Andreas Weigend | Social Data Revolution | Fall 2016
School of Information | University of California at Berkeley | INFO 290A

Topic 11 - Learning Equations

Contributor: Zahra Hadi

Education is what you keep when you've forgotten everything you've learned in school.

The Business of Education


What do our professors do?

In order to effectively teach students, professors take on a variety of roles. They must design the course, create course materials, and grade students on their work. Aside from that, professors must be actively engaging. They motivate students to challenge themselves, encourage teamwork, and help students to process information by presenting it in a variety of ways. Professors also have commitments outside the classroom, such as publishing papers, serving on committees, and promoting both their courses and the school.


How do we measure education in the classroom?



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Traditional measures of education include exams and feedback surveys. Based on this information, educators can tailor their teaching styles to best meet the needs of their students.
What do we measure in SDR2016?
  • Feedback from each class session
  • Survey of overall feedback from the course
  • The teacher and his qualifications
  • Speakers and those invited to lead the course, their experience level and ability to teach
  • Students' knowledge through Homework assignments
  • Feedback about the textbook, school, and trajectory of students

For Andreas, the most important unit of analysis is the bits/time, meaning how much he has changed a student's way of thinking per time unit. Measuring this can be challenging.

Keep in mind what tangible changes are made as a result of these metric. Sometimes the lines between who is teaching and who is learning are blurred.

In-Class Assignment: Come up with metrics for this course. What can we measure? Focus on 3 core areas: teaching, learning, and what social data can we measure about students. What can we do with that raw data?

For a complete list of ideas from this discussion, please see this document.

Selected student ideas discussed in class:
  • Test scores are not necessarily the best ways to measure learning, and grades do not always measure understanding
  • Physical limitations of a classroom permit some students to be more active than others
  • Metrics for measuring teachers do not always accurately represent effectiveness at teaching, but rather perception of teacher
  • Promoting real knowledge over memorization in examinations
  • Measuring how spread out students ideas are, like entropy measurements, to balance between one person's domination and many students inputting random information
  • Ratio between number of words the teacher speaks to the number of words students speak can help show student engagement

An important point brought up in this discussion was that measures often become how we teach. However, we should look at how to teach rather than just to measure what we are teaching.

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