June 30, 2011

Building a Bridge Between Research and Practice

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If you read this blog regularly, you know that one of my concerns is the divide between research and practice, and our need to build bridges between the two. In my writing and speaking I often mention a review of a research piece on motivation by Paul Pintrich. It summarizes and integrates research on such an important topic and one that concerns most faculty. It’s also much better organized than most reviews pieces I’ve read. Pintrich starts with seven questions about motivation:


June 29, 2011

Alternative Writing Assignments: The Integrated Paper

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As faculty working with students to explore topics of interests we frequently request that they review the literature to gain an understanding of what is known and unknown about a topic and then present their findings in an integrated manner. While many students are familiar with developing papers termed “literature reviews” or “reviews of the literature,” these types of papers frequently do not afford the students the opportunity to integrate what has been found. Thus faculty have begun to require that students present their findings and thoughts via what is known as an “integrated paper format.”


June 28, 2011

Student Engagement Tips from Teaching Professor Conference Attendees

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During the opening keynote at The Teaching Professor Conference, Elizabeth F. Barkley, a professor at Foothill College and author of Student Engagement Techniques: A Handbook for College Faculty (Jossey-Bass, 2010) presented on a topic she titled Terms of Engagement: Understanding and Promoting Student Engagement in Today’s College Classroom.


June 27, 2011

Designing Effective Clicker Questions by Going Beyond Factual Recall

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At one point, a General Chemistry course at Penn State Berks had a success rate of about 50 percent, giving the multi-section course the dubious distinction of having one of the lowest GPAs on campus. After a thorough redesign, the course now consistently achieves a success rate of well over 70 percent, while the student ratings of the course and the instructors have never been higher. The key element in this chemistry course’s redesign? Clickers.


June 24, 2011

Implications of Silence for Educators in the Multicultural Classroom

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There are a number of ways of dealing with silent students in multicultural classroom setting. For instructors of international students, it is important to note cross cultural perspectives in course readings and grading the classroom discussion. Because of lack of language proficiency or being unfamiliar with the American classroom culture, students from other countries feel stressed and frustrated. To bridge this gap of international students, instructors could adopt strategies such as e-mailing study questions beforehand, giving clear directions and asking specific questions or summarizing important points of the discussions (Tatar, 2005).


June 23, 2011

Why Some International Students Are Silent in the U.S. Classroom

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Recently, in a class discussion, my professor let the students speak on the issue of silence. Many students in that class were either K-12 school or college teachers. They shared their experiences and perceptions of silent students — both native and non-native speakers of English. Some of my classmates were not familiar with the culture of silence in foreign countries. Personally, this class reminded me of my own experience of understanding the U.S. classroom experience a few years ago.


June 22, 2011

Web 2.0 Tools in the Classroom: Embracing the Benefits While Understanding the Risks

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Earlier this year a UCLA student made a video tirade against Asian students and posted it to YouTube. She quickly removed the hateful clip, but it was too late. The damage was done.

Although an extreme case, it’s a good example of how inappropriate behavior can not only spread rapidly far beyond one’s circle of friends, but can damage a reputation for years to come. Students don’t always thinking about this, nor are they aware that employers now regularly use Google and social networks to check out prospective employees.



June 21, 2011

A Role for Student Choice in Assessment?

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Giving students some choice about which assignments they will complete or letting them decide how much the assignments will count in a grading scheme are learner-centered strategies that help develop student responsibility for learning. The ideas are simple: rather than a teacher mandated sequence of assignments, students are presented with assignment options and they decide which ones they will complete. Or, students do all the teacher selected assignments but determined what percentage of the grade each assignment is worth. Lots of variations are possible. In my graduate course on college teaching, students completed all five assignments, with each being worth 10 percent of their grade. I gave students the other 50% of their grade and let them divvy up that amount between the assignments.


June 20, 2011

Technology-Enhanced Classroom Assessment Techniques

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In the mid-1990s, college faculty members were introduced to the concept of classroom assessment techniques (CATs) by Angelo and Cross (1993). These formative assessment strategies were learner-centered, teacher-directed ongoing activities that were rooted in good teaching practice. They were designed to provide relatively quick and useful feedback to the faculty member about what students did and did not understand in order to enhance the teaching and learning process.