May 29, 2009

New Blog Location

We have been posting on two blogs as we worked through the transition to the relatively new BGSU blogs system. Now that we’re all set and to reduce confusion or redundancy, here is a link to the new blog site for all future postings:

May 12, 2009

Wikipedia Final Exam: Passed (Journalists Failed)

Below is an excerpt from the article about a college student's inquiry into Wikipedia and journalism in the digital age. What he found out might surprise some of you or even cause a reconsideration of using Wikipedia in the classroom. Read the full article here.

Here are some highlights (quoted here, not "lifted") ;-)
Irish student hoaxes world's media with fake quote 

When Dublin university student Shane Fitzgerald posted a poetic but phony quote onWikipedia, he said he was testing how our globalized, increasingly Internet-dependent media was upholding accuracy and accountability in an age of instant news.

His report card: Wikipedia passed. Journalism flunked.

The sociology major's made-up quote — which he added to the Wikipedia page of Maurice Jarre hoursafter the French composer's death March 28 — flew straight on to dozens of U.S. blogs and newspaper Web sites in Britain, Australia and India.

A full month went by and nobody noticed the editorial fraud. So Fitzgerald told several media outlets in an e-mail and the corrections began.

"The moral of this story is not that journalists should avoid Wikipedia, but that they shouldn't use information they find there if it can't be traced back to a reliable primary source," said the readers' editor at the Guardian, Siobhain Butterworth, in the May 4 column that revealed Fitzgerald as the quote author.

Walsh said this was the first time to his knowledge that an academic researcher had placed false information on a Wikipedia listing specifically to test how the media would handle it.

How do you handle the use of Wikipedia in your courses and/or your own research?

May 11, 2009

Close the Book. Recall. Write it Down.

Teaching and LearningA recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education discusses the importance of using recall to learn new concepts and ideas. According to the article, two psychology journals just published papers showing that the strategy of recall works. 

According to the author David Glenn, recall is when students put down the text or notes that they are studying and recall everything they can. Students can either write down everything they remember or day it out loud. This active recall, such as using flashcards and other self-quizzing, is the most effective may to add something to your long-term memory.

These recall techniques, according to Dr. McDaniel, a researcher in the field of biology and teaching techniques, “If you ask people to free-recall, you can generate a better mental model of a subject area, and in turn that can lead to better problem-solving.”

This idea of free-recall has also generated some critiques from educators. Some professors have voiced concerns that recall is simply teaching students how to memorize instead of increases levels of higher learning and thinking. Dr. McDaniel argues that although these techniques may aid students in the often-required tasks of memorization, the free-recall tasks actually help to give students the skills needed apply their knowledge.

Read more by clicking here.

More strategies for effective learning can be found at the University of Memphis Department of Psychology's Principles of Learning page. Topics include
All of these topics provide concrete strategies for faculty and students to use to increase learning. Give them a try!

How do you encourage your students to use free-recall techniques or practice retrieval?

April 28, 2009

The One Stop for Conferences All Over the World

Teaching and LearningA faculty member recently asked us if we could work with her in finding a resource for conferences concerning higher education. During our search, we cam across, which we thought could be helpful for many faculty members and TAs. is a huge website dedicated to marketing higher education conferences across all disciplines and topics. The site also has a database that helps you find a conference, add an event, or promote their event with email. Users can find professional conferences for everything from Islamic Studies to Teaching and Learning. Moreover, the workshops that are advertised on the are from all over the world.

Here's a little more information from their website:

"Conference Alerts brings together two groups of people - conference organizers, and academics who need to stay informed about conferences. We work with both small first-time conference organizers and established professional societies to ensure that notification of their conferences reach specifically interested parties. Both individual academics and a wide range of 'knowledge brokers' - such as journal editors, web site administrators and discussion list moderators - rely on our searchable online database and on Conference Alerts Monthly to remain informed about upcoming academic and professional events."

Take a visit to and see if you can find a conference somewhere in the world that you would like to attend or inquire about.

April 15, 2009

Sara Kubik: Let's Get Serious About Online Research

Teaching and LearningTechnologyWe have written a few postings that mentioned some of the debate behind the academic use (or non-use) of online websites for research or as a teaching resource in higher education. While many academics openly discourage the use of websites like Wikipedia or the process of "Google'ing" a topic for research, there are some scholars who are saying that researchers should take the idea of online research seriously. Sara Kubik is an associate faculty member at University-Purdue University Fort Wayne who thinks that it could be time for Academia to take online research more seriously. According to Kubik, instead of simply forbidding the use of the Internet as a credible research tool it might be time for scholars to participate in improving the validity of online resources.

Read Kubik's article for yourself and learn about her ideas. She makes some interesting points and offers some nice insight that we think are worth reading. Here are just a couple excerpts from the piece:

"Since groundbreaking information may be delivered from a grassroots level, academics should not dismiss this type of content creation."

"While it once made sense to equate print with quality, it’s time to embrace newer forms of communication as valid. If they need academically sound forms of verification and procedures for citation, let’s get to work."

April 13, 2009

Why All Professors Should Blog

David Albrecht, associate professor of Accounting and Management Information Systems, presented last week on "Why All Professors Should Blog." He provided examples and led discussion about: 
  1. Why you should blog, 
  2. What you should blog about, and 
  3. How to get started. 
A blog post he wrote a few months ago nicely summarizes his main arguments. 

Now it's your turn... if you have a blog and are a BGSU faculty member, leave your URL and name in the comments below. If you are thinking about a blog, what are you waiting for? As David mentioned, blogging "is like adding Miracle Grow to your research"! 


April 7, 2009

Latest "Communicating for Learners" Newsletter (Spring 2009, #2)

The newest CTL “Communicating for Learners” newsletter has just been released. In the latest newsletter you can find the interesting "What If..." article concerning the University Learning Outcomes and how they can apply in classrooms here at BGSU. There is also a thought-provoking article titled, "Brain Rules for Learning" that describes John Medina's twelve famous Brain Rules. In addition, the newsletter features five new websites that we find helpful and beneficial to educators and students. Our Visionary Status in this newsletter is John Tagg, who is a well-known writer and researcher in the education field. Finally, you can also look at the different dates and times of workshops and discussions available here at the CTL.

To read a copy of the latest newsletter click here.

April 3, 2009

Team-Based Learning

Teaching and LearningInstructors can have a less than easy time trying to implement teaching strategies that are outside of certain methods, like lecturing. There are other effective alternatives to lecturing, however. One of these alternatives is group learning, which has its merits. Team-Based Learning is also one of these alternatives that is growing in momentum and offers significant opportunities for student learning. Recenetly, the Center hosted a workshop facilitated by Dr. Karen Sirum (Biological Sciences) to introduce TBL to BGSU faculty.

Team-Based Learning is a systematic method for helping students work in groups and learn together. Its supporters believe that the benefits attached to TBL are well worth the time it takes to learn how to implement the method. Moreover, TBL’s proponents are saying that it is an excellent way of supplementing their other methods for teaching that have been helpful for their students’ learning.

According to its supporters, TBL has been structured to help student learning in group settings and, almost as importantly, has accountability built into it. Before trying this method with students plans need to be made, which include partitioning the course content into macro-units, identifying the instructional goals and objectives, and designing a grading system. Later, in class, there are more methodical instructions on correctly implementing TBL. Please see Introduction to Team-Based Learning and Getting Started with Team-Based Learning to read why and how you can try TBL for yourself.

There is an entire website dedicated to TBL that we invite you to visit. The site has video examples, professional testimonies from people who have tried it and a number of other resources. Please take a look at the site to learn about the “buzz” surrounding Team-Based Learning.

March 24, 2009

The Ten Commandments of Lecturing

Teaching and LearningWe found this list of ten "commandments of lecturing" by Rob Weir interesting. Weir generated a list of ten policies for instructors to follow when they lecture. Please read the list and feel free to share your own ideas.

I. Thou shalt connect new lectures to previous ones.

II. Thou shalt move beyond chalk and talk.

III. Thou shalt not lecture like caffeinated hummingbird or a tree sloth.

IV. Thou shalt not assume too much.

V. Thou shalt link known to unknown.

VI. Thou shalt be enthusiastic.

VII. Thou shalt not be a pompous ass.

VIII. Thou shalt not tolerate disruptive or disrespectful students.

IX. Thou shalt not lecture outdoors.

X. Thou shalt seize learning moments.

This is just a list of Weir's commandments. The Inside Higher Education website has more elaborates concerning each of the suggestions that he has for instructors.

March 20, 2009

Can Wikipedia be Used to Teach Writing?

Teaching and LearningTechnologyThe use of Wikipedia for class assignments or as a citation source has been an ongoing debate. Some professors accept the website's use, usually after encouraging their students to caution what they take from the website. Other professors absolutely abhor the use of the website by their students. Robert E. Cummings says that he has found a new way to incorporate the use of Wikipedia into his classrooms and makes a strong case for using it in higher education, particularly as a writing tool.

According to Cummings, detractors of Wikipedia's use in higher education assignments have reasons to be concerned. Wikipedia, indeed, is an open source where essentially anyone can edit or create information concerning almost any subject. With this in mind, people who use the website do expose themselves to getting inaccurate information or are subject to relying on information that is unfounded.

On the other hand, Cummings believes that Wikipedia offers several advantages for students. He believes the major advantage to helping student essay writing with the use of Wikipedia is that students have audiences that are real and can provide plenty of immediate feedback to their writing. In his classes Cummings literally has his students post their work to the website for people all over the Internet to provide them with comments concerning their work. More importantly for the students, Cummings believes that students are writing and having more exposure to having having to write formally. According to Cummings,

"Composition assignments in Wikipedia frame writing as a collaborative practice hosted within a network. This arrangement seems much more predictive of the environment our students will find themselves writing in after they leave the composition classroom, both in later college courses (as they collaborate across networks with fellow students in coursework) or in the workplace (as they collaborate with co-workers to prepare reports, proposals, or Web pages)."

We invite you to read Cummings' article and see if what he has to say can be beneficial in any of your classes.

March 13, 2009

Choosing Technological Tools

With all the encouragement to integrate active learning techniques into your teaching, it's easy to get confused about what to use when. Specifically, deciding which technological tools to use can seem overwhelming. Three of the most common tools instructors use in their classes are blogs, wikis, and dicussion boards. To guide you in the process of choosing which tool to use, we have collected information and dveloped a chart.

It is important that you consider the answer to some important questions as you make your choice:

  • What is the purpose of using the tools?

  • What features are most important for you?

  • What level of privacy do you need?

The answers to these questions and others can be found by looking at the chart. Make sure to use the left-most colomn labeled "Topic" to guide your selection.

You can download the document here.

And don't forget that you can always schedule a consultation at the Center for help on how to use your tool in class by calling the Center at 372-6898 or emailing the Center at

March 11, 2009

Disruptive Technologies or New Pedagogical Possibilities

Teaching and LearningTechnologyThis presentation, “Disruptive Technologies or New Pedagogical Possibilities” by Grainne Conole was delivered at the Eduserv Foundation Symposium 2008, in London, England. In this video, Conole discusses how Web 2.0 has changing our learning and teaching paradigms. She discusses how we need to develop new models to understand the relationship between pedagogy and technology.

In order to understand the pedagogical implications of Web 2.0 tools, she explores three case studies: Learning Design, Openlearn and SocialLearn.

To read a related article by Grainne Conole please click here.

After watching this video, do you think we must develop new pedagogies that involve Web 2.0 tools?

March 8, 2009

10,000 Visitors to Interact at the Center blog

This past weekend our Interact at the Center blog just passed 10,000 visitors. Our blog started out in 2006 and less than three years later we are proud to say that our "blogging" has been successful. We make efforts to publish interesting and helpful postings and we appreciate everyone who has taken the time to read what we have had to say. Thank you! Please continue to visit, comment on our blog, or leave suggestions for future posts.

March 6, 2009

The 60-Second Lecture

Teaching and LearningThe idea that a 60 minute lecture can be condensed into 60 seconds may sound absurd and even impossible, but there are some instructors in higher education who seem to think otherwise. The "Microlecture" is gathering followers across different disciplines in college teaching. Supporters of the one-minute lecture think that condensing a lesson strictly to key terms and ideas with less verbiage into a 60 second to three minute lecture has been beneficial for their students.

Naturally, the "microlecture" technique has its detractors. Critics of the practice think some topics, like literature or graphic design, are impossible to reduce down to three minutes. They also believe "microlectures" can at best provide "impressionistic overview."

Although the microlecture is intended for online courses it could be applied in a traditional classroom setting. Instructions for how to make a microlecture in an online are listed below.

Here are the instructions provided for how to make a microlecture:

Professors spend a lot of time crafting hour-long lectures. The prospect of boiling them down to 60 seconds — or even five minutes — may seem daunting. David Penrose, a course designer for SunGard Higher Education who developed San Juan College's microlectures, suggests that it can be done in five steps:

1. List the key concepts you are trying to convey in the 60-minute lecture. That series of phrases will form the core of your microlecture.

2. Write a 15 to 30-second introduction and conclusion. They will provide context for your key concepts.

3. Record these three elements using a microphone and Web camera. (The college information-technology department can provide advice and facilities.) If you want to produce an audio-only lecture, no Webcam is necessary. The finished product should be 60 seconds to three minutes long.

4. Design an assignment to follow the lecture that will direct students to readings or activities that allow them to explore the key concepts. Combined with a written assignment, that should allow students to learn the material.

5. Upload the video and assignment to your course-management software.

Read "These Lectures Are Gone in 60 Seconds" from the Chronicle of Higher Education website for yourself and learn more about "microlecturing."

March 2, 2009

Helping Students Understand Verbs Used in Test Questions

Teaching and Learning

To instructors, who have received an extensive formal education, knowing exactly what a test is asking may come easy. For some students, though, the ability to know exactly what they should do when words like "analyze" or "discuss" on exam can be vague and even foreign., one of our favorite websites, recently published a list that all instructors could use a reference to help their students. Here is a list of what they call "test" verbs that you may want to share with students in your syllabus or exam preparation documents:

Analyze—break something down into parts, such as a theory into its components or a process into its stages or an event into its causes.

Assess/Criticize/Evaluate—determine or judge the degree to which something meets or fails to meet certain criteria.

Compare/Contrast—identify important similarities and/or differences between two or more elements in order to reveal something significant about them.

—give the key characteristics by which a concept, thing, or event can be understood.

Describe—give the characteristics by which an object, action, process, person or concept can be recognized and visualized.

—debate, argue, and evaluate the various sides of an issue

Explain/Justify—give the basic principles or reasons for something; make it intelligible.

Interpret/Explain—say what the author of a quotation or statement means.

Illustrate—Use a concrete example to explain or clarify the essential attributes of a problem or concept.

Reference: Nilson, L. B. Teaching at Its Best: A Research-Based Resource for College Instructors. 2nd ed. Bolton, Mass. Anker, 2003. [now available from Jossey-Bass]

February 26, 2009

Learning Styles

Teaching and LearningWorkshopIt’s no secret that people learn in different ways. The key to success in teaching is realizing that people learn differently and finding ways to incorporate different learning styles into our classes. Recently, we held a workshop titled Pragmatic Practices for Teaching Assistants, Learning Styles that addressed how to assess learning styles and how to make our students aware of and responsible for their own learning styles.

In a paper titled Student Learning Styles and Their Implications for Teaching, authors Susan Montgomery and Linda Groat discuss the importance of recognizing learning styles and offered several different ways to assess these styles. Among the learning style models that they covered are the Myers-Briggs Model and the Kolb/McCarthy Learning Cycle. The authors also provide useful tips to engage students with different types of learning styles in your classes. These tips include using both group and independent work, requiring in-class presentations and providing less direction to students.

To read the rest of the article please click here.

How do you engage students in your classes that have different learning styles?

February 23, 2009

Assessing Assessment

Inside Higher Ed’s article “Assessing Assessment” launches its discussion by stating that assessment and accountability movements are “alive and well,” and that colleges who think they can ignore them are “misguided.”

In an effort to provide an overview or guide of assessment practices, the National Institute for Learning Outcomes and the Alliance for New Leadership for Student Learning and Accountability are being developed, the former being led by Stanley Ikenberry and George Kuh.

The president of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, Judith Eaton, is noted as supporting the work of these institutes, claiming that (from IHE) “better knowledge of assessment would improve the relationship between accreditors and institutions, and that a sustained commitment by higher education to accountability would preserve the principles of self-regulation for higher education.” Eaton hopes that the new effort will “strengthen the academic leadership of our colleges and universities.”

Some detractors of the higher education assessment movement have called it an oversimplified and potentially harmful mission due to concerns over using a single test to demonstrate student learning outcomes. According to one faculty member, what’s lacking is “any evidence of validity” for these single measures. Members of the NILO and ANLSLA, however, state that the intent is not to establish a single standardized test for colleges, but to offer a more comprehensive method for accountability, which Ikenberry states will most likely incorporate multiple measures.

To read the full Assessing Assessment article click here: Inside Higher Ed

Where do you stand on these assessment and accountability movements?

February 22, 2009

New Newsletter

Communicating for Learners
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 was they keynote speaker. There is also an interesting article about making changes for teaching and learning success. In this issue you can also look at the different dates and times of workshops and discussions available here at the CTL.

Please take a look at the newsletter for yourself by clicking here.

We welcome comments! Join the conversation!

February 20, 2009

Teaching Assistants and Principles for Good Practice

Using a framework to provide effective, impactful, and quality education is not a new concept. While grounding pedagogy in theory is important, Teaching Assistants more often are interested in how to implement educational practices that will result in student learning. Chickering and Gamson’s (1987) 7 Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education is a foundational document that offers both a framework and specific methods valuable for any instructor. Chickering and Gamson give seven suggestions, based on a review of literature, to facilitate good practice:

1. Encourage Contact Between Students and Faculty,

2. Develop Reciprocity and Cooperation Among Students,

3. Encourage Active Learning,

4. Give Prompt Feedback,

5. Emphasize Time on Task,

6. Communicate High Expectations,

7. Respect Diverse Talents and Ways of Learning.

As a Teaching Assistant, we can use this framework to plan methods that will result in student learning.

If you want more detail or would like to learn more, consider attending one of our Pragmatic Practices workshop sessions. You can still sign up for the last two: Learning Styles and Teaching Tips! Visit the Center's webpage for full descriptions or to register, or call 419-372-6898 for more information.

February 17, 2009

Vella's 12 Adult Learning Principles

In recent years Jane Vella has become a renowned and respected figure in the adult teaching field. Vella's 12 Principles for Adult Learners, spelled out in her known book Learning to Listen, Learning to Teach: The Power of Dialogue in Educating Adults, are highly regarded in adult education. Below are Vella's 12 Principles.

* Needs assessment: participation of the learners in naming what is to be learned.

* Safety in the environment and the process. We create a context for learning. That context can be made safe.

* Sound relationships between teacher and learner and among learners.

* Sequence of content and reinforcement.

* Praxis: action with reflection or learning by doing.

* Respect for learners as decision makers.

* Ideas, feelings, and actions: cognitive, affective, and psychomotor aspects of learning.

* Immediacy of the learning.

* Clear roles and role development.

* Teamwork and use of small groups.

* Engagement of the learners in what they are learning.

* Accountability: how do they know they know?

These 12 Principles are actually quite helpful towards working with any learners in higher education.

February 9, 2009

3rd Annual BGSU Teaching & Learning Fair Slideshow

Here are just a few pictures from the Third Annual BGSU Teaching and Learning Fair, held on Friday, February 6, 2009 in the Bowen-Thompson Student Union. Barbara Millis, from the University of Texas at San Antonio's Teaching and Learning Center, presented the keynote, Persisting with Passion: A Summary in Break-throughs in Teaching and Learning. For more information on presenters or the keynote, visit the CTL Fair site.

February 6, 2009

Two Opinions on Higher Education

Suggestions and opinions for ways to improve the quality of higher education is not a new discussion topic. Different scholars, studies, and projects suggest different strategies for improving higher education. Paul Basken and Kevin Carey are two of known researchers and writers who have ideas of why higher education needs improvement and strategies for bringing about its betterment.

Basken seems to agree with the idea that there is a culture amongst many faculties who simply are resistant to change. Hence, traditional methods and older pedagogical frameworks continue to prevail in institutions of higher education.

Carey, however, has a different take on how to improve higher education. In simple terms Carey is an advocate of holding faculty members responsible for the pedagogical methods they choose to implement in their courses.

Both writers have different, and interesting, opinions on how to deal with improving higher education. You can read the articles that both men wrote on The Chronicle of Higher Education’s website and see how many people are responding to the articles.

February 3, 2009

Upload and share your work on

One of the leaders in online publishing is Scribd. Scribd allows people to upload documents - which can be in the form of reports, brochures, books, spreadsheets, puzzles and games, etc. - to the Internet for sharing with millions of readers. The website also allows you to discuss work that belongs to other people. And, Scribd is free for users!

As per Scribd's FAQs:

Scribd lets you publish and discover documents online. It is like a big online library where anyone can upload. We make use of a custom Flash document viewer that lets you display documents right in your Web browser.

Part of the idea behind Scribd is that everyone has a lot of documents sitting around on their computers that only they can read. With Scribd we hope to unlock this information by putting it on the web.

Scribd would a useful website for students, especially, graduate students to get feedback on term papers, thesis or dissertation chapters, and for providing feedback to other users. For professors Scribd could prove helpful in publishing pre-publication documents for feedback or learning about what other college instructors are doing in their field or another field.

Over the past couple years Scribd has steadily grown in its users and readership. Please take a look for yourself and see what you can share or discuss.

January 30, 2009

A University President Returns to Undergraduate Teaching

The idea of a college administrator or professor enrolling as an undergraduate student or even living in college dorms is uncommon, but both events have happened. In 2004 Roger Martin, former Harvard University Dean and President of Randolph-Macon College, enrolled himself as a college freshman at St. John's College. Rebekah Nathan, a university professor at a large state university, wrote My Freshman Year, which retold her journey back to being a student and living in a college dorm. Both Martin and Nathan have great stories describing their transitions and findings.

What about a university president going back to teach an undergraduate course and providing updates of her experience? Karen Gross, president of Southern Vermont College, is taking part in this exact idea. Just last week President Gross published her first article that reflects on her return to the classroom. In the article Gross describes some of the inspiration, rationale and obstacles involved with teaching at the university level. Some of the thoughts and experiences that Gross shares are interesting. Here is a short excerpt from the article: "Not surprisingly, the decision to teach was the easy part. The pragmatic needs kicked in immediately — well before the start of the semester. And they had to be balanced with the complex life I lead as a college president."

Go ahead and read the article to keep up with Karen Gross' endeavor back into the classroom.

January 26, 2009

Funding...Instructional Improvement Grant deadline approaching

The deadline for the Instructional Improvement Grant is approaching fast. The deadline for proposals is 5pm, March 2nd.

Awards of up to $1000 are provided for proposals that lead to significant and demonstrable improvement in pedagogical skills and/or have a positive effect on student learning.

More information and guidelines concerning proposals are available at:

Or call 419-372-5387.

January 20, 2009

Learning Students' Names

Teaching and LearningA recent string of ideas came across the Lilly Conference on College Teaching listserv recently. Here is a sampling of some ideas you can try in your large lecture class to remember students’ names:
From L. Dee Fink (author of a great book - Creating Significant Learning Experiences):
...(L)earning names is extremely helpful but challenging in large classes. Here are two ideas that have worked for some:

1. This worked for me in classes of nearly 100, N=75. I used small groups extensively in the course. So, after forming the groups on the first day of class, I took a Polaroid picture of each group and as it "came up", they wrote their names by their individual picture. I then posted these pictures by my desk in my office and worked on learning the names within each group. After learning the names in the first group, I would learn a new group and review the names in the previous groups, and so on.. I took a week or two to get them all done, but I eventually did. What seemed to work for me was: it was a lot easier to memorize 12 groups of 6 students, than it was to memorize 72 students. And students really appreciated it.

2. A math professor I knew had a very large class, over 100, and knew it would be valuable to learn their names. So he used assigned seating, made a chart, and then each day of class, worked on memorizing a block of 6 students (3 in front and 3 behind). Then each day when he came to class, he made a point of visiting with students in each new block and in the ones he had already learned -in addition to the class in general.

In took awhile, but again by working continuously at it, he eventually got their names all down so that even if he met them while walking across campus, he would recognize them and be able to address them by name.

The point seems to be: You have to commit to doing this because you know it makes a difference in how students respond. If you commit to doing it, you can do it even if it takes some time. To read more about L. Dee Fink’s book, please click here.

Here are some more ideas from the listserv and other faculty suggestions:

  • Index card w/ name/contact info and 2-5 questions about them; review these early & often, especially during class discussions (call name and associate w/ their face

  • Students create/use name tents each class session; some faculty have students take/bring these each class, while others collect them and use this as an attendance check (but this requires space to lay out the cards, usually alphabetical or clustered, and time to collect/organize them at the end of class). If the name tent IS collected, combine with the index card suggestion, having students answer questions on the inside for you to review.

  • When handing back papers, call their name and personally hand it to each student

  • Mandatory brief office visits (2-5 min.) are requested by some instructors during the first 1-3 weeks of class (which may be unmanageable for very large classes)

  • Just “good ol’ memorization” of the roll sheets and then associate with faces during first classes

  • Take pictures of groups of students and write their names out (be careful of the legalities of this at your school); study these groups with names/faces frequently; helps if they sit near each other in class

Do you have any creative ideas to learn the names of your students?

January 9, 2009

First Weeks of Class

As the semester is about to begin, it’s time to think about the most important day of the entire semester… the first day of class. The first day of class sets the tone for the entire semester. While most of us plan to simply go over the syllabus, there are other things that we can do to motivate our students. In "101 Things You Can do the First Three Weeks of Class," the author Joyce T. Povlcs, offers helpful tips to make the first three weeks of class start off on the right foot. Among the tips offered are:
  • Give an assignment on the first day to be collected at the next meeting
  • Administer a learning style inventory to help students find out about themselves
  • Greet students at the door when they enter the classroom
  • Have students write out their expectations for the course and their own goals for learning
To read more helpful tips that can be utilized during the first three weeks of class, click here.

How do you set the tone for your classes on the first day of the semester?

January 5, 2009

Eric Mazur: "Farewell, Lecture?"

Lecture, arguably, is the most common method of teaching in higher education. It is not uncommon to walk into any classroom and find students can be busy trying to keep notes on what their instructor is saying. In the latest issue of Science, Eric Mazur, a physics professor at Harvard University, offers his own perspective on how he made the shift from lecturing as the prime modality for teaching to a more student-centered approach.

Mazur explains how throughout his schooling the lecture method was the way students were taught. The reliance on lecturing continued, Mazur says, until he felt that the method was not the most effective and meaningful approach to teaching. Despite earning high evaluations from courses he taught, Mazur made significant changes in his classes. "The traditional approach to teaching reduces education to a transfer of information," Mazur says. He also describes how using what he calls the "clicker method" has allowed him to explore new pedagogical approaches in his courses.

Here are other quotes from "Farewell, Lecture?":

"My lecturing was ineffective, despite the high evaluations."

"The traditional approach to teaching reduces education to a transfer of information."

"The responsibility for gathering information now rests squarely on the shoulders of the students. They must read material before coming to class, so that class time can be devoted to discussions, peer interactions, and time to assimilate and think. Instead of teaching by telling, I am teaching by questioning."

"However, it is not the technology [clickers] but the pedagogy that matters."

Please read the brief article for yourself and share your thoughts and/or comments below (just click on the COMMENTS link).

Other "Clickers" resources include:
CTL's Clicker Resource page

Tom Haffie (University of Western Ontario) presents Clickers at Queens University (11/2006)