Teaching Tip: The past is always with us.

This week’s principle from the Lifelong learning at Work and at Home website focuses on prior knowledge:

New information learned depends heavily upon prior knowledge and experience.

This principle stresses the importance of getting to know our students so we can help them learn more effectively.  From infancy onward, learning is based on building new mental connections that physically change brain structure.  Our brains are not built to remember unconnected facts; if material doesn’t relate to something else that is important to us, we forget.  Not only do we need prior experiences as an anchor, but the quality of our prior assumptions, conceptual knowledge and biases can all influence what we learn, for better or worse. Despite these well known findings, most of us do little to discover what our students already know (or think they know) about our disciplines. And yet, that prior knowledge may make or break their chances for success in our classes.

Why is prior knowledge so important?  Studies comparing novices and experts in a variety of fields suggest that prior knowledge is vital to the ability to access and use what we know. For example, chess experts are able to remember meaningful patterns of chess pieces much better than novices.  However, when asked to remember the positions of randomly placed pieces, experts performed no better than novices.  When the information was meaningful, the chess experts were able to “chunk” information (i.e. organize and classify it) much more efficiently than novices and then remember those larger chunks.  Instead of seeing a certain number of pieces on the board in certain places, experts see a classic opening move and relate that information to their extensive prior experience with opening moves.

How can we help students develop more effective knowledge structures within our disciplines?  Our strategies depend on the students’ current developmental level, both generally and in the context of specific disciplines.  In introductory courses, students generally have very limited ways of understanding and organizing knowledge.  But they do have life experiences, and these are important in making those first connections.  That’s why many skilled lower level instructors spend a lot of time helping students relate what they are learning to the world around them and their existing interests.  A student may not know much about biology, but she knows that everyone wants her to use hand sanitizer all winter.  From this simple observation, a series of questions naturally presents itself that can be used to build understanding.

In introductory courses we typically don’t find (or expect) students to show a sophisticated grasp of disciplinary concepts.  Unfortunately, we often find something more difficult to change: a mental framework that’s a bit dented or missing critical pieces. Misconceptions and incorrect information can distort and limit student learning, especially at the introductory level.  Unfortunately, since this incorrect information is also anchored in prior knowledge, it can be resistant to change.  Discovering common student misconceptions and designing experiences that challenge them is a critical part of building new levels of expertise.  Experiments, demonstrations, videos and other active methods that directly challenge student misconceptions are often the most powerful since they use multiple channels and can have more emotional impact than lecture or readings.  It takes a powerful stimulus to dislodge embedded rust.  However, experience is best when it is paired with explanations and principles to help students organize their new experiences effectively.  Or, as another of the core learning principles put it: Experience alone is a poor teaching. 

As students advance in the discipline, they begin to develop their own knowledge structures. In these upper level classes it’s important to find out what students already know so that you don’t try to build on knowledge that isn’t there.  Having a good understanding of prior knowledge can also help you advise students – someone with gaps that are just too large may need to take a pre-requisite course, while others may need to be referred for tutoring in specific areas.  Other students may be able to skip some topics, or take a more in-depth approach.  There are many ways to assess prior learning.  Some faculty members assess prior knowledge using pre-tests or writing assignments that identify strengths and weaknesses. A drawback of testing or writing assignments of course is the time it takes to read and analyze them, even though they are typically ungraded.  Asking students to draw a concept map of important content is a quick way to show you what students think is important and also gives you a picture of how they organize that information.  Another approach is the Knowledge survey.  This type of survey is often quite lengthy, but students are not actually asked to answer the questions as they would be on an exam.  Instead, they rate their level of knowledge of each concept or process on a three point scale from absolute certainty to complete ignorance.  These surveys can be scored electronically and they provide a quick snapshot of the class that can guide you to focus your time in class more productively.  Administering the same survey at the end of the course provides a check up on how effectively you were able to reach your goals; ideally you will see upward movement for the class as a whole and for individual students as well.

The importance of prior knowledge is also evident when we discuss transfer of learning. Many students can repeat information or use it in similar situations but, unlike experts, they may not recognize appropriate but unfamiliar applications of a concept or procedure.  The ability to recognize when and how prior information can be used in new settings is the key behind transfer of learning and also depends on how knowledge is structured in the brain. Direct instruction in relating features of the new environment or situation to the prior one can build a path to transfer, along with a lot of guided practice. Thus, presenting students with varying situations you may have to first cue the students to apply what they know, and then help them learn to recognize cues for themselves.

Above all, it’s important to realize that students’ prior knowledge and their methods for organizing it are very dissimilar from your own.  Not only did they grow up in a different world (just check the Beloit College Mindset if you doubt that) but they have not had the wealth of training and experience in your discipline that you do.  Many of us struggle with getting our minds back to that beginner stage so that we can think like students and anticipate where they need help.  If you’d like to develop that very important sense of empathy, take a challenging class in something completely new to you.  You’ll be amazed to discover how much you attempt to use your prior knowledge to anchor new material and how many misconceptions you may have!  Plus, you will experience both the frustration and the exhilaration of making progress.

Next up:  we will finish this series with the final principles of active learning, less is more and choosing what to forget.

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Use Cognitive Research to Enhance Teaching: Practice at Retrieval

Welcome back!  One of my New Year’s resolutions is to get the blog up and running again, so I hope this post will be the first of several this semester.

As scholars, we are always looking for high quality research related to our disciplines and the courses we teach.  Why not apply that lens to learning?  The field of cognitive psychology has developed dramatically over the past 20 years or so, and we now have quite a large body of research describing how people learn.  I don’t want to overwhelm you with data, so I am going to create a series of posts that describe nine primary principles of learning and how they apply in our classrooms.

The nine principles and some of the examples in these posts come from the Lifelong Leaning at Work and at Home initiative website.  This initiative was started by a group of cognitive researchers dedicated to applying cognitive science research to lifelong learning and higher education.   The website has detailed links to more in-depth information and references if you would like to dig deeper.

This just means that students need multiple opportunities to recall and use information or skills that you want them to remember after your class is over.  If students merely re-read notes or books without practicing retrieving what they have heard and read, they will not retain that material for long.  My first reaction to this statement was “well, duh” but the “single most important” label made me pay more attention, as well as the mention of transfer.

If this statement is correct (and there is quite a lot of research to back it up) what does it imply for the classroom?  What can we do to help students practice retrieving important information?  Here are a few possibilities:

  • Align your classroom activities, assignments and tests so that students must repeatedly access the same information.  For example, ask students questions that require them to recall and demonstrate understanding of material from earlier in the course.  You may want to pose a probing question and have everyone write down a response before you ask for volunteers – that way the entire class gets to practice retrieving information.  Otherwise, only the individuals called on will be engaging in this important task.  This technique also allows you to correct any misunderstanding and it shows students the cumulative nature of learning.  At first, you may get blank stares but if you do this consistently students are more likely to get the message.
  • Test repeatedly on the same material.  My undergraduate self hated the cumulative final exam with great passion, but it is an excellent method for promoting long term retention and retrieval – but only if the material has already been tested earlier in the semester.   You also can get this effect by using chapter quizzes and then repeating important material on exams.  Even giving a unit exam on the last day of class and then a cumulative final a week later will help with retention of recently presented information.   Research suggests that spacing the testing out across the semester leads to better results, and that for maximum effect recall should be somewhat delayed.  As we have probably all experienced, testing or recall efforts that occur immediately after teaching or reading material tends to produce short term positive effects that disappear quickly.   So you might want to start by giving a reading quiz perhaps a week after the reading was discussed in class.  Questions on the same material could appear on a mid-term or be incorporated into a later assignment and then tested again on a comprehensive final.  For maximum effect, the student should be using recall methods like short answer questions or essays and not recognition methods such as multiple-choice, true-false or matching.
  • Encourage students to question themselves or each other instead of re-reading notes or texts.  Give a series of open-ended questions as a study guide or have students bring open-ended questions to class, exchange them, and practice answering them.  Online quizzes can work as recall practice too, although they tend to be more recognition focused.  Assign online quizzes strategically to keep the students repeatedly working with the material over the course of the semester.
  • If you do not use tests, you can still require students to recall and reuse previously learned material for projects, case studies or other activities.  Varying the method of retrieval e.g. using an in-class exercise or presentation instead of a test, enhances retention, since it gives students multiple cues for recalling information.  Material that becomes embedded in a narrative or other rich experience is more likely to be retained (but more on that later).
  • When asking students to retrieve previously learned material, try to provide as few hints (“retrieval cues” in cognitive jargon) as possible.  Thus, a free response essay or an application that requires the student to recall material is better at promoting retention than a multiple choice question that requires only recognition of the correct answer.
  • Give students immediate feedback on their answers to avoid them practicing and learning incorrect material.  When you are working on this kind of long term learning, you want to make sure it is correct!

While these ideas and suggestions can help us design courses that maximize students’ ability to remember and transfer information more effectively, we still have to decide which material needs to be emphasized in this way.  We don’t have the time to require frequent testing and recall of all or even most of the material in a typical course, so it is vital for us to distinguish between material that must be automatically available versus material that can and should be looked up as needed.  The current wealth of easily accessible online information has made this a difficult question, but looking at basic conceptual frameworks, core concepts and strategies is a good place for most of us to start. Using a cognitively informed approach asks us to be more intentional about identifying and choosing the most important material in the course and strategically requiring students to recall it multiple times in multiple ways.  It may require rethinking some aspects of your course, but the reward is longer retention and better transfer of your course’s most important concepts.

Most of this post has been summarized and paraphrased from http://psyc.memphis.edu/learning/principles/lp3.shtml

Next up:  Varying Learning Methods

What does your syllabus say?

Like everyone else I am trying to get all my last minute class preparations done, including my syllabus, while at the same time trying to come up with a CTE blog post that would be interesting, timely and relevant.  And quick.  Then, I saw this  blog post from Maryellen Weimer’s Teaching Professor Blog. Those of you who attended Faculty Convocation may recall that Weimer has written extensively about learner-centered classrooms. Anyway, I debated whether it would be “cheating” to just repost it, but it meets ALL my criteria AND it reminds me to remind you that we have an institutional subscription to The Teaching Professor newsletter, also edited by Weimer.  So, please check out the post, titled “What does your syllabus say about you and your course” and consider subscribing to The Teaching Professor newsletter for a continuing source of interesting and thoughtful information about teaching and learning.

Instructions for how to subscribe to the newsletter are on the CTE Blackboard community site.  If you are not enrolled in the site,  click on “Community” and search for the organization Center for Teaching Excellence and join.  Or, just email us at teaching@marymount.edu.

Welcome back!

Teaching Tip: April is the cruellest month (academic version)

This week, I was reading an email newsletter from Gina Hiatt, who runs online Academic Writing Clubs, and her opening line really struck me:  “It’s the time of flagging will power for every academic in the Northern Hemisphere.”  Her article goes on to talk about ways to manage the struggle to get things done as the spring semester starts to accelerate to its exhausting close. While she focuses on academic writing tasks, I think her message extends to all of our work here in academia.

What are some strategies you can use to get through the next few weeks of teaching, grading papers, keeping up with your scholarly and committee commitments, and trying to have some kind of life?

Make a master list.
Some people turn up their noses at lists, but I believe when used well, they can be a time and stress saver. Use whatever media that suits you – paper and pen, Google tasks, stand alone apps like Remember the Milk or ToodleDo.  Record every single thing you need to do between now and the end of the semester (well, not brushing your teeth).  Think of it as backing up your brain – once you have everything down on paper you won’t need to worry about forgetting something. The reason lists are sometimes less effective than they could be is that they must be complete if you’re going to get the full benefit of not worrying that you’ve forgotten something or left it off the list.   The minute you think of something new, add it to your lists.  Some people have home and work lists; I prefer one big list so I can see everything all together.  Just get it all down.

Prioritize and organize. Is there anything on your list that could possibly wait until the semester is over?  If so, put it off.  Is there anything on it that someone else could do?  Maybe you could hire a temporary helper for tasks that really don’t require your level of expertise.  For everything that’s left, establish a next step and a final due date.  Some things come with built-in due dates e.g. reports due or tests that need to be ready by test day.  For the other things, establish a reasonable due date and then order your list by dates.  If you have a big project with a due date, determine the next step, and give it a due date.  Then keep breaking down the project until you have it spread out however you would like it.  It’s completely up to you how you do this – for example a lot of experts believe strongly in daily writing, but it if doesn’t work for you, schedule it as a marathon.  Now take a deep breath, read it over and (I hope) find out that while there’s a lot of work, you know what to tackle first, and can skip the time-wasting fussing about the rest.

Lots of people don’t want to go through this process because in itself it takes some time.  But I bet you can do it in no more than an hour, and I bet it will save at least that amount of aggravation, worrying, forgetting and being late.

Monitor your progress. Once you’ve written the list, USE it.  Check it every time you have a few minutes to see if there’s something you could knock off in that time.  Sometimes this is where the process breaks down.  Perhaps you write your lists and two days later you’re not following it.  Why not?  There are several possibilities:

  • Life happens. A child got sick (or you did), the car broke down.  All you can do in these situations is regroup and reorganize your list.  Maybe look to see if there’s some way to move a few deadlines back. Just don’t throw the entire list away and go back to panic mode.
  • All work and no play. Please include at least a few minutes of down time for yourself, and try not to cut into your sleep if at all possible.  Tired, cranky people are not only unpleasant to be with, they make more mistakes and are less time efficient.  Allow yourself breaks without guilt.  Otherwise you are more likely to take a break by procrastinating but you won’t enjoy it. You’ll just Facebook your way into despair.
  • Inaccurate time estimates.  You thought you would finish grading in two hours but it took five. This is a learning experience for the future, but also look at your process to see if you can make it more efficient.  Were there a lot of breaks during that five hours?  Try the Pomodoro technique for tasks that require sustained effort like grading and writing (link).  It can help you focus your attention and has breaks built in.  It also helps you estimate how long tasks really take.
  • Fear. Procrastination often reflects a sort of performance anxiety.  If you find yourself putting off  things on your list that are important and really need to be done, ask yourself whether you are worried about somehow risking failure.  Perhaps your writing won’t be as good as you hoped, and you wonder if anyone will think you have something worth saying. Or maybe your students’ papers will be bad and you wonder if you’re really in the right profession.  We often avoid confronting unpleasant feelings by busying ourselves with soothing routines – cleaning, organizing and computer games come to mind.  So, you don’t feel the negative feelings, but they still exert a powerful influence on your behavior.  Becoming aware of this pattern can help you figure out how to handle it.

Find some support. Gina Hiatt leads writing groups for faculty who are trying to complete scholarly tasks (and by the way, MU will have a writing fellows program this summer – check the CTE website for details).  Support systems during the last weeks of the semester may include spouses and family members who take a larger share of household duties, paid help when possible and colleagues who share their grading tips or their latest jokes.  External accountability is really helpful – exchange lists with a colleague and check-in on each other’s progress.

One last thought — You might want to discuss end-of-semester crunch strategies with your students, who undoubtedly are just as snowed under as you are!

What are your end of semester survival strategies?

Teaching Tip: Avoiding academic drift

In their new book, Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses, Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa report their findings on learning in college classrooms.  Using the Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA), an essay-format critical thinking measure,  Arum & Roksa assessed the writing, critical thinking and problem solving skills of over 2,000 students from 24 institutions of varying size and selectivity.  Student scores on the CLA administered at the beginning of their first year were compared to their scores at the end of the second year.

Results from the study are sobering, but probably not surprising to anyone who has worked in higher education recently.  Approximately 45% of the sample made no progress in their skills in the first two years of college.   The authors consider many variables in their analysis of the data including ethnicity, prior preparation, gender, student attitudes and more.  While students don’t make as much progress as we would wish for many reasons, one of the encouraging findings of this study was that faculty choices made a difference.  Arum & Roksa reported two faculty-controlled variables associated with student improvement:  high faculty expectations and rigorous amounts of reading and writing.  All well and good you say, but what does that mean and how can we do it?  This week I’ll write a bit about reading and writing, while next week we’ll look at other ways of demonstrating high expectations.

In Arum & Roksa’s study, a course with rigorous amounts of reading and writing was defined as 40 pages per week of reading and 20 pages of writing over the course of a semester.  Students who reported taking courses that required both rigorous reading and writing showed more positive change.  Students who reported that their courses had only one or neither of those requirements did not show positive change.   Recall that these were freshman and sophomore level courses, not upper-level major courses.    And of course, this definition of rigor (as well as the CLA itself) tends to privilege humanities and social science courses that are naturally highly verbal.  So, rather than take these numbers as a standard to be met,  think about the kind of reading and writing that occurs in your discipline and then think about helping students learn to do it.  Reading a dense philosophy article or a detailed mathematical example would take easily as much time as reading 40 pages of a novel or a textbook.  And in studio courses, “reading” may not use words at all, but the concept of studying the works of professionals in the field to learn from them remains.

Reading: I believe that reading (both amount and skill levels) is one of the biggest problems we encounter with students at all levels.  Many students across  America don’t regularly do assigned course reading – one of Arum & Roksa’s findings was the low level of outside work students put into their courses overall.  But, in courses with higher levels of assigned reading and writing, students did put in more hours of study.  So, try to avoid the vicious circle i.e. students don’t read and so we assign less reading because they don’t read.  Also, realize that you will need to teach your students, especially at the lower level, how to read the material you give them.  Most do not come into college having encountered difficult reading.  One way to combine increased reading and writing is to ask students to keep a reading journal, produce a summary or a list of questions that show they have completed course readings.  These assignments also provide you with a check on whether students are reading, and the difficulty level of the assignment.  They could form the basis of a self-made study guide for future examinations or the basis for a longer writing piece, perhaps comparing two items.  Some professors use reading quizzes to check on reading compliance as well.  You may prefer the summary or journal approach since it takes more time to make up a reading quiz.  Another way to check on reading AND stimulate class discussion is to have a group reading quiz.  Students could take the quiz as a small group OR (my favorite) students take the quiz individually first and then re-take it in the group.  I like this approach because it combines individual and group accountability and stimulates students to talk about the reading material.  It also shows them that their peers really can be helpful sources of information.

Think beyond the text book, even in lower level courses.   Having to struggle with “real” disciplinary texts requires students to stretch their skills and develop them.  Just don’t assume that students can read such texts (or even some textbooks) without support.  Spending class time actually reading in small groups and then discussing the material can both model deep reading and get students started on a homework assignment to finish the article themselves.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself to make sure that your reading assignments meet the “rigorous” standard:

  • Do you assign readings but then cover them in lecture?  I have a friend with many unread college texts because he could get everything he needed to do well in the course from lecture alone.  At least he bought the books; some our students don’t bother.
  • Is there any downside to not completing readings?  In the example above, there was never anything on exams that was only in the readings, and there was no other way of assessing whether he had read anything.   So why bother?
  • Can students get an A or a B in your class if they are not reading?  According to Arum & Roksa’s work, many students across the country apparently are having this experience.  If you really want students to do the readings, you need to structure your course so that students not only can’t get A’s or B’s but cannot pass the course without reading.

Writing: Writing is for all courses, not just WI!  One of my biggest concerns about the WI requirement is that students will not expect extensive writing in any course not labeled WI.  But if you think of writing as “thinking on paper” and assign multiple shorter summaries, annotated bibliographies, critiques or reflections, you will be pushing your students to interact with course concepts more deeply.

Extensive writing does not mean a long term paper, turned in at the end of the course.  While I believe that extended, long-form writing can be a useful format, it isn’t appropriate for every course.  You may choose to keep most of your writing assignments short and/or low stakes (e.g.  marked as done or not done).  Like reading, writing assignments will only be done if students see a positive reason to do them, and unfortunately the argument that they enhance learning tends to fall on deaf ears.  So, if you’re using low stakes assignments, you will need to figure out some way to include them in your grading scheme.  For example, a short essay or reflection can be used as an “entry to class” ticket, but you have to be willing to keep students who don’t have the “ticket” out of class.  You could require them to go off and complete the assignment or do something else before coming back to class, but understand that this approach requires a strong belief that coming to class without having done the assignment is pointless for the student and detracts from the class experience for everyone else.   If this approach does not work for you, consider counting the writing as all or part of a daily class participation grade – students can still attend class if they have not done the assignment, but won’t receive much or any credit.   Another way to use lower stakes writing is to have students create a portfolio of their low stakes work and then choose one or more low stakes pieces as the basis for a graded assignment.  Does this take more faculty time?  Yes of course it does but less than you might think.  And you get insights into your students’ thinking and understanding that it’s hard to get any other way.

Higher stakes written assignments should count for enough of the grade that students cannot get A’s without completing them in an acceptable manner.   If your class doesn’t ordinarily include a lot of writing, e.g. math, nursing or design, but you want to incorporate a rigorous amount of writing, you might consider contract grading (also known as the Chinese menu approach).  Students who successfully complete requirements in a variety of areas achieve a pre-determined grade.  For example, to get a grade of C, students would need to complete requirements 1, 2 and 3 while to get a B they would need to complete all of the C grade elements plus requirement  4, which could be a writing assignment or a certain number of reflections.  To achieve an A students would need to complete all of the C and B requirements plus additional work of your choice.  Devising a contract grading system has the added and interesting benefit of really forcing you to decide what is foundational to your course.  What elements should be required for a C but not for a B or an A?  What really constitutes higher level, rigorous work that earns an A?  It is also important that “completion” has clearly defined criteria – handing in all required work does not result in a passing grade if it is done poorly.

Of course, the other issue with incorporating more reading and writing into your courses is the culture in your school and department.  Can your department establish departmental standards that are rigorous so that students can’t pick and choose faculty based on their expectations, and so that no one is unfairly penalized with low student evaluations?  Talk to your peers and your chairperson about how your expectations fit with the aspirations of the school and the department.  One strong point made in the Arum & Roksa book was the need for higher education to step up and deal with this issue before we are subject to increased scrutiny and outside regulation.  But beyond that, we want our students to be strong thinkers and writers, and right now many of them are not.  We need to share what works and talk honestly about what is not working to achieve our goals.

 

Arum, R. & Roksa, J. (2011).   Academically adrift: Limited learning on college campuses.  Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Thinking of Writing a Textbook?

This press release came across my desk.

Let Your Writing Soar at Text and Academic Authors Association Annual Conference

Register early and receive two free books

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Learn from and network with textbook and academic authors and industry leaders by participating ininteractive educational sessions, small-group moderated roundtable discussions, and networking events at the Text and Academic Author’s Association (TAA) 24th Annual Conference, “Let Your Writing Soar!”, in Albuquerque, New Mexico, June 24-25, 2011 at the Hotel Albuquerque at Old Town.

The first 30 conference registrants will receive two free books, Writing and Developing Your College Textbook, and It Works For Me: Becoming a Publishing Scholar/Researcher. Register before May 15 and receive $50 off registration.

Dr. Felicia Moore Mensah, the author of more than 30 academic articles and book chapters, will present a four-hour pre-conference workshop on writing and publishing scholarly journal articles on Thursday, June 23.

Robert Christopherson, the author of the best-selling textbook, Geosystems, will kick-off the two-day conference with a keynote presentation featuring a geographical overview of the Albuquerque region. Both experienced and aspiring textbook and academic authors will benefit from a variety of interactive educational sessions on writing, negotiating contracts, royalty audits, indexing and e-book issues, digital textbooks, copyright, and more.  Networking opportunities include an evening Hospitality Networking Suite, one-on-one mentoring by experienced authors and attorneys, small-group moderated roundtable discussions, and a group trip to the Sandia Peak Tramway. For a full program and to register for TAA’s 24th Annual Conference, “Let Your Writing Soar!”, visit
http://www.taaonline.net/2011TAAConference

This year’s conference is sponsored by The Copyright Clearance Center (CCC), Atlantic Path Publishing, New Forums Press, Inc., iKlear, Fresco Books, Pearson Education, Lennie Literary & Author’s Attorney, Flat World Knowledge, BrownWalker Press, Words & Numbers, Eleven Learning, and Merlyn’s Pen: The New Library of Young Adult Writing.

The Text and Academic Authors Association (TAA) is the only nonprofit membership association dedicated solely to assisting textbook andacademic authors. TAA’s overall mission is to enhance the quality of textbooks and other academic materials, such as journal articles, monographs and scholarly books, in all fields and disciplines, by providing its textbook and academic author members with educational and networking opportunities. http://www.TAAonline.net

 

Proofreading for Grown-Ups

I just read over my last post and discovered an error.  I wrote appreciate when I meant to say appreciative.  Spell check didn’t catch it, of course, and I read right over it.

According to Western Washington University professors Carmen Werder and Karen Hoelscher, what I made was a mistake, a slip-up, not an error, a wrong use resulting from incorrect knowledge.  Mistakes are fairly easy to catch, they argue in “Editing Matters” on InsideHigherEd.com, so read for them first.

Maybe ext next time.

They do offer in this article good advice about proofreading (spotting errors) and editing (fixing them).  I’m a big proponent of giving students a few minutes of direct instruction of proofing to remind them that it’s more than a quick skim.