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Teaching and Grading

Visible thinking: logic diagrams as science student tasks

illustration of a flowchart with shapes and arrows

I have been frustrated with challenges associated with sloppy student thinking on the one hand and the challenge of detecting/understanding student logic in verbal work on the other. I think the challenge is twofold: part is in finding ways to help them organize their thoughts (and create/detect organization); part is driving a ‘common language’ where the structure of their ideas stands out from the word-swamp that a lab report or textual description can be. In several classes, colleagues and I have used ‘logic diagrams’ and after climbing the learning curve, I think we see students achieving mastery resulting in better thinking, more insightful and well-organized final products, and quicker, easier grading–that directly addresses (our) assignment goals. Disclaimer: personal story, examples & perceptions, not studies, follow.

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