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Teaching Strategy Resource Shelf

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  • Using Reflective Writing to Get Students Connected with the Material


    (from Faculty Focus). Using Reflective Writing to Get Students Connected with the Material. When I was a sophomore in college, I took my first course in cognitive psychology and fell in love. I was so excited that we could apply the scientific process to understand how humans perform everyday tasks like learning, problem solving, language, and memory. When I walked into my first cognitive psychology classroom as an instructor, I was so excited to share this with students; however, I was shocked to learn that what was so obviously exciting and relevant to me was not so obvious to everyone else. Students were often frustrated by the apparent lack of relevance of the course material to their lives. One student once asked me with great exasperation, “Why do I have to understand research? I want to help people!”

    Not being able to find course material relevant is not only frustrating for students, but it can also impact their learning. Psychologists have long understood that being able to connect new information to previous knowledge or experiences is critical to understanding and remembering that material (e.g., Chi and Wylie, 2014). Furthermore, inclusive or engaged pedagogies argue that finding relevance in the course material is key to making all students, no matter their background, feel welcomed in the classroom (e.g., Fry, Ketteridge, and Marshall, 2008). The challenge, of course, is finding ways for students to bring in their relevant experience without undermining learning outcomes

  • Lighting the Path: Making Connections Between Classes and Careers

    (from Faculty Focus). Lighting the Path: Making Connections Between Classes and Careers. Students can have a hard time seeing how general education requirements and foundational classes help them achieve their goals. Students, especially adult learners, want to make measurable progress toward their degrees right out of the gate. Actually, want might be too weak a word. As they balance jobs, families, an income gap, and student debt that grows weekly, they need to make progress as a tangible achievement to keep them going. What I want to focus on are potential solutions, or at least actions we can take toward solutions. If we view a student’s educational journey as a continuity, as a process with incremental progress, how do we put the imprint of this journey on individual classes? We can do this in part by creating a context for the learning in our courses and through instilling a sense of direction by infusing reflection in the classroom. The online classroom is a dynamic space for having amazing interactions with our students. Sometimes it’s text, sometimes video or audio—there are dozens of ways to connect and dozens of potential locations for this interaction to take place: gradebook feedback, inbox, the discussion board. The key is to have meaningful conversations with our students, a dialogue, not a sermon from the mount but an interchange—a back and forth.

  • If At First you Don’t Fail, Try, Try Again

    (from The Scholarly Teacher). If At First you Don’t Fail, Try, Try Again. Video game players understand that failure is both informative and a fundamental part of learning. As a means to master skills in a video game, it is common practice for a novice player to take high-risk actions to discover how the game works. Exploring options and consequences is one way to learn about the complexities of a game as a strategy to advance within the game. Newbies may run an avatar off a cliff, jump to a high point, run into a dark cave, or intentionally engage in behavior that knowingly would result in an undesired outcome, in the short run. The gamer understands the risk of failure is high but yields valuable information that will contribute to future success, as the game advances. I have heard it often: "students need to learn that failure is an important part of education." I am not sure it is the students who need to learn this. No, students know that failure is an essential part of learning. Instead, I argue that to expand education, it is we, as faculty, need to make the learning environment safe for student failure. 

  • Use Three-Before-Me as a Communication Strategy in a Large Class

    (from Teaching Online Pedagogical Repository) Use Three-Before-Me as a Communication Strategy in a Large Class. The concept of “Three Before Me” pushes the responsibility of locating an answer to commonly asked questions to the student. The student must prove to the professor that he/she has contacted three different sources prior to contacting the professor. If a student has questions regarding the material, assignments, technical issues, and/or other related matters concerning the course, that student must take the initiative to find the answers. The “Three-Before-Me” rule is simply this: “You must prove that you have sought out at least three avenues to obtain information regarding a question or problem you are having before you can ask me. Chances are, someone in the class may have had the same question you do. Use the tools available to you to find out..”

  • Informal Early Feedback (IEF): A Valuable Opportunity for Just-in-Time Student Feedback

    Informal Early Feedback (IEF): A Valuable Opportunity for Just-in-Time Student 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 Informal Early Process (IEF) process and sample forms for you to adapt. If you would like assistance about the IEF from creation to implementation to interpretation, contact CITL through this form

  • Educators’ Most Effective Attention-Grabbing Technique - 5 Ways Compelling Teachers Move Beyond Presenting to Storytelling.

    (from Harvard Business Publishing - Education). Educators’ Most Effective Attention-Grabbing Technique - 5 Ways Compelling Teachers Move Beyond Presenting to Storytelling. Storytelling was Lincoln’s most powerful rhetorical tool. “He understood early on that concrete examples and stories provided the best vehicles for teaching,” writes Goodwin in Leadership in Turbulent Times. “He could simultaneously educate, entertain, and move his audiences.” And he, like many inspiring storytellers around the world, was able to do all that without the benefit of PowerPoint—a staple in today’s classroom. The tools of communication have changed since Lincoln regaled crowds with his storytelling techniques, but our minds are not wired to engage with bullet points on a slide. Our minds are wired for story. Many of us think in narrative and enjoy consuming content in story form. While there’s nothing wrong with PowerPoint as a tool for classroom learning, slides should not be designed to replace the educator—the storyteller. Instead, they should complement the story. Understanding the difference between presenting and storytelling is critical to an educator’s ability to engage students and stir their excitement. What follows are five storytelling strategies to help you stand out as an educator in any subject.

  • Add Trauma Glasses to Your Teacher Toolkit

     (from Faculty Focus) Add Trauma Glasses to Your Teacher Toolkit. Faculty members have a lot of responsibilities in addition to teaching, like planning, prepping, and advising. With enough time, I’m sure that l could add a considerable number of other duties to this list. We love the job because it is rewarding and challenging, but the COVID-19 pandemic brought on new challenges, such as work from home requirements, social isolation, and trying to get through these last few academic years with our physical and mental health still intact. Well, if you thought the slew of challenges was coming to an end, think again. 

    As higher education enrollment numbers decline, Covid relief funds dry up, inflation continues to rise, and labor shortages grow—pressure is building on many campuses. This sounds like an introduction to an essay about self-care or ways to avoid burnout, but it isn’t. Self-care and wellness are essential for faculty, but this is about our students, how we see them, and how to see them through trauma glasses. What are trauma glasses? Trauma glasses are a way to conceptualize how we view and interpret student behavior, and we all need to add them to our teacher toolkit

  • Empowering Students through Your Personal Narrative

    (from Faculty Focus) Empowering Students through Your Personal Narrative. Any teacher wants their students to feel engaged and enthusiastic in the classroom, connected and thriving through daily activities and course content. Of course, establishing that rapport and environment is a bridge that needs to be built every day, through every interaction, in any course. It’s not one action, or intervention, or step. But one intentional step that many teachers take is to create some introduction material for the course. Whether it’s an announcement or a video, a block of text or an audio snippet, instructors often go out of their way to say hello as students walk through the “doors” of the online classroom.  

    By leveraging your personal narrative—articulating your “why” and demonstrating your dedication—you can take steps to ensure that students feel more engaged and oriented within your new course, and that they feel comfortable and connected with you as their instructor. And while you can definitely spell this all out in words, and embellish with pictures, video has been shown to be a very dynamic way to connect with students.  

  • 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

  • Rethinking Deadline and Late Penalty Policies…Again

    (From Faculty Focus). Rethinking Deadline and Late Penalty Policies…Again. Recurring discussions regarding the syllabus pertain to handling excuses, extension requests, and late work, because teachers regularly deal with those issues. Suggested remedies range from giving one-time grace to assuming deception as the norm. If you have been a teacher for any length of time, you already have some sort of policy and have maybe modified it more than once. With this article, I am providing a peek at how and why I morphed from a rigid to a more flexible deadline/late penalty policy and what I observed as a result.