Faculty Focus

HIGHER ED TEACHING STRATEGIES FROM MAGNA PUBLICATIONS

Articles

Faculty Evaluation Serves Institutional, Individual Needs

The challenge of faculty evaluation is to simultaneously foster faculty development and fulfill the institution’s goals and mission, says Larry Braskamp, professor of Education at Loyola University Chicago and advocate of a humanistic approach to faculty evaluation.

“Evaluation involves setting the culture and climate for faculty to develop, and it has to take on an openness and respect for the individual to experiment and fail. You encourage faculty members to self-assess.

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Comparing Reflective Thinking in Synchronous and Asynchronous Learning

Conventional wisdom about synchronous vs. asynchronous communication says that while they both have their places in the online classroom, adult learners prefer asynchronous communication for its flexibility and that asynchronous communication allows more time for reflective thinking. However, a paper presented at the 2004 meeting of the American Educational Research Association (AERA) contradicts these notions.

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A Useful Strategy for Assessing Class Participation

One of the changes we have seen in academia in the last 30 years or so is the shift from lecture-based classes to courses that encourage a student-centered approach. Few instructors would quibble with the notion that promoting active participation helps students to think critically and to argue more effectively. However, even the most savvy instructors are still confounded about how to best evaluate participation, particularly when it is graded along with more traditional assessment measures, such as essays, exams, and oral presentations…

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Creating an Active Distance Learning Environment

Kristopher Wiemer, instructional technology specialist at Philadelphia University, encourages instructors to adopt active-learning strategies such as hands-on activities, interaction, and research “to make sure students are engaged and aren’t just sitting there like sponges. I introduce [faculty] to the concept of active learning. Most of them are new to this and…”

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Setting Academic Priorities, Identifying Signature Programs

What are your institution’s signature programs—those programs that epitomize your institution’s mission and define its distinctiveness in the marketplace? It’s a question that every institution should address, particularly when faced with increasing competition and decreasing resources, says Jonnie Guerra, vice president for academic affairs at Cabrini College in Pennsylvania…

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5 Ways to Create Nonthreatening Distance Learning Courses While Maintaining High Academic Standards

Instructors who are new to the online classroom often struggle with the issue of how to be rigorous while creating a safe learning environment, and mistakenly think, “You can be nice or demanding, but somehow you can’t be both.” “That’s absolutely not true,” says Andrea Sanders, associate professor of English at Chattanooga State Technical Community College…

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Six Recommendations for the Physicality of Distance Learning Classrooms

In the past, I have used the spatiotemporal aspects of my office for online teaching. My workstation, which has undergone multiple ergonomic reinventions over the years, fits my body, habits, and routines. Although teaching elsewhere is an option, my workstation helps me prevent (or slow down) what I call “professor posture,” that is, head forward and shoulders rounded. And in my office I can disappear into time, emerging hours later with completed products. For faculty who wish to use their offices as online classrooms, I provide the following recommendations:…

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A Focus on Teaching and Learning at Mid-Career

Are your experienced faculty members as effective in the classroom as you would like them to be? If not, perhaps a faculty development program like the University of Minnesota’s Mid-Career Teaching Program could be the answer. Many faculty members currently in mid-career have probably had fewer teaching enrichment opportunities than their more recently hired colleagues, and just because they are experts in their disciplines does not necessarily make them good teachers. In addition, teaching is becoming more complex: student populations are more diverse than they used to be, and they often expect more from professors than students did in the past…

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Teaching Circles: Low-Cost, High-Impact Faculty Development

Two years ago, a midcareer colleague in the mathematics department sent around an e-mail to all faculty at our college, inviting us to read a book with her. And as simply as that, a teaching circle was formed.

A teaching circle, the term we use at my institution, is simply a group of faculty interested in discussing teaching at regular intervals, ideally over food. As my colleague said, laughing, at our first meeting, “I need a support group, and everyone needs lunch!”…

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