Faculty Focus

The Rhythms of the Semester: Implications for Practice, Persona

young professor in lecture hall

We begin each semester on a different note than we end on. The early weeks hold promise and high hopes, both often curtailed when the first assignments are graded. The final weeks find us somewhere between being reluctant or relieved to see a class move on. There is an inexplicable but evident interaction between our teaching persona and the persona a class develops throughout a semester. Some structural factors influence both: among them—the type and level of a course, the discipline, the time of day, and whether the students are a cohort or a unique collection of individuals.

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A Growth Mindset: Essential for Student and Faculty Success

There is increasing awareness among K-12 educators on the importance of fostering a growth mindset. A recent survey by the Education Week Research Center (2016) indicated that 45 percent of K-12 educators were well acquainted with the concept of growth mindset, and almost all believed that nurturing a growth mindset in their students would improve learning outcomes. Although mindset is receiving a great deal of consideration in the K-12 classroom from teachers across disciplines, there has been less attention devoted to this concept on college campuses outside of departments such as psychology and education.

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Seven Things to Consider Before Developing Your Online Course

developing oniline courses

As the number of online courses and degree programs in higher education continues to increase, more faculty are being asked to design and develop online courses. Sometimes this course design and development process is done somewhat reflexively, in a short time period, and with limited planning and preparation. This is not ideal as it can lead to a more stressful course development process for instructors and negatively impact the quality of online offerings. This article will explore seven things that instructors should consider prior to developing an online course.

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Getting Students to Practice

Getting students to practice

I flunked out of college seven times. Yes, seven times. While there are many great tales associated with each failure—friends causing endless distractions, having to work late, one lame excuse after another—ultimately, I accepted that I am responsible for never acting like a student. Seven times I signed up, seven times I purchased books, seven times I went to class for a couple of weeks, and seven times I was off on another (ostensibly more important) adventure.

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Seven Ways to Make Your Syllabus More Relevant

Seven Ways to Make Your Syllabus More Relevant

Can a syllabus get students excited for your course? What will keep students coming back to it? These seven design elements can help students get the most out of your syllabus, prepare them for the course, and focus on the learning goals ahead. My Engaging Syllabus Design: Example illustrates all of these design elements.

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Empathetic Syllabi Review Exercise

syllabus review exercise

“Do you know how much this exam is worth?” 

“I can’t find any office hours listed for one of my classes—are there any?.” 

“What if I get sick and miss a few classes—will my grade be hurt?” 

My answer was the same for all three questions—“I don’t know.” Even though these were my first-year seminar students asking these questions, they were looking at syllabi from their other courses, part of a syllabus review exercise I do each fall with first-time students. 

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Engaging the Entire Learning Cycle to Ignite Enthusiasm and Learning

engaging the learning cycle

You can tell it’s exam week when you see countless students standing outside the exam room trying to take advantage of some last minute cramming. We wonder how much of this information they are about to regurgitate has contributed to their knowledge of the subject. Is what we’re “teaching” actually learned? Are we teaching in a way such that students can apply what is learned?

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Assessment for Learning: It Just Makes Sense

formative assessment - deep learning

Assessment for Learning (AfL), sometimes referred to as “formative assessment” has become part of the educational landscape in the U.S. and is heralded to significantly raise student achievement, yet we are often uncertain what it is and what it looks like in practice in higher education. To clarify, AfL includes the formal and informal processes that faculty and students use during instruction to gather evidence for the purpose of improving learning. The aim of AfL is to improve students’ mastery of the content and to equip and empower them as self-regulated, life-long learners.

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Contested Grades and the “You Earned It” Retort

female professor looking over glasses

A common rhetorical move we professors make when students object to a grade is to reframe the discussion. We’ll say, "Let's be clear. I didn't give you this grade. You earned it." And if it were appropriate we might underscore our zinger with a smugly snapped Z. But stop and think about it. When we make the "you earned it" move, it's simply an attempt to shift the debate away from the fairness or interpretation of our standard and onto students to justify their effort by our standard, which really wasn’t their complaint.

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Memes and GIFs as Powerful Classroom Tools

social media - gifs - memes

It comes as no surprise that the way we consume information is changing. Increasingly, we are moving from text-based forms of information to visual ones, as evidenced by the popularity of visual social media sites such as Instagram, Snapchat, and

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