April 30, 2012

Critical Friends: A Novel Approach to Improving Peer and Instructor Feedback

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We appreciated reading Dr. Weimer’s article “Getting students to act on our feedback” (March 5, 2012). The solution proposed of asking students to identify three ways to improve their assignment based on instructor feedback is a great idea. We would like to offer a further solution that addresses students’ incorporating instructor feedback.


April 26, 2012

A Faster, More Efficient Way to Grade Papers

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I hope you won’t stop reading once you find out the idea being proposed here involves automating the feedback provided students on papers, projects, and presentations. If you were to look at a graded set of papers and make a list of the comments offered as feedback, how many of those comments have you written more than once? Is the answer many? If so, you should read on.


April 25, 2012

Top 10 Strategies for Preparing the Annual Tenure and Promotion Dossier

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Assembling the annual tenure and promotion dossier to best represent one’s teaching, research, and service can be overwhelming and anxiety-ridden for some junior faculty. Yet, prior to earning tenure, junior faculty in colleges and universities across the country spend untold hours preparing the annual dossier to present and illustrate accomplishments and productivity across teaching, research, and service.



April 23, 2012

Strategies for Creating a More Inclusive Classroom

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“I don’t really have any diversity issues in my class because all of my students are white.”

“I have a lot of content to cover, so there’s really no time to address multiculturalism.”

Diversity, once largely centered on race and ethnicity, has evolved over the years to include a broad range of personal attributes, experiences, and backgrounds, each interlocking to create one’s social identity.



April 19, 2012

Making Online PowerPoint Content Engaging: Writing a Narration Script

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Giving your students PowerPoint slides with only text or graphics is a problem because slides, even with text and graphics on them, really do not stand alone. It’s hard to add enough context without adding tons of text to explain what’s on the slide. And, well, PowerPoint isn’t really the right media for tons of text. If you want students to do a lot of reading, you really should provide students with printed or downloadable print materials.


April 17, 2012

Engaging Students in Argument

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The elderly shop owner opposes a corporation that wants to build a plant in her town. She’s afraid that its products, similar to the ones she manufactures, will drive her out of business. At 70, it’s too late in her life to start over and, even though the corporation says it will hire locally, she doubts it will hire someone her age. Besides, after a lifetime of running her own business, she doesn’t want to work for someone else. How can she convince her fellow townspeople to rally against the corporation?


April 16, 2012

A Syllabus Tip: Embed Big Questions

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Much has been written about the course syllabus. It’s an important tool for classroom management, for setting the tone, for outlining expectations, and for meeting department and university requirements. It’s an essential document in a higher education course, but do your students read it? And if they do read it, do they see the real purpose of the course beyond the attendance policy and exam dates? Here’s one strategy that will not only encourage your students to read the syllabus, but it will also allow you to stimulate discussion, create curiosity, and assess students’ knowledge on the first day of class.


April 10, 2012

Media Richness and Communication in Online Education

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Communicating in an online environment, especially within the confines of an institution’s learning management system (LMS) and an academic budget, often poses a challenge to even the most well-intentioned instructors. Many times we find ourselves constrained not by our imaginations or abilities but by the technological tools we have at our disposal. Given the systems in which we work, how do we select the best technological tool—the best medium—to communicate a message? One framework for answering these questions is through the lens of Media Richness Theory (MRT).