May 21, 2012

Academic Rigor: Lessons from Room 10

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Room 10 was often an uncomfortable place. I dreaded having to walk in there. Room 10 felt a bit like Hell’s Kitchen and my teacher, Mrs. H, was the Gordon Ramsey of chemistry teachers, to use a current analogy. Was the teacher really that mean and the course that tough? Yes, she was mean and AP chemistry was one difficult course. Mrs. H’s handwriting was atrocious, and by today’s standards, she didn’t create a supportive learning environment. Despite all this, I noticed that the best students at my school signed up for AP chemistry with Mrs. H. I hesitated before signing up for the course, but something drew me to the experience.




May 11, 2012

An Interesting Group Work Model

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It has a long, not-easy-to-remember name: Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning. It usually goes by its acronym: POGIL. It’s a model designed to replace lectures (though not necessarily all of them). Students discuss course material in teams, and they use carefully designed material that involves sequenced sets of questions—that’s the guided-inquiry part of the model. The process part relates to what is generally a three-phase learning cycle that involves exploration, invention, and application. It is derived from Piaget’s work on mental functioning.


May 10, 2012

Failure and Learning

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One of my retirement goals has been to finally get good at knitting. I learned how when I was a child, but I’ve never had the time to really master the craft. Retirement is when you’re supposed to realize some of these lifelong ambitions because you’re running out of time. And so I’ve been knitting lots of different things, using lots of different techniques.


May 8, 2012

Understanding Collegial Relationships within Academic Departments

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In a mixed-methods study, Meghan Pifer, assistant professor in the Academic Development and Counseling Department at Lock Haven University, looked at the dynamics of informal intradepartmental relationships in two departments to determine how networks can affect faculty members’ access to resources, and ultimately their career success and satisfaction.


May 7, 2012

Disposition Development: A Neglected Voice for the Pursuit of Excellence among College Students

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Have you ever wondered what motivates students to come to class without reading and studying the assigned chapter? You are not alone! Faculty members across the nation are becoming increasingly challenged by students’ lack of dispositions that enhance learning. Every discipline has learning standards and achievement expectations that help drive students’ success. However, such expectations do not equal success. It is the motivation to pursue excellence, a work ethic that reflects the determination to solve problems, the attention to the smallest details, and the desire to be the very best that distinguishes students who make a difference in their given professions.


May 4, 2012

App of the Week: Pages

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Users of Apple’s Keynote should be right at home working in Pages, at least in the way it displays documents, creates or opens new documents, the location of menu items, the way folders are created and deleted, etc. And for good reason; Pages is part of the Apple’s iWork suite, which includes Keynote for presentations, Pages for documents, and Numbers for spreadsheets.


May 3, 2012

The Online Educator’s Complete Guide to Grading Assignments, Part 2

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On Tuesday, I provided general suggestions on course-based grading expectations practices. Here I share some ideas for grading specific assignments.

Use a bank of comments that are precise, detailed, and clear. The smart online educator is the one who has a bank of comments from which he/she can draw on to give students feedback on any number of items in the course. But there are two important items here that will make these precast comments most effective: 1) Have comments point out not only when something is wrong but also why it is wrong and how to get it right. In this manner, each comment becomes a mini teacher’s aide in the assignment. 2) Adjust (personalize) any comment as is necessary when your comment as written does not exactly match the problem you see in the student’s assignment. This way each comment is a perfect fit for the error, allowing the student to learn more fully.