There is no question that higher education tends to get caught up in “fashionable” program innovations, and learning communities could certainly be considered an example. A great deal of research has established that, in terms of retention and persistence, first experiences in college are tremendously important.
Finding the right candidate for a faculty position is a critical decision, and selecting the right person can involve a complex search for the perfect combination of qualifications and experiences. Adding to the complexity of the process are the legal and policy issues that institutions must address to ensure a fair screening process.
Most faculty judiciously avoid having students self-assess because it seems hopelessly naïve to imagine them being able to look at anything beyond the desired grade. Even so, the ability to self-assess skills and completed work is important. Moreover, it is an ability acquired with practice and developed with feedback. It seems like the kind of skill that should be addressed in college. And perhaps there is a way.
I dread the moments when I look out into a classroom and see a collection of blank stares or thumbs clicking on tiny keypads: a pool of disengaged students, despite what I thought was a student-centered activity. Recently, I have been considering how teachers (me specifically) undermine our own efforts to engage students.
When you think about all the reasons why a college or university would want to offer courses online, “Because it’s easy” isn’t one of them. Yes, it’s a smart way to grow your programs and reach a greater number of students. Yes, it can be an attractive revenue stream. And yes, in order to attract today’s learners – adult and traditional-aged students alike – you likely need an online offering.
Last week McGraw-Hill and Magna Publications announced the winners of the second annual Scholarly Work on Teaching and Learning Award. The award recognizes outstanding scholarly contributions that advance college-level teaching and learning practices.
My recent foray into using MP3s to teach college level English classes came out of my need to reach more of my non-traditional students. I saw a trend developing where more adults than ever were seeking a college education or even returning to college to change careers, and it only followed that I had a responsibility as an instructor to try and reach these students. It also became apparent in my classroom that I wanted to not only reach, but to retain these non-traditional students who seemed to become easily frustrated with the more traditional lecture and textbook methods.
I recently set out to make introductory managerial accounting a more effective learning experience for students. The course is typically taken in a student’s first or second year. The range of experiences students bring to the course can be quite diverse. Some may have never been employed, still live at home, and have parents who work in white-collar jobs. Others may have worked and lived on their own, and have family who may own or run a store or work in factories. This diversity means that some students have no mental picture of how goods are manufactured, while others understand the process required to get a product to the customer.
One of the most important responsibilities online instructors face is teaching students how to think critically. Successful achievement of this task requires that instructors provide the right setting and the appropriate activities that will prompt a student on to higher-level thinking. Though this mission is not exclusive to online instruction, the online environment presents some unique challenges and opportunities that distinguish this type of learning environment from traditional face-to-face classroom instruction.
Most universities press their faculty to add technology to their classroom by adopting the Learning Management System—Blackboard, Moodle, etc. This is a mistake. Faculty often end up spending hours learning the system and loading the same content that they use in the classroom, and finish wondering if the benefit was worth the effort.