Faculty Focus

HIGHER ED TEACHING STRATEGIES FROM MAGNA PUBLICATIONS

Articles

Transforming Teaching through Supplementary Evaluations

Incredible changes have occurred in the brief 25 years I have spent as a professor in higher education. In the area of technology alone, significant innovations have impacted the way people work, play, and learn. The benefits these technological advances bring to faculty and students are incalculable.

Yet, some areas of higher education have undergone very little change.

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Establishing a Fair and Supportive Grading Environment

Grading serves multiple purposes. While the most obvious purpose is to evaluate students’ work — as a measure of competency, achievement, and meeting the expectations of the course — grading can also be a key to communication, motivation, organization and faculty/student reflection. It’s for that reason that Virginia Johnson Anderson, EdD, calls grading “a context-dependent, complex process.”

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An Assignment that Prevents Plagiarism

A qualitative study of plagiarism reported that although students know that plagiarism is wrong, most are quite confused about what actually constitutes plagiarism. The availability of so many online resources has exacerbated the problem. Cut-and-paste features expedite using the material of others. Studies are also showing that students do not think the principles of ownership apply to online resources the same way they do to published material. Finally, many faculty are still struggling to master the rules of referencing that apply to Web-based resources, which does not excuse but certainly explains why students find referencing these materials so confusing.

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faculty collegiality

Faculty Collegiality as a Synergistic Agent

I have had the privilege to be invited to many campuses to speak about strategies for incorporating a collegial-mindset within the university. A campus culture that values collegiality and civility is among the most important contributions a university can make. Academic departments recognize the desirability of a collegial environment for faculty members, students, and professional employees and that such an environment should be maintained and strengthened throughout the university. In an environment enhanced by trust, respect, and transparency faculty members can be revivified so that they can play an active and responsible role in academic matters. A collegial relationship is most effective when peers work together to carry out their duties and responsibilities in a professional manner.

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Five Factors that Affect Online Student Motivation

Understanding what motivates online learners is important because motivated students are more likely to engage in activities that help them learn and achieve, says Brett Jones, associate professor of educational psychology at Virginia Tech. Based on an extensive review of the literature on student motivation, Jones has developed the MUSIC model of student motivation, which identifies five main factors that contribute to student motivation: eMpowerment, Usefulness, Success, Interest, and Caring.

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The Elusive Benefits of Study Groups

Faculty often recommend study groups to students, especially in large courses or in courses where students typically struggle with the material. “You’ll do better on exams in this course if you work together with some other students.” Beyond these verbal recommendations or some description of the benefits of study groups in the syllabus, most faculty leave the formation and activities of study groups entirely up to students.

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Making the Most of Fieldwork Learning Experiences

Fieldwork refers to any component of the curriculum that involves leaving the classroom and learning through firsthand experience. Most instructors incorporate fieldwork to help students understand theory, develop skills, integrate knowledge, build tacit knowledge, develop meaning in places, and work with peers and instructors in alternate settings.

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Understanding Adult Learners’ Needs

Understanding learner needs is essential for providing quality education. One approach to understand learner needs is through the use of student evaluation questionnaires which allow us to collate student feedback or suggestions. A common argument against the use of student evaluations is that students do not know their own needs. However, many studies have shown student feedback/suggestions to be reliable and valid. If we do not even attempt to understand their needs, we may fail to recognize the support they require to be successful.

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App Review: Splashtop Whiteboard

I have been looking for a reliable iPad app that would allow me to remotely connect and control my PC or Mac and I finally found one that works well! The app is Whiteboard by Splashtop and the wireless connection between iPad and PC/Mac is seamless and dependable. Connection is a HUGE issue when working with wireless technologies because the last thing that any presenter wants is to spend time figuring out technical glitches. Configuring Whiteboard requires that both iPad and Mac/PC are connected to the same WiFi, which admittedly can be a problem on most campuses for security or other reasons. My simple work around is to use an ad hoc network (an Airport Express will do just fine) if all I want to do is have wireless control of my PC or Mac from the iPad. Another option is to use a MiFi assuming you have one.

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Are We Preaching to the Choir about Student-Centered Learning Practices?

I’d like to report on a nonscientific study I have been conducting, without human-subjects approval or even a clear research plan. This won’t make it into the research journals, but the results are still compelling.

My “study” has been continuous for over two years. During that time, I have made numerous trips, at random times, from my administrative office to a building on the opposite corner of campus. For nearly three months, I made the round trip twice a day or more. Every time, I have walked through the ground floor of our main general classroom building, which has about 14 classrooms, mostly 30- to 50-person rooms, but also with one 120-person tiered lecture hall. The classrooms are assigned to courses covering a wide range of disciplines, mostly first- or second-year classes.

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