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Teaching Tips


#14 May 3, 2011 End of Term Assessments

This final tip for 2011 invites us to explore useful aspects of student course evaluations. “After you look at them, put them with the rest of your teaching materials… Make sure to write down the implications of these evaluations for future classes. After the affective wave has passed–‘what do you know? they did/didn’t really hate me!’–you want to be sure to capture any useful data now, without having to re-review the evaluations later. [Also] write a paragraph about how you thought the class went. It will help refresh your memory when you go back and review the evaluations/syllabi later on.”

*Read more here: Five Things to Do With Evaluations Before the Summer Really Starts

Or check out more reflections on student evaluations here: When student evaluations are just plain wrong

And as a related bonus, here’s an article on techniques to avoid student “grade grubbing.”

#13 April 19, 2011 Integrating Technology into Teaching

Many of us may have technology on our minds after the AU Teaching With Technology Conference last week. The link here gives various detailed examplesfrom The Professor Hacker Blog, exploring technologies infused into teaching. Highlights include using a course blog and web-based projects.

And finally, a directory of instructional technologies right here at AU at a glance.

#12 April 4, 2011 Explore Team-Teaching and Co-Teaching

#11 March 21, 2011 Games and Active Learning

Consider playing games as part of your teaching. One English professor uses role playing games as a model for keeping track of student grades, participation, and attendance. Others in the humanities create twists on Jeopardy! to help students study for midterms and finals by creating potential exam questions for the opposing team. Here are some more examples to explore for inspiration:

#10 March 8, 2011 Reflecting on Student Achievement and Making Information Useful

“Research has shown that there are two essential tasks to foster student achievement: help students see the relevance and importance of the information, and make it understandable. In fact, the dimensions of teaching that are the strongest correlates of student achievement are:

  1. preparation and organization;
  2. clarity of communication;
  3. perceived outcome of the instruction; and
  4. stimulating student interest in the course content . . .

Be a role model for learning how to learn (metacognition). You can exhibit skills that help students to see structure, to relate topics, and to organize information. When you do this kind of modeling, you provide a metacognitive assist. Students who follow your example are not only discovering what to learn, but how to learn it. A teacher who says, ‘This is how we approach a problem in our discipline’ or ‘This is how I would go about answering this question,’ is showing students a process that is transferable.”

Read more here.

#9 Tips from the Annual LOVE of Teaching Workshop

This collection of tips celebrates teaching and is compiled from the annual LOVE of Teaching workshop on February 14, 2011:

  • Teach what you love, teach what is new and challenging — Change it up!
  • Be “authentically human” in the classroom – tarry with borders, ambiguities, and risks to promote unexplainable and joyful responses.
  • Remember motivation as a factor in teaching and learning – and enjoy helping students to do the work of learning.
  • Embrace exploration: “curiosity stays”
  • Try open-ended questions and peer-to-peer teaching.
  • Don’t underestimate positivity and enthusiasm as teaching tools.
  • Try interweaving social, environmental, and personal aspects within curriculum.
  • Branch out with a new way to teach (e.g. with a new audience, making new connections with media)
  • Where possible, use a story or personal example, and make practical connections!
  • Reach out to a student who rarely (or never) participates.
  • Enjoy the interactions of teaching!
  • Focus on the positive, not “heartaches”
  • When your love of teaching is tested, step away, even travel/go away to challenge yourself in other areas, and/or work to plan the next activity so that it will be successful.

#8 February 11, 2011 Thoughtfully Structuring Your Teaching Time and Related Activities

To start off the New Year strong, check out this recent blog post that explores various ways in which academics can structure their time around the core goal of teaching. Suggestions include aligning goals with time mapping strategies. “Time maps are especially helpful for academics . . . because we often have more autonomy over our time than people in some other professions. When you’re not actually in the classroom or in a meeting, you get to choose what you’re doing: teaching prep? research? web surfing? A time map can help you figure out what works best for your own biorhythms and priorities, and make time for the things that matter.” See more here – including examples of useful schedules.

#7 January 28, 2011 The Seminar Approach to Teaching

Carefully structure and craft your seminar teaching through these tips:

A. Introduce substantive points: A substantive point is one that is clearly a result of thoughtful reading and thinking about the assigned text and becomes the focus for group exploration lasting several minutes.

* Identify essential issues or questions the text is discussing.
* Point to the author’s main hypotheses, claims, and supporting arguments and evidence.
* Point to important passages that need to be understood.
* Explain the complexities faced in exploring this text.
* Describe passages that are personally meaningful or connected to some shared experience.

B. Deepen the discussion: Help the seminar process with individual contributions that lead the group to discover new insights and understanding of assigned readings.

* Provide additional supportive quotes; explain relevance; ask clarifying questions.
* Share the thought process that was personally used in developing an idea.
* Paraphrase what the author means in a specific passage.
* Summarize the arguments being presented.
* Identify similarities and differences in positions being argued.
* Challenge an idea or present an alternative interpretation.
* Connect ideas from several participants or from other texts the group has read.
* Formulate insightful questions that spark group response.
* Introduce personal experiences that illuminate the text for others.

C. Facilitate group exploration: Focus on what the group is accomplishing more that on individual students’ performance.

* Help to identify the goals and format for the group process.
* Keep the group on task.
* Focus group back to the text.
* Summarize for the group what has been discussed.
* Bring closure to one point and make a transition to a new one.
* Paraphrase someone’s comments, identify what you don’t understand, and/or formulate a specific question asking for clarification.
* Encourage nonparticipants by being alert to who wants to speak, or who hasn’t spoken, and help them get the floor.
* Indicate support by responding to a person’s ideas, or complimenting them.
* Show active listening by means of nonverbal cues like eye contact, nods, and smiles.
* Become aware when dominating the discussion and then modify behavior.
* Defuse a tense moment with use of humor.

Read more here:

#6 December 1, 2010 How Professors of the Year Inspire Student Learning

Check out the Higher Education Chronicle’s article spotlighting how Professors of the Year inspire student learning through field trips, problem solving, theatre exercises and more。

#5 November 9, 2010 Embrace Technology Or Go Back to Basics

This teaching tip invites you to embrace technology – or go back to basics in teaching. (Or both!)

1. Try using a simple graphic display or curriculum map to make visible how your teaching goals relate to what students will evaluate, construct, create, solve, analyze, or describe. Read more here.

2. Consider reclaiming colorful chalk as part of your curriculum – it has a lovely sense of line, a certain aesthetic quality in its marking and sounds, and it’s often easier to find than whiteboard markers: Read more here.

#4 October 26, 2010 Midterm Check-in and Working with Transfer students

Samantha Grabell, MSW Writing Specialist, has written of transfer students and their unique needs. She notes that at least 40% of undergraduate students have attended more than one college. Grabell found that at her school some of the probation and dismissal rates are higher for transfer students, and that some of these students showed a frequent “lack of interest in the course, and… feeling that they already knew how to be successful at college.” In some cases, she suggests that working not only as a professor, but in some ways within an advisor role may help reach challenged (or challenging) transfer students. One tip in doing this is having mid-semester check-ins or conferences to figure out difficulties early on, and then help match students with resources they may have overlooked.

Read more here.

#3 October 13, 2010 Tips from Our Teaching Excellence Award Winners

Our teaching excellence award winners had some terrific teaching tips to share at the last Teaching and Advisement event/Untenured Faculty Luncheon. Here are some highlights from Professors Robert Bornstein of Psychology, Jennifer Maloney of Art/Art History, and Lahney Preston-Matto of English:

  • Learn students’ names to build classroom rapport. Some techniques include copying student IDs, taking snapshots, or playing orientation/name games to jog your memory from name to face.
  • Read/review your syllabi with students so that they are clear on deadlines and objectives.
  • Where possible, work to embrace the habits of your discipline as part of classroom practice and assignments: practicing writing, drafting, viewing, and analyzing, etc.
  • Carefully consider the pacing of your class – When is demo needed? Where does debate fit in? What else? Enjoy!

#2 September 28, 2010 Motivate Students with Poster Sessions

Where possible, consider poster presentations or visual displays as a culminating assignment or capstone experience for courses, particularly where concrete information can be represented visually and in multiple, hands-on examples and manipulatives. As a professional opportunity, you can also encourage students to submit posters to conferences (including Adelphi’s Research Conference).

#1 September 14, 2010 Enliven Your Courses by Weaving Threads Through Your Teaching and Scholarship

From “‘Only Connect With Prose and the Passion’: Writing and teaching”:

“How and what we teach, how and what we write our journal articles about, the focus and content of our books, is largely self-determined. So when professors read their lectures from yellowed hand-scrawled pages or slightly updated PowerPoint presentations, I wonder if they’re doing both their students and themselves a disservice. OK, if the lecture is excellent, by all means, bring it on. But how can you expect to have new ideas for the publishing part of your career if you don’t take advantage of the opportunities that teaching new material offers? Believe me, I know how hard it is to develop new courses, and I don’t even teach large lecture ones. But even with the difficulties of finding time to prepare a new course, there’s an intellectual excitement in figuring stuff out, in educating oneself.”

*Read more here.

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For further information, please contact:

Faculty Center for Professional Excellence (FCPE)
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