain rule, my only learning objective was something like “Know and use the chain rule”. That’s too vague! There is a lot of nuance in what it means to “know and use” this rule and it’s on me, as the instructor/course designer, to communicate clearly what I intend to assess.

      We’re not done with this list.

      STEP TWO: You’ll immediately see that some of the actions in your list from Step One are more cognitively complicated than others. So step two is: Go back to your list and reorder the items in it, putting them in order from least complex to most complex. A handy tool for doing this is Bloom’s Taxonomy:

      This is a standard means of categorizing cognitive tasks by complexity, with the simplest (“Understanding”) at the bottom and the most complicated (“Creating”) at the top. Go through each of your learning objectives and decide what level of Bloom they most closely correspond to. Then shuffle them around so that the higher up the list you go, the more complex the task is.

      Applying this idea to the above list of objectives about the chain rule, I ended up with this ordered list. Here the objectives start with the simplest and end with the most complex:

      • Identify composite functions (that is, functions of the form (y = f(g(x)))) and identify the “inner” and “outer” functions.
      • State the Chain Rule and explain how it works in English.
      • Identify situations where the Chain Rule should be used when taking a derivative.
      • Use the Chain Rule to differentiate a simple composite function, for example a composition of a polynomial and a power function (e.g., ( f(x) = (x2 + x + 1)^{1/2})).
      • Use the Chain Rule to differentiate a composite function involving two functions.
      • Use the Chain Rule to differentiate a composite function involving three or more functions.
      • Use the Chain Rule in combination with other rules from earlier in this chapter.
      • Use the Chain Rule to differentiate a composite function in which at least one of the functions in the composite is given as a graph or a table of values.

      Most of the time, the order of appearance of topics in the textbook mirrors the order of complexity – easier stuff at the beginning, harder stuff at the end – but not always. For example in our book, there are some preliminary examples of the Chain Rule that precede the formal definition, but stating a definition is a less complex task (“Remembering”) than doing an example (“Applying”), so stating the definition appears before any instance of actually performing a computation.

      STEP THREE: This is a really important step for the flipped classroom. Look at your ordered list of learning objectives and ask: What is the most complex task that I reasonable expect students to be able to master prior to class, given the resources that they have? Find that task and draw a line between it and the ones above it (that are more complex). The objectives below the line are your Basic learning objectives, and students will be expected to demonstrate fluency, if not mastery, on those items when they arrive at class. The others are your Advanced learning objectives; students will not be expected to master these before class (although if they do, that’s awesome!) but rather they’ll use the class meeting time and follow-up study to master these over time and with the help of others. Put BOTH sets of learning objectives on the Guided Practice assignment.

      Continued in article

      "Study: Little Difference in Learning in Online and In-Class Science Courses," Inside Higher Ed, October 22, 2012 ---

      A study in Colorado has found little difference in the learning of students in online or in-person introductory science courses. The study tracked community college students who took science courses online and in traditional classes, and who then went on to four-year universities in the state. Upon transferring, the students in the two groups performed equally well. Some science faculty members have expressed skepticism about the ability of online students in science, due to the lack of group laboratory opportunities, but the programs in Colorado work with companies to provide home kits so that online students can have a lab experience.


      Jensen Comment
      Firstly, note that online courses are not necessarily mass education (MOOC) styled courses. The student-student and student-faculty interactions can be greater online than onsite. For example, my daughter's introductory chemistry class at the University of Texas had over 600 students. On the date of the final examination he'd never met her and had zero control over her final grade. On the other hand, her microbiology instructor in a graduate course at the University of Maine became her husband over 20 years ago.

      Another factor is networking. For example, Harvard Business School students meeting face-to-face in courses bond in life-long networks that may be stronger than for students who've never established networks via classes, dining halls, volley ball games, softball games, rowing on the Charles River, etc. There's more to lerning than is typically tested in competency examinations.

      My point is that there are many externalities to both onsite and online learning. And concluding that there's "little difference in learning" depends upon what you mean by learning. The SCALE experiments at the University of Illinois found that students having the same instructor tended to do slightly better than onsite students. This is partly because there are fewer logistical time wasters in online learning. The effect becomes larger for off-campus students where commuting time (as in Mexico City) can take hours going to and from campus.

      Bob Jensen's threads on flipped classrooms ---

      Bob Jensen's threads on assessment are at

      Bob Jensen's long-time threads on asynchronous learning are at
      This pedagogy depends a great deal on the quality of learning materials provided or not provided to students.

      What's more important to long-term memory and metacognition is probably how much the students have to struggle to find answers on their own ---
      This pedagogy, however, is risky in terms of teacher evaluations and burnout.

    • Robert E Jensen

      "What Should Mathematics Majors Know About Computing, and When Should They Know It?" by Robert Talbert, Chronicle of Higher Education, March 18, 2014 ---

    • Robert E Jensen

      "What Should Mathematics Majors Know About Computing, and When Should They Know It?" by Robert Talbert, Chronicle of Higher Education, March 18, 2014 ---

    • Robert E Jensen

      Is the Lecture Hall Obsolete?: Thought Leaders Debate the Question ---

      For Motivated Students Studies Show Pedagogy Alternatives Don't Differ Significantly
      The No-Significant-Differences Phenominon ---

      Bob Jensen's threads on Tools and Tricks of the Trade (including classroom flipping) ---

    • Robert E Jensen

      TED Talks: How schools kill creativity ---

      Creativity expert Sir Ken Robinson challenges the way we're educating our children. He champions a radical rethink of our school systems, to cultivate creativity and acknowledge multiple types of intelligence.

      Bob Jensen's threads on higher education controversies ---