Regular readers of this blog remember Scott MacClintic’s post about “data informed instruction”; quoting W. Edwards Deming, Scott notes that “without data, you’re just another person with an opinion.”
Of course, gathering the right kind of data can be very tricky. What should we gather? How should we gather it?
Researchers at San Francisco State University have specific answers to both of these questions.
As they pondered STEM teaching, this research team asked some basic questions: how much classroom time is devoted to lecture, how much to pair discussion, and how much to reflective writing or clicker questions?
(The underlying goal: encourage more discussion and writing.)
To answer these questions–that is, to gather this kind of data–they developed a system that can listen to classroom sound and keep track of lecture time, discussion time, and silent working time.
We can hope a) that this system will be tested for other disciplines and other academic levels, and b) that it will be as handy as an app in the near future.
If these hopes come true, then with the click of a few buttons, we can get useful information about our own teaching practices, and fine-tune the balance of our pedagogical strategies.
(The “DART” is currently “under revision”; I don’t know when it will be back up and running.)
Until then, it’s good to know that–despite all the vexations that come with technology–it can still help us hone our craft and benefit our students.