Faculty Focus

HIGHER ED TEACHING STRATEGIES FROM MAGNA PUBLICATIONS

Teaching and Learning

leveraging social issues

Leveraging Social and Political Issues to Promote Student Engagement, Improve Writing Skills

“Your students are failing because you are failing them.” These words can cut to the core of any professional educator who strives for excellence in teaching and learning. However, hidden within that criticism is a more useful message: “To help them succeed, you must inspire their imaginations and capture their attention through meaningful and creative engagement within the classroom.”

As English composition instructors, we are tasked with teaching students how to effectively express themselves through writing as well as understand why that’s such an important skill. Oftentimes this is executed by teaching out of a required textbook that addresses the various functions of writing. However, to make the writing assignments more interesting, teachers should consider allowing students to choose topics or, at the very least, assigning ones that hold current relevance.

Read More »
inclusive classroom

Five Ways to Promote a More Inclusive Classroom

The graduation gap continues to exist between traditional and nontraditional students. Although the classroom experience has not been the focus of most institutions’ retention and persistence efforts, faculty can and do play a major role for improving the retention and success of all students. It’s a topic covered extensively in my new book, Creating the Path to Success in the Classroom: Teaching to Close the Graduation Gap for Minority, First-Generation, and Academically Unprepared Students, released earlier this month. While recognizing that there are no easy answers, I offer ideas that can be incorporated in, or modified to align with, faculty’s existing teaching methods. Following are a few excerpts from chapter two, where I suggest five steps for promoting an inclusive classroom:

Read More »
Strategies for Discussing Religion in Secular Studies Classes

Strategies for Discussing Religion in Secular Studies Classes

Religion. Faith. Spirituality. Some faculty may view these phenomena as significant influences on the human experience, others as challenges to intellectualism and the scientific method. There are also academics who struggle with their position, perceiving the power embedded in these ideologies and practices as potentially beneficial as well as restrictive. Most would agree that theology elicits a range of strong and often-personal reactions. Why, then, would faculty teaching secular studies courses want to raise the topic of religion in their classes when they could play it safe and leave the subject entirely to the specialists, their colleagues in religious studies?

Read More »
learning objectives

Learning Objectives: Where We Start and Where We End

On the surface, learning objectives don’t seem all that complicated. You begin with an objective or you can work backwards from the desired outcome. Then you select an activity or assignment that accomplishes the objective or outcome. After completion of the activity or assignment, you assess to discover if students did in fact learn what was proposed. All that’s very appropriate. Teachers should be clear about what students need to know and be able to do when a course ends. But too often that’s where it stops. We don’t go any further in our thinking about our learning objectives. There’s another, more challenging, set of questions that also merit our attention.

Read More »
why do students plagiarize

Three Keys to Stopping Plagiarism

Although there are software-based services that can help instructors check the originality of student writing and discourage students from deliberately copying the work of others, many instances of plagiarism stem not from a willful disregard of the rules but from simple ignorance of them.

Elizabeth Kleinfeld, an English instructor and director of the writing center at Metropolitan State University of Denver, has studied plagiarism and students’ use of sources for the last seven years, mostly among students in first-year writing courses. She has found that many students don’t understand the differences between paraphrasing, summarizing, and plagiarism.

Read More »
teaching students about professionalism

Teaching and Evaluating Professionalism

The evidence is growing. Employers prefer to hire employees/graduates who consistently demonstrate professionalism and emotional intelligence skills in the workplace. Cognitive and technical skills are essential as well, but these are largely expected now.

Read More »
teaching professional track students

Helping Professional-Track Students Succeed

Today’s students enroll in college with expectations of a smooth and direct path to graduation, only to discover that professional track programs can be inflexible, challenging, and prescriptive. Programs such as nursing, dental hygiene, physical therapy, occupational therapy, veterinary technology, and others are governed by rigorous accreditation standards. Colleges and universities must adhere to the standards developed by the respective governing bodies; however, many of the standards are in direct conflict with how some students learn and absorb knowledge and do not take into account learning preferences, teaching styles, and student/faculty personalities. With accelerated programs popping up all over the country, how can we maintain high accreditation standards yet be flexible enough to meet the learning needs of today’s professional track student?

Read More »
lecture hall

What SoTL Research Does and Doesn’t Give Us

Last week I tried to write a blog post about research article reviews—those quantitative, qualitative, or narrative summaries of where the research stands on a given issue. I couldn’t make the post work. It ended up being a tirade about the disconnect between research and practice.

Read More »
learner-centered teaching

Is My Teaching Learner-Centered?

It’s hard to say—we have no definitive measures of learner-centeredness or even mutually agreed upon definitions. And yet, when we talk about it, there’s an assumption that we all understand the reference.

Teaching Professor Blog My friend Linda recently gave me a beautifully illustrated children’s book that contains nothing but questions. It reminded me how good questions, like beams of light, cut through the fog and illuminate what was once obscured. And so, to help us further explore and understand what it means to be learner-centered, I’ve generated a set of questions. For the record, these questions were not empirically developed, and they haven’t been validated in any systematic way. However, they do reflect the characteristics regularly associated with learner-centered teaching.

Read More »