[A] 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

10 thoughts on “[A] Week 2 Discussion

  1. Nitza Milagros Escalera

    I read both blogs and liked them both. The second blog, “Why have students answer questions when they can write them?” provided great insight on how I can improve on the group presentations I require my students to do. At the end of their presentation, I ask them to develop questions that they can ask to class for a discussion on the presentation. My two goals are: (1) to assist the students listening to the presentations, attend to the presentations that are being done, and (2) assist the presenters better understand the subject matter they are discussing.
    The 2nd blog provided information that can assist me enhance this process.

    1. Andrew Hernandez (he/him/el)


      I love the connection you made between the second blog and having students create their own questions in response to student presentations. I have tried to have students respond meaningfully to their peers’ presentations in the past with limited success. I think both modeling the kinds of questions we expect as well as providing opportunities for student feedback re: presentation questions, akin to what was discussed in the blog post, might help enhance their engagement.



  2. Andrew Hernandez (he/him/el)

    I read the second blog post, Jhangiani’s “Why have students answer questions when they can write them?” I can’t say that much surprised me (aside from the production of 1400 student-created questions!). But I was taken by the process and outcomes that Jhangiani described. I have not had students create their own questions because I have not given traditional multiple-choice exams. Nevertheless, it seems both modeling and peer-review are key in both helping students to understand how to craft their own assessment/questions *and* improve their abilities to do so as the term continues. By having students create their own assessments, they need to dive deeper into the material, both to consider what would make for a correct, but also an incorrect, response. What I also appreciate, though, is the motivating component…by having students create their own assessments, according to the blog post, it seems students are more motivated than they otherwise might be, especially given that their questions might show up on a future test. I’m interested in exploring this idea further, especially beyond multiple-choice questions, but student-created essay templates, for example, or other kinds of projects.

    1. Michael Lynch Salazar (He/Him)

      I always have my students come to class with three questions over the assigned reading. At first, I’ll admit I assigned it just to make sure they were reading the material. Then I realized that these questions were sincere and that they honestly wanted these questions answered in class instead of during my office hours or by email. And of course, many of the students had the SAME questions. Seems were are on the right track with this approach then!

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

      Hi Andrew,

      I liked the way you broke down the role of student-driven assessments and I agree with you. At least, in theory, having students make the criteria by which they’ll be graded should make them feel more invested in the subject and in learning, rather than just playing the game of school, where they try to find the most efficient way to pass. Some instructors in the last seminar mentioned expanding this idea to essays as well. Students could be asked to develop a rubric for how they will be graded on an essay, and in the process they’ll need to research the subject and ask the instructor questions. You could even make this it’s own assignment.

      But I also see where it’s nerve wracking because it requires a lot of student engagement, and as we’ve all seen through the pandemic, there are some cases where that isn’t always guaranteed!

  3. Michael Lynch Salazar (He/Him)

    You know, I first came into this seminar thinking, “how are we going to let students make their own textbook?” I thought this would be overwhelming for me to manage or even guide at the bare minimum. But DeRosa’s example of an “open textbook” has really changed my mind and helped me realize that it’s a possibility since I aiready assign my students to write three questions for every class based on the assigned readings from the class before. On top of that, my students often select their own articles to debate in their assigned groups during class. So if I trust them to do all of this on their own already, the idea of an “open textbook” being built up over the course of a semester does not seem so difficult.

    My students are given a writing assignment each semester in which they must compare and analyze two conflicting current events articles regarding economics. I only ask for 2-3 pages of opinion and analysis from each student, but it’s nothing that they don’t do already in class during oral debates and such. So perhaps replacing this assignment in order to build material for an “open textbook” would be a beneficial route for both the students and myself.

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

      I’m interested to hear more about this assignment, Michael. It sounds like it has worked out well for you. Maybe next session you can give us any insights on what it’s like to implement it and if you’ve learned any lessons/encountered any pitfalls. Or feel free to share here as well!

  4. Michael W Yarbrough

    Hi everyone, apologies that I’m late posting this week and that I missed our meeting yesterday. I’m traveling right now and ran into some problems that interfered with my ability to log on.

    I read the second post about generating questions since that seemed a bit more relevant to my courses. It seemed like a good approach because it’s so student-driven, which is what matters to me most about this workshop. But I’ll be honest that I’m struggling a bit to connect most of the material in this workshop to the courses I teach because my courses are not very content-focused. My courses have more of a concept focus than content focus; students are learning new ways to think rather than new things, mostly in the course of doing individual research projects. And the key to my courses is a kind of transformational experience rather than “learning outcomes,” which often feels very neoliberal and focused on “measuring” what students “learned.” Another way to put it is that I follow more a Paulo Freire “pedagogy of the oppressed” approach than what’s sometimes called a “banking model” of pedagogy.

    Both of these blog posts seemed more focused on content (e.g. generating a textbook or multiple choice questions to help students learn facts etc.), so I’m having trouble connecting them with what I do in my courses. I’m just doing my best on the assignments to focus on what I need for my courses and trying to take what’s useful from our materials and discussions. Looking forward to more discussions next week, and apologies again for missing yesterday.

  5. Nitza Milagros Escalera

    I very much like the idea of asking students to come to class with three questions related to the reading(s) that will be discussed in class. It’s a great way to start a discussion on the assigned materials.


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