Teaching – Six Steps for a Successful Group Project

While there is a wealth of evidence to support collaborative learning, I often shy away from assigning group projects. As a student, when given a group project, I often felt like I was carrying more than my weight. If goals and expectations are not well laid out, students can find group work frustrating.

To make your group projects more successful, consider the six tips in this short Focus article.

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Teaching – A Tongue in Cheek look at RateMyProfessor.com

When the review site RateMyProfessor began in the early aughts, a colleague at a larger state school obsessed over their score. Teaching large lecture courses of 150 students, my friend used the rating system to determine what their students really thought. Clearly, not the most healthy approach to course feedback.

In her Humurous advice for students’ negative reviews of professors (opinion), Susan Muaddi Darraj notes that nobody in academe will admit to checking RateMyProfessors, but we all do, secretly, at night, on our smartphones.

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Teaching II – Speaking of Your Syllabus…

Do your students know where to look for help? As we are laying out that new class or revising a familiar one, consider the tips in this Chronicle article, How Your Syllabus Can Encourage Students to Ask for Help.

Students don’t read your syllabus? Recall this TTT deeper dive video where I give tips on getting your students to engage with your syllabus, based on a short Chronicle article. 

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Teaching – Considering Language when Creating an Inclusive Learning Environment

As we look at the semester ahead, now is an excellent time to reflect on our syllabus and other materials – do they set an inclusive toneThis article from the Teaching Professor provides an easy-to-read list of suggestions to make your materials do just that.

It is also a good time to revisit this TTT piece from Kaly Thayer, our Coordinator for Multilingual Learning, with tips on ensuring our grading and expectations do not privilege one group of students over another.

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Teaching – Be good to your future self: The importance of self-reflection assignments between essays

As we sit down to grade that last stack of papers, did our students learn from subsequent assignments? That is, did students look at the graded work you returned and take the comments and suggestions to heart? In my experience, they more often look at the grade at the top, then move on.
In this concise piece from Faculty Focus, Julia Colella provides a self-reflection rubric she requires of her students after an essay assignment is returned.

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Teaching – Be good to your future self: What Is the Purpose of Final Exams, Anyway?

As we head into final exams, several recent articles have reflected on the nature and need for the traditional final. In this Chronicle piece, Kevin Gannon – the tattooed professor – reflects on the nature of final exams and whether they serve the purpose we intend. In Exams Reimagined by Beckie Supiano, she shares examples of how professors are reimaging their exams.

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Teaching – Course evaluations

It’s that time of year. Course evaluations are an important feedback tool that can help inform our course design. Historically, providing a set time during class provides the highest response rate. As such, if there is something I want specific feedback on, I will have a brief conversation with the class the week before. For example:

This semester, we tried <blank> which was something new for the course.

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Teaching – Assignments: low stakes vs. low workload

At a recent meeting with colleagues, the discussion of student workload came up. Specifically, many of us are using the best practice of creating low-stakes assignments to keep our students engaged. But if we all do this, are we overloading students?

An important distinction came up in our conversation: low stakes vs. low workload. Some interpret low stakes assignments as counting for a small percent of one’s grade.

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