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Teaching Strategy Resource Shelf

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  • Is My Teaching Learner-Centered?

    (from Faculty Focus). Is My Teaching Learner-Centered? It’s hard to say—we have no definitive measures of learner-centeredness or even mutually agreed upon definitions. And yet, when we talk about it, there’s an assumption that we all understand the reference.

    My friend Linda recently gave me a beautifully illustrated children’s book that contains nothing but questions. It reminded me how good questions, like beams of light, cut through the fog and illuminate what was once obscured. And so, to help us further explore and understand what it means to be learner-centered, I’ve generated a set of questions. For the record, these questions were not empirically developed, and they haven’t been validated in any systematic way. However, they do reflect the characteristics regularly associated with learner-centered teaching.  Questions like these can be useful in helping us to confront how we teach. They produce the most insights when asked sincerely and answered honestly. For most of us, there’s a gap between how we aspire to teach and how we actually teach. Given the less-than-objective view we have of ourselves as teachers, it’s easy to conflate aspirations with actualities. 

  • Interpret Feedback and Interpreting Your Student Reports.

    (from Stanford University: Evaluation & Research, Student Affairs). Interpret Feedback and Interpreting Your Student Reports. (Note: This article may be of value as you have just received your end-of-semester ICES Online results).  As you read through your reports, bear in mind that Stanford’s student course feedback forms are designed to direct students’ attention towards their own learning. The responses should reflect how much and how well students learned in your course. The teaching feedback form, however, directs attention to individual section instructors.

    Look for patterns: are the distributions consistent and in the ranges you expect? Are there unusual clusters, such as a “spike,” or a very high and very low grouping? A single mean score can be a few decimal points higher or lower simply due to the random sample of students in a particular course from term to term. An increase or decrease of a few decimal points should not necessarily be interpreted as a significant change. For more information, read our discussion paper on the reliability of evaluation statistics (PDF). Finally, it is common to concentrate on outliers or unique responses, but it is more useful to look for patterns and trends than speculate about an isolated score. Let’s begin with general questions

  • Assigning Final Course Grades

    (from UIUC Center for Innovation in Teaching & Learning – CITL) Assigning Final Course Grades. The end-of-course grades assigned by instructors are intended to convey the level of achievement of each student in the class. These grades are used by students, other faculty, university administrators, and prospective employers to make a multitude of different decisions. Unless instructors use generally-accepted policies and practices in assigning grades, these grades are apt to convey misinformation and lead the decision-maker astray. When grading policies are practices are carefully formulated and reviewed periodically, they can serve well the many purposes for which they are used

  • Grading and Performance Rubrics

    (from Carnegie Mellon University Eberly Center). Grading and Performance Rubrics. What are rubrics? A rubric is a scoring tool that explicitly represents the performance expectations for an assignment or piece of work. A rubric divides the assigned work into component parts and provides clear descriptions of the characteristics of the work associated with each component, at varying levels of mastery. Rubrics can be used for a wide array of assignments: papers, projects, oral presentations, artistic performances, group projects, etc. Rubrics can be used as scoring or grading guides, to provide formative feedback to support and guide ongoing learning efforts, or both. In the following paragraphs, we share some advantages of using rubrics and sample rubrics across different assignment types and disciplines.

  • Ending the Semester

    (from Georgetown University CNDLS) Ending the Semester. A semester is a marathon effort, and, by the time you reach the end of it, it’s quite possible that everyone—you and the students both—will be exhausted, and perhaps very ready to leave the course behind. But one last thoughtful push can ensure that the course’s conclusion is meaningful in its own right. Naturally, the final stretch of the course is an important time to reflect on the class experience and the material that’s been covered. Not only is it an opportunity to review material that students might need to revisit as they approach final exams and final papers—or to answer any questions that, for the students, remain unresolved—it’s also an opportunity to underscore the significance of the experience the students have just had, to invite the students to appreciate how far they’ve come in a few months. Here are some ways to maximize the end of the semester through reflection, integration, gathering feedback, and looking forward.

  • Eleven Tips to End of The Semester Success (From One Student to Another):

    (from Utica College Student Voices). Eleven Tips to End of The Semester Success (From One Student to Another). The end of the semester (especially Spring Semester) can bring many challenges and stressors. The weather is starting to get nicer, the days are getting longer, and your attention span is getting shorter. If your class schedule has looked anything like mine, you’ve probably been pounded with essays, projects, and tests since returning from spring break. It can all get very overwhelming quickly, and by the time finals starts approaching you’ve all but virtually checked out. As hard as it may be, it’s important to keep your morale high to get through finals. No one wants to throw away all the hard work they’ve put in throughout the semester over a little stress and fatigue. So, here’s some of my tips on how to stay focused and finish out the semester strong.

  • Yes, Virginia, there is a better way to grade

    (from inside higher ed). Yes, Virginia, there is a better way to grade.  Pause a moment to consider the way we’ve been grading our students’ work since time immemorial. The way we allocate points on the basis of apparent quality. The way we struggle to be fair in giving the same number of points to works of comparable quality, even though they differ a great deal -- and the time it takes us to make these hairsplitting decisions. The way students stress over the points their work does or doesn’t get. The way they challenge our grading decisions in the hope of squeezing more points out of us -- despite the agonizing care and attention to detail we give to their work. For students, it’s all about maximizing partial credit.

    Imagine another grading system, one where you grade all assignments and tests satisfactory/unsatisfactory, pass/fail. Students earn all of the points associated with the work, or none of them, depending on whether their work meets the particular specifications you laid out for it. This is why I call this grading system specifications, or specs, grading. Think of the specs as a one-level, uni-dimensional rubric. But don’t think of them as defining D or even C minus work. Rather, imagine that they define truly “satisfactory” as at least B work -- maybe even A minus work. This assures rigor.   

  • Now More Than Ever: Why Collaborative Grading Works, Even Online

    (from Faculty Focus). Now More Than Ever: Why Collaborative Grading Works, Even Online.  Over the previous decade, researchers have made the case that engaging students in metacognition improves learning outcomes for students across fields (Zhao et al, 2014; Yeager & Dweck, 2012; Anderson, 2002). We believe one of the best ways to engage students in metacognition and self-assessment is to involve them directly in the grading process. We outline two strategies for doing so: class-generated rubrics and collaborative grading sessions. We also offer helpful guidance on using technology to enhance each, and offer tips on how students (as well as faculty) can learn how to fully engage in the learning process online.


  • Five Strategies for Mastering the Art of Answering Questions When Teaching and Presenting

    (from Faculty Focus) Five Strategies for Mastering the Art of Answering Questions When Teaching and Presenting.  In academia, we get asked a lot of questions whether we are teaching, giving research presentations, interviewing, or mentoring. This is exciting but can also be scary. The questions are often the most stressful part of teaching and presenting because we cannot truly predict or control the questions we are asked. It is important to first note that our experiences as teachers and presenters impact the experiences of our audiences, such that when we are more engaged, they are more engaged and learn better from us (Saucier, 2019a; Saucier, Miller, Martens, & Jones, in press).  For example, by bringing PEACE to our classes in the form of our Preparation, Expertise, Authenticity, Caring, and Engagement (Saucier, 2019b; Saucier & Jones, 2020), we can intentionally create class environments that promote learning. In the following, we discuss five simple strategies (such as Smile-Breathe-Think-Talk) to enhance our engagement as teachers and presenters that, in doing so, will make the experience of answering questions better for us and our audience

  • The Teaching Exchange: Fostering Critical Thinking

    (From Vanderbilt University The Center for Teaching) The Teaching Exchange: Fostering Critical Thinking. There are two general approaches that I find helpful in producing a classroom setting conductive to critical inquiry. These involve 1) the establishment of an environment in which both parties, student and teacher, function as partners in inquiry, and 2) the employment of a set of questioning strategies specifically geared to the acquisition of higher-order thinking and reasoning skills.

    Central to making students feel they are partners in a community of learners is the creation of a climate of trust, so that students feel safe in offering their own ideas. I try to foster a sense of “we-feeling” by asking, for example, “How can we explain this development? What does it mean to us?” Using plural pronouns creates a dialogue that has less of an adversarial tone and underscores the idea of students and teachers as partners in inquiry. I have also found that learning student names as quickly as possible is essential for developing trust. I give students a rationale for the value of an interactive classroom. I assure them that interaction is not designed to embarrass them, but rather to facilitate learning and make the subject matter more interesting. This lets students know they have some control over class proceedings and that their insights and contributions will be validated in our mutual quest for understanding. Here are some additional strategies