Faculty Focus

HIGHER ED TEACHING STRATEGIES FROM MAGNA PUBLICATIONS

Articles

Student Learning Outcomes Initiative

In 1989 the administration at Central Arizona College made a decision to move toward a competency-based curriculum for all of its courses and certificate and degree programs—a wise decision given all the changes taking place within the community college’s district and within higher education in general, says Linda Heiland, CAC’s associate vice president for institutional effectiveness and chief academic officer…

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Effective Classroom Management: A Helpful Handout for Students

Sometimes we (or our colleagues) don’t always deliver material in ways that expedite note-taking. We may not be able to take class time for a session on note-taking but all of us can probably find time to distribute a handout that students might find helpful. Consider this one, a slightly condensed and modified version of material that appears in the reference below. These are research-based recommendations…

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Electronic Portfolios for Faculty Evaluation

Tina Ashford, assistant professor of information technology, was among the first faculty members at Macon State College to use an electronic portfolio to support her bid for tenure. Although the portfolio’s format wasn’t a factor in her tenure bid, she found that it offered several advantages over the traditional paper-based format that might make it attractive both to individual faculty members and tenure and promotion committees.

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Performance Appraisal Interviews as a Tool to Improve Faculty Work

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.

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Instructional Design: Moving Toward a Less Structure, More Learning-Centered Environment

“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.

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Blogs: An Asynchronous Learning Trend

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.

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Improving Lectures

“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.

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Asynchronous Discussion: The Heart of the Online Course

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.

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Educational Assessment Options and Opportunities

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…

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