Thus Saith The Dictionary

This comic from Robot Hugs explores some of the many reasons why students should not start an essay with “Webster’s Dictionary defines X as…” I had been thinking about blogging on this topic even before the cartoon was drawn to my attention, and so I decided to share it and offer some thoughts on the subject. The [Read More...]

How Grown-Ups Communicate

I’m glad I saw this PHD Comic. This is a real issue. And while professors sometimes lag behind technologically, that isn’t what is going on here. Texting is simply not conducive to effective communication in the professional world. Students may think it is “old school” but when they themselves are in an old school, they need [Read More...]

CIC Information Fluency Workshop

I am currently in Baltimore with some colleagues, at a workshop focused on information fluency in the disciplines of religion, philosophy, and the history of ideas. It started yesterday, and has already offered a lot of fascinating perspectives from faculty and librarians, including practical examples and specific online tools that can be used for teaching [Read More...]

Weird References in Student Papers

I have seen students do some odd things in their bibliographies with such frequency that I am sure it cannot be a coincidence. But I am not sure where they are getting these practices from. The strangest part is the tendency, when citing online sources, to repeat the title of the article, web page, or [Read More...]

Quote for the Start of Semester

The quote from Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, comes from an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education, “Wikipedia Founder Discourages Academic Use of His Creation.” The same can be said of the dictionary – I find it hard to believe that I get students starting essays with “Webster’s Dictionary defines…” – or worse still, [Read More...]

Too Old

A student sent me this e-mail recently: Dr. McGrath, Sorry about the multiple emails. I’m not sure if we went over this or not but I was wondering what your thoughts were on about how far back we should go when deciding which articles to use? I have all mine set, but one is from the [Read More...]

You May Take Notes

Times have changed. Technologies change. It isn't clear that just listening intently, and then photographing the board, helps you process the information as well as writing with your own hand. But it also isn't clear how much of our weaker processing when we don't take notes by hand is due to adapting to a new [Read More...]

10 Amazing Reasons to Buzzfeedify Your Syllabus

Beloit has released its annual mindset list, about the things that this year’s incoming freshmen take for granted (HT Inside Higher Ed). #2 (that’s “hashtag two” for you old-timers) is particularly interesting for educators: “Since they binge-watch their favorite TV shows, they might like to binge-watch the video portions of their courses too.” I’m giving [Read More...]

Butler University Convocation 2014

Here’s the video footage from yesterday’s convocation ceremony at Butler University, marking the official start of the academic year. Classes begin on Wednesday. I presume that you can spot me easily in the video… [Read more...]

Undergrad History of Religion

I just discovered a Tumblr site called “UndergradHist.” Below are a few of my favorites related to religion, but please do click through and check out some of the others. They are all based on actual quotes from student assignments, and very funny. And to top it all off, here is a coping mechanism for [Read More...]

Students’ Prayer

Jeffrey Gibson has emphasized that the Lord's Prayer ought to be called the disciples' prayer. And I discussed recently in my Sunday school class the suggestion (inspired by his interpretation of the prayer) that the final/penultimate petition traditionally rendered as “lead us not into temptation” could in fact mean “Do not lead us into the [Read More...]


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