Faculty Focus

HIGHER ED TEACHING STRATEGIES FROM MAGNA PUBLICATIONS

Articles

Learning Goals: Faculty and Students Don’t Agree

The findings of a recent study documenting differences between the priorities that faculty and students give to various learning goals will not come as a surprise to many. Those differences are an undercurrent that flow through most classes.

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Faculty Evaluations: An Alternative Approach Based on Classroom Observations

Department chairs and deans face many challenges in their roles. One of the most difficult is the evaluation of faculty regarding teaching effectiveness. This is particularly challenging for two reasons: (1) lack of formal preparation for instructors concerning teaching, and (2) limited choice of evaluation tools. One tool, classroom observation, can help address both of these issues and provide an objective measure of teaching effectiveness.

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Online Teaching Tips: Sweat the Small Stuff

When we teach online courses there are many fundamental issues that concern us: knowledge of our subjects, teaching strategies, engagement of students, school policies, deadlines, grading and returning of assignments, posting announcements, and responding to students—the list goes on.

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Helping Students Understand What They Read

Many college students struggle with their reading assignments. As a teacher educator with expertise in reading development and disability, I find it useful to model effective reading strategies and provide immediate feedback on those strategies frequently used by students. One versatile method I use with undergraduates involves examination of what they underline (or highlight). Throughout the semester, I ask students to refer to their assigned readings and share with the class passages they underlined and reasons for their selection. In this way, the types of thinking that accompanies purposeful, active reading become more apparent.

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Helping At-Risk Students Succeed in the College Classroom

Only 51 percent of high school graduates who took the ACT met ACT’s College Readiness Benchmark for Reading, which demonstrates their readiness to handle the reading requirements for typical first-year college coursework. For some groups, the percentage is even more discouraging: African American students are at 21 percent, while Hispanic American students and students from families whose annual income is less than $30,000 are both at 33 percent.

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Online Discussion Boards: Assessing What’s Important

When I first began teaching online, I believed that anytime students wrote anything, they should be held accountable for both spelling and grammar and my discussion rubric reflected that. As a result, I got very brief, very stiff, very formal discussion posts in which students were clearly speaking to me rather than to each other.

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Six Keys to More Effective Class Discussions

Students find discussions disillusioning just about as often as faculty do. In the analysis referenced below, students objected when a few fellow classmates dominated the discussion; when the discussion wandered off topic, making it difficult to ascertain main points; and when students participated just for the sake of participating.

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Considerations for Your Wiki Projects

Wiki technologies are being used by many instructors and students as an effective tool for a variety of collaborative projects, such as composing group papers, creating a rich knowledge base, managing projects efficiently, and forming virtual communities. The benefits of using wiki tools include ease of use and collaboration, good instructor control, and anytime/anywhere accessibility.

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