Teaching TIPS

 teaching tip
Teaching Strategies for Promoting Active Learning
Research indicates that students need to do more than just listen to make learning meaningful. While activities such as reading, writing, discussing, or engaging in solving problems are important, engaging in higher-order thinking tasks such as analysis, synthesis, and evaluation is critical. These teaching tips will highlight instructional strategies for promoting active learning that involve students in doing things and thinking about what they are doing. (Complete article here)

November is Academic Writing Month, an internationally-recognized, annual event dedicated to promoting scholarly writing. Effective writing is so fundamental to being an educated person that it's included in our General Education Requirements, but even if you don't teach GERs, it's likely that your field values high quality writing. Use Academic Writing Month (AcWriMo) as a springboard for discussing effective writing in your class or in your field. What does writing DO in your discipline? How do professionals in your field use written communication? What does high quality writing look like from your disciplinary perspective? Have students dive into the posts at #AcWriMo where they'll see how others are embracing writing and reveling in the opportunity to write. Use this month to help students at all levels see why effective—dare I say beautiful?--written communication is so vitally important. Dr. Jackie Cason's First Year Composition blog includes a range of instructor resources and interesting materials that will help you highlight writing in your class.     


Make Learning Outcomes Clear to Students
We emphasize student learning outcomes (SLOs) in programs, courses, and on documents like syllabi and course content guides, but are you using them to promote student learning? To connect a lesson or unit with a particular learning outcome, identify the outcome explicitly on assignments, with materials you might post on Blackboard, and by announcing it at the start of a class or unit. Try to capture student interest by connecting the learning outcome with a challenging problem the students will need to solve in real-world personal or professional contexts related to the course. Once the learning outcome is known to students, you'll be better able to reinforce student learning through course activities, assignments, and assessment methods.

Gain more insight:

As you develop your syllabi, think carefully about strategies for holding "office hours." The benefits of "outside of class communication" (OOC) are well documented. Faculty/student interactions positively influence student learning and improve student persistence (Halawah, 2006;Kuh &Hu, 2001;Pascarella &Terenzini, 2005). Last spring the online newsletter Faculty Focus offered several strategies for improving office hours. One key recommendation is to schedule office hours at times that are convenient for you AND your students. Determine the best times for students by soliciting their input. Try circulating a calendar with possible times, then ask them to initial days/times that don't work for them. Tech can help here, too. Try gathering student input by sending out a Doodle poll or use an online scheduling tool like YouCanBook.Me. Another idea is to offer a point of connection other than your office: use Blackboard, try a Google Hangout, or say you'll be available at a table near the coffee stand in the Student Union. For more suggestions, check out the February 18, 2015, issue of Faculty Focus. We'd love to hear about your creative strategies for increasing "outside of class communication" (OOC) with students.

Do you consider yourself a Reflective Teacher? I
f you'd like to become a more reflective teacher, the moments before and after class are crucial. Protect the time before class so you're able collect your thoughts and ensure you have all materials. Arrive in the classroom a few minutes ahead of class to give yourself time to set up and settle in. After class take time to review the effectiveness of your class period. Were students engaged and energetic? Disengaged and confused? What were you feeling as an instructor? Were you confident and prepared? Nervous and nauseated? Make time shortly after class to make a few reflective notes regarding changes you'll make on assignments, things that could be more clear, and so on. Reflective questions found here may help you with this process.

Looking for a quick, low cost way to improve the teaching and learning environment?
Learn and use your students' names! Doing so can improve learner performance, demonstrates that you value students as individuals, and signals your interest in their learning. Better still, this relatively simple instructor behavior ripples out into the classroom because students who are called by name will make more of an effort to learn others' names, thus creating a sense of community, improving peer-to-peer interaction, and promoting a positive communication climate in the classroom.

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