Faculty Focus

HIGHER ED TEACHING STRATEGIES FROM MAGNA PUBLICATIONS

Teaching and Learning

Why Some International Students Are Silent in the U.S. Classroom

Recently, in a class discussion, my professor let the students speak on the issue of silence. Many students in that class were either K-12 school or college teachers. They shared their experiences and perceptions of silent students — both native and non-native speakers of English. Some of my classmates were not familiar with the culture of silence in foreign countries. Personally, this class reminded me of my own experience of understanding the U.S. classroom experience a few years ago.

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Should We Teach Students to Say ‘I Don’t Know’?

When I began teaching, I encountered many students who didn’t know things. I had to grade papers that were filled with long, complicated narrations, written by students who clearly didn’t have a clue what they were writing about. Students continue to take this strategy, fervently hoping that the grader won’t recognize their ignorance, or will award at least a few partial credit points. How I longed for a simple “I don’t know” as an answer.

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Group Work: Are Student-Selected Groups More Effective?

If the course involves a graded group project, should instructors let students form their own groups or should the instructor create the groups? This decision is not always easy or obvious. Some students lobby hard to form their own groups, arguing that knowing each other ensures that they will be able to work together productively. On the other hand, in the world of work, most of the time employees do not get to pick their collaborators. There’s a task, and those with knowledge and relevant skills are formed into a group and assigned to complete the project, solve the problem, or develop the product.

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Magna Publications and The Teaching Professor announce winners of the Maryellen Weimer Scholarly Work on Teaching and Learning Award

At the 2011 Teaching Professor Conference, Magna Publications and The Teaching Professor announced the winners of the Maryellen Weimer Scholarly Work on Teaching and Learning Award. Now in its third year, the award recognizes outstanding scholarly contributions with the potential to advance college-level teaching and learning practices.

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Tips for Creating a Participatory Classroom Environment

All too often students shuffle into class, take notes while the professor lectures for 50 minutes or so, and then pack up and leave. Rinse and repeat throughout the semester. Some might never raise their hand, offer their opinion, or even learn the name of the person sitting in front of them.

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Failure is an Option: Helping Students Learn from Mistakes

Failure is one of the best teachers. Most of what I learned about home maintenance I learned from my mistakes. The military understands the benefits of failure and actually gives soldiers tasks that they know will lead to failure at some point as a part of their training. Similarly, pilots are trained on simulators and given a variety of emergency situations until they fail.

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Critical Reflection Adds Depth and Breadth to Student Learning

More and more colleges and universities are developing general education curricula that include courses involving critical reflection, including how the various disciplines address some of the big questions facing today’s society. But be warned, critical reflection is not for the faint of heart.

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Questioning Skills to Engage Students

Questioning skills are essential to good teaching. Teachers often use questions to ensure that students are attentive and engaged, and to assess students’ understanding. What is important to note is that in addition to the intent of the question, the question itself matters. For instance, to ensure that students are attentive, a teacher could ask the students “Are you listening?” To assess if the students have understood, the teacher could ask “Do you follow me?”

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To Increase Learner Achievement Serve Feedback Sandwiches

Constructive instructor feedback is essential for a students’ cognitive growth, and it is essential that constructive feedback be presented in a positive and encouraging manner. An appropriate technique, known to the authors as the sandwich approach, encourages learners while providing honest, open and direct critique. Online instructors, in particular, should serve virtual sandwiches to increase motivation and to bolster the achievement of their students. In its most rudimentary sense the virtual sandwich has three layers a top slice, the filling, and the bottom slice.

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What Can Be Done to Boost Academic Rigor?

When it comes to college students and studying, the general rule most first-year students hear goes something like this. “For every one credit hour in which you enroll, you will spend approximately two to three hours outside of class studying and working on assignments for the course.” For a full-time student carrying 12 credits that equals at least 24 hours of studying per week.

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