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Pedagogical Articles

The following citations are for published articles about teaching by Smith authors. If you would like information about an article, please contact its author.

Olivo, R. F. (2011) Bridging Old and New: Video Guides to Assigned Readings. EDUCAUSE Quarterly 34(4), December 2011.

Science textbooks and journals are slowly changing their format from print to digital. While truly interactive textbooks have just begun to appear, many textbooks (or their PDF equivalents) still follow highly developed traditions for static presentation of figures, captions and text. Meanwhile, our "millennial" students expect to listen rather than to read, to view videos rather than static images, and to access academic materials at any hour of the day or night. Because many good textbooks are still available only in print, a simple technology can help bridge the divide between these books and students' expectations: narrated video guides to the assigned readings. These multimedia supplements are especially helpful for students in science courses, where the readings are often complex and challenging, and they are not difficult to implement.

Olivo, R. F. (2012) Collaborative Online Writing Assignments to Foster Active Learning. Journal of Undergraduate Neuroscience Education 11(1): A82-A89.

To help students master the content of a neurophysiology course, they were asked to participate in collaborative writing projects. In the first two years, students contributed to a class wiki by summarizing one lecture and editing summaries of several others. In the second two years, students worked in teams of three or four to write a series of illustrated chapters spanning the entire semester. The second assignment kept students more engaged than the wiki project, and although they found it a significant amount of work, they also believed that it helped them learn the subject matter. Working in teams, however, was not always a happy experience.

Birkett, Mary Ellen. Approaches to Teaching Duras’s Ourika (co-edited with Christopher Rivers). New York: Modern Language Association of America, 2009. p. 184.

Birkett, Mary Ellen and Ann Leone. "Gardens of Change: The Landscapes of Early Modern Women Writers" in Teaching Seventeenth- and Eighteenth-Century French Women Writers. Edited by Faith E. Beasley. NY: MLA, 2011. pp 48–55.

Birkett, Mary Ellen. "Comparing Prefaces: Rousseau versus Montaigne." pp. 28–32 in Approaches to Teaching Rousseau’s Confessions and Reveries of the Solitary Walker(ed. John O’Neal and Ourida Mostefai). New York: Modern Language Association of America, 2004. Pp. 157.

Birkett, Mary Ellen."A Romantic Approach to The Red and the Black." pp. 38-47 in Approaches to Teaching: Stendhal’s The Red and the Black (ed. Dean de la Motte and Stirling Haig). New York: Modern Language Association of America, 1999. Pp. 187.

Hall, A. C. and M. E. Harrington (2003) Experimental Methods in Neuroscience’: an undergraduate neuroscience laboratory course for teaching data collection, statistical analyses and report writing. Journal of Undergraduate Neuroscience Education, 2, A1–7.

Randall Bartlett and Roger Kaufman, "Does Your Campus Truly Value Good Teaching?" Trusteeship, Vol. 11, Number 3, May/June 2003, pp. 20–25.

The incentives that prompt faculty to focus more on research than instructing undergraduates can be probed using a provocative set of questions.

Teaching American Art History in Kyoto and Brussels Author(s): John Davis. Reviewed work(s): Source: American Art, Vol. 22, No. 3 (Fall 2008), pp. 19–22 Published by: The University of Chicago Press on behalf of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Wild, C. J., M. Pfannkuch , M. Regan and N. J. Horton. Towards More Accessible Conceptions of Statistical Inference, Journal of the Royal Statistical Society: Series A (Statistics in Society), 2011; 174 (part 2): 247–295 (the paper was read before the RSS on October 20, 2010, and the 39 written comments plus our rejoinder were published).

There is a compelling case, based on research in statistics education, for first courses in statistical inference to be underpinned by a staged development path. Preferably over a number of years, students should begin working with precursor forms of statistical inference, much earlier than they now do. A side benefit is giving younger students more straightforward and more satisfying ways of answering interesting real-world questions. We discuss the issues that are involved in formulating precursor versions of inference and then present some specific and highly visual proposals. These build on novel ways of experiencing sampling variation and have intuitive connections to the standard formal methods of making inferences in first university courses in statistics. Our proposal uses visual comparisons to enable the inferential step to be made without taking the eyes off relevant graphs of the data. This allows the time and conceptual distances between questions, data and conclusions to be minimized, so that the most critical linkages can be made. Our approach was devised for use in high schools but is also relevant to adult education and some introductory tertiary courses.

Konold C., S. Madden, A. Pollatsek, M. Pfannkuch, C. Wild, I. Ziedins, W. Finzer, N. J. Horton and S. Kazak. Conceptual challenges in coordinating theoretical and data-centered estimates of probability, Mathematical Thinking and Learning, 2011; 13:68–86.

A core component of informal statistical inference is the recognition that judgments based on sample data are inherently uncertain. This implies that instruction aimed at developing informal inference needs to foster basic probabilistic reasoning. In this article, we analyze and critique the now-common practice of introducing students to both "theoretical" and "experimental" probability, typically with the hope that students will come to see the latter as converging on the former as the number of observations grows. On the surface of it, this approach would seem to fit well with objectives in teaching informal inference. However, our in-depth analysis of one eighth-grader’s reasoning about experimental and theoretical probabilities points to various pitfalls in this approach. We offer tentative recommendations about how some of these issues might be addressed.

Pfannkuch, M. , M. Regan, C. Wild and N. J. Horton. Telling data stories: essential dialogues for comparative reasoning, Journal of Statistics Education, 2010; 18(1) (won award for best paper in JSE in 2010).

Language and the telling of data stories have fundamental roles in advancing the GAISE agenda of shifting the emphasis in statistics education from the operation of sets of procedures towards conceptual understanding and communication. In this paper we discuss some of the major issues surrounding story telling in statistics, challenge current practices, open debates about what constitutes good verbalization of structure in graphical and numerical summaries, and attempt to clarify what underlying concepts should be brought to the students' attention and how. Narrowing in on the particular problem of comparing groups, we propose that instead of simply reading and interpreting coded information from graphs, students should understand and be able to explain the rich conceptual repertoire underpinning comparisons using plots. These essential data-dialogues include paying attention to language, invoking descriptive and inferential thoughts, and determining informally whether claims can be made about the underlying populations from the sample data. A detailed teacher guide on comparative reasoning is presented and discussed

Switzer, S. S. (SC ’06 undergraduate first-author) and N. J. Horton. What your doctor should know about statistics (but perhaps doesn’t), Chance, 2007; 20(1):17–21.

Horton, N. J. and S. S. Switzer (SC ’06 undergraduate co-author). Statistical methods in the Journal (research letter). New England Journal of Medicine, 2005; 353(18):1977–1979.

(Abstract for the two previous citations) We undertook a review of the use of statistical methods in the New England Journal of Medicine, a top biomedical research journal. Consistent with previous research, we found there was a continued trend toward increased use of newer and more sophisticated statistical methods by journal authors. Readers with knowledge of only the topics typically included in introductory statistics courses may not fully comprehend a large part of the statistical content of original articles in the NEJM. We concur with the conclusion of Emerson and Colditz that "an acquaintance with a few basic statistical techniques cannot give full statistical access to research appearing in the journal." This finding has implications for statistical education at all levels.

Horton N. J., E. R. Brown and L. Qian (SC ’05 undergraduate co-author). Use of R as a toolbox for mathematical statistics exploration. The American Statistician, 2004; 58(4):343–357.

The R language, a freely available environment for statistical computing and graphics is widely used in many fields. This "expert-friendly" system has a powerful command language and programming environment, combined with an active user community. We discuss how R is ideal as a platform to sup- port experimentation in mathematical statistics, both at the un- dergraduate and graduate levels. Using a series of case studies and activities, we describe how R can be used in a mathemati- cal statistics course as a toolbox for experimentation. Examples include the calculation of a running average, maximization of a nonlinear function, resampling of a statistic, simple Bayesian modeling, sampling from multivariate normal, and estimation of power. These activities, often requiring only a few dozen lines of code, offer students the opportunity to explore statistical con- cepts and experiment. In addition, they provide an introduction to the framework and idioms available in this rich environment.

Brady, J. B (1992) Does ice dissolve or does halite melt? — A low-temperature liquidus experiment for petrology classes: Journal of Geological Education, 40, 116–118.

Brady, J. B. (1995) Confessions of a mineralogy professor: Geotimes, 40:9, 4.

Brady, J. B. and S. J. Boardman. (1995) Optical diffraction experiments using lasers — An effective strategy for introducing mineralogy students to x-ray diffraction: Journal of Geological Education, 43, 471–476.

Brady, J. B., R. M. Newton, and S. J. Boardman. (1995) New uses for powder x-ray diffraction experiments in the undergraduate curriculum: Journal of Geological Education, 43, 466–470.

Brady, J. B. (1997) Teaching mineralogy to geology students: Mineralogical Association of Canada Newsletter 56, 3–7.

Brady, J. B. (1997) Making solid solutions with alkali halides: in Brady, J.B., Mogk, D.W., and Perkins, D., editors, Teaching Mineralogy, Mineralogical Society of America, Washington, DC, 85-89.

When two cations have the same charge and a similar radius, a mineral that contains one of the cations may contain the other as well, thus forming a solid solution. Common examples include Mg +2 and Fe+2 as in olivine, Na+1 and K+1 as in alkali feldspar, Al+3 and Fe+3 as in garnet. Some solid solutions are complete, so minerals may occur with the similar cations present in any proportion (e.g. olivine). In other cases, the solid solution is limited (e.g. alkali feldspar) so that some intermediate compositions cannot be formed, at least at low temperatures. Solid solutions are important because the physical properties and behavior of a mineral depend on its chemical composition. In this exercise, the class will grow a variety of crystals of the same mineral, but with different chemical compositions. These crystals will be made from mixtures of halite (NaCl) and sylvite (KCl) that are melted and cooled. Because K+1 is significantly larger than Na+1, the unit cell is larger in sylvite than in halite. Intermediate compositions have intermediate unit cell sizes. Thus, a measurement of the lattice spacing of the crystalline products of your experiments can be used to determine their chemical composition. The principle goal of these experiments is to demonstrate that solid solutions do occur and that their physical properties vary with their chemical composition. Additional goals include studying the effect of composition on melting, exploring the process of exsolution as a function of temperature, and seeing the effect of fluids and deformation on crystallization kinetics.

Brady, J. B. (2003) Phase diagrams from kitchen chemistry. 3 January 2008 l

Brady, J.B., and Cheney, J.T. (2004) The Cape Ann Plutonic Suite: A field trip for petrology classes. In Hanson, L.S., ed., Guidebook, 96th Annual Meeting of the New England Intercollegiate Geological Conference, Salem, Massachusetts, B1-B25.

For many years, we have been jointly taking our petrology classes on a one-day field trip to the Cape Ann region to see and discuss igneous rocks in a spectacular setting. We have found this to be a very rewarding experience both for us and for our students. We offer this NEIGC trip to share with others what we think are the best teaching stops, some comments about teaching strategies, diagrams that may be useful for teaching about Cape Ann, and our current understanding of the geologic history of the Cape Ann Plutonic Suite. This is not a trip about new research, although our students have collected data over the years that are included in some of the figures. Instead, it is a chance to look at some great rocks and to discuss the research that others have done in the region beginning in the mid-19th century.

Brady, J. B. (2009) Magma in a beaker: Analog experiments with water and various salts or sugar for teaching igneous petrology. The Canadian Mineralogist, 47, 457-471. (Figures in postscript.)

Solutions of water and a salt or sugar make excellent experimental analog magmas for teaching concepts of igneous petrology because of the comparatively low temperatures involved, the simplicity of the apparatus needed, and the responsiveness of familiar chemical systems. Boiling of these aqueous solutions on a hot plate can be used to increase the concentration of a dissolved salt or sugar to levels that may be predicted by steam-saturation curves. Sufficiently concentrated solutions will crystallize, partially or completely, upon cooling to room temperature. Binary temperature–composition phase diagrams for H2O and KCl, NaCl, MgCl2, CaCl2, or C12H22O11 have been drawn to provide guidance for experiments, and equations are given for the saturation curves. Possible instructional activities with these simple systems include: (1) determination of saturation (liquidus) curves on binary phase diagrams, (2) measurement of the relative proportions of liquid and solid in a system that has partially crystallized, and comparison with predictions of the lever rule, (3) observation of some consequences of peritectic reactions on crystallization, (4) observation of the kinetic effects of temperature and concentration on crystallization, (5) simulation of a magma chamber with crystals settling because of their density and rising owing to convection, and (6) observation of simultaneous boiling and crystallization that buffer temperature, which can lead to a solid with vapor cavities. Movies of interesting aspects of these experiments are available online as supplementary documents.

Brady, J. B. (2009) Siphons, Water Clocks, Cooling Coffee, and Leaking Capacitors: Classroom Activities to Help Students Understand Radiometric Dating and Other Exponential Processes. Journal of Geoscience Education, 57, 196-205.

Although an understanding of radiometric dating is central to the preparation of every geologist, many students struggle with the concepts and mathematics of radioactive decay. Physical demonstrations and hands-on experiments can be used to good effect in addressing this teaching conundrum. Water, heat, and electrons all move or flow in response to generalized forces (gradients in pressure, temperature, and electrical potential) that may change because of the flow. Changes due to these flows are easy to monitor over time during simple experiments in the classroom. Some of these experiments can be modeled as exponential decay, analogous to the mathematics of radioactive decay, and can be used to help students visualize and understand exponential change. Other, similar experiments produce decay or change that is not exponential. By having classes, in small groups, conduct several experiments involving flows, a learning synergy can be encouraged in which the physical and mathematical similarities of flow processes are emphasized. For the best results, students should be asked to analyze the experimental data, using graphs and algebra or calculus as appropriate to the class, to determine the nature of the decay process and to make predictions, either forward or backward in time as would be done for radiometric dating. Basic quantitative skills are strengthened or developed as part of these activities. Encountering a number of important geologic processes in the same mathematical context provides a good introduction for further study of any one of them.

Rebecca M. Thomas and Kevin M. Shea "Synthesis of Di- and Trisubstituted Azulenes Using a Danheiser Annulation as the Key Step: An Advanced Organic Laboratory Experiment" Journal of Chemical Education, 2013, 90(1), 110-114.

This three-week advanced-level organic experiment provides students with an inquiry-based approach focused on learning traditional skills such as primary literature interpretation, reaction design, flash column chromatography, and NMR analysis. Additionally, students address higher-order concepts such as the origin of azulene’s blue color, the mechanism of the Danheiser annulation (step 1), identification of an unknown reaction byproduct, and rationalization of a selective electrophilic aromatic substitution reaction (step 2). Students are initially drawn in by the fascinating color of azulene and remain engaged by the intriguing questions that naturally occur during this investigation.

Miller, J., & Garran, A. M. (2007). Racism in the United States: Implications for the helping professions. Belmont, CA: Thompson/Brooks Coles.- Chapter 12: Teaching about racism

Werkmeister Rozas, L., & Miller, J. (2009). Discourses for Social Justice Education: The Web of Racism and the Web of Resistance. Journal of Ethnic and Cultural Diversity, 18(1), 24-39.

Miller, J., & Donner, S. (2007). The complexity of multidimensional social identity development. In S. Borrmann, M Klassen, & C. Spatscheck (eds.). International social work: Social problems, cultural issues and social work education (pp. 75-94). Opladen, Germany: Barbara Budrich Publishers.

Miller, J., Hyde, C., & Ruth, B.J. (2004). Teaching about race and racism in social work: The challenge for white educators Smith College Studies in Social Work, 74(2), 409-426.

Miller, J. Donner, S., & Fraser, E. (2004). Talking when talking is tough: Taking on conversations about race, sexual orientation, gender and class. Smith College Studies in Social Work, 74(2), 377-392.

Miller, J., & Donner, S. (2000). More than just talk: The use of racial dialogues to combat racism. Social Work with Groups, 23(1), 31-53.

Felder, R.M., G.N. Felder, and D.J. Dietz. "The Effects of Personality Type on Engineering Student Performance And Attitudes*." Journal of Engineering Education, 91(1), 3–17 (2002).

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI) was administered to a group of 116 students taking the introductory chemical engineering course at North Carolina State University. That course and four subsequent chemical engineering courses were taught in a manner that emphasized active and cooperative learning and inductive presentation of course material. Type differences in various academic performance measures and attitudes were noted as the students progressed through the curriculum. The observations were generally consistent with the predictions of type theory, and the experimental instructional approach appeared to improve the performance of MBTI types (extraverts, sensors, and feelers) found in previous studies to be disadvantaged in the engineering curriculum. The conclusion is that the MBTI is a useful tool for helping engineering instructors and advisors to understand their students and to design instruction that can benefit students of all types.

Felder, R. M., G. N. Felder, and D. J. Dietz. "A Longitudinal Study of Engineering Student Performance and Retention V. Comparisons With Traditionally-Taught Students." Journal of Engineering Education, 87(4), 469-480 (1998).

In a longitudinal study at North Carolina State University, a cohort of students took five chemical engineering courses taught by the same instructor in five consecutive semesters. The course instruction made extensive use of active and cooperative learning and a variety of other techniques designed to address a broad spectrum of learning styles. Previous reports on the study summarized the instructional methods used in the experimental course sequence, described the performance of the cohort in the introductory chemical engineering course, and examined performance and attitude differences between students from rural and urban backgrounds and between male and female students. This paper compares outcomes for the experimental cohort with outcomes for students in a traditionally-taught comparison group. The experimental group outperformed the comparison group on a number of measures, including retention and graduation in chemical engineering, and many more of the graduates in this group chose to pursue advanced study in the field. Since the experimental instructional model did not require small classes (the smallest of the experimental classes had 90 students) or specially equipped classrooms, it should be adaptable to any engineering curriculum at any institution.

R. M. Felder, Gary N. Felder, Meredith Mauney and E. Jacquelin Dietz. "A Longitudinal Study of Engineering Student Performance and Retention. III. Gender Differences in Student of Engineering Education." Journal of Engineering Education. 84(2), 151-163 (1995).

R.M. Felder and G.N. Felder, "Is the Quality of American Students Really Declining?" Chem. Engr. Progr., June 1992, pp. 79-89.

Weinberg, Adam, Rebecca Hovey and Carol Bellamy. "Exploring Leadership through International Education: Civic Learning through Study Abroad in Uganda". In Cynthia Gibson and Nicholas V. Longo, eds. From Command to Community: A New Approach to Leadership Education in Colleges and Universities. University Press of New England, 2011.

Hovey, Rebecca and Adam Weinberg. "Global Learning and the Making of Citizen Diplomats". In Ross Lewin (ed.), The Handbook of Practice and Research in Study Abroad: Higher Education and the Quest for Global Citizenship. New York: Routledge Press, 2009.

Hovey, Rebecca. "Global Learning through Partnered Inquiry". Contemporary Issues, Association of International Administration Educators, 2009.

Hovey, Rebecca. "Critical Pedagogy and International Studies: Reconstructing Knowledge through Dialogue with the Subaltern". International Relations, Vol. 18(2). 2004.

Guglielmo, Jennifer. "Women Writing Resistance: Teaching Italian Immigrant Women's Radical Political Testimonies." Transformations: Journal of Inclusive Scholarship and Pedagogy 18:1 (Spring 2007): 14-28.

Mike Vargas, "Notice and Contribute: Collaborative Negotiations Between Improvised Music and Dance" Contact Quarterly, Vol. 38 No. 1, Winter/Spring 2013, pp. 24-27.

Probing questions and an array of provocative strategies for both dancers and musicians interested in thinking and communicating clearly with each other about the challenges in group improvisation and the relationships between music and dance when both are being improvised at the same time. Assumptions and preferences are examined and proposals are made to encourage and guide honest discussion to increase the likelihood of mutual satisfaction among creative collaborators. Practices, insights and reflections from thirty years of improvising music in the dance world are condensed into compact lists of succinct concepts interspersed with some philosophical and sociopolitical implications of improvising together.

Mosley, Albert. "Bob Moses and the Algebra Project." American Philosophical Association Newsletters: Newsletter on Philosophy and the Black Experience. 8.1 (2008): 1-3. Web. Fall 2008

Civil rights activist Bob Moses argues that access to economic resources through appropriate training is just as much a matter of civic justice as access to political participation through voting was during the '50s and '60s. For Moses, success in a technological world requires fluency in mathematics, the language of science and technology. Mathematical literacy is thus a necessity for successful membership in contemporary American society.

Moses' mentor, W.V.O. Quine, suggests that the route to mathematics begins with ordinary language, regimented into systems of inference, and from there to systems of mathematics. Drawing on Quine, Moses' pedagogy emphasizes teaching students to "regiment ordinary language" by describing their experiences in the geometric and quantitative terms of an algebraic system. I suggest following Quine more literally by teaching students to use formal systems of logic to "regiment ordinary language."

Logic, conceived of as an "algebra with words," regiments ordinary language by focusing on inferential patterns in ordinary language that are presupposed in legal, mathematical, and scientific discourse. Because reasoning with words takes increasing levels of complexity, many problems require the use of techniques and procedures which are artifacts of extended historical evolution.

On this basis, I recommend that Bob Moses and the Algebra Project expand its conception of algebra beyond variables that take quantitative and geometrical values, to include algebras in which the variables are words and propositions. I suggest that philosophers exploit the resources of formal logic as ways of teaching conceptual skills that are central to mathematical literacy.