Halfway through an epic marking marathon my journey is lightened by the occasional inadvertent gem. Here’s a couple from the current crop:
“They went to university collage hospital” – presumably they were in pieces about something or other
“Another unique property of stem cells is that they have the capacity of diving without differentiating for long periods of time” – Jacques Cousteau would have been impressed
“Marking, remarking and meaningful learning: an assessment and feedback seminar” was held at the University of Leicester on April 4th 2008. The event was organised by the Assessment and Feedback Working party of the University’s Student Experience Enhancement Committee and was attended by about 60 members of the academic community. The following are personal reflections and things that I took from the day.
The first presentation was given by Jon Scott, Director of Studies in Biological Sciences at the University. Jon’s cryptic title “How the baby got the Smartie” actually drew analogies between his research work on development of motor coordination skills and effective use of feedback. The ability of a baby to pick up a smartie from a flat surface is apparently a developmental landmark (presumably there are healthy options now available for choco-phobic parents). Research on brain activity whilst learning this task has shown that neurons are fired by failure to achieve the task, i.e. whilst the infant is self-feedbacking (is that a word?) . It knows what it is expecting (bright, interesting-looking object in mouth) and feedback modifies performance until it gets it. Once the task has been mastered, apparently, the relevant neurons go silent.