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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Tomorrow's Professor: Writer's Block: An Essay Test-Taker's Bane

Last semester I had a student in my class who was a real conundrum. He was very smart, very engaging, very eager to learn . . . and very rotten at the essays on the test. He did fairly well on the multiple choice items. When we had discussions in class, his questions and answers were very insightful and showed that he really did understand the material. But sometimes he wouldn?t even try to write the essay answers.

I confronted him after a class in which I returned yet another test on which he hadn?t done the essay questions. He said that he froze up when he had to write something out. He knew the answer, but didn?t know where to begin. Rather than waste time trying to get going on the essays, he put his efforts into getting the other questions right. He looked pretty discouraged, so I asked him to come see me and we?d figure out how to overcome his block, because that?s really what it sounded like?writer?s block.

Obviously my student was suffering from a common malady, something we?ve all experienced. Staring at a blank space on a page and trying to corral our roiling thoughts is frightening. For a student who is shaky in his self-efficacy for learning in the first place, this could be interpreted by him as yet another example of why he doesn?t deserve to be in college.

I?m not an expert in writer?s block, but I know about learning. I decided to disentangle the two parts of an essay in order to give him a chance to practice what was causing the most problem. He knew the material already; he just couldn?t get started writing. First we decided that he needed to convert his success with multiple choice items into support for writing practice. I suggested he take an old exam and convert the multiple choice questions he?d answered correctly into essay questions and write out the prose answer that caused him to choose the answer that he chose. So, for example, if the multiple choice question stem said ?Which of the following examples illustrates the idea of cognitive load?? he would write out why he had chosen the answer he had. Since he already knew his choice was correct, he didn?t have to worry about his reasoning.

A second technique was for him to write out essay questions that he figured I would be likely to ask on the test, a strategy frequently used by good students. Then he could write his own answer as well. This has two benefits. First, by thinking about what I might ask, he would be focusing on key ideas. Second, by writing about this before the exam, he would have an opportunity to think through an answer before he was under the pressure of the actual exam. This technique separated the coming up with an answer from the writing it down. In the real test, he had to do both. By doing a little forecasting about what would be on the test, he?d only have to remember what he had already written during studying.

The third strategy was to find a test preparation buddy, a classmate who would trade essay question ideas before the test. Both of them would write out five or six questions and exchange them. This should help because he would now have reached the stage of responding to someone else?s questions, just as he would have to do on the real test.

I?d like to report that he did splendidly on the next exam, but he didn?t. But at least he tried to answer the essay questions that time. I hope he found the ideas useful, but he showed me that maybe the reasons for poor essay performance had nothing to do with his ideas, just the need for practice in writing them down.



Lilly Conference 2012 Teaching Center -- Call for Proposals


Please consider submitting your scholarly work on enhancing student learning.

The 13th Annual Lilly Conference on College and University Teaching - TC will be held in Traverse City, Michigan at the Park Place Hotel, September 20 – 23.

Proposal submission will close June 3, 2012.

The overall conference theme is Evidence Based Teaching and Learning, and includes four subthemes: Engaged Learning; Promoting Social Responsibility; E-Learning; and Creating Communities of Learners.

An integral part of the Lilly Conferences on Teaching and Learning is the number of high-quality presentations by faculty from throughout the United States and abroad. Come share what has been successful in your classes and what you have discovered about facilitating student learning.

The deadline for proposal submissions is June 3, 2012.

For more information about the Lilly - TC Conference:

We hope you'll join us and experience firsthand why "Lilly Conferences" are remarkable opportunities to network and share information with colleagues who are passionate about good teaching and student learning.

Todd Zakrajsek, Conference Director
Deb Van Etten, Conference Coordinator

Todd Zakrajsek, Ph.D., Director
Lilly Conference on College and University Teaching - TC


A Message from Dillard University Human Resources: Residential Address Requirement

Dear Gertrude,

As part of the
USA PATRIOT Act, we are now required to have a residential street address on file for every participant. Our records indicate that there are participants at your institution for whom we have only a P.O. Box or business address on file. I am writing to let you know that we will be sending a letter in the coming weeks to these participants asking them to provide their residential street address.

Participants will have the chance to provide their residential street address online by logging into their account, calling us or by mailing or faxing in the
Request for Residential Street Address form. This form and a postage-paid envelope will be enclosed with the letter.

This request is for verification purposes only and will not change the mailing address on file, unless the participant chooses to do so at this time. There are no repercussions for not updating the residential street address at this time but we may send additional mailings and communications if a participant chooses not to respond.

If you have any questions, please contact the Administrator Telephone Center at 888 842-7782, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET.

Dirk Camilletti
Dirk Camilletti Director | Institutional Relationships
TIAA-CREF | Financial Services

For the latest news and information on TIAA-CREF contact us...

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eConsoleGertrude Weinberger-Biondo,
Benefits Specialist, Human Resources
Dillard University
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(504) 816.4741  direct
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Dillard University QEP Year 2 Meeting - FREE Lunch!

WHEN:  Tomorrow, Wednesday, April 25, 2012 11:30am – 1:00pm
WHERE:  Kearney West

WHO: Faculty of Second Year Courses in the Majors

Lunch line (11:30)


Lovell Agwaramgbo, Ph.D., President of the Senate, Presiding
1. Call to order

2. Invocation: Rev. Gail E. Bowman

3. Adoption of the Agenda

4. Office of the President: Dr. James Lyons

5. Presentation and Approval of 2012 Graduates

6. Office of the Provost: Dr. Phyllis Dawkins
(a) Parking
(b) Graduation Requirements/procession Proposal
(c) Summary of the changes in FHB
(d) Criteria for Budget Reductions and Program Eliminations

7. Report from the Curriculum Committee: Dr. Cleo Allen

8. Other Business and Announcements

9. Adjournment


Campus Technology News Update April 24, 2012


eSchool New Online: 10 of the Best Apps for Education

eSchool News

10 of the Best Apps for Education

As iPhones, iPads, and iPod touches become more integrated in classrooms, educators and students are looking for new ways to apply them to the learning process. Applications on all of these devices can help automate current classroom processes or present new ways to learn that previously had been unexplored. In this special feature, we've assembled a list of education “apps” for Apple devices that we think are noteworthy. Five are free, and the other five range in price from $0.99 to $9.99. 



TLT-SWG April 24, 2012


Posted: 23 Apr 2012 03:14 PM PDT
Vocaroo really is as simple as it seems - potentially VERY useful!  Anyone know more about the origin, originator, intentions?   

Last Friday I was talking with Beth Dailey about our
  FridayLive! session that afternoon and my hope that we could find some ideas
  to offer to our courageous presenterJennifer McCrickerd to help her prepare
  her first online course for this summer.
We knew that Jennifer had already wisely decided to begin by
  limiting the kinds of technology she would use with her students. I knew that
  Beth has taught a variety of online and hybrid courses and has also helped
  many others make this transition, so I asked her what she would recommend as
  a VERY easy, simple way to allow an instructor and her students to exchange
  voice recordings online.


QR Code for SteveG Recording Produced by Vocaroo 20120423

Here's Beth's timely email response to me (April
  20, 2012):
"...simplest way for
  students to provide an individual [audio] response to the instructor as part
  of an online course. She suggested
 The students do not need to create an
  account to use it and they have the option of copying a URL into their
  assignment, e-mailing the link or even embedding the recording into the
  assignment.  You cannot respond with this service, but you could create
  your own recording and put it into the feedback when you grade."
Penny Kuckkahn who gave me the suggestion"
Vocaroo as last week's LTA at
  the very beginning of the
FridayLive! online session. See Result of my test recording made just a few minutes before we began: THIS WAS DONE WITHIN MY FIRST VISIT TO THE SITE - NO LOGIN, NO TRAINING!

More recent recording made using Vocaroo... trying to say something a little more meaningful...and trying to demonstrate some options avail from Vocaroo:
Using the "embed code" produced by Vocaroo (click on the arrow-like thing at the right end of this icon - the recording is less than 1 minute):

Voice Recorder >>
Note:  as of April 23, 2012, I couldn't find Apps for using Vocaroo with iPhone/iPad IOS or Android.  But I found a free download for a trial version of "Vocaroo Express" - I cannot recommend it yet because I couldn't easily find a flagrantly trustworthy source of the full version for which there would be a fee.I also found  "Vocaroo Assignments"  - but I'm not sure of the origin or intended use of these assignments, but you can decide for yourself.

IMAGE selected by Steve Gilbert 20120423
Photo of painting of "dog Nipper listening
  to the horn of an early phonograph during the winter of 1898. Victor Talking
  Machine Company began using the symbol in 1900, and Nipper joined the RCA
  family in 1929." artist Francis Barraud (1856-1924) photo originally
  uploaded 2006-12-18

  NewYork1956 at en.wikipedia [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons

  is a faithful photographic reproduction of an original two-dimensional work
  of art. The work of art itself is in the public domain for the following
  reason: This image (or other media file) is in the public domain because its
  copyright has expired."


EduDemic April 24, 2012


Posted: 23 Apr 2012 07:30 AM PDT
Whether you want to use it as a study tool for your own education or bring it in as an alternative way for students in your classes to learn a subject, it’s simple and free to get started with Khan Academy.

Posted: 23 Apr 2012 05:45 AM PDT
Reading is the basis for any type of education. It is an important skill that a person needs to master in order to grow and develop in life. Reading not only helps with gaining knowledge, but also strengthens your command over the language.

Posted: 23 Apr 2012 02:30 AM PDT
If you love education technology and demand the best for your students / yourself, there's a whole new (and cheaper!) way to get the new version of Adobe software. We were able to chat one-on-one with the Adobe executives and figured out how YOU can benefit from the big news.