By: Barb Jacoby, PhD
Introductory survey courses offer an overview of a broad topic or field of knowledge. They form the backbone of undergraduate education at most colleges and universities, and they also serve as the foundation courses for their disciplines.
An introductory survey course may be the only college-level course that non-majors take in the field, as well as the courses on which potential majors may base their decision of whether they will choose to major in that field. Despite their critical role in the higher education landscape, introductory survey courses are notorious for low rates of student achievement and satisfaction.
By: B. Jean Mandernach PhD
When we look at the value of collaborative group work, the research is clear: group work is beneficial to learning. It improves retention, critical thinking, persistence, motivation, satisfaction, engagement, time on-task, and the list goes on and on.
Now, these benefits are not unique to the online classroom. Collaborative group work is valuable whether you’re sitting in a face-to-face classroom or in an online classroom. But it’s important to remember that some of these benefits are uniquely suited for the online classroom.
Think for a minute about students in an online course. Most of them are sitting at home, maybe at work. They’re alone at a computer. It’s just them and the monitor. It’s not the most engaging atmosphere.
By: Jim and Beth Harger
When it comes to feedback, what do students want? To help answer that question, Dr. Kristen Wall elaborates on five themes brought to light by her doctoral dissertation, which focused on at-risk adult students from millennials to baby boomers and linear and non-sequential learners.
By: Magna Publications
If you serve in a leadership role on campus, here’s your chance to get involved in a conference developed just for academic leaders.
Brought to you by Magna Publications, producers of Academic Leader newsletter and the Teaching Professor Conference, the Leadership in Higher Education Conference is accepting speaking proposals for its 2nd annual conference, Oct. 19–21 in Baltimore.
By: Beth Franz
Last summer, I reached the point of eligibility for early retirement. I thought about taking the leap but did not. I decided to keep teaching, asking myself, how hard could it be to teach for another few years? Harder than I imagined, as it turned out.
For most of my career teaching composition in community colleges, my students have tended to be adults, older and more mature than the typical high school graduate. Increasingly, however, my students are young, immature, and not particularly well attuned to the expectations of college teachers. A recent incident with one such student taught me something about the value of saying “no” to students.
By: Maryellen Weimer, PhD
Good instructional decision-making rests on accurate information. And in the case of tests and exams, we should be seeking student input more often than we do. No, we aren’t asking whether they want exams or what kind of exams they like. We need to know more about their learning experiences associated with the exams.
We’re making decisions about exams mostly based on suppositions—how we think they’re studying. We rely on feedback provided by their performance. Those with poor exam scores didn’t study, or they didn’t use good study strategies, or were so stressed by the exam they couldn’t think clearly. Those reasons aren’t all the same—they have different instructional implications. Exam performance feedback is after-the-fact input. Feedback collected at other times can provide details that enable us to better use exams and the events that surround them to promote learning and improve performance.
By: Jörg Waltje, PhD, and Aubree Evans, MA
Regardless of whether you’ve been teaching for 15 years or 15 minutes, how to act and what to do on the first day of class seems to be something many faculty are constantly revising. The impact of the lasting nature of the first impression may lead to nervousness on the first day of the semester. Consequently, many of us may feel pressured to adopt a personality or plan that doesn’t necessarily resonate with who we are for the rest of the semester or in our outside lives.
We’ve discovered some ways that not only help you feel prepared for class but also create an authentic community conducive to learning in a non-threatening environment. What follows are a few of our best practices.
By: Maryellen Weimer, PhD
The line between collaboration and cheating is fuzzy. It’s still clear at the edges, but messy in the middle. When students are working in groups, searching for a solution to a problem, looking through possible answers for the best one, or sorting out material to include in a presentation, that’s collaboration. When one student in the group solves the problem and everyone else copies the answer, that’s cheating. When one student fails to deliver material she or he’s been assigned and the rest of the group covers, that’s cheating.
By: Maryellen Weimer, PhD
A lot of good research has been done on participation in college classrooms. Here are some key findings and references that provide excellent background and reasons why working to get more students participating is so important.