Despite the admirable goal of improving student learning by assessment, many faculty members are uneasy about participating in assessment-related activities. One way to overcome negative feelings about assessment while promoting improved student learning is to encourage faculty to engage in the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL).
HIGHER ED TEACHING STRATEGIES FROM MAGNA PUBLICATIONS
In 2000, the college of education at the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) introduced an electronic portfolio system for its students. The goal was to get students to understand their own learning by requiring them to create these portfolios that highlight their work. Building on that success, the university is in the process of implementing myMAPP, (Mapping Academic Performance through ePorfolios), an electronic portfolio system that integrates student, faculty, staff, department, college, and campus performance measures.
The Association of American Colleges and Universities released findings last month from a survey of its members that revealed trends in undergraduate education and documenting the widespread use of a variety of approaches to assessing learning outcomes. The survey shows that campus leaders are focused both on providing students a broad set of learning outcomes and assessing students’ achievement of these outcomes across the curriculum.
During the past 10 years or so, higher education institutions have made strides in transitioning from an instructor-centered approach to a learner-centered approach to teaching. These strides, both large and small, have transformed the college classroom environment to provide students with greater opportunities for active learning, collaboration, and engagement.
Not all disengaged students fall into the stereotype of the slacker who comes late to class (if at all), or is as easy to spot as Jeff Spicoli from Fast Times at Ridgemont High. In fact there are a number of students who are masters at playing the game … doing just enough to get by … attending class but not really participating, much less engaging with the content.
Incorporating material that addresses diversity issues in classes has positive effects on a number of learning outcomes. The success of efforts to make curricula more diverse depends to a large degree on faculty willingness to incorporate these materials because control of the curriculum remains in faculty hands—both collectively, in terms of course and program approval processes, and individually, in terms of daily decisions about what to teach.
Research on learning styles now spans four decades and occurs across a wide spectrum of disciplines, including many quite removed from psychology, the disciplinary home of many of the central concepts and theories that ground notions of learning style.
As educators we hear and heed Peter McLaren’s warning, “You can’t teach people anything … You have to create a context in which they can analyze themselves and their social formations and lives.” 1 We believe the creation of this context must be our aim as educators, and this context must be balanced between theory and practice. In our pursuit to strike this balance, we believe that experiential education has the potential to assist our fellow educators in transforming their pedagogical practices to more deeply engage their students and improve learning outcomes.
Are you having trouble getting your online students to contribute equally to team projects? If so, perhaps you should try varying the membership of these teams because, according to a study by Brian Dineen (see reference below), doing so can reduce social loafing and improve online collaboration.