August 16, 2012

An Assignment that Prevents Plagiarism


A qualitative study of plagiarism reported that although students know that plagiarism is wrong, most are quite confused about what actually constitutes plagiarism. The availability of so many online resources has exacerbated the problem. Cut-and-paste features expedite using the material of others. Studies are also showing that students do not think the principles of ownership apply to online resources the same way they do to published material. Finally, many faculty are still struggling to master the rules of referencing that apply to Web-based resources, which does not excuse but certainly explains why students find referencing these materials so confusing.

February 6, 2012

Using Role Play Simulations to Promote Active Learning


Role play simulation is a form of experiential learning that allows you to “cover” the same sort of topics as you would in a lecture course while moving your students from passive to active learners.

For example, I found success in using this model for a course in the domestic politics of foreign countries that I teach. Originally I lectured on political parties, election systems, leadership, major political issues, success and failure in politics in the UK. Now, with the role play model, I invite students to form teams based on political parties: Labor, Conservative and Liberal Democrats. Each team works together to assign the various responsibilities: party leader, campaign manager, fundraiser, speech writer, etc.

December 16, 2011

Making the Review of Assigned Reading Meaningful


The typical college student dreads hearing, “Let’s review the chapters you read for homework.” What generally ensues is a question and answer drill in which students are peppered with questions designed to make clear who has and hasn’t done the reading. In reality, these exchanges do little to encourage deep thought or understanding of the assigned reading. They produce awkward silences during which students squirm in their seats, hoping to become invisible. Other times students decline to answer for fear of giving the wrong answer. Almost all the time a negative tone permeates the classroom during this review. I decided to restructure the way that I approached reviews of reading assignments, and found that by doing things differently, I could change both the tone and outcomes of the review activity. I’d like to share some of the ideas and techniques that I have found useful:

September 7, 2011

Using Mind Maps as a Teaching and Learning Tool to Promote Student Engagement


Creating an environment that engages students in the learning journey is not always easy. Sometimes as faculty members we ask ourselves, “Are we taking this learning journey by ourselves?” Several years ago as I began my scholarly exploration of the utility of mind mapping as a teaching and learning tool to foster critical thinking, my colleague and I instituted a mind mapping learning activity which has helped to promote student engagement in the classroom.

March 18, 2011

Assignment and Assessment Strategies that Keep Students on Track


Technology enables students to connect with each other, the instructor, and the content. However, distractions—in the form of real-time electronic conversations and a barrage of dozens of commercial and personal interjections—can be omnipresent. Perhaps the online instructor needs to provide his/her own steady stream of engagement that can serve to interrupt (at least temporarily) the flow of extraneous information that competes for both time and focus.