It is a truism to say that the Internet has made many kinds of information more easily accessible to more people, but scholars in many fields are still trying to figure out how to deal with the consequences. Not only are professionals losing their monopoly over specialized knowledge, but the Internet also allows information to be distributed more widely and allows different kinds of information to flourish. On the Internet as a whole traditional forms of scientific knowledge are not privileged over individuals' reports of their own experience. Professionals often fight back against this trend by arguing that reports of individual experience are not valid knowledge. However, experience carries its own kind of authority, and professionals need to come to terms with its new role. Similar trends are visible in education as well, with a turn towards more student-centered education.

This paper will discuss the issues raised by knowledge based on reports of individual experience. In writing it we have attempted to combine our own experience with professional analysis. We will demonstrate the use of experience with a first-person account of teaching using information technology, with particular attention to the importance of assessment. The narrative is written in the voice of Pamela E. Mack, who speaks from her perspective as a historian of technology. Gail Delicio not only contributed her expertise in assessment but shared in the development of the overall ideas of the paper from her perspective as a researcher in education.

Professional Knowledge vs. Experience

To start with an example, the tension between professional knowledge and individual experience is particularly vivid in medicine. According to sociologists, one of the distinguishing characteristics of a profession is the possession of specialized knowledge. It is in the interest of professionals to keep a monopoly on their specialized knowledge, but today professional knowledge is both more accessible and more often challenged by other kinds of knowledge. Physicians used to simply tell their patients what was good for them. Today, physicians not only have an obligation to inform patients but also encounter many patients who have learned a significant amount of specialized medical information from sources other than their doctor. Specialized medical literature has become much more accessible because of the availability of Medline and other Internet sources. Patients today also bring to doctors information that comes from pooling experience with other consumers dealing with similar problems. Internet support groups, in particular, provide a great deal of valuable information about side-effects and alternative treatments that may not yet be well-described in the medical literature. Physicians sometimes respond to such information by insisting on traditional professional authority or by arguing that only the results of double-blind, controlled trials done by professionals and yielding statistically-significant results are valid knowledge. In the long run, however, physicians will have to face the consequences of the changing distribution of information instead of clinging only to the knowledge over which they can preserve professional control.[1]

Traditional professional knowledge does deserve special status, but it is not the only valid form of knowledge.[2] The scientific approach has great strengths in removing bias and wishful thinking, but it also requires that the continuum of experiences be divided into artificial categories.[3] Doctors diagnose children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and do studies of what treatments work best for children with that diagnosis. However, even many scientists in the field suspect that what is called ADHD may in fact be several different syndromes or perhaps a continuum over quite a wide range of variation that doctors artificially divide into separate syndromes. If my child has an unusual variation of ADHD, will I find more useful treatment in the studies that lump together all children with ADHD and find what works best on average for the whole group or by comparing notes with other parents who have children particularly like my child? [4] In such cases knowledge of individual experiences can be more useful than professional literature.

"We don't believe that research will show the one best way to teach"

Traditional professional knowledge defines overall patterns, while knowledge based on experience gives us information about individual variations. Knowledge of overall patterns (whether in quantitative or qualitative form) is much more efficient for professionals and for society as a whole, but it may not be most useful in individual cases. If a different child is having trouble learning to read, scientific information may not be what I most want. Controlled studies with statistically significant results may show that one way of learning to read works best for children with dyslexia, but all that means is that that method worked best for 60 or 70% of the children in that study. What I want is to know whether this specific child is in that group or whether she is in the 30 or 40% for whom some other method works best. I want information about individual variations, not just information about overall patterns.

The particular distinction relevant here is between individual experience and professional knowledge, that is, knowledge of overall patterns. This is not necessarily the same as the distinction between qualitative and quantitative knowledge or between art and science, though people sometimes acknowledge the difference between experience and professional knowledge by saying that literature tells us truths about the human condition that science cannot capture. The particular value of accounts of experience is that they capture the individual variations that professional knowledge lumps into overall patterns. It may be simply that in some situations individual experience is more useful and in others professional knowledge is more useful, but the example of medicine suggests that even in situations where science is potent we can benefit by combining the two. Finding ways to combine experience and professional knowledge can be particularly valuable to students, who take in professional knowledge more effectively if they can connect it to their own experience.[5]

Methods of college teaching tend to fall towards the end of the spectrum where individual experience is most important and scientific studies of how best to teach are less valuable. College teachers have traditionally paid little attention to educational theory precisely because we have valued individual variation. We don't believe that research will show the one best way to teach any particular discipline to college students; we believe that different styles work for faculty members with different personalities and that students benefit by being exposed to different styles of teaching. However, when we make the claim that we each need to find our own particular way of teaching that is right for us and our students, we then have a responsibility to evaluate those choices. The following case study focuses on assessment, because assessment is particularly important in a situation where we are making individual choices rather than identifying one best way. Assessment itself varies on a spectrum from intuitive to objective and professional; the methods advocated here fall somewhere in the middle.

The next two sections of this paper are not scientific studies of the best way of using information technology in the classroom, but are rather an account of individual experience. We believe it is useful in such an account to give a sense of the style and even the personality of the instructor because that helps readers evaluate whether what works for that person will work for them. In that spirit we provide the following narrative by Pamela Mack about her experience with using information technology in teaching, and our reflections on that experience.

Experience: The Need for Assessment

There is no one best way to use information technologies in the classroom. Different technologies or none at all work best for different types of courses, different teaching styles, and different student needs. However, if we give free rein to individual variation then it becomes particularly important to ask: Was the selected approach successful?

Let me be clear that I am not an assessment freak. On the contrary, I was one of those professors who thought the emphasis on assessment in recent years was a bureaucratic game that would take away our academic freedom by setting up a situation where instructors would have to teach to the test.[6] I still am suspicious of the trend towards comparative assessment of programs and institutions because I think those things that can be assessed most easily aren't the most important things I teach. But when I first started using Web assignments in my teaching, I discovered about halfway through the term that it wasn't working the way I expected. I realized then that because of increased use of information technologies I wasn't getting the visual cues I had previously used to do a kind of half-conscious assessment — particularly the looks on student's faces.

That conclusion led me into a partnership with education professor Gail Delicio to investigate assessment of Internet-supported teaching techniques in regular courses. We decided to investigate a course I teach on the junior-senior level on history of American technology, History 323, in which I was starting to make more use of Internet-based assignments in the spring of 1998. My most important goal in this course was not to teach the students facts, but to teach them to analyze and think critically about the development of technology and its impact on society. I already knew from years of experience that using a listserv for discussion helped students learn to think for themselves about the issues raised in the course and led to better essays on essay exams. So my hope for the use of the Web was that it would encourage students to be better exploratory learners and more effective analysts of controversial issues. We therefore set out to try to find ways to assess not how many facts the students learned, but how the Internet helped them learn analytical thinking.

During spring semester 1998 we assessed that course intensively, trying many different assessment tools — from surveys to standardized tests of learning styles to interviews to systematic evaluation of the assignments the students handed in.[7] With only 21 students enrolled in the class we didn't expect to get many statistically significant results, but we hoped to learn something about which questions and methods of assessment were fruitful and which were not. The students seemed to enjoy the assessment process, which fit with the emphasis in the course on the impact of technology. I also think they performed better in the class because they felt that we were paying particularly close attention to them (the Hawthorne effect [8]. However, we didn't discover many variables that were strongly correlated with exploratory learning or analytical thinking in the data we examined.

We did identify some interesting issues. We tried to measure differences between students with different learning styles but the Learning Style Inventory[9] we used didn't prove very fruitful. (I was, however, reassured to find that the students who had different learning styles from mine liked the course just as much and did just as well as those with more similar learning styles.) We found more interesting results with a measure in which we asked the students to rate themselves on a scale of how quickly they were to adopt new innovations.[10] We found that the students were more cautious about using new technology in the course than we had expected, with a particularly noticeable worry that there might be technological glitches that would affect their grade.

"I was telling the students something important about the goals of the course just by asking the question"

We would like to go back someday and try to answer those questions more systematically. However, the most important impact of my experience with intensive evaluation in the spring of 1998 was that I began to use similar but simplified techniques for routine assessment of all my courses.

Experience: Routine Assessment of Internet-Supported Teaching Techniques

I modified the questionnaires we used in the spring of 1998 to use for routine assessment. I teach a large course on the freshman level, History 122: History, Technology, and Society, and in the last two years I have used two questionnaires for assessing that course, one at the beginning and one at the end.[11] This course is designed for freshman engineers and over 90% of the students are majoring in engineering or related fields. I want to describe in more detail my experience with that course because it an example of the kind of routine assessment of teaching that I think is widely valuable to faculty (and requires less effort than what goes into a research project like the one we did in the spring of 1998). My goal here is not to draw conclusions about what technologies work for what purposes, but rather to suggest techniques and issues to consider. Not only do I believe that different technologies work for different courses, but the skills and attitudes of students are changing so significantly from year to year that the impact of different technologies even in the same course changes over time.

The first thing I discovered is that surveys also function as teaching tools. I asked a question:

Did this course change your opinion of how much engineers must worry about social (as opposed to technical) issues?
1998 1999
No, I already thought social issues were important in engineering. 26% 24%
Yes, I learned that social issues are more important to engineering than I had realized. 71% 63%
No, I still think that engineers should worry about the technical issues and leave the social issues to someone else. 11% 5%

I realized after I started asking the question that I was telling the students something important about the goals of the course just by asking the question. I now ask a question in the initial survey about whether they think engineers need to worry about social issues to help students understand from the beginning what I want them to get out of the course. I have started asking a series of questions with value-laden response options, hoping to prompt the students to examine their own attitudes and thus to bring their own experience to the course. For example I asked:

What is your attitude towards this course?
1998 1999
I'm not interested in the course, and I plan to do the minimum required to get a C. 1% 4%
I'm not particularly interested in the material, but I want to do whatever I need to do to get a good grade. 25% 7%

I expect the material will be interesting, but there are other courses that are much more important for me. I may have to settle for a lower grade because I won't be able to give much time to this course. [12]

25% 36%
I am interested in the material and want to do well in the course. 47% 50%

I haven't yet had a complaint that the options are biased.

Now let me turn to my experiences with some different uses of the Internet in teaching. When I started teaching the freshman class in a smart classroom in 1998 I briefly considered doing PowerPoint presentations, but I found that PowerPoint didn't suit the way my mind worked. PowerPoint divided things too much into separate linear steps when I wanted to show interrelationships. Therefore I settled on making an illustrated outline on a Web page and projecting these in class, and also making those Web pages available to students.[13] At first my Web pages were brief outlines, but I soon began put quite detailed lecture notes onto the Web.[14]. One staff member in the Office of Teaching Effectiveness and Innovation at Clemson told me this was a mistake, that students don't learn if they don't have to take notes. On the other hand, some students told me that they appreciated so much being able to listen and take in the material instead of struggling to take notes. In my second survey I asked the students:

Do you like having lecture notes available on the Web?
1998 1999
Yes, I like being able to access the material covered in class. 93% 92%
No, it doesn't work for me because when the notes are available I don't pay attention in class or I learn less when I take notes. 3% 0%
No, the professor covers more material that way and it is too much to learn. 4% 2%
Other (describe in the comments section in the last question.) 0% 4%

Perhaps the students aren't reliable reporters, but I was impressed by these results. I also find I much prefer teaching this way because it frees me up to talk about the issues rather than repeating the facts to make sure the students have them straight in their notes.

On the other hand, I have fewer positive experiences with assignments that ask students to read material on the Web external to my course. I have tried both asking students to read scholarly articles available on the Web and providing as an assignment a link to a Web exhibit that I want students to explore. I have had such poor results with both kinds of assignments that I no longer expect students to get much from such reading. In 1998 I asked students whether they preferred reading on the Web, in a book or in a packet of photocopies, and about one third selected each response option, but my impression is that they take reading in books more seriously (though they do embarrassingly little of what I assign). In 1999 I asked the students:

What do you dislike about reading on the Web (pick one)?
I don't like reading on a computer screen. 32%
I remember less because I don't highlight or take notes. 20%
I don't know what linked pages I am supposed to read. 5%
The information is less reliable than a book. 30%
The organization of the information is more confusing than in a book. 10%

I've tried urging my students to print out the reading, but without much success — many of them access the material from home and if they go to a lab I think they find the central printers confusing and unreliable. Remember these are freshmen engineering majors — in the 1999 group 66% of them rated their computer proficiency as above average for Clemson students and none rated themselves as below that average. Despite their proficiency with computers they are in significant ways uncomfortable with the Internet as a source of information.

What I had hoped to achieve with Web reading was to encourage students to be more exploratory learners. I hoped they would get interested and follow links and explore beyond what I assigned. I have been disappointed in this; I have not had much sense that students do follow links, either those I put into my lecture notes or those that may be available when the reading assignment is a Web site. I've tried to assign questions that go with Web readings to encourage further exploration, and I'm going to try to find more systematic ways for students to connect the course to their own experience and to bring information they have found to class. But so far the one place where I notice students coming back excited about information they have found is when I assign a group project to look further into a particular topic. It may be that creating a community of learners is the key strategy here.

"Trying new technologies has pushed me to think about teaching much more carefully"

While Web reading did not accomplish what I had hoped, I have found several uses of the Internet to encourage analytical thinking. I use a Web-based discussion board with questions for the students to answer each week (as I previously used a listserv), and I encourage students to write about their own experience there.[15] I like a Web board better than a listserv because I have more control over the organization of the discussion and because students can go back to it (while I suspect course-related e-mail is usually quickly deleted). More significantly, I use the Web to force students to deal with a range of opinion in a short argument paper I assign.[16] The graduate assistants and I prepare four to six topics dealing with current controversial issues relating to technology. For each topic we write a Web page with a description of the issue and links to key sites (the Web is a wonderful source of opinion). In some sense we have done a good bit of the work for the students, but by specifying key sites I am able to confront students with several sides of an issue and require them to draw their own conclusions. I asked the students:

Do you prefer the Internet-based argument paper assignment or would you rather have an assignment based on library research? Please pick the answer that comes closest to describing the reason for your opinion.
I like using the Internet because it is more convenient or easier than going to the library. 64%
I like using the Internet because I can see a wider range of options. 27%
I don't like using the Internet for this paper assignment because it is harder or less convenient than going to the library. 2%
I don't like using the Internet for this paper assignment because the information is not reliable, not organized in a linear fashion, or because there is too much information. 4%

I'm actually surprised that more didn't pick the fourth option, as I hear those complaints fairly often. When I assigned a similar paper based on library research in 1997, I found that the weaker students looked at only one side of the controversy. When I assigned a similar paper to an upper-level course and did not provide links, I was disappointed in the quality of the material the students found. In an upper-level course I would feel more need to teach the students research skills specific to history, but for the purposes of this course I am happy with how this assignment pushes the students to analyze an issue.[17]

My experiences have led me not so much to a different approach to teaching but to ask more questions about my teaching. I find that experimentation and assessment works for me to allow my teaching to develop as technology opens new possibilities. Trying new technologies has pushed me to think about teaching much more carefully. In formal terms, effective assessment requires that the instructor defines the course objectives, identifies criteria for assessing student mastery of objectives, decides how to respond to student preferences, and considers by what paths students move towards mastery of course objectives.[18] In my more established courses I have found I have to rethink what I want the students to get out of the course, that my goal is not primarily that they master a body of material but rather that they learn to think critically about technological progress and its impact on society.


The conclusions I can draw from my own experience that will be useful to others are not conclusions about what works and what doesn't work but suggestions of what questions to ask. I see four questions as most fundamental:

  • What are the computer skills of the students, and how much should this course teach them new computer skills?
  • What is the balance between the different goals of this course? How important is it to this course to teach facts? Critical thinking? Writing skills?
  • What is the teaching style of the instructor?
  • What are the learning styles and preferences of the students? How much is the goal of the course to push students beyond their comfort zone?

With answers to those questions it becomes easier to pick which technological options are most worth a trial.

The computer skills of students make a substantial difference in how they react to the use of the Internet in courses. In 1998, the first year, I used more than listservs in teaching, I emphasized to students that I would help them if they had any problems. I heard endless complaints from students about lines in the labs and the unreliability of the servers, and I spent hours helping students straighten out problems with their accounts. Now I hear very few such problems. Even in courses in which students are likely to have fewer computer skills, such as History of American Women, I had many fewer students come to me for help this year.[19] In my assessment of History 122 I did not find a significant correlation between the students' self-reports of their computer proficiency and what they reported as their expected grade. A few years ago students became very upset if the system was not 100% reliable, but now they seem to be more used to the glitches of using the Internet. In my setting, getting students comfortable with computers is not longer the issue, and I should probably be changing my focus to spend more time teaching them Web search skills and research skills more specific to the field of history.

Choices of technology also depend critically on course goals. Much of the emphasis in teaching with instructional software systems such as WebCT is on setting up those systems to help students learn facts. If you teach a course where gaining command of a body of facts is a key goal, then computerized homework and practice quizzes may be worth the time they take to develop. But my struggle with my students is to get them out of the mindset that history is about learning facts and get them to analyze. Therefore I don't find those particular technologies useful. Instead, I look for ways to use technology that will encourage my students to think for themselves, integrate what they are learning with their own experience, and come to their own conclusions.

"Unfortunately, information technology, like other technological fixes, can't solve complex human problems"

I believe that information technology must be selected to fit a particular faculty member's teaching style; there is no one best approach or one best technology that fits all. As I have already mentioned, PowerPoint presentations don't suit my style. As a historian I am particularly interested in is complexity, and PowerPoint tends to simplify the connections between pieces of information into a linear and sequential pattern. While it can be awkward to stop to scroll down a Web page during a class, on a Web page I can fit in more complexity and I can scroll back to connect to an earlier point.[20] On a broader level, most kinds of prepared presentation will be unsuitable for a faculty member who teaches in a more discussion-oriented style. I did try information technology in a course I taught with a discussion-based approach in a classroom with built-in computer projection equipment in the spring of 2000. Instead of writing key points on the board as they came up in discussion I took notes during class onto a Web page (open in Netscape Composer) that was projected onto the screen. This had the advantage that I saved the Web pages in my public space so that the students would have them for future reference.[21] It took a while for me to learn to type and talk at the same time as well as I can write on the board and talk at the same time, but I think that is a skill than can be learned.

Thinking about the learning styles of the students is also important in choosing among the new opportunities provided by information technology. I haven't found the standard tests of learning styles particularly useful for the kind of teaching I do, so I tend to ask myself how students think and how I can push them to think in more sophisticated ways.[22] I asked the students in History 122:

What kinds of coursework do you prefer?
Learning facts and skills. 36%
Analyzing and debating issues where there is not a clear right or wrong answer. 64%

I was actually quite surprised with that result, as I thought freshman engineers would choose the first option because they are trained to take an intellectual style that converges towards facts. Since they already believe they have an interest in issues, what I need are ways to encourage them to learn to debate issues in more sophisticated ways. For example, students like to talk about genetic engineering of humans as a controversial policy issue, but many think they have answered the question when they say "that isn't right because it is playing God." It isn't so easy to get them to define why playing God is wrong and how to define the boundary where intervention becomes playing God. By using a Web-based discussion board I can give everyone a chance to express their opinions and read each other's opinions. The Web also is a particularly good source of readings that challenge their opinions.[23]

The use of information technology in teaching is a set of tools, not a panacea for the problems college faculty face in the classroom. When I started to use the Internet in teaching I had unrealistic expectations. I hoped that students would enjoy using the Internet so much that they would learn because learning was fun. I hoped that students would come to share my fascination with the issues I teach rather than asking me what was the minimum they needed to do in order to get a good grade. Unfortunately, information technology, like other technological fixes, can't solve complex human problems.[24] However, it can make available to students different ways of learning — if the professor is careful to pick the right tool for the job. Just beware of the phenomenon that if you give a four-year-old a hammer it is amazing how many things look like a nail.

"If students learn best when they can relate information to their own experience, then we need ways to make room for that experience in the learning process"

Experience and Authority

The Internet provides both tools for teaching and tools for new approaches to knowledge. New tools may be designed to push us in particular directions, but we do have choices in whether and how we use them and to what end.[25] In this paper we have argued that when we introduce new technology into our teaching we need to carefully consider our objectives and systematically assess our results so that we can choose the tools that work best in our individual situations. More generally we draw two issues from our experience: the authority of students in the classroom and the challenge to professionals to value different kinds of knowledge.

Many forces have come together to give students a greater voice in the classroom. Some changes came from the insistence of the feminist movement that "the personal is the political;" professors teaching women's studies were among the first to experiment with the idea that the things students had to say about their own personal experiences were valuable contributions to classroom discussion. To this day some students are surprised that their experiences count as knowledge in the classroom.

The turn towards student-centered education has reinforced this trend by putting more emphasis on where the students start and their process of internalizing the information presented in class. If students learn best when they can relate information to their own experience, then we need ways to make room for that experience in the learning process. Internet communication can be useful in providing that room.

That conclusion may seem fairly obvious, but in fact it requires that we face questions about the comparative authority of various kinds of information. What does the professor say when a student introduces a personal experience that contradicts the formal knowledge that the teacher wishes the students to learn? In many cases the professor may use that contradiction as an opportunity to push students to better understand the nature of statistics. That is indeed something students need to understand, but done too often it becomes a defense of professional privilege, a way of saying only professional knowledge counts.[26] We would be better served to teach students to hold the two kinds of information together, to understand the special value and also the limits of statistically significant results of controlled studies (or whatever kind of information is privileged in a particular field of scholarship).

The issue of professional knowledge versus experience extends beyond the classroom. In new fields and in interdisciplinary conferences, the voices of experience can often be heard, but as new fields of study professionalize, their standards for information tend to become more specialized, and the conversation increasingly between insiders in the field.[27] Yet in a society where the general public is increasingly suspicious of science and resistant to the authority to scientific knowledge, we would be well served to learn to build bridges between individual experience and professional knowledge.[28] That conversation has already started in some areas of medicine, with a renewed interest in the value of narrative.[29] We hope that those who speak professionally about the use of information technology in education will find new ways of listening to the voices of experience. It would be a pity to limit the conversation about the impact of the Internet in teaching to those who speak professionally by writing in a scholarly style and providing evidence for their points that meets professional standards.

Pamela E. Mack is an associate professor in the History Department at Clemson University. She earned her Ph.D. in History of Science and Technology from the University of Pennsylvania and taught at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Hampshire College, and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University before settling at Clemson. Her research areas are the history of the U.S. space program and the history of women in science and engineering. She is the author of Viewing the Earth: The Social Construction of the Landsat Satellite System (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1990) and editor of From Engineering Science to Big Science: The NACA/NASA Collier Trophy Research Project Winners, NASA SP-4219, (Washington DC: Government Printing Office, 1998). She teaches courses in the history of technology, including a course designed specifically for freshman engineers, interdisciplinary courses, and occasionally U.S. women's history. She may be reached at

Gail Delicio is an associate professor in the School of Education at Clemson University. She earned her Ph.D. in Educational Psychology at Florida State University, and prior to joining the Clemson faculty, served on the graduate faculty at Temple University and in the Florida public schools as a teacher of K-12 Art and Middle School Science. She presently teaches internet-supported courses in Educational Research, Educational Tests & Measurement, and Educational Psychology in the Masters and Doctoral programs in Curriculum & Instruction. Her research interests include learning in the Internet environment, and cognition in the visual arts. You may contact her by e-mail at


1. See for example Fredric D. Wolinsky, "The Professional Dominance Perspective, Revisited," The Milbank Quarterly 66 (1988): S33-48.return to text

2. For accessible introductions to more philosophical discussions of this issue see for example: Hans-Georg Gadamer, "On the Political Incompetence of Philosophy," Diogenes 46 (summer 1998): 3 or a book review by Stanton Wortham of The Collected Works of L.S. Vygotsky, vols. 3-4 in American Scientist 86 (1998): 296-8.return to text

3. I am avoiding using the concept of objectivity here. From the point of view of history of science and technology, scientific knowledge is never fully objective in any strict sense. From the point of view of educational theory the most relevant debate centers around whether objectivity is achieved specifically by numerical methods or whether it can be achieved by qualitative methods. See Elliot Eisner, The Enlightened Eye: Qualitative Inquiry and the Enhancement of Educational Practice (New York: McMillan, 1991), chapter 3.return to text

4. For discussion of how the practice of medicine goes beyond scientific information see Jerome Groopman, Second Opinions: Stories of Intuition and Choice in the Changing World of Medicine (New York: Viking Penguin, 1999).return to text

5. For the role of experience in education one fundamental place to start is John Dewey, Art as Experience (New York, Minton, Balch & Company, 1934).return to text

6. And where the laudatory goal of improving quality would be bureaucratized in the form of narrow definitions of what was good teaching, increasing the risk that creativity would be penalized instead of rewarded.return to text

7. Robert L. Linn and Norman E. Gronlund, Measurement and Assessment in Teaching (Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Merrill, 2000).return to text

8. The Hawthorne effect is that people who are subjects of a study perform better than they would under normal circumstances because they know they are being watched. For historical background see: Richard Gillespie, Manufacturing Knowledge: A History of the Hawthorne Experiments (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1991).return to text

9. D. A. Kohb, Learning Style Inventory (Boston: Hay/McBer, 1985).return to text

10. Based on Everett M. Rogers, Diffusion of Innovations, third edition (New York: The Free Press, 1983).return to text

11. I set up those questionnaires on WebCT, which allows me to download the numerical data, which I can then transfer into an Excel file and then analyze using SPSS. I give the students 1 point extra credit on their final grade for filling out both questionnaires, and that gives me about an 80% response rate. The questions I use in my surveys are available at Survey Questions (,) and anyone who is interested is welcome to use them.return to text

12. Apparently I did a better job of interesting them the second year than the first. I ask the same question on the initial and the final questionnaire — the first year the number selecting option 2 went from 14% at the beginning to 25% at the end, while in 1999 the number selection option 2 went from 19% on the first questionnaire to 7% at the end.return to text

13. I use Netscape Composer, which is very easy to learn. I purposefully avoid sophisticated Web page design, wanting to give a visual message that the information contained is what matters.return to text

14. See for example Pamela E. Mack, Television, 25 Oct. 1999,, or the links from any of the lectures listed on the schedule at Pamela E. Mack, History 122 Syllabus, 21 Nov. 1999, to text

15. I use WebCT for the discussion board, though it does not allow me to structure the board quite as much as I would like.return to text

16. The assignment can be found at Pamela E. Mack, History 122 Argument Paper Assignment, fall 1999, to text

17. The danger of cut-and-paste cheating does increase when students do research on the Web, but I find that a very specific assignment helps reduce the problem because plagiarized material is not likely to adequately fulfill the assignment. Some colleagues have had good experience with to text

18. See Linn and Gronlund, Measurement and Assessment in Teaching.return to text

19. Though I still do schedule a training session in that course, which I no longer do in courses primarily for engineering students.return to text

20. I still use an outline format on my Web pages so I have not moved radically away from linearity. While one of the strengths of the Web is allowing non-linear layout of information, my experience is that students have trouble even grasping the idea of other forms of organization so I worry that they would only be confused if I used those in course notes.return to text

21. See for example Pamela E. Mack, The Women's Movement of the 1960s and 1970s, or other pages linked from the schedule section of Pamela E. Mack, History 318: History of American Women, 26 April 2000, to text

22. Information technology may be useful to provide supplemental material for students with different learning styles, if you can get the students who need it to use the material.return to text

23. On the topic of genetic engineering see: "Overcoming Yuk" by Oliver Morton in the Wired Magazine archives at to text

24. For a good overview of the issue of the technological fix see: Rudi Volti, Society and Technological Change, 3rd edition (New York: St. Martins, Press, 1995).return to text

25. The classic analysis of the role of consumers in the development of technology is Ruth Schwartz Cowan, More Work for Mother: The Ironies of Household Technology from the Open Hearth to the Microwave. (New York: Basic Books, 1983).return to text

26. For one example of the strong form of this argument see Kurt Spellmeyer "Travels to the Heart of the Forest: Dilettantes, Professionals, and Knowledge," College English 56 (1994): 788-810.return to text

27. A classic detailed analysis of this process is: David O. Edge and Michael J. Mulkay, Astronomy Transformed: The Emergence of Radio Astronomy in Britain (New York : Wiley, 1976).return to text

28. For an introduction to issues of scientific authority see Harry Collins and Trevor Pinch, The Golem: What Everyone Should Know About Science (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993) or Bruno Latour, Science in Action (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1987). An interesting analysis of different kinds of knowledge, in this case by juries, can be found in N. Pennington and H. Reid, "Reasoning in explanation-based decision making," Cognition (1993) 49: 123-63.return to text

29. See for example, Arthur W. Frank, The Wounded Storyteller: Body, Illness, and Ethics (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1997).return to text