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.
HIGHER ED TEACHING STRATEGIES FROM MAGNA PUBLICATIONS
student engagement tools
At one point, a General Chemistry course at Penn State Berks had a success rate of about 50 percent, giving the multi-section course the dubious distinction of having one of the lowest GPAs on campus. After a thorough redesign, the course now consistently achieves a success rate of well over 70 percent, while the student ratings of the course and the instructors have never been higher. The key element in this chemistry course’s redesign? Clickers.
In the mid-1990s, college faculty members were introduced to the concept of classroom assessment techniques (CATs) by Angelo and Cross (1993). These formative assessment strategies were learner-centered, teacher-directed ongoing activities that were rooted in good teaching practice. They were designed to provide relatively quick and useful feedback to the faculty member about what students did and did not understand in order to enhance the teaching and learning process.
Most online courses rely heavily on text-based communication, but given the vast array of audio and video tools now available to instructors and students alike, it’s never been easier to enhance the media richness of the online classroom. However, just like with home improvement, you have to select the right tool for the job.
George Stanton, a professor emeritus of biology, recently expressed his disappointment with student response to social media elements in classes. He pointed out that students were less than active in using the tools, meanwhile a recent survey of first-year students at his institution found that the number one expectation for class was “to be entertained.”
A Vision of Students Today is a short video created by Michael Wesch, associate professor of cultural anthropology at Kansas State University, and 200 KSU students. Since being uploaded to YouTube in Oct 2007 it’s been viewed more than 4 million times. Even if you’ve already viewed it, it’s worth a second look. It describes some of the most important characteristics of students today, as told from the student perspective.
When considering the major advances in communication — from the printing press, to the telephone, to television — each medium shared the characteristic of allowing either one-to-one communication or one-to-many communication. But social media changed all that. For the first time in history “many” can speak to “many,” and this has radically changed our world.
As the fall semester approaches, it’s time to restock my classroom teaching supplies. It occurred to me that other faculty might find useful these inexpensive tools that I regularly use in the classroom, so I’m sharing my shopping list with you here. The items on my list serve the purposes of creating a sense of community and promoting student engagement.
If it seems like everyone is tweeting these days, it’s not just your imagination.
In 2007 Twitter users, as a whole, made about 5,000 tweets a day. By 2008 the number had increased to 300,000 per day, before growing to 2.5 million per day in January 2009. Just one year later, in January 2010, the figure jumped to 50 million tweets per day.