5/4 Monday 282-02 final – 10:15 a.m. to 12:45 p.m.
5/5 Tuesday 325-01 final – 10:15 a.m. to 12:45 p.m.
5/5 Tuesday 489-01 final – 1:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
5/6 Wednesday 282-01 10:15 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
Psychology 282 Friday April 24
Finish up Chapter 22 and Chapter 23
Usual homework Chapter 23
Psychology 282 Monday April 27
Finish up Chapter 22 and Chapter 23
Read half of Chapter 24
Homework set III for Chapter 23
Psychology 325 Tues. April 28
Continue all of S.B. (Learn all of the characteristics os science)
In Schlinger Page 37-39 Inadequate Explanations of Behavior in Science\
No graded homework
If you are having trouble with SALTISM TEST MECHANICS read the material immediately below carefully - (Most of you appear to be in good share on the mechanics of SALTISM.
Doing the Impossible Putting a Short Answer Quiz Through the Scoring Machine (Well, Almost!!!)
Part One: A New Look at Testing Format for College Students
The work reported here was accomplished as part of my work as a TA (Teaching Assistant). It is some of the work I did preparing for my graduate work in the Behavior Analysis and Training System (BATS) at Western Michigan University.
This is a summary relating to a new testing format that I have “mothered.” This format is called SALTISM (Short Answer Like Test In Scoring Machine). The new format has some features of a matching test, but more features of a short answer test. The student only has, for example, ten minutes to do a ten-question quiz; this is not enough time to much of a search for a matching answer for each question, since there is not enough time to search the lengthy word list for a match for the correct answer. The students need to come up with the answer quickly; therefore, the probability of the student “eliminating wrong choices” or “visual recognizing a right answer” is reduced. Thus, the test takes on more of the features of a short-answer test.
There are three items the student test taker has:
1. A Scantron answer sheet consisting of 50 items on one side, each with 5 choices, that is 250 possible answer slots. (The scoring of the sheet does permit any number of the 5 blanks filled. This option increases the choice possible.)
2. A question sheet with Roman Numerals identifying each question.
3. Currently, an over 400-word list is provided with the possible answers in alphabetical order. There could be far more words in the word list. The answers to the daily test questions are on the word list. Each word on the word list is followed by an item number and a letter, e.g. 14a. (This translates to item #14, choice a)
When students are taking the SALTISM tests, for example, if question IV reads, “IV. When the volume of radio is aversively high, you turn the volume down. The frequency of turning the high volume down increases. What behavioral principle is at work here?” The students answer to themselves the answer they previously learned: “escape contingency.” Next, the student looks at the alphabetized word list for “escape contingency.” The students then fill in the correct item number and letter on the Scantron answer sheet.
This format can be a giant step in the successive approximation among all of the “penciling in bubbles” type tests, for example: true or false, multiple-choice tests, and matching test, and short-answer test. Also, it is a step that is time and work friendly to the faculty test grader.
PROCEDURE MANUAL FOR CLASSES TAUGHT BY JERRY MERTENS (as of January 17, 2015)
This procedure manual describes the general procedures to be used for this class. Any changes to this manual for this term will be presented in class. The procedures outlined are designed to follow the material presented in the programmed unit, LEARN IT BEST. LEARN IT BEST is a mnemonic (a device to help learning). The letters LEARN IT BEST are the first letters of each general feature of Programmed Instruction and this course:
Little Steps - Unit I
Evaluation of Program Errors – Unit II
Active Responses – Unit III
Required Practice of Responses to Be Learned – Unit IV
Negative Reinforcement and Punishment Are Minimized - Unit V
Immediate Feedback – Unit VI
Teaching Technique - Not Testing Technique – Unit VII
Behavior Must Be Specified – Unit VIII
Environment Restricted to Increase Opportunity to Learn – Unit IX
Success Before Progressing – Unit X
Terminal Behavior (an Objective or a Goal) is Necessary – Unit XI
I. LITTLE STEPS (Shaping learned repertoires in small increments)
In this course we will use techniques which allow the content to be learned in relatively small steps. There are no big steps involved in getting a good grade. A good grade results from getting the job done each day in smaller steps. Various methods will be used to maximize small steps:
1. Daily reading assignments will usually be tested on a daily basis. I have seen a person who has a new name for a test. It is a "celebration of knowledge." The term has an interesting ring.
2. The Student Teacher Participatory Discussion (here after called STPD) should help work through problems on major content areas. STPD will be described immediately below.
B. STUDENT TEACHER PARTICIPATORY DISCUSSION (STPD)
1. Popularity vs. Learning to Respond to Questions:
To many students the procedure described in this section is different from class procedures encountered in other courses. I realize this, and we will go slow at the start to allow you familiarity with this new procedure. As you read this, you may need some demonstration to get rid of the confusion. As you read this, you may not be sure if you are coming or going. (If I do not tell the humorous story about coming or going in class early in the term, remind me. You may find some empathy with the character in the punch line.) I put this reminder here because of a favorite memory joke, "My memory is okay, my memory is okay." Yes, and the jokes don’t get much better.
Teachers are confronted with interesting issues as they plan courses. Should a teacher use an effective teaching technique that will probably never win a popularity contest? The procedure described in this section (STPD) is one such procedure. It is nice when an instructor can find fun and useful activities for students as well as for the instructor. Activities that build a certain useful behavioral repertoire may not be viewed by a student as the best thing since sliced bread. Various life situations require one to do what has been called “think on your feet,” that is, life frequently asks us to give an oral response immediately. The five minute speech in a speech class, where you prepare the talk as homework, has some different features compared to being called upon to respond at any given moment. Many questions asked of supervisors, workers, parents, social contracts, etc., are of this sort. The behavioral repertoires to answer questions on the spot, like other behaviors, are learned by doing the behavior with feedback. Most college settings do not offer many, if any, chances to build this kind of skill. STPD is an attempt to build such a skill in a college classroom. When STPD functions adequately, it may expand on and clarify a segment of the course reading. It becomes a lecture and discussion combined. There is a different teaching method called Direct Instruction (DI). DI has been described in the following way: It is a very structured exchange, it is planned, read from written format at times, and scripted. Yet with the right teacher and when it is done right, it doesn't appear rigid at all. It appears almost like a verbal dance between the student and the teacher. And it's fun. We will see if STPD can be something like DI as it was described above; very interactive, a lot of correct answers, and fun. STPD has a lot in common with a discussion and a lecture combined.
This aspect of the course does not usually add to my popularity, but popularity is not by itself the test of the effectiveness of a teaching technique. I might add here, in the end of the course evaluation some students almost every semester list STPD as a favorite part of the course. STPD, as a descriptive term, has never made it in popular language. “Orals” is the most popular term used to refer to this segment of the course.
2. Students are Randomly Called On and It Serves as a Balance of "Hard" Questions:
The way this segment of the course works is that you are called on regularly and randomly to answer oral questions about the content of the course that you should have read before the class session. These are graded with a specific number of points. Question difficulty is not always the same for all students. Since the questions are asked in a random order, your tough luck of getting a "tough" question should balance out over the term. As you will see, this may not be as dry or dull as it may first sound. Discussion, elaboration, examples expanding the new material, extending the implication, etc., takes place among the questions. It is like a lecture discussion with a lot of participant involvement on specific issues. Students have pointed out another benefit of testing in this course which is that being called on fairly frequently in this class has greatly reduced their fear response to being called on in other classes. Also, frequent written testing in this class has also reduced some students’ test fear responses in other classes.
3. Permanent Product:
To have a permanent record of the class, after your oral response you will write down the question, answer, and correct answer to questions. (See sample format from an oral sheet below. An in class discussion of the sheet will also be given.)
Sample From Oral
Round # Date Regular or Jump Question (circle one) Your answer
Correct answer, circle (same) if you were correct. Points for your answer
4. No Speed Reading (condition of book during orals):
Books and notes should be closed during orals. You may want a blank sheet of paper at the start of class to take notes on during the discussion as some concept may be presented that you might want to make a note of. Having books and notebooks open (your desk should be clear except for oral sheet and a sheet of paper for notes), reading, or talking during orals results in a loss of all points (oral and written test) for that class.
5. Preparation Can Make It More Fun:
We will break into this routine slowly. I realize that being called on and put "on the spot" can sound "scary" or "anxiety provoking". Of course, good reading and studying of the assigned materials should help. If you get the correct answer when called on, not so amazingly -- orals can be more fun!
6. Scoring Orals:
Points are given in the discussion/lecture sessions (STPD) for just being there for the session. Scoring for rounds of questions can vary, and this will be announced. The usual scoring we will use at the start of the semester is 2 points will be given for a correct answer, 3 points for being part of the oral discussion on days of participation, (5 points total for a correct response). If you are absent, you lose the oral points if you are called on. Each day I like to find a random, or at least a different, sequence of asking questions. To encourage students to be to class on time, I like to start the sequence at an empty seat.
Later in the course, once the oral testing procedure is up and running, I implement a "3 strike rule" in this oral procedure. I will announce when this "3 strike rule" is to be implemented. The 3 strike rule states: three 3’s in a row on orals means that the third miss will be worth 1 point. One gets out of this "3 strike" condition by getting a correct answer on orals (i.e., 5 points on an oral).
7. Jump Questions:
A "Jump Question" is a special type of oral question. A jump question is a question where the student answering the question may not be in the regular rotation that we have been using to ask oral questions at that time in class. I will state that the question to be asked is a jump question, then I will pick the first student with their hand raised that I see. If the first hand seen is out of the normal sequence, that student could get the jump question. If the jump question is answered wrong, it does not count against you. (If your answer is wrong, you do not write anything on your oral recording sheet.) If you do get the question right, circle "jump" instead of "regular" on your oral recording sheets to be handed out in class (Refer to sample format). You will treat jump questions as you would for a regular question by circling (same) and giving yourself 5 points.
Oral jump questions are usually questions that:
One, extrapolate beyond the material you have read.
Two, are based on points not emphasized in the reading.
Three, are based on more general knowledge not found in the text.
Four, cover more difficult material in the reading.
8. Posting Orals on the Scoring Sheet:
Each oral is 5 points and the highest point total that you put in any one column on the score sheet is 10 points. One should be able to see that we will only be recording scores for orals by adding your score on two rounds together (10 points for 2 rounds of 5 will be the maximum possible). I will announce when and where orals will be posted on the grade sheet.
9. Maximum Benefit of Orals:
Later in this procedure manual I suggest some ways a class can maximally benefit from orals. Certainly speaking at a volume that is loud enough for others to hear you is very important for all students to benefit from orals. Also, listening to all questions and answers is very important as many times the written test covers similar material. To help this happen, I try to regularly repeat the question for the first person. If you don’t hear or understand the question, ask to have it repeated when the question is asked for the first time.
II. EVALUATION OF PROGRAM ERRORS (Finding what happens as students study). (SECTION II IS IN SUPPLEMENTARY SECTION)
III. ACTIVE RESPONSES (Doing)
A. Learning Is NOT by Osmosis:
So much of education consists of the teachers "practicing" the material one more time in his or her lecture to the class. In this course, we will attempt to change this order around. You (the student) should do the active responding. Daily learning exercises or demonstrations offer one means to get you actively involved.
B. Oral or Written Tests:
Tests in this class can be in an oral or written form. Written tests can be short answer, essay, multiple choice, true - false, analogy, or matching format. A final is a possibility this semester and I will make a decision regarding a possible final later in the semester. My decision will be based on whether students work and accomplish learning the content of the course. Most points for grades are based on daily work and tests. Later in the course I will introduce a concept of “intermittent grading.” This is used to vary the weight of a daily test.
At times, assignments are given which are intended to enrich other class activities. These vary from reports, outlines, questions, summaries, lectures, shows, written assignments, etc.
IV. REQUIRED PRACTICE OF RESPONSES BEING LEARNED:
A. Time Spent on Courses:
This course is designed on the premise that average students should study for two hours outside of class for each credit hour. For 3 hours a week in class, this means 6 hours outside of class or a total of 9 hours per week on the average. (ADDITIONAL MATERIAL IN SUPPLEMENTARY SECTION)
B. Graded Homework:
I use 3 forms of graded homework:
two: hand written notes of the important sections, &
three: writing test questions.
V. NEGATIVE REINFORCEMENT AND PUNISHMENT BOTH SHOULD BE MINIMIZED:
A. Open Door Policy:
The instructor has an "open door policy," that is come and see me if having any problems. However, I do keep myself busy and you may have trouble finding me at times so making an appointment is suggested. My office is:
Whitney House 11A (on 1st Ave. S. close to the bank of the Mississippi River across the street from Atwood Center & Garvey)
Office Phone: 320-308-2138 * Office Manager Phone: 320-308-4157
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org (ADDITIONAL MATERIAL IN SUPPLEMENTARY SECTION)
B, C, & D (IN SUPPLEMENTARY SECTION)
E. Student's Rights:
A student's rights should be protected so that they are not graded against too rough a criterion. Therefore, a guarantee you have in this course is as follows: All students who receive a grade percentage of 90% or higher will earn an A. If not more than 25% of the class earns A's, (hopefully they will) then being in the top 25% of the class' total points will give you an A. We will use that procedure which gives the larger number of A's. Hopefully more than 25% receive A's.
F. Loss of Points:
No procedure in this course will result in a loss of points per se -- i.e. you may not get the points (reinforcement is contingent), but they are not taken away if already earned. (Make sure they are earned -see mechanics points later in this Procedures Manual.)
Cheating is punished with gusto. If it is a pure case of cheating, I will give an "F" for the course or worse.
VI. IMMEDIATE FEEDBACK TO THE STUDENT:
A. Printed Word versus Spoken Word:
This course is based on a concept that the printed word has an advantage over the spoken word. These advantages center on individualizing to a student's learning speed. In printed material, if you don't grasp the material the first time through, you can stop and go back. Listening to a lecture does not allow one to do this. One of the reasons an emphasis in this course is given to the printed word is the advantage it has in terms of your individual learning.
B. You have an "A" Going:
All of you start with an "A" for the course for doing the work on the first day of the course (a 10 point get acquainted offer). Your daily effort throughout the term is needed to maintain this grade.
Letter grades are based on percentage of points earned:
90% and above - A
80% but not 90% - B
70% but not 80% - C
60% but not 70% - D
D. Procedure for Test Scoring Machine:
A fast test scoring machine produced by National Computer Systems (NCS) provides feedback on tests before the student leaves the classroom that day. To do this, students need a supply of quick scoring answer sheets. If the instructor informs you that these need to be purchased, these sheets are available at the bookstore. Check with the instructor before purchasing answer sheets, since some semesters used answer sheets will be provided.
Have a supply of answer sheets with you if you are required to buy as I will not bring extras. (The entrepreneur may want to go into business selling sheets to those who do not have answer sheets.) Once you purchase a supply of answer sheets, try not to get them bent and mutilated as the machine has trouble reading mutilated sheets.
Below we have listed some points to know in use of the NCS Scoring Machine:
1. Put your sheet in the quick scoring machine head first, i.e. top of answer sheet is put in first and the side with the answers to be scored should be facing up.
2. Have the edge of your answer sheet along the guide rail at the front of the scoring machine and give your answer sheet a small push into the machine.
The machine is sensitive to getting your sheet in straight against the rail. It is the most frequent reason for rejection of sheets.
3. Use a number 2 pencil with these answer sheets. (A #2 pencil is a commonly used pencil.)
4. The scoring machine is programmed so that if at any time you are told to omit a question on a test, you do not move the other answers up. Leave the omitted answer space blank and fill in the next answer so that the number on the test corresponds with the number on the answer sheet. If you move the answers up and fill in the omitted answer, all of the following answers will be in the wrong sequence and will be scored as incorrect. Any exceptions to this policy will be emphasized at the time of the test.
5. At no time should there be more than one answer marked for a given number unless you are told of a change.
6. The score (number correct) is printed out at the bottom of the test and a small letter indicates which number items are incorrect and what the correct answer should have been. These letters are printed by the item in the middle of the sheet.
7. At the bottom of your answer sheet, you will see 3 numbers printed out. The first is # correct and the second is % correct. The other number (Roster number) is a number we will not use in this course.
E. Mechanics point (one point):
One point of the 10 points per column is lost if proper mechanics aren’t followed.
The mechanics point includes:
A. HEADING ON MATERIAL AND TESTS HANDED IN.
Line 1: Seat #, Your name
Line 2: My name (Mertens), Class and Section #, Subject matter of test or material, e.g. "Mertens, Psych 999, Procedures" (in any order)
Line 3: Date / Period of class (2:30p.m.)
B. RETURNING MATERIALS.
- The student should put answer sheets in numbered order
- The student should return question sheets to numerical order
C. CORRECTING AND POSTING TEST ON GRADE SHEET.
F. One week (Maximum) preferably today:
You should be able to tell your grade at every moment in the course. I should be told any posting corrections (your posting or mine) within a week. We will only check back one week for errors you find. You share the responsibility of keeping your records in order. (If I find your errors, I take the mechanics point off.) We wish to keep records of score sheet changes so please hand in errors on a sheet of paper. Please note on your sheet the error and the number/column of the listing where the error took place. This procedure should keep you current on what is happening on your score sheet.
G. Machine Scoring Pencil and Erasures:
Tests will be machine scored in class. Therefore, you should bring a #2 pencil to class with you every day. If machine-scored tests are not marked with #2 pencils the test will not always be scored correctly. #2 pencils are available at the SCSU Bookstore. A bad erasure will be picked up by the sensor in the scoring machine and a poorly marked item may be missed by the machine. Bad erasures or poor markings are part of your grade. In developing responsible students, we contend it is poor policy to change grades to compensate for poor erasures or poor markings. Stray pencil marks will also be picked up by the machine, so try to avoid putting extra pencil marks on the sheet.
VII. TEACHING TECHNIQUE
Programmed instruction (Learn It Best) refers to the original learning of the material. Certainly, it does not exclude that you should be able to demonstrate proficiency. Hopefully, the material is developed in such a way that if you are putting in the effort, the material is providing small increments, feedback, etc., to maximize your learning the material.
I do try to make tests a learning experience also.
VIII. BEHAVIOR SHOULD BE SPECIFIED
By using specific assignments over a relatively small amount of material, and with classroom materials, what is to be learned should be clear.
A. Change in Schedule:
Orderliness is sought after, but let us not fall a complete victim to a schedule. Any event could be canceled or postponed if another event came up that in the instructor's judgment merits replacing the scheduled event. The decision to cancel or postpone the scheduled event will be determined by scheduling considerations.
B. Classroom Seating:
We do have a set seating arrangement for this course. Seating charts are good memory devices to get to know you. You should take your assigned seat each class period.
C. A Grocery Store:
A Model for University Education: Why the grocery store as a model? The grocery store metaphor serves as a useful aid in packaging community services as well as psychological courses. The grocery store displays the product with a description and the customer decides whether or not to buy the product. In Walden Two (Skinner, 1948), commercials with flashing signs were replaced with descriptive ads. This means of promoting college courses should also be used. A course should give the student, prior to registration, information to make the student a well-informed consumer. If you have not received this Procedure Manual earlier, at least now you will (early in the course) see a detailed specific description of the course procedures.
By specifying at the start of the course as best as one can, specific behaviors that are involved in the course, the student can weigh the course features better, i.e. select alternatives. The student selects this package not on the grocery shelf, but on the academic shelf if it is worth his/her effort. If the course sounds aversive, one might consider a course more in accord with his/her past learning history. However, with this course's effective learning procedures, there may be other factors that enter into taking the course aside from teaching method preferences, that is, good learning procedures. One definition of the term "maturity" is a person who makes a decision and behaves in a way which indicates he or she learned the consequences of a decision and one is prepared to accept those consequences. Those students who do not like the educational package proposed should, like in the grocery store, pick up a different package (course).
"Why the content or procedures of this course?" "What if I don't like what is taught in the course?" To some students, questions like these have taken up as much time, if not more time, than learning the subject matter of the course. This is especially true in psychology where content definitions are not perhaps as explicit as in other disciplines. This handout hopefully helps show you where this course is at. You should shop around just like at the grocery store.
D. IS IN THE SUPPLEMENTARY SECTION.
E. Lack of Consideration for Others and Cheating:
Lack of consideration and cheating should be behaviors a teacher does not have to spend much time dealing with in a class. I have designed various procedures to minimize the possibility of cheating. I give F's for the course for cheating violations.
F. Cheating Results in My Giving You An "F" For The Course: (This list is not meant to be an exhaustive list.)
1. Gets answers (visually, being told, or any other mode) from other people during the test.
2. Has someone "sit in" to take a test for them.
3. Uses cheat sheets of any form.
G. No Points for a Given Test:
I also give 0 points for a test where noncompliance takes place with rules that are implemented to prevent cheating. Below are some samples:
1. Answer Sheets Out of Room: Completed test answer sheets taken out of the
Room (accidental or for other reasons) are treated as not taking the test.
2. Talking: Conversations during a test, even if not about test material, should be eliminated. If you have a question, ask the instructor.
3. Pencils: Pencils should not be taken to the scoring machine. Finish the test before you leave your seat.
4. Assigned Seats: After designated seats have been assigned, they should be used. Control of test material is one reason for designated seats.
5. Electronics Put Away:
H. IS IN THE SUPPLEMENTARY SECTION.
IX. ENVIRONMENT RESTRICTED TO INCREASE PROBABILITY OF LEARNING:
Exceptions to the policies stated in this procedure manual will be considered on an individual basis. There are alternatives for problems, thus exceptions are rarely made.
B. Absence Policy:
In its simplest form, the absence policy for the course is grade-wise, one misses what they miss. One of the reasons for establishing an absence policy in the course is so the instructor doesn't need powers beyond God to judge the validity of an excuse. One way around it is to set up procedures so that all absences are as equally excusable, as possible, in terms of points in the course. Any absences from procedures should not "do the student in" point-wise, but the absence(s) also should not have a favorable consequence. A student can minimize the need for excuses by showing up FOR class daily well prepared. This absence policy encourages faculty and student to commit to the task at hand, in the course.
I do not set a certain point total that I have to get in a course during the semester. This leaves more flexible discussion time on any given day, as we need.
C. The System:
1. Does not pass the "buck" (the responsibility) to someone else to excuse the student.
2. Is fair to all, including those who come to class.
3. Does not positively reinforce sickness or other behaviors resulting in absence and late work.
4. Can be individualized to meet extreme situations. Note as defined here, extreme situations are not routine illnesses, funerals (your own or others), etc.
5. The grading system can serve as a help to motivate students in their needed study time to earn a good grade.
6. It trains for daily life.
D. 4% Rule:
One way this absence policy helps ease some of the harshness of, “You miss what you miss,” is by giving some "freebie emergency points.” All students are given four percent of the total points for the course for their own use. For example, if there were a total of 200 points in the course, you would get an additional 4% of the 200 points that would be 8 points. If 400 points are available in the course, 16 points would be added to your grade based on this 4% rule. We add these in on the grade sheet during the course at times designated by the instructor. These “freebie points” are given even if you do not miss any days of class - use them responsibly!
E. Official Excused Absences:
The university administration dictates a thing called an "OFFICIAL" excused absence. The university's dictated rule: “Faculty and coaches responsible for the approved university activity will provide a schedule of activities and names of students involved in advance. The student is responsible for informing the instructor of the absence in advance and making up the exam/class requirements in a timely manner. The instructor will determine the nature, time, and place of the make-up work." My way to comply with this administrative dictate is that if you are going to be absent during the semester on one of these excused absences you should get your coach or supervisor to send me the names and dates in week one of the semester. That way, I can plan a fair course for all, including those who are not excused. You should see me before the absence to set up a time for the missed class, before the date of the missed class. This make-up policy is the one “blessed” by the administration, so as to comply with the NCAA position athletes are not supposed to get special privileges. Playoff games are dates that will not be known in week one.
F. Grading System for Daily Test:
My grading system certainly is different from what one generally sees on campus; it is innovative. As I see it is also one of the most fair grading systems, as it addresses many factors needing consideration in a grading system.
Very important, we are talking about an absence policy on a DAILY TEST SYSTEM. I have had at least 600 points in just about every course I have taught here at St. Cloud State University using this daily grading system. If the class is smaller in size and has good academic quality students, the total points in the course may be between 700 and 800+ points. Thus, a daily quiz of 10 points possible is less than 1/60th of the point total in the course. In most of my courses, the daily quiz is usually somewhere between 1/70th and 1/80th of a student’s point total. Oral quiz points can bring a daily point spread over 10 points in a class period. Thus the student is:
1. Not flunking
2. Not getting fired
3. Not being told by the faculty that the student’s value system for the absence is wrong.
As a matter of fact, the student is “paid in advance” for emergency absences. The big issue that separates my grading system from all other known grading systems on campus is the fact that students are “paid in advance” for absences in my class. The 4% rule is a class guarantee from the procedure manual in the course.
G. Where This Grading System Started:
For nearly the past 50 years of college teaching, the classroom absence policy I use was initiated by a conversation with a medical doctor, the medical director of a student health center. At that time, I was a teaching assistant. The faculty member I worked for, at that time, Bill Crowder, wanted to get official absence slips from Dr. Harrison at the student health center for students claiming medical excuses. So the faculty member sent me to talk to Dr. Harrison to get this official absence slip system started. Well, Harrison talked me into his own position to build absence policies in courses where ALL excuses, including medical excuses for absences, have as minimal of a consequence as possible. It is possible to design an attendance system to take away the strong consequence effort associated with “excuses” for absences. There is a shift in the nature of consequences; in which being well prepared has a priority, and trying to find an excuse is minimized. Among Harrison's many arguments was that a high percentage of reasons for visits to medical doctors was for other than medical reasons, i.e. more of a psychosomatic complaint / hypochondriacal concerns. This is a big challenge for health care, and a faculty's absence policies need not contribute to the problem. He related this to a broader look at values. One piece of evidence he used to support his position was the case of a former Miss America from their university, Mary Ann Mobley. Two students from that University had won the Miss America contest two years in a row. According to Harrison, Mobley would come to her classes even if “near death” as far as being physically ill, but would skip a class if it interfered with her beauty treatment. Harrison's challenge was who are we to fault her for her class absence philosophy? It may not be our value system, but what makes our value system correct? Harrison and I had a long discussion that day which influenced my “pay in advance” for absence grading system. It appeared to me a “pay in advance” system “flips the classroom” where students need not look for an excuse, but “the flip side” gives students more responsibility. The student needs to responsibly use their absences. A big deal in the whole field of college education in the year 2014 is a supposed new invention of the “flipped classroom.” It is a place where students play a more active role in the classroom.
For the near 50 years I have been teaching college courses, you miss what you miss point wise - other then those covered by laws (military and jury duty), and special privileges for athletes (demanded by the administration) and other “official” excuses. I tried to build a fair grading system with that starting premise. I built my system on “pay in advance” orientation.
Related to this excuses for absences is a side issue to the more general concept of excuses. A mentor put it this way, students generally would be far ahead if they just did the task, and dropped trying to find excuses. For 50 years, teaching has not just been a job to me; it is an opportunity. It is an opportunity to explore how the environment works to make for better learning. One such exploration has been for me to see for nearly 50 years of teaching that Harrison’s idea can be put to practice. A faculty member's “pay in advance” for absences in order to help get rid of the offensive need to “Play God” and make decisions humans cannot make. One need NOT decide issues that God cannot make. (The good Dominican priests and nuns in my Catholic grade school taught me even if there is an almighty God, She cannot do impossible things, e.g., make a square circle etc.) here are some questions that come close to the impossible:
1. How sick do you have to be to get an excused absence from class?
2. How much of a student’s sickness has other than a medical reason,
psychosomatic/ hypochondriacal factors involved?
3. How are the value judgments involved in absences measured?
4. How bad does the weather have to be for an excused absence?
5. Humans cannot measure intention, what are those who try doing?
6. Are funerals of equal valence, either for pets, just heard of them, relatives, or friends? (Remember all people and other animals should be loved.)
7. A pet worm died. It was emotional for the student. It was a tough time living with that loss. Did it deserve special attention, an excused absence?
8. Would you believe values on death / funerals have tremendous variation among people? I personally don’t want people to come to my funeral. (I hope NOT to have any funeral service.) Don’t come to my funeral – be nice to me now! Nobody is invited to my funeral. I prefer being nice and kind now.
9. For an illustration of the problem of evaluating death, as a teenager I saw from a distance a car collision with a child. That moment had a real impact on me, even if all parties were unknown and I was not involved, and I was standing down the street away from the accident. Many years later, both my parents and a sister and brother all died at an elderly age, with long prolonged illness. Death was anticipated for a very extended time period. With this anticipated period the death of these most loved ones the moment of impact was less compared to this unknown child with what appeared, a mild injury. I could have used an excused absence for the "unknown" child and the mild injury, compared with my loved ones long anticipated death. Who are you to say I am wrong?
10. One more illustration of the difficulty in the value judgment area would be a good friend who represents the personification of the expression the “mama’s boy.” For most years, he spent daily quality time with an aging mother who lived a distance from his home. As the end was predictable and in sight for the mother, a situation arose where he should be away from home. Both son and mother agreed their life together had been great relationship, and he should go to the event even if she were to die while he was away. (Again personal my wish is for all is be very nice to me now, and don’t bother to come to my funeral.) I have written my own obituary and that is how it reads.
11. Are personal religious beliefs inferior to those religions that want days off? My personal religious moments have been far more valuable compared to any of my church group demanded religious experiences. Should I be given excused absences for these great personal religious experiences at the coffee shop?
12. Is the excuse a lie, scheme, deception, misinformation, a part truth, extrapolation of the truth, “white lie,” exaggeration, "half-truth, mostly true, well a little truth, or the truth? Who is to judge? Is there an alternate plan available? Yes!
13. Can one evaluate the relative importance of the variables are involved in an excuse?
14. One lasting message of Harrison’s conversation is when a person has values completely different, who is to say their values are wrong just because it is unusual, maverick, or opposite of your position? We may not have any desire to live it, so what!
15. A university, of all places, is a where exploration of fair alternatives should be encouraged for a problem needing new direction.
16. It is not a matter of right vs. wrong, intentionality etc. - the issue is to set up a system to try NOT to play God. I have had a Dean tell me that"playing God" is what I get paid for, perhaps not! My view of that Dean is one who tries to play the role.
17. Are the excused absences the same for missing homework the same as for missing class?
18. Giving special consideration for missing a class with an excuse is not the only issue one can think of that conflicts with our usual way of thinking about what might merit special attention for grading. Think of the list below and how these variables might merit giving special consideration to a student on a test.
a. A history of poverty where one has not had equal opportunity to learn as readily as other richer students in the class.
b. An international student has some language issues, how much should be added to their grade?
c. The, so-called, “anxious" student has test taking issues.
d. All students do not have the same academic history, IQ scores, “bad genes”, bad environment, “God not answering the student's prayers” or other problems.
e. All students do not have equal test taking repertoires. These behavioral deficits can be over a very extensive list.
f. What is your demeanor on the moment of the test? Was that “good bye” before the test from your “significant other(s)”, not up to its usual standard? How many points should be added on to your test for that subpar “good bye” or for you was it that subpar golf scores before class bugging you.
All the above “issues” (1-18) are just a small sample of such issue considered since my conversation with Dr. Harrison. I use this list to illustrate the difficulty (impossibility) of making value judgments on absences. Many years later, I see that visit with Harrison as playing a significant role in my teaching methods.
H. When Things Go Wrong:
The question comes up, what to do if your emergencies totals more than the 4% absence bonus, the grade spread points, plus your other available points. I contend after all of the avenues for points, if one does not get the letter grade they are working for, it may be better to stop and assess what is happening, at the moment. Some areas of this assessment might include:
1. Do you need to spend more time studying?
2. Work on what is causing the lower grade.
3. It may not just be your time studying, It may be you need to work on your study methods?
4. Setting your goal for the moment at a lower grade.
5.Would it be better for you to take the course again under better conditions to study?
(There are more areas of this type of inquiry, many would be individualized to the the students' situations.)
I believe this type of analysis to be more helpful compared to some extra patch work to just give a student a grade.
If the “world has gone bad” for the student, is it time for the student to look at what is going on? At what point is enough enough? Once a student has used up grading factors such as:
1. All of the 4% “freebie points” given for emergencies,
2. All of the grade-spread points (10% of the total points in the course) have been lost, if there are 700 points in the course, grade spread is 70 points
3. Students are given 3 points for errors on orals as “freebies.” I give these points just for being in class, even without a correct answer
4. Easy points in enrichments.
5. “Mickey Mouse” questions (simple basic questions) for easy points on tests.
6. "Mickey Mouse" assignments. These are assignments that are very easy, however very important. (e.g. Before and after surveys.)
7. When orals come before written tests much of the material is reviewed in orals for the daily test. This happens often, but I do not want it to deter studying by the students.
8. Scores are rounded-up on homework and tests with half points.
9. Extra free questions are given, at times, on a quiz.
10. One of the reasons I use graded homework in the course is to give practice on questions on course content.
There is a whole philosophy of education involved in this grading concept, all geared to fairness in a paid in advance consideration. Hopefully long before those multiple absences and bad grades have happened, the student will work on the problem situation. What can be done in order to correct this problem situation? If the course has value it may not be a piecemeal "make-up" test solution that is most productive. This is not just true for students; it is true for all of us in our daily lives. The classroom equivalent of "hitting bottom" need not mean we throw together meaningless college credits.
What happens in other courses when a student is having the same type of a problem, and student fails beyond mathematical limits for the grade sought after? Over the years of teaching, I attended a number of seminars on college education. I heard many absence excuse horror stories from faculty at many universities. When looked at closely, current grading systems have horror stories to go with them.
I have been with a faculty member here on campus when a faculty member told a student, “I will give you the points but don’t tell the other students,” that is not my way. I see that as unfortunate and dishonest. I prefer not to be a part of that kind of situation! Not surprising to me is this was a faculty who just could not wait for the weekend to escape up north to the cabin from the aversiveness of the classroom. This faculty member is a great person in many ways.
In the 10 or 15 minutes breaks between classes, since I use many items in my class I am usually just getting packed up or unpacking as other teachers talk to students in this break between classes. The reinforcers for the excuses of late assignments, for absences, etc. are excessive and at times very weird. Why are bad work habits being complained about by industry? This should be no surprise given what happens in a student college education.
Be Proactive: If one has missed a large number of points, be they lost points on content test errors or multi absences resulting in dropping you out of the grade range the student is seeking, perhaps it is time to come to grips with the problem. For example:
1. If a health issue arises, perhaps time is needed to focus on what is necessary to correct the health issue.
2. If a personal problem occurs, (e.g., divorce, childcare, child health, care of others, or behavior problem) perhaps a better course of action would be to take time away from the stress of academics, and give attention to these problems. Studying academics when a “rotten world is not so rotten” can perhaps be achieved if the student overcomes the problematic situation.
This above list certainly can be continued, and also proactive. Seeing problems and doing things before a problem happens is good.
I do not see much value in the piecemeal, mishmash, put together make up test after makeup test just to pass the student. This can be improved on. There is an alternative to a “helter skelter” course, a haphazard mess of make-up tests, a fragmented ordered class, a philosophy of just giving them a grade - who cares what goes on in class just give them a made-up test, etc. There is a better world! At what point does minimal involvement, minimal participation, etc. lead to the course becoming useless? These bad situations mean it is only charity for any letter grade a faculty gives.
Sample of some proactive issues a student need to continue being prepared for (NOT a complete list).
One - Various emergencies e.g. child being sick (fill-in baby-sitter plan for sick child, when primary babysitter is unable to show)
Two - Emergency like snow fall plan/ car will not start/ been called to work- consider “your emergencies the best possible.”
Three - Car/Bus-getting to class
Four - Study Habits-way to handle problems that may arise
a. TV, others talking, and other “distractions”; family and friends’ requests that are contrary to your study plan
b. Need for more extensive note taking on readings or class notes
c. Read with purpose of getting material, not just to finish reading assignment
d. Give yourself time to reread and study the material you are working on
e. Flash card question one side- answer on the other side of the card
f. A contingency contracting partner to ensure studying gets accomplished
g. Arrangement with a friend to check if assignments are being worked on
h. “Study buddy”
i. Back up for alarm clock for oversleeping- as needed
j. So called “temptations” not to study-ways to avoid “temptations”
Some Students Want Both: One finds cases where the student WANTS BOTH, the emergency free points, and also make-up tests. The students appear to wish to double dip. The solution is straightforward. It is much like pay in advance for business related travel. In the work world when you get paid in advance for travel, you do not also get regular travel pay again after the travel. You do not get both; you do not get paid twice!
Built in Reinforcers: One of the possible side benefits generated by alert daily class attendance is the increased opportunity for possible built-in (intrinsic) reinforcement to have an impact on the student. A sequence of daily mastery of the content by the student can increase the opportunities for the student seeing the value of the objective scientific analysis of behavior, seeing science at work can serve as powerful reinforcement to the students. A multi-patch work course is less apt to allow the student the opportunity to see the power of intrinsic reinforcement at work.
Myth of One Point Miss: When one misses a grade by a point, it is easy to think of the one point and forget the other 40, 60, 80 or beyond points that are in the grade spread. (For example, if a course had a total of 700 points, then the grade range would be 70 points, so for example, for missing a C, there are 210 missed points.)
The Alternatives: Without a rush to judgment, with serious consideration the absence policy in this course has its advantages. As with all of human life it too has areas that can be improved upon. The system stands out compared to the alternative, discombobulated, makeshift, make-up test answer that is the prevalent alternative.
You May Even Want To Be An Advocate:
You as a current college student have a large investment in your college education: money-wise, time spent, and hard work. As you graduate you want to work to help college education continue to have this high value. If college education becomes “Mickey Mouse” (the content of college is watered down) it is less valuable to you. One popular devaluation technique by those NOT valuing all of the larger valuable contribution of a college education, “Give a make-up test,” there can be more to a college education, then “substituting” a make-up test for anything missed, while at the same time not receiving all of the other things you can benefit from. The value of a high school education is NOT as highly regarded as a day in the past. The absence policy of this course is aimed at working on keeping the value of a college education as high as possible.
X. SUCCESS BEFORE PROGRESSING:
A, B, & C ARE IN THE SUPPLEMENTARY SECTION
XI. TERMINAL BEHAVIORS NECESSARY (What is the Objective?)
A. Audience this Course is Designed For:
This course is organized to influence the behavior of not only the psychologist-to- be, but also those students who will be taking this course as their only psychology course. In this course, psychology is defined as "the science of behavior." The major objective of the course is not about the mind, existentialism, mentalism, psychic phenomena, psycho-sexual development, or other non-observable "explanations" of behavior. Instead, principles are introduced which permit us to discuss issues with some degree of assurance based on data established through the use of scientific inquiry.
B. Possibly Reversing 20 Years of Training:
Most students have had approximately 20 years of traditional training in how to talk of the human experience. A course in the physical universe (say a course in Introduction to Physics) may open to you a new way to talk about the physical universe. Hopefully this course, for the first time (for most students) in 20 years of your daily life training will make you stop and take a more objective view of the explanations of behavior. This course is only a small proportion of the training in this area.
Hopefully this course is a small step towards a career (and a life) using, in some way, the concepts learned. In the same way, by good planning, hopefully all of your college work builds towards the terminal behaviors of your college education. Since getting letters or recommendations are part of some of your objectives, I have added to this section about terminal behaviors my own guidelines for writing letters.
The following section is an excerpt from a longer career planning book some students and I wrote.
----- My Criteria for Letters of Recommendation:
Before I write letters of recommendation for jobs or graduate school, I require a minimum amount of contact with a student. I need time enough to observe something worthwhile to write about. I require a minimum of four, 3 Semester Hour courses (or 12 Semester Hours) including an independent study course. This should hopefully give me something to write about. I require less contact for summer jobs, temporary employment, etc.
XII. YOU CAN MAKE THIS GOOD EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM EVEN BETTER: (Below are ways you can help a teaching system based on good learning principles.)
A. WORK HARD:
You should certainly work hard at the course material, but also work hard at the mechanics of the course system. The system we use necessitates more work for the faculty and others. You can help by working hard at helping with the little things, e.g. when handing in papers, help keeping the stacks of things handed-in neat and in order, etc.
B. MAKE SUGESTIONS:
I realize that every suggestion may not be followed up on. The current system is based on many years of trying to make a good system based on what we know about learning. You may give me your suggestions in writing, in person, e-mail, phone, etc.
C. HELP KEEP THE GRADING SYSTEM HONEST:
You must help keep the system honest first of all with your own behavior. Don't be part of behavior that is not helpful to honesty as a concept. For example:
To keep the system honest and make for a good working environment, there should be no talking during orals or tests. Help by NOT attending to such talk if it is aimed at you.
If you work hard to learn the material for class, seeing someone cheat is like a slap in your face and very hard to take. This is how one student worded it, “It is hard to accept when you see someone cheating and getting away with it, e.g. hiding behind the person in front of them, using notes or a crib sheet.”
I do not view information about cheaters as an evil tattletale or a "snitch". Rather, the student who reports bad behavior is simply helping to maintain a good learning system. I look at it as you trying to help your own teaching system. I view it as an important role you can play. If you do pass on information I will keep a closer eye on the situation. It can be as simple as a note without your name. You can stay anonymous. If everyone helps and does their part in making the system better, we can all benefit from an honest and fun learning environment.
Whiling traveling I noted, something we do as a federal government program that has some uses in our course procedures. One frequently hears announcements at train stations and airports:
“Help keep our environment safe”
“If you see something, say something.”
“Add your eyes and ears to ours; report suspicious activity.”
At times students are in a better position to see cheating. The standard classroom is built to have a body between student and instructor. You have a right and responsibility to have a classroom free of cheating, and to accomplish this you can help make a good system better.
4. BE COMITTED TO THE COURSE
As a general rule, those who take this course just because they have to don’t enjoy it or do very well. This manual describes the methods used to teach the course material. After studying the manual, consider if you want to commit to the course. The course content and teaching methods are both different from those most of you have encountered.
A Model of Teaching Where an Objective of Classroom Time is Evaluation.
A major objective of my classroom contact time with students is for it to be a period of evaluation. Many other things happen during my class, but the usual model in all of the courses I teach is for the student to read and hopefully learn a set of materials outside of class. When the student comes to class I attempt to assess what the student learned from the set of materials. In class, the material read by the students may be clarified, questioned, added to, extended, looked at from an alternate perspective, etc., but the major emphasis is to assess what the student has learned on a day-to-day basis.
II. A "Normal" Class Period
Let me illustrate a "usual" day in my class (assuming a 50 minute class period):
A. 10 Minutes of the Class -- Critical Analysis Repertoire Development:
The students see a fake psychic event presented as a supposed psychic event and they write a critical analysis of this event. The students' task is to analyze the scene in terms of real world variables, or in other words, determine how this supposed "psychic" event can be explained in real world terms.
B. 20 Minutes of the Class -- STPD (Student Teacher Participatory Discussion) Oral Quizzing (Orals):
Students, as part of a lecture - discussion, are asked oral questions about the reading material assigned in the class and the students answer the questions orally. This segment of the course is technically referred to as: STPD (Student Teacher Participatory Discussion). I developed this acronym back when Shell Oil Company advertised using STP in their gasoline. Over the years the more popular term for STPD has become the shorter term, "orals." I systematically grade these orals on a 0-5 point base. Orals make an excellent test system where immediate feedback is available to the instructor on how accurately the students learned the material. The instructor does not have to wait until the end of a test, or later, to see how students learned the material. While the test is in progress the instructor sees what the students have learned and what material still needs to be clarified, restated, etc. Once students have demonstrated that the reading assignment has been learned via correct oral quiz performance, the concepts that were covered in the readings can be extended.
Recently, in counseling and therapy, there has been a push by some in the field to use "relationship" as a motivational variable.
One may see this in a variety of areas. Friendships, where for example, dishonesty becomes a reason for break-ups in a relationship. One can see this at work in:
1. Some religious leaders current discussion of sin.
2. Marriage counseling on infidelity.
Let’s look at one and two above one at a time.
1. In current religious circles, the concept of a broken relationship vs. the older religious issues of sin, hell, damnation, etc., are focused on by some in the religious area.
2. In marriage counseling, such things as adultery, legalistic discussions, etc., may be replaced with a discussion of what might be lost in a relationship.
This same motivational factor is used here to attempt to get students to increase their study behavior. To the student, a benefit of studying hard to get through the basics is so that they can go on to more interesting extensions of the material. This may add a new motivating factor for students to study the material before class. That is, the student seeing his/her relationship to other class members as a reason to study, "If I do my share to get right answers to the basic material, we as a class can get to other more important and more interesting things."
C. 5 Minutes of the Class -- "Putting the Course Together," Announcements and Clarification, Homework Issues, Next Assignment, "Trouble Shoot" Problems, Enrichment Activities, Questions, etc.
D. 10 Minutes of the Class -- Daily Quiz:
These quizzes are usually multiple choice and are graded immediately on scoring machines in the classroom. This immediate feedback of the correct answers to questions makes the quiz taking, both oral and written, even more an active part of the learning process.
E. 5 Minutes - Student Posting Grade Sheet etc.:
A few minutes of each class usually involves the student posting the points earned that day, cumulating the points, finding their cumulated current grade for the course, and posting it on his/her grade sheet. This way, students know their grade every moment of the course.
Students also pick up materials for the next class period or leave material to be handed in.
APPENDIX B ENRICHMENTS
The enrichment is an activity for class points. The student has the option of attending enrichments in exchange for attending class at another designated time, or at times, an announced alternate assignment is the replacement activity. The student receives 10 points for attending the enrichment in or out of the scheduled class time. The instructor will announce which class period the student can replace by attending an out of class enrichment. To get credit for the enrichment, the student should be on time, take notes, and turn his/her own notes in at the end of the enrichment session.
1. Enrichments During Your Class Period:
If an enrichment activity takes place during the student's regularly scheduled class period, attendance and notes are counted as class credit as long as notes are taken and handed in at the end of the enrichment. If you do not attend the enrichment (if it meets in your class hours) you do NOT get the points.
2. Enrichments Outside of Class Periods:
Those students who do not attend an out of class enrichment should attend the class period that the instructor has designated as makeup, or do the announced make-up activity.
Here are some things you should do so that you get those almost automatic points for enrichments:
1. Be on time for the enrichment activity.
2. Hand in adequate notes at the end of the enrichment activity. (Notes should cover the major issues presented by the speaker. If someone reads your notes he or she should have most of the concepts the speaker presented.)
3. Hand in your OWN notes at the end of the enrichment event.
4. Notes handed in should have the usual heading format.
APPENDIX C GRADED HOMEWORK
Graded homework is an important part of this class structure. I designed the course to use graded homework to help you learn the material that is currently being studied.
To receive a passing grade on a homework assignment you need to achieve a “generous 90%” (*see below) on the homework test. Anything below this 90% correct counts as a failure on homework. You do not receive separate points for homework, it is combined with your in-class quiz scores. Homework failure influences the in-class quiz score you will be taking on that material. If you pass the homework test, you receive whatever in-class quiz score you achieve on the quiz. However if you fail the homework, you will receive half of your in-class quiz score. Hopefully you are motivated to study hard. In the graded homework, there is no rule against getting help from others or using the book outside of class on the homework questions. Just work hard at getting the right answers and at the same time learn the material.
*Reference for what we mean by a “generous 90%”: Getting 9 out of 10 questions right is passing. So if there were 20 questions, getting 18 out of 20 questions right is passing. It’s the same with 27/30, 36/40 and etc. For every ten questions on the homework, you can get one more wrong and still pass. What makes it the “generous 90%” is as soon as you go one question over the 10’s unit (that is 11, 21, 31, etc), you can get one more wrong and pass. For example, 11 questions = 2 wrong, 21 questions = 3 wrong, 31 questions = 4 wrong, etc.
Even if there are nine or less items on the test, you can still get one wrong to pass.
If you failed a graded homework test, and received an odd number for our in-class quiz score, then round up the resulting score. So for example, if you got a 9 on the quiz and had to cut it in half down to 4.5, you then round up and receive a 5
1. If you got 9 out of 10 on the homework and you got 10 points on the in-class quiz, how many points would you post on the grade sheet for the quiz?
2. If you got 8 out of 11 on the homework and you got 9 points on the in-class quiz, how many points would you post on the grade sheet for the quiz?
3. If you got 8 out of 11 on the homework and you got 8 points on the in-class quiz, how many points would you post on the grade sheet for the quiz?
2. 5 (4.5 rounded up)
SUPPLEMENTARY PROCEDURE MANUAL
I have listed below some points in the general form of an introduction. I have made no effort to use the usual points brought up in traditional introductions, as students usually find such things boring – if not sleep inducing. As you read this material here in the procedure manual, you may ask yourself, “Why am I reading such “stuff”? For that question, I have added a very brief explanation - I believe experiences one person has already lived may, at times, provide some useful lessons to others. I desire not to be lengthy with the items below, so some topics also become too brief.
1. When I was in the military, I volunteered as a human guinea pig for a military LSD experiment. The experience had a big influence on me. Some drug experts fear escalation of drug use when exposed to drugs as a youth. I was young in the military, going in shortly after high school. Escalation of drug use has not happened to me in my life. I have never been drunk. I have NOT used any other addictive-type drugs, and never used LSD or derivatives again. As a matter of fact, until very recently when my family doctor suggested aspirin as good for preventing heart issues in old folks, I had not even taken half a dozen aspirins in my life.
2. Not very many years ago I walked on fire for the first time at a fire walk.
3. I was born in 1936, so I am 79 in February of 2015.
4. At the end of this school year (May 2015) I will have taught at SCSU for 50 years.
5. One very low probability happening in my 50 years here at SCSU: I have NOT had a day of sick leave. If this continues you probably will not have any days off because I am sick. However, one never knows – this may be the semester it catches up to me!!!!!
6. A number of things involved in my career decisions have in the past been of interest to students. Usually we cover these career-influencing events as part of this course in talking about career planning.
A. My Going to College: I had NO plan to go to college when I graduated from high school in 1954.
B. I first became interested in the discipline of Psychology as a college major for undergraduate school while in the Air Force, in the LSD experiment described in #1 above.
C. The process of how I became involved in one of my major interests within psychology, behavior analysis, is a topic many students can relate to in their own search for a career.
D. Later in this semester as part of my teaching critical thinking/analysis I will talk about how I became interested in this critical analysis debunking area I now use in my courses.
7. Back in 1954, students asking me questions about how psychics do their supposed psychic things initiated my interest in magic. Magic, as an academic related study and as an entertainment mode, has been a major interest for 50 years.
8. An event in our magic history was, when our kids were still in grade school, we (The Mertens' Family of Magic) opened for a Garrison Keillor show at the Benedict Art Center. Ironically, 3 of our grand kids were asked to do some magic in Jan. 2010, as part of another show, on the same stage.
9. As a grade school kid taking a short cut to school in early spring over a supposed frozen river I fell through the ice. The ice kept breaking away as I tried to crawl out of the river. There was a fairly strong current in this river at this time. That was one early close call with death.
10. A second close call with death was during my volunteering for a medical research experiment in the military. I found out years later that while volunteering for this experiment how my heart rate / pulse rate was briefly that of a dead person. I found this out by reading about this experiment via the Freedom of Information Act.
11. Certainly there were times I was concerned for my life when Jim Meredith became the first African American enrolled at Ole Miss. I was there in Oxford, Mississippi at that time. I ate with Meredith a number of times in the college cafeteria. To protect Meredith, federal marshals had to sit around Meredith’s table in the university cafeteria at mealtime. This was in the era of the assassination of Martin Luther King Junior, and Meredith himself was shot on a freedom march, but not killed. I surprised myself from coming out of that experience alive. “I had kissed my behind goodbye,” when I started to associated with James Meredith, as the first African American university student, at “Ole Miss.” The night Meredith came on campus people were killed, one like on lawn behind our Psychology Department.
12. We did adopt an infant African American son over 45 years ago.
13. Now when our kids and their significant other and grand kids get together with us we number nineteen.
14. I played Santa Claus for my older sister’s children when I was a high school student; a fake beard was needed at that time! I still do play Santa. I have been a member of international real bearded Santa groups. I still carry a “Santa sleigh driver’s license.” I played Santa as recently as Dec. 2013 for a senior citizen nursing home Christmas party.
15. One might find my life and professional career filled with what appears to some to be conflicting roles. I do not find them conflicting. I have been a Skinner-like behavior analyst for my entire teaching career. As an active Roman Catholic I have written a number of times to the Pope and church officials advocating for women ordination to the priesthood. I personally believe this discrimination against women is very wrong. I have attended “underground-like” ordination services for women priests, and I have attended Mass celebrated with these “underground-like” ordained women Catholic priests. I am still a practicing, go-to-church-every-Sunday-type Catholic. I am very public in my expression of the evil of no women priests even from a Roman Catholic position. This has made for some problems with some Catholic priests, and others. When leaving church, a priest was shaking hands with all, when he saw it was my hand, he pulled his hand back. It is an interesting and unique sensation to have your hand extended to meet with an already extended hand, and you find no hand there.
I think the evolution (natural selection) data has the best evidence for the origin of species. One of my heroes is Father Wil, at nearby St. John’s University, an 80+ year-old priest; I think Wil has the best knowledge of Darwin evolution in the St. Cloud N. area. Usually, he is the one with letters to the editor in the local paper in favor of evolution. He is certainly an interesting person.
16. I can say I do not enjoy flying, and I had a ground job while in the Strategic Air Command for most of my time in the Air Force. An air-refueling crew did invite me along on a mid-air refueling mission, and I did get to be back on the floor with a boom operator as a B-52 bomber was refueled in mid-air, like right next to us and that B-52 was so big! That B-52 (somewhat like the commercial airliner Boeing707) was very scary and gigantic as it got ever so close to allow the mid-air refueling procedure.
17. I have been the "organizational force" for 3 grade school reunions.
18. I did a psychic surgery for a skeptic meeting in Minneapolis. I was very interested in Jim Jones and his Jonestown at the time it happened. Jones supposedly did psychic surgery, so the replication was accomplished for a skeptic meeting on the topic of Jonestown. As we “psychically” pulled out supposed “sick” guts, organs, and glands, like Jones, we threw them in a fire; it started to smell like Kentucky Fried Chicken. (We were using left over chicken parts from the butcher.)
19. With students, I have replicated successfully twice in classes the “infamous amazing Dr. Fox demonstration.” (This demonstrates that it is not what one says, but how one says it.)
20. I have turned down all awards for my time in service here at St Cloud State University. I have never attended these awards ceremonies. My reinforcement for teaching has never been this kind of honorific “triteness.” I call it “trinket kinds of reinforcer.” When I find this kind of trinket “stuff” starts reinforcing my teaching, reminds me that it is time to retire. Productive change in student behavior has been a much more important reinforcer.
21. James Randi offers a million dollars for demonstration of a psychic ability. I have done 3 preliminary investigations for Randi. The 3 investigations were:
- a supposed perpetual motion machine,
- a person who could supposedly read minds, and
- before the field of facilitated communication, a mother who could draw and write marvelous things from her adult child who was then diagnosed “severe mentally retardation.”
22. I am considered the “Father of the Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI).” I was the person who initiated interest in the group, and did the initial leg work to organize the group. Of course, it is a truism, no one person alone ever formed a group, and many great people were involved in forming that group - ABAI.
23. I have been a member of a number of different/strange groups in my life:
-One such group is the “Flat Earth Society.” A friend lived much of his life with people of a different view, trying to understand how these people came to hold to this different view. He spent considerable time with Charley Johnson, then president of the Flat Earth Society. This friend convinced me to join.
-I attend a psychic convention annually. I have been a member of this group for about 25 years. I do not attend this convention because I am a believer in their psychic message; I am interested in what the psychic movement is currently up to.
-I was involved in starting the longest standing faculty discussion group at St. Cloud POETS.
-While in the Strategic Air Command I was a member of one their judo clubs.
-I was the faculty adviser for the first gay support groups at SCSU many years ago, and a faculty advisor to a men’s volleyball club.
-Some other strange groups I have belonged were discussed earlier in this document:
---Natural bearded Santa Claus group
---An “underground” group for women ordination to Roman Catholic priests
---A number of skeptic groups with different purposes
II. EVALUATION OF PROGRAM ERRORS (Finding what happens as students study).
One thing that is NOT news today is that disagreements exist on how college courses should be taught and evaluated. The literature referring to these problems is confusing enough to make some individuals give up on the attempt to improve and/or evaluate courses. A few of the many problems of course evaluation are stated below:
A. What Areas to Evaluate:
Many times there exists no agreement between students and faculty on the criterion to be met in a course or even the general areas to be evaluated. An alternative to this issue is through the generation of a behavioral contract.
B. Evaluation While Course Is In Progress:
Most course evaluations come back too late in the course and in a form not very useful for improvement. Methods suggested by single subject research design, immediate feedback, and a concept of mutual positive reinforcement appear to offer a viable means to evaluate a course. These concepts themselves will be looked at in greater detail later in the course. Just why should a student get involved in a course evaluation? Many methods of student evaluation of faculty/course appear non-productive or even counter-productive, e.g.:
1. "The Last Chance at Getting Even": The end of the course evaluation provides an opportunity for the student to "ventilate hostility" if things have not gone well in the course.
2. Evaluation and Letter of Recommendation Request in the Same Breath: This "subtle" method is characterized by the sentence, "I really found your course interesting and enjoyed it immensely. Oh yes, by the way, would you write me a letter of recommendation?"
3. Who cares: “I have more important things to do than offer feedback.”
4. "The Make Them Feel Good": The "do-gooders" who wouldn't say crap if he/she was standing in the middle of it.
Can an instructor make a class evaluation part of the teaching aspects of the course? In this course, I will try. Suggestions for improvement on the techniques used in this course are sought after.
IV. REQUIRED PRACTICE OF RESPONSES BEING LEARNED:
This is a verbally accepted standard in most college classes but is rarely observed in practice. It has been stated by Duvall, "Studies show, however, that less than 10 percent of American students work more than 30 hours a week." This would include homework, class lectures, individualized instruction, projects, and all other aspects of the course. In certain cases this will be an estimated amount of time based on an average time spent by students in the past. Class periods are not the major learning medium in this class but rather working with, or the practice with, the materials as homework is where most of the learning takes place. The class time is the time to look at what has been learned.
V. NEGATIVE REINFORCEMENT AND PUNISHMENT BOTH SHOULD BEMINIMIZED:
B. Confidentiality Option:
Grade Rosters used in the class period may be posted by number, not name. If you desire this option inform the instructor.
C. If Things Do Not Go Well (informal complaints):
The written word is better than the spoken word for complaints as well as for
teaching content. If you have a complaint or suggestion in the course, please
write it out and give it to me. The student has a right to talk to any university
D. Formal Complaints:
The University has an established way of submitting formal complaints on a
course. This method is presented in the student handbook.
VIII. BEHAVIOR SHOULD BE SPECIFIED
D. Alternative Approach to this Course:
After you have become familiar with the procedures for this class, you may develop a comprehensive personalized plan for accomplishing the objectives of the course. This plan must meet the following requirements:
1. Be mutually acceptable to both you and the instructor early in the semester.
2. Contain clearly developed and clearly stated criteria so that both you and the instructor will know what to judge your performance on.
3. Contain systematic procedures and activities for accomplishing the objectives of the specific course or event.
4. Select the level of competence you wish to strive for, and indicate levels of competence that would represent point levels.
5. You and your instructor systematically apply the criteria you have developed to ascertain to what extent you have met the objectives of the course.
6. You should have an overall evaluation of your approach. How effective was it?
7. The initiative for alternatives to the course rests with you.
8. You should write your proposal in a performance contract form.
9. Must be feasible in the time demand structure we live in.
H. From the Grocery Store to Contracting:
The area of performance contracting offers a means where problems in the "grocery store" example can be confronted. In a contract, one can see advantages for making explicit the behaviors to be taught. Certainly, the grocery store analogy has problems, e.g., consider if one has never had a certain brand of peaches before. One does not know which brand is best suited to one's taste. You should be a "comparative buyer." In the introductory material for this course we attempted to answer the following questions so as to make you an informed buyer:
- In what way are the course procedures individualized?
- Is grading for this course on a curve? If not a curve, how is it graded?
- What does a grade mean?
- By design, how much time should be spent on this course?
- If a student doesn't like the procedures, is an alternative available?
- What is the absence policy?
- What is the 4% rule?
- What exceptions exist to rules?
- What are the advantages to having the course centered on the printed word?
- How do you know your grade?
- What is the policy on cheating in this class?
- Why is specific identification needed on material handed in?
- What process is to be used to handle complaints?
- What are the procedures for machine scoring of tests?
- How is selecting a class comparable to a grocery store encounter?
- What is the oral quiz procedure?
- What is a typical day like?
X. SUCCESS BEFORE PROGRESSING:
A. Curve-Grading Practices:
Certainly, one of the tragedies of modern education is the widespread practice of assigning letter grades on the basis of a distribution of examination scores and the related (and often admired) objective of generating an examination that will produce a "normal distribution." Normal distributions are produced by random events, and it is not clear why an instructor would strive for a level of mastery (his/her assigned letter grade) which is based on that distribution. There appears to be a strange paradox at work, those who have the task of teaching have in certain cases, a chance distribution criterion as an evaluator of their skills. The acceptance of curve grading by faculty members is very curious for it is an almost certain way to sacrifice excellence. If one grades students on a curve, the particular level of mastery demonstrated by a student does not determine whether he/she is certified as excellent ("A" grade), good ("B" grade), etc. What does determine the level of certification is how well other students perform.
To grade on a curve and assign some students grades of C or D is to say that the instructor is willing to give academic credit (C and D are not "failing" grades) to over half of the students in the class. This is true even though their performance is mediocre to poor. Also curious is the fact that some teachers pride themselves in giving a great many poor grades. Such instructors acquire a reputation for teaching "difficult" courses and for some reason they are often admired in comparison with the instructor who gives a great many higher grades (the latter is said to teach "easy" courses). Good grades should mean that students are meeting the instructor's criteria of excellence and poor grades should mean that students are not meeting those criteria. Unfortunately, grading on a curve usually means that those criteria have not been stated, and as a result it is a moot question as to whether courses are "easy" or "hard."
Rather than tolerating marginal performance (even expecting it), an instructor should insist on excellence from each of his/her students and should withhold academic credit until a passable level of excellence is demonstrated. In the typical university course the length of the course is fixed, for example, one semester, and the quality of student performance is allowed to vary. What is suggested here is that the acceptable level of student performance should be fixed by the instructor, and because students may reach the required level of mastery at different rates, the time each student spends in the course might be allowed to vary. Adopting such a philosophy does not require that the quarter system or semester system first be abandoned.
B. Grades Based on Competency, not Curve:
In this course, the grading system is used to indicate adequate levels of academic performance. The grading system is also designed to maintain active study behavior throughout the semester. The system functions in such a way that the student need not compete with her/his peers for a limited number of high grades. Everyone may earn a high grade.
Each student receives the grade he/she earns without resorting to a "normal curve distribution." Grades are assigned starting from mastery and not from an average. The system may be criticized because too many students receive high grades, but all students earn them through their performance. Any number of A's can be earned on the above system.
C. Being Correct at a High Rate is Worth Working On:
Most courses consequate the quantity of verbal responding by using percentage as the unit of measurement. A shortcoming of such a practice is that this ignores the time taken to make quality responses. In everyday life, e.g. discussion, answering questions, interviews, etc., we tend to evaluate what a person says and does by noticing not only the degree to which his/her statements are correct. Also very important is the time he/she takes to make those statements, usually considered in terms of pauses, hesitations, restatement needed (because of error), and the emission of other behaviors incompatible with fluent speech. Given two individuals saying the same words, we tend to be most impressed by learning and expertise, etc., with the one who does not pause, restate, etc. All behaviors occur in some quantity (amount) and over some period of time, and this is the defining feature of rate. Rate appears to be the most useful and sensitive unit by which to measure many kinds of behavior. Thus, in these instructional techniques, a student's rate was selected as the unit of response to be used. Likewise, the verbal behavior of those we define as experts is usually characterized by a high rate of correct responding. This is the same as saying that an expert emits a high rate correctly and a low rate of incorrect verbalizations. The rate we will use on tests will be well within the normal rate of reading speeds so that a change in your reading speed is not necessary. Problems with students trying to read very quickly rarely occur. The way to improve rates (decrease incorrect and increase correct) is to study the material so one will emit no incorrect responses. We will adjust the length and time of our tests to the difficulty of the questions.