Of monsters and mentors: PhD disasters, and how to avoid them

Posted in Teaching on June 1st, 2017 by steve

“For all the efforts in recent years to improve the doctoral experience for students, Times Higher Education still receives a steady supply of horror stories from PhD candidates. To the authors of such submissions, the system appears, at best, indifferent to them and, at worst, outright exploitative. Here, we present three such examples – all of whose writers, tellingly, feel the need to remain anonymous, given the power dynamics involved …” (more)

[Times Higher Education, 1 June]

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We need to teach empathy … and stuff

Posted in Teaching on May 30th, 2017 by steve

Ireland“Tibor Navracsics is the European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport. Today he tweeted this: ‘Most of today’s children will have jobs that don’t yet exist. Soft skills are vital in enabling them to succeed in the labour market and life’ …” (more)

[educationandstuff, 30 May]

In Praise of Discovery Learning

Posted in Teaching on May 30th, 2017 by steve

Ireland“A quick look through the DSE inspectorate reports shows that the popularity of discovery learning is showing no signs of disappearing. One inspection report from March mentions discovery learning twice, recommending that science teachers ‘should increase the emphasis on discovery learning’ …” (more)

[ellenkmetcalf, 29 May]

It’s not essay mills that are doing the grinding

Posted in Legal issues, Teaching on May 26th, 2017 by steve

“Notwithstanding the rejection of an amendment to the UK’s Higher Education and Research Bill that would have outlawed ‘cheating services’, political and public concern about essay mills remains at a historic high …” (more)

[Stuart Macdonald, Times Higher Education, 25 May]

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Written work and essay mills

Posted in Teaching on May 24th, 2017 by steve

Ireland“Sir, – I agree with Colum Kenny’s assessment that legislation is unlikely to be of any great value in tackling the problem of plagiarism but I do not agree that only written exams can stop the problem (‘Written exams would stump internet cheats’, Opinion & Analysis, May 19th) …” (more)

[Gránne Madden, Irish Times, 14 May]


But what is critical thinking?

Posted in Teaching on May 22nd, 2017 by steve

Ireland“Since I wrote this letter to the Irish Times earlier this week, I’ve been thinking about what critical thinking actually is. Basically, I believe that all of what we call critical thinking is recall; it’s not some mysterious process somehow separated from more ‘normal’ mental processes like remembering who won the FA cup in 1973 or what the longest river in the world is …” (more)

[educationandstuff, 22 March]


Why Haven’t MOOCs Eliminated Any Professors?

Posted in Teaching on May 17th, 2017 by steve

“The evidence is in. More robots equals fewer jobs. If MOOCs are a sort of robot, then why haven’t the MOOC robots taken the faculty jobs? MOOCs seem like the poster child for technological unemployment …” (more)

[Joshua Kim, Inside Higher Ed, 16 May]


Student warning on energy drinks after teen’s death

Posted in Teaching on May 17th, 2017 by steve

Ireland“A leading health expert has urged Irish students to be aware of the dangers that energy drinks pose, following the death of a US teen after ingesting too much caffeine. Dr Marian O’Reilly, chief nutrition specialist at Safefood.eu, says caffeinated energy drinks can be a real danger to teens and young adults seeking a high-performance sugar kick …” (more)

[Ian Begley, Independent, 17 May]

Lecturer suing National College of Ireland called 10% reduction from reassessement ‘unbelievable’

Posted in Legal issues, Teaching on May 16th, 2017 by steve

Ireland“A lecturer told the High Court it was ‘unbelievable’ that grades on eight dissertations for a Masters programme in his college would be marked down by 10% across the board …” (more)

[Ann O’Loughlin, BreakingNews.ie, 16 May]

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Can we trust the universities when it comes to teaching and learning?

Posted in Teaching on May 16th, 2017 by steve

Ireland“The Irish Times had yet another poorly researched education column today. It contained the usual nonsense about problem-solving and critical thinking while implying that learning in the past was all about rote memorisation …” (more)

[educationandstuff, 16 May]


‘Learning analytics’ can help universities improve student engagement and performance but data protection issues must be addressed, say experts

Posted in Legal issues, Teaching on May 16th, 2017 by steve

“Universities have an opportunity to use the increasing volume of data at their disposal to improve students’ learning and attainment, as well as the quality of teaching and content provided on their courses, provided they get data protection issues right …” (more)

[Out-Law.com, 16 May]

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Can we turn ‘spoonfed’ students into critical thinkers?

Posted in Teaching on May 16th, 2017 by steve

Ireland“‘If there was an Olympics for test-taking, Irish students would be gold medallists.’ So says Prof Brian MacKenzie of Maynooth University’s centre for teaching and learning. It’s a familiar refrain these days …” (more)

[Aine McMahon, Irish Times, 16 May]

The literacy imperative

Posted in Teaching on May 16th, 2017 by steve

“The history of social progress, of public health, of prosperity has all been closely connected with the advance of literacy. Societies with high literacy rates are capable of social and technological progress that evades those with low literacy. The fact, for example, that the Central African Republic has a literacy rate of 37%, while in Germany it is 100%, gives you a very close idea of the difference in wellbeing between the two countries …” (more)

[Ferdinand von Prondzynski, University Blog, 15 May]

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New law to crack down on ‘essays for sale’

Posted in Legal issues, Teaching on May 15th, 2017 by steve

Ireland“Firms that provide written-to-order essays and dissertations for third-level students face prosecution under new laws. The move is a response to rising concern over the influence of ‘essay mill’ websites which allow students to bypass plagiarism-detection systems …” (more)

[Carl O’Brien, Irish Times, 15 May]

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Longstanding Commitment to the Idea of Partnership Could be the Solution to Many Student Woes

Posted in Teaching on May 15th, 2017 by steve

Ireland“Ask any Trinity student about the content of our current student charter and it’s unlikely that they will be able to tell you what rights and responsibilities it outlines. But while students rightly expect certain entitlements in the College, that relationship can too easily become a muddled, top-down one, where students reside at the bottom of a chain that dictates their four-plus years in Trinity …” (more)

[University Times, 14 May]


A study about Learning Styles in the UK

Posted in Teaching on May 13th, 2017 by steve

“Takeaways? The amount of academics in UK higher education who belief in Learning Styles is getting smaller it seems, but 58% still does. Most of those believers actually never use them. 32% stated that they would continue to use Learning Styles despite being presented with the lack of an evidence base to support them …” (more)

[From experience to meaning …, 12 May]

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Student Retention Rates: Progression

Posted in Teaching on May 12th, 2017 by steve

IrelandCarol Nolan (Offaly, Sinn Fein): To ask the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to address the high levels of non-progression in some courses in institutes of technology; and if he will make a statement on the matter …” (more)

[Dáil written answers, 9 May]

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On Creativity

Posted in Teaching on May 5th, 2017 by steve

Ireland“Creativity is one of those supposed ‘21st century skills’ that an awful lot of people are obsessing about these days. ‘We need to teach creativity’ they cry, without ever saying how we might do such a thing …” (more)

[educationandstuff, 5 May]


Student start-ups: why colleges are encouraging students to be entrepreneurs

Posted in Teaching on May 4th, 2017 by steve

Ireland“Dusty university charters tend to be dedicated to lofty ideals such as the advancement of literature, science and art. These days, they seem just as dedicated to the advancement of the next Mark Zuckerberg. Colleges are increasingly offering academic courses in entrepreneurship, start-up workshops and summer programmes for students seeking to start their own companies …” (more)

[Grainne Loughran, Irish Times, 4 May]


How I teach: making a pact with the devil

Posted in Teaching on May 2nd, 2017 by steve

Ireland“Here’s how I’d like to teach engineering to college students – it’s the way I was taught: 1. Give lectures in which I chart a course through the subject, explaining key ideas, deriving key equations, and using worked examples to enhance understanding and model the problem-solving process …” (more)

[educationandstuff, 2 May]