Time for a mid-semester course makeover

Well, I am officially about half way through the semester. It’s crazy how the Fall semester just kills me in comparison to the Spring semester. I would swear that I have been going strong for at least 12 weeks now, but it’s been more like 9 weeks or so. I am finding that I, along with my students, am starting to become a little weary with the semester. Those staring off into a daze moments are coming with ever increasing frequency, so I decided it’s time for a little class makeover!

Makeovers make everyone feel better, including rusty mid-semester courses. So, I’m endeavoring to make some changes in the courses I’m teaching in order liven things up a bit. Hey – we have to have some highlights to carry us through until Thanksgiving break. 🙂 So here are some of the changes I’m going to make in my courses.

1. Statistics. Now, I love statistics. I could do them all day every day. Working with numbers fascinates me. However, my students do not always feel the same. To switch it up, I’m going to make learning t-tests interesting. For those of you who just fell asleep or laughed at that comment, read on! I’m going to make the students divide into two meaningful groups (such as males vs. females). Then, we are going to figure out what types of tasks they hypothesize men and women will perform differently (solving anagrams, knowing sports trivia, knowing pop culture trivia, discussing makeup application, balancing a spoon on your nose??). This will allow me to: 1) demonstrate which variables it’s appropriate to examine (ones we would hypothesize would be different across gender; thus, the spoon trick wouldn’t really make sense theoretically), 2) get them up and moving doing tasks, and 3) show them how to run a t-test with REAL data that they were a part of collecting!

2. Social World I. This is my philosophy and social science interdisciplinary course. Right now, we are covering Augustine’s theory on just war and punishment. I’m going to put together a couple of criminal cases and see how they would try a criminal. Then, we will compare that to how Augustine would try them given his views on punishment and forgiveness. We will play with severity of crime to see when their own views overlap with Augustine’s views and when they are wildly different (theft, rape, murder, etc.). They will have to make a convincing argument/defense for their decision, forcing them to utilize Augustine’s theories and arguments to justify forgiving those who commit crimes, even in the case of murder. I think it will help drive home the point a little.

3. Examined Life. This is my introductory course to college life. I’m having my students blog about how the course connects to their day-to-day lives, so I am going to start having “Featured Blogs.” Each class period, I’ll pick a student to write a “Featured Blog” and we will spend a few minutes of class discussing how it relates to the readings. I’m hoping *fingers crossed* they get excited about this idea!

So, let’s hope these little makeovers help put a little “umph” back into the semester.

About Megan Johnson Shen

I am a social psychologist graduating with my Ph.D. from Baylor University this May and moving to NYC this summer to start a new job as a postdoctoral researcher at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine in the Cancer Prevention and Control Department. I love the brain, human behavior, and anything to do with understanding them better. I love research and a good dinner party. Fine wine and cheese - I'm there. Interesting experimental data? I'll probably show for that too. View all posts by Megan Johnson Shen

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