Category Archives: Higher ed issues

PhD Comics on Procrastination

I like Jorge Cham’s sense of comic humor.  I also like humor about procrastination.  Today my blog post is a twofor (also spelled tufer).  That’s right, Jorge penned a cartoon about procrastination.

As usual, it is spot on.

In my life, though, I have never actually been able to work up to a spotless apartment, no matter how hard I’m procrastinating.  Every year or two I have to move just to leave the mess behind.  It always finds me after a few weeks.

Copyright PhDcomics

(C) Jorge Cham – PhDComics.com

by David Albrecht

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Flipping

It’s official, I’m a flipper.  The Accounting Today commented on my work in flipping the classroom.  I’ve been doing it for years, predating the 2007 figure in the image below.   In this post, I explain what is flipping the classroom.

What is a flipper?  I’m not talking about the dolphin named Flipper. Nor am I talking about a 1920s flapper, nor a basketball flopper.

In a flipped classroom, students study theory at home and come to class for the how-to.  To give the students the theory (and the why), professors digitize their lectures (usually via video or audio).  Students are supposed to study these.
Now to present an infographic by Knewton that does a fine job of summarizing the approach.

Flipped Classroom
Created by Knewton and Column Five Media

Flipping the classroom works well in college, and it works great in collegiate accounting courses.  It is the foundation of my becoming a master teacher.

by David Albrecht

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If Students Were as Eager as These Dogs …

Sometimes I fantasize about a classroom filled with eager, happy, attentive students, lapping up everything that is said in class.

The closest I’ve ever come to such a situation is viewing the following video.  It’s about three dogs in a bar who are eager to receive what the bartender is shooting their way.

Maybe I’ll be taking a bottle of selzer to class tomorrow to see if American college students are as eager as these dogs.

by David Albrecht

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Forgetful Prof and Student Names

I am forgetful.  Yes, I admit it.

Being forgetful has caused much pain and embarrassment.  Like the time in high school orchestra where I had a medium length string bass solo and forgot to attend the concert.  Oops!

Important dates such as a family member’s birthday?  Forget it.  Remembering to plan ahead to purchase gifts or cards?  Nope.  Wedding anniversary?  Ouch.

My office is cluttered.  My desk is piled high.  My bedroom is, well, messy.  I tend to keep everything.

Mentally, though, I experience the peace of an uncluttered memory.  My mind is absent from key details needed to live life daily.

Fall semester classes at my university have been in session for 2.5 weeks.  My class sizes are small (20-30).  Yet I only can recall the names for about 25% of the students.  When classes next meet in four days, the 25% will have turned into 20%.

Professor Phil Jones at SuperstarProfessor.com also has difficulty with remembering student names.  He tells this story:

I recently stopped by a local Starbucks and was greeted with a friendlier than normal ‘Starbucks welcome’ as I walked up to the counter. … [T]here was a familiarity to her face, but I just couldn’t place it.

She looked at me and said, “You don’t remember me do you?” Uh oh. I said, “Uhh, yea…umm…” in which she quickly replied, “What’s my name then?” Busted. “I was in your class!” she said. Of course, that’s why she looked so familiar, and the neighbourly Starbucks greeting now made total sense. “So, what’s my name?” she repeated. Damn, I thought that part was over. Trying to jolt my hippocampus into gear, I asked the obvious, “Uhh, what does it start with?” “K”, she answered. “Umm, and your last name starts with…?” was my brilliant rebuttal. “H”. Silence. “Karleigh…Karleigh H….!” she proclaimed. Yes, of course it was, and then it all came together and I remembered her being in my class. “So, what year did you graduate?” I asked her, in hopes of salvaging any hopes of a conversation. “Phil, I was just in your class…LAST semester!” …

As I walked away, I knew that she was probably thinking, “Holy sh*t, that guy needs another sabbatical!” I actually felt kind of bad about not remembering her name, mostly because I didn’t want her to think that I didn’t care whom she was, or to think that she was just a ‘student number’, which isn’t the case with any of my students, past or present.

I’m sure there are many professors other than Phil and me that have difficulty with remembering student names.  I’ll report back later if I have progress.

by David Albrecht

 

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Should Attendance Be Required In College?

This question has sparked a lengthy discussion on the HETL group on LinkedIn.  I mounted a spirited defense in the negative.

Best line I’ve heard?

Well, as a colleague (Pres. of University of Phoenix Online) noted: “If bums on seats are the major concern for assessing tertiary education, then they are focusing on the wrong end of the student!”

by David Albrecht

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Professor Dump

No, I’m not talking about what happens in the morning prior to a flushing of the toilet.

Professor dump happens near the end of the semester when a professor assigns a major paper or project.  It’s all in the timing. A major assignment might strike with the force of a whining mosquito if made at the beginning of a semester.  However, if the assignment is made with time running out, students can feel as if they are down in the toilet bowl looking up.

How you feel about professor dump depends on whether you are the dumpee or dumper.

I have mixed thoughts about professor dump.  I feel obliged to enrich and legitimize my courses by adding papers and projects.  There are two reasons for feeing obliged.  First, I know that students learn more deeply by doing papers and projects instead of taking tests.  Second, I don’t want other professors to view me as a wimpy wuss.  And they might if my classes are too basic, only containing tests.

On the other hand, I wonder if I’m only checking off a box.  By the end of a semester, students are tired from the long haul.  How much can they learn from a project or paper if they are physically, mentally and emotionally stressed?  Students compound their misery by burning the candle at both ends in an attempt to add time to the working day.  In turn, they become more tired and less able to learn.

The one thing professors need to remember is that every paper or project assigned to students will come back and require copious amounts of grading (aka grading jail).  This grading comes at a time when the professor is exhausted, and will take longer as a result (aka grading disaster).

– – David Albrecht

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