A survey released last month suggests that many colleges and universities are reforming their general education programs and developing new curricular approaches and educational assessment strategies for measuring key learning outcomes. As institutions review their general education programs, many are choosing to incorporate more engaged and integrative curricular practices.
Hundreds of distance education administrators breathed a collective sigh of relief upon learning in a recent online seminar that the vast majority of schools are already in compliance with the Higher Education Opportunity Act’s new rules on student authentication.
Most higher education institutions include language in their mission statements about the importance of diversity, but they often fall short when it comes to retaining faculty of color, says Christine A. Stanley, executive associate dean of faculty affairs at Texas A&M University, and editor of Faculty of Color: Teaching in Predominantly White Colleges and Universities (Anker Publishing, April 2006).
I am just about to retire from Penn State and leave my faculty position teaching undergraduates. I’ll still be working; there’s this newsletter to edit and a world of faculty who still need advice, ideas, and encouragement to do their very best in the classroom. But you don’t end 33 years of college teaching without thinking about those things that will and won’t be missed on campus.
My philosophy of teaching can better be described as a philosophy of learning. In order to be an effective instructor, I must focus on student learning and adjust my teaching strategies in response to the pace and depth of student understanding. I view teaching as an interaction between an instructor and a student; thus, the impact of this interaction on learning, rather than my activities as an instructor, is of primary importance.
The Association of American Colleges and Universities released findings last month from a survey of its members that revealed trends in undergraduate education and documenting the widespread use of a variety of approaches to assessing learning outcomes. The survey shows that campus leaders are focused both on providing students a broad set of learning outcomes and assessing students’ achievement of these outcomes across the curriculum.
When done correctly, a strategic plan provides an academic department with a definitive blueprint. When done incorrectly, it’s an unpopular waste of time. Dr. Anne Massaro of Ohio State University shares strategies for making strategic planning more relevant for faculty, and for ensuring that once the plan is complete, it doesn’t sit on a shelf collecting dust.
Some students tell us they hate groups—as in really hate groups. Why do faculty love groups so much, they ask. I work hard, I’m smart, I can get good grades by myself, these students insist. Other students are a waste. I end up doing all the work and they get the good grade I earned for the group. Why do you, Professor Byrnes, make me work in a group. I hate groups!
In 2005, Appalachian State University established three-quarter- and full-time non-tenure-track contracts with benefits for non-tenure-track faculty members who had been teaching at least three-quarter time for three years. The move was intended to provide fair compensation and promote loyalty that might pay off in improved quality of instruction.
Humanities and social sciences instructors have long borrowed from media communications to drive home concepts. For example, a business instructor might clip a magazine article pointing out how inappropriate attire can negatively influence the outcome of an interview with a company. Philosophy professors might motivate a classroom discussion on hedonism by discussing the antics of popular young superstars as reported in the tabloids.