Faculty Focus

HIGHER ED TEACHING STRATEGIES FROM MAGNA PUBLICATIONS

Course Design

A Course Metaphor

Here’s an interesting way to refresh a course you may have taught too many times. Identify a course metaphor and use it to create a number of activities that use the metaphor to aid understanding of course content.

Read More »

Using Role Play Simulations to Promote Active Learning

Role play simulation is a form of experiential learning that allows you to “cover” the same sort of topics as you would in a lecture course while moving your students from passive to active learners.

For example, I found success in using this model for a course in the domestic politics of foreign countries that I teach. Originally I lectured on political parties, election systems, leadership, major political issues, success and failure in politics in the UK. Now, with the role play model, I invite students to form teams based on political parties: Labor, Conservative and Liberal Democrats. Each team works together to assign the various responsibilities: party leader, campaign manager, fundraiser, speech writer, etc.

Read More »

Getting Started with Blended Learning Course Design

Blended learning is often described as the best of both worlds because it combines elements of face-to-face and online learning. For an instructor getting ready to teach his first blended course, the temptation may be to look at his traditional course syllabus, pick which classes can be moved online and then leave the rest of the syllabus as it has always been.

Read More »

Report Uncovers the Hidden Costs of Managing Syllabi

How much time do you spend each semester creating, updating or maintaining your course syllabi?

According to a new report released today by the Syllabus Institute, on average instructors spend more than 24 hours creating a new course syllabus. The average instructor also spends 6.5 hours updating their syllabus for a new semester and nearly 3.5 hours maintaining their syllabus throughout a semester.

Read More »

For Better Research Assignments, Ask a Librarian

A recent survey of faculty handouts for research assignments found that most of the handouts provided details for length, citation guide style and how to get assistance from the faculty member. What wasn’t included was a critical need for most undergraduate students: context for the research topic.

Read More »

Designing Effective Clicker Questions by Going Beyond Factual Recall

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.

Read More »

Tips for Preventing Plagiarism among College Students

For some students, a writing assignment takes weeks of research, writing and revisions. For others, the ingredients are more along the lines of Google, CTRL+C and CTRL+V. And for others still, the assignment is nothing more than a transaction with an online essay mill.

Read More »

Critical Reflection Adds Depth and Breadth to Student Learning

More and more colleges and universities are developing general education curricula that include courses involving critical reflection, including how the various disciplines address some of the big questions facing today’s society. But be warned, critical reflection is not for the faint of heart.

Read More »

Using PowerPoint Effectively in Your Courses

Although PowerPoint often gets a bad rap as an instructional tool, it really doesn’t deserve it. PowerPoint’s bad rap comes from it being used poorly. Yeah, it’s easy to produce mind-numbing PowerPoint slides, and unfortunately, mind-numbing uses of PowerPoint are all around us—in online information and instruction, classroom-based instruction, training courses, and in the boardroom. But PowerPoint is just a tool. And like most tools, it can be used well or horribly or anywhere in between.

Read More »