One common challenge of expert instructors is understanding the learning needs of novice students, known as the expert blindspot. Between semesters, a group of Denison faculty participated in the Rubik’s Cube Challenge: An Expert Blindspot Learning Adventure with colleagues from Furman University.
Not only did Dr. Jane Saffitz, Anthropology and Sociology, learn how to solve the cube, but the experience provided insight into her students’ learning.
Need a change of pace from articles? Go on a walk and listen to this podcast Season 2, Episode 5: What Inclusive Instructors Do with Tracie Marcella Addy, Derek Dube, Khadijah A. Mitchell, and Mallory SoRelle. Colleagues at Lafayette College share their findings about inclusive teaching from researching their upcoming book: What inclusive instructors do.
Recently, I was taken aback by a text from my son: “Super super super stressed out agh.” He is in his sophomore year, with a heavy schedule, but this was out of the ordinary for the “iceman” (a nickname I gave him for always being cool under pressure, and a Bjorn Borg reference). Clearly my son is not alone.
When colleague’s want me to observe their class for formative feedback, I always ask them to share two or three things they are working on in which feedback would be helpful. For example, working to involve more students, trying to summarize class in the last five minutes, organizing my board work, etc. This helps me to focus the observation and provide more useful feedback.
The Transparency in Learning and Teaching (TILT) framework helps faculty redesign existing assignments and activities in a manner that makes the purpose and expectations clearer to students. These redesigned assignments have been demonstrated to increase academic confidence, sense of belonging, and metacognitive awareness for all students, with historically underserved students experiencing the greatest benefits.
Denise Magner of the Chronicle reminds us to not waste those final minutes trying to cram in eight more points or call out as many reminders as possible. Here are two tips she gives, based on a piece by James Lang
- The minute paper. Wrap up the formal class period a few minutes early, and pose two questions to your students: (1) What was the most important thing you learned today?
Which is the most important factor in successful learning:
- The intention and desire to learn
- Paying close attention to the material as you study
- Learning in a way that matches your own learning style
- The time you spend studying
- What you think about while studying
The answer, according to cognitive psychologist Stephen Chew, may surprise you. Lendol
In this week’s deeper dive, Dr. May Mei, Mathematics, shares ideas from the two-page article Critical Learning Communities: Top Five Principles to Guide Your First Month by Kristen Luschen and Becky Wai-Ling Packard. May gives practical suggestions on how to make midterm course adjustments to ensure a smoother and more productive finish to our semester.
Last week, we shared several midterm course feedback forms. Now, what to do with all that feedback?
- Make a brief list of comments to respond to during the next class.
- Focus on major themes.
- Discuss things you are willing to adjust, but also explain why you will maintain certain practices. Your students value transparency.
Nearing the half-way point, time to get some feedback from students on how our classes are going. Here are three templates to consider (feel free to edit as your own):
- This form from Dr. Annabel Edwards, Chemistry, that we shared last year. Uses a number of Likert scales.
- A newer form from Annabel based on some suggestions for The Chronicle.