10- Professional Development

Brain activity during a day in the life of a student...
Class and watching TV…what do they have in common? Minimal brain activity!

I was very lucky to attend a talk by MIT physics professor Eric Mazur last week at Humboldt State University’s Institute for Student Success.  While Mazur never once uttered the word “flip”, he clearly was advocating an inverted classroom model like we’ve been discussing here on this blog.  He used technical terms to describe the two stages of the flip: transfer (in which information is acquired outside of class) and assimilation (in which information is processed during class time).

Mazur also offered a compelling visual to support the idea that students can be quite inert during “lecture”.  This figure was taken from a paper entitled “A Wearable Sensor for Unobtrusive, Long-term Assessment of Electrodermal Activity” (doi: 10.1109/TBME.2009.2038487).  It provides a very interesting visual regarding brain activity during “class”.

Image from http://joi.ito.com/weblog/2012/04/30/a-week-of-a-stu.html
A week of student electrodermal activity. Compare the brain activity recorded during TV time and lecture…does this disturb anyone else?

I am also including some of the different resources Mazur mentioned throughout the talk.  I’m lobbying for more hours in the day so I can explore them more fully.  I would be interested in hearing your opinions, if you have experiences with them.

  1. Peer Instruction Network
    This site describes itself as a place that “connects innovative educators from across the globe.”  I am intrigued by the possibility of SHARING materials with other interested educators.  As Murray Jensen noted in the comments to last week’s post, it takes time to develop the activities to use during class.  It would be very valuable to have a place where sharing (and vetting) could occur.
  2. Peer Instruction Blog
    It looks like during the school year, these guys publish a post about every two weeks.  The content is pretty straight forward, and I find it interesting to follow.
  3. Just In Time Teaching
    Mazur referred often to this technique, which makes use of assessment data gathered before class to inform WHAT HAPPENS during class time. 
  4. Team-Based Learning
    I’ve always been intrigued by increasing the amount of group work that happens in my class. 

My classes start this week, so of course I’m madly putting materials together to get ready.   I love this time of year…but it is definitely BUSY.  That is why I have absolutely NO IDEA what I’m going to write about next week!

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