reflective learners October 31, 2016

Transforming Midterm Evaluations into a Metacognitive Pause

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Midterm evaluations often tip toward students’ (unexamined) likes and dislikes. By leveraging the weight of the midterm pause and inviting students to reflect on their development, midterm evaluations can become more learning-centered. Cued by our language, students can become aware of a distinction—that we’re not asking what they like, but what is helping them learn. This opportunity for students to learn about their learning yields valuable insights that not only inform instructors about the effects of our methods, but also ground students in their own learning processes, deepening their confidence in and commitment to their development in the second half of the course.


October 28, 2016

PA023: The Illusion of Rigor, an Interview with Dr. Ike Shibley

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A common belief among instructors is if we make learning so easy for the knowledge to get into the brain, maybe we’re doing the students a disservice. Dr. Ike Shibley has a response to that:

“My job as a teacher is to help students learn [the subject matter] in as efficient a manner possible so that they can put it in long-term memory and they can then use that in subsequent courses.”


Professor helping student in lecture hall October 26, 2016

Finding Signs of Progress When Learning is Slow

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Slow learning—not to be confused with slow learners—is learning that happens gradually, where understanding deepens slowly and skills advance but without immediate noticeable change. Some learning occurs all at once; suddenly, there’s a performance breakthrough. Typically, fast learning feels easy, even if it was proceeded by a frustrating period of confusion. What is finally understood is so clear, so obvious—what is finally mastered no longer seems hard.


college students in class October 24, 2016

Teaching Critical Thinking: Some Practical Points

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We all endorse it and we all want our students to do it. We also claim to teach it. “It” is critical thinking, and very few of us actually teach it or even understand what it is (Paul & Elder, 2013). Research tells us that our students learn critical thinking only after we receive training in how to teach it and design our courses explicitly and intentionally to foster critical thinking skills (Abrami, Bernard, Borokhovski, Wade, Surkes, Tamim, & Zhang, 2008). We have to start by formulating assessable critical thinking learning outcomes and building our courses around them.


October 21, 2016

PA022: Creating and Managing Successful Online Faculty Learning Communities, An Interview with Dr. Jennifer Goode

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In this episode, we sit down with Dr. Goode to discuss the opportunities provided by Faculty Learning Communities (FLC’s), an established method of small-group faculty development. She addresses the challenges in managing them, including participation, commitment, follow-through, and the ability focus on goals—all of which are magnified if the faculty members are geographically separated. She also shares with us many of the positive outcomes and benefits from FLC’s and how they can be implemented at any institution. One of the interesting things about this is the competitive application process to take part in the FLC’s.


Professor in front of class. October 19, 2016

Getting More out of Exam Debriefs

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Brief—that pretty much describes exam debriefs in many courses. The teacher goes over the most commonly missed questions, and the students can ask about answers but generally don’t. These kinds of debriefs don’t take up a lot of class time, but that’s about all that can be said for them. For some time now, I’ve been suggesting that students, not the teacher, should be correcting the wrong answers. The students are the ones who missed the questions.


Diverse group of university students in classroom October 17, 2016

Getting Names Right: It’s Personal

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Editor’s Note: The following article was excerpted with permission from To My Professor: Student Voices for Great College Teaching, a new book that brings together student experiences and opinions with advice from master educators and experts. The book was written by students at Michigan State University under the guidance of Joe Grimm, visiting editor in residence in the MSU School of Journalism since 2008.

“I spend a lot of money to go to school here. It would be nice if a professor knew my name.”

“I appreciate the fact that you asked me what I wanted to be called because my name has various pronunciations in different languages.”


October 14, 2016

PA021: Leveraging Technology to Maximize Teaching Effectiveness, An Interview with Dr. Jean Mandernach

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On this episode, we sat down with Dr. Jean Mandernach at the Teaching Professor Technology Conference and discussed leveraging technology to maximize teaching effectiveness. We also discussed her presentation, One Size Doesn’t Fit All, and Pedagogy First, a tool to help instructors select the most appropriate instructional technology for their class.


student on laptop in library October 14, 2016

Online Discussion Forums as Assessment Tools

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Classroom Assessment Techniques, or CATs, are simple ways to evaluate students’ understanding of key concepts before they get to the weekly, unit, or other summative-type assessment (Angelo & Cross, 1993). CATs were first made popular in the face-to-face teaching environment by Angelo and Cross as a way to allow teachers to better understand what their students were learning and how improvements might be made in real time during the course of instruction. But the same principle can apply to online teaching as well.