Tipping the exam is bad….right?

No TippingFor me holidays are not a treat, they are an essential way of  recharging your batteries and provide an opportunity to re think ideas and put things into perspective. I am writing this particular blog whilst visiting Washington DC for a few days before moving onto the real America, Disneyland!

 
 
 

Exam tipping
Now whether its because I was having to get my head around the whole US tipping culture I don’t know, but I found my mind wondered to a conversation I had just before I came away as to the merits of predicting topics that will be on the next exam, so called tipping. This is a fascinating question, and one that is at the heart of the exam focused approach. The logic of the exam focused approach is simple (see  earlier blog for more detail) if the main objective is to pass the exam then the best preparation is to practice The questions that will be on that exam. But on the basis we don’t have The actual exam, then the next best preparation is to practice questions that “you think” will be in that exam, hence the tip.
In many other training environments this approach is common and well accepted. My daughter was taken on the routes most used by the driving test examiner. Although on the day she didn’t know exactly which route it was going to be. As a result of the training and familiarity she felt well prepared, more relaxed which in turn built her confidence, and I am sure this improved her performance on the day.
So what’s the problem?
The problem is that if taken to an extreme, teachers might only teach what they think will be on that particular exam, the so called “teaching to the test”. This results in students not receiving a sufficiently broad or in-depth coverage of the subject and exposing them and their chances of passing to risk, heads you pass, tails you fail.
Application – Focus – Prioritisation 
However exam questions are great tools for application, focus and prioritisation. If a student is taught something and then set a question on that topic, they very quickly appreciate its relevance and value. It certainly helps with concentration, focus and  putting topics in order of importance. The, you can’t learn everything so stop worrying and get on with this question approach…..
Its all about time
If students have sufficient time they should of course learn everything. Although if you think about it you can’t learn “everything”, so there is always some degree of prioritisation.  But in the professional education sector, they don’t. Many hold down demanding jobs by day and study is part time. They look to the educator to give them some degree of priority in what to learn. This comes into sharp focus in the last few days before the exam, and that’s why they will ask for what is most likely to be on the exam, the tip.
So should the teacher tip
It’s all about degrees, at one end of the spectrum, it is very risky and narrows a students learning, at the other it gives focus and application in the last few days before the exam. Personally I would like to see  research on this area some solid evidence to focus the debate. There may be something out there but I have not read anything on this specific question.
But in the absence of such research my view is not to be too dismissive of tipping, it is very easy to completely write it off, leaving the choice of what to focus on just before the exam to the student, when the teacher is probably in a better position to give advice.
and if your interested – How to predict exam questions

 

And finally my  Holiday books 
I have just started Sal Khans The one world school house – very easy to read summary of how Salman Khan got to become “Bill Gates favourite teacher” and the logic behind what the Khan Academy does.
Thinking fast and slow and The chimp paradox are still as yet to be read.

 

Now where’s that bill or is it cheque….20% tip!

Are you taught in the most efficient & effective way? – The flipped classroom

To pass any exam you need to learn in the most efficient and effective way but only part of that is down to you the student, much is about the way in which you are taught.

Little has changed in the way knowledge has been transferred over the years. Initially teaching was one person talking to a few people; let’s call this the Neanderthal approach, the first classroom? Then we had a major innovation the printing press, around 1450, which made it possible for knowledge to flow around the world, all be it slowly, no email in those days. But with the advent of the computer in 1837 (Charles Babbage) or 1942 (first digital computer) or the first PC, IBM 1953, the ability to store and transfer information to the masses was possible. Yet little changed in the way we were taught, until now.

Now we have both online and classroom learning. But what is best way to learn, what is the most efficient and effective way to transfer knowledge?

The lecture

If you think of a traditional lecture, the lecturer stands at the front and talks, the student makes notes and then goes away to read and perhaps actually learn something about the subject.

The online approach

A mass of content is available online, you can watch the very best lecturers from all around the world, stopping and starting the presentation to suite the speed in which you learn. Or perhaps you have a sophisticated e learning course where activities are carefully constructed to explain what you need to know. But this can be lonely and despite the claim that online is the same as being in a classroom, from my experience it is not, it is different.

The blend and the flip

But is the best method to have a blend of both online and Classroom / Lecture Theater. This is the idea behind the blended course. Attend the lecture and then watch some online instruction later in the day perhaps. However much thought needs to be given to how this works, directing students to random You Tube clips is far from ideal. Yet it feels like a move in the right direction.

And now the Flip – The flipped classroom (2004 ish) takes its name from the idea that content has historically been taught in the day and students expected to apply that content in their own time for homework.  But is making notes in class the best use of that face to face time? Should students not watch the lecture on the evening, benefiting from studying at their own pace and then attend class the next day, where they can ask questions? Can we flip the process?

In class the lecturer or teacher can then bring the subject to life using real world examples, answer student questions and deal with individuals on a one to one basis.

It’s not perfect, but it is better

Okay it is far from perfect and it has yet to be proven over time. But it does seem to make a lot of sense and for the first time we may be seeing the power of the PC complementing rather than competing with the classroom.

Oh and it has some powerful supporters Sal Khan & Bill Gates

Watch this for a great explanation why flipping the class is a good idea

No excuses FREE knowledge – The Khan Academy

I look to do one blog a month, not  that demanding I know but enough for me. However I am so excited about what I am going to show you next I wanted to post something now!

Check out this link to something called the Khan Academy. The Khan Academy is a not-for-profit organisation with the goal of changing education for the better by providing a free world-class education to anyone anywhere, okay their words not mine but an impressive mission none the less. All of the site’s resources are available to anyone. It doesn’t matter if you are a student, teacher, or parent. The Khan Academy’s materials and resources are available to you completely free of charge.

This is a great example of open or free content, knowledge that is available on the internet for free, so now you have no excuses you can learn anything for free………

Okay you can’t learn everything, there are ONLY 2,100 videos and there are issues, how good are the lessons, are they of the right standard and quality, are they up to date, how relevant are they in helping you pass your exam?

Equally the Khan Academy is not meant to be a substitute for structured learning. There is more to a course or a well written text book than simply knowledge.  Teachers motivate and focus attention, they identify what is important and what is not, they will link topics together in such a way that makes the whole subject easier to understand and follow. But this material can really help, it can complement a structured course so that teachers can free their time to support and show how the knowledge can be applied. And if there are specific topics that you have never understood, just check out one of the lectures from the library.

This is not of course the first website to provide free content and it is American, do they not know that Math’s has an S on the end! But it is pretty good and it’s not just me who thinks that, Bill Gates does too.

In a time when universities are increasing their fees to teach stuff, it might be that they need to reassess exactly what they are charging for, because if its knowledge, well why pay for that when you can get it for nothing! 

Watch this TED lecture given by Sal Khan the founder

And for my students not sure about earning per share EPS

Or the PE ratio

Or what market capiltalisation (wth an S) might mean