Monthly Archives: October 2014

Failing Tests Is Good for Learning

shutterstock_148662203We’ve all heard some variation of the adage “It will get worse before it gets better.” It turns out to be true with flunking a pretest. Research at UCLA has shown that students perform better on finals when they are given comprehensive pretests on material about which they know virtually nothing on the first day of class … and predictably fail.

The merits of pretesting, a new outcrop of learning science, are linked to how we approach the acquisition of knowledge. The theory posits that if we take a pretest and do poorly but we know the final will include the same material, we look at the course differently—so differently that it can improve overall performance in the class by an average of 10 percent.

Professor Elizabeth Bjork of UCLA used her own psychology students as guinea pigs to test her theory on pretesting. Instead of overwhelming students on the first day with a comprehensive pretest of the entire quarter’s worth of materials, she gave a series of unannounced shorter tests during a few class sessions. Predictably, students performed poorly on the pretests.

However, Bjork delivered the answers to the questions during the next lecture, and this quick feedback is what seemed to lead to better learning. On the final, students scored about 10 percent higher on material they originally did poorly on in pretests but that was covered in the next lecture.

The experiment has several implications. First is that pretesting seems to prime the brain to absorb new information. This may result because students get a taste of what’s to come and that gives them hints about what to focus on as the course progresses. Second is the concept of fluency, or the false impression that we understand or have learned more than we have. Pretesting acts as a wake-up call to show students they are not as fluent as they thought.

Biology may also be at play. Retrieving information from the memory is different than cramming in information the first time. Retrieval requires a network of associations that affect how the information is re-stored. Pretesting—and guessing answers—also reshapes the brain’s networks, which may be linked to the improved performance.

So far it appears that pretesting is not a panacea; it only works in humanities and social science courses that delve into information in the same language we speak. But now, it seems, researchers have found that testing itself may be a key to studying, not the other way around. Tests don’t simply measure; they enrich and alter memory, and therefore, promote learning.

 

 

Adios to Rigid Dress Codes…Grammar Police…Test Drive Hiring

Rigid Dress Codes on the Way Out?shutterstock_77416048

Employers with rigid one-size-fits-all dress code based on a dated view of the workplace may want to rethink their policies. Today’s employees are protected by several national acts mandating  employers to make dress code accommodations based on employees’ religious beliefs, disabilities, gender and gender identity, and protected activities (such as labor organizing). However, firms that clearly explain dress codes and the business reasons for them can still maintain dress code policies—as long as they are flexible about addressing requests for accommodations.

SEC Cries Foul—Grammar, that Is!

There really are grammar police! Sure SEC reviewers of IPOs check for accounting inconsistencies and adherence to regulations. But they’re also on the lookout for typos, punctuation errors, unclear jargon, and sentence fragments. Even type font and size has become a reason reviewers send back reports for revision. The sheer volume the commission must review (some reports are as long as 20,000 words) has made readability a real issue, so SEC reviewers are refusing to read proposals until they are more clearly written.

Is “Test Drive” Hiring up to Speed?

Send in résumé. Have interview. Receive job offer. Go to work … on a trial basis? After being burned by hiring new people who don’t work out, more and more companies are offering jobs temporarily so that they can evaluate whether the new empooyee is a good fit. Some firms bring on multiple people as independent contractors and end up hiring only a few. Others offer new employees temporary contracts or have them turn in a sample project before taking them on full time. Employees seem willing to go for this new model so they can show their abilities beyond talking about them in an interview … or perhaps just because of the tight job market.

Words/Expressions to Avoid Worksheet

20 Words and Expressions That Good Writers Avoid

Instructors: Looking for a change-of-pace exercise? Try this worksheet with your students! Discuss the wordy expressions with your class; then let them apply what they’ve learned by editing the practice sentences. We’ve included a key for you, too!

Avoiding the following 20 wordy expressions and poor word choices will make your writing stronger.

  1. And also. This expression is usually redundant.
  2. And/or. Outside the legal field this expression is unnecessary. Use one word or the other.
  3. As to whether. The single word whether is sufficient.
  4. Basically, essentially, and totally. Eliminate these overused and empty words because they seldom add anything useful to your writing.
  5. Being that, being as. Replace these nonstandard expressions with because.
  6. Considered to be. Eliminate to be for concise expression.
  7. Due to the fact that. Convey your meaning concisely with because.
  8. Each and every. Use one or the other but not both words.
  9. Equally as. Something can be equally important or as important as, but not equally as important.
  10. Etc. This abbreviation suggests that you could provide more examples but you don’t want to bother.
  11. Firstly, secondly, thirdly. Instead of these adverbial forms, use first, second, and third.
  12. Get, got. Use more precise words to avoid the ugly and meaningless verb get.
  13. Kind of, sort of. These expressions are appropriate in informal communication. In business writing substitute somewhat, rather, or slightly.
  14. Lots, lots of. Instead of these colloquial words, use many or much.
  15. Nature. Instead of movies of a violent nature, describe them as violent movies.
  16. On account of. Replace with because.
  17. Per. In legal and technical documents, per is acceptable. Elsewhere, use according to.
  18. Plus. Don’t use this word as a conjunction. Use and or in addition.
  19. The reason is because. Replace with the reason is that.
  20. Utilize, utilization. Replace with use.

Revise the following sentences to avoid any of the poor expressions discussed above.

  1. Many companies are limiting the use of personal cell phones in the workplace on account of the jangle of beeps and tunes coming from them.
  2. A total of 53 percent of employees said that they felt impatient and/or angry when a coworker stops a conversation because of an incoming wireless call.
  3. A lot of employees said that their No. 1 pet peeve at work was the ringing of cell phones.
  4. Plus, employers are worried about the drain on productivity.
  5. More than a third of companies have gotten policies to address the utilization of personal cell phones.
  6. Companies cited lots of reasons for limiting the use of cell phones on the job.
  7. Firstly, cell phones in the workplace are noisy. Secondly, they disrupt the work environment. Thirdly, they reduce productivity and etc.
  8. Employees are totally exasperated at coworkers who leave a cell phone essentially blasting away unanswered.
  9. Equally as important is the safety issue, as per a recent report.
  10. Being that employees are driving and conducting business while talking on cell phones, employers are concerned.
  11. The reason is because employers may be held liable when accidents occur.
  12. It is not important as to whether the employee is using a personal cell phone.
  13. It is also considered to be unimportant as to whether the employee is conducting business outside of normal working hours.
  14. Employers are basically afraid that they will be responsible for injuries and damage caused by employees using cell phones.
  15. Due to the fact that employers fear all accidents, whether of a serious nature or not, they are limiting cell phone use.

—————-

Solutions

  1. Many companies are limiting the use of personal cell phones in the workplace on account because of the jangle of beeps and tunes coming from them.
  2. A total of 53 percent of employees said that they felt impatient and/or and [or or] angry when a coworker stops a conversation because of an incoming wireless call.
  3. A lot of Many employees said that their No. 1 pet peeve at work was the ringing of cell phones.
  4. Plus, In addition, employers are worried about the drain on productivity.
  5. More than a third of companies have gotten enacted [or instituted] policies to address the utilization use of personal cell phones.
  6. Companies cited lots of many reasons for limiting the use of cell phones on the job.
  7. Firstly First, cell phones in the workplace are noisy. Secondly, Second, they disrupt the work environment. Thirdly, they reduce productivity and etc.
  8. Employees are totally exasperated at coworkers who leave a cell phone essentially blasting away unanswered.
  9. Equally as important is the safety issue, as per according to a recent report.
  10. Being that Because employees are driving and conducting business while talking on cell phones, employers are concerned.
  11. The reason is because that employers may be held liable when accidents occur.
  12. It is not important as to whether the employee is using a personal cell phone.
  13. It is also considered to be unimportant as to whether the employee is conducting business outside of normal working hours.
  14. Employers are basically afraid that they will be responsible for injuries and damage caused by employees using cell phones.
  15. Due to the fact that Because employers fear all accidents, whether of a serious nature or not, they are limiting cell phone use.

Source: Based on “Plague Words and Phrases” <http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/plague.htm&gt;