By: Maryellen Weimer, PhD
Previous research and firsthand experience for most of us verify that attendance in class improves performance. Many of our students would still like to believe otherwise, but the positive relationship between attendance and performance reported in the research is robust and long-standing.
In a good example of research that goes beyond replicating what is well established, a group of business faculty members explored the attendance-performance connection in a more nuanced way. They studied the effects of a compulsory attendance policy on absenteeism and grades, as others have, but they looked specifically at the relationship for high- and low-achieving students.
By: Linda B. Nilson, PhD
Critical Thinking demands explicit awareness, monitoring, control, and evaluation of one’s thinking, so add a meta-assignment (grade pass/fail) in which students reflect on and describe their thinking processes (metacognition, self-regulated learning). Sample prompts:
- How did you arrive at your response/solution?
- Describe the process by which you arrived at your solution and determined it was the best. How did you define the task/problem, decide which principles and concepts to apply, develop alternative approaches and solutions, and assess their feasibility, trade-offs, and relative worth?
- How did you conduct your design/problem-solving/research process (steps taken, strategies used, problems encountered, how overcome)?
- How did you set and modify your goals, strategies, and actions in response to other players? (after a simulation or role play)
- What skills did you use or improve, and when will they be useful in the future?
- Evaluate your strategies, performance, and success in achieving your goals.
- What goals and strategies will guide your revision (if applicable)?
- What learning value did this task have? What would you do differently?
- What advice would you give next semester’s students before they do this assignment (preparation, strategies, pitfalls, value)?
By: Flower Darby
Just like with DIY projects, it's important to use the right teaching tool for the job. But even the latest “cool tool” won’t solve learning problems if it isn’t integrated properly. This program shows you how to peel back the layers of your teaching challenges and work backward from your learning objectives to your choice of technology solutions.
By: Magna Publications
Magna Publications is now accepting proposals for the Teaching with Technology Conference, to be held October 6–8, 2017 in Baltimore, Md.
By: Rebecca Zambrano
I have learned that a few simple instructor activities greatly increase student engagement in an online course. Here are some of the most effective activities you can use in your courses.
Connect icebreaker discussions to content
The use of icebreakers has become widespread in online learning. But what kinds of icebreakers are best to use? My observations suggest that great icebreakers are those that pique students’ interest in the content while also helping them learn more about each other as whole people. For example, an icebreaker in a course about forensic biology might ask students to share an experience in their lives that made them think forensic biology is an intriguing field of study (their own experience, a film they’ve seen, or stories they’ve read).
The key is that the students begin to get to know each other through shared stories, but these stories are connected to the course content in ways that are personally meaningful to students. This allows the icebreaker discussion to flow into the content discussions that follow rather than create a space for “social chat” that is disconnected from the goals of the learning. Some students will immediately find peers they feel personally connected to through this story sharing. For students who are highly motivated by their relationships with peers, this gets the semester off to a great start.
By: Mary Bart
It wouldn’t be the end of the year without a few top 10 lists. As we prepare to put 2016 in the rearview mirror, we’re offering up our own list, which goes to 11.
Throughout 2016, we published more than 200 articles. The articles covered a wide range of teaching and learning topics, including diversity and inclusion, critical thinking, peer feedback, assignment strategies, course design, flipped learning, online discussions, and grading policies.
In this post, we reveal the 11 articles that most resonated with our readers. Each article’s ranking is based on a combination of factors, including e-newsletter open and click rates, social shares, reader comments, web traffic, reprint requests, and other reader engagement metrics.
By: Maryellen Weimer, PhD
Another year, another collection of posts and comments. Another time to say thank you for your faithful readership and express grateful appreciation to Faculty Focus’ extraordinary editor, Mary Bart.
Our lives are busy, full, and boisterous. We get a sense of that when the semester ends. Oh, there’s plenty going on at home, especially this time of year, but at work it’s quiet. Classes are done, and there are only a few students left scurrying around campus. Yes, there’s grading, but that now gets done without many interruptions. For a while we relish the quiet. The sidewalks aren’t crowded. Coffee can be had in the student center without a wait. We have the library to ourselves. But then the silence turns to emptiness. What is a campus without students?
By: Amy Burden
We’ve all done it: asked students to switch papers before turning them in for editing and peer review, only to receive superficial comments and vague critiques that make us wonder if peer review is really worth the time. Some of us have students put sentences on the board for whole class peer review. The sentences go up, but when I ask for edits that might make them better, I hear nothing but the crickets chirping.
Although extensive research indicates that peer review of student writing is beneficial and often critical to revision, many teachers are opting to leave it on the back burner. But I don’t think it belongs there and would like to propose some ways technology can improve peer review. In fact, research is identifying a number of advantages from online peer review. The comments reviewers provide are easily read and printed. Students tend to maintain greater focus on the task in the online format. Teachers can monitor the discussions and weigh in as they see fit. Technology makes it easy to compare peer review drafts with finished papers to see progress. I’ve used the methods I’m describing here, and they are making peer review a more productive part of the writing process in my courses.
By: Amy Peterson
The convenience and flexibility of the online learning environment allows learners to develop new skills and further their education, regardless of where they live. However, for all of its benefits, online learning can sometimes feel isolating for students and faculty. The question is: how do you build a sense of community in your online courses? One approach involves cultivating more interaction—between you and your students and among the students themselves. Here are five practical tips for increasing the human connection in your online classrooms.