Teaching Strategy Resource Shelf

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Teaching Strategy Resource Shelf

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  • 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.

  • Four Ways to Spark Engaging Classroom Discussions

    Four Ways to Spark Engaging Classroom Discussions. How can you creatively and engagingly start a classroom discussion and when should one close? When you are in the middle of a discussion, how do you know when to turn it in a different direction? Students are most engaged in learning when they’re verbally interacting with course material, the professor, and their classmates, research shows. Yet pulling off a great classroom discussion that involves all students is such a complex and challenging topic that we’ve broken it down into two course modules: one focused on planning effective classroom discussions and another focused on facilitating them. Fortunately, there are research-based techniques that are known to work. Dr. Brookfield and ACUE Director of Content Development Laurie Pendleton provide four tips to keep students focused and engaged in meaningful classroom discussions.

  • Navigating the Need for Rigor and Engagement: How to Make Fruitful Class Discussions Happen

    Navigating the Need for Rigor and Engagement: How to Make Fruitful Class Discussions Happen. Teaching by discussion can also seem forbidding because it makes instructors uncomfortably aware of their shortcomings. Lecturers can delude themselves that their courses are going well, but discussion leaders know when their teaching is failing to rouse the students’ interest by the indifferent quality of responses and the general torpor of the class. Why do we lecture so much? All teachers experience a tension between the need for engagement and the need for rigor. Without rigor, the students won’t learn what we want them to; without engagement, they won’t learn anything at all. Realizing that students need to discuss is helpful, but actually knowing how to make them discuss is another matter—it’s a skill that has to be learned. The challenge is not getting them to talk, but doing so without sacrificing too much rigor—how to ensure high-quality thinking and talking which engages the whole class.  Here are some rules to consider.

  • Study Strategies for a Test

    Study Strategies for a Test. Many courses have already administered quizzes and/or exams.  Often our students over-estimate or underestimate their knowledge and skills.  Also, are your students maximizing their efforts in studying for an exam?  Here is a checklist to share with your students to help them in their preparation.

  • Time to administer the Informal Early Feedback (IEF): A Valuable Opportunity for Just-in-Time Feedback.

    Time to administer the Informal Early Feedback (IEF): A Valuable Opportunity for Just-in-Time Feedback.  Student evaluations of teaching are an important part of the feedback that instructors receive. This feedback can be especially helpful when it is collected midway in the semester. Our students can tell us if we explain clearly, are well-organized, grade fairly, and more. They may also be able to tell us if the activities we give them are well aligned with the ways we evaluate their learning. Responding to students’ comments by discussing them in class, and making changes as appropriate, can lead to increased motivation, better learning, and possibly improved end-of-semester student ratings. Here is a description of the process and sample forms for you to adapt.  You can always contact CITL for assistance.

  • 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.  

  • Creating Cartoons to Spark Engagement and Learning

    Creating Cartoons to Spark Engagement and Learning. As instructors, we are constantly looking for new ways to capture our students’ attention and increase their participation in our classes, especially in the online modalities. We spend countless hours crafting weekly announcements for classes and then inevitably receive multiple emails from our students asking the very same questions. The question remains, how do we get them to read our posts? It was precisely that problem I was trying to solve when I came across several articles touting the benefits of comics in higher education classrooms. I knew I couldn’t create an entire comic book, but I wondered if I could create a content-related cartoon that would not only capture students’ attention and maybe make them laugh, but also interest them enough that they would read the entire announcement or post. After a positive response, I decided to provide my online and face-to-face students the opportunity to try their hand at cartoon creation. This activity provide more ways for students to develop higher levels of assimilation and creation (Bloom’s Taxonomy, 2001)