Classhacks: Expert Touts Magic Conjunction

ampersandWelcome to Classhacks, our newest feature at pleasure in learning.  Have you visited Lifehacker.com (“Tips and tricks for getting things done.”)? urbandictionary.com defines a lifehack as, “A tool or technique that makes some aspect of one’s life easier or more efficient.” Sounds positively pleasurable, doesn’t it? Every Thursday we will share a Classhack, and we invite you to help by sharing great tips, tricks, tools, and techniques from your classes or those of colleagues. Maybe you’re intrigued by a new idea from the web or a book or a conference. You can write a short post, send us a document, or simply give us a call or shoot us an email.  We promise to make it easy. So be a, ahem, “class act” and share your classhacks.

Dr. Pam Petty of Western Kentucky University was the featured speaker at last week’s convocation at HCC. This lady knows how to work a crowd and fire up the faithful. In the workshop that followed her address, she shared several strategies for encouraging our students to improve their performance by reading. My favorite tip was adding three little letters: A-N-D.

Dr. Petty acknowledged that students are disinclined to complete reading assignments like “Read Chapter 5.” However, we increase the odds of the job getting done when we add the magic “and.”

Now “Read Chaper 5” becomes:

  • “Read Chapter 5 and bring a one-page summary and three questions to the next class meeting.”
  • “Read Chapter 5 and make an outline of the chapter and your class notes.”
  • “Read Chapter 5 and tell me what is in the chapter that I left out during class discussion.”
  • “Read Chapter 5 and address this problem based on what you’ve read.”

How do we encourage compliance without working ourselves to death grading all this work? Dr. Petty suggests evaluating only certain items on certain assignments. Students never know which questions or which day’s work will be graded, so they have to be prepared all the time. Beautiful, simply beautiful.

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