Helping Students Learn From Failure

This week, we’re reposting an entry from Fall, 2017, on the ways in which we can help students learn from failure and adversity, as a prelude to this week’s Conversations on Teaching sessions on Helping Students Learn From Failure. It’s a tough topic, and in this immediate post-midterm context, some of our students may be struggling and frustrated without necessarily seeing a clear path forward. By suggesting ways in which we might help students learn from failure, what we’re really after here is restoring motivationFailing grades are one of the most significant “de-motivators” out there, and getting students to realize that there is still time to rescue their grade—but more importantly, to learn and be successful in the larger sense—is crucial. If you’re looking for ways to help students make this step, consider joining us either Wednesday afternoon at 4:00, or Thursday at 10:30 AM. We hope to see you there! Continue reading “Helping Students Learn From Failure”

Thinking Beyond Diversity

Over the last few years, reading the Chronicle of Higher Education has proven to be an emotionally volatile experience. What often leads higher education news are gloomy forecasts regarding the end of any number of things we hold dear: the Humanities, small liberal arts colleges, or—on a bad day—higher ed as we know it. But there’s often at least a partial antidote to these end-is-nigh pronouncements contained in the back pages, particularly the perspective and advice columns from folks actually working in classrooms, interacting regularly with actual students, and thinking deeply about teaching and learning on an everyday basis. Continue reading “Thinking Beyond Diversity”

Midterm Course-Correction

Midterm grades have been posted, and if your email inbox is anything like mine, you have students wondering how they can get back on track, or in some cases on track to begin with. Or, perhaps, you’re not hearing from the students who should be emailing you. Either way, it’s an appropriate time of the semester to think about ways in which we might intervene with either individual students or an entire class to help nudge them back onto the track for success this semester. Continue reading “Midterm Course-Correction”

Assessing with Equity in Mind

A couple weeks ago, this blog argued for creating an “Equity Mindset” when it came to our work with our students and one another. This week, I’d like to dive into one of the more interesting—and difficult—aspects of equity work in higher education: Assessment. Continue reading “Assessing with Equity in Mind”

What Are We Saying To Our Students?

A little while ago, some academic friends of mine did a Twitter search for student tweets about their professors. A lot of it was funny, some of it actually sweet and touching, some of it mean-spirited, and some of it made no sense whatsoever. But there were also a number of tweets that made me do a double-take:

“My professor just gave us the class syllabus…Lol class has been in session for 5 weeks.”

“my professor just did a horrible racist jewish guy impression”

“Also what type of professor gives you a bad grade on a paper and the only comments written were ‘incorrect use of a semicolon’ and ‘good.'”

“Why did I lose five points for turning in my assignment an hour late, but the guy sitting next to me faced almost no penalty for plagiarizing his paper off of the internet?”

Continue reading “What Are We Saying To Our Students?”

Equity as a Mindset

Many of us are at least generally familiar with the idea of “mindsets,” and their relevance to teaching and learning. Carol Dweck, one of the most notable researchers working in the area of mindsets, makes the distinction between “growth” and “fixed” mindsets. Learners with a fixed mindset believe that intelligence and abilities are essentially fixed, finite commodities, Dweck argues, and when they fail to accomplish a particular task, they assume they’ve reached the limits of their capacity for that thing. So a student who has told themself “I’m not a math person” is operating within a fixed mindset, and it makes learning extremely difficult—because they’re convinced that further learning is, at least for them, impossible. Far better, Dweck argues, is for learners to work within a growth mindset, where they understand, by adopting effective strategies, they can augment their skills and abilities in a particular area. To put it simply, a learner with a growth mindset, would react to a failing grade on a math exam not by saying “I can’t do this,” but rather “I can’t do this yet.” And it’s that “yet” which is the most important part of the equation. 

Continue reading “Equity as a Mindset”