Tag Archives: teaching and learning

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What’s the harm in failing to fail?

by Kelly Beischel PhD, RN, CNE My client, Susan, was steaming. And rightly so. Susan’s department director went over her head and told Susan’s failing students that she (the director) would change their course grade if they passed the HESI, a standardized test. True story. I’ve heard this story, or a version of it, more times than I can count. And I too am furious. How have we come to this in higher education? As a society, we have evolved into “trophyizing” (yes, I made that word up) children for simply trying, for showing up, for giving their all. And sometimes they don’t even have to show up or give their all yet still receive a trophy.   Just as distributing trophies to undeserving children, the practice of passing students when their grades suggest otherwise serves no one. It’s unethical in fact. Why? Because it teaches nothing. Except perhaps, “If you whine loudly enough, you can get your way.” The official term for this is “failing to fail.” While Susan’s story may be infuriating, administrators are not alone in the practice of failing to fail. Faculty have cited knowing the student’s name, giving the benefit of the doubt, fearing the student would be held back or removed from their course of […]

What would it look like to channel Garth Brooks in your classroom?

Kelly P. Beischel Ph.D., RN, CNE   My husband and I saw Garth Brooks in concert this past Sunday night. I don’t typically stay out late on Sunday nights as the price to be paid on Monday is too steep. But for Garth Brooks … I made an exception. What a performance! I love his music and know nearly all of his songs by heart. The lyrics and accompanying music are catchy thus memorable. But do you know what I love most about him? His energy. His enthusiasm. His passion for his art. And from what my son told me after meeting Garth personally, Garth is an unbelievably kind person.  Refreshing to hear, right? Even if you aren’t a fan, you have to agree that he has something special going on.  I mean. Come on. Garth goes on a world tour after being absent from the music industry for nearly 16 years. And every one of his concerts sells out within minutes of the shopping cart opening.  During the concert, I couldn’t help but note that when we were all clapping, screaming, and singing with Garth, he responded with over-the-top expressions of gratitude and joy.     Garth’s gratitude and joy generated, even more, engagement and enthusiasm from his fans.   And […]

Why We Need to Address the WIIFM Question in Our Classroom

By Kelly Beischel PhD, RN, CNE Have you seen the Broadway show Kinky Boots? There are many great lines in the show. But, one of my favorite lines reminds me of what I believe all college students ask themselves when they’re sitting in our classrooms. WIIFM? The shop owner is excitedly explaining his ideas about expanding his shoe shop to Kinky. And a bored Kinky asks the owner, “Are you going to get to the part about where it concerns me?” In other words, Kinky’s asking, “What’s in it for me?” (WIIFM) meaning, “How is this relevant to what I want?  I’m curious. How often do we educators charge into our classrooms and similar to the shop owner splatter our students with content before answering the WIIFM question? I admit that I’ve done it. Typically, it’s because I’ve had “so much material to cover” that I’ve lost myself in trying to get to it. How do we know when students DO NOT perceive the material as being relevant to them? Eyes are glazing over. Cell phones are in use. Social media posts are rampant In other words, we have a classroom full of inattentive students.  How do we get into this spot? We have agendas, objectives, and a curriculum to satisfy. That’s naturally where our thoughts […]

How to improve student test scores and get inside their heads

By Kelly Beischel PhD, RN, CNE I’m a long time believer in authenticity and transparency. In all things, really. Always have been. So, as you can imagine, it comes natural to me to want to debrief teaching and learning activities. Debriefing is a transparent reflection strategy, where team members reflect upon a recent experience, discuss what went well and identify opportunities for improvement. The reflection can be about a case study, simulation scenario, patient outcome, writing assignment or test. In fact, in our simulation study, students indicated that debriefing was the most beneficial feature of the simulation. I wonder if students would say the same for debriefing tests? Wow, wouldn’t that be a great research question? Sorry, I can’t help myself. I think in teaching and learning research questions.) 🙂 In this series of articles concerning why students don’t score well on tests, we first discussed the use of cognitive wrappers, a reflection strategy that students use to examine their test performance and study strategies, and to plan their improvement strategies. Debriefing graded tests is a magical reflection strategy to examine why students didn’t score well on their test and how to improve student test scores. Students and faculty connect, using this reflection strategy together.  Debriefing: Reflection Strategy #2: I’ve witnessed […]

Reflection strategies to determine why students scored poorly on their test

By Kelly Beischel PhD, RN, CNE The beauty of fall brings me to tears. The varied hues of reds and oranges mixed with the yellows and greens is like eye candy. Wouldn’t you agree? Yesterday I was driving down a rural highway to my dentist’s office (making appointments and knocking out procrastination :)) while admiring the eye candy around me. My thoughts turned to why leaves change color. And for the life of me, I couldn’t remember why. I will admit that I panicked a bit, wondering if this is a sign that I’m losing my memory. Oh sure, I could Google it. And I did. But, I know I previously learned this material. Has this ever happened to you? Have you ever forgotten a lesson that you’re sure you learned in grade school, high school, or even college? And have you felt like “I should know this?” This happens to our students too, right? Playing the ‘Should’ Game In fact, when students fail to score well on a test the default thinking I hear from many professors is, “I ‘covered’ the material. They should know it.”  Yes? or Yes? Or “I taught them how to __________ (fill in the blank with a skill). They should be competent.” Yes, these statements […]

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