Five Ways to Make Your Online Classrooms More Interactive

The online classroom can sometimes feel isolating for students and faculty. Here are five ways you can build a sense of community in your online courses.

Source: www.facultyfocus.com

This article has 5 great suggestions for building community in your online course. We take a lot of things for granted in our face to face class and it’s only when we move online that we realize how much. Building community from the very beginning of your course is important to overall student success.  Do you do any of these?

A Memo to Students about Studying for Finals

The end of the semester is rarely pretty. You’re tired. I’m tired. We both have too much to do, and you’re feeling the pressure to perform well on finals.

Source: www.facultyfocus.com

This article contains some helpful information for students as they prepare for finals.

Getting Students’ Names Right: It’s Personal

Learning students’ names and pronouncing them correctly is one of the easiest ways to create a climate of inclusion and improve student learning.

Source: www.facultyfocus.com

I sometimes struggle to pronounce names correctly. When I fail I usually poke fun at myself and my inability to get it right. But when we talk about building a safe environment in our classrooms that are all about collaboration, getting students’ names right is that first step. It shows that they matter to you.  The strategies listed in this article are very helpful and can help you set your classes up for success.

Humor in the Classroom | Teaching Professor Blog

Humor doesn’t cause learning, but it does help create conditions to help it along. Humor tends to put students at ease, which may encourage engagement.

Source: www.facultyfocus.com

Dr. Weimer brings up some interesting points about the role humor can play in the classroom.  The one that stood out to me was toward the end. “Humor connects teachers and students. It creates that sense of of community, how we’re all in this together, how we all make stupid mistakes and need to laugh at our foibles.” Creating community in a course can be one of the harder parts of teaching. Yet we’ve seen research that says building community can lead to student success. Appropriate humor may be one way to build that community.

You’re Never Too Old to Observe or Be Observed

Why you should spend more time watching your colleagues teach.

Source: chroniclevitae.com

I’ve been in education 20 years now and I find that I learn new techniques every time I have an opportunity to observe someone else teach.  It has especially been the case through our Teaching Partners Program. This pairs classroom observations with guided discussions. The opportunity to observe and then discuss what was observed can help build context and partnerships in learning.  You don’t have to be part of the Teaching Partners Program to observe others. Follow this link to the list of instructors who have agreed to let others observe them teaching – 

http://certi.mst.edu/media/administrative/certi/documents/faculty%20who%20can%20be%20observed.pdf.

A Memo to My Students Re: College and the Real World

What happens in college and what you’ll be doing in your career aren’t the same, but they aren’t as different as many of you seem to think.

Source: www.facultyfocus.com

How do we help students understand that what we are doing at the university is all about preparing them to be successful in their career?  Recently we heard from a graduate who was giving feedback on how their time at the university prepared them for their current job. There were a couple of comments this graduate made that struck a chord with me.  “Think of groups as ‘a way to prepare for groups in the real world’ instead of ‘group projects’ made me stop and think. So often we have assignments and activities in our courses because we know that they will help get students ready for their careers. We think students know why we are doing these things but in reality they may simply see it as busy work in order to get a grade.  Take time to explain why you chose to have the students complete the tasks that you do and how it can benefit them when they start their career.  This can go a long way to students being more receptive and hopefully they will give more effort.

A Learner-Centered Syllabus Helps Set the Tone for Learning

A learner-centered syllabus can take many forms, but often includes shared decision-making, a rationale for course objectives and tips for staying on track.

Source: www.facultyfocus.com

Your syllabus can help you set the stage for a successful class. It can help you take students on a journey through your class. Where does the journey end (outcomes) and how are you going to get there? This is also a great opportunity to discuss shared responsibilities. What do you expect of your students and what should they expect of you? Making it learner-centered can help students better understand how to be successful in your course.

Trying Something New? Seven Things that Boost Success Rates

Trying a new quizzing strategy, assignment, or group activity? There are things you can do to boost the chance of success when you roll out something new.

Source: www.facultyfocus.com

It’s always scary to contemplate trying something new. That’s why I always advocate to start small and get really good at the new thing before you try to implement anything else.  Here are seven simple steps that can help you as you start planning to implement new things in your courses.  It’s also important that you reach out for help as you start this process. Sometimes having someone to commiserate with makes all the difference. We are always here to help!

Teaching Quantitative Problem-Solving Skills

Teach problem-solving by guiding STEM students through complete or partially worked-out problems and derivations using the TAPPS active-learning structure.

Source: www.facultyfocus.com

We had the opportunity to read the book Teaching and Learning STEM: A Practical Guide this summer and learned a lot of things from Dr.s Brent and Felder. One important concept that came out was around problem solving. Students may be able to solve problems that they have for homework. They can do the exact process over and over to get an answer but they may not understand the process or how to apply those skills to other problem types. They may also not understand how to solve problems in your discipline. As you introduce problems it’s important to teach them about the process for solving that problem type. When you reach a different type of problem you need to start over and teach them about the process for solving that problem.  We assume our students know these things because they can complete the homework but they’ve never been taught the basics of how to truly solve a problem.  As the instructor you have to model the process and provide feedback as students practice.