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Bernstein Project Summary -- January, 2000

My project was centered in a senior level course in learning that I have been teaching at UNL for 15 years. The course is intended to give students an introduction to many of the basic phenomena of the research literature in learning, with an emphasis on everyday contexts in which these ideas could be used as action plans for change or as guides to understanding. There is little that would be called theory or history, in the sense of comparing interpretative writing about issues by professionals in the field during this century. The course has a nominal prerequisite at the sophomore level, but both policy and practice make no assumptions that students bring any skill to the course specifically related to the subject matter.

I present data from three semesters of the course. In the first semester I evaluated the effect of changing the assessment from abstract short essay questions to problem based contextual assessment. In the second semester I added an out of class assessment of reading comprehension; it was intended to free more class time for discussion of higher order learning. In the third semester the course was moved to the sophomore level; students no longer had 12 hours or prerequisite psychology. I also added a web-based opportunity to learn to recognize quality answers to questions. All three changes in the course were evaluated by reviewing relevant examination performance.


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