Getting Students off to the Right Start

Teaching Matters—September 4, 2015

Getting your I.S. students off to a good start

 What are some examples of a bad start? Where do students (and we) go wrong?

  1. Ensuring that writing is happening (not just theory or lab)
    1. Encouraging student to go to the writing center
  2. Not developing a schedule for students, Developing time management
    1. Don’t be a helicopter professor
    2. Have students share two experimental goals and one writing goal (share google drive document) each week
    3. Short term, intermediate and long term goals
    4. Set deadlines depending on needs of student (e.g. some may need several deadlines a week
    5. Provide a syllabus, or have them write one (or re-write one)
    6. Get them excited about early deadlines
      1. Copeland
      2. Poster presentations
    7. Ask student: How much time to you spend on each of these activities and help them align with reality
  3. Starting writing too early
    1. Have students write early in a variety of ways to get thinking going, but not on the chapters themselves
  4. Focus a topic early enough
    1. Librarian research consultation—frame database search, explain topic in meaning terms to a non-expert
    2. Annotated bibliography—a paragraph on each source
    3. Talk to friends—share their topics in a group
    4. Have a topic but not a question: write 5 questions, and then pick one and why
  5. Redirecting the student when necessary
    1. So committed to topic, hard to redirect (getting them excited about a piece of data)—understand the nature of science
    2. Video Uri Alon—nurturing vision of science
    3. Ask, what are you adding to the field?
    4. Adding to work of students in the past–develop a departmental culture of building on previous work
    5. Allow students to fail—sometimes disproving a hypothesis is as valuable
  6. Getting to know the student
    1. Asking them early about how they work
    2. Ask at first what are your strengths and weaknesses