Comment on Smarter, Dumber, or Lazier? by Sith Kristen (atams)

I couldn’t agree more about the part about basic math. But it’s interesting to hear you bring in spelling. It made me think. I am HORRIBLE at spelling. Really, really bad. And this has been true since elementary school, just as soon spelling words moved away from being phonetic. This was long before I had access to a computer. I am very thankful for spellcheck and technology in this arena. It allows me to communicate without being written off before someone actually hears what I have to say. So while I agree that it is important for people to learn how to do things like math and that technology can make people less interested to learn it, I think for people who have legitimate difficulties with a tool (like basic math or spelling) that helps you do something else (like physics and written communication) technology is a real gift.

Comment on Beyond the Dimensions of my ‘Horticulture Box’ by Sith Kristen (atams)

This is really interesting to think about, because I am also in a boat where it is easy for me to think more about the day to day and less about the bigger social issues in the way material is presented. And I think not everything has to be about an “issue.” But I think you give a great example of taking a step back at a broader question.

In horticulture it would be cool to have a landscape design project that was optimized specifically for habitat (birds, bats, butterflies, etc.).

Comment on We have different history textbooks by atoms

It’s really cool that you can go and see the two histories and stories running in parallel now in real time. I like Carrie’s idea of telling multiple stories in parallel and letting people compare them for themselves.

I think for things like history and current events, using primary sources is still helpful (of course not complete). This way you can kind of see people in history speaking for themselves the same way we want people in our classroom to speak for themselves. And we want to include multiple stories.

Comment on Power to the students by Sith Kristen (atams)

I love the examples you gave of what has worked well for seminar-style classes. Very helpful. (The conversational manner, “have you ever noticed that…”, “you’ve probably seen how….” I really appreciate when a professor gives background before we launch into a conversation. I think this helps me to move out of my comfort zone and the things I already understand. The best seminar class I have been in had questions about the papers that were assigned to us in advanced. So we were responsible for answering/leading the conversation on the questions we had been given, and we were given time to do research on the topic before class. This helped us get deep into topics that we would have skimmed over otherwise.
The professors in these classes still encouraged student-based discussion but created some structure by providing necessary background on the subject or interjecting with their own questions.

Comment on Lessons from learner-center syllabus and thinking about critical pedagogy by Atiyeh Vahidmanesh

Hi Siddharth,

Thanks for your comment. There are several problems that prevent to change the format of the class:

1) Econ 2005 is a core introductory course that covers main concepts and theories of microeconomics and as a result the nature of the course is in a way that we need to test students through hw/exams to become sure that students understand most of theories and concepts. Having a final project will give a chance for each student or group of students to focus only on narrow issues with use of several theories they have learned through the course so even if I can do that, the weight of the project could not be above 10-15% of the whole grade and as a result I think the challenge is still there.

2) As a graduate student, I don’t have freedom to change the format of the course. The course format is determined by Econ department and there are several sections of econ2005 in every semester. I have some freedom to change the weight of tests/hw or add a small project but I don’t have freedom to put for instance 40% of the whole grade for a final project.

3) Most of my students are either freshmen or sophomores and for them it is also very hard to do a project for a course such as principle of microeconomics.

4) In addition, I myself found doing project for elective course so useful and helpful for learning but not for core/theoretical course and I think having evaluation based on hw/exams work better for a course like econ2005. The challenge in my mind is to find a way to stimulate learning environment with current format.