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Brooklyn Law School ​I'm a university professor and that might mean a lot of things to people but one thing you can be sure that it means is that I'm overeducated I was a receiver of formal education for over 25 years of my life it's a lot of time and during that time I did a lot of assignments many many hours on many many assignments and now that I'm out of school and back in school on the other side I really feel strong commitment the world's invested a lot into me and I have a strong desire to give back now one thing that I felt nagging at me growing as I did all of these assignments was that they weren't doing anybody else any good they were doing some good for me I was learning I was learning things so the assignments were valuable but all that work graded thrown in the trash I was doing the same assignments that everybody else in the class was doing I was doing the same assignments that the people the year before had done so when I became a professor myself I made a commitment i said i am not going to waste students work and that's the message I want to deliver with this talk don't waste student work if you're watching is talking or any kind of teacher trainer instructor professor you might listen to the ideas that I'm going to give you today anything that'll never work for me I'm not going to tell you that you're wrong they might not work for you I don't want you to do is dismiss the main point and the main point is that we have bright hard-working students that can produce very valuable things and you owe it to them you owe it to the world to try to get them to bring something more so I'm going to describe five initiatives that I've successfully used in my five years of being a professor so far and listen to them and if you need to adapt them or if they inspire something better perhaps you can use it in your own classroom the first thing you're going to talk about our writing summaries now writing summaries that's nothing new people write summaries all the time but again they tend to write summaries you'll write the same summaries of the same papers year after year after year so I'm in a field called cognitive science cognitive sciences the understanding of minds from the information processing perspective what I did was I started a website called the cognitive science summaries website now whenever I teach a class I tell my students listen you got to find a paper that's never been summarized before on the website read the paper write a summary and terminate and I grade it now students is a benefit for me because students often have no idea what paper to write and like every academic I have a stack of papers I've been meaning to eat I say here these would be good they end up picking some of those papers so then when I graded I'm interested too because I'm grading summaries of papers that I was intending to read anyway that's a side benefit ah and then the students turn in a summaries to me and I grade them and I edit them making a little better and I put them up on this website for everyone to see now the quality of these summaries is surprisingly good I might have rejected one or two over the years that weren't good enough for the website but in general with a few edits they're good enough for the website another issue is that technically it is the students work and they have the right to opt out of having their summary put on the web but i will say that no student has done this some of them haven't put up anonymously and some had a note saying please forgive me i was an undergrad when I wrote this summary they know it's going to be on the web forever but I want you to think about what this kind of thing does they are doing something no one has done before they have to do a paper that no one is summarized every student's doing a different summary that's motivating they're doing something new they're doing something that's going on the web that other people will be able to read probably forever so it's motivating the other things is that they get into depth where most classes might include are mostly about breadth of a topic this is one part where they get into some really deep nitty-gritty in my case about cognitive science how does the experiment done how does the programming done they have to understand that to write the summary so they get some depth usually about something they're kind of interested in because they picked the paper and then final benefit is that everybody in the world benefits I have people coming up to me a conference is saying oh you're Jim Davis use on the cognitive science summaries website sometimes when you search for those papers the first hit that you get is the summary that's on the website so these benefits you'll see throughout the examples that i'm going to give another one i try to have students do is writing mnemonics now mnemonic devices it is a simple way to remember something is remember something that's easy to remember that's going to help you remember something that's hard to remember so a common one everyone's probably heard is I before E except after

C except as an a as a neighboring way unless it's weird that is a common mnemonic phrase that people use for spelling ok that's a pneumonic now all classes involves some amount of memorization some more than others the biological sciences need a lot of memorization foreign languages need a lot and some are more conceptual but I think we can agree that most classes have some element of rote memorization it's a pain most people don't think it's the most important part but it'd be nice to get it out of the way and mnemonics really help memory you look into the memory research and how to remember things that you really want to remember mnemonics are one of the best deals in town and one thing in cognitive science it's very hard to remember or what brain areas do a brain areas they all have names but the areas are named based on where they are in the brain kind of what they look like in a dead language so you might have something like the dorsal lateral prefrontal cortex or the den date nucleus on the dentate nucleus but that means literally is the thing that looks like a tooth is kind of in the middle but even if you know that it doesn't tell you anything about what it actually granted the places in the brain renamed long before we had any idea what they did but still we're stuck with the names and now we need to remember what they're for so I tell my students you have to make a mnemonic go find some brain area and what it does make up three mnemonics for three different brain areas for class then I dedicate an entire class session to the students they get up in front of class they present their mnemonics we all laugh they're often funny the students give feedback we make them better the student goes back home and they post the mnemonic to my brain areas mnemonics wiki and then they send me an URL and I grade it right off the web okay again the students are learning about the brain you can class hearing all these mnemonics it's like a lecture on the brain really the student you make them to mock is probably gonna remember at least back for the rest of their life probably a lot of classes in your history that you remember nothing from so he did that but not only that anyone in the world now can use those mnemonics to help them remember things it's my second initiative the third one I've used successfully as flash flash cards we're all used to paper flashcards okay they're good for drilling yourself in memorizing things nowadays we have computerized flash cards so there's several what websites and software programs out there that have computerized flash cards okay that's no big deal there are two things that are particularly good about computerized flash cards the most important one is that the flash card can keep track of what you got right and what you got wrong so this is a flash card from a program that I use every morning called a key and what happens is this is made for Japanese here's the Japanese and what it means it shows you this the front of the card you try to guess in your mind what that says then you look at the answer and then you tell anke if you got it wrong you just click again and it shows it to you in the same session maybe a couple minutes later if you got a really easy it doesn't ask you for a long time in this case 3.5 years so the algorithm that uses is based on psychological studies of forgetting turns out the best time to review a fact is right before you probably going to forget it so anke decides what what cards are supposed to review every day I get on anke every morning I have no idea what card that's going to show me so you don't waste a lot of time reviewing card you already know which is the big problem for flash cards that's one major benefit of using this system the other one is that once its computerized so once there's a deck made a deck is what they call a bunch of flashcards on a particular topic once a deck is made it can be shared with the world all right so what do i do I tell my students pick a lecture from this course everyone gets a different lecture and make a deck of flashcards based on that lecture so I start class and saying okay who's doing the deck for today and so this is on me so I make sure they understand everything they take really careful notes they go home and they make usually 15 to 60 flashcards that represent all the memorized material that is needed for that lecture and students that give me great feedback about this first of all they use Enki and they use it for the class on the lake are really actually retaining the stuff where students aren't talking about study habits and the other thing is that they really appreciate how they're forced to think differently about the subject matter they say thinking about it in terms of questions and answers is really interesting and it forces me to think of in a different way and of course it helps them think of it in ways that will probably get asked on a test which is also good but then the other benefit is this after only one year and i teach fairly small classes after only one year all of the lectures of all of my courses add decks of flashcards uploaded and ready for anybody now when i teach my class the first day of class I could say here's the website if you download these decks and you spend five minutes ten minutes a day reviewing these every morning you will not have to worry at all about the memorization part of this course instead you can focus on the skills the deeper concepts discussion if you have to stress out about the little bits of memory very happy about that one the last thing I'm going to talk about is having students do actual research okay research in the sciences ins are doing science research in anthropology you know it's also well it's also signs but a research this means pushing the ball forward of knowledge right we making progress in finding out new things about the world so I'm talking mainly from a scientific perspective but I want everyone to understand that these ideas are not only for science therefore all different kinds of disciplines that try to gain knowledge for the world so what I do is I try to have the students do actual scientific

research first thing we'll start with an example of one that successfully worked for me then I'll talk to something about the principles of how to make this happen so my laboratory is the science of imagination laboratory and in this laboratory we try to understand how people picture things in their head so if I said I made eggs this morning and you come up with a vivid image in your mind I didn't tell you what I was wearing what my kitchen looks like how I cooked the eggs and what the eggs look like but you might imagine that stuff we want to know where does it all come from and one part of understanding how people imagine things is understanding the words that we use to describe things that we end up imagine so if I said my hand was above the table what did I mean by above you don't know really know what above means it's hard to figure out what people are going to imagine so I told all my students pick a spatial word each group each programming group gets a different word and study the cognitive science literature and see what people really mean by this stuff so for example my hand is above my foot and now it's not so much about my foot now this isn't a very good example now it's definitely not above my foot so they make a computer program that would look at two objects and determine how true it was that one thing was about the other thing for example sweet students do above and below in between across from occlusion Infante one another and you know they would do this project and they would learn a little bit about this again getting me to death right they had to do a spatial term that had never done before okay so they're doing something novel that's motivating and after a couple of years of this I had enough really good ones that I tied them all up wrote a scientific paper and submitted it to a conference on spatial reasoning the diagrams conference and it was accepted now not only have the students done an AI project like thousands of students to across the world but they did something new they got their name on a publication there were 13 names on that publication I'm very proud that my undergraduate students just doing a class project are now graduating with their name on a publication which is is a wonderful thing if particularly if they want to go on to to be scientists so how do you get this to work okay this is not an easy thing I need some dedicated work to think about how this is going to be there a couple of pitfalls here one is that the teacher needs to mastermind it particularly if a lot of people are working on different aspects of the project and if it's going to be going on for several years a professor needs to have the whole picture in mind the teacher needs to have the whole picture reminder of how it's all going to fit together and then once you have that you break it up into assignment size chunks now breaking up a new assignment size chunks is a little difficult because you are doing work that has never been done before so I've had students come up to me and say dr. Davies is this possible I say I don't know but it doesn't really bother me I say don't worry about your grade if you find that it's impossible and you're right up show me why it is impossible what did you learn what did the world learn about this topic that we are now able to say this is impossible something we didn't know before your grade will be fine okay and then I can take that in the next generation students I can make a better assignment we haven't run into anything impossible yeah okay so students do that youyou mastermind the whole thing you break it up into assignment sized chunks it doesn't matter if it's impossible now you might uh want to work into something but you're not really sure enough about you don't know enough about it you don't have time to read about it yes you're not confident giving a an assignment maybe it's already been done before that's no problem you assign the students to find that out for you you assign them to do a literature review you know I'm kind of interested in this this group you guys write a literature review what's the state of the art this research what are the next steps to be taken oh that write a paper on it you take it and grade it next time you teach the course you hand that paper back you're like what's the next step design an experiment make a program run a simulation do a henna graphic study never it takes over the years you might build up something that is eventually publishable it's 16 names on the publication who cares the student care it's great so in conclusion want to reiterate motivation they're doing something meaningful all right if you are in a discipline that is lucky enough to be applied work I'm doing basic research if you're doing applied work you can actually go out the world and get a customer you can go into the city and say hey you need this done there's think about your organization that needs understanding therapies of software that you could use does the Ottawa Fringe Festival need something to help people schedule there which plays they're going to see the answers yes and you can bring that back to your students and say hey look they need this software build it very motivating when they know there's somebody who actually needs it they are not asking like what's this for they know the assignments for the customers comes into class and talks about okay you do applied work it's even better motivation is important the next thing is it helps the world the world benefits you help future students you help the scientific and understanding in general scholarly research in the world and finally they get into deep depth about the subject there are over 20 million undergraduates and graduate students this isn't even counting the bright high school students that could be doing work that's useful 20 million students think of all the hours they spend every year struggling over assignments and what that could do we have an obligation to not let all that hard work go to waste so I urge you don't waste student work and if they end up being overeducated like me well at least they'll have done productive work along the

way thank you New York State College of Human Ecology.