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Commentary: What My Struggling Students Wanted Me to Understand

I haven’t taught a developmental course at SHU, but when I teach freshman writing, I often encounter students who struggle with the transition from high school to college writing. Those who were praised all their lives as good writers can tell good personal stories, and they can deploy accurate summaries of non-controversial, “correct” facts. I give them free reign to pick any topic they wish, asking them to demonstrate their ability…

PR Pop Quiz: Intro to Crisis Management

Pop quiz for public relations 101. Scenario 1: You run a wildly popular app that incorporates video with a live host. You learn that a reporter is writing a personality profile of your host. Do you offer some cheerful quotes and then make a note to get your host to sign a new contract that handles such things as media requests (and maybe giving him a raise because he’s obviously a…

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6 Problems with our School System

I spend a lot of time re-educating my students, assuring them that my job as a college professor is not to give them a checklist, and then award points for each item they ticked off correctly; nor is my job to teach to a test. Shortly after I started teaching in my current job, a student in a literature class nearly had a meltdown when she learned the final exam…

Columbia Journalism Review

Sorry, Wrong Number

Numerical errors usually occur for one of these five reasons: A journalist mishears a correct number given to them by a source and fails to double-check it. A source unwittingly provides a mistaken piece of information and the journalist fails to verify it. A source deliberately fudges the numbers and the journalist fails to verify them. A journalist or editor miscalculates a figure. A journalist re-reports a mistake made by…

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Journalism by the Numbers (a pedagogical play in one scene) #math

(Lights up on a college journalism classroom. The professor enters, surveys the room.) Professor: Math! Students: (Shocked reaction.) Professor: Math!! Students: (Scattered cries of “No!”) Professor: MATH!!! Students: NO!!!   (Blackout.)   (40 minutes later.)   Professor: So, at the very least when you encounter numbers in your reporting, contact sources who can help you interpret those numbers critically. Seek out a variety of credible views on the provenance and…

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A new study shows that students learn way more effectively from print textbooks than screens

Saving this for next term’s “History and Future of the Book” course. Students said they preferred and performed better when reading on screens. But their actual performance tended to suffer. For example, from our review of research done since 1992, we found that students were able to better comprehend information in print for texts that were more than a page in length. This appears to be related to the disruptive effect that scrolling…