Friday links: NYTimes on reply all, parasitoids for the win (literally), and more

Also this week: wildlife photographer of the year, phone interview advice, how do we teach students how to learn?, and more.

From Meg:

A British man has become the new world Scrabble champion by playing “braconid” for 181 points. As May Berenbaum said on twitter:

The NY Times has weighed in on whether you should hit “reply all” to ask to be removed from an email thread:

Amen. Here’s more backstory.

There were lots of women among the Animal Behavior Society’s Career Awards & Fellows this year. (ht: Elinor Lichtenberg)

Talking Right: I lost my Appalachian accent to fit in. Now I want it back. I enjoyed this essay, in part because I’ve gone through a similar evolution in my feelings about my native accent. When I first visited Cornell, I was teased for dropping the “h”s at the front of words (saying “yuge” instead of “huge”, “yoomid” instead of “humid”, etc.) The teasing continued once I was in college (e.g., for saying “draw” instead of “drawer”). And so, over time, I worked to lose that accent, and now have a pretty generic Northern American accent. For a while, I was happy about that. Now I feel more like I wish I had more of my original accent, but it’s mostly gone at this point. Though, when I get really tired, it pops back up, so it’s in there somewhere!

From Jeremy:

The British Wildlife Photographer of the Year winners are up. Always an amazing selection of images, although I think some other years have been stronger and the fix was clearly in for the weasels this year. I fondly recall attending the show of winners every year at the Natural History Museum back when I was a postdoc. The winners in the urban wildlife and black-and-white competitions are my personal favorites. And the documentary series winner includes an unusual “field assistant”.

Common questions asked in phone interviews for faculty positions.

How do we teach students how to learn? That is, how do you get unengaged students to start showing up to class, get off their phones, pay attention, ask questions, etc.? I think part of the answer is implicit in the illustrative examples in the linked post: you just do the best you can with first years, recognizing that a high fraction of them will be unengaged and will suck at learning. Then wait until a combination of maturity, wake-up calls from bad grades, attrition, and the opportunity to focus on a major subject they like turn them into engaged learners in upper level courses. And part of the answer might be to do more active learning, but that’s no panacea. So I don’t have a complete answer either. I doubt one exists. Lots of things you’d think would help, don’t (e.g.).

4 thoughts on “Friday links: NYTimes on reply all, parasitoids for the win (literally), and more

  1. Regarding the active learning, research shows that students do much better when they are constructing knowledge vs. being spoon-fed (or force-fed, depending on their view) (Prince 2004 is one example that uses a science bent, however it is consensus in education fields). In particular, first-generation college students and minority students are more successful in college under this model (Source: UNC Chapel Hill So using active learning is a HUGE equity issue that can diversify college campuses and STEM professions.

    Primary and high school teachers around the world know that they are responsible for their students’ learning; they cannot just accept that some students ‘suck’ at learning. They have to differentiate for different kinds of learners and student learners. They have to motivate the unmotivated and behind grade level, and reach students who are learning English and students with a range of behavioral or academic difficulties. While college is obviously different than high school, I’m guessing your Education department would have excellent pedagogical strategies (backed up by research) that would increase student motivation, learning, and retention. In sum, most of the answer to your question is to plan for active learning and engaging activities.

    I say all of this as someone who has taught adult learners, college students, and adolescents. I use the same strategies with different levels of content difficulty and depth across the board.

    • Thank you for your comments. Yes, absolutely, pedagogical research is an important consideration in how to teach. Without wanting to disagree with anything you wrote, I’d add that it’s not the only relevant consideration. I’d also add that just because a particular approach works better than another on average for the sort of instructors who participate in published studies of pedagogical research doesn’t mean it’s guaranteed to work better than another for every instructor. I say all this as someone who’s currently working on incorporating active learning into my teaching.

      A couple of posts on this:

      • Thank you for replying! I had seen the first post but not the second. I do think that best practices in teaching still apply to adult learners, regardless of who agrees to participate in pedagogical research. Student learning is stronger across the board.

        It is undoubtedly difficult to implement active learning for busy professors who are focused on research and do not have training as teachers. There should be better supports for them or a different system of teaching-focused professors and research-focused professors. It is a tremendous load to balance both.

        Flipping a classroom is a whole other beast, which I won’t get into here. Glad you tried it and hope you continue to.

        Always a pleasure to read your blog.

      • Re: teaching profs, my university has them. They’re faculty, just with a higher teaching load than faculty who have both research and teaching duties. It works very well. My colleague Kyla Flanagan, mentioned in one of those posts I linked in my previous comment, is one of our teaching faculty.

        Thanks for reading and commenting, glad you enjoy DE.

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