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 http://libguides.bgsu.edu/millennials) 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 ctl@bgsu.edu 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 Insidehighered.com 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?