Author Archives: Kate Stover

“In her research, Fassinger (1997) found that the variable that best explained student participation was a student trait – confidence.”

Thirty years of research on classroom discussion has generated many theories on why some students participate in discussion and others do not. I’ve come to believe that while a combination of factors come into play, Fassinger’s findings are probably key. … Continue reading

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“Our views about insomnia are continuing to evolve.”

For many years, insomnia was considered to be primarily a symptom of another illness, writes Wallace Mendelson in The Science of Sleep. During his 40-plus years as a sleep researcher, Mendelson has seen many views evolve, and this is one … Continue reading

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“I have no idea what I’m doing! I’m going to fail!”

Angela Duckworth had a rough start with her first class in neurobiology – she failed the first two exams. She was advised to drop the course.  But she refused to quit.  Instead she believed that she could figure it out … Continue reading

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“Is the soul solid, like iron?”

The poet Mary Oliver continues: “Or, is it tender and breakable, like the wings of a moth in the beak of the owl?” With these questions, Oliver opens the poem “Some Questions You Might Ask,” which has inspired artists, videographers, … Continue reading

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Best Books for College Teachers in 2017

Of the books published in 2017, here is my list of the five that have added the most to my understanding of our students, our challenges as instructors, and our need to reform our educational system. iGen by Jean Twenge: … Continue reading

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“Sadly, the reality is that more and more students entering the educational pipeline have had curdled childhoods.”

It is not poverty per se that distinguishes these students, Karen Gross writes, but it’s a childhood burdened by “hunger, exposure to or experience with drugs, alcohol, abandonment, frequent moves, abuse, self-harm or harm of others.” Do we know which … Continue reading

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“My students call this a ‘quarter-life crisis.’”

Cathy Davidson, author of The New Education, describes the twenty-fifth birthday parties that many of her college students throw “to commemorate their collective indecision and existential sense of uselessness.”  They have degrees, credentials, and honors, but few job prospects. Davidson … Continue reading

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“What does the continual repicturing of Austen say to us?”

If British novelist Jane Austen – now dead for 200 years – could see the picture of her that is in cash registers and wallets in England on the newly-issued ten pound note, she would probably laugh. The bankers selected … Continue reading

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“When he analyzed students’ responses through their handheld electronic clickers, only 10 percent would remember the material after twenty minutes of lecture.”

Was this professor inept?  Were his students slackers? Both are unlikely: Carl Wieman, the professor, is a Nobel Laureate, and he teaches at Sanford. Perhaps, as Norman Eng points out, those of us who stand in the front of the … Continue reading

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“I want to show you the world, as it is all around us, all the time.”

How does Karl Ove Knausgaard’s collection of letters for his unborn daughter compare to Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet and Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me? All three are beautiful explorations of ideas; all are meant to guide, … Continue reading

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“After all, what can a first impression tell us about someone we’ve just met for a minute in the lobby of a hotel?”

Amor Towles, author of A Gentleman in Moscow, continues: “Why, no more than a chord can tell us about Beethoven, or a brushstroke about Botticelli.” If you, like me, would like a break from the disasters and tragedies surrounding us, … Continue reading

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“When McGraw-Hill Education polled more than 600 college faculty in 2017, 70% said students were less willing to ask questions and participate in class than they were five years ago.”

I’m with the 70%. At some point in every class, I say, “What questions do you have about this?” Seldom do students respond. However, if that same question is included in a quiz, about a third ask for more information … Continue reading

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“Science needs its adventurers.”

It’s hard to imagine a more exciting scientific adventure than the one described in Altered Traits.  Forty years ago, when Ritchie Davidson and Daniel Goleman were grad students, their advisors told them that studying meditation would be a career-killer. But … Continue reading

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“Rock and roll when first encountered seemed to represent two fears: a fear of the future and a fear of the past.”

Some feared, Christopher Hill notes, that this new kind of music had the power to lead Americans to radical decadence in the not-too-distant future. Others, who had experienced gospel music, recognized “the testifying quality, the clear sense that there were … Continue reading

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“Our challenge as culturally responsive teachers is knowing how to create an environment that the brain perceives as safe so it can . . . turn its attention to learning.”

Most often, “culturally responsive teaching” focuses on students of color and students who are linguistically diverse.  After reading iGen by Jean Twenge, however, I would argue that students born between 1995 and 2012 have unique cultural characteristics that we need … Continue reading

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