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Teaching Strategy Resource Shelf

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  • Building Classroom Community Spirit Online.

    (from Inside Higher Ed). Building Classroom Community Spirit Online. As instructors, we can underestimate how much informal, class-adjacent social interactions encourage students to participate in class, write Zachary Nowak and Sarah Bramao-Ramos. In the pre-COVID-19 days, the five minutes that my students sat quietly chatting before I put the first slide up on the screen were facilitating the smooth functioning of my classes. But I never realized that until the coronavirus hit. It seemed clear to me that I would have to try to foster virtually something like what happens naturally for in-person classes. My response was to create a series of three assignments for students to do what I called “class-adjacent socializing.”  We developed instructions as a longish, FAQ-style prompt for the class-adjacent socializing. We had to reiterate, several times, that these were intended to be class-adjacent events, not class-related events. The goal was not for the students to discuss the class material: the goal was to get them comfortable enough with each other that it would be easier to have those discussions when they met online. Even when we return to in-person instruction, we will continue to actively foster these previously casual interactions.


  • Six Things Faculty Can Do to Promote Student Engagement

    (from Faculty Focus). Six Things Faculty Can Do to Promote Student Engagement.  Starting with redefining participation. Let it include more than verbal comments. Invite students to contribute electronically—with an email or post on the course website—with a question they didn’t ask in class, a comment they didn’t get to make, or a thought that came to them after class. Remind students that listening is also part of participation! Model and promote good listening skills. For example: “Did you hear wht Fredric just said? That’s an explanation also belongs in your notes.” Other strategies to promote student engagement include defining what learning is and designing authentic assignments and learning experiences

  • Boosting Student Motivation Through Connected Reflection

    (from Faculty Focus). Boosting Student Motivation Through Connected Reflection. Universities are mandated to be the ultimate “learning culture,” powered by faculty who embody lifelong learning. We know that reflection is essential to learning; it’s the foundation of “continuous improvement,” that ceaseless cultivation of our skills and spirits as we work in the world. And this year, our reflection comes in time of global crisis—all the more reason to reflect on what matters most in our lives and our students’ lives, in our communities, and in our teaching and learning within our courses. Here are seven ways to facilitate motivation, metacognition, and a learning community.

  • Transforming Midterm Evaluations into a Metacognitive Pause

    (from Faculty Focus). Transforming Midterm Evaluations into a Metacognitive Pause. Midterm evaluations often tip toward students’ (unexamined) likes and dislikes. By leveraging the weight of the midterm pause and inviting students to reflect on their development, midterm evaluations can become more learning-centered. Cued by our language, students can become aware of a distinction—that we’re not asking what they like, but what is helping them learn. This opportunity for students to learn about their learning yields valuable insights that not only inform instructors about the effects of our methods, but also ground students in their own learning processes, deepening their confidence in and commitment to their development in the second half of the course. Many students in this particular evening course were returning learners, and so it felt beneficial to use the natural pause at midterm as an opportunity to grow their confidence by reflecting on the learning process and taking stock of their own development. I therefore tailored my midterm questions with a metacognitive slant that would prompt students to identify and articulate dimensions of and supports for their learning. Learning experts often talk about the necessary “difficulty” and “disorientation” that is part of learning. “Can you share about what has been most challenging for you so far in this course?” (Disorienting even?) “What have you learned from this difficulty? What helped you in overcoming the challenge(s)?”

  • Starter Activities to Begin Any Class

    (from Faculty Focus). Starter Activities to Begin Any Class.  What can you implement in your classes that can review content, establish a foundation for the day’s topic, encourage student participation, and get students prepared for the day’s activities?  Whether you call them starter activities, bell work, or focusing activities, a predictable, formatted, content-based beginning of class activity can be used to achieve these goals.  Beginning of class activities have previously been used to gain student attention, provide accountability, review material, engage with new content, or establish routines. To gain students’ attention, class might begin by using multi-media, hands-on activities, surprising events, humor, or appealing to students’ emotions (Davis, 2009). Or class might start with a repeating set of slides, asking students to sequence steps or sketch a content-related drawing (Honeycutt, 2019). Here are some suggestions

  • When Directions are the Problem

    (from Faculty Focus) When Directions are the Problem. Instructors often experience problems between the directions given for an assignment and the work submitted by a student. Students miss important parts of questions; they may fail to understand the directions; and they produce work which the instructor finds unacceptable. Unfortunately, students may fail to see what the instructor sees for the end product, leading to loss of time and learning. John Hattie (2015) found that instructors who directly teach what is expected, have improved student outcomes with a large effect size (Cohen’s d = 0.77).

    Templating, where instructors explicitly develop, teach, and model expectations, improves learning and reduces time spent trying to implement directions and is rooted in Bandura’s social learning theory by helping students define, interpret, and mimic what was observed (Bandura & Walters, 1977). There are four components to consider: develop a minimum and a maximum for each criteria, give students a laundry list of expectations, use a checklist for the template, and model expectations.

  • First Assignment Helps Establish Expectations

    (From Faculty Focus). First Assignment Helps Establish Expectations. There is a lot to cover on the first day of class. You establish procedures and convey expectations. You review the syllabus and, if you’re teaching a lab, safety protocol. You also spend some time teaching some material. While you might not make an assignment for the first day, you still should use some time on the first day to talk about your expectations for students’ work and how you assign grades. Although you explain grading on the first day, expect to review it again when you return the first assignments, papers, and exams. 

  • 5 Faculty Best Practices Before the First Day of Online Class

    (from Wiley Educational Services). 5 Faculty Best Practices Before the First Day of Online Class. For faculty who teach online, the days leading up to the first week of class are critical for both you and your students. By using this time to prepare your students for what is to come, you can help alleviate student fears and anxieties, as well as limit the number of emails you receive. For example, sending students a few introductory announcements,  and welcoming them into the classroom (e.g., through a video) can help establish a stronger student-teacher relationship. Click here for five simple actions you can take before the first day of class to help prepare yourself to teach online and to make your students feel more comfortable about the upcoming course.

  • Sample Syllabus Quiz Questions

    (from ASU Teach Online). Sample Syllabus Quiz Questions. A syllabus quiz acts as a contract to verify understanding of important elements of the syllabus. The purpose of a syllabus quiz is not only to familiarize students with the syllabus content, but also gives students a chance to reflect on questions that were asked in previous terms. This helps the instructor avoid answering the same questions repeatedly, and a syllabus quiz can ensure that students are responsible for their own learning.

    A syllabus quiz helps to clarify any misconceptions about course content or policies, such as late work. Important procedures can be reviewed and technical issues can be covered. The course structure and where to locate due dates can be included, as well as the instructor’s preferred method of communication. Providing immediate feedback after completing the syllabus quiz will minimize confusion. Here are some sample questions to ask

  • Advice for the First Day of Class: Today We Will

    (From Faculty Focus). Advice for the First Day of Class: Today We Will. The first day of class is critical. What happens on the first day, even in the first moments, sets the tone for the entire course. The impression you make will last the entire semester, and today’s students are not shy about sharing their opinions. Most students will make up their minds about the course and the instructor during that first class period. That is why you must use the first day, the first moments of class, to inspire confidence in your abilities and create a classroom atmosphere where the rules are clear; expectations are high; and yet students feel welcome, comfortable, and engaged.