The primary cost associated with an academic department is personnel. Personnel can include secretarial and support staff, but is typically dominated by faculty. In fact, as much as 95 percent of a department’s budget can be tied directly to faculty costs. This means that department heads and chairs have little room to negotiate around faculty and must instead face challenges directly. Compounding the chair’s ability to create change is the reality of academic freedom and tenure, both of which can immobilize progress and growth.
HIGHER ED TEACHING STRATEGIES FROM MAGNA PUBLICATIONS
“Being classes,” as the authors refer to them, rest on the belief that students themselves control what they are learning. Teachers cannot learn content for students — that one’s easy. But neither can teachers force students to learn what they are teaching. From any given learning experience, students will take vastly different things. They learn in different ways and filter all learning experiences through the unique set of past experiences. If you doubt these premises, the authors challenge you to take a learning experience that has occurred in your class, maybe a good student presentation, an exercise or an especially animated discussion, and immediately after its conclusion, ask students to write a paragraph about what they learned.
Alex Halavais, assistant professor of communication and graduate director of informatics at the University at Buffalo, has incorporated blogs in his courses to encourage students to think beyond a single course, to integrate their learning across the curriculum, and to provide opportunities for feedback as students’ work evolves. Halavais has written a chapter on this topic for the forthcoming book International Handbook of Virtual Learning Environments (Kluwer Academic Publishers). Online Classroom recently spoke with Halavais the evolving pedagogical uses of blogs.
“Is The Teaching Professor anti-lecture?” the sharply worded e-mail queried. “No, we aren’t,” I replied, “We’re anti poor lectures … just like we’re against group work that doesn’t work and any other instructional approach poorly executed.”
But the note did remind me that we haven’t provided much on lectures recently, and in all the classrooms I visited this semester, lectures were certainly alive and well (although some were not very healthy). My search for current resources uncovered the article referenced below, which identifies 10 “worthwhile considerations” that should be addressed by those who lecture. The author teaches in a science area and pulls examples from that content.
Asynchronous online discussion plays a key role in humanizing online courses. Asking provocative questions is an important part of getting students to participate in discussions, but the right questions alone are not always enough to create a truly connected class.
Faculty Learning Community Brings Together Diverse Group to Discuss Asynchronous Learning and Trends
No matter how long you’ve taught, there is always something you can learn from colleagues. This is the concept behind Kent State University’s faculty learning communities (FLCs). Currently, KSU offers 13 FLCs, one of which focuses solely on asynchronous communication.
As interest in scholarly work on teaching and learning continues to grow and more faculty are trying their hands at work in this arena, materials are needed that summarize the available methods and approaches used in systematic analyses of classroom practices and learning outcomes. Just such a resource appeared last year in the Journal of Engineering Education…
In 2002, Campus Compact, with help from a Carnegie Corporation of New York grant, began investigating best practices in civic engagement. The three-year project looked at community colleges in the first year, which produced a set of resources that community-college leaders can use to help improve engagement with the community.
The project included surveys, telephone interviews, and on-site visits to determine best practices in civic engagement. An important part of this work was the structured interview protocol, which posed the same questions to different groups—administrators, faculty, students, and community members—around 13 indicators of civic engagement.
To many students and would-be students who have yet to experience them, online colleges are sometimes viewed with a combination of suspicion and distrust—and occasional newspaper headlines talking about some CEO who, it was learned, received his or her advanced degree at an online “paper mill” do not help these impressions. And many in traditional academic institutions—including those who offer online courses—continue to quickly turn their noses up at online colleges, believing that any for-profit online college could not possibly offer the same quality education that they can.
Instructors need to be thoughtful and reflective about those strategies they use when they respond to students’ answers, and this is especially true when the answer given is wrong. Most of us understand that the stakes are high in this case. Students are easily intimidated. Even those not participating can be negatively affected by how an instructor handles incorrect answers. Some current philosophies of education argue against telling students that they are wrong. The thinking here is that students need to figure out for themselves if their answers are right or wrong. Instead of telling them, instructors should guide them to the right answers, possibly through some sort of Socratic dialogue…