Faculty Focus

HIGHER ED TEACHING STRATEGIES FROM MAGNA PUBLICATIONS

Course Design

Five Things College Professors Can Learn from K-12 Educators

Unlike their college-level counterparts, those who teach at the K-12 level spend a significant portion of their education studying the “how” of teaching. What they learn can be invaluable to college professors who enter classrooms with vast content knowledge but little (or no) background in teaching and learning. As those who teach these teachers, we’d like to showcase five teaching strategies college professors can learn from those who teach younger students. […]

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Nine Tips for Creating a Hybrid Course

Most instructors supplement their face-to-face courses with some online learning materials such as online syllabi, handouts, PowerPoint slides, and course-related Web links. All of these can add to the learning experience, but they are merely a start to making full use of the learning potential of the online learning environment in either a hybrid or totally online course. Although there is no standard definition of a hybrid course, one characteristic that makes a course a hybrid is the use of the Web for interaction rather than merely as a means of posting materials, says LaTonya Motley, instructional technology specialist at El Camino Community College in California.

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How to Assist Faculty with an Online Course Template

How do you get the best out of your online faculty? Don’t make them re-invent the wheel each time they create an online course. Let them do what they’re best at. Free them from administrative details. Do their work for them. Give them a course template.

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The Power of Putting the Students at the Center of Learning

As an instructor at a career-focused university, I thought I had experienced it all: great classes and bad classes, classes that ran smoothly and those that required firm management, classes that were a breeze and those that challenged my patience. Despite these experiences, I was unprepared for what became my best class, the one that most changed my outlook on teaching…

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Instructional Design: Who’s Playing First in My Course?

At a symposium about teaching projects on our campus, one group of faculty presented a set of projects they had done that involved giving students control over course design issues. The projects had grown out of a reading group that studied When Students Have Power by Ira Shor. The faculty presenters said that they let students design the syllabus and that the students typically created a rigorous course that was enhanced by the student ownership. I think I’m a student- and learning-centered teacher, but I’m also a teacher who has determined essentially all the course structure. So a few days before classes started, I decided NOT to spend my last few hours before the opening of the semester organizing, selecting, and deciding on syllabus issues, but to step (off a cliff?) into a world where students have power. Would chaos ensue if I gave students power in my general chemistry class?

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Instructional Design: Six Strategies to Make Courses More Learner Centered Without Sacrificing Content

Concerns about covering content are legitimate, but they often block a whole family of techniques that more effectively involve students and promote learning. “I know I should do more active learning, but I have all this content to cover . . .” We routinely favor involving students but we do so understanding that the content-coverage dilemma confronts faculty with difficult decisions.

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A Brain-Friendly Environment for Learning

Thanks to new technologies of brain imaging and major breakthroughs in cognitive research, neuroscientists now know more about the functioning of the human brain than ever. This new knowledge should help us revolutionize our teaching methods, but what about those of us who can’t tell a hippocampus from a hippopotamus? As an English professor whose gray matter has frequently proved more or less impervious to scientific discourse, I decided to tackle this challenge head-on, so to speak. Here are some of my findings, along with their implications for teaching and learning…

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Instructional Design: Designing Courses and Assignments That Promote Deep Understanding of Essential Concepts

Our college is in the midst of a curricular project that aims to transform courses so that they promote a deeper understanding of core concepts through carefully designed assignments. The college hired Grant Wiggins, co-author of Understanding by Design (Jay McTighe and Grant Wiggins) to assist faculty in making these changes, and I’d like to report on my experiences redesigning a course I teach called The Legal Environment of Business.

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Creating Successful Interdisciplinary Programs

The University of Oklahoma’s (OU) College of Arts and Sciences has a long history of successful interdisciplinary programs. Each was created under different circumstances without a standard process, but they all share several characteristics that have helped them thrive. Academic Leader recently spoke with Paul B. Bell, Jr., dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and vice provost for instruction, about what makes these interdisciplinary programs successful…

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Curriculum Development: Department-less Interdisciplinary Program Provides Flexibility for Returning Adult Students

The Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies (BAiLS) program, an interdisciplinary program at Northern Arizona University designed to meet the needs of returning adult students, is less structured than programs with similar goals at other institutions. This looser structure encourages collaboration among disciplines and provides for greater flexibility, says Larry Gould, associate dean of the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences…

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