Link to What's New This Week Commentary on Recent Lectures: October 26, 2002. Reporting In, Whether You Answer Me or Not

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When jeanne gets tired
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When jeanne gets tired and doesn't answer my e-mail . . .

California State University, Dominguez Hills
University of Wisconsin, Parkside
Soka University Japan - Transcend Art and Peace
Created: October 28, 2002
Latest Update: October 28, 2002

E-Mail Icon jeannecurran@habermas.org
takata@uwp.edu

Site Teaching Modules Commentary on Recent Lectures: October 26, 2002.
Reporting In, Whether You Answer Me or Not

Site Copyright: Jeanne Curran and Susan R. Takata and Individual Authors, October 2002.
"Fair use" encouraged.

p>Transfer of Learning Is an Important Skill Susan and I are inundated with messages and submissions, as we are every semester. We're gratified by your participation rate. Or, as Susan put it so well a couple of weeks ago: Yikes! Good Stuff! Nonetheless, we both have lives, as we're sure you've noticed over the last several weeks. We have kids and husbands and creatures who share our homes, and friends; you know, a life. Sometimes even a whole lifeworld it seems.

Susan's usually the one who says Yikes! and proceeds to do the impossible. I just change the rules of the game to where I can almost catch up. Pat Acone, who shares Dear Habermas with me at CSUDH, and I have been struggling to stay awake, especially during class, and to keep up. In a moment of clarity this weekend, while my brother-in-law was here (talk about life!) we figured out that it was going to be impossible for me to catch up with such extensive commentary on every e-mail message before the ASC Conference. OK, that's reasonable. But I wanted grades finished early, and we hadn't figured out a reasonable alternative. What's that painting say in my office? I'M DETERMINED!

Then, better late than never, it dawned on me that I'd been telling you all along that you needed to read the comments I put up so you could apply them to your own work for me. Now I remember that I added that you could come by my office and talk to me and Pat also. But that still felt kind of vague to lots of you, I fear. hen you come by, you don't ask But this weekend, as I dutifully tried to catch up on all the messages, I figured out that all I had to do was give you the name and the theory for what you had to do, and we'd be fine.

The NAME is transfer of learning. And what it means is that when you learn that 2 + 2 = 4, practice soon helps you see that 2 boxes + 2 boxes = 4 boxes. You transfer the learning of the abstract numbers to the situation with the concrete boxes. Actually, it's usually easier to learn at the concrete level, instead of having just to memorize arithmetic tables.

Now, how does this work in comments, for which you want a grade? Well, look at what Susan and I had to say when we were evaluating other people's comments. If I said that's conclusionary, I meant you just told me what I ought to think. That something was awful, or nice, or wrong, or whatever. Those are conclusions. And you can't tell if you agree with me or not because I didn't give you any details. I just gave you my conclusion. So how do I know whether I think you're right? Maybe you told me that the painting I showed was a beautiful picture of the sea. But maybe the waves were painted rose, and the wind blue. Are you right?

So, in order to transfer learning, we have to have two clear sets of facts. Numbers we can add and boxes we can play with. Then we can transfer what we learn from the boxes to the numbers themselves. For whether you're making sense in your evidence of learning, you need to have two clear sets of facts. The conclusion of the comment I wrote on, and the facts that led me to that conclusion. That's how you tell if you think my grade was right or fair, isn't it? And to transfer that grading procedure, which I hope you have now learned, to your own comment, you have to figure out what you concluded, and what facts you gave me to lead me to that same conclusion. Voila, you've transferred learning. And given me and Susan a breathing space, because now you have such good direct questions to ask us.

Take the case in which you'd just like a confirmation. I mean, what if you think it's an A, and we disagree? Well, now you can stop us in the hall, or in our office, or if it comes up in class, and ask: "Do my facts justify my conclusion?" And we can tell you very quickly.

The last question most of you pose to us, is how much do I have to do? Now, folks, that's a plea for a grading curve if I ever heard one. And I don't use grading curves. They're structurally violent. Someone may submit one written message, help organize three activities, and then get swamped at the last minute by a terrible exam (not mine). What you're asking is "Well, if that's enough for her to do, is x, y, and z that I did, enough? Excuse me, but has anyone ever told you when an A is enough? When you have done enough work to justify an A or a B that should be as clear to you as it is to me when I've finished a painting. After all, what is a "finished" painting? Should I add one more figure? one more color? two more words?

"How much" is a philosophical question on which I refuse to equate you to a number or any series of numbers. You are not what you turn into me. You are not what you read. You are not what you eat. You are you, a wonderful human with many faces, many hairdos (woe be unto me), and more thoughts than we'll ever master in this world.When you feel good about your work, and you think it represents a grade you want, then tell me so. And don't forget to give me some facts so we can tell whether or not we agree. And if we can agree to disagree, why then you have time to do some other work, so that you can change my conclusion about your evidence of learning and raise your grade. Just make sure you don't all wait till the last minute, or Susan I will howl --- lots! And create deadlines - it's not structurally violent when it's done in self-defense.