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A Case for ‘Radical Simplification’ in Higher Education


Devita ayu silvianingtyas / Shutterstock We’re about to start year 3 of teaching in the pandemic, and it seems like an appropriate time to think back to March 2020 to think about what new things I’ve started to adjust to COVID-19 disruptions, what I stopped doing and what I plan to continue for 2022.

The practice is a common retrospective technique known as Start/Stop/Continue, and it poses three questions:

• What are we not doing, that we should start doing?

• What are we doing, that we should stop doing?

• What are we doing, that we should keep doing?

Sitting in my home office running through this mental exercise, here’s what I came up with: Start: Dedicated time for reflection and review I was chair of the Math Department when the pandemic hit. In ten days’ time, we had to reinvent college-level mathematics instruction on a large scale—more than 100 sections of courses and nearly 3000 students—with no playbook. Many of our faculty, all experienced and skilled instructors, were not just overwhelmed but on the brink. While it was rough going in those early weeks, we eventually made it work (and even discovered some new departmental strengths) mostly because of an unwavering commitment […]

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