September 18, 2008

Instructional Design: Designing Courses and Assignments That Promote Deep Understanding of Essential Concepts

By:

Our college is in the midst of a curricular project that aims to transform courses so that they promote a deeper understanding of core concepts through carefully designed assignments. The college hired Grant Wiggins, co-author of Understanding by Design (Jay McTighe and Grant Wiggins) to assist faculty in making these changes, and I’d like to report on my experiences redesigning a course I teach called The Legal Environment of Business.



September 15, 2008

Comparing Reflective Thinking in Synchronous and Asynchronous Learning

By:

Conventional wisdom about synchronous vs. asynchronous communication says that while they both have their places in the online classroom, adult learners prefer asynchronous communication for its flexibility and that asynchronous communication allows more time for reflective thinking. However, a paper presented at the 2004 meeting of the American Educational Research Association (AERA) contradicts these notions.


September 14, 2008

A Useful Strategy for Assessing Class Participation

By:

One of the changes we have seen in academia in the last 30 years or so is the shift from lecture-based classes to courses that encourage a student-centered approach. Few instructors would quibble with the notion that promoting active participation helps students to think critically and to argue more effectively. However, even the most savvy instructors are still confounded about how to best evaluate participation, particularly when it is graded along with more traditional assessment measures, such as essays, exams, and oral presentations…


September 13, 2008

Creating an Active Distance Learning Environment

By:

Kristopher Wiemer, instructional technology specialist at Philadelphia University, encourages instructors to adopt active-learning strategies such as hands-on activities, interaction, and research “to make sure students are engaged and aren’t just sitting there like sponges. I introduce [faculty] to the concept of active learning. Most of them are new to this and…”


September 11, 2008

Setting Academic Priorities, Identifying Signature Programs

By:

What are your institution’s signature programs—those programs that epitomize your institution’s mission and define its distinctiveness in the marketplace? It’s a question that every institution should address, particularly when faced with increasing competition and decreasing resources, says Jonnie Guerra, vice president for academic affairs at Cabrini College in Pennsylvania…


September 10, 2008

5 Ways to Create Nonthreatening Distance Learning Courses While Maintaining High Academic Standards

By:

Instructors who are new to the online classroom often struggle with the issue of how to be rigorous while creating a safe learning environment, and mistakenly think, “You can be nice or demanding, but somehow you can’t be both.” “That’s absolutely not true,” says Andrea Sanders, associate professor of English at Chattanooga State Technical Community College…


September 9, 2008

Six Recommendations for the Physicality of Distance Learning Classrooms

By:

In the past, I have used the spatiotemporal aspects of my office for online teaching. My workstation, which has undergone multiple ergonomic reinventions over the years, fits my body, habits, and routines. Although teaching elsewhere is an option, my workstation helps me prevent (or slow down) what I call “professor posture,” that is, head forward and shoulders rounded. And in my office I can disappear into time, emerging hours later with completed products. For faculty who wish to use their offices as online classrooms, I provide the following recommendations:…


September 8, 2008

A Focus on Teaching and Learning at Mid-Career

By:

Are your experienced faculty members as effective in the classroom as you would like them to be? If not, perhaps a faculty development program like the University of Minnesota’s Mid-Career Teaching Program could be the answer. Many faculty members currently in mid-career have probably had fewer teaching enrichment opportunities than their more recently hired colleagues, and just because they are experts in their disciplines does not necessarily make them good teachers. In addition, teaching is becoming more complex: student populations are more diverse than they used to be, and they often expect more from professors than students did in the past…


September 7, 2008

Teaching Circles: Low-Cost, High-Impact Faculty Development

By:

Two years ago, a midcareer colleague in the mathematics department sent around an e-mail to all faculty at our college, inviting us to read a book with her. And as simply as that, a teaching circle was formed.

A teaching circle, the term we use at my institution, is simply a group of faculty interested in discussing teaching at regular intervals, ideally over food. As my colleague said, laughing, at our first meeting, “I need a support group, and everyone needs lunch!”…