I was in the lecture hall very early with scissors & tape & magnets & sweeties. There were 2 (two) groups there with their posters. Okaaay. They got to pick the spots that they wanted. Another group came in, but had to still put their poster together. Distributed work, okay, that's fine. They should be done on time if nothing rips. One guy was there, but his partner had the poster (he said, it never actually turned up), so I assigned him to traveling first round.
When it was time for class to start, I had five (5) out of ten posters there. As I was closing the door, another one shot in, so I told them to hurry. We paired off for the session. We do two rounds, one of each pair travels in one round, visiting all the other posters, and explains hir own poster during the other one. Every X minutes (X = minutes in half of class session / (number of posters -1)) I ring a loud bell and the travelers move on to the next station, clockwise. When they come back to their original station, it's half time and they switch jobs.
I dinged GO! and they started - and the next guy walks in. No poster. His buddy is held up in town and has the poster. He wants to leave and go for lunch. I made him sit down and gave him a good chewing out. I advanced the travelers a second time when the NEXT guy walks in. All week he wasn't able to meet his partner. I chew him out royally. This is generation smartphone, surely during a week one can communicate by telephone/email/SMS/smoke signals? Not having a poster cheats the rest of the class out of learning about one kind of Hamster Fur Weaving Comb.
At least he had a plan for a poster scribbled down. I parked him at the board, made him put his "poster" up with markers, and spend the rest of the first round explaining his poster to the other late guy. Then I made the first guy who was traveling also have to be explaining this poster, and we had one more group for the next round. No one notices if I cut the time from six to five minutes :) But in all, there were only seven posters instead of ten. Two more just didn't bother showing up at all.
It worked, but WHAT IS WITH THESE STUDENTS? They can't deal with the concept of deadlines? Can't communicate that they are having trouble and need a solution in advance of the deadline? Can't tell the others that they won't be able to keep up their part of the deal? I've had lots of lazy students, but this takes the cake. And it's the SECOND instance of this happening this month - they can't coordinate, can't communicate, don't do the work, shrug off all responsibility. Do I need to start showing up as a drill sergeant or what?
Suzy from Squarestate
Well, first, when I tumble into the slough of despond, I usually have some students,classes, or whole semesters that haul me back out. Teaching is an oddly schizophrenic experience (in the lay sense of that term). I've noticed there's often a term-by-term zeitgeist for student behavior. I've also noticed some terms where students suddenly, inexplicably don't know or don't do something that hasn't been an issue previously. Often that's solved in coming terms, but why I don't know. Very rarely, my best method has been to just count the weeks until it's over and to heal later.ReplyDelete
Second, sometimes you do have change up. Sometimes I am compelled to break up projects like that into discrete steps, since the students will try to leap to the last step (ummm...like showing up with nothing prepared) without the beginning and intermediate ones. Maybe it sucks, but sometimes it's pedagogically defensible and even works really well. Or it will just slip from the student's slack grip. I admit that I increasingly set assignments with graduated sub-steps. Summarizing a chapter and sticking some friggin' bullet points on a poster shouldn't need that, but, oh well...
And, third, we have all observed at my place that some in the most recent generation of students come to class, sit pleasantly and smile and contribute, and do literally none of the work. None. No papers, no homework, not even an in-class test. And they persist throughout the term, never withdrawing and always handling every pointed inquiry about their grade in the pleasantest, most insouciant fashion. Maybe that's a financial aid thing. Maybe it's the product of incessant standardized testing. Gotta shrug like Hiram on that one.
This is why I gave up on graded group work. "You're projecting your beachside acai bowl stand to pull in two million visitors a month, in a town with a population of twelve thousand?" "Oh, well the person who did the financial part of our plan isn't here."ReplyDelete
Holy crap this is scaring the hell out of me. Next class I'm assigning a poster session as the next course assignment.ReplyDelete
Everything's worked up to launch, it's Sunday and I don't feel like coming up with something else from scratch.
Lock the door when class starts. Then call Strelli when the crowd gets out of hand.Delete
I agree with Prof S on scaffolding (and incentives, and disincentives, and peer feedback/review) being necessary for group work. Allowing them time in class to actually do the work also helps (if you have such time available). But I do worry that at some point this is going to happen in my own group project, despite scaffolding, incentives, et al. Especially in the online version of the class, where I don't really see the work happening, just the videos that (are supposed to) result, I hold my breath every time. So far, I'm seeing more unexplained lateness, but not complete failure to produce. There's always a first time, though.ReplyDelete
I'm also seeing some of the pleasant, apparently attentive, non-producers of individual work. I do tend to attribute that phenomenon to a testing-heavy approach to education, which leaves them ill-prepared to cope with a class that centers around a couple of long papers (one group, one individual), each broken down into lots and lots of little steps, which seems to get the majority of the students through the process (even if they're both intimidated by the length of the final project and somewhat annoyed at/disapproving of the "text heavy" nature of the prompts for all the little steps). But some just seem unable to cope with a class that can't be passed by showing up for the test and praying.
The other part of it, I suspect, is that we've raised a generation that has been tested and nudged and helicoptered and surveilled and quantified to a point where some of them rebel in the only way they know how: joining Bartleby in "preferring not to."
When I was an undergraduate in the ' 70s, I pulled this shit, once. The proffie ridiculed me mercilessly, and encouraged the entire class to laugh at me, which they did, copiously and scornfully. It felt bad, but I didn't run crying to the dean: rather, I never pulled that shit again, ever again in my life. That pedagogy, as our ed-school colleagues might say, might have been a tad uncomfortable, but it did produce results.ReplyDelete
Can you imagine that happening today? As Peter Sacks points out in "Generation X Goes to College" (which this year is now 20 years old), "corrupt" is not too strong of a word to describe what education has come to today. No, Suzy, you may not yell at them like a drill sergeant: they have been raised to insulated from reality, they won't know enough to be afraid, if you do.
Sorry, that should be "so" and not "to" (although "too" would also do).Delete
We did poster BS in 7th grade. For the love of God, they aren't in 7th grade!ReplyDelete
This is also an example of why flipping the classroom is a shit idea.
Not that kind of poster - the type of poster that is presented at a scientific conference (Intro, Materials & Methods, Results, Discussion, etc).Delete
It's a useful stepping stone. When you get your 1st year MSc student and send them off to their first scientific conference by themselves to present an abstract as a poster (as opposed to an oral presentation), it is smoother if they already have some experience in making a properly presented poster.
Yes, poster sessions are standard presentations at scientific conferences. The posters in K-6 science fairs are imitations of these, but it's very common for Ph.D. scientists to show off results at scientific conferences all over the world in much the same way---although, of course, they should be of MUCH higher quality, which is primarily what Suzy is complaining about.Delete
I was a bit dubious at first, but I have seen some good poster presentations at history conferences, and even made a great connection at one that lead to a co-authored article.Delete
These are college students making posters? Just checking. I guess I've lost my mind.ReplyDelete
See the comments above. Some science results work a lot better as poster presentations, for example, Hubble Deep Field (the picture showing the galaxies at the edge of the Observable Universe, and the evolution of galaxies ever since). Frankly, preparing a talk is often much less work than putting together a good poster, but then anything is better than listening to someone read a talk from script, the way they do in some disciplines I could name. ;-)Delete
In my field, posters are my fav. It is SO much better to spend time talking to the people who are actually interested in what I have to say than talking to a room of mild interest. I also prefer attending poster sessions - we have a pretty good # of grad school presenters and different schools have, um, different ideas of what it means to mentor a student into giving an engaging oral presentation. Way too much theory from the beginnings of the field taking up a lot of time followed by rushing through tiny slides of data at the end. I also prefer mentoring students through posters. They have to think carefully about the meaning of their research (an a way beyond "this was statistically significant") to make a beguiling poster, and being able to answer questions from passers by makes them really have a handle on the work and its situation in the field. In my field, posters and presentations count the same and still get discussants, fwiw.Delete
This sounds like the first week of my on-line course. You would think they couldn't turn on the computer, let alone read the syllabus (ha ha ha) or the getting started materials (of which they have to "sign" a course contract to open the content of the course (it is a yes/no question). Almost a third of the class didn't do this, and as a result I got bombarded with emails "WHERE IS THE CONTENT?" "What is going on?" etc. etc. What is going on, indeed! ugh.ReplyDelete
If this: "I was in the lecture hall very early with scissors & tape & magnets & sweeties" is higher ed.ReplyDelete
Then I just want to get off the planet.
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You can read above how posters are quite legitimate ways to show off intellectually rigorous ideas. (My favorite is anything with lots of mathematics, since my eyes glaze over after about 10 equations go by during a talk.) So, how else does one make and display a poster?Delete
Actually, scissors and tape are unnecessary these days. My students and I often do the design and layout of our posters with PowerPoint, and then print them out in one piece with a large flatbed printer. This way is much less time-consuming for making the poster, looks nice, and can be transported in a large tube.
Magnets are useful for displaying the poster, if it is to hang on something magnetic such as a steel easel. I usually use push-pins, though, if the poster is to hang on a board made of felt, as are common in convention halls and other venues where scientific conferences are held. I bring my own box of push-pins whenever I had a poster to show, but any conference venue with its act halfway together should have them. I don't know what sweeties are.