Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Have Topic Will Travel

Today I taught a Research Workshop to a particularly attentive Composition class. I was surprised to see how much they had written down when I collected their Guided Notes*. Most of the time, students just copy what I write on the board, if they write anything. But these students also copied my power point slides and some took additional notes. I think these students particularly paid attention because they already had their assignment and topic.

Frequently, instructors send their students to our workshops before giving the students the assignment or having them select a topic. I assume they are thinking that the students will do better if they know how to research a topic before receiving their topic. However, as I look back on the workshops I have done in the past, students with an immediate information need (assignment and topic) are the most attentive.

I believe this could be loosely related to Constructivist Learning Theory. When students know their assignment and topic, they can immediately incorporate what they are learning into ideas of what they will need to do to complete their assignment.

*I collect the Guided Notes for assessment purposes. After looking at their notes, I returned them to the class instructor so that she can give the students back their notes at the next class meeting.

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