Faculty Focus

HIGHER ED TEACHING STRATEGIES FROM MAGNA PUBLICATIONS

Educational Assessment

Giving Students Multiple Attempts to Improve Test Scores Provides a Powerful Learning Opportunity

Using multiple test trials was something I had never considered until found myself in a newly assigned course with an old syllabus. The previous course, which consisted of 310 total points, included 140 (45 percent) testing-based points. In addition to a 100-point final exam, there were four 10-point quizzes. I was intrigued by the quiz design format that allowed students to take the quiz up to three times over the course of a week, with the average score added to the grade book.

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Online Grade Books Provide Transparency, Accountability

I started using an online grade book as a convenience for myself. Here, finally, was a grade book that couldn’t get lost or stolen, and it would be automatically backed up by the IT department every night. The accumulated scores could also be downloaded directly into a spreadsheet for calculation of grades, a shortcut that reduced the possibility of errors.

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Extra Credit Assignments: An Innovative Approach

My students are always asking for opportunities to earn bonus points. I offer a variety of assignments during the semester, but they still want bonus points, which they seem to think are easier to obtain than the required points. Generally, I’m opposed to bonus options because I feel that if students are struggling with the current assignments, they do not need an “extra” assignment for extra credit. In addition, the word “bonus” seems to suggest something for nothing. I want my students to realize that grades are earned, not given. However, I recently tried a bonus activity that benefited my students and also met my expectations for a substantive learning experience.

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Are Your Students Career-Ready? Create a Rubric to Find out

Have you ever wondered if what you teach and how you teach it results in career-ready students? Have you ever wondered if your expectations for student learning outcomes match what the real world requires? In the Public Relations Studies program at Columbia College Chicago, we wondered, too. So, we set out to answer our own questions about the most basic skills professionals expect of entry-level candidates.

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Making Peer Assessment Work for You

“We cannot assume … that students will learn how to become better group members simply by participating in group activities.” Diane Baker (reference below) makes this observation in a first-rate article on peer assessment in small groups. Here’s a sampling of the ideas, information, and resources included in her article.

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Improving Your Assessment Processes: Q&A with Linda Suskie

It’s a new year, but the same old challenges exist. Given today’s financial challenges, colleges and universities are all working harder than ever to be careful stewards of limited resources and to demonstrate their effectiveness to stakeholders, constituents, and the public.

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A New Approach to Grading Student Essays

As a very young teacher, I remember pulling all-nighters to get my students’ essays back within the one-week limit I set for myself. Even in those days this “cram grading” was miserable and exhausting; but now at 50—especially with the added responsibilities of husband, father, and homeowner—this style of grading papers is all but impossible.

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Using Self-Check Exercises to Assess Online Learning

The intermediate statistics class I took quite a number of years ago had two types of learners at the outset—those who were worried about passing the course and those who were sure they couldn’t pass it. The professor clearly understood the “fear-of-stats” phenomenon and used a number of instructional techniques to help learners gain confidence and skills.

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Benefits of a Student Self-Grading Model

Given student motivation to get grades and the prevalence of cheating, most faculty would never seriously consider letting students grade their own work. However, self-grading, especially of homework, does accrue some significant benefits. It can move students away from doing homework for points to making them more aware of why and how doing problems helps them learn. If students grade their own work, they see exactly where they are making mistakes. And they obtain that feedback far sooner than if the instructor collects the homework, grades it, and then returns it some days later.

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Designing Effective Assessments: Q&A with Trudy Banta

In their new book, Designing Effective Assessment: Principles and Profiles of Good Practice, Trudy Banta, Elizabeth Jones, and Karen Black provide assessment profiles from a wide variety of institutions and units. In advance of her online seminar titled Principles and Profiles of Good Practice in Assessment. Dr. Banta answered questions about the book and some of the topics she will discuss next week’s seminar.

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