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Casting Out Nines

Where math, technology, and education cross.

The Chronicle Blog Network, a digital salon sponsored by The Chronicle of Higher Education, features leading bloggers from all corners of academe. Content is not edited, solicited, or necessarily endorsed by The Chronicle.

Posts from Casting Out Nines

Putting specs grading to work

The new semester is underway, and with it is the implementation of specifications grading in my two classes. Here is a report from the field about how the system turned out and how it’s working so far.

An update on the specifications grading process

Twenty days ago I publicly committed to dumping traditional points-based grading systems in my courses and going with specifications grading instead. After a week of intensive re-design, two courses are (almost) ready to deliver.

Thinking about grading

Thinking about specifications grading involves rethinking some basic assumptions about assessment and grading, even teaching in general. Here are four things that came clear to me as I read Linda Nilson’s recent book on specs grading.

4+1 Interview: Linda Nilson

What is “specifications grading”, and could it precipitate a revolutionary change in how faculty assess student work in higher education? In this 4+1 interview, we chat with Linda Nilson, director of the Office of Teaching Effectiveness and Innovation at Clemson University, about her latest book _Specifications Grading: Restoring Rigor, Motivating Students, and Saving Faculty Time_ and the idea of specs grading.

Making screencasts: The working example

In this third video of three on making screencasts, we discuss the “working example” video where the instructor is writing out longhand on a screen as you would at a whiteboard.

Making screencasts: The talking head

In this video I go under the hood to show how a “talking head” screencast is made. This is one where it’s just a voiceover and lecture slides. This gets technical, but it has ties to the overall pedagogical framework I outlined in a previous video.

Notes to my sleep-deprived self

Practicing kindness and professionalism as a professor is hard, especially when you are going on 75 minutes of sleep. Writing random notes to yourself during a class could help.

Making screencasts: The pedagogical framework

I was recently asked to contribute some short videos to a MOOC on Evidence-Based Undergraduate STEM Teaching on my use of lecture and screencasts as part of the flipped classroom. Here’s that video.

Questions and answers from Cal Poly

On a recent visit to California Polytechnic State University, I met a lot of great folks and was asked several good questions about teaching and learning. Here are some of my answers.

Approaching balance in an academic life

“Work-life balance” is an important and yet contentious idea in academia. Everyone wants it, but it seems hard to find. Balance can be had in academia, but it takes intentionality.
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