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Many Of My Students Report That The Personal Learning Projects In These Large Lecture Courses Are Valuable.

Posted by AlleneDuene, 15 January 2019 · 93 views

Many of my students report that the personal learning projects in these large lecture courses are valuable. After several semesters of allowing personal learning projects for extra credit, in fall 1999 I required all students to complete two personal learning projects. At the end of the semester, 89% reported that the personal learning projects were a valuable component of the course. Interestingly, 44% indicated that I should have required more personal learning projects because the extra assignments would have helped them learn more.

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From my perspective, these personal learning projects are valuable pedagogy. The number of time students spend learning has dramatically increased since this assignment was added to the course. I ask students to keep track of the amount of time they spend on various aspects of the course, and they report that the mean additional time they spend as a result of these projects is more than 20 hours per semester. But if students read examples of the essay that are presented on the site samples.edusson.com that has a large database which stores different types of examples of essays for students like descriptice, critical and other types of essay examples. If students read them and then write their essays then students would spend less time on homework. This is appropriate given the credit hours of the course—the increase has not unfairly burdened students. Furthermore, the kinds of learning emphasized are important. These assignments encourage students to develop problem-solving skills—and especially problem-finding skills—as well as technology skills, and they also provide the other advantages of student-centered pedagogy. Before I required personal learning projects, I found it nearly impossible to embrace these goals in large classes.

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I have found that I can handle these projects without great cost or labor. Along with Ball State University colleague Mike O'Hara, I have piloted the use of a proctored, computer-based testing laboratory to give all exams outside of class time. The testing process no longer requires a teaching assistant (TA) to be involved with proctoring, scoring, giving make-up exams, and recording grades. Instead, I have re-defined the TA job description to emphasize evaluating proposals and grading personal learning projects. For the personal learning projects, I do spend time developing and modifying the kinds of help I provide to students, but the number of hours needed to evaluate proposals and projects is easily handled by one TA.

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Students value not only these projects but also the course's technology requirements. At the end of one semester, I asked students general questions about the technology used. The response scales were 5-point Likert scales, in which 1 was labeled "strongly disagree" and 5 was labeled "strongly agree." One hundred twenty-four students completed the survey. The mean response was 4.17 to the item "The faculty member teaching this course used computer-based technologies (e.g., a course Web site and computer presentations in class) to present information to help me learn." The mean response was 3.93 to the item "The faculty member teaching this course encouraged me to use computer-based technologies to help me learn the subject matter of this course." I have little doubt that students found that technology helped them learn.

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