December 4, 2015
I hope your Thanksgiving Break was the respite I imagine most of you needed it to be. This is a strange time of year, of course: so much to get done in such a compressed period of time. I have often thought there should be an alternative holiday calendar for academics – how does a vernal equinox celebration sound?
I know that many of you are preparing your classes for a final exam at this time. Thinking about the best way to review a semester’s worth of material with students can be daunting; I am always uncomfortable with the question, “Will this be on the test?” To my way of thinking, all of the course material is relevant, and being asked that question presumes that some material is more important than others. Nonetheless, helping students come to terms with reviewing a large body of knowledge is not easy. I am happy to offer a provocative study of what is for me a new review technique: 24/7 Lectures. As you’ll see in the attached article from SIGSCE ‘10 (The Association for Computing Machinery’s Special Interest Group on Computer Science Education http://sigcse.org/), the 24/7 review technique is based on the 24/7 Lectures presented in the Ig Noble Award ceremonies, at which top thinkers in their field explain their subject by presenting a complete technical description in 24 seconds, as well as a clear summary that anyone can understand in 7 words. (Parenthetically, if you have never been on the Annals of Improbable Research site (of which the Ig Nobles are a part) and enjoy smart humor, I am delighted to introduce you. If you know of it, then no more words of praise are necessary (http://www.improbable.com/ig/ )).
In this study, 24/7 Lectures as an Exam Review Technique, presented by Fenwick, Norris, Dalton, and Kreahling (2010), the researchers do a wonderful job of offering a case for using this technique pedagogically, a clear description of their methods, a frank analysis of their results, and suggestions for improvement. They also manage to write humorously, a characteristic that most empirical research reports do not achieve. Most importantly, they report increased student learning as evidenced by exam performance. That’s a win-win-win for everyone. Even if you do not use this technique this term, I hope you’ll keep it in mind for future use. And let us know if you did! It is rare that reviewing for a final exam promises to be simultaneously effective and enjoyable.
I also offer a reminder that our upcoming conversation about Challenging Classroom Discussions about Diversity and Equity is this Tuesday, December 8th, from 8:30 – 9:30 am in HGS 211. If you have not yet RSVP’d and would like to come, we still have room and would love to have you join us. Just send me an email. I’ll look forward to seeing those of you who have already registered.
You have my best wishes for a productive weekend,
Nancy S. Niemi, Ph.D.
Director, Faculty Teaching Initiatives
Supplementary Materials and Resources
Contact Dr. Niemi via email Nancy.Niemi@yale.edu or phone 203.432.8644 with thoughts about the collection and/or to receive these notes in your inbox.