Faculty Focus

HIGHER ED TEACHING STRATEGIES FROM MAGNA PUBLICATIONS

course design

small group of students with professor

Three Critical Conversations Started and Sustained by Flipped Learning

The flipped learning model of instruction has begun to make the transition from an educational buzzword to a normative practice among many university instructors, and with good reason. Flipped learning provides many benefits for both faculty and students. However, instructors who use flipped learning soon find out that a significant amount of work is sometimes necessary to win students over to this way of conducting class. Even when the benefits of flipped learning are made clear to students, some of them will still resist. And to be fair, many instructors fail to listen to what students are really saying.

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Adding Choice to Assignment Options: A Few Course Design Considerations

No, the objective isn’t to make assignments optional, but two benefits accrue when students are given some choice about assignments. The first is motivational—when students select the method they will use to master the material, they can pick an option they think they’d like to complete. And if an assignment option looks appealing, that increases the chance that students will spend more time working on it and more learning can then result. Second, the practice confronts students with themselves as learners. With teacher guidance, they can be challenged to consider why they find some assignments preferable. They can be encouraged to consider what skills the assignment involves and whether those are skills they have or need to work on developing. A strategy such as this moves students in the direction of autonomy and maturity as learners.

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Course Satisfaction for Adult Students

What course characteristics “satisfy” adult students? What expectations do they have for their courses? These questions are important because more and more adults now attend higher education, and many are participating in programs designed especially for them.

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Avoiding Information Overload: Remembering Course Goals

In more than 20 years of teaching, I have learned that too much information frustrates rather than inspires students. Today, however, with a few clicks of the computer mouse, any teacher can retrieve an overabundance of information. What is more, courseware makes distributing this information to students amazingly easy. As a result, teachers risk (unintentionally) giving students much more information than they can reasonably digest, including electronic texts, supplementary texts, and background information. The key to avoiding information overload is remembering course goals.

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Do Students Work Less in Courses Offered in Compressed Time Frames?

This is an important question because so many institutions now offer regular courses in shorter time frames. It might be a course offered in a monthlong summer session or one taught in January between regular-length semesters. It’s also important because there is a perception among students that shorter courses are easier. How could you possibly do as much work in a four-week course as in a 15-week one?

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assignment choice

Giving Students a Choice in Assignments Can Boost Creativity and Motivation

Teaching to students’ strengths and interests can promote creative and critical thinking. But requesting creative responses often engenders the exact opposite of creativity. “Just tell me what you want me to do and I’ll do it.” “How many words does it need to be?” “What should I write about to get a good grade?” “I’m not creative.” Often these comments are accompanied with sighs, groans, or no responses at all (in the case of online students), indicating just how much students resist when asked to be creative. And these responses are even more prevalent in required and prerequisite courses. So how do we overcome the resistance and encourage creative ideas and thinking from our students?

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The Three Big Questions Faculty Need to Ask

The growth of knowledge within your discipline is what makes being a professor so exciting, but it also presents new challenges–particularly when it comes to teaching. Because the time allotted for each course remains constant and the content that could be included in any course continues to grow, you may find it difficult to try to cram all this information into a course.

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Nine Ways to Customize Learning Experiences

In every course there are certain core concepts and principles that are important for each student to learn, develop into useful knowledge, and apply appropriately. What’s not important is how they learn these core concepts.

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Learning from Experience

Learning from Experience: How Teaching is Like Golf

Management professor David A. Whetten, who now directs a faculty development center, admits with honesty that for some years he didn’t think there was much he could learn from people who “studied” education. After all, he was in the classroom doing education and had learned much from that experience. In a wonderful piece [see reference below] he explains how a conversation with his golf instructor resulted in an important insight about the nature of experiential learning.

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