April 3, 2012

Active-Learning Ideas for Large Classes: Simple to Complex

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The article that proposes these active-learning strategies is written for faculty who teach large-enrollment biology courses. But large courses share many similarities, and strategies often work well with a variety of content. Even so, most strategies need to be adapted so that they fit well with the instructor’s style, the learning needs of the students, and the configuration of course content.



April 19, 2010

Do You Talk Too Much? Tips for Facilitating Classroom Discussions

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Sometimes it’s good to revisit an instructional standby. Discussion is a staple in most teachers’ repertoire of strategies, but it frequently disappoints. So few students are willing to participate and they tend to be the same ones. The students who do contribute often do so tentatively, blandly, and pretty much without anything that sounds like interest or conviction. On some days it’s just easier to present the material.


March 23, 2010

What Students Expect from Instructors, Other Students

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Some years back The Teaching Professor featured an article highlighting Mano Singham’s wonderful piece describing how he moved away from a very authoritarian, rule-centered syllabus (reference below). It’s one of my very favorite articles—I reference it regularly in presentations, and it appears on almost every bibliography I distribute.


March 19, 2010

Putting Students in Charge of Finding Real-World Examples Makes for a More Engaging Classroom

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As a marketing professor, I often found myself scouring publications, stores, and my cabinets prior to a lecture, to find real-world examples of concepts I was teaching. Although students seemed to appreciate and learn from these examples, it didn’t get them as actively involved in their learning as I’d like.


June 11, 2009

Voucher Points Help Build Student Engagement

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I happened on the idea of giving voucher points accidentally, but over the years they’ve proven quite valuable in promoting active student involvement. It started when I was still teaching math in high school, and a student came up with a particularly clever method of solving a mathematics problem. As a reward, I wrote him an IOU good for one point on any of my tests. A few months later it happened again, and then later on I gave out a third voucher point. That semester, I received very positive comments about the practice on my student evaluations. Students requested that I “do voucher points more often.”


July 9, 2008

Improving Lectures

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“Is The Teaching Professor anti-lecture?” the sharply worded e-mail queried. “No, we aren’t,” I replied, “We’re anti poor lectures … just like we’re against group work that doesn’t work and any other instructional approach poorly executed.”

But the note did remind me that we haven’t provided much on lectures recently, and in all the classrooms I visited this semester, lectures were certainly alive and well (although some were not very healthy). My search for current resources uncovered the article referenced below, which identifies 10 “worthwhile considerations” that should be addressed by those who lecture. The author teaches in a science area and pulls examples from that content.