Faculty Focus

Prior Knowledge as an Unexpected Obstacle to Learning

Prior knowledge is essential for learning because it helps us make sense of new ideas and information. But when that prior knowledge is incomplete, confused, or flawed, it can create barriers to learning. Consider the following scenarios.

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Supporting Transgender Students in the Classroom

As the higher education community continues to work to create a more inclusive learning environment, the needs of our gender-variant students are too often overlooked. This article outlines a few ways faculty can create an atmosphere that supports trans-identified and gender-nonconforming students.

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An Old-School Approach to Getting Students to Read

During semester breaks, I prepare my courses for the upcoming semester, a regular ritual for most academics. My process begins with reflecting on my formal and informal teaching evaluations and considering ways to improve the course. I add new topics and delete others. I review assignments and change them as needed. And I spend a lot of my preparation time choosing timely, thought-provoking articles to assist students in learning the course content.

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Introducing the Professional Adjunct Podcast on Faculty Focus

There’s an exciting new feature coming to Faculty Focus! Starting next Friday, we’ll begin carrying the Professional Adjunct podcast here on Faculty Focus. The podcast is produced and hosted by Jim and Beth Harger, experienced adjuncts currently teaching at six different colleges and universities.

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Avoiding Burnout: Self-Care Strategies for Faculty

Now that you've finished assessing your students, it's time to turn the assessment process around by looking in the mirror. If you limped across the finish line last semester, it may be time to identify some new strategies for self-care. In our “Tending the Teacher” session at the recent Teaching Professor Conference in Washington, D.C., we presented a menu of ideas to help faculty design a balanced and productive work life. Here are our top tips:

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Five Fundamentals of Faculty Development

I am not a skilled athlete, but I have watched enough sporting events to know that the fundamentals are essential to both player and team success. Coaches can often be heard repeating such maxims as “keep your eye on the ball,” “follow through,” and “hold your position.”

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Five Ways to Help Students Succeed in the Online Classroom

More and more students are flocking to the online classroom for the convenience of earning college credits from the comfort of their home. However, many of these students are ill-prepared for the dedication and discipline needed to be successful in the online environment. Oftentimes students have misconceptions concerning the rigor of online courses, and they often underestimate the amount of time and discipline necessary to complete assignments, discussions, quizzes, and projects. Therefore, it is important for the instructor to set the tone of the course to help students succeed. So how do you help your students succeed in the online classroom?

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Survey Highlights Growth of Video in Higher Ed, Optimism over OER

An annual survey on video in higher education found that more than half of the institutions who responded now use a video solution integrated into their Learning Management System. The figure is up 6% from 46% last year. In addition, three quarters of students in higher education use video in their assignments, up 4% on last year’s figure of 71%.

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A Practical Approach for Increasing Students’ In-Class Questions

Much has been written about creating natural critical learning environments in our classrooms, places where students feel free to pose stimulating questions and pursue interesting answers. But how much do we put students' questions at the heart of our everyday teaching? The answer might be "not as much as we think." A number of years ago I was frustrated by how seldom my students asked questions in class, even after I encouraged them to do so.

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Five Time-Saving Strategies for the Flipped Classroom

A few months ago, I heard a podcast by Michael Hyatt, a best-selling author and speaker who helps clients excel in their personal and professional lives. This particular podcast focused on how to “create margins” in life to reduce stress and avoid burnout. Quoting Dr. Richard Swenson’s work, Hyatt defines a margin as “the space between our load and our limits. It is the amount allowed beyond that which is needed. . . . Margin is the gap between rest and exhaustion. . . . Margin is the opposite of overload.”

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