December 17, 2008

Learning, Libraries & Technology Conference, 2009

One of Ohio’s more famous conferences involved in higher education is coming soon. The University System of Ohio’s Libraries, Learning & Technology 2009 Conference will be the tenth anniversary of Ohio’s premier higher conference, previously known as the Ohio Digital Commons for Education Conference. This year’s conference will deliver an excellent forum for professional development and networking opportunities, with a focus on:

  • Teaching and Learning in the 21stCentury
  • Student Success
  • Ohio Is Moving Forward
  • Transforming Technologies
  • P-20 Education

The conference will also include keynote speakers, vendor exhibits, technology demonstrations at Innovation Island, and more.

The conference will be held March 1-3, 2009. Fees for the conference have been reduced.

Two-day registration:
$195 ($95 for students)
One-day registration:
$95 ($55 for students)

Registration Includes:

  • Keynote sessions
  • Concurrent sessions
  • Innovation Island (Monday only)
  • Lunch
  • Continental breakfast
  • Reception with hors d’oeuvres (Monday evening)
  • Conference tote bag and program
  • Free wireless access in the conference area
  • Computer access in the Cyber CafĂ©
  • Free parking at the Hilton Columbus

Please see the conference’s website for more information or registration:

December 15, 2008

Workshop Extension: Science of Learning (Diane Halpern DVSS Keynote & 25 Principles)

A group of several BGSU instructors, from tenured professors to a graduate teaching assistant, attended the “Science of Learning” discussion session last Friday. The discussion centered on Diane Halpern’s keynote from earlier this spring at the 2nd Annual BGSU Teaching and Learning Fair. She began her keynote with the quizzical, yet rhetorical question:
If I taught something and no one learned it, what happened?
(In other words, can I say that I really TAUGHT it?)
Some of the key points the group discussed during the session were the nature the science of learning and importance of faculty knowing about the implications for their courses and the students they teach. Halpern encourages faculty to think about the big ideas of their course (Ten years after your course, what do you want students to remember or be able to do?); be clear about learning outcomes, and encourage/foster a learning environment that allows for practice at retrieval of knowledge and establishes challenging learning opportunities that addresses and transforms their mental models.

Furthermore, it’s important for students (and faculty) to realize that learning is “effortful,” yet rewarding – often most difficult initially, then easier with more efforts and practice… like most things in life. The diverse group of participants provided and discussed examples from foreign languages, musical performance, and the sciences.

Later, participants reviewed Halpern’s list of 25 principles (full list with citations available here or as MS Word file) and selected individual principles that are essential for student success, such as:
• Perceptual motor grounding
• Testing effect
• Spacing effect
• Stories and Example Cases
• Discovery Learning

One concern brought up in Halpern’s address as well as in this discussion session that is an important question for all teachers – (paraphrased) “So, if these methods lead to better, durable learning, don’t these take up more time in the class? What goes and how do we choose?” A great question for all instructors, department chairs, and deans as well!

Halpern suggests focusing your planning on students’ lives today and in the future – What are or will be their needs? What skills and knowledge will best prepare them for a world that doesn’t exist yet? These questions will continue to be explored and certainly more will be generated as additional findings emerge from the "learning sciences" discipline, as well as from the cognitive and neurological sciences.

For the BGSU community, to view this keynote, visit the DVSS (digital video streaming server), log in, and search for "Halpern" -- the video is approximately 70 minutes.

For those who attended this session or just want to leave a thought), click on the Comments link below this post to share your thoughts on the keynote, this discussion session, or any related issues.

December 10, 2008

Matrix for Online Sources

Teaching and Learning
Today’s students conduct most of their research online. More and more students search the web for articles and sources, avoiding libraries at almost all cost. But how do our students know what information on the Internet is reliable?
Professors Susan Miller-Cochran of North Carolina State University and Rochelle Rodrigo of Mesa Community College in Arizona developed a matrix to aid students with this task. This matrix was guided by two questions they encourage students to ask:

How does the information change over time--is it constantly updated and revised, or static?

And, how has the information been reviewed?

Using those questions as guides, the professors developed the matrix below to aid their students in their quest for dependable information.

To read more about this matrix, please click here. To get a better look of the matrix, please click here.

Outstanding TA Award nominations being accepted

Outstanding TA Award nominations are being accepted.

Nominations are being taken now for the Outstanding TA Award at BGSU.
The award, sponsored by the Graduate Student Enhancement Program
(GradSTEP) and the Graduate College, is designed to encourage and
reward excellence in undergraduate instruction. Winners receive a
plaque commemorating their accomplishment and a cash award of $250.

To be eligible, the Teaching Assistant must have taught a course for
which he/she had major responsibility at any time in 2008. Exam
proctors, graders, and past recipients of this award are not eligible.
Self-nominations will not be considered for this award. Those eligible
will come from one or more of the following categories:
1) TA teaching own section(s)
2) TA leading study/recitation section(s)
3) TA teaching laboratory section(s)

Information and nomination forms can be found at

Nominations must be received by Feb. 9 and should be sent to 215 South
Hall or

December 4, 2008

'Measuring Up' report

Every two years higher-education in the U.S. actually receives a report card. Since 2000 the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education has released its 'Measuring Up' report, which essentially issues broad and encompassing report of just about every aspect involved with higher education in the U.S. The anticipation for what the report will or will not reveal always is big, and the anticipation for this year's report is no different.

Kevin Carey, a research and policy manager for a major think tank in Washington, describes some of the history and previous experience with reactions to the 'Measuring Up' report. Carey also expresses some thoughts on how serious higher education institutions should consider the report and why it may have so many detractors.

Go ahead and read Carey's article and feel free to tell us what you think.

November 24, 2008


Teaching and Learning
While the Internet has opened us to a world of information and sources, it can also cause problems in our classrooms. The Internet has provided our students with a wealth of websites that will sell, barter and even give away research papers, English papers and essays. How do you combat this in our classes?

In a recent article in T.H.E. Journal titled “e-cheating: Combating a 21st Century Challenge,” Kim McMurtry provides us with a list of 8 suggestions to combat this type of plagiarism:

  • Take time to explain and discuss your academic honesty policy
  • Design writing assignments with specific goals and instructions
  • Know what's available online before assigning a paper
  • Give students enough time to do an assignment
  • Require oral presentations of student papers or have students submit a letter of transferal to you, explaining briefly their thesis statement, research process, etc
  • Have students submit essays electronically
  • When you suspect e-cheating, use a free full-text search engine like AltaVista or Digital Integrity
  • Consider subscribing to a plagiarism search service, like or

Read the entire article by clicking here

How have you dealt with e-cheating in your classes?

November 19, 2008

Creative Commons session, November 21st

Copyright, author's rights, and licensing of personal works continue to enter into discussions at all levels of university work. From faculty authorship to students' creative works available on the Internet, each individual can now specify the conditions for the distribution and use of their works using the Creative Commons.

[From the Creative Commons website:]

What You Can Do Here

"Creative Commons helps you publish your work online while letting others know exactly what they can and can't do with your work. When you choose a license, we provide you with tools and tutorials that let you add license information to your own site, or to one of several free hosting services that have incorporated Creative Commons. With a Creative Commons license, you keep your copyright but allow people to copy and distribute your work provided they give you credit — and only on the conditions you specify here."

At the "Owning and Sharing Your Ideas" session on November 21, there was a presentation on Creative Commons and panelists led a discussion.

Garrick Ducat, panelist and Instructional Designer at Mercy College of Northwest Ohio, presented the licensing features of Creative Commons and explained how we can't all be users - we need to produce. We need to create more and apply licenses to our work to build the Creative Commons community. He also sees it as a way to skip legal intermediaries between the content creator and user.

Peter Murray, panelist and Assistant Director of New Service Development for OhioLink, sees Creative Commons as a way to provide open use and reuse of knowledge. He also wishes there were more students and educators licensing their work and joining the community.

Micheal Kudela, panelist and Instructional Designer at COBL, noted how licensing his photography under Creative Commons established more interest in his work. He also recognized Creative Commons licensing for increasing traffic to his images on Flikr.

What do you think? What are the pros and cons of Creative Commons from your perspective or discipline? Click on the comments link to leave your thoughts.

November 17, 2008

Google Books

Teaching and LearningTechnology

Do you ever have a hard time finding books and sources to help you prepare for lectures and classes? Do you have a list of books that you would love to read, but just don’t have the time or money? Could your students benefit from free book viewing online? Well, Google has launched something that could help: Google Books.

Google Books allows you to search through a wide variety of books and even provides access to the content of those books. This means that you can read whole books online, although some authors and publishers only allow a few pages to be read. Google books categorizes books into subject matter, has a great searching capacity and even allows you to create your own library where you can recommend books and write reviews.

The topics that can be found within the archives of Google Books are vast. A simple search of books on teaching pulled up 131,582 results. This could be a tool that may help in your research and something that may help your students in your classes as well.

What do you think about Google Books?

November 14, 2008

CTL Fall Newsletter #2

The newest CTL “Communicating for Learners” newsletter has just been released. In the latest newsletter you can find interesting pieces about the 2009 BGSU Teaching and Learning Fair, where Dr. Barbara Millis will be the keynote speaker. There’s a piece about the interesting presentation concerning contemporary scholarly copyright issues. In this issue you can also look at the different dates and times of workshops and discussions here at the center.

Please take a look at the newsletter for yourself.

November 12, 2008

Breaking Down the “Pay Wall” to Scholarly Works: Michael Carroll Presentation

On October 31, 2008, Michael Carroll presented "Copyright and Your Right to Use and Share Your Scholarly Materials" at BGSU’s Olscamp Hall. His presentation was recorded, so be sure to set aside 60 minutes for this thought-provoking view of the coming shift in scholarly communication:
For BGSU communityClick here to view (with description, time, scheduling options, etc)

For other non-BGSU viewersClick here to view (with no other data or scheduling options)
Dr. Carroll began by comparing the scholarly communication movement of today to recycling 20 years ago – now recycling is commonplace as will scholarly communication (open access/author’s rights, etc.) eventually, due to changing times, needs, and the availability of digital tools.
Copyright laws are the crux of the issue behind the scholarly communication movement and the pressing need for change. The first laws, enacted in the early 18th century, were intended to protect those who wanted to make money from their written works rather than those who wrote for impact, as researchers and scholars do. Currently, when an author signs over their copyright to the publisher, they become limited in their own access to the work as well as limit many others due to what Dr. Carroll calls “the pay wall.”

From the price of individual journals offered through library subscriptions or access costs for individual articles online, the prices have skyrocketed, leaving many institutions to make difficult decisions about what they can or can no longer afford for their faculty and students. (Access to some individual journals can cost over $10,000 per year.) Carroll asks that researchers and authors make responsible decisions regarding the publication of their works – to consider the effects of simply signing the first or “opening offer” a publisher extends.
The issue of open access (OA), where the consumer of the works (reader, researcher) does not have to pay for access to the published works, often leads to misinformation about OA… “Open access does not mean lower quality or less rigor.” In fact, Carroll listed several ways that OA is good for authors/researchers:
  • increases impact (# of citations) due to easier access by researchers
  • serendipitous researchers come across works more often, making previously unforeseen connections
  • researchers need broader access to a myriad of sources/literature
  • helps international and poorly financed researchers – access/cost
  • medical researchers – providing out of date treatments due to lack of access to most recent findings
  • current pay-for journals are not searchable because they are not linked (lots of information could be added to the general pool of accessible resources)
One example Dr. Carroll highlighted was the OA journal, PLOS (Public Library of Science), and its successful growth over the past few years, including a 90% rejection rate, high impact, and the ability to publish peer-reviewed works immediately on the web. Other journals are using a similar model, but many other options are being investigated as viable options. (See Philosophers’ Imprint from the University of Michigan, which has been in service since 2001)

When considering to transfer your copyright to a publisher, Carroll asks authors to take an “Aretha Franklin moment” -- “You better think…” In other words, you may be limiting or hurting yourself and other future researchers by giving away all copyright control to a publisher.

So, what can faculty authors do?
  • Check current authors’ rights with publishers (these can sometimes be altered after the fact)
  • Negotiate with the publisher – they are getting used to this process and providing options for authors (it’s your call – they want to keep a good relationship with you too)
  • Many publishers already allow some form of open access, but most authors still are not asking/requesting; it’s a usually a workflow issue, habit, or simply non-awareness (most faculty are simply not aware of their options nor the benefits of OA)
As Dr. Carroll opined, “we’re reaching the tipping point… (and we) need help to push this forward.” Spread the word and become a part of the soon-to-be-in-crowd of Open Access authors!

For more information:

What are your thoughts on Open Access and author's rights? How knowledgeable are faculty or graduate students (future scholars) in your department?... Click on the COMMENTS link below to get started!

November 7, 2008

Teachers On Teaching: Professional Practice and Authentic Assessment

The November “Teachers on Teaching” session is on professional practice and authentic assessment. Facilitated by Drs. Vincent Kantorski and Sandra Stegman from the College of Musical Arts, this session aims to provide instructors with practical assessments centered on authentic, professional skills and tasks. For more information, we asked Vincent and Sandra a few questions about their upcoming session:

Q: What exactly is “professional practice”?
A: Professional practices are tasks, activities, reasoning, etc. that are reflective of how real-world practitioners work within their field. Teachers can then assess those authentic activities to determine how well prepared students would be to do similar activities as novice professionals.

For example, in Dr. Stegman’s Choral Methods course, students analyze a piece of music that they then introduce and rehearse in class. The rehearsal is video-taped for self-assessment in addition to the verbal and written feedback that she provides. Students prepare vocal warm-up cards that they use in actual practice with their field site students. Feedback is offered from their cooperating teacher.

In another example, Dr. Kantorski has students in a music education class write a letter to a newspaper editor urging readers to vote against a hypothetical levy that, if passed, would result in drastic cuts to the school district’s music program. Students are required to provide rationales, based upon research and the benefits they derived as music students in the school district, for each point of their argument.

Q: Why is PP&AA helpful/important for faculty and/or their students?
A: Professional practice and authentic assessment provide relevancy to course information, assignments, etc. They connect students to the real world of work and life outside the classroom. They can be helpful and important to students because they actually practice, rather than simply discuss or read about, activities they will be expected to do as professionals. This process can be especially valuable to students because they receive their teachers’ feedback and suggestions for improvement and self-evaluation.

Q: Is PP&AA something instructors can implement right away or is there a fairly steep learning curve?
A: It can be introduced in small doses immediately; however, ideas for how to do so are not always quick to arise. That is the benefit of sharing methods and strategies with colleagues from same and different disciplines, as will be the case at the November 12 session.

This discussion session, “Let’s Get Real: Authentic Practice and Assessment,” will be held on Wednesday, November 12 from 10:00 to 11:30 a.m. in 201 University Hall. For the full description or to register, visit or call 372-6898.

Effective Group Projects

Teaching and LearningWorkshop
Collaborative skills are essential skills that students must learn in order to succeed in their chosen fields. How can we teach students collaborative skills? Through group projects.
While most students grumble at the announcement of group work, there are ways to make group work more rewarding and effective. In an article titled “Collaborative peer evaluation: Best practices for group member assessments,” Lisa Gueldsenzoph and Gary May provides a useful checklist for effective peer evaluation. This includes:

  • Make sure students understand the who, what, when, why, and how of the assessment BEFORE the group project begins.

  • Create a peer evaluation tool that is specific to the purpose, goals, and tasks of the group project.

  • Be the “guide on the side” as a resource to students and to ensure whole group participation.

  • Ensure content of the quantitative peer evaluation form is measurable to discourage popularity points.”

  • Use formative (mid-process) evaluations not as a grading device, but to keep the group on track and to resolve problems as they occur.

  • Use summative evaluations that allow students to evaluate their own role in the group as well as each of their group members.

  • At the conclusion of the group project and evaluation process, seek students’ input to assess the overall experience.

Gueldsenzoph and May also include a peer evaluation form that can be adapted and used with your group assignments.

If you would like to learn more about creating effective group projects in you classroom, the Center is hosting a discussion titled, Designing Effective and Meaningful Group Projects on Friday, January 9 from 10-11:30. Register for this workshop here.

Gueldenzoph, L. E. & May, L. G. (2002). Collaborative peer evaluation: Best practices for group member assessments. Business Communication Quarterly, 65(1), 9-20.

How do you design group projects?

November 5, 2008

Have You Tried DiRT?

DiRT is the acronym for a new wiki, Digital Research Tools. DiRT offers an array of resources for grad students or instructors in higher education. This wiki is a collection of resources that helps scholars do everything from manage citations, author a multimedia work, or analyze texts. There are over two dozen links to different software resources and websites that can offer help for researchers.

For example, you're writing an article with the intention of getting it published. This wiki can help with the publication process. DiRT offers a platform to share your work with other researchers, compare resources, help contribute to a collection, or help you organize your research tools.

Take a look for yourself and invite other people to visit DiRT.

Here's your link to this wiki:

October 31, 2008

Promoting the Culture of Teaching

After dealing with the rigors of graduate school people who want to teach in higher education must deal with the stress of finding a job. Among the several factors that will influence their choices of where to work is deciding the type of institution -- will they teach at a community college, a research-intensive institution or an institution that places an emphasis on teaching? They also must wonder where the skills they learned in graduate school are most compatible with or which type of college they're best trained to teach for.

Professor Sean P. Murphy offers an interesting view on the dilemmas involved in teaching in higher education, specifically about the dilemmas that arise after being trained in certain ways and teaching at different types of colleges or universities. One of the suggestions is that graduate programs could expose their soon-to-be instructors to working at different types of institutions which may be an emphasis on teaching or research.

Please read the article and share any comments. We enjoy hearing what readers think.

October 30, 2008

Learning Community Updates - SoTL, Publication, & Library eTools

The Center for Teaching and Learning is sponsoring 13 learning communities (LC) for the 2008-09 academic year. Below are brief updates from four of them, regarding their accomplishments and future plans.

Scholarship of Teaching and Learning LC (Facilitated by Jackie Cuneen and Mark Earley)
The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning LC read and discussed anthropologist Rebakah Nathan’s book My Freshman Year, an insider’s observation of modern college students focusing on the current state of academics and campus culture.
In addition, we examined other materials such as a 60 Minutes feature entitled Here Come The Millennials, and interacted with invited guest Professor Michael Coomes from the Department of Higher Education and Student Affairs, an expert on the Millennial student and co-author of Serving the Millennial Generation. SoTL LC member Colleen Boff collected information from the group and created a LibGuide (see containing a comprehensive listing of scholarly sources about working with and teaching Millennials. The LibGuide features a menu of “Classroom Activities,” and LC members will add activities to the menu throughout Spring Semester 2009. The SoTL LC will demonstrate the LibGuide at the CTL’s Teaching and Learning Fair on February 6, 2009 (watch CTL's website for more information on this event).

Publication LC (Facilitated by Allie Terry)
The Publication LC has met 4 times to discuss 6 Learning Community members' research thus far and has already built a "culture of accountability" for the publication process within the group. Each session, at least one LC member pre-circulates a publication in progress for critique and discussion by the group. During our meeting, we dissect the text, move it forward in terms of readers' comments, conceptual frameworks, and issues of style.

The culture of mutual trust and respect in the group provides an ideal environment of "safe critique," one in which the shared goal is to publish the research in the best form possible. Thus, the author understands that the critique is not aimed at intellectual failure, but rather at intellectual achievement in the eventual publication of the research. Our LC's current works-in-progress include: 21 articles, 7 book chapters, at least 4 book manuscripts, 2 grant proposals, and 16 conference papers. (Note: this LC has 10 members this year.)

Library e-Tools LC (Facilitated by Colleen Boff and Linda Rich)
The Library e-Tools LC has been having fun digging into EBSCOhost, a common search interface to dozens of library research databases covering a variety of topics and disciplines. Here’s what we are in the process of exploring:
  • Basic and advanced searching
  • Customization of the search screen
  • Saving searches and organizing research into folders
  • Sharing research folders with other users (e.g. students, colleagues, etc.)
  • Setting up automatic searches via email alerts/RSS feeds
  • Setting up table of contents alerts for favorite journals
  • Using EBSCOhosts’ Page Composer to easily build web pages
As we explore these different Web 2.0 enhancements, we discuss ways to use these value-added features with students in our teaching and for our own research and work with colleagues.

Pedagogy and Scholarship in Second Life Learning Community (facilitated by Anthony Fontana and Bonnie Mitchell) has been investigating various approaches to integrating SL into the BGSU learning environment and the issues involved. Members continually share their experiences, concerns, opinions, expertise and interests during group discussions and interactive dialog. The community consists of members from a variety of disciplines including Art, Interpersonal Communication, Intervention Services, the Writing Center, Computer Science, Psychology and Pop Culture.

The facilitators have shared the knowledge that they obtained while attending the Second Life Educators Community Conference in Florida and the Internet Research Conference in Denmark. As a group, the Pedagogy and Scholarship in Second Life Learning Community discussed issues related to research ethics and procedures, relevant and popular research topics in SL, and developments in virtual world technologies. Other meetings have focused primarily on teaching using Second Life and teaching experiences on the virtual campus.

For more information about these and other learning communities, visit the CTL's LC page or contact us at or 372-6898.

October 23, 2008

P2P University

There is a small handful of education professionals who are joining a movement towards creating an online university. The fact that there will be an online university should not serve as too much of a surprise though, because of how common we hear about attaining a college degree online or because online courses are almost as common. However, this online university is quite different.

As Jeffrey Young reports on The Chronicle of Education website, the P2P University (peer-to-peer) will involve instructors from around the world volunteering and helping pay the Web-hosting fees to publish the ‘university’s’ courses. P2P University is seeking to help students take part in “learning from one another through online social tools.” Among other reasons explaining why this school is being founded is because P2P University wants to fill in what they see as gaps in traditional university online classes.

The idea of a peer-to-peer online school is not an entirely new concept, and it has been attempted before. Most tries have been met with failure, but P2P says that it has plans that say should ensure its survival. One of the strategies to attract students is by having internationally renowned instructors, who are retired or working in fields outside of Academia.

There has been no mention of actual official credit for students ‘attending’ P2P and details are still being worked out to establish the school. Please read Young’s article and see what you think about this idea of peer-to-peer higher education.

October 15, 2008

Ten Easy Ways to Engage Your Students

Are you trying to find a way to make your classroom environment more engaging? In a College Teaching article, Tara Gray and Laura Madson provide the following 10 tips for engaging students:
1. Maintain sustained eye contact.
2. Ask before you tell.
3. Create a structure for note taking.
4. Let the readings share your lectern.

5. Use the pause procedure.
Pause so that students can compare and discuss notes for 2 minutes.
6. Assign one-minute papers.
7. Try think-pair-share.

Hold Students Accountable Daily
8. Quiz daily.
9. Use clickers
10. Call on a student every 2-3 minutes.

This article provides great tips and give good examples on how to apply these techniques in your classroom.
Find the entire article through BGSU’s Library. Search for:
Gray, Tara and Laura Madson. “Ten Easy Ways to Engage Your Students.” College Teaching 25.2 (2007): 83-87.
How do you engage your students?

Different Way of Grading Papers

Michael Nelson is a political science professor at Rhodes College. As a "guest blogger" for The Chronicle of Higher Education, Nelson recently wrote a short blog post that shares a different way for instructors to grade papers. Nelson writes that he intends to break a habit that he (and many other instructors) tend to have when they grade student papers.

Nelson wonders what would happen if at the end of student papers he were to rephrase his traditional way of comments about the paper. Instead of praising the positives of a paper followed by a powerful "but" which is usually followed by critiques of the paper, Nelson says he would like to try the opposite. He wonders how students receptions could change if critiques were written first, then the powerful "but" is followed by praising comments about the work.

Nelson offers a small blog posting which could make big differences for students and instructors.

October 8, 2008

No More Blue Books?

It was less than a decade ago that students had to actually get in line at the registrars office at a prescribed time and date in order to add or drop a course. It was even less than a decade ago that note-taking usually meant writing by hand in a notebook. Today, as evident here at BGSU, students can enroll for classes completely online and/or type (even digitally record) their notes on their laptop.

The rapid shifts in technology have now reached the point where we could likely see Blue Books become obsolete. Some universities are purchasing certain software programs that students can install onto their laptops which allows writing exams to be typed in class. The programs essentially allow students to open the word processing programs on their laptops, while locking down all other programs. The programs can also do a number of other options, which add to the program's attractiveness.

Securexam is one of the forerunners in this shift in higher education. Please read an article on to learn more about the possible obsolescence of the Blue Book tradition at universities.

October 2, 2008

Working with the Procrastinating Student

Instructors in any discipline probably have had to deal with the procrastinating student. For one reason or another, these students have a hard time with getting their work done on-time and/or have a habit of underachieving because they rush to complete assignment.

Marty Nemko, a Guest Blogger for The Chronicle of Higher Education, offers some tips for Helping Your Procrastination-Prone Students.

CTL would love to hear from any instructor and how they try and help their procrastinating students.
How do you deal with procrastination-prone students?

September 26, 2008

Reflections: TA Workshop #1

CTL would first like to say thank you for the participants who did come to the workshop. Your input, time and effort are more than appreciated. We're really looking forward to our next discussion and are planning on seeing all of you again.

Here are some of the reflections that we took from our discussion:
* Most of you appreciated that there is some kind of forum where you can talk about being a TA here at BGSU. And, you were all more than willing to share some of your experiences and insight that you have had here.

* Many of you would like to be able to hear more from other TAs. You would like to hear what other TAs are doing in their classes, how they deal with certain situations, integrating certain tools and methodologies into your classes, and some of you expressed that you would like to see about making your classes more interactive and lively.

* Some of you appreciated it when instructors are open to getting feedback from students, so some of you discussed how you do the same in your classes. In other words, you appreciate an instructor's willingness to improve and adjust, and many of you are willing to make the same effort.

* Finally, many of like any further input you can get about teaching from any reliable source.

We are adjusting our next workshop to address and capitalize on these promising topics. We are actually thinking about having you all share different unique practices that you implement in your classes, which could only help one another, as TAs. Our next two workshops are October 14th @ 1:30p-2:30p and October 15th @ 10:30a-11:30a. These workshops will be the same format and topics. We just have added another day and time in case more TAs come and having some flexibility to work with your schedules.

Please do not hesitate to register for the Teaching Assistants are Links workshop series by e-mailing or calling us. If these next two workshops go as well as the first one, we will have a wonderful time.

What are some suggestions for TAs? What are some topics we could discuss in our next workshop? We would love to hear from current or former teaching assistants!

September 25, 2008

Motivating "These Kids Today" (Discussion/Workshop Extension)

On Tuesday, Dr. Jodi Haney presented a discussion session at the CTL entitled Motivating "These Kids Today" and challenged participants to consider their role in creating an environment that will encourage and foster students' motivation to learn. The bottom line she stressed was that:
"faculty CANNOT motivate students, as motivation is a personal construct and can only come from within… we can only set the scene and create a motivating environment for learning."
Student Motivation is defined as a “student's willingness, need, desire and compulsion to participate in, and be successful in, the learning process" (Bomia et al., 1997, p. 1). This includes extrinsic motivation, where a student engages in learning "purely for the sake of attaining a reward or for avoiding some punishment and intrinsic motivation, when a student is motivated from within, actively engaging in learning out of curiosity, interest, or enjoyment, or in order to achieve their own intellectual and personal goals (Dev, 1997).

One analogy presented was:
To Catch a Cat…
A. Pull the cat out from under the couch
B. Entice the cat by dangling a string
(p.s. - our students are the cats!)

  • Capitalize on students' existing needs
  • Make students active participants in learning
  • Ask students to analyze what makes their classes more or less "motivating.”
  • Instructor's enthusiasm
  • Relevance of the material
  • Organization of the course
  • Appropriate difficulty level of the material
  • Active involvement of students
  • Variety
  • Rapport between teacher and students
  • Use of appropriate, concrete, and understandable examples
Incorporating Faculty Behaviors:
  • Hold high but realistic expectations for your learners
  • Help learners set achievable goals for themselves
  • Tell learners what they need to do to succeed in your course
  • Strengthen learners’ sense of power (behavioral choices)
  • Avoid creating intense competition among learners
  • Be enthusiastic about your course
  • Take time to GET TO KNOW learners, talk to them, and express enjoyment in your interactions
  • Vary your teaching methods
Motivating Students to Do the Reading (some examples):
  • Assign the reading at least two sessions before it will be discussed
  • Assign study questions
  • If your class is small, have learners turn in brief notes on the day's reading that they can use during exam (Jodi’s “C option”)
  • Ask learners to write a one-word journal or one- sentence journal summarizing the reading
  • Ask non-threatening questions about the reading (fishbowl)
In summary... Create an environment that provides learners with a SENSE OF:
* POWER - I have control over my learning.
* CONNECTEDNESS - I am a valued member of a learning community.
* MODELS - I can do this because my peers can do it.
* UNIQUENESS - I am an original learner.
(Stevenson, 1992; modified by Haney, 2007)

Dr. Haney encourages all of us (including herself) to focus on incorporating just one or two of these strategies during a semester, reflect on the change throughout, and continue to analyze and build upon them in the future.

What are strategies you use to create an environment where students are motivated to learn? Any other thoughts or comments on this issue?

September 19, 2008

28th International Lilly Conference on College Teaching

Now would be the time to start checking your calendars and seeing if you can attend the 28th International Lilly Conference. This is a big conference that will feature prominent speakers in higher education. Three of the featured Plenary speakers will be: Ken Bain, Dee Fink and Bill McKeachie. These three speakers alone make the conference worth visiting. This year's conference is titled, "Millennial Learning: Teaching in the 21st Century."

The conference has a website where dates, times and more details concerning the conference can be read. This conference is definitely worth the drive out to Miami University.

September 15, 2008

Social Responsibilities in the Classroom

Instructors have long talked about how classrooms should be havens for teaching and learning, not a forum preaching politics or "saving the world." In teaching a touchy and charged topic like the war in Iraq, Joseph J. Gonzalez reveals how it's the transformations for students that instructors aid in maturing, which is interesting and a sign of good teaching.

In a recent editorial, How Good Scholarship Makes Good Citizens, to The Chronicle of Higher Education Gonzalez describes how he enjoys seeing his students become good citizens, who are "people ready to inquire, to think, and to engage with the world as they find it." These good citizens, according to Gonzalez, are created by an instructor doing a job well done and good scholarship on the instructor's part.

The piece is worth reading and does beg the discussion over what are some of the signs of a quality higher education or what makes a good instructor. We'd love to hear what anyone might add to the article.

September 12, 2008

A Defense of In-Person Education

If you look through BGSU's schedule of classes you probably have seen the online classes being offered every semester. Online classes carry the "Distance Education" label. Students have been taking online classes for some time now, and many students enjoy the online course format of the classes.

It was not too long ago that the idea of online courses was being argued over. People thought it was absurd to allow students to earn credit hours for a college course by them participating in a class run over the Internet. The online class format, obviously, has prospered and there are students in colleges all over the country who are enrolled in them.

There are still people who disagree with online education and firmly believe that "in-person education" is so much better. In a recent editorial, Jane Arnold makes a worthy argument in revealing how online classes aren't all that their cracked up to be and have serious downsides to them.

We would enjoy hearing from anyone who has a reaction to Arnold's piece or want to make a comment concerning how they feel about online versus in-person education.

September 5, 2008

Back To School

Rodney Dangerfield enrolled himself as an undergraduate in the comedy Back to School. In 2006 Martin Sheen enrolled himself at National University Galway. Roger H. Martin is a former president and professor of history emeritus at Randolph-Macon College, who recently completed his freshman year at St. John's University for the second time in his life.

After years of being an instructor and leader in higher education, Martin went on sabbatical to become a student. His book, Racing Odyssesus: A College President Becomes A Freshman Again, is an account of his second term as a new university student.

Martin reveals interesting details about his unique experience. An excerpt from his experience can be read on The Chronicle of Higher Education's website.

September 3, 2008

Solitaire in the Classroom?

It is common in many classes for students to take notes straight onto their laptop while an instructor makes their presentation or lectures. Some students find it easier to type their notes rather than using a notebook and handwriting their notes.

While there are many students who are using their laptop to type their notes there are many students who are doing any number of other activities on their laptop. Some students are surfing the Internet, playing an online game, leaving a message on Facebook, and adjusting the lineup for their fantasy sports team.

Some instructors don't mind a student having a laptop in class. However, there are also instructors who treat laptops in their classes the way they treat a cellphone in class - they simply don't want to see it! Ian Ayres, a professor at Yale Law School, wrote an editorial for The New York Times about some of the frustration some instructors must deal with when students are using their laptops in class. He provides interesting thoughts about the University of Chicago Law School's announcement that there will be no more surfing in classrooms at the law school.

Ayres provides some thoughts on how effective wireless connections in classrooms can be, and how distracting wireless Internet can be for other students. He also presents a question that some students have argued - he has heard some students say that there's a "positive externality" to net surfing students, which is that instructors will be motivated to teach differently if they're forced to compete for the attention of students.

Read what Ayres had to say and what other people in higher education have been blogging.

Ayres editorial:

"Why Solitaire (Might) Make Professors Better" (from The Chronicle of Higher Education):

What do you think? Leave your comments below.

August 27, 2008

Where Will You Teach?

Among the difficult decisions graduate students must make is what kind of college or university they will work for once they're done with their graduate studies. The soon-to-be teachers/instructors must decide whether they will teach at an institution that has a premium on research or a place where teaching is highly valued. They may be required to have real strengths in both research and teaching, which can be difficult. This is a common dilemma for graduate students. James Lang recently wrote Facing the Truth concerning the situation and he offers plenty of practical advice and information concerning the issue of graduate students going to teach at a teaching-oriented college. What Lang has to offer will probably seem daunting to some graduate students, but his article is definitely worth reading.

The Center for Teaching & Learning would love to hear what some of BGSU's graduate students or former graduate students may have to say about Lang's advice and commentary. Please leave us a short comment about what you think.

August 14, 2008

Perfect the Art of Teaching

Universities every couple of years have to "revamp" and revise their overarching ideas and approaches in order to better prepare their students for their lives after college. BGSU has different programs and goals, like the University Learning Outcomes, which are dedicated to providing a quality education while in college and after.

Kim Mooney's recent article on asks professors to examine the ways they approach teaching. She asks whether professors are asking the right questions, teaching effectively and willing to adjust to their students' needs. Ultimately, Mooney asks if professors and universities are using approaches and materials with their students that are in-line with the world their students live in now and will inherit in the future. Mooney provides readers with interesting questions, anecdotes, and examples of what some institutions are doing to better accommodate their learners. Please read the article and see what other professionals are saying beneath the article.

August 13, 2008

Less Budgeting for Books This Semester?

You can probably walk by the University Bookstore right now and see how ecstatic parents and students are about having to purchase books for the upcoming semester. In a little under two weeks the lines of happy students will be even longer and more of the grim faces. The bookstore clerks are no strangers to the complaints from people buying their books. First-year students taking certain introductory classes will probably be a little grumpy when they have to purchase their first course textbook for some course.

Wouldn't it be a novelty if a university told you not to worry about having to budget a handful of money for your books? Actually, there are some community colleges that are buying the rights to popular textbooks and allowing students online access to the textbooks. If you read an article by Andy Guess on you can discover how some community colleges have managed to gain access to popular textbooks. There are a handful of other university systems around the country who are also putting books online for students to simply read it on their computer monitors, and not have to spend a chunk of change for a book they will use for a couple months.

BGSU is actually part of this "online books" movement. The Jerome Library here at BGSU has more than one thousand books that students have open access to. Students are invited to go and chat with one of the librarians and learn about how they could possibly save some money. Maybe one of the books that your instructor has you reading is listed in one of the networks of online books that you can read and use for free online.

August 7, 2008

Google Jockeying

If you haven't heard of Google Jockeying, you will probably be hearing or reading about it soon. Its popularity is growing quickly in higher education.

Here's a quick example of how Google Jockeying works in the classroom:
An instructor is doing their presentation on the American Revolution or some other topic. At the same time there is a pre-designated member of the class is "Google-ing" (the student doesn't have to use Google either, they can use any search engine they want) the different terms or aspects from the presentation, which students may want to know about. They are doing this with a projector attached to their computer for the entire class to see while they participate in the presentation or listen to the lecture. So, in the American Revolution discussion, the "Jockey" may Google a name like Lord Dunmore or pull up an image of a British soldier or display online links for students to read the Declaration of Independence.

Many instructors are finding Google Jockeying helpful for their students. It's popularity is growing.

Link to more information about "Google Jockeying":

August 6, 2008

Discussing Higher Education

Would you like to be discuss over 37 thousand topics concerning higher education with more than 22 thousand people around the world? Do you have a strong opinion about some practice in the classroom that you want to share with someone?

The Chronicle for Higher Education has a discussion forum where you can peruse more than 790 thousand posts that concern just about any imaginable topic of higher education. Faculty can go into forums about everything from taking attendance with an iPhone, on up to reforms that would better prepare students for college. The dozens of articles that the Chronicle posts are always being discussed there.

Please visit the forum and see what kind of discussion you get involved in.

Link to forum:

Link to Chronicle of Higher Education home page:

August 1, 2008

Foster article: "New Systems Keep a Close Eye on Online Students at Online Students at Home"

Just last week an article by Andrea L. Foster was published in The Chronicle of Higher Education. The article has been generating plenty of traffic and just as much discussion. If you wonder why the article may be attracting so many readers, please read the first two paragraphs of her article (below) and what she writes about the overhauled Higher Education Act that recently was overwhelmingly approved by Congress.

"Tucked away in a 1,200-page bill now in Congress is a small paragraph that could lead distance-education institutions to require spy cameras in their students' homes.

It sounds Orwellian, but the paragraph — part of legislation renewing the Higher Education Act — is all but assured of becoming law by the fall. No one in Congress objects to it."

Many instructors and students may not realize the impact this act may have on them. We would like to hear what some people say. Please read Foster's article or get some more facts on the Higher Education Act and give us a comment on what you read.

Link to Foster's article:


The Teaching Professor 2009 Conference

In our most recent Center newsletter we featured a short "Visionary" piece on Maryellen Weimer. Dr. Weimer is the editor of the The Teaching Professor online blog and newsletter, which are dedicated to inspiring "educators committed to creating a better learning environment," as their website indicates.

The staff at The Teaching Professor also have a popular annual conference to further their commitment to higher education. They have recently released details on their 2009 conference. The conference will be held: June 5-7, 2009 at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, D.C. The themes for next year's conference are: educate, engage and inspire.

For more information on the conference, please refer to The Teaching Professor's website at: <>.

You can also peruse The Teaching Professor website and newsletters at: <>.