Tuesday, September 28, 2010
This is the third part of Intense-Great-Quiet discussed in the previous two posts. It is Quiet now in the lab. Many students are there, but they are working alone or in small groups quietly -as in a library - on assignments, blogs and projects. The quiet gives us time to reflect on what is happening in the labs.
One thing that is happening is that learning is taking place. How do I know that? We see problems being solved. We hear ideas being generated and shared among the students. We see the products of their work. You also can see those products on their blogs, and read the comments they share with one another. If you have not commented on EDM310 Student Blogs, I invite you to do so now. Pick some names from the list. Read a post or two. Leave a comment. You will then become part of our learning community as well.
When I decided to address Anthony’s three part answer to my question “How has the day gone?” I expected to write a summary of my thoughts in this space. Four students have shared their thoughts in comments. What better source of an understanding of what happens in the lab than the reports of students themselves. Let’s review what they had to say.
Nervous. Overwhelmed. Frustrated. Alone. Afraid to ask for help. Three of the students used one or more of those words to describe how they felt upon entering EDM310. These feelings are often reported by entering students. It is a different kind of class. It requires independent learning. You must manage your time wisely. There are few boundaries to limit (and guide) you. The material and tasks are new and different. No surprises there. I am delighted, however, that by the fourth week of class the students could talk about these fears, these mysteries they were about to encounter.
What helped? The lab and my three outstanding undergraduate lab assistants - Anthony Capps, Jamie Lynn Miller and Stephen Akins - “an amazing, helpful and patient staff” in the words of Amani Alloul. The students felt better when they realized they could ask for help - and get it. From the lab assistants and from each other. They understood that they would have to do the work themselves, that no one would do it for them. But they also knew that they could collectively learn from each other, that there was a learning community evolving in the lab. They also proudly reported that they were confident of their learning because they were, as Angelica Scott wrote, “able to teach the skill to someone” else. Prent Davis spoke for the others in saying that it was clear that the “best learning environment is one that fosters a ‘learning community’.” And their fears are dissipating. AnMarie Lane put it this way: “Because of the things that happen in the lab, I am actually enjoying a class that I used to be afraid of."
Thank you! It is a wonderful quiet time I have had reflecting on what you have said!