fredag 25 oktober 2013

School of procrastination

Only last week I wrote a blog post about an article that me and my colleague Björn Hedin have written. It's the first article that we write together based on the data of almost 700 students' procrastination habits that we have collected between October 2011 and March 2013 and we will present the article at a conference next month.

Last month we got an invitation to give a talk about our work on students' procrastination habits at the GAUPA days, i.e. two days that treat issues of interest for the selected few at KTH who are program coordinators for different educational programmes (there seems to be nine different program coordinators at my own school, the School of Computer Science and Communication), who are directors (or deputy directors) of undergraduate and master's studies (there is I presume one of each at each school), or who manage the dean's office and the admin personnel at each school ("kanslichefer").

We thus had a 90-minute slot to present and discuss our results and 27 persons had signed up for our session, "Better studying habits in the age of procrastination". There were four parallel tracks and the participants could choose between our session or other topics such as "pedagogical leadership", "mathematics in engineering educations", "catering to students with disabilities" etc. There were, among the people who signed up for our talk no less than 3 director of studies, 11 programme coordinators, 3 "kanslichefer" and 9 others (project leader, vice dean etc.).

Me and Björn have both been (very) pressed for time lately, but due to an extremely efficient work process, we managed to put together a solid presentation (with 36 slides) in no time at all. It of course also helps that we have collected excellent material (from close to 700 students!), have put together presentations about this topic before and of course also know each other well.

Me and Björn started by discussing what we wanted to get out of our presentation and formulated two main goals. The first was altruistic - to talk about our findings and make people aware of the fact that procrastination is big problem for many students and that this problem probably merits some intervention/ education/ awareness-building for students as well as teachers. The second goal was to offer our services and to invite them to contract us to deliver our course module in their educational programmes (while we at the same time collect more data).

The presentation went very well, but as I had a lunch appointment and had to leave 10 minutes early Björn had to manage the very last part by himself. It's not like I'm bragging, but... well, actually I am bragging because as both me and Björn are (very) experienced lecturers and also very familiar with our material, our talk went fine despite us not having had time to practice beforehand. In fact, our presentation was put together as a Google docs presentation (instead of a Powerpoint) and I have just made the presentation available to anyone who has the link. I've even set the permissions to allow y'all to leave comments (please do).

As it turned out, the School for Industrial Engineering and Management decided directly after our talk that they wanted our module about procrastination and studying habits in all their five educational programmes next year. So, sometime during the second part of the autumn next year, we will deliver our module to (and collect new data from) all the first-year students in the Master of Science in Engineering programmes for Design and Product Realization, Energy and Environment, Industrial Engineering and Management, Mechanical Engineering and Materials Design and Engineering. That turns out to be around 600 first-year students and I guess we will be able to do it all again the following year if these students appreciate our module as much as the closer-to-home media technology and computer science students have.

Me and Björn now half-jokingly and half-seriously discuss:
- applying for money to hire a ph.d. student to work with all the data we have already collected and all the new data we will collect.
- writing a short book that we can use as perfectly-customized course literature for the module (instead of our current solution of putting together a package with others' texts).

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