As a professor of cognitive psychology, I teach about memory, especially about when and why our memories often fail us. Students are excited to apply this material to their everyday lives.
Proactively Equipping Beginning Principal Preparation Students with Pre-Licensure Testing Strategies
Presently, 40 states have adopted a full or partial interpretation of the Educational Leadership Consortium Council (ELLC) standards (Vogel & Weiler, 2014). Principal preparation programs must fully integrate these standards into their course curriculum, if their driving force is student success. It is anticipated that by adhering to ELCC standards, accredited CAEP principal preparation programs are naturally employing the most current leadership knowledge and best leadership practices throughout their coursework (Vogel & Weiler, 2014).
No matter the academic discipline, course level, or time of day, the last five minutes of class often present instructors with a challenge and an opportunity. The challenge is maintaining students’ interest. Disrupting “illusions of fluency” is the opportunity. The term refers to misjudging the depth of what one knows (Carey 2015). Further, it describes the belief that a mastery over something has been achieved, when actually it has not (Lang 2016). The final class minutes can be best spent constructively assessing levels of student learning and understanding of course material.
We all endorse it and we all want our students to do it. We also claim to teach it. “It” is critical thinking, and very few of us actually teach it or even understand what it is (Paul & Elder, 2013). Research tells us that our students learn critical thinking only after we receive training in how to teach it and design our courses explicitly and intentionally to foster critical thinking skills (Abrami, Bernard, Borokhovski, Wade, Surkes, Tamim, & Zhang, 2008). We have to start by formulating assessable critical thinking learning outcomes and building our courses around them.
Students often arrive at university level instruction with some idea of their future employment direction. It is important for university instructors to seize their student’s career enthusiasm and foster a connection between the curriculum and potential future career applications. Providing students with an opportunity to connect their classroom learning, (online or face-to-face) with workplace relevance will result in many positive learning outcomes such as motivation, grit, and career goal setting. As stated by Schwartz, Gregg, and McKee (2018) “Guidance and information focused on careers should be included throughout one’s undergraduate experience” (p. 51). To integrate career content into the classroom the following tips are suggested: integrating career focused topics in discussions and activities; using and integrating services offered by career resource centers; including guest speakers; and incorporating additional online career resources. These strategies help foster a connection between course material and professions and careers students may be considering.
Universities are strange places. People pay thousands of dollars a year to be taught by supersmart people. These supersmart people are required to do research, write grants, and bring in money and resources to their university. Teaching is only a minor—almost insignificant—part of the job. While this often goes without saying at big R1 universities, it is surprising that this is all too often also true at smaller “teaching” colleges. At my home university, Adelphi, teaching is emphasized, but this is often the exception and not the rule.
Those who teach in the health disciplines expect their students to retain and apply every iota of learned material. However, many students come to us having achieved academic success by memorizing the content, regurgitating that information onto an exam, and promptly forgetting a good portion of it. In health, as well as other disciplines where new material builds upon the material from the previous semesters, it is critical for students to retain what they learn throughout their coursework and as they begin their careers as a nurse, engineer, elementary teacher, etc.
As longtime practitioners in our disciplines, we develop implicit skills that can be the source of some of the deepest learning for our students. In his book Experience and Education, John Dewey describes habit as “the formation of attitudes, attitudes that are emotional and intellectual…our basic sensitivities and ways of responding to all the conditions we meet in living” (35). Experiencing implies the sensing body, embodied learning, and Dewey does not shy away from the emotional dimensions of learning—both of which are often where the deepest learning happens, where students’ passion for a discipline ignites, and where experts’ best ideas originate. These often-overlooked dimensions of learning are also where empathy lives, and so it is there that knowledge might blossom not only into expertise but into wisdom.
Professors tend to cover a lot of content over the course of one class session. Yet students will probably forget most of it by the end of the semester. Why? One reason is that we focus too much on teaching, and not enough on learning. Students, therefore, don’t really get to grapple with the topic you just lectured about. They’re too busy taking notes. And most times, they don’t see a point to learning all this “stuff.”
For the last 15 years or so, I have performed improv comedy in Chicago. During much of that time, I also taught English classes at Kendall College, a culinary and hospitality school. As you might imagine, my improv skills come in handy in the classroom. Here is a brief introduction for how the basic concepts of improv, when employed skillfully, help improve the classroom climate.