Pros and Cons of Experiential Learning

Inside Higher Ed published an opinion piece that argued that experiential learning is not beneficial to students and in fact, takes them away from classes where they could gain more knowledge about their chosen fields. I don’t buy the author’s argument. For one thing, he offers absolutely no evidence that experiential learning impacts students negatively. His evidence is “it’s clear to me”.  He puts forth some examples of choices students might have to make when experiential learning options are required: A junior majoring in political science can either: (a) take a nonrequired upper-division course in statistical analysis (taught by a professor of statistics, not a political scientist) or (b) do a service-learning experience with a state legislator. A junior majoring in environmental science can either: (a) take a nonrequired upper-division laboratory course in the biochemistry of water-based environmental toxicity or (b) work with the Fish and Game Department monitoring the […]

The Best Laid Plans

I’m a planner. I have lists upon lists. I keep a tight calendar. If there’s one thing I can say I do fairly well, it’s manage my time and tasks. In graduate school, I would plan to have my papers done a full week before they were due. When planning out both my master’s thesis and my dissertation, I set a goal turn-in date and planned backwards from there. I knew where I needed to be by when. I had a strict writing schedule. But I’m also a roll with the punches kind of person. I plan because I know things can happen that will mess things up. I planned to have my papers done a week in advance because I had a small child at home, who was prone to illnesses (yay, daycare!) and if I needed to be at home with him, I knew no work would get […]

Not just complaining

Many years ago in a previous job, a situation arose that was frustrating to a lot of people. It was a process that occurred at the beginning of every semester, and It slowed things down and generally wreaked havoc on a couple hundred people each semester. That was only about one percent of our total user base, but it wasn’t the same one percent and the one percent certainly talked to the rest of the 99%. We and our system gained a reputation for not working and preventing people from getting their work done effectively. People complained. People in our department complained. But no one seemed to be doing anything about it. Basically, as is typical when a complex system isn’t working, everyone involved pointed fingers at everyone else. It was true that no one person or piece of the puzzle was the sole cause of the problem. Basically, a […]

Reading: Technically Wrong

I didn’t take as much time to read this vacation, but I did finish Technically Wrong by Sara Wachter-Boettcher. Everyone should read this book.  It’s a very clear explanation of the ways in which bias creeps into our software, and of the ways that software silently tracks you and the impact that has on all of us, but often affects vulnerable people even more. One of the key points Wachter-Boettcher makes is that people outside of tech think it’s magic and way too complicated for the average person to understand and so we should leave the tech people alone, because they’re geniuses. This is perpetuated by people in tech themselves, but also by a lot of the rest of us, who do a lot of hand waving when they’re working with technology. “Oh, this stuff is too complicated. I’m not smart enough to understand that.” But, Wachter-Boettcher explains, it’s not really […]