Wednesday, April 25

Sponges and Tennis Balls

Rock Dodge - CS or LAB?

I've been very fortunate lately. I've gotten to help teach both a Cycling Savvy Course and a LAB TS101 Course. The CS course was in February and the TS course was last weekend. I expect to help teach another TS course this weekend, and will post about the GREAT DANGER facing cyclists today. But that is not what today's post is about.

Instant Turn - CS or LAB?

Today, I'll note that the difference is about a lot more than sponges versus tennis balls. What is that durn guy talking about? Well, it seems that the Cycling Savvy course seems to favor sponges to mark items in their parking lot drills. ON THE OTHER HAND, the Bike League seems to favor tennis balls cut in half for THEIR parking lot drills. As far as I can tell, neither curricula has made these dogmatic choices.
However, there IS a major difference, and in this regard, I would not mind seeing a middle ground. In the CS class I took, there was no test of any sort. Inquiring, I was told that student videos or other e-stuff were part of the eventual plan, but that taking tests was NOT why students took the class and the test time would be better spent in teaching road skills. That's fine, and actually really GOOD to minimize tests, but it is also ultimately an "open loop system" where students are not really encouraged to reach out for help. CS teachers look for such a message from students, but it isn't explicit.

NO Test in the CS Course. Absolute MAX Saddle Time.

In the case of the LAB course, there is a student written test AND an instructor detailed evaluation of the students. Last weekend, Warren and I were STILL filling out the evaluation forms a FULL HOUR after we got back from our ride. That was an hour we could have been teaching road skills. That was an hour students were standing around wondering if any of these guys had a clue. It was an hour totally lost to any possibility of positive behavior change.

LAB Instructors, Losing MORE Than a Full Hour of Instruction Time, Grading Tests for Why?

Fortunately, I think there's a better way for EITHER course, and Preston Tyree pointed it out.
You repeat that three times (SIX total questions) and you'd cover the concerns of the students,the observation of the teachers, AND ways to improve the course itself. Heck, in email response to complaints about this post, I ventured I could be easily bargained down to TWO questions. Yeah, I paid attention, though it may not have been obvious to the instructors. Thanks, Preston. I hope someone besides me has been listening to you...

Preston, the Unheraded Guru of Cycling Harmony?


Chuck Davis said...

"Tests" are a specie of involuntary feed back and are valid and somewhat necessary for any number of reasons dependinging on the activity for any number of aspects

Job raises, job up grades, carry a gun, (you pick'um)

Wanna be an LCI? sure just mail in ya $

Keri said...

Steve, your approach to comparing CS to TS101 misses the point.
As we have explained  there are a few specific similarities, but don't let that distract from the big picture. The course was built from scratch on a very different methodology — one that understands and respects adult learning and what motivates participation.

CyclingSavvy uses a conceptual approach that focuses on reframing and belief change to release people from inhibition to drive their bicycles. We evaluate our students and give them feedback on the spot as we build success upon success all day long. They accomplish exponentially more in a CyclingSavvy class than they do in a TS101. They wouldn't have the courage or skill ride through a feature like the Northwest Highway/Central Expressway interchange if they didn't get it conceptually, or if they hadn't experienced a progression of success to build upon.

We don't need to test them or evaluate them at the end of the course. What metric needs to be measured? They're not getting a license, certificate, diploma, or applying for a job. Very few people want to give up half a weekend to take a class. We're not making adults endure a class. We're offering a life-enhancing experience and big picture tools —the Rosetta Stone—for understanding the roadway, traffic flow and strategies to go anywhere by bike.

Years ago, I took a whitewater kayaking course in NC. They taught us the skills for handling a kayak, then took us on the river and taught us to read currents and rapids (as in CS, we stopped, gained vantage and observed the rapids and eddies). They gave us tools to understand the handling characteristics of the boat and the dynamic currents of a river. There was no test. CyclingSavvy is more similar to that kayaking course than it is to TS101. It is experiential learning.

Our students are encouraged to stay in communication with CSIs, to seek route advice or help with complex features in their own travels. And they do.

That said, the process for becoming a CyclingSavvy instructor is much more rigorous.

Steve A said...

I agree with every single word Keri said. No, I didn't miss the point. I teach engineers every day. Experiential learning. They get tested. As in "how would you apply this analysis method to those floor panels." OR "are you ready to teach this to Will?" Think about it. How hard would it be to ask "what is your biggest remaining concern?" Did it somehow appear that I was advocating a long, scored test such as LAB administers?

Ed W said...

I had one major criticism of the LAB course and that involved testing. We had students with minimal reading skills who performed well in the practical exercises, yet had dismal test scores. They simply couldn't read. As near as I can tell, riding a bike on the street doesn't require average or better reading skill, yet passing a pencil and paper test from LAB does.

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