thumbnail image of the worksheetI’ve been so impressed by the utvidet arbeidsplan (“expanded work plans”) my daughter’s been bringing home from school after the latest reform of schools in Norway that I’ve tried to make one for my students. The idea is to give them a very clear overview of what they’re supposed to be learning and how to go about learning it. But it may well be ridiculous – will you please have a look and see what you think?

One advantage for me is that having estimated times for the various tasks I can actually see that what I expect them to do outside of class is entirely consistent with the amount of time they’re supposed to be spending on studying. My daughter’s fifth grade worksheet doesn’t show time estimates, I got that from the European Tuning project, which I heard about when I (as head of department) was asked to report on how our department calculates student workload and would the Tuning system be useful. The idea of this part of the Tuning project is to standardise student workloads per credit so it’s easier to transfer credits from one country to another and know that they’re equivalent. This PDF has detailed examples of how to do this when planning a specific course. I’m not sure whether students are ever supposed to see those planning documents, though.

Anyway, according to Tuning, a 15 credit course (in the ECTS – European Credit Transfer System, which we now use) should involve 375 hours of work for each student. That’s actually 19.5 hours a week for the 18 weeks between the first class and the portfolio being due. I’ve only reached 17 hours, but there’s plenty of opportunity for spending more time on things.

Now I really need some feedback though: If I give my students this work sheet will they laugh at me for giving them something based on what a fifth-grader is given? I mean, it’s way too detailed. But my impression is that students don’t do work outside of the classroom because they don’t really know what they’re expected to do. (Is that true?)

I think I’ll try it out next week, and we’ll see whether I keep doing it. And I’m not sure yet whether this is extra work for me or whether it will help make teaching easier for me. And am I sewing cushions under arms? Quite probably adults should be organising their own studies? Although you know, I’m not going to have their parents sign it as my daughter has me do, and I’m not going to check up on them – and I’ll encourage them to change the tasks if they feel others would be more useful to them in reaching their learning goals. Sorry, learning outcomes. For some reason, the EU standard is learning outcomes, not learning goals. I have no idea why.

40 thoughts on “worksheet for students: am i insane?

  1. vika

    If I had gotten this sort of worksheet when I was an undergrad, life would have been *sweet*.

  2. Liz Lawley

    omg. I can’t even imagine how much work it would be to create these on a weekly basis. 🙁

    Worth it for a class that you teach regularly (and which doesn’t change frequently, a big issue in tech classes)…but I can’t see it doing for a class taught infrequently.

    Maybe you should do a worksheet for faculty on the process of creating worksheets!! 😀

  3. Liz Lawley

    Oh, and “learning outcomes” is the standard language here in the US for evaluation.

    Goals are specific to the student, I think. “My goal in taking this class is to be able to provide web support services to my organization.” Outcomes are specific to the class — “Students completing this class will be able to do X.”

  4. Liz Lawley

    Oh, and one last comment–I suspect my students would *love* it if I gave these out.

  5. Jill

    Liz, I totally get the lots of work point. It might very well turn out to be way too much work. It took me two hours to do this one, and I’m thinking that since it’s the first,future ones (if I make them) would be a lot easier. It might still be more time than I actually have available – I mean, this helps me plan the semester, and it sure helps see the big picture, but it doesn’t get me a lot closer to knowing what I’m actually DOING in those two two-hour classes next week.

    And I’m entirely sure that most teachers will definitely NOT want to do something like this….

  6. Espen

    For me this is way too detailed – first some of the tasks (discussing with fellow student, buying books) is not something that should be included in the study time, secondly I think my students would react negatively to the “nannying” aspect of detailed timelines. I see some value in spec’ing how much time they should be expected to spend doing various interactive things (such as commenting each other’s blogs) but I think I would prefer to evaluate based on their interaction afterwards, rather than spec’ing things out to this degree. Qualitatively, in other words.

    Then again, the spectre of having to budget how much time students spend…..

  7. Jill

    Oh, Liz, you must have been posting as I was writing that last comment! Thanks for the explanation of learning goals vs eoutcomes, that makes sense I guess. And I was sthinking about how much time it took to make this thing – i think it was closer to 2 1/2 hours really. Sigh. And I was supposed to be WRITING MY BLOG BOOK!!

  8. Mark Bernstein

    How can you estimate how long it will take a student to read 42 pages of Se might need more time than someone else. Besides, this is scholarship: who knows what references you’ll need to chase down, what ambiguities you’ll need to pin?

    And if “buying a book” in Bergen really takes 15 minutes, I think that it might well be worth the weather! (Unless you’re buying the book online, of course).

  9. Jane

    I think it would depend on the particular set of students and the class you’re teaching. I could see this working rather well in a lower-level course, where the students aren’t familiar with the “norms” of the departmental expectations of work outside of class, etc. And I personally could only see doing the first part, where everything is spelled out explicitly, for the first few weeks, just until the students got used to managing their own time spent on the course. But I do like the idea of weekly learning outcomes.

  10. Matthew

    Hi Jill, hope all is well with you!

    I think the worksheet is great, I really admire you as a teacher, simply because you care! When I took your webdesign class a couple of your ago I was really impressed with the fact that you actually care and that you do so much more than you have to, it’s very inspiring. Believe me, it’s very rare.

    As for the amount of time students spend on learning outside of the classroom, needless to say, it’s very individual. Those who want to go beyond what is required will do so no matter what, and those who only want a passing grade will work accordingly. But then there are those students who fit into neither category, who maybe are taking a class because they are required to do so within the program they are taking. I think no matter which category you can relate to, such a worksheet would help students get the most of your course. I love the “by the end of this week you should be able to…” box! Clear and precise. In order to get there you need to go through the various tasks for that week. I also really like the further reading box, and the fact that you supply URLs for blogs of possible interest. Brilliant, and “insanely” clever! Naturally such a worksheet leaves room for changes and it would be up to each and every student to adjust the worksheet depending on previously acquired knowledge, (technical) skills and the desire to learn.

    I am not sure I would include things like buy the book you’re supposed to read, hang out with a student etc. just because it’s a little irrelevant in terms of reaching the learning outcomes for that week. Though I understand that you’re supposed to spend x hours a week in relation to a y credits course, how do you calculate that considering changing your blog template will/should/could take 30 minutes? The amount of time needed for this and most of the other tasks will vary so much from student to student. For me it would be more than great to just have the list of tasks and rather decide myself how much time I want to spend on them. This way I would feel more involved and it would also take care of the “nannying” aspect that Espen is referring to.

    I imagine that making new worksheets for the coming weeks wouldn’t take as much time since now you have a setup for the worksheet. It’s also something you will able to reuse for your later/other courses, with some adjustments, of course.

    You’re right, most teachers will definitely NOT want to do something like this because that would mean they would have to work (more), this is where you stand out. Even if you decide not to go through with the worksheets, you cared enough to try, which is more than I can say for most teachers. So thank you!

    Very much looking forward to your blog book!!

    – Matthew

  11. Mark Federman

    And when do the students learn how to learn? I can see how this is valuable for a grade five student who is learning the process of learning, especially if there is a component later in the year that enables the students to reflect on the process of these sheets, and begin to translate what the teacher does into self-actualization as a learner. But these are university students. You are treating them as if they need crutches, rather than providing them with strategies of how to approach learning and dealing with tasks (which is something that is poorly done for undergrads, in my experience; we still have to do it with grad students to ensure they can survive in our department).

    You may be helping students fair well in your course by providing them with this assistance, but you are simultaneously making them dependent, rather than independent, learners.

  12. Lars

    Heh. As a (step)parent, I’ve always been complaining about how those worksheets for fifth-graders read like the kids were already in university or beyond. For instance, in one two-week period the poor kids would be supposed to “reach an understanding of” the causes behind WWI (history), the Buddhist idea of a koan (religion), the concept of negative numbers (math) and the main advantages of a parliamentary system (social science), as well as learning by heart a good number of English conjugations and explaining the inner workings of the human digestive system. Your worksheet seems reasonable in comparison, but I’m still somewhat troubled by the notion that you have to tell a student to buy a book as well as read it (and attend class). These are adults, aren’t they?

  13. Jill

    Ah, what interesting comments. Yes, they are adults, and yes, there are definitely aspects of “nannying” involved – I suspect this kind of a worksheet would suit some students very well and others not at all.

    I guess what I’m struggling with is how on earth you get students to GET that you’re supposed to work outside of the classroom. So many students have three jobs, are taking twice the recommended courseload and turn up to class after class entirely unprepared and appear not to even have any shame about their lackluster efforts. In the evaluations of last semester’s class several students said they hadn’t blogged because it was “demotivating” to have to do work in their “leisure time”. Leisure time apparently being all time spent outside of the classroom. I find it so depressing!

    Part of this is the disjuncture between a university that supposedly serves the masses yet really wants to maintain academic standards, part of it is the ridiculous cost of housing that makes a student loan insufficient. Though heck, some do it, and the average Norwegian student earns 2/3 of a policeman or nurse’s income (over 200,000 NOK or US$ 31,500 a year) on their various part time jobs, according to a survey was in the newspaper last week. That seems more than strictly necessary for most. Then again, if most students don’t want an academic education, they just need the degree to get a better job, well, perhaps work experience and scraping by with a D or an E in all your courses is just fine.

    The problem is that what I can teach doesn’t match what a lot of the students want. Or rather – I don’t think it’s that what I teach is irrelevant to anyone outside academia. Not at all. But the effort MOST students are willing to put into their work almost negates what we’re able to do in the course of a semester. And it’s SO frustrating. And also SO UNFAIR to the students who really do work and who really want to learn.

    This is actually getting me to think that the old-fashioned lecture pedagogy might have been better, all round. Students have complete control over their own learning. If they’re interested, they attend lectures, set up their own discussion groups, read, engage. If they’re not interested, at least they won’t bother anyone else – they’ll just be absent or silent in lectures and other activities. When you try to do problem-based or participatory learning the unwilling students become tragically visible.

    I agree that “buying the book” shouldn’t really be on there – and I might have to rewrite the “hang out with anohter student” – my idea there was simply that all the other tasks were individual and so I wanted something collaborative or conversational. I’ll change it to “discuss Serfaty with another student – what are her main points in this section” or something like that.

    Mark F, your point that this might make dependent learners is good. I think you’re right if this were done regularly – but perhaps it’s not such a bad idea as a model for students to start with?

    And these students aren’t first years. They’re upper level undergraduates, mostly, with a couple of MA students thrown in.

  14. Espen

    Unprepared students are easy: You base a significant portion of the grade on participation, require that students be prepared, retain the right to ask any student about today’s topic (even those who do not have their hands up), and if they are obviously unprepared, calmly tell them, in public, that they just failed the course. Works like a charm, after a year or two your reputation precedes you and you only get prepared and interested students. Be a monster first, then show human qualities….the other way around is much harder.

  15. Esther

    I wonder whether giving these to the students for the first three or four weeks, then doing detailed feedback (so they can discuss what was useful and what wasn’t), then setting them in groups to write the subsequent weeks’ sheets themselves based on the course rubric for that week, for the rest of the class to use, might work even better. So you nanny them for a bit, sure – but it’s the start of a course – so why not. Then you give them the autonomy to plan their own research, and to realise their own learning objectives in a cohesive manner. This might lead to really interesting ‘we thought it would be this, but actually it was that’ discussions.

    I really like this idea. I can see some students (probably the keen ones) really kicking against it however (because it doesn’t give them freedom to expand in their own directions – or at least, that it how they will see it – thus I think maybe allowing them to do it themselves is an interesting way to get round this.

  16. Esther

    Buying books always takes ages – all those other books to look at!

    Also I actually like the idea of adding ‘hang out with other students’. In my expereince students often don’t realise that collaborative work; taking notes together, discussing things, even looking over each others’ work, does not constitude some dangerous form of cheating or palgariasm. This latter may be because of the rather stetorian warnings students often have to listen to sometimes, often confusing them as to what is ‘allowed’ (can I show my friend the code or ask them how to do something on my site, for example). I think this plan makes this aspect more clear, as well as allowing for collaboration/idea sharing outside of class, making it clear that doing so isn’t ‘being naughty behind teacher’s back’.

  17. Jill

    Esther, I think I agree that doing something like this at the start of the term and then having students develop their own seems like a good idea – that would be leading them into independent learning rather than making them dependent.

    Espen, I’ve probably failed by being human first and THEN they discover I’m really a monster. Heh. I’ve liked the idea of grades for participation ever since I saw that US colleges use that – 10% of the grade (or whatever) is for participation in class. When I’ve suggested doing that here I’ve got a lot of very negative feedback from colleagues. The main argument against it appears to be the “trynefaktor” one, the idea that the teacher will give unfair grades and that grades should be awarded by an impartial external examiner.

    Of course, that model of assessment is based on the traditional lecture situation where students are independent. In fact, if you genuinely want an active student-centered kvalitetsreform classroom where students are helped along and so on, you probably DO need to grade participation. Anonymised grading doesn’t work, anyway, when you’ve been giving students feedback as they go.

  18. Toril

    Jill, this is such a fascinating dialogue!! In fact, it’s been a long time since I saw so much activity on an academic blog, and I’m reading with big eyes, disagreeing strongly with some and agreeing with others. However, your last point about a 10% participation in class grade is simply ingenious, and I fully agree!!!! If students don’t show up for class it’s very sad for both the teachers and the students, and how are we supposed to create a student-centered classroom with no students present????? Go for it!!

    One more thing, if students show up for class in the beginning of a semester, and then slowly disappear, an educator may need to look at his or her practiced pedagogy in class as the teaching may be slightly lethargic, and not very student-centered, active, or including…

  19. Liz Lawley

    I never teach a class with *less* than a 10% participation grade, and often I make it 20%. Some of it is based on talking in class, some is based on completion of the in-class exercises that I assign (or, in some classes, their blogging and commenting).

    I’m pretty clear about expectations there–in fact, I tell students that they *start* with 8/10 of those points, and can either earn the extras by being particularly participatory, or lose points by not showing up to class or doing the exercises. I’ve never had any problems with students contesting that part of their grade–and I’ve been doing this for ten years now.

  20. Jill

    I’m going to have to try and get that happening here too – though I’ve not heard of ANY courses at our university that have participation grades…

  21. gamma sync

    I’ve been thinking about adopting these worksheets as one page project planners for my staff. Having a clear description of tasks and expected durations would allow for 1) a discussion of the planned activity with the person to carry it out, 2) a basis for determinine if the workload over the next period is too high or too low, 3) a basis for improving estimation by tracking guess vs actual, 4) the beginning of a standard work process for recurring activities.

    I think I’ll try this out for myself for a while, and see if it’s helpful. I often don’t spend enough time in the Plan section of the Plan Do Check Act cycle.


  22. Espen

    Jill, I never teach a class with less than 40% participation grade (see, and have done it with up to 80 students in the classroom. The trick is that each student sit in the same seat for all classes, that they have large name cards, and that you photograph them holding their name cards up. As long as you see them enough times, it is not hard – you track participation, sit down and award points for participation right after class when it is fresh in your mind, and grade on a scale (sort the students according to points in decreasing order, then superimpose a Gauss curve onto the points.

    Of course, you have to provide good feedback and an interesting course for them to bother coming to a class where they actually have to work, but you don’t seem to be a person that would have problems with that.

  23. Jill

    Gamma sync, that’s a scary idea, doing these for oneself or for one’s staff – and also almost intoxicating. Imagine knowing that the amount of work you’re expected to do is actually carefully planned! I can hardly even imagine such a situation – I’m so used to having way too much and just throwing half of it out the window and feeling bad…

    And Espen, I love that. I’m going to use your courses as an example when I argue for the introduction of participation grades in Norway.

    Do your students ever contest their participation grades? What would you do in such a case?

  24. Matthew

    I think courses at the university should focus on the students who do want to learn. Those who only want a passing grade are going to be nearly impossible to motivate and they are not going to be the ones to take initiative to work together with fellow students. Perhaps here is where the “nannying” aspect really comes in; desperately trying to drag the underachievers along rather than motivating and encouraging to ones who care. The harsh reality, which is just as depressing for the student environment as it is for the teachers, is that a lot of students do very little at home. All the learning takes place 2-3 weeks between the final exam/paper. But again, you really need the motivation to start way earlier, and what better way to get it than from the teacher. However, it is indeed very true that the student loan (which our government refuses to increase) is rather insufficient.

    With old-fashioned lectures and nothing else students who want to learn (more) will do so anyway, but those who only want a passing grade will not even get the chance to be challenged by their teachers and have a spark of interest go off. Take the old Ex. Phil. course (introductory course to philosophy which is obligatory in the first semester), a few years ago it was an old-fashioned course with only lectures and a final exam. Many students flunked the course – it was something like over 60 if not 70% or so. When the course switched to the problem-base/participatory learning model most students had no problem passing the course. There was just no option to cram 2 weeks before the exam, you had to learn as you went along.

  25. Mark Federman

    Regarding participation marks: I’ve just run a course (wiki-based distance learning environment course on organization development at the masters level) in which 40% of the grade was participation (20+20 individual+group) – and it was self-assigned by the student(s). There was a student-developed rubric that the individual and/or group could follow, or they could modify the rubric, or develop one on their own. They had to write a short piece (250-300 words) to justify the score they gave themselves according to the rubric they chose. The final results were just about at, or a bit lower than, what I would have assigned them anyway. However, they gained a heightened awareness of the dynamics of participation, and commented on participation, social norms among the group and so forth throughout the course in process conversations on the wiki. It was very successful overall, and, of course, broke all of the so-called best practices in teaching online distance ed.

    (By the by, you might want to tag this post and its comments for Teaching Carnival.)

  26. Matthew

    I feel that the entire University operates by the principal of an impartial external examiner who is fully objective, as if there really is such a thing. Having an external examiner for the main exam or main papers is completely alright but for the main teacher of a particular course not to being able to decide how the grade is earned is in my opinion totally absurd.

    And even with the “”kvalitetsreformen” I feel that far too many courses depend on the final exam model which completely negates to original purpose of the reform.

    And here is what threw me over the edge today: in the most recent edition of Studvest there is an article explaining that the “kvalitetsreformen” has failed miserably. The gist of it is that the reform was meant to focus on the full-time student through courses that provide (more) obligatory tasks and exams that would count towards the final grade, and the reform was meant to make fewer students take part-time jobs. None of this has happened. So what is the solution? Let’s give up and go back to the old one-final-exam model. Oh come on! What about taking a good look at what has happened and try to figure out where it all went wrong and what we can do to improve the situation? Yes, making bigger changes requires time and it’s very much a try-fail-learn process but giving up is just not the answer!

    The article is available here:

  27. Albertine

    This is really a very interesting discution! Working as a teacher at the college level i Norway, registering pupils is one of our most important tasks! And I¥m not sure what opinion I have about it. I tend to think that if pupils manage to do what they are expected to do, I¥m less worried about them not beeing there. But there are always problems when it comes to group work, especially for the other pupils. Pupils correct each other to a certain extend, and when not, drop-outs tend to get very low grades, because they don¥t have the knowledge they would have had if participating.

    Personally beeing a student in the 90ties in Bergen. I quit NHH because we were beeing registered. And I prefered signing ut a course at the university. Not beiing registered was really one of my favorites beeing a student! And I attended most of my courses throughout all my studies. I really felt responsible for my own studies and results. It might be .. those were the days, my friend… after kvalitetsreformen… But with sheets like this I would have been able to study double as much, but maybe not feel as responsible..?

    As a teacher, I guess I would ask what the aim would be about a worksheet like this. Is it nannying (my experience is that for children those worksheets make them feel older and more responsible, because they can chose when to do what, often they also get diverse choices to level and amount of work (tilpassa opplÊring)? In what way would this help out students getting more responsible? Maybe letting them fill in time themselves would make them consious about time needed?

    Making a worksheet for every week seems a lot of work! But I love the task list and the divide: explain, discuss and show. Seems very pedagogical to me. I guess working with production-related matters (needs a lot of time) is new to many of your students, and such a task list would initially help them understand the extend of your course!

  28. Espen

    Mark: I have used self-evaluation forms for participation, with the same experience: Students are accurate and fair graders of themselves, except for two small minorities: Those that overscore themselves, and those that are way too modest. No points for guessing the dominant gender in each of those groups…..

  29. Jill

    Albertine, it’s interesting to think about the pros and cons of compulsory attendence and actually taking attendence in each class. I agree that as a student I really appreciated the freedom of being able to choose for myself whether I attended or not – and like you I attended most of my classes. I probably missed more classes in high school where we had compulsory attendence, and my “order” grade was actually lowered because of that. Tut tut.

    As a teacher I find my view is really rather different. In some large courses we regularly have lots of students who think they already know all the content and therefore plan to just take the exams (complete the compulsory assignments, hand in the portfolio, whatever) and not attend classes. I’ve actually found this is brilliant – they’re happy and I have more time for the other students. They usually do fairly poorly on the final exam or the portfolio, and there’s often a whine session where they come to my office shocked at this (one burst into tears with the “but I’m taking three times the normal student workload AND working three different waitressing jobs, it’s not FAIR that I didn’t pass this class.” She appeared to have the strategy of doing her bachelor’s degree in a year and a half even if she got an E in every subject. I suppose it’s her choice – but she didn’t pass my class.) But then again some of these students do just fine and clearly simply need papers that they have the skills and the knowledge taught in my class – why not just let them get that simply without having to turn up for class twice a week?

    Usually the other group of students who doesn’t show up is the unmotivated group. Which in a way is a good thing because they don’t demotivate everyone else if they’re not there.

    You get big problems, though, when you try to do group work and some group members simply don’t bother to pitch in, or on a smaller scale, if you do a ten minute small group discussion in class drawing upon something we covered in class the week before and a third of the class wasn’t there last week and are therefore useless in their discussion groups.

    Albertine, I also like your point that these worksheets give children MORE responsibility because they allow them to choose which order they do tasks in, which is not at all a standard right for a child. So are they then giving students LESS responsibility? Quite possibly.

    I think I’d like to make one more of these worksheets, showing another week (next week?) with more theoretical studying, so there are two clear examples of how students can work outside of the classroom whether practically or theoretically. And then leave it to them.

    Ideally I’ll keep doing the learning goals each week – they’re very useful for me, too.

  30. Kelly in Kansas

    In response to Lars, at the K-12 level, teachers usually end up doing this to fit the increased accountability/assessment demands. I agree with your observation that students can’t master some of these things. They do the same thing with teacher education standards at the college levels – I am supposed to be able to “check off” that my student is an expert in teaching about WWII and can demonstrate it in a tangible way. What is forgotten, however, is that there is a spectrum of learning and with teachers, it takes several years of teaching something to even feel competent, let alone a “master.” We’ve gone a bit too far on the accountability spectrum if teachers are spending more time on paperwork than developing new ways of reaching students.

    In regard to using these types of study aids in college classes, I echo many of the comments above. They might be useful at the beginning of a course but would create way too much work for the instructor and I have a hard time when the teacher spends more time than the student on the class. There comes a point where students have to be responsible. With my humanities field, there will always be those who think they can read the material the night before, throw in a few facts and dates, and will completely miss the interesting complexities of the subject. If I only knew how to reach them . . . .

    This is a great discussion!

  31. Jill

    Kelly, I really agree with you about something being wrong if the teacher is spending more time on the class than the students. Thanks everyone for these really insightful comments.

  32. torill

    While I would like to publically spank and/or humiliate a lot of the absent students (you know who you are and you know I think of you as a bunch of SLACKERS right now!), I really don’t want to start taking attendance in class. They are adults. So they don’t want to participate: well, if they don’t participate, they fail come exam date. The ones who prepare, who show up, who participate, they do well. Darwinist of me, perhaps, but at the same time: at some point students have to grow up, and they will never do that if their actions are not respected as adult choices, priorities they have the right to make.

    When that is said: I teach small groups, I work close to the same students for 3 years, and I (or one of my colleagues) know where they are when not at school. If I was to take attendance I could just as well start making them dinner and doing their laundry too.

  33. Jill

    Hah, I like that comparison, Torill 🙂

  34. scribblingwoman

    Teaching Carnival #19: a day late and a dollar short. But with pictures….

    The theme of this carnival is “back in the saddle”: Tenured Radical on setting their hair on fire. Flavia……

  35. Sheila Webber

    Here we can’t give marks purely on attendance, it has to be marks for something else that would mean they had to attend (e.g. it might be writing a blog in class, I suppose, or giving a presentation). (This is a university-wide policy) We take registers in first year classes, though, as it helps us to identify the people who may be having problems – it must be said that if someone doesn’t attend for several weeks they are more likely than not to be having problems.

    I thought the worksheet was a nice idea – not every week as people have said, but it could form a focus for discussion about “what have you actually DONE for this class, this week”. I think I’d want to have a discussion about the document before they head off for the week and also some discussion about what really happened, afterwards. In fact, perhaps the students could compile them initially – we say what we want them to achieve by next week, they have to decide what needs doing, but actually discuss it and document it in advance… I think I’d need to frame it up as a supportive exercise – helping them identify what they really want to achieve, what is standing in the way and so forth. Hmmm there’s a new semester 2 level 1 module coming up that I’m teaching with colleagues with an inquiry based learning approach and we are going to discuss how it’s going a lot … so perhaps I’ll show my colleagues your worksheet (if that’s OK!).

    We also have official hours-per-credit, and when I have put these numbers up at the start of the semester to emphasise that we expect students to do a bit of reading and thinking and so forth in addition to working on coursework there’s a certain amount of eye rolling or head ducking to indicate a lack of commitment to putting in the time. And again, like you, I know that the majority have got some kind of job, are committed to relationships/ social life etc.


  36. Morten

    I love the worksheet! It makes it way more easy for me to to what I’m suppose to do, when I’m supposed to do it. For example, I’ve been sick for the last week, no worries because i have a worksheet that says what I need to read or do, Great!

  37. Kim

    Jill, cool worksheet! While I understand the concerns about relieving students of too much responsibility, I think for some this could be entirely appropriate. Many of my students are the first in their families to ever attend a college or university, so they have no idea of what exactly they should do to succeed iin a class or how much tiime it should take. Some will spend days struggliing before asking for help while others will give up after 2 minutes. While this might be too much for me to do as I plan for every week, even a monthly sheet could be very useful. Thanks for the idea!

  38. Wendell

    Thks. Lot’s of food for thought here.

    I’m thinking about adapting your worksheet with my adult (basic education) learners. I think it would be useful to map out the time and prep-work needed to, say, read and write well about a topic, or maintain and post on a blogsite regularly for several weeks. Also, it might help them oganize their own learning a little better.

    I agree with comments about people not wanting to do more work than their learners: but maybe some c0-construction is worthwhile?

  39. Juliette White » Learning to Learn

    […] Some people take to this like a duck to water, other people don’t. With the people who don’t, I guess making the process more explicit might help a lot of those people as well as encouraging them to reflect on the process (something often easier said than done), but one of the barriers may also be having a repetoire of good possible strategies at your disposal. So there probably is maybe some value in exposing people to good strategies (and things like ‘asking an expert when you are stuck’ are perfectly valid strategies) – a type of ’scaffolding’. Encouraging lecturers to explain how they themselves learned the material in question is probably a good thing too and I really like Jill Walker Rettberg’s worksheets too. […]

  40. Teri H

    The worksheet is fantabulous (my word). I teach high school students who need structure to succeed in class. This type of worksheet is great because it breaks it down. I guess the question you have to ask is do my students need this much structure? It seems like you are saying they do, because you say they don’t understand what they need to do outside of class. Personally, as a grad student, I love this worksheet. I like to be told exactly what to do. My students love to know what to do. It’s not patronizing. It’s good teaching.

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