59: Princeton University’s Response to Anonymous Course Reviews w/ Nic Voge

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Nic Voge, Senior Associate Director at Princeton University’s McGraw Center for Teaching and Learning, discusses Principedia, Princeton University’s in-house course discovery forum, made to promote student sharing and metacognition while combatting anonymous and unhelpful course review sites.

They're not pupils to be acted upon,but they're, really partners and teaching and learning and studentsbring a lot of knowledge and awareness about how to learn. You're, listening to enrolment growth,university from helics education, the best professional development podcastfor higher education leaders looking to Growin Roman at their college oruniversity, whether you're looking for fresh and Roman growth techniques andstrategies or tools and resources, you've come to the right place. Let'sget into the show. Welcome back to anroman growthuniversity, the proud member of the connect Edu podcast network Im, MarGolson AVP of marketing at helicks education and were here today with NickVogue senior associate director at Princeton Universities, macgrat centerfor teaching and Learning Nick Welcome to the show glad to be here ar reallyexcited to talk with you today about how institutions can promote course,discovery and combat anonymous course...

...review sites by creating their own. Butbefore we dik into that Nick, can you go the listeners a little bit betterunderstanding of both Prince and university and your role there sure so.Princeon University is a research one university that also houses. Aundergraduate college is truly committed to the liberal arts.Curriculum were midsize bout, five thousand two hundred undergrads nearlythree thousand graduates students, most of whom are doctoral students in thedisciplines. So we don't really have professional schools, and you knowobviously highly selective we've gone to our school excuse me are in Roamanhas gone through some signifient changes were much moresocioeconomically diverse in recent years. Drawing from a wider range ofschools were highly international, so those are the the things to perhapskeep in mind as backdrop to Principedia hear the Magror Center for teaching andlearning. We do three primary things. One is we provide faculty developmentto our professor. We also train graduate students as what we callpreceptors or teaching assistance in...

...the classroom and a future faculty, andwe also support students academically both undergraduates and graduatestudents to Vide Tutoring Workshops, academic coaching, and it's in thatcapacity that my primary role, I oversee the learning programs awesome.Nick, let's dive right into it D, many of us are familiar with sites, likerate my Professorscom, an place for students to share their courseexperiences for them to determine a course's difficulty before and rollingand learn up professors evaluated, hot or notoniss before in rulling talkabout the primary problem of anonymous review sites like this, I think theprimary problem is that the discourse is not a very good quality. It'sactually really not very helpful for students. It's not doesn't help them asa learning resource. It's not a tool to make informed choices that would reallymaximize learning. So one of the things that we really feel behind pensipediais that if we want to change or really raise the discourse about learning frominstruction, that would inform course...

...selection, for instance, that we needto provide alternative sites. We need to create forums that crowd out lowquality discussion by creating spaces where we can have high qualitydiscussions. Yeah. Let's dig into that. This principedia inhouse coursediscovery form that you've developed kind of your overall goals behind itand how you believe it helps to reconceptualize the role of students inthe learning process. Yeah, good question, I think one key term thatmight organize was to follow, is to really think about students as partnersin the educative and in the teaching and learning a process, so not think ofas consumers. They're not pupils to be acted upon, but they're, reallypartners and teaching and learning and students bring a lot of knowledge andawareness about how to learn, and especially how a beginner or a novicein a field learns from a course an instruction. So what Principedia doesis it creates t provides a set of questions that students the guidestudents to do what we call a coarse analysis as an objective description ofhow the course is organized what the...

...key goals are. The objectives, how it'staught the features of the class that a student would want to know at the pointof course, selection, but also features the class in terms of how to learn best.So it includes includes a considerable portion of advice from students abouthow to learn, particularly by a ligning student learning, with the goals andobjectives of the faculty. o alignment is really crucial. It was really basedon a few principles of Pedagoga, which is transparency of objectives andintentions and expectations. Help learners, as I said, get in an alignment get intune with their faculty and learn the most. We also think, as I said, thatfact, the students can identify difficults ond problem areas. Thingsare hard to learn areas in the class that are challenging and then givetheir their fellow students advice, at's likely to be actionable bystudents. You've mentioned the depth that a form like princopedia has beyondsimply providing accurate testimonials...

...of. Of course, experiences talk aboutthis hope that Principedia helps to also promote your students,medicognition development right. So these kinds of questions where studentsare analyzing, how they're taught and then how they learn that is theyreenacting meticognition in those acts. So we're saying we're asking him toidentify. What's an effective learning strategy to describe the criteria, whatcounts is knowing or learning those are acts of medicognition and I've firmbeliever, and it's that one of the areas where students can really growmatocognition is by thinking about how they're being taught, and it had thedesign logic behind that. So in some senseis trying to lift the curtain orhelp students to lift the curtain on the design processes that those of usin factty evelopment engaged bactly in all the time that the choices thatfaculty make are driven by their goals and objectives, and that the assumptionis that students will align their learning their purposes and intentionsto those objectives. But that's actually a process. It's not alwaystransparent, so one act of...

...medicognition is to say is what I'mlearning in the line of the goals and objectives. Another one is how well amI learning when I meet difficulties when I'm not learning? Well, when I,what what strategies can I undertake to fix up my gaps and understanding orstrength en my understanding and having explicit statement of criteria andobjectives can only help students to do that? And one thing, that's not obvious,maybe is that the act of writing. These analyses really is meant to transfer toother courses that the process of doing that heightened students, awareness ofthe teaching learning process that it's a really reciprocal engagement, indrelationship and they'll. Take that forward with them to future courses.One analogy we might ask just to kind of bring this home is you know,Principeta is, is purposely patterned after wikipedia and we've all used,wickipedian seen the benefit to us as users, but I don't think anybody'sreally asedful. What is the benefit of the people who wrote all those articless thought about how they're organized...

...and structured what the topic ordiscipline theyre addressing how that by writing, that they got a deeperunderstanding of that. So I think there's a lot of ways thatmedicognition is enhanced among students by engaging in this processsuch good stuff. Nick. Some of these legacy course review sites have over adecade and a half on you from a promotional standpoint. How have youspread the word about the forum and encouraged course review submissionsfrom the Greater Princeon community? A good question, so one is, were reallynot trying to compete with those other. You know course review or course,evaluation sites in the sense that it's really from the beginning meant to becontext specific, and so what we're really trying to do is get acomprehensive description of the patterns of teaching and learning atPrinceton. So our one of our mottos is, you know, by students for students atPrinceton, in terms of generating content we'v reached out to studentswho are already engaging in processes of thinking about how they're taughtand their role in it. So there's quite of proliferation of Peur educatod rolesin our campus. These students often...

...receive quite a lot of training they'requite medicognitive. They gain appreciation and sensitivity by virtueof their training and so they're really primed to bring those skills to theanalysis of the courses that they're taking. So I have a large tuteringstaff over a hundred tutors. I have a staff of at the moment about twenty,what we call learning consultants ore like academic coaches, so they receiveexcensive training and then they work with students on their processes andmethods of learning, so they're already ready. If you will in terms ofpreparation to do this kind of analosis that we in various ways, incentivizethem some with simply PRINCON's Harts, challenging quite rigorous and sayinglook, you can make the experience for a fellow student better, both in terms oftheir enjoyment of a class and their success. Other ways is, we think it'sbeneficial and it's really instrumental in their training in their role, so wecan count it as a training activity and then we're finding new ways to do that,so we're creating content, we're...

...starting to create content by promptingstudents to go to their faculty and conduct interviews of their favoriteclasses or well say: Hey Pick, a class that you love that you found some ofyour classmates student. How could you help them love it? How could you helpthem be transformed by it? And this we find is really motivating, so those area few ways that we do that we also partner with peer advisers. So there'sstudents who have the role of not a peer educated, but our advisor role sothey're shaping the course selection process of their freshman in particular,again they're thinking a lot about quite a lot about the curriculumthey're on their way there we give them some extra tools and then they cancontribute to a resource in supedia that that could be used by themselvesin their advising practice with their fellow students. So it's beneficial tothem nick. What is the early response from students Bein to Princopedia? Thisfar, I think it's been really positive. You know it's mixed, so some studentswant maybe more tips or they prefer to start with some of the critiques or notso much text at you. Look at it and...

...there's a lot of text, but that's not we're not going for tips.I like, I have a little phrase interrupt that we say roup roots, nottips. They can get tips on the courseevaluations and that's fine. I think its perfectly appropriate. We're tryingto open a different channel of discussion, it's about this methods andprocesses and learning from instruction, so our goal is to hat whether it be onCrincipedia or elsewhere is to change the conversation that students arehaving from hey on that test. How D you do to hey on that test? How D you do itreally get into the methods processes were all learning all the time how tolearn how to learn better our senior year we can take on tasks and learndeeper and meet academic demands. A we could not have approached as a freshman.Well, what did we learn along the way? So I think students really appreciatethat Princon is quite rigorous. The reception that the idea that thatcollectively we're going to work together, communily to improve ourlearning as a quite appealing, it's also a very competitive place, so theantidote to competition is...

...collaboration and students get that, Ithink the more students you know the first time freshman who are walking inthe door and haven't had an experience of a Princeton course. You know, maybethey don't appreciate why this is so valuable, but they because they haven'texperienced that competition in the rigor the demands, but I think theycome to I'd, say our estimates or something like seventy. Five percent ofprincof student are sometaingly aware of Principedia, perhaps more imprt, atleast as important of student reception. Is The faculty actually quiteappreciative? They want these messages out there. They want thoughtful,informed, objective, analytical descriptions of their courses thatcomplement their syllabus. I've had factiny say right this. This analysis,the student is making on your side, is exactly what I want every student totake away from my lectures on my class, but I know they're not no. If this canhelp them do that they're quite thrilled, I think some of the otherbenefits you know e. As I mentioned at the outset, prison really is committedto a liberal arts curriculum, and so...

...students have a lot of requirementsacross the departments and they're going to be in classes with studentswho are quite skilled. You know they allare going to take an UPPR division,history class and being there and, if you're, an upper division, princeonstudent and history you're pretty good. So if you can, we can kind of raise andmake ix raise the skill level of all students make explicit the invisiblecurriculum that, of course, we encounter with a new type of class or anew discipline or a new subdiscipline. This makes all of our learning betterand princess students want to excel. They want to do well and they see. Thisis a resource that helps them get good grades. That there's this not minimizethat, but it's getting good grades by learning more nick. Finally, forinstitutions interested in creating similar forms at their institution.Your team is trying to make it as easy as possible for them to do so. Can youtalk a little bit more about that right? I, this would not be possible. Thisproject is edeaver? U Not be possible without the technological team. That'sinvolved, and that is not me. meanlet...

...me assure you, so my colleagues have weuse have created a plug in on word. Press can be found on git hub and it'sdesign. It's a template. Basically, and so it'sstudents excuse me faculty orstaff or students from any institution could go on, get Hubbi and get thistemplat and it is pluging for word press and create a side of their ownand they would simply populate with their own name and their logo. So youmight have w whatever institution of PediarUniversity of Peti or college apedia that you wanted and it really that thebones of it t the framework is there for you. It has a lot of features thatwe figured out through trial and error that we found make the contributions tothe site easier and more manageable, and so really there's relatively little technical support needed buther. It'shelpful to have someone whos Femlirg with word press, certainly and maybecheck in with your it office on campus, just to ensure that it works for youand any kind of constraints that your...

...office or institution might have. Butit's free cost free really at the because of the effort of this wonderfultechnological team that we have on board a well absolutely make sure thatwe share a link to that plugging in the show notes and the blog as well. Thankyou in advance to your generous it team and nick thanks. So much for your timetoday. What's the best place for listeners to connect with you if theyhave any followin questions, I'd love! This is a passion of mine. I love thisidea and I would love to talk further hith. Anybody who would like to emailis really f the best for me I's Sympto, my first initial end and follow by mylast name: Vogue Voge at Princeton. Dot, Edu awesome thanks against so much forjoining us to say Nick. Thank you OREC. My pleasure really appreciate theopportunity attracting today's new post. Traditional learners means adopting newenrolmant strategies. Keelks educations data driven enterprise, wide approachto enrollment growth is uniquely helping colleges and universitiesthrive in this new education, landscape...

...and Helex has just published the secondedition of their enrollment growth playbook, with fifty percent brand newcontent on how institutions can solve today's most pressing andromant growthchallenges download it today for free at helocs, Educationcom playbook you've been listening to enromantgrowth university from helicks education to ensure that you never missan episode subscribe to the show in Itunes or your favorite podcast player.Thank you so much for listening until next time.

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