Recent news, research, trends and thoughts about education. Compiled by Doug Ward.
Why a phone book isn’t a good learning tool
Daniel J. Klionsky of the Life Sciences Institute at the University of Michigan asks why so many instructors or programs continue to teach facts that students don’t need to know. In an article in Faculty Focus, he uses the telephone book as an example. No one needs to memorize all the numbers in a phone book. The idea is absurd. And yet, many instructors in science courses insist that students memorize facts they can easily look up, just as they would with a phone book. To help weed out the essential from the nonessential, he says that instructors should approach their courses with these questions:
- How much of the information in our courses do the students really need to know?
- How much time do we devote to making sure students know when they need a fact and how to look it up?
- Do our students know what to do with the facts once they find them?
Dropout rates hit record lows
Pew Research reports that the high school dropout rates have reached a record low, 7 percent, continuing a decline that started in the mid-1990s. The dropout rate among Hispanics has declined by more than half since 1993, and the rate among blacks has been cut in half. Even with the declines, though, the number of high school dropouts is more than 2.2 million.
Those gaps that speak volumes
Matthew E. May writes about the creative power of empty space in attracting attention and intriguing audiences. His piece in the Harvard Business Review is aimed at marketers, but it applies equally as well to educators.
Digital technology for education
Jane Hart has released her annual list of the top 100 tools for learning. The top of the list offers no surprises – Twitter, Google Drive, YouTube, PowerPoint – but the latter part is a good place to look for new tools you might try. It includes some that I’ve found useful, including Explain Everything and Powtoon.
The Chronicle of Higher Education reports on an app under development at Dartmouth that helps measure students’ mental health.