Three teaching things: week of September 27

Enhancing student performance in math through expressive writing; a framework for developing podcasting assignments and; a tool to help create informed consent documents for SoTL work.

Issue #19

Three Teaching Things is a weekly newsletter compiled by Gavan Watson, which shares three different teaching and learning resources (papers, resources or tools) worth your attention.

Hello! I heard from a bunch of faculty this week that the volume of small tasks in their fall remote courses is overwhelming (or will be soon). Much of this work is coming from managing communication with students—if you’re feeling that way too, I would encourage you review the tool I shared in the September 6th issues of TTT: Piazza. Instructors I know who have implemented it in their course comment on how it does help streamline communication.

1. The paper

The role of expressive writing in math anxiety

I’m just fascinated that such a “simple” intervention reported in this paper had such an impact on achievement. In short, the authors report that “…a single bout of expressive writing is an effective intervention to reduce the prevailing performance gaps seen most strongly between [those with high] and [those with low math anxiety] on high-demand math problems” (p. 108). The specific expressive writing prompt used is provided on p. 106.

While the findings report the results of an experiment and are limited to test-taking in math, it is fascinating to consider how asking students (regardless of the material under study) to write about their anxiety before a “high-demand” testing situation could work to alleviate some of that anxiety and improve their performance.

Park, D., Ramirez, G., & Beilock, S. L. (2014). The Role of Expressive Writing in Math Anxiety. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 20(2), 103–111.

2. The resource

Podcasts as a writing assignment

I really like this resource on Podcasts as a writing assignment from the Sweetland Center for Writing at the University of Michigan. First, it makes reference to another resource, their Basic Framework for Sequencing and Scaffolding Multimodal Composition Assignments (bonus!), but I’ve always found Podcasts more engaging as an assessment because they’re designed from the start to be shared publicly. That immediately ups the perceived relevance of the work, which in turn drives student engagement. Ten steps are outlined here to assist with the development and implementation of the assignment.

3. The tool


Or, the “We Are Learning Too” is a student informed consent builder for engaging in scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) research projects* developed by Duke University Learning Innovation. There’s more detail about the larger project, a collaboration between Duke and Carnegie Mellon, here.

* heads-up that this links to a Qualtrics survey and I found that after trying out the tool, in order to reset my answers, I had to cut and paste the link into an incognito/private window of my browser. Because browser cookies.

Thanks for reading this week!

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