The Names We Give to Our Instructional Strategies September 18, 2015

The Names We Give to Our Instructional Strategies

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Instructional strategies acquire names, labels that describe what the strategy involves—active learning, problem-based learning, cooperative learning. Sometimes the strategies gain popularity. They become widely used, and so do the terms that describe them. After a while teachers stop describing what they are doing in class. They simply refer to it by the label: “Yes, I have students work in groups. I use cooperative learning.”


brain learning September 14, 2015

UDL: A Systematic Approach to Supporting Diverse Learners

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Advances in neuroscience and digital imaging give us an unprecedented understanding of how individuals access, process, and respond to information. Previously we may have had an intuitive understanding that our students learned differently. Now functional MRI scans demonstrate this in living color. However, simply recognizing learner diversity is one thing; navigating this challenge in the classroom is quite another. How can we possibly hope to present content, structure learning experiences, and devise assessments that will be appropriate and effective for students with different learning strengths and challenges? Fortunately, researchers have developed a framework based in neuroscience that can help.


small group of students with professor March 2, 2015

Three Critical Conversations Started and Sustained by Flipped Learning

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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.


October 28, 2014

Lecture Continues as the Dominant Instructional Strategy, Study Finds

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Researchers Daniel Smith and Thomas Valentine begin by making an important point. At two-year colleges “the classroom serves as the epicenter of involvement.” (p. 134) The same could be said for commuter campuses as well. Students who attend two-year colleges often do so part-time and regularly do so combining school with work, family, and a host of other responsibilities. The same can increasingly be said of many students who commute to campus to take classes. At many institutions students now spend considerably less time on campus, and so if they are to be engaged with academic life, that involvement pretty much begins and ends in the classroom. So, are faculty using instructional techniques that do involve students in the classroom?


December 11, 2013

The Trouble with Consistency in Instructional Practices and Policies

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I’ve started to notice a couple of consistencies in our instructional practice that concern me. First, there’s the consistency in practices across courses, regardless of level. I mentioned in a previous post that I didn’t think capstone and other upper division courses should have the same policies as first year courses. It seems to me that if we still have to hammer students about deadlines, use points to get them participating, and offer detailed descriptions of civil discourse, students have not learned some very important lessons in other courses.


November 9, 2010

When Faculty and Student Expectations Collide

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“It is a story replicated in many history classrooms during the semester. Students have once again done poorly on an assignment or exam. Their essays are the sites of massive, undifferentiated data dumps. They have paraphrased primary sources instead of analyzing them, ignored argumentation, confused past and present, and failed completely to grasp the ‘otherness’ of a different era.” (p. 1211)