OTHER RECENT ARTICLES

Rejuvenating online discussions June 11

Rejuvenating Online Discussions

By:

When you picture an online discussion, your mind most likely envisions a text-heavy, threaded exchange of ideas among students who are primarily responding to an instructor’s prompt and then persuaded by the promise of points to respond to each other. Depending on a number of factors, the discussion can be dynamic, or it can fall flat. Because discussion forums are one of the most popular and frequently used technological tools in online and blended courses, instructors must take the time to ensure these discussions are effective.

Our simple model proposes a structure to help rejuvenate online discussions in three steps: prepping, discussing, and assessing. Prepping is an important and sometimes overlooked step, as we are all rushed for time when we begin our online or blended courses, but we argue that preparation is essential to reach your intended outcomes for your course. Some of the key aspects of prepping include creating clear criteria for your students, communicating expectations, establishing ground rules, carefully considering question types, and having clear goals or links to learning outcomes.

If it’s important that your students write over 300 words in a post, make that explicit. If you expect your students to respond within a week to two other students’ posts, write it clearly in your instructions. Better yet, make a video for your students describing your expectations. You might even consider having the students come up with the ground rules or netiquette for discussions. Making conscious decisions about the type of question(s) you are going to ask in a discussion forum is key. Try a case study or scenario and ask students to solve or respond to it. Ask students to role play as a particular character or historical figure as they respond to your prompt.

This is a Faculty Focus Premium Article

To continue reading, you must be a Faculty Focus Premium Member.
Please log in or sign up for full access.

Log In

[wppb-login register_url="/premium-account/subscribe" lostpassword_url="/lostpassword"]

climate for learning: affective feedback June 11

Taking the Class Temperature: Cognitive and Affective Feedback

By:

“Are students getting it? How do I know?” Instructors answer these questions through a variety of assessments, from small, informal methods such as asking students if they have questions, to formal, graded methods such as multiple-choice exams and research papers. These assessments provide cognitive feedback, whether in the form of a score, a correction, lack of an answer, or an abundance of questions. But is that the whole picture? While these assessments can help us gauge how well students are “getting it,” it often fails to explain why or why not.


Are these students ready for college? June 9

Ready for College?

By:

Talk with almost any faculty member and they will tell you that many (sometimes it’s most) of their students are unprepared for college. They lack basic skills in reading, writing, and computation but also don’t have very effective study habits and techniques. Most teachers try to convey their concerns about this lack of preparedness to students, but often it feels as though those messages are falling on deaf ears.

In a survey, nearly 700 students, mostly sophomores, were asked how ready they felt for college. Did they think they were prepared for college-level work? Eighty percent of the sample had come directly from high school to college, and 70 percent said that their high schools had prepared them well for college. However, over 50 percent of these students considered college more challenging than they expected. When given a list and asked what two academic skills they wished that high school had helped them develop further, 48 percent said time management, 39 percent said exam preparation, 37 percent identified general study skills, and 27 percent noted independent thinking. Only 12 percent identified studying to understand and remember.

This is a Faculty Focus Premium Article

To continue reading, you must be a Faculty Focus Premium Member.
Please log in or sign up for full access.

Log In

[wppb-login register_url="/premium-account/subscribe" lostpassword_url="/lostpassword"]

check on learning June 8

Checking for Understanding

By:

Research shows that checking for understanding is perhaps one of the most important components of a teaching sequence. Most teachers provide instruction on a topic and follow up with some questions. On a good day, 4–5 students may volunteer and respond with the correct answers. The teacher then assumes that the majority of the class understands the concept and can handle a homework assignment. The teacher then moves on to the next topic.

The problem with this scenario is what the teacher concludes about the level of understanding within the class. Students who raise their hands are often more confident, verbal, or simply have better study habits. Many times, students who do not fully understand are reluctant to speak. Regardless, it is very difficult to informally assess the learning of an entire class based on the responses of only a few.

A variety of formative assessment strategies give teachers a better way to gauge the level of understanding within a class. For example, a teacher can ask students to answer several questions or do some problems displayed on a digital whiteboard. Then the teacher can collect students’ work and quickly see who gets it, who needs more practice, and who has no clue.

Checking for understanding is vital to facilitate true learning. When students are still unclear, confused, or misunderstanding, and are then assigned independent practice via a homework assignment, there is a greater risk that they’ll practice incorrect learning. Checking for student understanding can prevent this complication. Below are several strategies that instructors can use to check for student understanding, all of which have the added benefit of increasing student engagement.

This is a Faculty Focus Premium Article

To continue reading, you must be a Faculty Focus Premium Member.
Please log in or sign up for full access.

Log In

[wppb-login register_url="/premium-account/subscribe" lostpassword_url="/lostpassword"]

leveraging social issues June 8

Leveraging Social and Political Issues to Promote Student Engagement, Improve Writing Skills

By:

“Your students are failing because you are failing them.” These words can cut to the core of any professional educator who strives for excellence in teaching and learning. However, hidden within that criticism is a more useful message: “To help them succeed, you must inspire their imaginations and capture their attention through meaningful and creative engagement within the classroom.”

As English composition instructors, we are tasked with teaching students how to effectively express themselves through writing as well as understand why that’s such an important skill. Oftentimes this is executed by teaching out of a required textbook that addresses the various functions of writing. However, to make the writing assignments more interesting, teachers should consider allowing students to choose topics or, at the very least, assigning ones that hold current relevance.


student motivation June 6

Five Keys to Motivating Students

By:

Recently I had reason to revisit Paul Pintrich’s meta-analysis on motivation. It’s still the piece I most often see referenced when it comes to what’s known about student motivation. Subsequent research continues to confirm the generalizations reported in it. Like most articles that synthesize the results of many studies, it’s long, detailed, and liberally peppered with educational jargon. It does have a clear, easy to follow organizational structure and most notably, it spells out implications—what teachers might consider doing in response to what the research says motivates students. Here’s a quick run-down of those generalizations and their implications. 


online student engagement June 5

How to Add Student Engagement to Your Online Courses

By:

Student engagement has become a focus of higher education—online education in particular—over the past few years. The wide range of interactive methods now available on the web provides instructors with a multitude of ways to insert engagement into their courses.

But while we hear about engagement from instructors and software companies, students themselves have been a somewhat silent voice in the discussions. Florence Martin and Doris Bolliger address this oversight by surveying students in online courses to identify which activities they find most engaging. The researchers divided engagement activities into three categories: learner-to-learner, learner-to-instructor, and learner-to-content. Their findings suggest a number of ways for online instructors to infuse student engagement into their courses.

This is a Faculty Focus Premium Article

To continue reading, you must be a Faculty Focus Premium Member.
Please log in or sign up for full access.

Log In

[wppb-login register_url="/premium-account/subscribe" lostpassword_url="/lostpassword"]

students receiving exam results June 5

Making the Grading Process More Transparent

By:

College teachers are always on the lookout for ways to help students better understand why their paper, essay answer, or project earned a particular grade. Many students aren’t objective assessors of their own work, especially when there’s a grade involved, and others can’t seem to understand how the criteria the instructor used applies to their work.

As the author Matthew Bamber notes, grading is not a transparent process to students, even if they have been given the criteria or rubric beforehand. He devised an exercise for his master’s-level accounting and finance students that they found “eye-opening.” In the UK, students “sit” for lengthy exams—in this case, a three-hour, closed-book essay test. In the exercise, students began by answering one lengthy essay question. When finished, they were given a suggested answer to the question (it contained a problem they had to solve and a written analysis), a marking guide, and a set of grade descriptors. Then they were given an anonymous answer to the same question and told to grade it using the materials provided. After having completed that step, students were given a teacher-graded copy of the anonymous answer. The exercise concluded with students being told to grade their answer to the question.

This is a Faculty Focus Premium Article

To continue reading, you must be a Faculty Focus Premium Member.
Please log in or sign up for full access.

Log In

[wppb-login register_url="/premium-account/subscribe" lostpassword_url="/lostpassword"]