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Offline Valdorod

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Is anyone else losing students?
« on: March 29, 2008, 05:10:58 PM »
These past semesters, starting with spring 07, I have been losing about half of my students in some of my classes, and last semester I had a section where only 8 students took the final, when the class began with an enrollment of 26.  This semester I already lost 8 and 10 students in two different sections.  Both sections began with 24.  I've never had such a high drop out rate. 

Maybe I am not adapting to the times.  Just last week I received a textbook for evaluation and part of the package is that you can have students download lectures to their video ipods, I just switched from chalk and board to powerpoints two years ago.  Now I may need to look into providing lectures on ipods!  I can't keep up, I don't even own an ipod, then again maybe I should go back to chalk and board;

Valdo

Offline Arkcon

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Re: Is anyone else losing students?
« Reply #1 on: March 29, 2008, 05:16:27 PM »
The video ipod might me just a gimmick, those are pricey, and they don't hold much, 'tho improvements can change that suddenly.  Now, a downloadable audio lecture, those are becoming pretty common.  You can get a digital recorder, and ask if the computer lab has a friendly geek to convert it to downloadable for, and the university should have hosting ability for you.  Unless your lectures really don't work as pure audio, which is likely, for the sciences.  You can probably find a power point to ipod conversion program, if you feel you have to be trendy.
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Offline Yggdrasil

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Re: Is anyone else losing students?
« Reply #2 on: March 29, 2008, 05:26:33 PM »
Personally for chemistry lectures I prefer chalk and board over powerpoint.  Having the instructor write everything out on the board makes it easier for students to take notes whereas people lecturing from powerpoint tend to go faster, making it harder for students to follow if they're taking notes.

The one advantage of a powerpoint, however, is that you can easily post the powerpoint on the class website so your students can look at the slides from home when studying.

Offline enahs

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Re: Is anyone else losing students?
« Reply #3 on: March 29, 2008, 05:38:07 PM »
I agree with Yggdrasil.

I always hated power point only lectures.
But I usually enjoy power-point assisted lectures. As in, use power point (or just a computer in general) to bring in pictures, video, animations, etc.

I am helping setup one of these in one of our class rooms:

 linky


It is already up and running. It is freakin schweet. No professor is using it yet. They want to start the semester with it, and learn how to use it and get them on the web easy. Though most think it is a hassle and waste of time :(.

Offline agrobert

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Re: Is anyone else losing students?
« Reply #4 on: March 29, 2008, 07:22:21 PM »
At UCSD most of the classrooms are equipped with a audio recording device that is then converted and uploaded online for most lectures.  These are useful if you miss a class but really difficult to follow without visuals.

In my opinion, powerpoints are good if they are used to assist chalkboard lectures.  Commonly classes that give powerpoints available online tend to have less in class attendance. 
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Offline chrisbb

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Re: Is anyone else losing students?
« Reply #5 on: March 29, 2008, 09:00:02 PM »
I'd deff. stick with Blackboards any day. I know i can visualize where they wrote the stuff, and then what he was saying at the point. If the class is all theory both voice recording and notes can be helpful. The more technical stuff you have = more chance of it going wrong! You can't break a chalkboard!  ;D

Offline Mitch

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Re: Is anyone else losing students?
« Reply #6 on: March 29, 2008, 09:19:57 PM »
I hate powerpoints, please switch back to chalk. Powerpoints are just crude and cruel to students.
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Offline macman104

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Re: Is anyone else losing students?
« Reply #7 on: March 29, 2008, 11:51:26 PM »
In general I like chalk/whiteboard work.  However, there are times, especially in chemistry, that powerpoint work is helpful.  I know in inorganic chem, when we were going over molecular orbitals and crystal structure that the images were extremely helpful.  But from what Valdorod said, people not attending lecture isn't the issue, it's people completing the course.

Valdorod, I do think you're drop rates seem quite high.  I doubt it's from you "not adapting" to the times.  Can I ask what courses you teach?  Hopefully we can help you figure out what's causing your drop rate.

Also, as a note from a student, I would curse the teacher that made me pay an exorbitant rate for a book just because it came with trendy video ipod lectures.

Offline pantone159

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Re: Is anyone else losing students?
« Reply #8 on: March 30, 2008, 12:32:36 AM »
I can't help but remember a scene from the movie Real Genius...

One of the characters is taking a class (at CalTech I think).  Some students skip sitting through the lecture, and instead just leave a tape recorder to record the lecture.  (Old school magnetic tape.)  As the semester goes on, more and more students are skipping the class and using recorders.  Finally, the character is the only actual human to show up for the lecture.  This includes the prof, who has set up a tape player at the lectern, so it is playing an audio recording to be recorded by all the students' tape recorders.  There is a note on the blackboard:  'Caution:  Math on tape is hard to follow'.

P.S.  I am in the liking the backboard camp, but I graduated 15+ years ago before there was even PowerPoint.  The nice thing about the prof writing out the stuff as the lecture goes on, as you can see the flow of things, and think it through as he/she writes it out.  With a pre-packaged presentation all the info comes out at once and it is harder to absorb.  However, this way you don't have to worry about illegible writing.

Offline Yggdrasil

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Re: Is anyone else losing students?
« Reply #9 on: March 30, 2008, 01:59:15 AM »
With a pre-packaged presentation all the info comes out at once and it is harder to absorb.  However, this way you don't have to worry about illegible writing.

One of the worst classes I had was an optics class where the prof made a powerpoint consisting of scans of handwritten equations.  So, all of the derivations were fast, hard to absorb, and illegible.

In defense of powerpoints, however, there are some classes where powerpoint is better than chalkboard, especially in biology.  Biology lends itself well to lectures where the professor puts up a image (e.g. a cartoon of a biological process, a crystal structure of an enzyme, a figure from a paper) then explains that image.  In these cases, the high quality images in the powerpoint are able to convey a point/teach a concept much better than a hand-drawn images.

Offline LQ43

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Re: Is anyone else losing students?
« Reply #10 on: March 30, 2008, 08:59:15 PM »
Granted that I teach at a CC where students may need more scaffolding but I give lectures using Word (powerpoint is too cumbersome) and have these available to students online but their version is a fill-in-the-blank one - missing vital points and without worked out problems.

When I give the lecture, the notes are filled in where the important ideas and vocabulary are written in red. I do sometimes introduce a topic or work out problems in class on a chalk or whiteboard. But because I get tired of writing everything on the board, it helps them and me to have the notes projected on the screen. (we have rooms equipped with video and computer outputs to a screen - I bring my laptop to class) - I incorporate visuals and also access the internet for relevant topics while lecturing


That is if they miss class, they have a skeleton of notes but miss the important information. And if they come, they don't need to rush and try to write down everything, but can have notes that are pretty much the way they are projected. I get through alot of material, the students are not rushed and I also do lots examples  hand-written on the board.

This seems to work for my students and currently I have 2/3  (each class 26 students) classes where I've had no drops.

See below where the first page is my lecture and the second is their notes. Hope this might help


Offline Polleke

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Re: Is anyone else losing students?
« Reply #11 on: March 31, 2008, 06:49:05 AM »
as I am not a teacher, I can not give you that point of view.

But as a student I can give you the following view: the use of computers and ppt suck big times when they are used too often and in a wrong way.

I am not against the use of ppt and stuff like that, but I am against teacher that use it...

I know it sounds stupid, but why do I state it like that, well because till this day on I have only had 1 teacher that knew how to use this material.
All the teachers I had, that used ppt and stuff like that, used it very badly.

Most comon mistakes:
they show ppt presentations that have only the basic in them , they give those presentations to the students too. Wich is good, but what happens is that they go way to fast so you cant keep up and you cant fill in things you want to fill in or want to add extra.
Secondly because they have this ppts they seem to trow away the older coursematerial (books that contained everything) and only hand out these ppt papers and thus you have nothing left as a student but some silly ppt paper.
+ in most cases they print it so that you have 8 or 6 squares on 1 page, try to learn that ? And try to add some things on such small printed things... just stupid.
+ even worse: some teachers dont even bother to print it out and distrubite it to their students: they simply say: you have a printer at home, use that one and print it out yourself===> way too expensive to print it out on my home printer (when school does it, its cheaper and a lot faster and easier in general) + most of the times the teacher add the ppt presenations too late at their webspace, so you cant even download the papers before the classes start... then you are sitting there with nothing at all...


Another thing is that when using stuff like that, you need to make sure everyone can see it.
At my school sometimes they use this little projecters and yes you can see it when sitting on the first 1-3 rows.. the rest is f*cked and cant even see whats projected on the board.


Another complaint: some teachers can hardly use a computer, let stand alone make a decent ppt presentation.

oh and yes when using a ppt or computer , make sure the material works ===> somtimes they notice it doenst work, so they teach without any presentation at all... just a joke...

and yet another mistake: a ppt may look cool and very nice when using it during a class, but when you print it out then it might suck...
I mean: use of too many colors, to many cool stuff etc... it looks nice on a computer screen but not on a piece of paper..


Thats why I feel that ppt presentations are only good as an extra thing, not as the course itself!

YOu can use ppt during classes but you still need to hand out a book itself.
The ppt are just the essentials of the textbook or are extra things that might help you study.
It cant be that the ppt presentations itself form the textbook itself.



Oh yes : and letting students used their own computers and enter the internet during classes ==> bad idea, most of the time they just use it to surf the net and dont even pay attention to what the teacher is saying.



Offline macman104

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Re: Is anyone else losing students?
« Reply #12 on: March 31, 2008, 11:06:03 AM »
they show ppt presentations that have only the basic in them , they give those presentations to the students too. Wich is good, but what happens is that they go way to fast so you cant keep up and you cant fill in things you want to fill in or want to add extra.
Going too fast is bad, yes.  However, powerpoints are not supposed to overloaded with every minute detail.  If the professor goes too fast, you should ask them to go back a slide, or stop them before they advance.
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Secondly because they have this ppts they seem to trow away the older coursematerial (books that contained everything) and only hand out these ppt papers and thus you have nothing left as a student but some silly ppt paper.
Valid complaint, do they provide recommended books?  The only time I've ever had a teacher not use a book, they gave us other books that they recommended if we wanted to have them.
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some teachers dont even bother to print it out and distrubite it to their students: they simply say: you have a printer at home, use that one and print it out yourself
I don't think this is an issue.  It may be cheaper for the school to print them, but school's have budgets too.  I have a professor who used slides in a class of 25, twice a week, can you imagine how much paper he'd use if he had to print out slides for everyone?  Then figure in how many people are actually going to hang on to all of that paper, especially if it's uploaded online.
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most of the times the teacher add the ppt presenations too late at their webspace
True, this is a problem for me sometimes.  But you can still take notes on paper and supplement with the lecture notes when you do get them.
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Another thing is that when using stuff like that, you need to make sure everyone can see it.
At my school sometimes they use this little projecters and yes you can see it when sitting on the first 1-3 rows.. the rest is f*cked and cant even see whats projected on the board.
I would recommend those students that can't see to move up if there's room, or to bring the issue to the professor.
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oh and yes when using a ppt or computer , make sure the material works ===> somtimes they notice it doenst work, so they teach without any presentation at all... just a joke...
What do you mean "works"?  Teaching without a presentation is fine, if they are prepared to teach on the board.
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You can use ppt during classes but you still need to hand out a book itself.
As I said before, I welcome any course that does not require me to purchase a book.  As long as they recommend books to those who might need them.
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Oh yes : and letting students used their own computers and enter the internet during classes ==> bad idea, most of the time they just use it to surf the net and dont even pay attention to what the teacher is saying.
Sometimes yes, sometimes, no.  I don't think that's fair to those who are using the computer correctly.  It only harms the individual if they aren't paying attention.

Offline LQ43

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Re: Is anyone else losing students?
« Reply #13 on: March 31, 2008, 05:35:29 PM »
It is good to have both teacher and student perspectives.

I can't speak for others who use technology in their classroom and I would agree that there are pitfalls if the user is unfamiliar with the mechanics of pushing the right button or clicking the correct icons.

In my class, course notes are available for free printout on school computers rather than as a package the student has to pay for in the bookstore. Also I recommend but do not require the textbook - or suggest students share if they can. 

I agree that PPT outputs are difficult to read with their small print and why Word documents seem to work better for my students and why there is room (blanks) for filling in. Projecting in large font is a must as well.

I don't want to hijack this thread but only posted my experience that has seemed to result in much fewer drops recently.

I wouldn't claim that these teaching methods may be the only reason students have been staying the whole semester but also due to the greater enforcement of Math, Reading and chemistry prerequisites.

Many students in a Gen Chem course that required at least a year of intro chem would enroll with no or little chem (or have a lagtime of 3  years or more since their last chem class) and would drop because they didn't have the background or were so over-committed with too many classes or work to keep up.

When things weren't going well, I also gave mid-semester student evaluations to find out what could be changed to make the learning a better experience.  Valdo I hope you can find out what can turn things around for you. Just my 2 cents

Offline Valdorod

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Re: Is anyone else losing students?
« Reply #14 on: April 01, 2008, 02:14:17 PM »
Thanks for all the input  :)

I teach general chemistry parts I and II concurrently, different students of course, a class called Health chemistry, which is less rigorous and for students applying for nursing school or physical therapy.  I also teach one section of organic chemistry.

The classes are small the maximum per section that is allowed is 24 students, However at the beginning of each semester a couple of sections will have one or two over since drops are expected.

Classrooms are small, thus visually seing the presentations is not a problem.  All my powerpoints come straight from the book in terms of tables and graphics as well as worked out examples.  Since they come from the book the student can follow directly from the book.

Where I teach students are allowed to print free (I do believe there is a maximum daily limit, however) thus there is really no excuse not to have them.  They can download them from three different places.  The problem is that some students dont print them and also they do not purchase the book.  Either of the two would be nice.  But not having them either is inexcusable.

As mentioned by several of you, I too have noticed that since I switched to powerpoints I do tend to go faster.  Every semester I have a detailed calendar for the students, based on previous semesters, from these calendars I have noticed that some chapters are taking less lectures than when I used strictly chalk and board.

I still do use the board a lot, however, some of the younger students have come to expect to have everything in the power points.

I too have evaluations, from the department, the problem is that many times the students do not elaborate on their critiques, just providing a numerical value to each questions ( I should probably create my own).  Then again I recently had a comment on one evaluation in which the student said that he did not like the class since one actually "had to read and study to pass".

The movie real genius also came to mind recently.  I showed up to class and up until five minutes after class started I only had one student.  Very depressing.  Half an hour later the class had filled up more, howerver, I think pop quizes are in order.

Thanks again and hope to hear more opinions.

Valdo

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