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Teaching Academy

Success Shorts 2010

Here are the success shorts from different faculty

From UALR Teaching Academy:
  • Success Short:At the end of the semester, ask your students to write down advice for the next group of students taking the class, and then provide these comments to those new students. Most of the advice will be exactly the advice you give, but somehow it has more credibility coming from fellow students. For other teaching tips, check out the following book: Weimer, Maryellen 1993 Improving Your Classroom Teaching. Sage Publications.
  • From UALR Teaching Academy:
  • Success Short:To encourage students to pay attention to the syllabus, at least glance at the textbook, and think a bit about what they want from a course, ask them to write a brief essay at the beginning of the term. Ask them to take a close look at the syllabus, read the table of contents of assigned book/s, glance through the book/s, and then submit an essay about what they expect from the course. For other suggestions about encouraging students to take more responsibility for their own learning, see the following article: Coffman, Sara Jane 2003 Ten strategies for Getting Students to Take Responsibility for Their Learning. College Teaching 51(1):2-4.
  • From UALR Teaching Academy:
  • Success Short: Maryellen Weimer has a number of suggestions for providing feedback to a class as a whole when returning assignments (see the link below). These include focusing on a limited set of issues, providing an example of how a student dealt effectively with one of those issues, and showing how you would improve an assignment.
  • From UALR Teaching Academy:
  • Success Short: To encourage effective class discussions, sociologist David Yamane recommends having students complete “Course Preparation Assignments” in advance of class. These assignments require “a written response to a question or problem the assignment sets up.” For details, see Yamane, David 2006 Course Preparation Assignments: A strategy for Creating Discussion-Based Courses. Teaching Sociology 34(3):236-248.
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    From UALR Teaching Academy:
  • Success Short: To help students keep track of their grades, consider preparing a worksheet they can use throughout the semester to see their progress to date as well as upcoming assignments and tests. Ideally, the worksheet can also help them figure out how well they need to do on remaining work in order to earn a particular grade.
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    From UALR Teaching Academy:
  • Success Short: Have you been teaching the same courses the same way for several years? Consider making at least some small changes such as creating a new assignment for students or selecting different books.
  • For other suggestions: Click here
    Silverthorn:
    Teaching and learning in the interactive classroom. Advances in Physiology Education
  • Success Short: A physiology instructor who teaches large classes structures her courses around the assumption that students can learn the basics before they come to class. She assigns a workbook with readings, problems, and test questions from previous years, which students are expected to read and look over to prepare for class. The instructor begins the class with an overview (and possibly a quiz to ensure students prepare) and then the students work in groups on problems, with opportunities to ask questions and perhaps listen to a short lecture on a difficult topic.
  • “Building Connections With Students: Eleven tips From Century Faculty Members,” Center for Teaching and Learning, Century College:
  • Success Short: Come to class early, and use those five to ten minutes to talk with students. It doesn’t much matter what exactly you talk about–the weather, the problems in Egypt, how hard it is to find parking, the price of pizza in the food court. What matters is making a connection with students.
    Frederick, Peter :
    1981 The Dreaded Discussion: Ten Ways to Start. Improving College and University Teaching 29(3): 109-114
  • Success Short: To help get a discussion started in class, consider asking students to find a passage from the assigned reading that they found significant and then read it aloud. Or you can vary the question, perhaps asking about a passage presenting an idea that was new to them.
  • DiClementi, Jeannie, and Mitchell M. Handelsman :
    2005 Empowering Students: Class-Generated Course Rules. Teaching of Psychology 32(1):18-21.
  • Success Short: Consider having your students generate class behavior rules and the consequences for violating them instead of you, the instructor, providing a long list on the syllabus. Research indicates improved behavior and a more positive attitude.
  • Success Short: Teaching Journal: There is a truth to the idea that teaching a concept to another person is a true
    test of whether you understand the concept (Besides, if we each share with one other person what we learn in class, learning would spread far beyond our classroom). Select one person with whom you will have regular contact and with whom you are comfortable. Secure that person’s participation in this effort. At least every three days (at least six entries) select one concept from text/class discussion. Explain the concept, relevant research, examples, ideas you have about it, etc. Present both sides objectively, particularly if it involves a controversy. Try to understand and articulate views that you disagree with. Explore all sides. Keep a journal, recording each experience, focusing on what your learned as well as what you taught. Organize the journal this way:1. Include a description of your student
    2. Describe your “lesson” including the theory or idea you teach your student. Include the
    concept, the research associated with it, examples your chose to explain it, your personal
    thoughts and so on
    3. Indicate what your student said, how he or she reacted
    4. How did you respond
    5. What do you think both of you learned as a result of this lesson?
    6. At the very end be sure to discuss what you learned about the subject communication as a
    result of doing this.
  • Success short: consider having students who miss the first day of class meet with you in your office. You can get to know them, answer questions they may have, and emphasize aspects of the syllabus you stress the first day of class.
  • Gail Hughes, Associate Professor, Department of Educational Leadership:
  • To promote regular communication between myself and my online students, I send a weekly email to students. I try to include a non-course related comment (e.g., asking how their week is going or commenting on the nice weather, upcoming holiday, or sharing something about professional activities that I’m involved in), a few sentences introducing the content they will be studying that week, a common student question or misconception to avoid, a reminder of the next deadline they have in the course, and encouragement to email their questions. These do not take very long to write because I keep the emails on file saved by week and simply open the email from the last time I taught that course and edit to fit the events for the current semester.
  • Cross, K.P., and Angelo, T.A. (1988). Classroom assessment techniques: A handbook for faculty. Ann Arbor: National Center for Research to Improve Postsecondary Teaching and Learning:
  • At the end of class, ask students to take one minute to write down one thing they are confident they understood that day and one thing they are confused about. Begin the next class with a discussion of what a number of students found confusing.
  • Andrew Eshleman, from the UALR Department of Philosophy and Liberal Studies:
  • I motivate preparation for class by assigning a short (approx. 1 page) ungraded writing exercise with each reading assignment. This increases the probability that students will have done the reading and gets them thinking about the material in advance but without generating the stress that may come from a graded assignment or pop reading quiz. Their effort is rewarded by them receiving 1 pt. for each exercise they submit (and since they must be submitted in person at the beginning of class, it encourages attendance and being on time). For a class that meets twice/wk, I allow them to miss up to six exercises with no grade penalty.A few years into teaching, I gave up on the idea of assigning a class participation grade. This was both because I was uncomfortable about the subjective nature of the grade assigned and because I found it an ineffective way to encourage participation. I came to think that what was most important was that students come to class prepared, and my hunch was that if they did, participation would take care of itself. That has turned out to be true in my experience. I motivate preparation for class by assigning a short (approx. 1 page) ungraded writing exercise with each reading assignment. This increases the probability that students will have done the reading and gets them thinking about the material in advance but without generating the stress that may come from a graded assignment or pop reading quiz. Their effort is rewarded by them receiving 1 pt. for each exercise they submit (and since they must be submitted in person at the beginning of class, it encourages attendance and being on time). For a class that meets twice/wk, there will typically be 26 such reading exercises assigned during the semester. The maximum credit they can receive is 20 pts., so that allows them to miss up to six exercises with no grade penalty–a way of acknowledging that everyone occasionally has good reason to miss class or be less than fully prepared. It’s time-consuming to regularly read these, but I find that I can typically count on at least 2/3 of the class having read the assignment, and it helps me diagnose exactly what sort of trouble students are having with the reading. At the end of the semester, students regularly comment on the evaluations that although they hated being asked to do it, they saw the value in it.From the syllabus:
    The class preparation portion of your grade will be based on your completion of regularly assigned reading exercises (see the “RE”s on the schedule of assignments below). These are short (approx. one page) un-graded written exercises that are designed to help you prepare for the following class. Usually, they will ask you to explain something from the reading that was assigned (occasionally, they will also ask you for your personal assessment of the material). You will receive one point for each of these that you submit up to a maximum of 20 pts. for class preparation. In order to receive credit for a reading exercise, it must:

    1. be legible;
    2. be submitted in person before class begins on the day it is listed as due. Simply bring it to the front and put it on the table (to encourage attendance and being on time);
    3. address the assignment in a way that makes clear that you have done the reading; and
    4. express your best understanding of the material in your own words—you will not receive credit for simply copying words from the text or a website.

    Those exercises fulfilling the above requirements will receive a “” mark before I return them to you. Note: you should not assume that receiving a “” mark on an assignment about one of our author’s views means that you have explained that view correctly. It simply acknowledges your effort to be prepared for class. I wish I had time to give feedback on each of these small assignments, but I will be reading more than 100 of these per week, so I’m afraid I won’t have the time to do so. The authors’ views will be explained in class, so that explanation should be your guide to a correct understanding of the material.

    Late reading exercises (those submitted after class begins) will not be accepted because you can miss up to 6 of these (three week’s worth!) and still receive the maximum number of points (20). In other words, everyone can fail to submit 6 of these because they missed class, arrived late, or haven’t completed the assignment and still suffer no grade penalty. So please do not ask to submit these late or via email, even if you have a good reason for being late or missing class (sickness, family emergency, etc.). The policy on reading exercises is already structured to allow for such cases. Note that this means you should be careful not to use up your “free misses” early for less than good reasons, because if you do, they won’t be available to you later when you might really need them.

  • Updated 10.26.2011