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Friday, April 3, 2015

Catching up...

Thank goodness for Spring Break! Between late February and end of March, I went to three different conferences (one in San Diego so I didn't have to travel anywhere, thank goodness) so I've spent all of this week just getting caught up... I learned so many cool things and my head has been swimming will too many ideas to manage but let me try to at least share a couple things with you all...
  • At the CSU Symposium on University Teaching - where the conference theme was 'GRIT' - the pre-conference keynote was by Dr. Mary-Ann Winkelmes from UNLV's Transparency Project. The main gist was the importance of helping students understand how and why we ask them to do the things we ask them to do. The discussion was particularly interesting to me, given my last post about being more transparent in my writing class. 
  • Jesse Vestermark, a librarian at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, gave a presentation on helping students critically evaluate online sources - also incredibly timely since I was discussing that very topic in my writing class the following week! Jesse described a great activity where he gives students pieces of paper with different website characteristics printed on them (like 'features strong opinions' or 'company website' or '.edu domain') and has students place them on a 'spectrum of reliability' at the front of the room, then discuss. I tried it in my class that week and it led to a really great discussion as students debated why different factors mattered in different circumstances.
  • Last week, I attended the AAC&U's conference on Diversity, Learning and Student Success. Every session I attended was really useful but one that stands out was learning about threshold concepts and wicked problems, which are part of a CSU initiative to re-design GE courses. Threshold concepts are "core concepts that transform our ways of thinking in a particular discipline" - apparently, economists did some of the early on threshold concepts, which made it easier for me to understand what the presenters were talking about since they kept using opportunity cost as an example :-).
  • And if I didn't have enough food for thought from the last five weeks, registration is open for the 2015 National Conference on Teaching and Research in Economic Education (CTREE), which will be May 27-29 in Minneapolis. As always, the program is packed with so many great sessions that I'm going to go nuts trying to figure out which ones to attend. Hope to see you there!

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