December 16, 2011

Making the Review of Assigned Reading Meaningful

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The typical college student dreads hearing, “Let’s review the chapters you read for homework.” What generally ensues is a question and answer drill in which students are peppered with questions designed to make clear who has and hasn’t done the reading. In reality, these exchanges do little to encourage deep thought or understanding of the assigned reading. They produce awkward silences during which students squirm in their seats, hoping to become invisible. Other times students decline to answer for fear of giving the wrong answer. Almost all the time a negative tone permeates the classroom during this review. I decided to restructure the way that I approached reviews of reading assignments, and found that by doing things differently, I could change both the tone and outcomes of the review activity. I’d like to share some of the ideas and techniques that I have found useful:



December 12, 2011

Our Top 11 Most Popular Articles for 2011, part 1

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As another year draws to a close, the editorial team at Faculty Focus looks back on some of the top articles of the past year. Throughout 2011, we published nearly 250 articles. The articles covered a wide range of topics – from academic integrity to online course design. In a two-part series, which will run today and Wednesday, we’re revealing the top 11 articles for 2011. Each article’s popularity ranking is based on a combination of the number of comments and shares, e-newsletter open and click-thru rates, and other reader engagement metrics.


December 9, 2011

How to Make the Most of Your Office Hours

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Most faculty schedule at least three office hours per week—that’s 2,700 minutes a semester. If you have 135 students, that’s 20 minutes for each student. Even if you have 270, that’s still 10 minutes per student.

Recently I’ve been working to make the most of these 2,700 minutes of office hours. They offer prime time for one-to-one mentoring. In the process, my thinking about office hours has shifted a bit, and I’m using my office hours in more ways. Consequently I have had a greater number of students taking advantage of this learning opportunity.



December 7, 2011

End of Semester Reflections: Beginnings, Endings and Spaces Between

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Fall is slipping into winter here at the farm in Pennsylvania … no real cold yet, but hints of what’s to come. The leaves are down and things are mostly brown. It’s a quiet time.

For most readers, another set of courses have ended or will end shortly. Unless grades are in, it’s probably not a quiet time just yet. I think there are decided advantages to professions like teaching with clear beginnings, endings and spaces in between. The spaces in between are never long enough but there is still time for reflection and that is encouraged now as the year winds down as well.



December 2, 2011

More Than Six Million Students Learning Online, Study Finds

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For the past nine years the Sloan Consortium and the Babson Survey Research Group have taken a look at the state of online learning in the United States. The 2011 survey reveals that the number of students learning online has now surpassed 6 million, with nearly one-third of all students in higher education taking at least one online course.