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There are more museums in the US than there are Starbucks and McDonalds – combined

I have no particular problem with the plural of “Starbucks” being “Starbucks,” as “Starbuckses” would sound a little too precious, but how does the Washington Post get from the singular “McDonald’s” to the plural “McDonalds”? There are roughly 11,000 Starbucks locations in the United States, and about 14,000 McDonald’s restaurants. But combined, the two chains don’t come close to the number of museums in the U.S., which stands at a…

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The Case for Banning Laptops in the Classroom

Maybe the students in this photo are diligently peer-reviewing each other’s work. I know full well students are not always attentive during my classes, but a study that explores whether laptops help students perform better on pop quizzes makes the interesting assumption that we measure learning by comparing scores on pop quizzes. (Or that students actually take notes, which is another issue altogether.) I teach very few courses where I…

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How Bill Gates pulled off the swift Common Core revolution

While I appreciate the efficiency of uniform standards, I am concerned because it becomes even more efficient to teach to the test, which means more students will arrive in my college classes expecting to be told exactly what to do. I want them to take risks which means I have to convince them that I will reward them, not take off points, for making and fixing mistakes — which can…

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Office Hours Are Obsolete

I have nothing against holding office hours. If no students show up, I just use the time to answer emails or check my gradebook and reach out to students who are falling behind. My office is also in a somewhat out-of-the-way place — at least, so students tell me. A colleague ends the first day of classes by leading all her first-year-writing students from the classroom to her office door,…

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What’s Lost as Handwriting Fades

When I used a Windows XP Tablet computer a few years ago, I got more interested in handwriting, so that Windows could better recognize my scrawled text. I’m a traditionalist in many ways, but truthfully I’m not all that worked up about the loss of handwriting. (Having said that, I felt like a very bad parent when my daughter received a congratulations note that she couldn’t read because it was…

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Disruptive Decorations: Kids learned better in a sparesly-decorated CMU lab

Kids learned better in a sparse lab setting than they did in a decorated room. Of course, if they were familiar with the room, and the decorations came from their own artwork and class projects, perhaps the items would be reminders rather than distractions, but the study didn’t test that possibility. For the study, 24 kindergarten students were placed in laboratory classrooms for six introductory science lessons on topics they…

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Is College Worth It? Clearly, New Data Say

Americans with four-year college degrees made 98 percent more an hour on average in 2013 than people without a degree. That’s up from 89 percent five years earlier, 85 percent a decade earlier and 64 percent in the early 1980s. [...] If there were more college graduates than the economy needed, the pay gap would shrink. The gap’s recent growth is especially notable because it has come after a rise in…