Faculty Focus

HIGHER ED TEACHING STRATEGIES FROM MAGNA PUBLICATIONS

Teaching and Learning

Disposition Development: A Neglected Voice for the Pursuit of Excellence among College Students

Have you ever wondered what motivates students to come to class without reading and studying the assigned chapter? You are not alone! Faculty members across the nation are becoming increasingly challenged by students’ lack of dispositions that enhance learning. Every discipline has learning standards and achievement expectations that help drive students’ success. However, such expectations do not equal success. It is the motivation to pursue excellence, a work ethic that reflects the determination to solve problems, the attention to the smallest details, and the desire to be the very best that distinguishes students who make a difference in their given professions.

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Strategies for Creating a More Inclusive Classroom

“I don’t really have any diversity issues in my class because all of my students are white.”

“I have a lot of content to cover, so there’s really no time to address multiculturalism.”

Diversity, once largely centered on race and ethnicity, has evolved over the years to include a broad range of personal attributes, experiences, and backgrounds, each interlocking to create one’s social identity.

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Getting Students out into the Community Carries Risks as well as Benefits

Let’s see a show of hands by those who work at institutions that have developed a comprehensive risk management plan related to service learning and civic engagement. Keep your hand up if you can quickly locate a copy of that plan. And keep your hand up still if you’ve attended a formal training session regarding the risk management plan. Anyone?

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The Eyes of a Writer: A Strategy to Improve Student Writing

How many times have you provided feedback in the margins of students’ papers, only to find that you’re providing the very same feedback on the next set of papers? As a new faculty member, I was left dumbfounded by this experience. I couldn’t understand why my students continuously made the same errors and why my feedback did not improve their papers. I was also surprised by the number of students who requested meetings to discuss why they felt their papers warranted a higher grade. My colleagues assured me that I wasn’t alone in these experiences, but I knew there had to be alternatives to this unproductive cycle.

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Five Key Principles of Active Learning

A review of the research on active learning compiled for physiology faculty contains five “key findings” that author Joel Michael maintains ought “to be incorporated [into] our thinking as we make decisions about teaching physiology [I would say, name your discipline] at any educational level.” (p. 160) Here’s the list, along with a brief discussion of each.

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Challenging the Notion of Learning Styles

You should know that evidence supporting learning styles is being challenged. Find below the reference for a research article authored by a respected collection of educational researchers that disputes the fundamental assumption that students with a designated learning style (visual, auditory, or kinesthetic, for example) learn more when the instructional methods match their style. Also referenced is a brief, nontechnical article authored by Cedar Riener and Daniel Willingham, who begin their piece with this nonequivocating statement, “There is no credible evidence that learning styles exist.” (p. 33)

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Creating an Authentic Learning Environment by Embracing What’s Real

“Because much of what goes on in college classrooms lacks vitality, urgency and realness, students often draw a distinction between their classroom life and the real world.” So writes biology professor Christopher Uhl. He calls his solution “steering into the curve,” which he describes as the “antidote to the deadness that pervades many college classrooms.” (p. 108) He claims it has “the power to transform classrooms from tedious, lifeless places to alive, authentic relationship-rich environments.” (p.105)

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