Month: April 2014

Thought of the Day: Synergy of Potty Training and Empathy

Potty training is one of the challenges of early childhood that every parent wants to have their child learn as soon as possible!  Often reward systems have been tried, and in my experience with 2 children, they don’t work if they are too complex, or require too much duration.   In other words, toddlers need instant feedback.  But, I am testing a new method that so far seems promising, and might be something great for Proctor and Gamble to implement if they want their market share to go back up.

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Thought of the Day: Does “I’m going to give you until the count of three!” contribute to Innumeracy?

When I was a child, my mom decided not to use the traditional “I’m going to count to 3” with me for discipline, because she was concerned that it might lead me to having a negative view towards numbers.  Instead she used “White, Yellow, Red”. And while it is quite circumstantial evidence with only a sample size of one, I grew up to love math, and not especially be into colors (despite being artistic).  Now as an educator who has studied a little bit about how the brain works, I think there is something to what my mom was thinking, and in fact this could literally be contributing to our nations problems with innumeracy and falling behind in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) from other nations.

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Five Fundamental Principles about Learning & Teaching Spreadsheets (Excel)

A 3-D Icon for ExcelAs an instructor who has been teaching Microsoft Excel to students for over a decade, I have found key problems of learning to often occur with students due to the structure of curriculum.  The following five fundamental principles are those that I have found to be true for how students can best learn spreadsheets.

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Thought of the Day: “Being challenged, but not punished if incorrect.”

One of my students was sharing at the end of their Excel course that learning was best when they were “Being challenged but not punished if incorrect.”  I think there is a lot of value in this feeling, and it shows a problem with how traditional assessment/evaluation/grading systems work.  In this quarter, I had several students tell me how great of a teacher I was, but I also know I had far more students fail my course than pass it, and I wonder how I could have helped those students more.  I believe part of the answer lies in having assignments that are challenging, and then having an assessment & evaluation system or work that doesn’t punish students, but has built-in methods of encouraging students to try again so they can succeed.  This is what video games do very well, and it is amazing to me that we haven’t gamified higher education (or even primary and secondary education) to a greater degree.