September 18, 2008

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

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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 17, 2008

Faculty Evaluation Serves Institutional, Individual Needs

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The challenge of faculty evaluation is to simultaneously foster faculty development and fulfill the institution’s goals and mission, says Larry Braskamp, professor of Education at Loyola University Chicago and advocate of a humanistic approach to faculty evaluation.

“Evaluation involves setting the culture and climate for faculty to develop, and it has to take on an openness and respect for the individual to experiment and fail. You encourage faculty members to self-assess.



September 15, 2008

Comparing Reflective Thinking in Synchronous and Asynchronous Learning

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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

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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

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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 12, 2008

University of Missouri’s Faculty Accomplishment System

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The University of Missouri recently implemented its system-wide Faculty Accomplishment System, an electronic database that provides a convenient way for faculty members to document their achievements for themselves and for administrators.

Although use of the FAS is optional for faculty, there is currently a 90 percent participation rate on three campuses and 75 percent on the fourth campus. “We always encourage faculty to use this system, particularly new, pretenure faculty. It’s a nice way to help build a portfolio for tenure,” says Michael Prewitt, vice provost for undergraduate studies at the University of Missouri-Columbia.


September 11, 2008

Setting Academic Priorities, Identifying Signature Programs

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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

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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

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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:…