Best of “Higher Ed:” Effective Correction

This episode was originally posted on Sept. 30, 2018.

Most people do not necessarily enjoy being told when they are wrong. The formal education experience can at times seem like it is full of those moments – between corrections, grades, comments and evaluations.  In this episode of KUT’s podcast “Higher Ed,” Southwestern University President Dr. Ed Burger and KUT’s Jennifer Stayton discuss ways to correct without rejecting.

Those big, red X’s splashed all over a Math test or those comments scribbled in the margins of papers can lead students to focus on the fact that they got an answer wrong, instead of the fact that they have a learning opportunity to master some material. And nasty comments from a student on a teacher or course evaluation may not motivate teachers to do better.

“If someone just says too much work, or, you know, Burger was so mean I can’t stand him, that’s not particularly helpful” says Ed referring to student evaluations of teachers. ” And even if that’s followed by an actual interesting idea, I might dismiss it a little bit because I see the context.”

So how can students and teachers – and anybody, really – effectively convey ideas for improvements?

Ed has some ideas:

  • Keep it about the question, paper, assignment, or class at hand. Don’t elevate the criticism into something of broader scope.
  • Keep the situation focused on thoughtful – rather than purely emotion – inputs and responses.
  • Focus on what can be learned from the situation.

Listen to the full episode for more thoughts about both giving and receiving constructive corrections and to hear the solution to the puzzler about the digits of our left hand. Still trying to multiply the number of left hand digits of everyone on the planet? Turns out there is a quick and easy way to figure it out.

This episode was recorded on Aug. 9, 2018.

Higher Ed: Grade Inflation

A…..B……C…. at the end of the school year, many students are eager to see their final grades. But what is the real value of those grades? What happens when higher and higher grades are awarded for work that may not actually be that much better? In this episode of KUT’s podcast “Higher Ed,” Southwestern University President Dr. Ed Burger and KUT’s Jennifer Stayton explore the phenomenon of grade inflation. Ed and Jennifer have talked before about what grades actually mean and measure. In this episode, they explore the implications of grade inflation and some possible alternatives to the current, traditional grading system. You’ll also get the solution to the most recent puzzler involving digits, =, and + . Hint: sometimes a digit is not just a digit.

This episode was recorded May 16, 2016.

Higher Ed: A+ or D- For Letter Grades?

A Higher Ed listener emailed in asking about letter grades: are they good? Bad? Do they hinder students’ desire to take classes that might be interesting but challenging, too? In this episode of KUT’s podcast Higher Ed, KUT’s Jennifer Stayton and Southwestern University President Dr. Ed Burger talk about the impact letter grades can have on how we experience and approach our formal education. Imagine what school might be like without grades. Or if students were given the time to master a subject rather than be evaluated on it at pre-set time intervals? Hear Ed and Jennifer further discuss the utility of letter grades and possible alternatives to those A’s, B’s, C’s, D’s, and F’s. It won’t be graded, but see how you do with this week’s new puzzler. Hint: a pair of sunglasses might help!

This episode was recorded on November 18, 2015.