January 31, 2011

Concept Maps Help Build Connections to Learning


About eight years ago, students taking Alice Cassidy’s Biology 345 course were asked to create a learning portfolio as their final project for the course. The portfolio was intended to help students demonstrate their learning in creative ways that include examples, connections and reflections, based on three key criteria: content, links and visual diversity. Two pages of the eight-page portfolio had to be a concept map.

January 28, 2011

Helping Students Develop Problem-Solving Skills via Online Discussions


Developing sophisticated but essential learning skills is especially challenging in large classes. That’s why we regularly report on strategies that faculty members have developed and are using in large classes. The cases in point here are three different biochemistry courses in which faculty members have been using online, asynchronous discussion groups to develop problem-solving skills.

January 27, 2011

Teaching Students to Ask Better Questions


“Rarely does an examination ask students to list questions that the course posed for them.” C. Roland Christensen made that observation. “Rarely?” I can’t remember ever hearing of an exam that asked students to list questions. One time early in my teaching career, I came to an exam review session with a list of answers and asked students to pose the questions. It was April Fool’s Day, but my students didn’t find the strategy the least bit funny. It was a much more difficult task than I anticipated and the possibility that they might have to do this on the exam created near panic. I think that was the first time I realized how answer oriented students are. Later I came to understand that the same applies to many teachers.

January 26, 2011

‘Here We Are Now, Entertain Us’—Student Motivation and Technology


George Stanton, a professor emeritus of biology, recently expressed his disappointment with student response to social media elements in classes. He pointed out that students were less than active in using the tools, meanwhile a recent survey of first-year students at his institution found that the number one expectation for class was “to be entertained.”

January 24, 2011

Be Efficient, Not Busy: Time Management Strategies for Online Teaching


Online teaching redefines the faculty member’s schedule. The feeling of being a 24/7 professor can lead to frustration. Managing one’s time as an online teacher can be a challenge. As the popularity of online education continues to grow, teaching faculty need to develop effective time management behaviors to be efficient and not just busy. Here are ten strategies I like to use:

January 21, 2011

Assessing and Developing Metacognitive Skills


Metacognition is easily defined: “[It] refers to the ability to reflect upon, understand and control one’s learning,” (Schraw and Dennison, p. 460) or, even more simply, “thinking about one’s thinking.” Despite straightforward definitions, metacognition is a complicated construct that has been the object of research for more than 30 years.

January 18, 2011

Professors Use Twitter to Increase Student Engagement and Grades


Keeping college students off social media sites and focused on the course material is a daily challenge for many of today’s college faculty. But what if you could harness the power of today’s technologies and students’ proclivity toward social networking to enhance the learning experience rather than distract from it?

January 17, 2011

The Lost Art of Note Taking When Writing a Research Paper


When students write essays requiring research, in the age of Wikipedia and other online resources, I worry a little, not so much about the quality of the sources themselves (that has always varied, even in the day of hardcopy sources), but about the quality or outright dearth of note taking that often accompanies the writing of research papers.