September 28, 2012

An Approach that Decreases Failure Rates in Introductory Courses

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This study begins with some pretty bleak facts. It lists other research documenting the failure rates for introductory courses in biology, chemistry, computer science, engineering, mathematics, and physics. Some are as high as 85 percent; only two are less than 30 percent. “Failure has grave consequences. In addition to the emotional and financial toll that failing students bear, they may take longer to graduate, leave the STEM [science, technology, engineering and math] disciplines or drop out of school entirely.” (p. 175) The question is whether there might be approaches to teaching these courses (and others at the introductory level) that reduce failure rates without decreasing course rigor.


September 27, 2012

Developing Online Learning Communities with Faculty and Students

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In a recent faculty-development program focusing on online learning, the number one request from participants was “How do I create a sense of community in my online course?” Online tools and technologies can help us create a sense of community to enhance teaching and learning at our institution. The following are benefits of such an undertaking:


male college student with phone and laptop September 26, 2012

Students Think They Can Multitask. Here’s Proof They Can’t.

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With easy access to all sorts of technology, students multitask. So do lots of us, for that matter. But students are way too convinced that multitasking is a great way to work. They think they can do two or three tasks simultaneously and not compromise the quality of what they produce. Research says that about 5% of us multitask effectively. Proof of the negative effects of multitasking in learning environments is now coming from a variety of studies.


September 25, 2012

A Call for Engaged Teaching

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As I left my desk to attend the faculty development workshop, I picked up four thank-you cards for the rotations program, a report to read, and a newsletter to edit. I’ve been to dozens of development seminars, and I’ve learned to be prepared with something else to do in case the presenter is mind-numbingly boring. The pleasant surprise of the morning was that the speaker engaged us in learning for more than three hours! How did he do that?


September 24, 2012

Boosting a First-Time Online Adult Student’s Self-Esteem

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As professors, we all have seen first-time students who are so nervous that they do not even know where to begin, let alone how to achieve their educational goals. I am one of those lucky professors who works with adult students who are going back to school for a myriad of reasons, and are choosing to take online classes. Not only do these students need help with writing an academic paper, and how to submit an assignment to a dropbox, but their self-esteem and support system are sometimes lacking.


September 21, 2012

App Review: Socrative

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There is nothing quite like real-time feedback to determine if students really got it! Just about every faculty experiences that look—students’ eyes indicating that they understand or do not understand the explanation given or the conclusions just drawn. But how do we really know that our students are not merely acting the part when they nod in agreement, trying to get us to believe that they understand something when they do not? I have no idea what is really taking place behind those eyes or what is going on in a students’ brain so this is where Socrative comes to the rescue.


September 20, 2012

Recommendations for Blended Learning Course Design

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In an interview with Online Classroom, Veronica Diaz, associate director of the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative, offered the following advice for creating a better blended course:

Begin with a solid foundation in online learning pedagogy and technical knowledge. “If you are an experienced online instructor, you are much more likely to produce a much higher-quality blended course because you’ve been involved in all the technology-mediated types of issues that you would have come across in an online modality. So you’re familiar with what can go wrong. You have something you can really build on.”


September 19, 2012

AcademicPub Launches AcademicPub Co-Op, A Scalable Repository of "Best-Of" Course Materials Across All Disciplines

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AcademicPub™, the leading provider of custom course packs – print and digital – for the higher education market, today launched AcademicPub Co-Op™, introducing AcademicPub users to scalable content repositories within institutions and across disciplines, featuring course materials produced and contributed by faculty members. The announcement was made by Caroline Vanderlip, CEO of AcademicPub parent SharedBook Inc.


September 19, 2012

Cultivating Curiosity in Our Students as a Catalyst for Learning

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There’s not much pedagogical literature on the topic of curiosity. In fact the article referenced here is the only piece I can remember seeing on the subject, which is a bit surprising because curiosity does play an important role in learning. One of the definitions offered in the article explains how the two relate. “Curiosity, a state of arousal involving exploratory behavior, leads to thinking and thinking culminates in learning.” (p. 53)


September 18, 2012

Teaching Research and Writing Skills: Not Just for Introductory Courses

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Most professors want students to know how to research and write in their fields. In fact, many degree programs now have introductory courses for majors with content that addresses these research and writing basics. However, the assumption that students learn everything they need in one course is a faulty one. All of us who teach courses for majors need to regularly revisit this content if students are to develop these research and writing abilities. Let me be specific and suggest six things professors can do that help students improve in both areas.