March 7, 2012

Building Rapport with Students by Sharing a Piece of Yourself

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Teaching at a historically black university can have its obstacles; especially when you are not African American. One of the main obstacles for me was how I was viewed by the students — I often felt that students did not or could not relate to me. Standing before them, I did not have the appearance of one who has ever encountered any difficulties in my lifetime or career. As a result, my students did not find me very approachable in spite of the fact that I had mentioned many times that I was available during office hours and would be happy to speak with anyone. Once the students would make the effort to stop by my office, it seemed that they would learn that I am much more approachable than they had originally imagined.


March 6, 2012

Creating an Authentic Learning Environment by Embracing What’s Real

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“Because much of what goes on in college classrooms lacks vitality, urgency and realness, students often draw a distinction between their classroom life and the real world.” So writes biology professor Christopher Uhl. He calls his solution “steering into the curve,” which he describes as the “antidote to the deadness that pervades many college classrooms.” (p. 108) He claims it has “the power to transform classrooms from tedious, lifeless places to alive, authentic relationship-rich environments.” (p.105)



March 1, 2012

Promoting Research While Advancing Instruction, Part 3

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Perhaps the most fundamental reason why teaching and research are viewed as competing rather than interrelated activities—and a key cause of why it’s so difficult to reunite these processes in faculty load assignments and evaluation systems—is that colleges and universities themselves are structured as though instruction and scholarship were utterly distinct enterprises.