It’s Not About Hard or Easy Courses

Now here’s an argument I haven’t heard before: Improving your instruction makes it easier for students to learn. If it’s easier for them to learn, they won’t work as hard in the course, and that means they could learn less. It’s called offsetting behavior and we can’t ask students about it directly because it would be disingenuous for them to admit to studying less when learning becomes easier. Gee, I’m not sure exactly where to begin. We could start with what’s making the course hard. As Stanley, Delmontagne, and Wood point out in the offsetting piece, students may be finding the course hard because the instruction isn’t very good—not well organized, unclear explanations, content seemingly irrelevant, and poorly constructed test questions. Or, students may find the course challenging because the…


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