Friday, October 2, 2009

Separate abilities?

I teach a large science course, and a large gen. ed. non-science course in which there is a lot of writing (I told you you had to be a generalist at a small PUI)! I often have the same students in the science class that I do in the non-science class. Its interesting: every once in a while, a student will do not-so-hot in science and be a stellar student in the lotsa writing course, and occasionally vice verse. But mostly they track pretty closely together.

It pure personal observation, i.e. anecdotal. I know that the plural of anecdote is not data. But I had a world-view adjustment after teaching my first year. Previous to that year, I bought into that idea that street-smarts were different than book-smarts, or the classic: I'm really good at common sense stuff, just not school. But I slowly began to realize that at least in the setting I see people, many of the competencies that students have are all highly correlated. Students that do poorly on quizzes are also sloppy in the lab. Students that have trouble with the math needed for science often aren't great writers either. Students that do well in our rigorous science courses are good at music, too.

I'm still hashing out my own personal views of intelligence and learning theory. I wish that I could go to a crash-course for such, as long as it was evidence based. Woods Hole for learning and teaching? I simply can't fit in all the reading in a new field, when I am trying to keep up with my own. Or do I have to keep building my ideas from my own biased personal anecdotal observations over the years?

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