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Author: KJHaxton

Spherical Students ?>

Spherical Students

This is a follow-up post to Helicopter Lecturers. When talking about how we as lecturers spend our students’ time, or how they spend their time, it would help to consider the case of the ideal student. The ideal student is, naturally, spherical. Ideal students are identical, obey Newton’s laws of motion, and undergo elastic collisions amidst typically random motion.  Of course, ideal students no more exist than ideal gases but it helps to have a model for a thought experiment….

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Helicopter Lecturers ?>

Helicopter Lecturers

I’m sure you’ve heard of helicopter parents. The possibly semi-mythological, ever-present parents who speak for their kids, show up everywhere and are generally an effective means of ensuring their offspring don’t say that much (nor appear to have opinions of their own).  But what of the helicopter lecturers? The academics who simply do not trust their students to plan their work and effort, and devise complex and elaborate assessment regimes to force/trap/coerce/make the students learn the precious content. What happened…

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2016: a year that… ?>

2016: a year that…

was filled with conferences. January brought HEA STEM, June was Horizons in STEM Education and August was Variety in Chemistry Education. I presented on my infographics assignment at HEA STEM, and on international group work as poster at ViCE and oral presentation at Horizons.  I also presented a few times at Keele, in January at the annual learning and teaching day (diagnostic tests and chemophobia), and October as part of the Keele Sustainability Research Network Seminar series on our Sustainable Chemistry…

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Post Boxing Day Dreaming – integrating technology into the laboratory properly ?>

Post Boxing Day Dreaming – integrating technology into the laboratory properly

I was contemplating purchasing an Amazon Echo this morning. Well I was working out what one was then thinking about what I would do with it, and I was reading some very entertaining reviews of the product that were simultaneously illuminating and distressing. Let me clarify that I haven’t bought one, and probably wont. Yet. If you don’t know what one is, go look it up. You need the context for the rest. Or one of the other major brands…

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7 days of 12 Apps of Christmas #12AoC ?>

7 days of 12 Apps of Christmas #12AoC

I spotted the 12 Apps of Christmas course being advertised in various ways back in November and immediately thought ‘ooooh shiny I want to play’. You can find out more here: Actually I thought it had some potential to keep me out of trouble for an hour or so a day, and also to introduce me to some new cool shiny stuff that might be useful. I finally gave in about a month ago and bought an iPhone 5. This…

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And A Blog Idea Becomes An Assessment ?>

And A Blog Idea Becomes An Assessment

You may remember the ‘What Am I?’ series of blog posts where I posted the chemical structures of molecules found in some product and the goal was to guess the product. It’s a while back but the posts were a lot of fun. This year I turned the idea into an assessment for my 1st years. As part of our first semester module we have 15% of the marks allocated to information retrieval exercises. The goal of these is to…

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Wading through literature ?>

Wading through literature

I’m brewing a couple of literature reviews at the moment and I’d forgotten two particularly tedious bits of the process; being sufficiently comprehensive, and accessing the papers ‘off campus’. Bloody hell! In 2000 I wrote my first literature review as part of my MChem project and the topic was ‘dendrimer catalysis’. There were only about 2 papers on heterogeneous dendrimer catalysis and a quick Web of Science shows that up to 2000 it was possible to be fairly comprehensive with…

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Once more into the distance ?>

Once more into the distance

My distance learning modules are about to start. Modules – two of them this year – delivered via computer means fair and foul to an institution in China. Last year I delivered our sustainable chemistry module, this year I’m adding half a module on inorganic chemistry to the mix. Last year the module was delivered through a mixture of lecture recordings, directed reading and lecture notes, forums and Turnitin – all done through BlackBoard. This year the courses have been…

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Variable Working Spaces ?>

Variable Working Spaces

This morning on Twitter I’m picking up a lot of tweets from the SEDA conference and many focus on ‘innovative’ campuses and the abolishment of staff office space. Open plan academic office spaces are also being discussed and inevitably working from home. As someone who’s spent the morning setting up a home office because I have to work at home for health reasons for the next few months, this twitter thread is quite thought provoking. Whilst I have a decent…

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Assessing the Assessment Criteria ?>

Assessing the Assessment Criteria

Following on from my musings on word counts (, I’ve been writing a lot of assessment criteria and guidelines for new assignments in a revised module lately. And I’ve found myself writing: “These are suggestions only. I don’t want to be too specific because I want you to have the flexibility to tailor your report to what your project requires.” And then I’ve found myself struggling greatly to set out assessment criteria beyond general adherence to our institutional rubric. This…

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