Saturday, January 21, 2012

Testing as a Learning Tool

Almost two years ago, I published an article about testing as a method of teaching in my blog The Electronic Professor. In the article, I shared my experience in using frequent online tests in my anatomy & physiology courses as a way to get students engaged with the material on an ongoing basis.

Almost a year later, research published in Science further supported this idea.  Not that I needed the support . . . my own experience over several years has confirmed for me that it works.  In fact, it works VERY well in enhancing student learning.  But as a scientist, a variety of independent confirmations of a topic is appreciated.

Of course, the concept of frequent, online formative testing (as opposed to summative testing) is not at all new.  But like a lot of breakthroughs in teaching and learning, it hasn't caught on with many professors "out in the trenches" yet.  But it's really worth taking a look at.

First, check out my article from 2009 to get an idea of what I'm talking about.
Teaching as Testing
Kevin Patton
The Electronic Professor. 27 Feb 2009.
[Article outlining my use of online, randomized formative tests in teaching A&P.]
Then check out the seminar that I gave on this topic a few years ago.
Seminar: Testing as Teaching
Kevin Patton
The A&P Professor. Accessed Jan 2012.
[Narrated presentation outlining a method to produce randomzed formative tests for A&P.]

After that, take a look at the research published in Science a year ago.
To Really Learn, Quit Studying and Take a Test
Pam Belluck
The New York Times. 20 January 2011.
[Brief summary of the research, including a graph of the results.] 

Retrieval Practice Produces More Learning than Elaborative Studying with Concept Mapping
J.D. Karpicke, J. R. Blunt
Science. Published Online January 20 2011. DOI: 10.1126/science.1199327

[Original research mentioned above.]

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Academic integrity in the A&P course

How do you prevent cheating in your A&P class?  Or do you even think about it?

One of my favorite "teaching" books is What the Best College Teachers Do.  After examining diverse "master teachers," the author (Ken Bain) lists some of the characteristics most often seen in such individuals.  One of them is that master teachers do not fret much about cheating in their courses.  Instead, they seem to focus more on developing a culture in each learning community that naturally discourages dishonesty by building trust and integrity.

That revelation changed the way I look at cheating in my courses.  Rather than working hard at developing complex anti-cheating strategies, I work hard at educating my students about the value of academic integrity. Although one can never be absolutely certain of the extent of cheating in one's courses, the tools I do have available tell me that cheating is not a significant problem in my courses.

Of course, I do pay attention to setting things up in ways that discourage cheating, but I don't go overboard . . . and I don't worry about it.

How, exactly, do I promote academic integrity?  And what are some of the specific methods that I use to discourage cheating?   Those answers and more can be found in the resources below:

Want to know more?
Why be honest?
Kevin Patton
The A&P Student 5 January 2012
[Brief article for students.  Explains why they should want to be honest. You can link to this in your syllabus or course website.]

Academic Integrity
Kevin Patton
The A&P Professor accessed 5 January 2012
[Extended version of this article.  It also gives specific tips and examples, as well as free resources such as handouts, syllabus example, and PowerPoint slides.]

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Free bookmarks for your students!

As you begin another term of A&P, don't forget to stock up on those FREE eyeball bookmarks for your students!

These unique "anatomically correct" first-day-of-class gifts for your students include information for your students on how to access my blog The A&P Student.  This blog has a continuously updated library of study tips for A&P, shortcuts, links to learning resources, and more.

These bookmarks are available in packs of 50 to qualified A&P instructors.  And if you act now, you'll also get some fun freebies for yourself!

Get your free bookmarks here: