Faculty Focus

HIGHER ED TEACHING STRATEGIES FROM MAGNA PUBLICATIONS

Course Design

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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Student Learning Outcomes Initiative

In 1989 the administration at Central Arizona College made a decision to move toward a competency-based curriculum for all of its courses and certificate and degree programs—a wise decision given all the changes taking place within the community college’s district and within higher education in general, says Linda Heiland, CAC’s associate vice president for institutional effectiveness and chief academic officer…

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Instructional Design: Moving Toward a Less Structure, More Learning-Centered Environment

“Being classes,” as the authors refer to them, rest on the belief that students themselves control what they are learning. Teachers cannot learn content for students — that one’s easy. But neither can teachers force students to learn what they are teaching. From any given learning experience, students will take vastly different things. They learn in different ways and filter all learning experiences through the unique set of past experiences. If you doubt these premises, the authors challenge you to take a learning experience that has occurred in your class, maybe a good student presentation, an exercise or an especially animated discussion, and immediately after its conclusion, ask students to write a paragraph about what they learned.

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