Jody Greene Profile picture
20 Nov, 11 tweets, 3 min read
I often get asked about why college students are being assigned "more work" during the pandemic based on anecdotes. Since I have never met an instructor who sat down and decided "I'll give the students more work during this plague," something odd is going on here. A thread.
We do know that worries about engagement have led to many changes in instructional practice, including introducing more exercises, discussion boards, collaborative editing tools and so on. IN addition, most instructors have changed the structure of their assessments.
The latter changes, far from being a way of torturing students, have been a response to calls for an ethics of care, for trauma informed teaching practices, for "lowering the stakes" in times when, at least at my institution, >50% of students report high degrees of stress.
So what's going on here? We're trying to lower the stress and students are perceiving us as giving them more work. Well, one possibility is that our previous expectations of how much work students were actually doing in our classes were off by a mile.
Let's say you're a student who did not previously do much of the reading. Now the instructor introduces engagement tools like reading questions or a group editing exercise or a discussion board. You can no longer get by with not doing the reading, right?
So it's not that there is "more work." It's that the expectations are becoming transparent and there is more "accountability"--by accident. That that accountability comes as the result of an attempt to help students stay motivated and engaged is ... well, a bit of a bummer.
In the same way, if you now have low stakes quizzes every week instead of two big exams, it can feel like more work because you have to be doing some work every week, instead of saving it up for half way through the term.
I don't have a solution to propose at this stage, but I hope this helps solve the mystery of why we keep getting these outraged messages from students, staff, and parents about "more work" when nearly everyone is trying to be super sensitive to student needs right now.
Finally, it's hard to measure learning in a pandemic when everyone is cognitively impaired, but I suspect that if we continue these basic course design shifts post-pandemic, we may see a significant uptick in student learning. At least, I hope so.
@CathyNDavidson @Jessifer @slamteacher and all the other rockstar educators out there, I'd love to hear your thoughts on this and any suggestions. Sometimes it feels like our best intentions .... well, you know.
This was the wrong example (*wishes had taken more than 3 minutes to write thread). Take student who did ALL the reading pre pandemic. Instructor now puts engagement exercise to substitute for in person convo. Feels like and in a sense IS more work. Prof doesn't see it that way.

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More from @Jodyji

24 Aug
UCSC friends: have had a few emails among faculty forwarded to me today for fact checking that include modestly informed recommendations regarding how to respond to this fire. Please don't give people advice unless you have done the research. Don't "speculate." Don't scaremonger.
If you're going to refer to official evacuation information, make damn sure you know the difference between neighborhood outreach, an evacuation warning, and an evacuation order. You are world class researchers. It's not that hard to figure this stuff out.
If you want to advise others, at a minimum attend the 6am and 6pm briefings so you can get the latest information. Look at the satellite info. Follow @erin_bergren and others who are giving huge amounts of time to educating themselves. Ask around about who has experience w fires.
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