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How to Use Handouts
with Gaps to Foster
Active Learning
Mine the Gap*
Dr. Richard M. Felder, Hoechst Celanese Professor Em...
The Active Learning Dilemma
The words on most educators’ lips these days are active
learning. We have conducted scores of ...
Resolving the Active
Learning Dilemma
When faced with this question, there are three
answers we typically provide;
1. Teac...
Mining the Gap - Preparation
1. Put your lecture notes into class handouts, or a course pack.
2. Show the straightforward ...
Mining the Gap – Using
Handouts With Gaps in Class
1. Ask your students to open their handout or course
pack to the approp...
Mining the Gap – Using
Handouts With Gaps in Class
Your students have read a portion of the handout, and
they say they don...
Mining the Gap—Option № 1
1. When you reach the first gap, remind students that
what they just read was straightforward bu...
Mining the Gap—Option № 2*
1. Ask students to get into groups of two or three.
Allow them a short period of time to get as...
Mining the Gap—Option № 3*
Leave filling in the gap as an exercise for the
students to complete outside of class.
1. Tell ...
Mine the Gap—Conclusions
When you use handouts with gaps, you’ll cover your
syllabus and possibly even extend it, even tho...
Mine the Gap—The Research
Research has confirmed that handouts with gaps
have a powerful impact on students’ learning and
...
References
1. Felder, R.M., & Brent, R. (2016). Teaching and Learning
STEM: A Practical Guide, Section 4.7 and Chapter 6. ...
To learn more teaching strategies and tips,
visit Wiley Exchanges Educate Blog at
hub.wiley.com/community/exchanges/educate
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Mine the Gap: Using Handouts With Gaps

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Learn how to introduce active learning into your course and still cover your entire syllabus. STEM education expert and Professor Emeritus at North Carolina State University, Richard M. Felder, and Rebecca Brent, President of Education Design, Inc., and an expert consultant in faculty development, show you step-by-step how to introduce active learning into your class using a well-tested, and easy to implement strategy . The information contained in this deck is derived from Felder and Brent’s new book, Teaching and Learning STEM: A Practical Guide, published by Wiley.

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Mine the Gap: Using Handouts With Gaps

  1. 1. How to Use Handouts with Gaps to Foster Active Learning Mine the Gap* Dr. Richard M. Felder, Hoechst Celanese Professor Emeritus of Chemical Engineering at North Carolina State University Dr. Rebecca Brent, President of Education Designs, Inc. *Based on material in Reference 1.
  2. 2. The Active Learning Dilemma The words on most educators’ lips these days are active learning. We have conducted scores of teaching workshops, and there is always at least one participant who will ask, “How can I cover my syllabus if I start filling my lectures with activities?”
  3. 3. Resolving the Active Learning Dilemma When faced with this question, there are three answers we typically provide; 1. Teaching is not about coverage, but about learning. Coverage ≠ Learning. 2. Start small. A few minutes worth of activity in a 50 min class won’t do irreparable harm to your syllabus. 3. You can maintain and even expand your syllabus using a simple technique—handouts with gaps.
  4. 4. Mining the Gap - Preparation 1. Put your lecture notes into class handouts, or a course pack. 2. Show the straightforward parts of the lecture material— definitions, facts, key equations, etc. 3. Intersperse the above with gaps (blank spaces), into which students will be asked to place more challenging material such as partial solutions, diagrams, derivations, process or flow charts, labels, and code snippets. For an example of a handout with gaps and an outline of how it would be covered in class, copy and access this web page: www.ncsu.edu/felder-public/Handout_with_gaps.pdf
  5. 5. Mining the Gap – Using Handouts With Gaps in Class 1. Ask your students to open their handout or course pack to the appropriate page. 2. Allow them a short period of time to read the portion of the page that precedes a gap. 3. Stop the reading and ask if any students have questions. (They usually don’t.) What’s next?
  6. 6. Mining the Gap – Using Handouts With Gaps in Class Your students have read a portion of the handout, and they say they don’t have any questions. Now what? Go to the gap! From this point you can select one of three options.
  7. 7. Mining the Gap—Option № 1 1. When you reach the first gap, remind students that what they just read was straightforward but what goes in the gap often gives students trouble. (You don’t need to repeat this reminder for subsequent gaps.) 2. Lecture on the gap traditionally, ideally by writing on a board or tablet computer rather than just showing a slide with the complete gap content. When you use this method, you are focusing the class time on material the students cannot quickly get without your help.
  8. 8. Mining the Gap—Option № 2* 1. Ask students to get into groups of two or three. Allow them a short period of time to get as far as they can in filling in the gap. 2. When time’s up, call randomly on students to report on what they got. 3. Write correct answers on the board so everyone in the class gets them. As the answers go up on the board, the students who couldn’t fill the gap will now pay careful attention, ask questions when necessary, and understand it by the end of class. Some students will fill the gap and therefore “own it” because they did it themselves, not by watching you do it and imagining they understood it. (Few students understand complex material when listening passively to a lecture.) *We typically find this option to be more effective than the first.
  9. 9. Mining the Gap—Option № 3* Leave filling in the gap as an exercise for the students to complete outside of class. 1. Tell your students that you do not plan on going over the gap in class, but they should make sure they know what goes in the blank space before the next test. 2. Allow students to collaborate with one another and ask about it in class. 3. Open your office to students to come in and discuss if they cannot figure it out on their own. 4. BONUS! If you fall behind your lecture schedule, increase your use of this option for easier and less important material.
  10. 10. Mine the Gap—Conclusions When you use handouts with gaps, you’ll cover your syllabus and possibly even extend it, even though you’re taking time for activities. Why? Because you’re letting the students read through the straightforward material themselves, rather than saying every word, drawing every diagram, and working through every step of the problem yourself. The brief amount of time students spend struggling in class is followed by immediate feedback, saving many students from hours of wrestling with similar exercises.
  11. 11. Mine the Gap—The Research Research has confirmed that handouts with gaps have a powerful impact on students’ learning and performance on assignments and tests. In several studies, students who got incomplete notes on course material earned higher exam grades, higher course grades, and higher marks on conceptual questions than students who had complete notes.2-4
  12. 12. References 1. Felder, R.M., & Brent, R. (2016). Teaching and Learning STEM: A Practical Guide, Section 4.7 and Chapter 6. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass 2. Cornelius, T.L., & Owen-DeSchryver , J. (2008). Differential effects of full and partial notes on learning outcomes and attendance. Teaching of Psychology 3. Hartley, J., & Davies, I.K. (1978). “Note-taking: A critical review.” Programmed Learning & Educational Technology, 15, 207 4. Kiewra, K.A. (1989). A review of note-taking: The encoding storage paradigm and beyond. Educational Psychology Review, 1(2), 147
  13. 13. To learn more teaching strategies and tips, visit Wiley Exchanges Educate Blog at hub.wiley.com/community/exchanges/educate

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