STEAMy ideas for your course

A recent trend in higher education involves integrating arts, humanities, and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) curriculum now known as STEAM. Large research studies (1) show that integration can broaden the student experience within highly...

Let’s talk about digital literacy

More than ever, faculty are being tasked with fostering digital literacy in order for students to be successful in class and ready for the workforce. Digital literacy as an important component of higher education is something that has become critical in higher...

Facilitate active learning online

We learn better when we are involved in constructing our own knowledge. Some of us know this from experience — it’s why we do research, why we collaborate, why we ask our kids questions when we read to them. But this is also a finding backed by decades of...

Invite students to publish

Are you interested in encouraging your students to create work to share with others? Adding your voice to the domain knowledge–which shapes our education–is a strong motivator. As teachers, writers, designers, and artists we long to create and share.  What...

Examining hybrid designed course structures

This is the second in a two-part series of Teaching Tips based on Hybrid Pedagogy. While the first teaching tip provided some background and definitions, this tip focuses more on specific changes instructors can make to their classes to cultivate instructional factors...

Explore hybrid course design

Asynchronous online and face-to-face are the most familiar modes of course delivery but you may want to consider a hybrid delivery model to meet student or program needs.

Practice object-based teaching

Though I’ve long practiced the technique of Object-Based Teaching (OBT) in face-to-face and online classrooms alike, I’d never really looked into the scholarship behind it until recently. I’d also not really considered the pedagogical principles behind it, nor whether my pedagogy needed any scrutiny and modification. It turns out that there were some aspects of my practice I needed to modify.

Ideas for customizing the lab experience

We tend to think that lab courses must march students through a well-rehearsed set of steps. After the experiment is performed, and the data gathered and presented, students submit a lab report with an error analysis which provides an opportunity to explain why the results deviated from theoretical predictions. This gives you, the instructor plenty to assess. The real question is: Are you measuring what you want with your lab activity assessment?

Journaling for reflection and critical thinking

Reflective writing can help us carry ourselves through processes of change. Learning is a process of change and research shows that journal writing can support students across disciplines in connecting with and making meaning of their learning.

Bring robust labs to online classes

As we discover, test and improve methods of online teaching, one category of courses, the science laboratory based class, has resisted many efforts to bring lab units to the online realm. But this need not be the case. There are several models, methods and ready made solutions available to instructors or departments who are contemplating this transition. In this Teaching Tip, we cover the range of options available.
Illustration: University of Munich Remotely Controlled Lab on Millikan’s Experiment web interface.

Get students to give feedback beyond “good job”

Let’s not be satisfied with the “feedback sandwich approach” in course discussion. Providing guidance and setting expectations for what good discussion feedback looks like can help move students beyond giving comments that do not prompt further discussion, build on an argument or rethink one’s own stance.

Bring your expertise front and center

Let go of some of the how. How will the student generate the video? How will the student submit his or her paper? Focus on the what and the why. Grab your list of learning objectives and analyze course learning experiences and assessments to determine if they support students progressing toward course outcomes.

Create “microlearning” for reinforced learning

Social media is full of short bursts of content pushed out to viewers to be accessed when and where the viewer has time. You can do the same thing with “microLearning:” simple, short and concise learning opportunities that reinforce learning.

What, you think this is funny?

The best kind of joke is the one that forces students to rethink content in a new light and see it from a different perspective. But achieving this can be difficult. Wanzer illustrates the pitfalls in using humor to achieve this end.

Motivating students to connect with course content

Getting the busy student to prepare for class prior to trying to do course work is difficult at best. This tip delves into this problem and provides a few recommendations for faculty to try. Should you feel your students need this type of encouragement, look to a model that places content right at hand to how most students tend to approach learning and participating in a course.

Creating significant learning experiences

Our purpose as instructors is to facilitate new student understandings. But, what are understandings? Are there different kinds? It seems they can be simple, such as remembering the elements of the periodic table, or extremely complex, such as discovering new knowledge about oneself and one’s relationship with the world.

Lying, deceit and effective teaching

The subject of the lie has been pondered, defined and debated over centuries, across cultures and in various situations. Lies come in many forms, some harmless, others pernicious. Is there any place for lies in the classroom? You may wish to consider these examples before reflecting on that.

Make your next field trip virtually good

Research shows that the educational outcomes associated with field trips are not dependent on a face to face visit. Outcomes are instead based on student engagement driven by activities before, during and after visits to a site. This Teaching Tip provides an overview of good practices and a starting point for those considering using field trips in their class.

How to prepare for fall while enjoying summer

Summer is in full swing! You are camping, gardening, roadtripping, hiking, netflixing, swatting at mosquitoes — maybe even teaching. Meanwhile, you’re actively ignoring that buzz behind your ear: Fall’s coming … Teaching … Teaching … Teaching. No one will blame you for swatting that buzz away until, say, August. It’s summer, after all. But what if you could do something now to make your course development a month or two from now a bit easier?

Release content when students are ready

In most disciplines, there are skills that need to be learned and understood before moving on to something more complicated. Without a solid foundation, moving on to more difficult endeavors can be challenging as well as frustrating and can be a hurdle the student is not able to get over.

Teaching language online offers unique opportunities

A well designed and delivered course in any subject area can benefit from a focus on interaction and student contribution. Foreign language courses can be successfully taught online, as well as make more effective use of a teacher’s valuable time. Avoid the managerial teacher-talk of the face-to-face classroom and find more time for students to produce language and engage in one-on-one discussion with the instructor.

How to make self-assessment fun

How do your students know whether they have mastered a concept before they take a formal assessment? Your students may take advantage of online textbook resources that include cognitive tutors to test their knowledge if available. And, methods such as iterative assignments with defined revision cycles, group discussion, interactive video, a pre-quiz, and class review time can help as well.

Teach them to do it badly

At the closing of SXSWEdu a few years ago, I watched one of the most memorable keynote addresses to educators that I have ever seen. Jeffrey Tambor quoted one of his favorite writers, Henry Miller, as saying “I did not learn to write, until my teacher told me to ‘do it badly.’”

Boost creativity through combinatory play

Combinatory play is the process of considering two or more unrelated ideas, topics, images, disciplines, etc. and putting them together in a way that is new. Experimentation, deconstruction, synthesis, iteration and failure are part of this process of learning and discovery. Combinatory play utilizes a wide range of learning domains that help to feed creativity and innovation.

Test early, test often, and always cumulative

There are powerful alternatives to final exams including final projects and final presentations, but if you’re set on giving a final exam, consider making it comprehensive. Further, consider frequent cumulative benchmark quizzes as part of your students’ practice regimen.

When it comes to marathon running, it has often been said that the race is really about the last few miles. “I ran great for the first 18 miles, but my time really fell off toward the finish.” No. The race IS the last few miles. The marathon is a long challenge requiring deep and substantial practice in order to attain mastery. So it can be with our designed learning experiences.

Translating down to peers creates deep learning

Creating a simplified version of a concept is a rich learning activity for the student who plays the role of teacher, but also for the student who is being tutored. This teaching tip provides examples and guidance on using the technique in your class. Communicating a simplified translation of a concept for a peer is a learning activity that compounds deep understanding, communication skills and reflection.

Ways to improve learning objectives

Learning objectives are often overlooked because they aren’t well-written. Selecting active words to describe your expectations can help students succeed and help you plan activities and assessments to fulfill those objectives. Learning Objectives. Learning Outcomes. Course Goals. Do I have your attention or have you just skipped over it like most students tend to do?