Experts; Interleaving; Active Studying
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Studies have found that experts often fail as good teachers, mainly because there is a lack of communication within their specific area (Feldon, 2007). Experts may routinely underestimate how difficult a task can be for a newcomer (Hinds, 1999) and even when attempting to make a task easier, they omit information a novice would find valuable (Hinds, Patterson, & Pfeffer, 2001) because they unintentionally assume that non-experts are aware of and possess knowledge that only those already familiar in the field might have, and would thus know what they are talking about. Furthermore, there are factors controllable by the professor, and not the students, that can determine a degree of student success (not to imply that student’s don’t need to take their share in responsibility for their learning). The lecture style and format of a classroom can change the outcome of how much students learn. For example, the use of active learning exercises or videos during lecture can improve students’ recollection of material (Lawson, 1995, VanderStoep et al), and the implementation of multiple-choice versus short answer exams can have an effect on how students study and learn subject material (Scouller, 1998). It is important that professors and experts be aware of these factors, and manipulate them as they see fit (i.e. improve efficiency and quality of learning). However, it has been found that the correlation between teacher experience and effectiveness is statistically low (Hattie, 2009 p.118), implying that most experts fail to pass on their expertise to upcoming generations. This should serve as a red flag to most, especially because the extreme cost of a college education should guarantee quality education. As a student here at URI, I have witnessed the good and the bad professors. As a future college professor, I recognize the need to implement a personal formal training, not only of the field of expertise, but also on how to communicate that expertise. This requires empathy and understanding towards the student experience. My project involves being trained as an academic coach through the Academic Enhancement Center, where I work with students individually to determine the roots of their academic struggles, so that we can later develop plans on how to negate the causes. This allows me to observe a wide variety of students’ experiences from many different backgrounds, because realistically, a student’s struggle is much more complicated than them “not studying enough.” Furthermore, I am exposed to the science of learning, which explains how students can learn information efficiently, and, equally as important, how they can apply that information to real world problems. I can use this information to my advantage to design lesson plans that will strategically and efficiently prime students for their exams. Finally, through the conduction of a study skills and a test-taking strategies workshop both catered towards freshman enrolled in the College of Environmental and Life Sciences, I gain real experience leading a classroom, thus exposing myself to the everyday troubles that experts must overcome in the classroom setting (such as getting disinterested students to pay attention to lesson material), while also applying all that I have learned through this project. These workshops are designed to help students within the AEC and CELS community succeed academically, whose success will be measured by a Survey Monkey questioner.
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