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May 18, 2016

For the last several decades many in the field of Education focused on what word should precede the word “learning”.  Should it be “traditional”, “online”, “blended”, “hybrid”, or in some cases, just a letter, like “e”?   Many of those same words have also been put in front of the word “teaching”.

Let’s see a show of hands: Are you a great teacher? (hint: you can be)

  • Have you ever felt like not matter how hard you try, the students just aren’t getting it?

  • Have you ever felt like teaching is a constant uphill challenge, that rarely let’s up - and you’re still waiting to see the other side?

  • Have you ever felt like being an “excellent” teacher is somewhere between elusive and impossible?

April 8, 2016

This note describes a method for critiquing student work (and colleagues’ drafts, come to think of it) that greatly increases the efficiency of the process compared to written comments.  I discovered it by accident, when I graded a bunch of papers on a portable dictating machine while traveling, back in the day when professors didn’t have laptops but did have assistants. I gave the tape to mine to transcribe.

This memo describes a mechanism for evaluating class participation in courses where it matters, refined and developed over a couple of decades but surely not perfected. 

February 23, 2016

The concept of early and ongoing check-ups is simple, and applies readily to our teaching in the form of feedback. It’s early in the semester, but it's never too early to do a thorough systems check to make sure the students, course, and you are ready for takeoff (or need to circle back for a quick fix).

December 14, 2015

If everything went perfectly for your class this semester, there’s no need to read on, because you shouldn’t change anything. For the rest of us mortal instructors, there is rarely, if ever, such a thing as a perfect class. Teaching is a practice of constant iteration and improvement, never a destination.

December 12, 2015

The lecture has long been a topic of rich debate in the field of education. Questions about should we, or shouldn’t we lecture persist. I’d like to argue that it’s not quite so simple, and a reductionist approach to determining the value and use of lecturing eliminates insight into good pedagogical practice overall, and the real value of the tool itself as a mechanism to promote student learning.

December 10, 2015

Pure and simple, I love teaching using technology.  It gives me an opportunity to “be there” when a teachable moment occurs without having to be in the same place as my students.  It allows me to see beyond their eyes and into the minds of each of my learners.  And yes, it allows me to teach from the beach, the mountains, and from home when my family needs me.

November 16, 2015

You’ve likely heard some variation of the adage before. It goes something like this: “Don’t practice until you get it right. Practice until you can’t get it wrong." While often used in athletic circles, the origin of the phrase (as best we can determine) is actually found in education in 1902.

August 20, 2015

Your muscles, brain, and course syllabus all have something in common.

August 10, 2015

You’ve just finished teaching your class for the day and head home. You sit down for dinner, and a loved one asks, “How was class today?”

How do you respond? The answer may be revealing.

May 15, 2015

How do you teach your students to function effectively in teams?

May 10, 2015

It is not news to anyone teaching in higher education that Student Evaluations of Teaching (SET) are a hotly debated topic. Their validity and reliability are often called into question, particularly since they are typically the primary source of evidence used for merit and promotion decisions in regard to one’s teaching effectiveness.

March 20, 2015

At a recent pedagogy workshop, a senior faculty member gently pulled me aside. So as not to disturb his colleagues who were working on a prompt I had given them, he whispered, “This stuff is great. It really is. I’m going to use this in my class. But, what’s really concerning me right now is that I’m teaching a class of mostly freshman, mostly around 18-20 years old, and I’m 50 years older than they are!

January 20, 2015

Pattern shifting is the active pursuit of uncovering new purposes and potentialities for engaging students in learning. A very simple re-ordering can reveal relatively easy methods to teach more from your strengths and more actively engage students in the class.

Let’s play a little Jeopardy-style game. The category is “Grade Disputes, Questions, and Re-Considerations.” Here’s the answer:

A Delorean, a hot tub, a mailbox, and a phone booth

What’s the question?

“There’s one week left in the semester and I can no longer mathematically earn an A in this course – how can I get an A?”

November 30, 2014

RRR Week always brings with it the challenge of figuring out what to do with/for students that will be helpful in preparing them for whatever final exam or capstone project is required in your course. Sure, anyone can encourage students to read, or hold an extra office hours or plain old review session.

“Our romantic notion of the professor is so tied to a sense of the transitive mind, a mind that, in a sense, is always at odds with the body” – bell hooks (1994, p. 137)

November 29, 2014

As we approach the end of another semester, it is common for students to turn in drafts of papers, projects, and assignments for some kind of review before the final product is due. It would be typical for a blog, then, to note something like the top 10 or top 5 ways to promote student development through feedback that both instructs and motivates.

November 18, 2014

With the possible exception of presentations, there are few things that happen in a student’s academic career that stress them out more than final exams. One source of frustration for both students and faculty alike is when faculty believe an exam has been written fairly and yet students have done poorly.