[B] Week 2 Discussion:

Discussion Question:

Pick one of the two following blog posts to read and respond to:

Robin DeRosa’s My Open Textbook: Pedagogy and Practice

Rajiv Jhangiani’s Why have students answer questions when they can write them?

Did anything about the reading surprise you? Did any of the strategies or practices reflect what you already do in your classroom?

Post by Wednesday, 7/27

Respond to another person’s post by Friday, 7/29

14 thoughts on “[B] Week 2 Discussion:

  1. Cody Stitzel

    I chose the reading “Why have students answer questions when they can write them,” as I was curious to see how the instructor’s assignment aligned with something similar that I did in some of my past courses (i.e., had students write multiple choice questions and used the best of them on subsequent exams). I was not necessarily surprised by anything I read; however, I did read about some innovative strategies that I did not use, which include scaffolding the amount of new material students must create each week (i.e., at first only asking students to create one distractor, then two, etc.) and having student complete a blinded peer-review of each other’s questions. I also was reminded of the benefits of using such an assignment: it helps students to achieve a deeper level of understanding of content as well as provides a perspective taking opportunity for them to understand what it is instructors do behind the scenes. Lastly, I was also glad to be provided with guidelines for writing effective distractors for multiple choice questions and for providing constructive peer feedback – I will provide both documents to students prior to implementing such an activity again.

    Reply
    1. Cody Stitzel

      I went ahead and read the other blog post I did not originally choose and it is excellent, not only in outline the procedural process of creating an open textbook but also in raising very important questions about the use and creation of OER generally, that should be considered and addressed before OER becomes the standard. For example, what risks are assumed by both professors and students alike when working publicly, and more importantly, who can afford to take such risk and who cannot? Lots and lots of good things to spark thinking in this post!!

      Reply
      1. Julie Kiss (She/Her/Hers)

        I agree the other blog post is incredibly useful for someone fairly new to OER. I honestly wish that this type of information was shared with me as a student. I have always been weary of plagiarism being in the forensic science major especially. It is a bit difficult determining if we as adjuncts can afford to take many risks in this manner and students may violate certain rules if they aren’t well versed on whether the resources are open, closed, or partially open (such as creative commons). I agree with the author about using digital media to your advantage despite previous studies. Many of my students no longer use pen and paper or notebooks so this seems like common sense to get them interested and involved by a methodology familiar to them. Open textbooks that students can add to and create simplified material for themselves or even lower level introductory courses seems like a great idea to teach proper research methods, reinforce writing and grammar skills, and implementing proper citations. I have also switched to almost exclusively using instructor or coordinator created materials, which saves the students hundreds of dollars. I feel good saving the students any money because as a John Jay alum who paid their way through school I remember budgeting to purchase or to rent upwards of $500 worth of books per semester. Limiting unnecessary spending is important in not only increasing student involvement, but also to conserve their funds for housing and food. By opening up access to educational materials, you set up students for success, which I believe is every educator’s goal.

        Reply
    2. Michael Schoch (he/him/his) Post author

      Hi Cody,

      That’s a nice point about guidelines. I have read brief descriptions of instructors who have created entire assignments out of asking students to come up with the criteria or guidelines for how a given assignment will be graded. Unfortunately, I haven’t yet found a great example online. But I agree with you that these types of assignments let students peek behind the curtain and see what it’s like to teach, and as a result they hopefully feel a little more accountable for their learning. At least, I think that’s the best-case fantasy scenario.

      Reply
  2. Marlene Goldstein (She/Her)

    I read both blogs and although I am quite interested in Robin’s open textbook blog, frankly this is all so new to me that my head is swimming with trying to comprehend it all, and trying to settle down all the half-baked new ideas and possibilities in my head that these readings are spurning. It feels overwhelming and even intimidating. That being said, I decided to choose Rajiv’s question writing blog, which is equally interesting and certainly more familiar to me. I found the guidelines for question creation most helpful, and I very much like the idea of having small groups of students corroborate on the creation of several M/C questions. I do think the learning could be just as valid, and I am playing around various ideas in my head, such as groups exchanging their questions with other groups to respond, assess, and comment. This seems a deeper, richer, more efficient way to learn the material than simply memorizing for a test (perhaps staying up all night to cram) and answering surface questions without putting in much thought or richness into the activity.

    Reply
    1. Michael Schoch (he/him/his) Post author

      Hi Marlene,
      I’m interested to hear some of your ideas for the question bank. A few other people have mentioned trying similar assignments in the past–they may have input to add.

      I agree it’s overwhelming. There are so many sites and so many types of assignments. For my own sanity, I tend to boil OER/Open Pedagogy down to, “getting students learning by having them participate in teaching in some small way.”

      Reply
      1. Marlene Goldstein (She/Her)

        That’s a good suggestion, Michael. I made my first totally asynchronous course in 2001 (you read that right) before there was even BlackBoard and I was totally on my own – there were absolutely no templates or examples to go by. That was hard! But now, as I look online, I am finding a similar problem in the opposite direction – there is a TSUMANI of information, ideas, examples, templates, and inputs. Either way, it is overwhelming! That being said, I do like your philosophy of “having the student participate in the teaching in some small way”. I am going to definitely keep that in mind! Thanks for commenting.

        Reply
  3. Howard Mandelbaum (he/him)

    I am responding to the article, ” Why have students answer questions when they can write them?” I thought his procedure was very good. He outlined what he wanted and gave them guidance so that they had a structure to follow. I also like that he did not throw everything at them at once but gave them the workload in a gradual manner. I thught the peer review was interesting, but I personally would have liked him (he does not say in the article) for him to oversee these reviews just so students are objective and reasonable in their criticisms. I particularly liked that he added the “best” 3 questions to each of his 3 exams. This provided a positive reward for doing the assignments well. I thought the idea of eventually having a test bank was somewhat farfetched. Subjects change as do criteria and what gets emphasized. Besides other teachers may have their own choices in mind for a test Bank.

    Reply
    1. Michael Schoch (he/him/his) Post author

      I like your point about a “positive reward” for doing a good job on the test bank, Howard. I think some professors treat this as a major assignment, so students take it seriously. Similarly, I think there’s the possibility of asking students in future assignments to re-evaluate the question bank and improve. This can also be an assignment, as students will have to read and study the question bank in order to edit it. But a few other people have echoed your concern that using the questions for actual tests might be hard in some classes.

      Reply
  4. Julie Kiss (She/Her/Hers)

    Both articles were illuminating. I will be responding to “Why have student answer questions when they can write them?”. I thought the exercise was quite clever as it was scaffolded to allow for student and instructor involvement (peer review) and oversight. Saving the questions for a testbank later on seems a little idealistic. As I’ve mentioned students share exam questions and some post on “homework help sites”, such as Chegg and CourseHero. In essence it is likely the students would not put in the work to truly study the material because they would have a repository of the possible exam questions and their answers. I think this method is particularly damaging when taking exams online as opposed to in-person. When I give online exams I usually have students reason through a concept in a short answer or essay format as opposed to just using multiple choice. I can see student produced questions being useful for say weekly quizzes in a later section. I don’t believe the author ever mentioned how this was truly integrated into the general coursework or how it was graded. Was it a percentage of their overall grade or an extra credit assignment? Did it serve as a participation check? This method seems useful for courses where the workload may not be as intensive. I cannot imagine incorporating this into a laboratory course where students must prepare pre-lab reports, post-lab reports, study for weekly quizzes, a midterm, and a finals as well as complete a research report and a creative assignment.

    As an undergraduate student (and tutor), I actually used to make practice questions for study groups and bring them to discuss. As an instructor, I try to get my students involved in this manner, but the truth of it is that my courses have many requirements and are generally extremely writing and labor intensive as it is. All in all, I think this is a good method to use for study groups and exam preparation, but I imagine effort and completion would be highly inconsistent.

    Reply
    1. Howard Mandelbaum

      I thought your comments were cogent and very discerning. certainly, one size does not fit all, and you make that point very well. I do think some leeway has to be given to the author as it was an essay with limited scope. All the very good points you raise could not be addressed in so short an article although I think your points are valid, they would need to be addressed in a follow up article. by the author. I prefer to think the author left “wiggle room” for instructors to modify his procedure as needed (although this may just be my feeling on the issue).

      Reply
  5. Marlene Goldstein (She/Her)

    Looking at the student-generated test bank questions from my end as the instructor: I would clearly benefit, because my own test bank can grow from the present 10 questions per chapter to perhaps 25. This comes in handy when I must re-set a quiz for a student whose internet blinked during the exam and locked them out. The students would clearly benefit in the way that I have explained in my earlier post. I definitely see the merit. Right now I have to think about the logistics, and as soon as I began to think about it, I am realizing it is easier said than done.

    -Required or extra credit?
    -Three groups of ten each, or six groups of 5 each?
    -A different group/chapter each week? Each group ends up going twice in the semester?
    -Inform students that best two questions will be used on exam?

    Not for nothing, but inasmuch as I want to make sure that the project does not get overwhelming for the students, I also want to make sure that it does not grow into a beast for the instructor as well.
    It’s a bit to think about!

    Reply
    1. Cody D. Stitzel (she/her/hers)

      Hi Marlene,
      Apologies for the delayed reply, however, I like your idea about having a second set of questions on hand to be able to pull from when students need to re-take a quiz or exam for whatever reason. This had always been somewhat of a dilemma for me in the past, so thanks for pointing that out! Regarding some of your questions, I have always found it more helpful to make these types of assignments required, for both students’ learning and the generation of questions (I surprisingly haven’t had too many students take advantage of the extra credit I provide, however easy!). In the past, students of mine have created three MCQ per week, or per chapter, and that seemed feasible for both them and I as the instructor. I also let students know that the “best” questions created would end-up on their exams, but I didn’t specify a number to leave myself with some flexibility. It might also be helpful to have students peer-review and edit each other’s questions before they submit them (taking some work off the instructor, though not all). I didn’t do this previously so I can’t speak from experience, but if I use this assignment in the future I’m going to give it a try!
      Best, Cody

      Reply

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