Math Challenge!

by on November 20, 2009 in 2009-2011 with Comments Off


By Barrington Scott, Math Specialist, bscott@metropolitan.edu
The gutter on a roof over flows whenever more than 4/5 inches of falls. This morning 2/3 inches of fall. Did the gutter over flow?

Submit your answer to lecblog@metropolitan.edu, the first person to submit the correct answer (with explanation) will be featured next month as the winner of this math challenge!

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Using Learning Goals to promote self-directedness: the LEC experience, Part 2

by on November 17, 2009 in 2009-2011 with Comments Off


By Jaya Kannan, LEC Director

jkannan@metropolitan.edu

LEC observations about student learning in the context of goal setting: So, what is working?

One thing that is working is that all students jot down a goal in the first session. Irrespective of the goal’s quality (more about this in the next section), this first step helps in empowering the student take responsibility for their learning and define their learning path. Embedded within this process of goal setting is the need for self-assessment and engagement in a detailed dialogue with the math or writing specialist about their learning intentions.

  • It is heartening to note that more than 50% of the time, the student drives the goal even when the tutorial discussion is facilitated through a collaborative dialogue. This is indicative of a high level of motivation and desire for learning that the LEC would like to build on further.
  • When a student in the LEC creates a goal, that student is respected for the unique learner that he or she is and is given the opportunity to carve out their own path, comparison to any other student or limiting them to the objectives of a course or a program.
  • On many occasions, students tend to pick a goal for themselves (e.g., subject-verb agreement) that they recognize to be transferable to other areas of learning. Assessment at the end of the term becomes ipsative and also recognizes the cumulative aspect by referring to student’s learning in previous terms too. [A minimum of 3 sessions is required to prepare a learning summary].

LEC observations about student learning in the context of goal setting: Serious concerns that need addressing:

  • Writing a good goal doesn’t automatically ensure successful learning. When students don’t follow through by continuing to visit the Centre, it is hard to know if and how the student is making progress. A good 40% of the students who visit the LEC do not meet the minimum requirement of 3 sessions for us to prepare a learning summary.
  • The language of goal writing is an art and science in itself. We have struggled at the LEC to create standards that strike a fair balance between allowing for creativity in the discussions and yet aiming to meet minimum requirements to achieve a good goal. [For example, a good goal is clear, specific, complex and measurable].
  • Writing a good goal can be a tremendous challenge. Bridging the gap in understanding between the specialist and the student in what makes a good goal calls for serious pedagogical discussions on our part. It is on very rare occasions that a student almost independently writes a clear, concise, specific, and measurable goal. Especially in the very early sessions, the specialists’ input while engaging in a dialogue and then arriving at a goal is very high. It is our intention that over time and with practice, students will show greater autonomy in writing a good goal.

More than anything else, getting the student to develop this need for self-directedness as a value is our biggest aim. Learning to use goal-setting as an effective tool is part of the overall learning process.

References

  • Elliot, A. J. (2005). A conceptual history of the achievement goal construct. In A. J. Elliot, & C. S. Dweck (Eds.), Handbook of competence and motivation (pp. 52-72). New York, NY: Guilford Press.
  • Grant, H & Dweck, C. S. (2003). Clarifying achievement goals and their impact. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 85, 541-553
  • Hayes, S. C., Rosenfarb, I., Wuifert, E., Munt, E. D., Korn, Z., & Zettle, R. D. (1985). Self reinforcement effects: An artifact of social standard setting. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 18, 201-214.
  • Locke, E.A., & Latham, G.P (1990). A theory of goal-setting and task performance. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
  • Locke, E.A., & Latham, G.P (2002). Building a practically useful theory of goal-setting and task motivation: A 35 year odyssey. American Psychologist, 57, 705-717. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Schunk, D.H. (1990). Goal setting and self-efficacy during self-regulated learning. Educational Psychologist, 25, 71-86.

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Using Learning Goals to promote self-directedness: the LEC experience, Part 1

by on November 5, 2009 in 2009-2011 with Comments Off


By Jaya Kannan, LEC Director

jkannan@metropolitan.edu

Introduction

At the LEC, in creating a learning environment for students that is conducive to the development of self-directedness, we recognize the construction of a learning goal by the student to be a crucial step in the process.

The objective of this series of articles to be posted on our blog is to reflect on the role of goal-setting in learning and its connection to the promotion of autonomy based on the LEC experience. In doing so, we will focus on:

  • Analyzing what characterizes a good goal and the difficulty in coming to an agreement on standards
  • Describing the challenges math/writing specialists and the students face in arriving at a well articulated goal
  • Finding ways for enabling students to use the goal in such a way that it contributes to their ability for deep learning.
  • Outlining the complexities involved in the assessment of learning in relation to the student’s stated learning goal

For the purposes of this introductory section, I will limit myself to explaining the learning process involved with particular reference to creating a goal.

Observations about students at the LEC

While setting a goal, the individual refers to the quantity and quality of performance that he or she is aiming to accomplish. (Locke & Latham 1990, 2002). From time immemorial, setting a goal has been considered to be a very important and beneficial step in developing self-regulation. (Schunk, 1990). Research shows that setting one’s own goals leads to a high level of commitment (Hayes, et al., 1985).

In fact, a high percentage of students visiting the LEC (about 80%) are self-referred and therefore show very high motivation for learning. Even if they do come in anxious to work on an assignment at the last minute, there is a set goal that they want to achieve.

An academic practice of having students create a goal in their very first session has greatly strengthened the students’ attitude to taking responsibility for their learning. While this has not been without its challenges, even those students who see goal setting as an additional burden when they are racing against time have almost always been able to present an idea and (in discussion with their math or writing specialist) arrive at a goal by the session’s end.

Steps in student learning goal setting:

  • Irrespective of when their first session is (week 1 or week 14), students jot down a goal in their “Learning Plan” document in that session. If they come for more than 3 sessions within a term, there is opportunity to revisit the goal, to review and even change if necessary while they focus on their learning tasks.
  • When a student visits the LEC for more than one semester, he or she tends to build a cumulative path by referring back to the old goal or refining it further for the next term.
  • In some cases, students are able to state their goals quite independently and with clarity and conciseness, but in many other cases, the input from the specialists in the goal creation can be very high.

Categories of goals: Distal and proximal

In discussion with the writing/math specialists, students create different types of goals that can be distinguished into proximal or distal goals. (Schunk, 1990). Students tend to use the distal goal, for say, planning their learning for the term and then under the guidance of the specialist, they break it down to specific goals that define the objective for that particular session. The constant iterative loop that connects goals from the distal to the proximal helps establish the connection between the session goal and the overall learning goal. To sum up, we can classify goals into three categories:

  • Goal for the semester: Oftentimes the student’s goal is a combination of a few different interconnected sub-goals and not just one single idea . Example goal: “Breaking down a sentence-subject verb agreement, dependent and independent clause, how to use a subordinate conjunction and make sure that the clauses are correct”.
  • Goals for each session: within the overarching goal for the term, the students visiting the LEC are usually keen to choose what they want to do for that particular session. There have been times when they veer away from the main goal for a particular session or even change their goal altogether based on the direction that their specific course is taking. Math and writing specialists have enthusiastically shared in the departmental meetings how more than 50% of the students tend to lead the session with a specific objective.
  • Cumulative Goals – building connectivity with previous goals, aiming for lifelong learning. A good number of students who have visited the LEC for more than 3 terms have demonstrated the emergence of a lifelong learner by connecting goals to learning in their previous terms.

Types of goals

Within the context of the achievement goal theory, distinction is made between a mastery goal and performance goal. When choosing a mastery goal, students are said to show more adaptive processes as opposed to a performance goal when students show inconsistent effects. (Grant & Dweck, 2003; Elliott,2005).

A good number of students choose a performance goal [“I want to get an A grade in this course’] as part of their overall goal. But a majority of the students show a propensity to choose a mastery goal as their main learning goal.

Range of goals

Students visiting the LEC create a range of goals that may or may not be connected to their course objectives.

The gamut runs from an eager to learn but unable to narrow down goal (“I want to improve my writing”) to a performance oriented approach (“I want to pass the statistics class”) to the highly reflective( “My learning goal is to achieve a more meaningful way of expressing my thoughts”).

When learning summaries are prepared at the end of the term, the specialists assess the student’s learning by paying careful attention to the learning performance in the tutorial sessions in relation to the goal set by the student. The beginning section of this learning summary requires presenting the learner’s objectives by referring back to the students’ session summaries. In preparing this report, an important challenge for the writing/math specialist in presenting the learning goal is in being faithful to the original voice of the student.

References

Elliot, A. J. (2005). A conceptual history of the achievement goal construct. In A. J. Elliot, & C. S. Dweck (Eds.), Handbook of competence and motivation (pp. 52-72). New York, NY: Guilford Press.

Grant, H., & Dweck, C. S. (2003). Clarifying achievement goals and their impact. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 85, 541-553.

Hayes, S. C., Rosenfarb, I., Wuifert, E., Munt, E. D., Korn, Z., & Zettle, R. D. (1985). Self reinforcement effects: An artifact of social standard setting. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 18, 201-214.

Locke, E.A., & Latham, G.P (1990). A theory of goal-setting and task performance. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Locke, E.A., & Latham, G.P (2002). Building a practically useful theory of goal-setting and task motivation: A 35 year odyssey. American Psychologist, 57, 705-717. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Schunk, D.H. (1990). Goal setting and self-efficacy during self-regulated learning. Educational Psychologist, 25, 71-86.
*Look for Part 2 of this series tomorrow!

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Poetry Corner

by on November 5, 2009 in 2009-2011 with Comments Off


Aut Caesar

By Theodor Damian

I’ve had too much

of too much

in the old times they used to say something

I don’t want to hear anymore

Aut Caesar, aut nihil

I don’t want Caesar anymore

I want nihil

nihil, not nihilism

I kindly ask philosophers not to confound me

nihil brings me somewhere

nihilism nowhere.

Theodor Damian, born in Romania, currently lives in New York. Â Since 1992 he has been a professor of Philosophy and Ethics at the Metropolitan College of New York, Audrey Cohen School for Human Services and Education, and president of the Romanian Institute of Orthodox Theology and Spirituality. He is a poet and director of “Lumina Lina/ Gracious Light” trimestrial magazine and has published over 15 books in the fields of theology, philosophy, and poetry.

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Student Reflection: by Sandra Ariza

by on October 27, 2009 in 2009-2011 with Comments Off


I had been away from college for almost ten years, and fear controlled my performance during the first semester. It took some time, but I gradually began to feel comfortable around my professors and classmates who were a lot younger and energetic. Something that I appreciated was the fact that my classmates and instructors never made me feel as though I did not belong in a classroom. The “constructive action” was completely foreign to me and it was not until the third semester that I actually understood its purpose. For most students, the idea of “constructive action” develops during the course of their studies. For a graduate student who has never attended MCNY, it was very difficult for me to grasp the notion of what it means to write a research paper. We never saw a completed project until half way during the second semester. The concept had completely assimilated during the third semester, and the “constructive action” finally took form.

I began to utilize the concepts learned in the classroom and eventually was able to apply them to my every day experiences as well as integrate them to other academic areas. Also, and most importantly, I am now able to guide students who come to the LEC requesting assistance, expressing how hard it is and talking about giving up.

Overall, college became a part of my life and if I was told to do it all over, I would undoubtedly walk those corridors again. I would ride those elevators up and down holding my books and reading my assignments on my way to class. I can count the countless sleepless nights I had, with my 86 year-old mother recently out of the hospital after a stroke. I kept saying to my co-workers at the LEC that I could not continue and they kept encouraging me. Every night when I went home, my daughter kept telling me “you are not a quitter.” I finally graduated and when I did, my daughter gave me a magnet which reads: “Never, never, never give up.” (Winston Churchill) –and I never did, and never will.

Sandra Ariza completed her M.P.A. in general administration in August 2009. She works in the Learning Enhancement Center.

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Fresh Perspectives: Harnessing Learning Challenges for Deeper Learning

by on October 16, 2009 in 2009-2011 with Comments Off


In this LEC-sponsored event, faculty, students and administrators will come together to discuss how students have identified and creatively addressed specific challenges related to their learning processes. We will feature a panel of students and alumni who will share their stories and reflections, as well as a faculty panel who will consider what they have learned from students.

Wednesday, 11/11/2009

Student Lounge, 12th floor 4pm-6pm

Light refreshments

Organized by Yasmine Alwan

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Creative & Critical Thinking in the College Curriculum: A Workshop

by on October 10, 2009 in 2009-2011 with Comments Off


The Learning Enhancement Center Presents

Creative & Critical Thinking in the College Curriculum: A Workshop
Facilitated by Dr. Richard Grallo
This workshop is designed for faculty members and other teaching professionals who wish to incorporate more creative and critical thinking into their teaching activities. Problem areas will be generated and described by participants, and will be related to learning objectives specified in traditional and newer taxonomies of cognitive processes. Consideration will be given to assessment of student learning outcomes as well as assessment of specific teaching interventions (including technologies).

Friday, October 23rd 5-7pm, 11th floor Conference Center
Light Refreshments will be served
Click this LINK or e-mail
lbauer@metropolitan.edu to R.S.V. P. by October 19th
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Back to School with Your Technology Assistant

by on October 8, 2009 in 2009-2011 with Comments Off


By Fenfei Ouyang, LEC Education Technologist. fouyang@metropolitan.edu Ext 2446

Here is an interesting list of 15 tools for improving your learning. We have idenified several popular tools that you can get for your PC or your iPhone. These free tools will help you stay organized, take notes, cite correctly, and be more organized with your study habits.

  • Evernote: A powerful note taking software which can help you stay organized and sync notes between web, your phone, and any computer. Â [Watch the tutorial video here]
  • Zotero: A easy-to-use Firefox extension to help you collect, manage, and cite your research sources.
  • CiteMe: A facebook application that will help you cite your sources properly.
  • FireCal: This is a comprehensive online calculator you can add into your Firefox as an extension.

iPhone Applications for Reference:

Please find more on our academic resource page.What other tools are helping you? Please let us know in the comments.

Have fun!

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Welcome to the Fall 2009 Term!

by on October 6, 2009 in 2009-2011 with Comments Off


Greetings and welcome to the Fall 2009 semester!

By now most of you have settled into your class schedule and routine, and it won’t be long before we all encounter the blitz that is the middle of the term. I wanted to take this opportunity to tell you about some developments and goings on at the LEC.

First we’d like to announce a new addition to our department, Fey Ouyang who is working as an educational technologist. Fey has a master’s degree in Library and information science and her research interest is in Web 2.0 applications.Fey has a lot of experience in instructional technology, and is the resident BlackBoard resource person.

Second, we’d like to direct your attention to the LEC Blog! This blog has been up and running for a little while now, but this semester we have big plans for it, including:

  • Weekly articles by students, faculty and LEC staff
  • Math challenges
  • Announcements about MCNY/LEC events
  • Student and faculty creative writing
  • Technological resources
  • And so much more!

Stop by the LEC blog each week for creative and informative work. If you’re a student, staff or faculty member and you’d like to write for the blog, contact lecblog@metropolitan.edu to find out how you can get involved.

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A Walk on the Creative Side – Student Poetry

by on July 31, 2009 in 2009-2011 with Comments Off


Featured in this “Walk on the Creative Side – Student Poetry” is Ms. Sandy Noel. Sandy is an undergraduate student in the Human Services program. She has her own publishing company, PoeticButterfly Publisshhhing, and is currently working on a book of poetry. Her work is featured on www.originalpoetry.com, and you can also view her YouTube channel, or visit her on Myspace.

Sandy writes; “I believe in human service, and if my poetry can inspire, or help someone keep the faith, then part of my mission is fulfilled”

Free Will

By Sandy Noel

Wounded beyond a subconscious pendulum,
hurt beyond belief.
I cry like a banshee’s tormented soul,
Lord, can you end my grief?
Confused beyond a shining maze,
mirrors that look like fog.
Can hardly see, through all the haze.
Feeling worse than a stray, rabid dog.
The fears inside my superego,
are more than my thoughts can bare.
Contradictory to everyone,
forgetting about the stares.
Thoughtful to everyone else’s heart,
is there a thought for mine?
I cry, devoted to do my part,
but life mocks me every time.
Learned from everyone who made mistakes.
Yet situations seem the same.
So am I doing the wrong thing too?
Or is fate, the one to blame?

Stay tuned for more poetry, and other creative pieces, in this new column “A Walk on the Creative Side”. If you are an MCNY student and would like to submit your creative work, send an e-mail to lecblog@mcny.edu.

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