THE Teaching Professor Blog
The Teaching Professor Blog is written by Dr. Maryellen Weimer, professor emerita at Penn State Berks and one of the nation’s most highly regarded authorities on effective college teaching. Many of you know Maryellen as the editor of The Teaching Professor newsletter and from her book Learner-Centered Teaching: Five Key Changes to Practice, which is considered the go-to guide for educators looking to adopt a learner-centered approach in their classrooms.
The Teaching Professor Blog features a new weekly post from Maryellen on such topics as: the scholarship of teaching and learning, student engagement, classroom policies, active learning, assignment strategies, grading and feedback, and student performance.
January 29 - Four Student Misconceptions about Learning
“Efficient and effective learning starts with a proper mindset,” Stephen Chew writes in his short, readable, and very useful chapter, “Helping Students to Get the Most Out of Studying.” Chew continues, pointing out what most of us know firsthand, students harbor some fairly serious misconceptions that undermine their efforts to learn. He identifies four of them.
January 22 - Seven Characteristics of Good Learners
I’ve seen lots of lists that identify the characteristics of good teachers. They’re great reminders of what we should aspire to be as teachers. I haven’t seen many corresponding lists that identify the characteristics of good learners. I decided to put one together and invite your input. This could be a list for our students or anybody who aspires to learn well.
January 15 - Group Testing-taking Options to Consider
I’ve been doing some reading on group test-taking (often called cooperative or collaborative testing in the literature). I am stunned by the number of studies and the many ways the strategy has been used. I’m not going to summarize the research in this post, but rather offer a collection of options. Most of these ideas appear in more than one article so I’m not citing references.
In a September 2012 post I briefly highlighted a number of studies documenting that most students don’t multi-task well. When they’re texting, looking at Facebook, or cruising on the Internet and listening to a lecture or discussion and trying to take notes, they aren’t dealing with the content as well as they would be if they just focused on listening and note taking. And the evidence of that keeps accumulating, like the Kuznekoff and Titsworth study referenced here and described in detail in the January issue of The Teaching Professor. Using an intriguing study design, here’s what they found: “. . . students who use their mobile phones during class lectures tend to write down less information, recall less information, and perform worse on a multiple-choice test than those students who abstain from using their mobile phones during class.” (p. 251).
December 18 - Why I Blog
I recently read an article in Studies in Higher Education titled “Why Do Academics Blog?” It got me thinking about this blog and why I do it.
I’ve started to notice a couple of consistencies in our instructional practice that concern me. First, there’s the consistency in practices across courses, regardless of level. I mentioned in a previous post that I didn’t think capstone and other upper division courses should have the same policies as first year courses. It seems to me that if we still have to hammer students about deadlines, use points to get them participating, and offer detailed descriptions of civil discourse, students have not learned some very important lessons in other courses.
My second cousin will soon graduate with a degree in graphic design. Yet his heart isn’t in his major—it’s in stand-up comedy. He first majored in communications, found that “boring,” contemplated a theatre major, and finally settled on graphic design. His parents supported the graphic design choice. It seems like an employable option.
November 20 - Tips for Developing Students’ Note-taking Skills
Should students take notes? What about giving students access to your PowerPoint slides and lecture notes? Students have been known to ask for them pretty aggressively and lots of teachers do make them available. Is it a good idea?
November 13 - Two Activities that Influence the Climate for Learning
My colleague Chuck Walker, a psychology professor at St. Bonaventure University (NY), shared a collection of instructional strategies that illustrate how the principles of positive psychology might be applied in the classroom. (For examples see: http://wellbeingincollege.org/faculty-resources) I especially like this one.