December 16, 2011

Making the Review of Assigned Reading Meaningful

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The typical college student dreads hearing, “Let’s review the chapters you read for homework.” What generally ensues is a question and answer drill in which students are peppered with questions designed to make clear who has and hasn’t done the reading. In reality, these exchanges do little to encourage deep thought or understanding of the assigned reading. They produce awkward silences during which students squirm in their seats, hoping to become invisible. Other times students decline to answer for fear of giving the wrong answer. Almost all the time a negative tone permeates the classroom during this review. I decided to restructure the way that I approached reviews of reading assignments, and found that by doing things differently, I could change both the tone and outcomes of the review activity. I’d like to share some of the ideas and techniques that I have found useful:



December 12, 2011

Our Top 11 Most Popular Articles for 2011, part 1

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As another year draws to a close, the editorial team at Faculty Focus looks back on some of the top articles of the past year. Throughout 2011, we published nearly 250 articles. The articles covered a wide range of topics – from academic integrity to online course design. In a two-part series, which will run today and Wednesday, we’re revealing the top 11 articles for 2011. Each article’s popularity ranking is based on a combination of the number of comments and shares, e-newsletter open and click-thru rates, and other reader engagement metrics.


December 9, 2011

How to Make the Most of Your Office Hours

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Most faculty schedule at least three office hours per week—that’s 2,700 minutes a semester. If you have 135 students, that’s 20 minutes for each student. Even if you have 270, that’s still 10 minutes per student.

Recently I’ve been working to make the most of these 2,700 minutes of office hours. They offer prime time for one-to-one mentoring. In the process, my thinking about office hours has shifted a bit, and I’m using my office hours in more ways. Consequently I have had a greater number of students taking advantage of this learning opportunity.




December 2, 2011

More Than Six Million Students Learning Online, Study Finds

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For the past nine years the Sloan Consortium and the Babson Survey Research Group have taken a look at the state of online learning in the United States. The 2011 survey reveals that the number of students learning online has now surpassed 6 million, with nearly one-third of all students in higher education taking at least one online course.


November 28, 2011

The Writing Process: Step-by-Step Approach Curbs Plagiarism, Helps Students Build Confidence in Their Writing Ability

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I’ve long been an advocate of student-centered learning and approaching material from a variety of perspectives. We hear so many buzzwords describing the ways we should teach or the ways our students learn, and we deal increasingly with issues of plagiarism and academic dishonesty. In a classroom of adult learners who frequently view themselves as consumers, we balance the need to meet their demands with the need for them to meet ours. Getting back to the basics can intrinsically incorporate kinesthetic, collaborative learning and nearly eliminate plagiarism while promoting critical thinking.


November 22, 2011

Using Peer Review to Improve Student Writing

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As teachers we know that our written work is not ready for publication until it has been reviewed by a variety of colleagues for commentary and edits. External review is needed even for good writers because we have a hard time seeing our own writing errors. Plus, we need that extra feedback to sharpen our ideas, discover new directions to take, and generally elevate our work to publication quality.


November 21, 2011

Getting Started with Blended Learning Course Design

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Blended learning is often described as the best of both worlds because it combines elements of face-to-face and online learning. For an instructor getting ready to teach his first blended course, the temptation may be to look at his traditional course syllabus, pick which classes can be moved online and then leave the rest of the syllabus as it has always been.