Faculty Focus

HIGHER ED TEACHING STRATEGIES FROM MAGNA PUBLICATIONS

Articles

Students Share Their Thoughts on Active Learning

“Learning is not a spectator sport. Students do not learn much just by sitting in class listening to teachers, memorizing prepackaged assignments, and spitting out answers. They must talk about what they are learning, write about it, relate it to past experiences, apply it to their daily lives. They must make what they learn part of themselves.”
– A. Chickering and Z.F. Gamson, “Seven principles for good practice,” AAHE Bulletin 39 (March 1987), 3-7.

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Students as Formative Assessment Partners

“Creating a climate that maximizes student accomplishment in any discipline focuses on student learning instead of assigning grades. This requires students to be involved as partners in the assessment of learning and to use assessment results to change their own learning tactics.” (p. 136) The authors of this comment continue by pointing out that this assessment involves the use of formative feedback and that feedback has the greatest benefit when it addresses multiple aspects of learning. This kind of assessment should contain feedback on the product (the completed task) and feedback on progress (the extent to which the student is improving over time). The article then describes a number of formative feedback activities that illustrate how students can be involved as partners in the assessment process. Their involvement means that formative feedback can be given more frequently.

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Service-Learning Course Development

Service-learning courses offer a combination of academic content, service experience, and critical reflection. To make service-learning successful, consider the following recommendations from Barbara Jacoby, Faculty Associate for Leadership and Community Service-Learning at the University of Maryland, College Park.

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App of the Week Review: iAnnotate PDF

iAnnotate PDF is an excellent, full-featured app for marking-up or making notations on PDF files on your iPad. The app handles PDF files in such a way that you will feel as if you are working on your desktop or notebook computer. iAnnotate is well designed, provides a wide range of tools that can be arranged in a customizable manner, and is loaded with editing options.

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A Google Jockey Helps Get Students Engaged

And what in the world might a Google jockey be? In a first-year seminar on environmental sustainability, the Google jockey was a student who surfed the Web for material related to the discussion topic or lecture and then displayed that material in real time to the rest of the class. In this case, the student was a senior biochemistry major described in the article as “bright” and “engaged.” But don’t rule out this interesting strategy if you don’t have this kind of student preceptor at your disposal.

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Dealing with Difficult Students and Other Classroom Disruptions

Problem students come in all forms, and may be “difficult” for wide variety of behaviors. While it’s impossible to create neat little categories that adequately describe the full range of problems encountered by college faculty, a good starting point may be to classify the behaviors as annoying, disruptive, or dangerous. Each requires a different type of response based on the context of the behavior.

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