Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Grades In! Semester Over!

NOW the semester is over. In addition to all of the recent successes the UTA Library: GIS Program had, I just submitted final grades for the semester. Spent much of the previous week grading papers, and it feels just as good for me to be done as it is for the students. I taught 6 credits this semester, ‘Introduction to GIS’ for the Earth and Environmental Sciences department and ‘Advanced Real Estate Market Analysis’ for the Finance and Real Estate department.

This semester, most particularly the real estate course, was a big success. This was the fourth time I taught a market analysis course, but this semester I changed things up after taking the Kolb Learning Style Inventory (see earlier post) earlier in the semester. Found out I have a strong inclination to learn and teach as a convergent learner. So, I decided to use the real estate course this semester to test out the hypothesis that making a conscious attempt to incorporate various learning styles and strategies would improve overall learning. Well, I was very pleased and will be building on this success for my future courses.

Here is what I did. As I discussed here, I explored changing how I teach by encouraging more active learning and active participation outside of the classroom. I was unwilling to deter from the hands-on, I-do-and-you-follow approach I traditionally use during class time. So, I created a course blog. Students worked in groups and were required to post weekly updates about their progress on the blog. Each group took turns presenting a chapter from the textbook. This might seem like small inconsequential changes, but there was a huge difference in the way the groups worked together and helped each other. Very high camaraderie. The groups came up with team names, similar to the idea of team names on the apprentice tv show. The coolest group name was ‘We Need an A’. We had a lot of fun in this class. The blog enabled us to easily communicate to each other between weekly classes, and the requirement that each group post a weekly message detailing their weekly progress forced everyone to work together. I was astounded by how much quicker they all picked up the material. The overall quality of the final project, which was a comprehensive market analysis of the hotel industry in the City of Arlington (see here for more info), was absolutely incredible. Numerous groups geocoded hotel locations using parcel boundaries as the geocoding reference layer, tying in appraisal district data variables such as property value, square foot, LTB ratio, etc., to tax data such as quarterly sales. Needless to say, I am very impressed at how much more enthusiastic they were than my previous classes.

I did not implement these new ideas in the earth science course, but I sure will in the future.

This summer session I am teaching the Introduction to GIS course for Earth & Environmental Sciences again (in 3 weeks). Never taught a summer course before, so we’ll see how teaching 4 days a week will go. I will have to adjust the syllabus, but not today. This fall, I am teaching the real estate course again as well as ‘Analysis of Spatial Data’ for Earth & Environmental Sciences. I have never taught this particular course before. I will use both ArcGIS and Geoda. I am a big fan of Geoda for spatial statistics and have written about it a number of times on this blog.

Anyway, I turned in the grades and jotted down this reflection, so I consider the spring 2006 semester to R.I.P.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow...the person who got you to think about different learning styles must be an incredible genius.