March 30, 2010

Attitude Affects Learning

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We know that what students believe about themselves as learners makes a difference, but sometimes a specific example really makes the point. Here’s a study that does just that. It involved beginning students taking a general chemistry course. At the beginning of the course they took a Self-Concept Inventory designed for chemistry students. Its five scales measure, among other things, a chemistry self-concept, a mathematics self-concept, and an academic self-concept.


March 29, 2010

Interested but Noncompliant Students: Annoyance or Opportunity

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If you have been teaching for any time at all, I’ll bet you’ve encountered what I call the interested but noncompliant student (hereafter, the INC). Here are some examples encountered in my courses: In an ancient language course, one INC would not take the trouble to learn her noun forms and verb endings but, fascinated by the language, went online to find an inscription that she tried to decipher. Another INC read more than I have in a subdivision of my field. He wanted to talk about it endlessly before and after class, so much so that I had to chase him away to give other students a chance to talk to me. Am I describing student behaviors that sound familiar?


March 26, 2010

Four Tips for Dealing with Difficult Students

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Managing students who are disruptive, those who lack motivation and appear as though they would rather be any place than in the classroom, is easier when faculty take the right stance. Anything is possible when faculty have faith in the students they teach. Learning starts with a dedicated teacher interested in meeting the challenge of how to present content in a way that successfully navigates the barriers students erect.


March 25, 2010

Evidence of Effectiveness

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In a recent editorial in the Journal of Management Education, a discipline-based pedagogical periodical I particularly admire, Jane Wilk-Schmidt identifies four characteristics of evidence valued by the journal. It’s a great list that offers a criteria for looking at the effectiveness of instructional innovations whether you are thinking about reporting what happened in an article or about assessing impact more objectively for your own information.




March 23, 2010

How Many Concepts?

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How many major concepts are you covering in the courses you teach? Do you know? Have you ever tried to list them? I have to be honest and say I never did. But I do see how beneficial it might have been. First off, generating the list seems like a very effective way to clarify what the course is really about—to get a handle on the content domain of the course. Then, with the list in hand, you can prioritize the concepts, maybe see a different way of ordering them or a way of better using content to support them.


March 23, 2010

What Students Expect from Instructors, Other Students

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Some years back The Teaching Professor featured an article highlighting Mano Singham’s wonderful piece describing how he moved away from a very authoritarian, rule-centered syllabus (reference below). It’s one of my very favorite articles—I reference it regularly in presentations, and it appears on almost every bibliography I distribute.


March 22, 2010

Five Tips for Surviving Accreditation: A Tongue-in-Cheek Reflection

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Many academic leaders are involved in regional accreditations, and I am no exception. The six regional accrediting agencies are becoming increasingly stringent in the application and interpretation of their standards, and this can make the accrediting process a difficult one to survive. Our institution was a founding member of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) and has been accredited continuously from the beginning. I have been involved in four of the 10-year “reaffirmation” activities, serving as chair of the college steering committee twice and serving as our institutional liaison with SACS for many years.