Faculty Focus

HIGHER ED TEACHING STRATEGIES FROM MAGNA PUBLICATIONS

building student engagement

Humor in the Classroom: 40 Years of Research

You have to admire scholars willing to look at 40 years of research on any topic, and this particular review is useful to faculty interested in understanding the role of humor in education. It starts with definitions, functions, and theories of humor. It identifies a wide range of different types of humor. It reviews empirical findings, including the all-important question of whether using humor helps students learn. And finally, this 30-page review concludes with concrete advice and suggestions for future research. It’s one of those articles that belong in even modest instructional libraries—imagine having to track down the better-than-100 references in the bibliography.

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A Call for Engaged Teaching

As I left my desk to attend the faculty development workshop, I picked up four thank-you cards for the rotations program, a report to read, and a newsletter to edit. I’ve been to dozens of development seminars, and I’ve learned to be prepared with something else to do in case the presenter is mind-numbingly boring. The pleasant surprise of the morning was that the speaker engaged us in learning for more than three hours! How did he do that?

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Teaching Something You Don’t Like: A Model That Works

I am not a history buff and do not enjoy teaching or learning about history in general. So, as an instructor who is required to teach the history of my field, I have had a difficult time finding an interesting way of relaying the information. Needing a new approach, I decided to see if I could adapt the Family Involvement Model. This research-based model found that when family members are involved in the courses of Latino college students, their persistence and success in higher education improves. The model is based on the idea of including family to promote students’ education and as such supports the old premise that you really don’t understand something unless you can convey that knowledge to another person.

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School Daze: Eye-Tracking Study Reveals What Earns Students’ Attention in Classroom

A new study contradicts the widely accepted belief that classroom attention peaks during the first 15 minutes of class and then generally tapers off. Instead, David Rosengrant, an associate professor of physics education at Kennesaw State University, discovered that classroom attention is not as linear as previously thought and is actually impacted by various factors throughout the duration of the lecture.

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Four Ways to Motivate Your Students

Motivating students is one of the most difficult challenges for any faculty member, but lighting the fire is critical to ensuring active, dynamic classes. Alice Cassidy, PhD, principal of In View Educational and Professional Development and a faculty member at the University of British Columbia, has devised a four-step process to motivate students for a more stimulating class for students and faculty alike.

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Prof with students in lecture hall

10 Ways to Promote Student Engagement

Student engagement is another of those buzz phrases popular in higher education. As with many regularly used terms, everyone assumes we are talking about the same thing; but when asked for definitions, either we are hard pressed to come up one or what’s offered is a decidedly different collection of definitions. Here’s an article that includes clear definitions and, based on a creative synthesis of research, offers 10 ways to promote student engagement.

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Students Share Their Thoughts on Active Learning

“Learning is not a spectator sport. Students do not learn much just by sitting in class listening to teachers, memorizing prepackaged assignments, and spitting out answers. They must talk about what they are learning, write about it, relate it to past experiences, apply it to their daily lives. They must make what they learn part of themselves.”
– A. Chickering and Z.F. Gamson, “Seven principles for good practice,” AAHE Bulletin 39 (March 1987), 3-7.

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A Google Jockey Helps Get Students Engaged

And what in the world might a Google jockey be? In a first-year seminar on environmental sustainability, the Google jockey was a student who surfed the Web for material related to the discussion topic or lecture and then displayed that material in real time to the rest of the class. In this case, the student was a senior biochemistry major described in the article as “bright” and “engaged.” But don’t rule out this interesting strategy if you don’t have this kind of student preceptor at your disposal.

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Engaging Students in Argument

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?

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