Posts by johnreinders

Memory Matrix-CAT


Getting information on student understanding takes place throughout the length of the course in many different assessment processes. We all have lessons that we know create confusion or are a little more difficult for students to grasp. I have found that the memory matrix is a good tool to use to help reinforce what the class was focused on. It can be customized to any topic and allows the students to connect information that was presented in a practical manner. By putting a group discussion at the end of the activity it also allows for the students to understand the perspective other students brought to the topic and builds a larger knowledge base. By using this type of CAT I have noticed greater application of more confusing skills inside of my classes.

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Adjusting to student feedback

Feedback from students is important to make sure that they understand information presented in a way that makes sense to them.  While we may feel the best way to present a topic is a certain way they may not understand the information and need it presented in an alternative way.  At the start of each semester I encourage the students to talk to me if they are having trouble at any point in the semester, but I know that it is a hit or miss expectation based on the comfort level of the student reaching out if they are confused or have a complaint.  I have started to put “check ins” with the classes to see how things are going.  I have them type answers, use blackboard surveys, or one-on-one conversations using specific questions based on classroom management, presentations, and assignments.  This feedback lets me know what they think about the class, what they think works well, and what doesn’t work as well.  Using the information that they provide allows me to adjust throughout the semester to meet the needs of the collective group.  I have found that if they feel their voice is being listened to they become more engaged and take a stronger ownership of their education.  It also helps me stay away from getting stuck in a one-mind track on how to present the topics each time I teach the class.

Improving Professional Communication

A lack of understanding and/or awareness of what professional communication is, and how big of an impact it can have in a professional environment is an area of focus the classroom. One strategy that has been used is to create groups of students after identifying stronger communicators and weaker communicators to help with a peer critique of a presentation. This can be determined through classroom observations, and early project rubric scores. Each group is given criteria that must be followed when the other person is presenting their project. This way the feedback is directed in a manner that focuses on what proper communication needs to be in this setting. Communicators that are strong can point out what the weaker student is doing well or what they need to improve on. Once the weaker student needs to offer feedback to the stronger student they are focused on watching for those positive communication traits. This causes positive communication to be reinforced twice by the critique of their presentation and then watching it applied in the other student’s presentation. Challenges arise when students do not want or feel compelled to improve their communication to the expectations that are outlined in the rubric for assignments. There are times where the students that are grouped together do not mesh, and groups need to be reconfigured the next time the exercise is used in class. By tracking scores on project rubrics through the course of the semester we are able to determine which students have made the improvements, and which ones are still struggling with their communication efforts.