May 31, 2011

Handling Complaints: Advice for Academic Leaders

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Handling complaints is one of the defining roles of academic administration. It demands perseverance, good listening skills, tact, and adherence to institutional policies and legal requirements. In an interview with Academic Leader, C.K. Gunsalus, author of The Academic Administrator’s Survival Guide (which includes an entire chapter on complaints), offered advice on how to manage this important role.


May 27, 2011

Lessons Learned When Classes Don’t Go As Planned

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When things don’t go well in a class, it never generates good feelings. It takes courage to address the reasons why. What if the teacher discovers it’s her fault? It takes even more courage to explore with a colleague what happened and the most courage of all to share in print the tale of a class gone awry. I have a small but growing resource list of just such public disclosures—they attest to how much an instructor can learn by facing what happened and how much others can learn by reading these accounts. I have a new article to add to that collection.


May 26, 2011

Deep and Surface Learning: Revisiting What Educational Research Tells Us

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Deep and surface learning are terms familiar to most faculty. What is known by most is that these terms describe two different approaches to learning. Beyond that, most faculty knowledge is sketchy, although there has been quite a bit of educational research on the topic. I’ve been reviewing this seminal research—it is interesting and worth a revisit so that we might “deepen” our knowledge of what’s involved.


May 25, 2011

Magna Publications and The Teaching Professor announce winners of the Maryellen Weimer Scholarly Work on Teaching and Learning Award

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At the 2011 Teaching Professor Conference, Magna Publications and The Teaching Professor announced the winners of the Maryellen Weimer Scholarly Work on Teaching and Learning Award. Now in its third year, the award recognizes outstanding scholarly contributions with the potential to advance college-level teaching and learning practices.


May 25, 2011

Using YouTube to Enhance Student Engagement

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Technology is everywhere. Some people are addicted to it and refuse to live without it. College students will say that their laptop, phone, and iPod are necessities comparable to food. So how can professors remove these technological items from the hands of the student and still keep them engaged in class discussions? Through another form of widely used technology: YouTube. Students view videos and upload them to experience visual content and to share the same. Visual tools create a connection between the content and viewer (McKenzie, 2008). Many videos on YouTube are academic and professional in nature and when used properly will reinforce classroom discussions and engage college students due to the images and audio used (Cardine, 2008).


May 24, 2011

“Why Are We Doing This?” Establishing Relevance to Enhance Student Learning

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Students frequently wonder and sometimes ask, “Why are we doing this? Why do I need to know this? Why are we spending so much time on this? Why do we have to do this busywork?”

When students don’t see the connection between the content and activities of the course and their future lives, they question what’s happening and what we ask them to do. Research confirms that perceived relevance is a critical factor in maintaining student interest and motivation. It also contributes to higher student ratings on course evaluations.




May 19, 2011

Student Rating Forms and Definitions of Good Teaching

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The close of the academic year brings with it the end of courses and the usual student ratings of those courses. Among many concerns related to this activity are those pertaining to the presence of certain items on the form. They ask irrelevant questions, given what and how we teach. Of course, that doesn’t seem to prevent students from offering evaluations in those areas.


May 18, 2011

Guidelines for Online Teaching Success

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Years ago at a faculty meeting Larry Ragan, PhD, director of Faculty Development for Penn State’s World Campus, was trying to soft-sell the idea of performance expectations for online faculty. He didn’t want the discussion to be misinterpreted as an indictment against their teaching style, but he also saw an opportunity to share proven practices for improving the online teaching and learning experience. Finally a senior faculty member grew tired of the tip-toeing around the subject and said, “If you don’t tell us what is expected, how will we know what to do to succeed?”