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Day 102: Cleaning Out

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Day 102/180: The rest of “Mindset” and some old links

School and mindset. Praise effort over innate ability. The kids I worry about hitting an academic brick wall in college: I’m probably sensing a fixed-mindset-ness about them. Page 235: Ask about efforts and mistakes made (and learned from!) Emphasize value of learning over merely achieving or completing. Be careful of the perpetual over-achiever. Again, emphasize the learning rather than the completion or ranking.

Having a growth mindset for controlling weight loss or anger, etc.. Cool. Reminds me of “you can’t change what others say/do, only how you respond to them”.

I thought “Mindset” would be an optimism/pessimism thing, but it’s really not. While having a growth mindset is probably less pessimistic thank fixed mindset, it’s more of a way of thinking past all of the lemons and toward the lemonade.


I’ve been very bad in getting to an article by Matthew Hartings (sorry!) in J.Chem.Ed, about making the Junior and Senior years of college chemistry essentially a focused research project. Pretty cool.

In high school, I had a 2-year chem/physics class. Because of eliminating some overlaps (like gas laws), there’s an extra quarter. The extra quarter was spent on an independent research project of our choosing. To my recollection, the rules were as follows:

  • Each quarter of Year 2, students were to find 10 sources of information (in an annotated bibilography) on their topic. If a new topic was chosen, additional sources had to be found. (This was pre-internet days.)
  • Students had to produce some kind of physical object/project.
  • Students had to produce a ginormous lab write up of all experiments and results.

Thoughts on the paper:

  • For college-level Juniors and Seniors in chem, they’re presumably going into the sciences. Giving them research and related problem-solving experience is probably pretty valuable. I did not have this structured experience, and think that it hurt me in grad school.
  • Giving students a starting point (everyone started on some aspect of gold nanoparticles), narrows the field for the faculty to work with and prepare. Probably also easier for students to come up with topics, since the subject of research (but not the variations) is already chosen.
  • I wonder what happens when a research topic fails.
  • It sounds like a serious ton of work for students. Yes, they get more transcript-credit, but does the potential time-commitment drive away some? (Thinking about my art studios and science lab requirements for my double-major.)
  • I did do some minor research in college, but was never given the training in what or how to think about problems, and definitely not how to further my questions longer than one quarter. I’d like that experience now. I’m kinda jealous!

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2 responses »

  1. So … A few things.
    1) I’m thrilled that you found some interest in our paper. We love teaching this “class”
    2) In re: time requirement – The students spend about as much time as they did in lab as during the traditional approach. However, many students don’t realize this. I have heard anecdotal evidence that we’ve lost a couple majors who were worried about the time requirement. Thinking of hear as a studio class is how I think of it to. I couldn’t imagine getting an art degree without putting in the time to do some actual art. Same is true for science.
    3) We do have projects that fail. (Given time constraints and student experience, it’s amazing we don’t have more failures!) but failing in this “class” is great for helping students learn how to confront failing projects later in their career. Also, it IS science. We don’t expect everything to work, nor should we!

    Reply
    • I don’t understand why you’re writing “class”; it’s a pretty valuable learning experience, which seems like class to me!

      I absolutely agree that labs are essential to a science major. I had a dual art-and-science double major, and scheduling the studios and labs sometimes was a tricky balance.

      How do you handle/scaffold the failures? I had a (high school) lab that utterly failed, and my students were pretty amazed that instilled pelted a write-up. Afterward, however, I continued to get really good error analysis sections during that year. Enough so that I’ve contemplated doing that failing lab again, to show how to deal with the unexpected.

      Reply

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