Teaching Strategy Resource Shelf

blog navigation

Teaching Strategy Resource Shelf

blog posts

  • Advice for how to make grading more equitable (opinion).

    Advice for how to make grading more equitable (opinion). Ask any faculty member about how they grade their students, and they will probably explain the precise weights they give quizzes, tests, papers, labs and other factors -- as well as how they average student results over the term to determine a final grade. Even though the scholarship, technology and pedagogy of postsecondary courses have significantly evolved in the last century, the ways students are graded has remained unchanged. This should come as no surprise, considering that most college and university faculty members receive no training in how to grade, either in graduate school or professional development on the job, and so most typically grade as they were graded. Plus, because faculty members rarely receive support to examine and learn about grading, each professor’s grading policies are filtered through their own individual beliefs about how students learn, how to motivate them and how best to describe student achievement. As a result, grades often vary within a department and even within a course taught by different instructors. Here are improved grading practices.

  • Grading and Performance Rubrics

    Grading and Performance 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.

  • Helping Students Memorize: Tips from Cognitive Science

    Helping Students Memorize: Tips from Cognitive Science. I was wrapping up a presentation on memory and learning when a colleague asked, “How do we help students learn in courses where there’s a lot of memorization?” He explained that he taught introductory-level human anatomy, and although the course wasn’t all memorization, it did challenge students’ capacity to retain dozens of new terms and concepts. The question itself is tricky because most teaching professionals are heavily invested in the idea that learning isn’t about being able to regurgitate facts on an exam. We also worry, and with good reason, that emphasizing rote learning steals time and effort away from the deeper thinking that we want students to do.  Here are some techniques that target this specific teaching and learning challenge.  

  • Reading Textbooks: The College Plague

    Reading Textbooks: The College Plague. First, let’s acknowledge this universal epidemic. College students despise reading textbooks and e-books that cover content with academic information. Fortunately, I discovered a cure for the reading plague that only requires five teaspoons of ingestion: 1) survey 2) question 3) read 4) retrieve and 5) review. In my class, I have found the SQ3R Method to be a step-by-step approach to learning and studying from textbooks. Although it took my students time and practice to master this method, it has been valuable in regards to preparing students for more content-driven class discussions, increased retention and understanding of information, strategic study skills, and test preparation.

  • Culturally Responsive Teaching and Universal Design for Learning (UDL)

    Culturally Responsive Teaching and Universal Design for Learning (UDL). Educational experiences for our students that integrate Universal Design for Learning (UDL) and Culturally Responsive Teaching (CRT), a philosophy of education that centers students’ cultural backgrounds as essential to their learning (Ladson-Billings,1994), is a powerful tool for preparing them for today’s professional environment, which increasingly acknowledges diversity as integral to success. People from different cultures arrive in our classrooms with culturally-based differences that influence how they interact with our courses. This does not mean that certain students (with certain identities) are capable of doing higher level work while other students (with other identities) are not. In other words, UDL and CRT are not about de facto tracking. Rather, by incorporating a range of learning strategies to address multiple perspectives, values, entry points, and opportunities for acquiring and demonstrating knowledge, educators can amplify the benefits of diversity.

  • 10 Practical Approaches to Teaching.

    10 Practical Approaches to Teaching. Students from different walks of life converge in a classroom for learning. They have different capabilities and personalities, adding to the diversity that comes with learning institutions. As such, if you want to be an effective teacher, you need to formulate and implement creative and innovative strategies that are practical and meet the needs of students. This applies to all teachers despite the duration they have been teaching. However, it can be difficult to know what works best with your students and what won’t work. You cannot apply a ‘one size fits all’ approach. You have to blend a range of different strategies practical enough to your practice. To offer the best classroom experience to students, you need to improve your teaching practice, build collegiality, and delve deeper into content knowledge. As such, here are some practical teaching tips for educators.

  • Calling Online (actually All..)Instructors: There‚Äôs a Secret Bonus Level!

    Calling Online (actually All..) Instructors: There’s a Secret Bonus Level! Back in 2005, my online courses were designed according to the “read and reply twice” design format, then in vogue among instructional designers. The interactions that I had with my learners were largely formulaic, and I was really good at them. I responded to my students’ discussion posts and activity submissions within hours of deadlines, and I did my best to move conversations forward by asking learners to make connections and begin new avenues of inquiry. Fast forward to 2018: several game platforms and dozens of video games later. About the same time that we were playing Lego City Undercover, I was discovering that my “great” online courses could be strengthened even further by paying attention to barriers that I hadn’t previously understood well—or hadn’t even noticed at all. One of those barriers is grades. In addition to exploring ungrading, I also learned that spaced practice is one of the best ways to study and remember information and techniques. We reinforce our learning when we can re-visit concepts and ideas just before we shift them out of short-term memory and forget them. I’m looking all over my everyday experiences for hints about how our minds work when we learn things, and everywhere that I can take down barriers to learning

  • Increase Student Learning in Only 3 Seconds.

    Increase Student Learning in Only 3 Seconds. I credit my husband as the inspiration for this article. He is a writing professor who is exceptionally good at waiting. He has a unique ability (and probably disturbing to some) to ask his students a question and then wait…wait through the awkward silence, wait through the students’ sideways glances and shifting in desk chairs until a brave student decides to volunteer and answer his question. His willingness to wait inspires me and has challenged me to use this technique with my own students. Interestingly, there is a lot of research on teacher’s use of waiting in the classroom and the positive effects it can have for student engagement and learning. The best news of all? Improving student learning only takes 3 seconds.

  • Learning to Cross the Road: What Do You Show Your Students?

    Learning to Cross the Road: What Do You Show Your Students? Q: Why did the chicken cross the road? A: To show the squirrel it could be done. Most of us attempt to teach our subjects by telling students things, that is, describing, identifying, defining, specifying, explaining, lecturing, etc. We spend uncounted hours attempting to transmit our well-learned information and vital insights by clearly stating what we want students to know and understand. It can be quite rewarding because explaining things feels good and seems like real teaching. It is also not unusual for this to produce frustration later on when we discover from assessments, or from later attempts to reference earlier material, that our explaining things did not lead to a fundamental understanding that we’d hoped to convey. Here are three steps to go beyond information giving.

  • Office Hours Off Campus

    Office Hours Off Campus. Dr. Campbell teaches large biology lecture courses at the University of Pittsburgh and few students came to his office to discuss problems they were having with his course. However, when he was sitting on the steps in front of the library reading the newspaper, students stopped to ask questions about that day’s lecture. He decided he would regularly read his newspaper there and when the weather turned colder, he moved to a coffee shop frequented by students. Before long, he was regularly meeting students off campus and never in his office. Here are some of the things that happened: impromptu study groups, mentoring, better teaching.