Recently in Teaching Category

Insideout Classroom

| 1 Comment

Exam as a Turing Test

| No Comments

One way that the hybrid class helps us learn the course material is that it provides a means or vehicle for us to have a conversation about specific issues relevant to the field we are studying. In the hybrid class it is not simply learning or memorizing terms, definitions and concepts for the sake of passing an exam. We learn the terms, definitions and concept so we can discuss what we are learning with others. And so we can hear when we have to say allowing us to explore our own ideas from an informed and educated perspective. And for the most part, the students are doing a good job of it with the posts they are submitting each week.

I tell my students that a text book on psychology is not psychology any more than a book on blackjack is blackjack. Blackjack is something people do through their experiences and interactions. Therefore, we need to learn the terms, definitions and concepts if we want to go out and play blackjack so we can truly know what the game is. The same is true for any field of psychology, the text book only describes something people and scientist are doing and discussing. In the hybrid class we are learning psychology by talking about it through our blog writings.

We can think of the blog posts as small conversations that build us up to a few larger conversations which will be evaluated in the context of an exam (essay questions). Because this class has a significant divergent component to it, allowing each student the ability to customize aspects of the learning of the material into the larger conversation, the essay questions are cast broad enough to allow the student some degree of freedom in how they choose to respond to the question. However, when responding to the question, the student should keep in mind that he or she is not simply answering the question. The student is using the question as an opportunity to have a conversation with the teacher which will demonstrate the extent and degree of learning and understanding he or she has of the field up to this point in their education.

When asked what I am looking for in an essay response, I tell the students about the Turing test. The Turing test was a challenge to computer designers and programmers to develop an intelligent computer that acts so human that a person cannot determine if they interacting with a human or a computer. The Turing test I give my students is for them to convince me that they are students that have been actively engaged and interested in a topic to the extent that they have something meaningful to say about it. Not just a person who showed up to pass an exam.

After reading the essay, I ask myself was it written by a student who has been in the class all along and understands the material or some person that is simply responding to the question? In my mind the student's paper will go beyond simply answering the question and will use it as an opportunity to showcase what they know. A student will use terms and concepts that we are learning in class. A student will make it unequivocal that they understand the terms and concepts they are using in their essay by including definitions and examples as they write. The student will refer the back to videos, news pieces, personal experiences, other courses they have taken and the books they have read when they respond to the essay questions.

"In 1922, Matthew Luckiesh wrote an optical illusions book titled - Visual Illusions: Their Causes, Characteristics and Applications. It was probably the first book to comprehensively cover the topic of Optical Illusions, or Visual Illusions, as they were called then.

On this optical illusion web site, we present this book to you, chock full of optical illusion information. It will be of interest to both the person who is fascinated by optical illusions and asks, "How do optical illusions work?" and also to the person doing serious research on the science of optical illusions. Some editing of the book has been done."

Turing Test

| No Comments

This is an interesting site about a bet between two very bright people. The bet is based on the Turing Test.

It relates to my classes becasue I have often used the example of the turing test when evaluation student work.

Background on the "Long Now Turing Test Wager."
Ray Kurzweil maintains that a computer (i.e., a machine intelligence) will pass the Turing test by 2029. Mitchell Kapor believes this will not happen.

This wager is intended to be the inaugural long term bet to be administered by the Long Now Foundation. The proceeds of the wager are to be donated to a charitable organization designated by the winner.


Bennington president Liz Coleman delivers a call-to-arms for radical reform in higher education. Bucking the trend to push students toward increasingly narrow areas of study, she proposes a truly cross-disciplinary education -- one that dynamically combines all areas of study to address the great problems of our day.

Why Study the Liberal Arts?

| No Comments

To be liberally educated is to be transformed. A liberal arts education frees your mind and helps you connect dots you never noticed before, so you can put your own field of study into a broader context. It enables you to form opinions and judgments, rather than defer to an outside authority.

What's a Liberal Arts Education Good For?

| No Comments

What does liberal learning have to do with the harsh realities that our graduates are going to face after college? The development of the capacities for critical inquiry associated with liberal learning can be enormously practical because they become resources on which to draw for continual learning, for making decisions in one's life, and for making a difference in the world.

On the Purpose of a Liberal Arts Education

| No Comments

When they first arrive at college, many students are surprised at the general education classes they must take in order to graduate. They wonder why someone who wants to be an accountant or psychologist or television producer should study subjects that have nothing directly to do with those fields. And that is a reasonable question--Why should you study history, literature, philosophy, music, art, or any other subject outside of your major? Why should you study any subject that does not help to train you for a job? Why should you study computer programming when you will never write a program? Why study logic when all you want to do is teach first grade or be a church organist?


Even if you're enrolled in a traditional college, you'll probably have the opportunity to learn in an online environment.  That's because many of today's traditional classrooms are starting to use online instruction to enhance the classroom experience.  This is good news for students, as it gives them access to the benefits of both learning methods.

Cell Phones for Class Lessons

| No Comments

WESLEY CHAPEL, Fla. -- Ariana Leonard's high school students shuffled in their seats, eagerly awaiting a cue from their Spanish teacher that the assignment would begin.

"Take out your cell phones," she said in Spanish.