Teaching is a new part of my life. After my disaster postdoc I’ve had to switch gears and realign my expectations a bit; currently my career consists of tech duty in a lab to maintain my research skills and maybe get some papers out, and also expanding my CV by teaching. To date I’ve taught a summer Intro Bio with lab at the community college, 2 sections of a basic biology course and human bio in the fall (also at the CC), and finally this semester something near my field- Biopsych at the local state uni. Like sciencewoman, my biggest problem has been pacing.
I thought that putting most of my slides on Blackboard would solve these issues, but apparently it didn’t. I suppose something like pod-casting the class could also work to help the slower note-takers. So could posting all of my notes (not just ~50%) on Blackboard, but I’d like to keep strong incentives for people to actually come to class.
One thing I’d like to do is teach them how to take better notes in less time than it takes to copy things word for word from the slides. I’ve thought about doing a lecture where I have the powerpoint up on the screen, and I’m also taking notes as I go along on the adjacent board. Has anyone tried this? Or have you found other effective ways to teach note-taking skills?
I’ve run into this scenario. The problem is that students always try to get you to “just post the lecture before class” because it would be “really helpful” for “taking notes”, and then for some reason once you start “being helpful” they stop “showing up”. I understand how having some sort of outline/format ahead of time is useful, though, so I’ve taken to making my entire powerpoint as image-based as possible. Literally, I’ll have 30 slides for a 2 hour lecture (I’m teaching one night a week, currently). The slides are almost entirely image-based. The students can print them out beforehand so they don’t have to spend too much time drawing the pics during lecture. Salient points, processes, and important vocabulary I will write or redraw on the board as I lecture. Usually there’s 2 or 3 points per slide to discuss, which I’ll cover while the students finish writing. I find this method keeps the pace relatively steady and keeps the students focused on the lecture instead of furiously scribbling every little detail in their notebooks. The students who write slower don’t feel as pressured to hurry, and the faster students don’t get bored waiting for the others to catch up.
Then, after the lecture, I’ll post my version of my powerpoint with the entirety of my talking points inserted as notes for each slide. Here’s the catch though– you gotta post the new powerpoint unreliably so the students don’t just show up and zone out for the lecture. Don’t always put it up the very next day. Sometimes wait a few days. Maybe a week. Keep it kinda random. I find that almost all students will still take their own notes in class, but also get the benefit of my more detailed presentation later on. They just won’t know when my notes are coming, and hence won’t rely on me.
That last part may sound like a dirty trick, but some of the keys to learning are 1. multiple exposures to the material over time and 2. seeing the material presented in multiple formats. This accomplishes both.
Filed under: Academia