Teaching at the University of Manitoba : A Handbook

Teaching at the University of Manitoba : A Handbook
A HANDBOOK
Teaching
at the
University of
Manitoba
A HANDBOOK
Teaching
at the
University of
Manitoba
Edited by
Eunice Friesen
UTS Associate Director
Cheryl Kristjanson
UTS Director
Development Team:
Eunice Friesen
Cheryl Kristjanson
Erica Jung
Rita Froese
Bill Zenert
ii
T E A C H I N G AT T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F M A N I TO B A : A H A N D B O O K
Copyright ©2007 University Teaching Services
The University of Manitoba
Cover and book designed by Barry Hammond
Flamingo Design, Winnipeg, Manitoba
Printed and bound by Art Bookbindery
Winnipeg, Manitoba
Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication
Teaching at the University of Manitoba : a handbook /
edited by Eunice Friesen and Cheryl Kristjanson. – 3rd ed.
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 978-0-9698640-2-8
1. University of Manitoba--Faculty--Handbooks, manuals, etc.
2. College teaching--Manitoba--Handbooks, manuals, etc.
3. College teaching--Handbooks, manuals, etc.
I. Friesen, Eunice, 1956- II. Kristjanson, Cheryl, 1953III. University of Manitoba. University Teaching Services
LE3.M383T42 2007
378.7127'43
C2007-902430-0
Published by University Teaching Services
The University of Manitoba
220 Sinnott Building, 70 Dysart Road
Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada R3T 2N2
(204) 474-7025, Fax (204) 474-7607
University Teaching Services wishes to thank the
communications offices of the Faculties of Agriculture,
Nursing and University 1, and the Public Affairs Office
of the University of Manitoba for permission to use photos
that appear in this book.
University Teaching Services would like to acknowledge the
support of the Office of the President, University of Manitoba
and the Faculty Development Fund Committee for this project.
Cover Photo Credits: Bill Zenert, Jarod Cantor
CONTENTS
Contents
Profile of the University of Manitoba
vi
Foreword
ix
Preface
x
University Teaching Services
xi
Acknowledgements
xiv
List of Contributors
xvi
Introduction
1.1
2.1
T H E O R E T I CA L FO U N DAT I O N S
What is Learning?
~ Michigan State University
2.2
Learning Assumptions ~ Honolulu
Community College Faculty Guidebook
Beyond Learning by Doing: The Brain
Compatible Approach ~ Jay Roberts
CHAPTER 1: STUDENTS
Introduction
CHAPTER 2: LEARNING
Student Learning Styles and Their
Implication for Teaching
~ Susan M. Montgomery, Linda N. Groat
2.3
2.4
2.11
DIVERSE TEACHING AND
LEARNING EXPERIENCES
CHAPTER 3: TEACHING
Teaching and Learning with Aboriginal
Students ~ Kali Storm
1.2
Tips for Working with Second Language
Students ~ Marcia Friesen
1.3
Practical and Simple Teaching
Accommodations for International
Students ~ Marcia Friesen
1.4
Non-Traditional Age Students
~ Three Rivers Community College
1.5
Building an Equity Culture: How You Can
Make a Difference ~ Karen R. Grant
1.7
Cultural Competence and Respectful
Environment ~ Rosalyn Howard
1.12
Introduction
3.1
Good Teaching: The Top Ten Requirements
~ Richard Leblanc
3.2
PREPARING TO TEACH
Course Construction and Organization
~ Laura MacDonald
Preparing an Effective Syllabus:
Current Best Practices
~ Jeanne M. Slattery & Janet F. Carlson
3.4
3.14
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Shared Teaching: Some Suggestions
~ Lynn Taylor
Working Towards Equitable Treatment
of Students in Multi-Section Courses
~ Lynn Taylor
U s i n g Te c h n o l o g y
3.25
3.26
T E ACH I N G S T R AT E G I E S
Lectures
Large Classes: Lecturing
~ CTE, University of Maryland
3.30
G r o u p Wo r k
Using Cooperative Education
Techniques to Help Students
Develop Effective Group Process
~ Lynn Taylor
3.35
Do’s and Don’ts for Group Assignments
~ Larry Michaelsen
3.36
Discussions/Questioning
Discussion as a Teaching Technique
~ Helen Davies
Answering and Asking Questions
~ William E. Cashin
3.38
3.42
“Challenging” Students in Discussion Classes
~ Michele Marincovich
3.53
Storytelling
Storytelling in Teaching
~ Melanie C. Green
3.66
Active Learning with PowerPoint
~ Bill Rozaitis, Paul Baepler
3.75
Organizing and Managing Good
Online Discussions: Some Tips
~ Cheryl McLean
3.79
ENHANCING STUDENT LEARNING
Motivating Students
~ Beverly Cameron
3.83
Teaching Effective Thinking Skills
~ Beverly Cameron
3.87
CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT
Academic Integrity –
The Responsibilities of the Instructor
~ Brandy Usick
3.94
Incivilities in the Classroom
~ Nancy Callaghan
3.98
Plagiarism Technology: A Primer
on Prevention and Detection
~ Lynn Smith, Brandy Usick
3.101
Tips to Help you Meet the Challenges
of Teaching Large Classes
~ Heather Gill-Robinson
3.104
3.55
Discipline and Control in Large Classes
~ Eileen M. Herteis
3.108
L a b o r a t o r y Te a c h i n g
Tips for Running Laboratory Sessions
~ J.P. Svenne
Teaching with Technology
~ George Siemens
3.63
CONTENTS
CHAPTER 5: TEACHERS
Dealing with “Challenging Students”
~ Michele Marincovich
3.110
Resolving Conflicts with Students
~ Michele Marincovich
3.112
5.1
REFLECTING ON THE
PRACTICE OF TEACHING
Ethical Principles in University Teaching
~ Harry Murray, Eileen Gillese, Madeline
CHAPTER 4:
ASSESSING LEARNING
Introduction
Introduction
Lennon, Paul Mercer, and Marilyn Robinson
5.2
4.1
Reflecting on Your Teaching
~ Jan McLean
5.9
TRADITIONAL ASSESSMENT
Writing a Multiple Choice, True &
False, Matching, Completing,
Short Answer, and Essay Exam
~ Beverly Cameron
4.2
Developing a Statement of Teaching
Philosophy
~ Mary Benbow
5.12
Using Student Feedback: Mid-term
Student Evaluations of Teaching
~ Mark Lawall
5.15
5.17
A LT E R N AT I V E A S S E S S M E N T
Grading Class Participation
~ Martha L. Maznevski
4.11
Using the Student Evaluation of
Educational Quality (SEEQ)
~ Mary Benbow
Peer Assessment and Peer Evaluation
~ The Foundation Coalition
4.15
Peer Review of Teaching
~ Matthew W. Roberts
5.21
Performance Assessment
~ Timothy F. Slater
4.21
Developing Your Teaching Dossier
~ Mary Benbow
5.26
Portfolios
~ Timothy F. Slater
4.28
CHAPTER 6: RESOURCES
AT T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F
MANITOBA
GRADING/MARKING
Grading
~ Ohio State Teaching Handbook
4.38
Reducing the Complexity and
Subjectivity of Marking: The Successful
Use of Rubrics
~ Dieter J. Schönwetter
4.44
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Profile of the
University of Manitoba
W
elcome to the University of
Manitoba. We would like to
introduce you to some of the
characteristics that make our University
unique. We trust that as you read the
history of our great University you will
develop a richer understanding of our
heritage and how it influences our future.
HISTORY
The University of Manitoba was
established in 1877 to confer degrees
on students graduating from its three
founding colleges – St. Boniface College,
St. John’s College, and Manitoba
College. The University was the first to
be established in western Canada.
In 1900 the Manitoba legislature changed
the University Act so that the university
could do its own teaching, and in 1904 a
building in downtown Winnipeg became
the first teaching facility with a staff of six
professors, all of whom were scientists.
By 1929, following the addition of more
programs, schools, and faculties, the
University had moved to its permanent
home in Fort Garry.
From its founding until the present time,
the University has added a number of
colleges to its corporate and associative
body. In 1882 the Manitoba Medical
College, which had originally been
founded by some practicing physicians
and surgeons, became a part of the
University. Other affiliations followed:
• Methodist Church’s Wesley College
in 1888
• Manitoba College of Pharmacy in 1902
• Manitoba Agriculture College in 1906
• St. Paul’s College in 1931
• Brandon College in 1938
• St. Andrew’s College, established to
train the ministry for the Ukrainian
Greek Orthodox Church, became an
affiliated College in 1981
In 1967 two of the colleges that had been
part of the University of Manitoba were
given university status by the provincial
government. United College, which had
been formed by the merging of Wesley
College and Manitoba College, became
the University of Winnipeg, and Brandon
College became Brandon University.
St. Boniface College (French-speaking)
and St. John’s College, two of the founding
colleges of the University, are still part of
the University of Manitoba.
P R O F I L E O F T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F M A N I TO B A
THE UNIVERSIT Y OF MANITOBA
I N T H E 21 S T C E N T U R Y
Our University continues to change and
adapt to the educational requirements of
an evolving society while maintaining
certain core values. We trust that you will
find the following values of the University
of Manitoba to be essential guideposts in
your practice of teaching.
Excellence – Quality in what we do
comes first. For this reason we aspire to
excellence in undergraduate and graduate teaching, and in research scholarship
and creative work. We expect superior
performance of our faculty, staff and
students.
Selectivity – Our uniqueness in Manitoba
lies in our mandate to offer professional
and graduate education, to take a leadership role in advancing scholarly understanding and creative expression, and to
generate new knowledge. These foci
create an enriched learning environment
for undergraduate students and an
outstanding environment in our areas of
academic strength.
Equity and Diversity – We believe in
the inherent dignity of all people. All
who have the potential to succeed at our
University should have access to it.
We respect our differences, celebrate our
commonalities and are united in our
mutual focus on intellectual achievement.
We promote equity in access to our
programs and employment and in the
conduct of the University’s affairs.
Academic Freedom – We will protect the
right of everyone in our academic community to intellectual independence and
critical inquiry. Advancement of understanding in research, scholarship and
creative work and the transmission of
that knowledge to students requires the
privilege of speaking and writing freedom. Members of our University have a
personal and institutional commitment to
academic freedom in the performance of
their academic duties.
Integrity – We are committed to intellectual honesty, and our actions will continue
to be consistent with our beliefs.
Mission
Statement
To create, preserve and
communicate knowledge,
and thereby, contribute
to the cultural, social and
economic well-being of
the people of Manitoba,
Canada and the world.
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Innovation – We believe in change to
maximize opportunities for learning and
to bring about a pedagogic excellence.
We appreciate the roles of experimentation
and free exploration in fostering discovery.
We accept the responsibility to identify
ways to transfer knowledge easily and
quickly for the betterment of society.
Responsibility to Society – By enhancing
the opportunities for faculty, student and
staff to learn and to work in an enriched
environment, by taking care to foster in
our students habits of mind and deepening
of character, by focusing on outstanding
achievements in scholarly inquiry and
Vision
To affirm the position of the
research by our professors, and by
increasing and elaborating community
and professional service, we act in the
best interest of the people of Manitoba.
Our activities in teaching, research and
service will improve the quality of life
and assist in the economic, social and
cultural development of our province
and the world.
Accountability – The University of
Manitoba is accountable for:
• Facilitating access to its programs for
as many students as meet its admission
requirements and as can be accommodated and effectively educated with the
available resources;
• Providing programs that meet or
exceed appropriate standards for
admission, evaluation and graduation
of students and for curriculum content
and teaching effectiveness;
• Facilitating research, scholarship and
University of Manitoba
among the best of Canada’s
research-intensive institutions
and to lead our nation in
demonstrating a commitment
to the education of a broad
sector of society.
creative works that are of high quality
as judged by international standards;
• Exhibiting an exemplary work environ-
ment for work and study with particular attention to policies and procedures
designed to foster equity; and
• Exhibiting responsible management of
physical and human resources
These core values are the foundation for
our research, teaching and service at the
University of Manitoba.
FOREWORD
Foreword
L
earning does not always require
teaching and self-directed learners are
individuals who are essentially their
own instructors. However, for most university
students effective learning involves mutual
engagement between teacher and student,
student and student, and subject and student.
These dyadic relations are not always equally
intense, nor equally important, but engagement
must occur for true learning to take place.
It is worth remembering that the student
who receives a quality education has obtained
more than the knowledge peculiar to a specific
discipline. Disciplinary knowledge changes,
and sometimes changes rapidly. What does
not change are the analytic skills, the critical
thinking skills, the ability to perform standard
mathematical tasks, the ability to use modern
communication technology. These skills are all
transportable to the workplace. They are also
the products of a good education, imparted
by conscientious teachers who expect more
from their students than just “the facts.”
A high quality education arises through the
interaction of many factors, but high quality
teaching is surely among the most important.
To be a good teacher is a proper goal for those
who seek knowledge, because how well we
impart our understanding to our students is a
check on how well we understand what we
have discovered ourselves. Moreover, there is
no greater delight to those who care about
knowledge, than seeing the transformation
understanding brings to their students. Good
teaching, then, is in the professor’s interest as
much as the student’s interest, and consequently
good teaching is in the university’s interest.
Dr. Emó´ke J.E. Szathmáry
President and Vice-Chancellor
University of Manitoba
I
n the most recent strategic academic plan
for the University of Manitoba, Building for
a Bright Future, there is a clear commitment
to focus on high quality academic programs
within which there is an environment that
fosters student success. Such a commitment
can only be honoured if one presumes a
similar commitment to teaching excellence.
Understanding the needs of individual students
and the nuances of curriculum development
requires a sound knowledge of pedagogy and a
wide range of skills and strategies. Acquiring,
developing and nurturing such understandings
requires not only the active participation of
faculty and staff but the support of skilled
individuals whose sole focus is the enhancement
of the teaching enterprise.
The University Teaching Services team is
dedicated to student success and seeks to both
stimulate and excite faculty members with
regard to a wide spectrum of teaching
activities. Although teaching evaluations can
be helpful in improving teaching, they are but
one tool. However, through the provision of a
broad range of services, cooperation with the
Faculties and by working directly with faculty
members to provide mentorship, the University
Teaching Services provide comprehensive
support to those who engage in teaching.
Through this text, the work of the University
Teaching Services and a University committed
to excellence in teaching, we will surely be able
to provide a culture of learning in which we
can all take pride.
Dr. Robert Kerr
Vice-President (Academic) and Provost
University of Manitoba
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Preface
elcome to the University of Manitoba.
One of your responsibilities is to teach
students. Interestingly, not that long
ago you were the student. At this point, you might
be thinking – how will I meet this challenge? What
tools are available to assist me?
W
University Teaching Services has developed
a Teaching Handbook for University of
Manitoba Instructors and Professors. It is
designed especially, but not exclusively, for
new Faculty members. We recognize that
learning to teach is a complex act that is usually
not part of an academic’s disciplinary education. Teaching at the University of Manitoba:
A Handbook is a collection of “best practices”
that describe pedagogically sound principles
of teaching and learning. The information is
presented in a succinct format which provides
practical examples that can be easily utilized
or adapted to teaching in any discipline. It is
organized in an intuitive fashion for those
individuals who may be somewhat unfamiliar
with the disciplinary language of Education.
The broad categories include: Students,
Learning, Assessing Learning, Teaching and
finally, the Teacher – you!
Each chapter is preceded by a brief introduction to the topic. We wanted to share with
you the desires and beliefs of our students
and staff surrounding teaching and learning.
Consequently, we listened to students
presenting awards, to teachers sharing their
learning in workshops, to students and
teachers informal connections and identified
the highlights for you. Without exception,
the insights of our students and faculty
are supported by educational research on
students, teaching and learning.
It is our intention that you will first and
foremost be motivated by the content in this
handbook. We trust that novice teachers will
find many practical bits of information that
can form their teaching practice. We expect
that many of you will identify the content as
something that resonates with your practice
of teaching and consequently affirms your
teaching. We also anticipate that many
teachers will find their own “aha” moments
as they read the handbook. We hope that
these new insights will positively impact your
practice of teaching.
The Handbook is also an excellent resource
for those faculty members who are no longer
novice teachers. The truly effective teacher
is one who is constantly reflecting on their
practice of teaching. Walking down any hallway in our University you can hear faculty
members dialoging about a class they just
finished teaching or one that they are on their
way to teach. Comments such as: ‘I tried that
new strategy but it did not work very well’ or,
‘I tried a new approach and the students were
so enthusiastic that everyone came back to
class after the break!!’ are common exchanges.
Teachers are consciously and unconsciously,
modifying their practice of teaching to maximize the learning potential of their students.
Teaching is process, not product.
Teaching at the University of Manitoba: A
Handbook is only one resource in the teacher’s
toolkit. A colleagial community of educators
is in all probability the most powerful
resource to improve your teaching. We
encourage you to utilize the handbook as
an initial point of dialogue about your
teaching, with your colleagues.
Eunice Friesen
Editor, Associate Director UTS
University of Manitoba
UNIVERSITY TEACHING SERVICES
University Teaching Services
U
niversity Teaching Services (UTS)
is a collegial faculty development
program that initiates and organizes a wide range of activities related to
teaching and learning for faculty and
graduate students. The goal of UTS is
to help enhance the quality of teaching
and learning at the U of M. We provide
a wide range of programs including
consultations, educational sessions, and
resources for all faculties. Below you will
find a brief description of each program.
For more information on these and other
programs, or to ask how UTS can help
individuals or groups with any teaching
and learning issue, please contact UTS
at 474-6958.
FA C U LT Y D E V E L O P M E N T
W O R KS H O P S
Faculty Development workshops on a
broad range of topics related to teaching
and learning are offered during the fall
and winter school term as well as during
the months of May and June. Current
workshops and registrations are on our
website (http://www.umanitoba.ca/uts).
UTS also facilitates customized workshops
for individual departments or groups.
N E W FA C U LT Y S E R I E S
UTS provides a series of linked workshops specifically designed to address
the needs of new faculty.
PROFESSIONAL SERIES
UTS provides a series of linked workshops designed to address the issues
that are most common to faculties of
professional programs.
T E A C H I N G A S S I S TA N T
W O R KS H O P
This annual practical workshop for
teaching assistants (TAs) is sponsored by
UTS along with the Faculties of Arts,
Science, Engineering, University 1 and the
Faculty of Graduate Studies. Teaching
assistants receive practical advice on the
role of the TA, dealing with common
student issues, accommodating diversity,
and a range of teaching strategies.
P E E R C O N S U LTAT I O N P R O G R A M
This program allows new and experienced faculty to enhance their teaching
by working one-on-one in a confidential
relationship with a trained faculty
consultant. Peer consultants come from
a variety of faculties and have been
recognized by their colleagues as accomplished teachers.
C E R T I F I C AT I O N I N H I G H E R
E D U C AT I O N T E A C H I N G ( C H E T )
UTS offers a certification program to
help prepare graduate students for the
teaching component of faculty positions
and for careers that require communication and presentation skills.
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PRINT
RESOURCES
• Mentoring: A Strategy for Career
Teaching at The University of
Manitoba: A Handbook – 3rd edition
This 250+ page book contains a wealth of
practical articles on teaching and learning.
Copies of Teaching at The University of
Manitoba: A Handbook, can be purchased
at the U of M Bookstore. The book is also
available on-line as a pdf.
• Preparing a Teaching Dossier
UTS Newsletter
The UTS Newsletter is distributed
to all faculty members and academic
administrators. The Newsletter contains
articles on teaching, announcements of
teaching and learning activities, teaching
tips supplied by faculty members,
research results of interest, and recognition
of teaching award winners.
• Using Cooperative Education
“Developing Your Teaching
Dossier” Guide:
This is a workbook designed to help the
faculty member compile their teaching
dossier. It is available through a UTS
workshop with the same title.
Development
• The Objectionable Utterance
• Shared Teaching: Some Suggestions
• Teaching Sequenced Courses: Some
Suggestions
• Tips for Writing a University Paper
• Use and Abuse of Overhead
Transparencies
Techniques as a Framework to Help
Students Develop
• Effective Group Processes
• Working Toward the Equitable
Treatment of Students in Multi-section
Courses
Information Booklet
• Students Rating Teaching (a 37-page
booklet)
Teaching Tips:
This series of booklets contains practical
tips used by master teachers in a variety
of disciplines.
Black Bar Series
• Academic Honesty
Titles include:
• A Brief Description of SEEQ
• Instructor Enthusiasm
• Collaborative Learning Activities
• Organization and Clarity
• Do’s and Don’ts for Group
• Group Interaction
Assignments
• Five Ways to Improve Written
Responses to Student Work
• Grading: Suggestions for Maximizing
Students’ Perceptions of Fairness
• Learning and Academic Value
• Individual Rapport
• Breadth of Coverage
• Exams and Graded Material
• Assignments and Readings
UNIVERSITY TEACHING SERVICES
TEACHING
AWARDS
UTS assists in the application process
for two teaching awards sponsored by
The Society for Teaching and Learning in
Higher Education (STLHE). These two
awards are the 3M Teaching Fellowships
for teaching excellence and educational
leadership and the Alan Blizzard award
for collaboration in teaching.
3M Teaching Fellowships
These awards recognize teaching excellence as well as educational leadership.
Up to ten Fellowships are awarded each
year. The award includes a citation and
an invitation to participate in a three-day
retreat at Chateau Montebello in Quebec.
This very popular retreat provides the
winners with an opportunity to share
past teaching experiences and discuss
new ideas.
The Alan Blizzard Award
“The Allan Blizzard Award is designed
to stimulate and reward collaboration in
teaching, and encourage and disseminate
scholarship in teaching and learning.”
It is sponsored by McGraw-Hill Ryerson
(Higher Education Division) and is
presented at the annual conference of
The Society for Teaching and Learning
in Higher Education (STLHE). Further
information is available at the STLHE
website.
The University of Manitoba also presents
several annual teaching awards.
Saunderson Award
The Saunderson Award is presented to
a member of the U of M teaching staff
for excellence in teaching. The faculty
member holds the rank of lecturer or
instructor I or above. Nominations for a
Saunderson Award are accepted from
members of the graduating class.
Stanton Award
The Stanton Award is presented to a
member of the U of M teaching staff for
excellence in teaching. The faculty member holds the rank of lecturer or instructor
I or above. Nominations for a Stanton
Award are accepted from members of
the graduating class.
STUDENTS’ TEACHER
RECOGNITION RECEPTION
UTS sponsors this annual reception at
which outstanding graduating students
honour teachers who have made special
contributions to their education. The
students each honour two teachers,
one from their Kindergarten to Grade 12
years and one from the U of M.
Note: Many faculties have their own
teaching awards.
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Acknowledgements
T
he process of producing the
current edition of Teaching at the
University of Manitoba: A Handbook
has been challenging. Many of the
individuals who have contributed to the
production of the book have experienced
transitions in their lives which have not
allowed them to participate in the final
product. University Teaching Services
(UTS) extends their appreciation to David
Kirby, Joyce Joyal, Norma Buydens,
Jennifer Tennant, Arun Chaturvedi, and
Michelle Poulin for their contributions.
We also want to thank the previous
editors Beverly Cameron and Mark
Lawall, and the previous UTS director
Lynn Taylor for following their vision of
creating a teaching handbook for our
Faculty members. The current edition
of the Handbook has developed into a
collaborative resource of insights on
teaching and learning from multiple
practitioners in the field of education.
A special thank-you to colleagues at the
University of Manitoba who generously
contributed their time and knowledge by
writing articles for the handbook.
Kali Storm (Aboriginal
Student Centre)
Mary Benbow (Environment
and Geography)
Marcia Friesen (Faculty of
Engineering)
Karen Grant (Vice ProvostAcademic Affairs)
Rosalyn Howard (Learning and
Development Services)
Laura McDonald (Dental Hygiene)
Lynn Taylor (Past UTS Director)
George Siemens (Learning
Technology Centre)
Dieter Schönwetter (Faculty
of Dentistry)
Brandy Usick (Student Advocacy)
We want to thank the communications
departments of many faculties who
willingly shared photos of their staff and
students for publication in the handbook.
Thank you to Arun Chaturvedi and
Brendan Friesen who reformatted the
many articles and to Mervin Friesen for
editing the cover photos. A big thank you
to Julie Chychota who spent many hours
obtaining copyrights for the articles that
were written by colleagues external to
the University of Manitoba.
This handbook could not have happened
without the funding from the Faculty
Development Fund, Office of the
President, and the hard work of the staff
at UTS. Thank you to Bill Zenert who
took pictures and reformatted tables,
figures and pictures into a format that
could be utilized in the handbook.
Thank you to Erica Jung who completed
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
multiple administrative organizational
tasks including compiling the list of contributors – a job that required the skills of
a true treasure hunter. Thank you to both
Erica and Rita Froese for the many hours
of tireless and detailed proofreading of
the book. A big thank you to Barry
Hammond from Flamingo Design who
patiently listened to our ideas, provided
gentle encouragement and direction, and
just about never said no to any of our
ideas. He spent countless hours working
and reworking the contents of the
Handbook to produce a truly professional
looking book. And a big thank you to
Cheryl Kristjanson who inspired the
reflection required to maintain the focus
of the handbook as well as ensured the
pedagogical accuracy of the text.
U T S S TA F F :
This book is a fine example of “group
work”!
Angela Tittle, Research Assistant
474-9975
[email protected]
Eunice Friesen
Editor, Associate Director UTS
University of Manitoba
For more information, please feel
free to contact us at:
University Teaching Services (UTS)
The University of Manitoba
220 Sinnott Bldg. 70 Dysart Road
Tel: (204) 474-6958
Fax: (204) 474-7607
email: [email protected]
www.umanitoba.ca/uts
Cheryl Kristjanson, Director
474-7804
[email protected]
Eunice Friesen, Associate Director
474-7456
[email protected]
Valentina Tautkus, Office Manager
474-6471
[email protected]
Erica Jung, Program Administrator
474-7025
[email protected]
Rita Froese, Program Assistant
474-6958
[email protected]
Bill Zenert, Technology Assistant
474-7042
[email protected]
xv
xvi
T E A C H I N G AT T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F M A N I TO B A : A H A N D B O O K
Contributors
Paul Baepler, PhD
Multimedia Designer and
Instructional Consultant
Center for Teaching and Learning
University of Minnesota
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Mary Benbow, PhD
Associate Professor,
Department of Environment
& Geography and
Associate Dean Academic,
Clayton H. Riddell Faculty of
Environment, Earth & Resources
University of Manitoba
Winnipeg, Manitoba
Nancy Callaghan
Student Advocate
University of Manitoba
Winnipeg, Manitoba
William E. Cashin, PhD
Kansas State University
Manhattan, Kansas
Center for Teaching Excellence (CTE)
University of Maryland
College Park, Maryland
Helen Davies, PhD
Professor
Department of Microbiology
School of Medicine
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
The Foundation Coalition
Supported by the National
Science Foundation
Arlington, Virginia
Beverly Cameron, PhD
Former Director
University 1
University of Manitoba
Winnipeg, Manitoba
Marcia Friesen, MEd
Program Director
Internationally Educated Engineers
Qualifications Pilot Program
(IEEQ Program)
University of Manitoba
Winnipeg, Manitoba
Janet F. Carlson, PhD
Professor and
Department Head
General Academics
Texas A&M University at Galveston
Galveston, Texas
Heather Gill-Robinson, PhD
Assistant Professor
Department of Anthropology,
Faculty of Arts
University of Manitoba
Winnipeg, Manitoba
C O N T R I B U TO R S
Eileen Gillese, LLD, LLM
Former Dean and Professor
Faculty of Law
University of Western Ontario
London, Ontario
Mark Lawall, PhD
Professor
Department of Classics, Faculty of Arts
University of Manitoba
Winnipeg, Manitoba
Karen Grant, PhD
Vice-Provost (Academic Affairs) and
Associate Professor Sociology
University of Manitoba
Winnipeg, Manitoba
Richard Leblanc, PhD
Professor
Corporate Governance, Law and
Ethics Atkinson Faculty of Liberal
and Professional Studies
York University
Toronto, Ontario
Melanie C. Green, PhD
Assistant Professor
Department of Psychology
University of North Carolina
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Linda N. Groat, PhD
Professor
Architecture and Women’s Studies
A. Alfred Taubman College of
Architecture and Urban Planning
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, Michigan
Rosalyn Howard, MA
Director
Learning & Development Services (LDS)
University of Manitoba
Winnipeg, Manitoba
Eileen Herteis, MA
Director
Purdy Crawford Teaching Center
Mount Allison University
Sackville, New Brunswick
Honolulu Community College
University of Hawaii
Honolulu, Hawaii
Madeline Lennon
Professor
Department of Visual Arts
University of Western Ontario
London, Ontario
Laura MacDonald, MEd
Associate Professor
School of Dental Hygiene
Faculty of Dentistry
University of Manitoba
Winnipeg, Manitoba
Michele Marincovich, PhD
Associate Vice Provost of
Undergraduate Education and
Director
Center for Teaching and Learning
Stanford University
Stanford, California
Martha L. Maznevski, PhD
Professor
Organizational Behaviour and
International Management
International Institute for Management
Development (IMD)
Lausanne, Switzerland
xvii
xviii
T E A C H I N G AT T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F M A N I TO B A : A H A N D B O O K
Cheryl McLean, PhD
Director
Distance & Online Education
University of Manitoba
Winnipeg, Manitoba
Susan M. Montgomery, PhD
Lecturer and
Undergraduate Program Advisor
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, Michigan
Larry Michaelsen, PhD
Professor
Faculty of Management
Harmon College of Business
Administration
University of Central Missouri
Warrensburg, Missouri
Harry Murray, PhD
Professor Emeritus
Department of Psychology
University of Western Ontario
London, Ontario
Jan McLean, MEd
Program Coordinator
School of Public Health and
Community Medicine
Graduate Certificate in Learning
and Teaching
The University of New South Wales
Sydney, Australia
Paul Mercer, PhD
Professor Emeritus
Department of Physiology
Faculty of Medicine
University of Western Ontario
London, Ontario
Virtual University Design and
Technology (vuDAT)
Teaching and Learning
Michigan State University
East Lansing, Michigan
Ohio State Teaching Handbook
Office of Faculty & TA Development
(ftad)
Ohio State University
Columbus, Ohio
Jay Roberts, MEd
Director of Wilderness Programs and
Instructor in the Education Program
Earlham College
Richmond, Indiana
Matthew W. Roberts, PhD
Assistant Professor
Department of Civil Engineering
University of Wisconsin-Platteville
Platteville, Wisconsin
Marilyn Robinson, PhD
(deceased) Professor
Department of Physiology and
Director
Educational Development Office
University of Western Ontario
London, Ontario
C O N T R I B U TO R S
Bill Rozaitis, PhD
Education Specialist
Center for Teaching and Learning
University of Minnesota
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Kali Storm, MEd
Director
Aboriginal Student Centre
University of Manitoba
Winnipeg, Manitoba
Dieter Schönwetter, PhD
Education Specialist and
Assistant Professor
Faculty of Dentistry
University of Manitoba
Winnipeg, Manitoba
Juris Peteris Svenne, PhD
Senior Scholar
Department of Physics and Astronomy
University of Manitoba
Winnipeg, Manitoba
George Siemens
Associate Director, Research &
Development
Learning Technologies Centre
University of Manitoba
Winnipeg, Manitoba
Timothy F. Slater, PhD
Associate Professor
Department of Astronomy
Steward Observatory
Conceptual Astronomy and Physics
Education Research (CAPER) Team
University of Arizona
Tucson, Arizona
Jeanne M. Slattery, PhD
Assistant Professor
Department of Psychology
Clarion University
Clarion, Pennsylvania
Lynn Smith, PhD
Executive Director
Student Services
University of Manitoba
Winnipeg, Manitoba
Lynn Taylor, PhD
Director
Centre for Learning and Teaching
Dalhousie University
Halifax, Nova Scotia
Angela M. Tittle, MSc
Research Associate
University Teaching Services
University of Manitoba
Winnipeg, Manitoba
Tutoring and Academic Success
Centers (T.A.S.C.)
Three Rivers Community College
Norwich, Connecticut
Brandy Usick, MEd
Director
Student Advocacy and Resource Services
University of Manitoba
Winnipeg, Manitoba
xix
1
C H A P T E R
Students
INTRODUCTION
1.1
Introduction
T
he largest segment of the University of Manitoba student body is composed
of undergraduate students (see below). Almost half of the undergraduate
students are young adults who transition directly from high school to
University. In an effort to gain a better understanding of our students we
listened to them describing their educational experience during a teaching
award ceremony. The following is a list of student comments about what is important to
them during their educational experiences at the University of Manitoba.
• We want to be recognized by our teacher as individuals, with names, not just numbers
• We want to be treated with respect and as a person of equal value.
• We want teachers to communicate that our presence in the classroom matters to the teacher.
• We want to be accepted for our previous accomplishments and our individual talents.
• We want flexibility in our learning.
• We want our teachers to believe in us and to inspire us to be the best we can be.
• We want to be challenged, but know that our teacher will help us
Introduction
1.1
Diverse Teaching and
Learning Experiences
1.2
overcome the challenges.
• We want to know that we can be successful – we want to know
when we are becoming successful, and how to change when we
are less successful.
• We want our
teachers to be
proud of our
accomplishments.
• We want a con-
nection with our
teachers outside
of the classroom.
• But, most impor-
tantly, we want
our teachers to
LISTEN to us.
Aboriginal – Aboriginal identity
is self-declared and voluntary,
therefore the actual numbers
would be less than the total population of Canadian Aboriginal
students on campus.
Univ 1 Other – Transfers,
Other High School Admissions
& Special Admission.
Mature – ≥21 year old students
who did not qualifyfor direct
admission from high school.
Data and student category
definitions quoted from the
Office of Institutional Analysis
website: Bargenda, D., Doern,
B., Gama, V., Hermiston, J.,
Kurjewicz, Z., Mansfield, S.,
Olsen, D., Roller,R., Trask, W. &
Lussier, T.G. (Director). (2006).
IS Book Online. Retrieved
February 23, 2007 from
University of Manitoba, Office
of Institutional AnalysisWebsite:
http://umanitoba.ca/admin/
institutional_analysis/index.htm
1.2
T E A C H I N G AT T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F M A N I TO B A : A H A N D B O O K
Diverse Teaching and
Learning Experiences
Teaching and Learning with Aboriginal Students
K A L I S TO R M
Used with permission
of author as adapted by
Norma Buydens
A
boriginal students are increasingly present in our University classrooms. They
gain invaluable learning opportunities; but Aboriginal students also provide the
University community with unique learning opportunities. Most instructors will
have Aboriginal students in their class. This article will discuss a few of the many ways
in which we can maximize the richness of their presence.
The term “Aboriginal” includes all peoples Indigenous to North America/Turtle Island.
It is important to represent these Peoples as unique and separate, with distinct cultures,
languages, beliefs, traditions and customs. Instructors can gain a great deal through
researching the traditions and histories (oral and written) of Aboriginal Peoples, before
attempting to teach them. Once this is done, your classes can become more inclusive by
including Aboriginal issues (historical and current) whenever possible, presenting
Aboriginal issues in a factual and balanced way.
For instance, try to incorporate more positive examples when discussing Aboriginal
Peoples, and be sure to contextualize contemporary Aboriginal issues with historical
facts. Words such as “massacre” and “victory” have a negative connotation and should
be avoided. Consider using fewer materials and texts which describe as “heroes” only
those Aboriginal persons who helped Europeans and Euro-Americans/Canadians.
Aboriginal history is a part of Canadian history. There are materials available that show
respect and understanding, portraying Aboriginal societies as sophisticated and complex.
In some courses, you can acknowledge oral history and Traditional Teachings, giving
them equal value and credibility as the knowledge in books, which represent only
those people at a given time who had the opportunity to have their thoughts published.
Try to use books and materials written by Aboriginal Peoples; literature written by
non-Aboriginals about Aboriginal people should always be carefully scrutinized.
Spirituality teaches values and is part of any culture. Be aware that Aboriginal spirituality
is a way of life; Aboriginal people do not “separate church from state” but look at life
holistically. This makes the Aboriginal spirituality of some your Aboriginal students a
valuable resource and counterpoint for your courses. However, since many Aboriginal
people have been educated through the public school system, not all of them know their
own histories, cultures or details of Native spirituality.
DIVERSE TEACHING AND LEARNING EXPERIENCES
1.3
Encourage Aboriginal students to participate in discussions about their family traditions
or their people’s cultures if they feel comfortable in doing so. It might be useful to invite
an Aboriginal guest speaker or presenter to your class. Keep in mind that you may have
Aboriginal students in your class without realizing it – many Aboriginal people do not
self-disclose their identity.
Finally, when dealing with all students, instructors should show respect for each student
as an individual, with a private and family life, and with his or her own set of priorities,
responsibilities and obligations.
Keeping these points in mind, we are in a position to benefit from the increasing presence
of Aboriginal students in our classrooms.
Tips for Working with Second-Language (L2) Students
A
survey of first-year Engineering students in early 2003 indicated that nearly 25%
of students come to our Faculty from outside of Canada. A quick look into an
undergraduate classroom confirms the presence of many different cultures and
languages, and the international component is even more apparent in the graduate student
population. A focus group held with a group of international students in engineering in
late 2003 highlighted some common challenges for second-language speakers in listening
to, reading, and writing in English.
MARCIA FRIESEN
Used with permission
of author
Listening: Second language (L2) students appreciate it when professors
• Speak with full volume;
• Speak in a moderate pace (not too fast);
• Explain the meanings of acronyms (for example, IEEE, NSERC, etc.);
> TIP
• Limit the use of idioms, or explain what they mean (for example,
“that answer is way out in left field”; “you should be up to speed
on this chapter”); and,
Demonstrate respect
• Explain new or unfamiliar vocabulary.
for each student as
Reading: L2 students appreciate it when professors
an individual, with a
• Assess the difficulty (complexity) and amount of reading assign-
private and family life,
ments and give an adequate amount of time to complete it;
• Make sets of notes available before class or at the beginning of
the term, to allow the student to pre-read; and,
• Make type-written sets of notes available, to limit the difficulties
in reading cursive penmanship.
and with his or her
own set of priorities,
responsibilities and
obligations.
1.4
T E A C H I N G AT T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F M A N I TO B A : A H A N D B O O K
Writing: L2 students appreciate it when professors
• Give a clear description of the requirements for writing assignments, both for content
and format, length, and style; and,
• Make examples of writing assignments available for reference on format, length,
and style.
In addition, L2 students appreciate accessible office hours with both the instructor and
the teaching assistants.
Practical and Simple Teaching Accommodations
for International Students
MARCIA FRIESEN
Used with permission
of author
B
eing an international student often means being a second-language speaker as
well. Here are some practical strategies to use in the classroom to make teaching
& learning more effective for second language speakers and for students of
non-Western cultures. Many of these suggestions come from good teaching practice and
can benefit all students in your classroom.
• Whether you learn the names of your students in class or during office hours, show
respect for students by learning to pronounce their names as accurately as possible.
Ask them to correct your pronunciation, and practice the name often.
• When speaking in class, enunciate clearly and be careful to not speak too quickly.
Be cautious when using humour or sarcasm, as humour is often the last language skill
to be mastered. Assume that some of your students will not understand unfamiliar
words and include their explanations in the normal course of your lecturing. Clarify
any acronyms used in class. If possible, prepare a glossary of new/unfamiliar terms
and acronyms, or write them on the board at the beginning of class and leave them as
a visual reminder for the duration of the class.
• During discussions or when asking questions, second language speakers often struggle
to express their thoughts, opinions, and questions as eloquently in English as they
would in their primary language. Re-phrase or paraphrase their questions and their
contributions to class discussion, ask whether you have understood them correctly,
and use probes (“can you tell me more about that”, “can you explain that a little further”)
to allow them opportunities to fully express their thoughts.
• Be aware that the university classroom environment in some cultures is more hierarchical,
formal, and structured than in Canada. Asking questions is not necessarily okay in all
cultures. Be prepared to draw out quieter students by asking them questions directly.
DIVERSE TEACHING AND LEARNING EXPERIENCES
1.5
• Be aware that how one gives and receives feedback varies from culture to culture.
What sounds like clear, directive feedback in Canada may sound harsh in another culture,
or may be too unclear and have no feedback value in a third culture. Use probing,
paraphrasing, and re-phrasing in class discussions to soften students’ comments that
sound overly direct or harsh. Be prepared to sharpen vague or indirect comments using
the same techniques.
• During office hours, take your cue from the student as to how formal or informal
they want to deal with you as the instructor. Some students will be most comfortable
in a formal relationship with no personal component. Other students will welcome
questions about their other classes, their family, their jobs, etc.
• As you have time, educate yourself on cultural differences and how they manifest
themselves in everyday work, communication, and interaction. Cultures vary along a
number of parameters, including hierarchical and participative cultures, individualistic
and collectivistic cultures, risk tolerant and risk averse cultures, and high context and
low context cultures. We all operate out of a specific cultural orientation, but we usually
fail to recognize our own culture and its effects since we are so involved in it. Some
suggested readings include:
Riding the Waves of Culture, by Fons Trompenaars & Charles Hampden-Turner (1998)
Building Cross-Cultural Competence, by Charles Hampden-Turner and Fons Trompenaars (2000)
Managing Cultural Diversity in Technical Professions, by Lionel Laroche (2003)
Non-Traditional Age Students
A
non-traditional student is anyone who is not a teenager and who has not just
graduated from high school. Non-traditional students include adults who have
been downsized at work and are creating new careers. Others are housewives
who are coming back to education after years of taking care of their families and homes.
Some students need certain courses in order to move up in their jobs – or to hold onto
their jobs. Still other non-traditional students have been mandated by various assistance
programs to either work or obtain an education within a certain time limit. There are all
kinds of reasons for adults to come back to school. What do all of these students have in
common? Fear. They are afraid they will not fit in; they are afraid they have been out of
school too long; they are afraid they won‘t succeed. This fear may manifest itself in anger,
sadness, inertia, an “attitude” problem, or overcompensation.
THREE RIVERS
COMMUNITY
COLLEGE
©“Non-Traditional
Student.“ Used with
permission of Tutoring
and Academic Success
Centers, Three Rivers
Community College,
2002
1.6
T E A C H I N G AT T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F M A N I TO B A : A H A N D B O O K
RESPONSIBILITIES
These students have often suffered set-backs and heartaches. They have responsibilities
that most recent high school graduates have not yet experienced. With demands from
spouses, and/or children, and/or jobs, they have problems balancing their schedules.
With demands on their limited resources from paying for housing, food, utilities,
daycare, transportation, books, tuition, etc. they may also have problems managing their
money. They encounter problems with their childcare sitters - often at the last minute.
They may also have transportation problems.
H I G H LY M O T I VAT E D S T U D E N T S
However, most non-traditional students are highly motivated. They know it is up to
them to make their lives better. As a tutor, you can help them reinforce the relationship
between (1) successfully completing each course, (2) which will help them meet their
educational goals, (3) which will lead to their new career, their new promotion, and/or
their transition from assistance to the workforce.
Letting these non-traditional
students know they are
not alone, that there is an
obtainable goal, and that
they are the ones who are
creating these changes in
their own lives, can often help give these students the confidence, determination, and
encouragement they need to persevere.
“The process of learning affects the
content of learning.”
T I P S FO R T U T O R I N G N O N -T R A D I T I O N A L A G E S T U D E N T S
The following are some suggestions to make working with non-traditional students more productive:
• Use appropriate reinforcement.
• Show a genuine interest.
• Respect their past experience, but do not allow this to be an excuse for poor performance.
• Model time management skills.
• Be empathetic.
• Relate information to known experience.
• Use tutoring time wisely. Remember, their time is usually very valuable.
DIVERSE TEACHING AND LEARNING EXPERIENCES
1.7
Building an Equity Culture:
How You Can Make A Difference
M
any of the ideas in this article are based on a forum/workshop by Dr. Bernice
Sandler, an internationally respected expert who has conducted research on
strategies to warm the chilly classroom climate. The forum and workshop
were hosted by the Faculty of Arts.
As you prepare for your classes, take a few moments to consider the following strategies
that colleagues have identified for avoiding discrimination and making the classroom
more hospitable for all students. These suggestions are offered to you with the following
thought in mind: “the process of learning affects the content of learning.”
If we can make our classrooms anti-racist and anti-sexist, if we can foster the participation
of students who might be diffident, if we can think more self-consciously about what we
teach and how we teach it, if we work to avoid subtly encouraging some students while
discouraging others, if we reflect on what we, as individual instructors, can do and
what we can encourage within our institution – perhaps then we can create teaching and
learning environments that enhance the experience of all faculty and students.
W H AT C A N P R O F E S S O R S D O T O C R E AT E
A POSITIVE CLASSROOM ENVIRONMENT?
There are many things that instructors can do to foster a positive teaching and learning
environment. Keeping in mind the size and format of your classes, you might wish to
consider the following:
As you prepare your syllabus:
• Reflect on your teaching orientation and pedagogical style, and then let your students
know how you plan to teach the course (include this in your syllabus).
• Include women and minority scholars as part of the knowledge base, but don‘t
marginalize women‘s or minority issues in class.
• Include women and minorities among any guest speakers invited to your classes.
Once your class begins:
• Talk about the issues of climate in class (there are several very good videos on the
subject, some of which include resource guides that can be used to facilitate discussion).
• Familiarize your students with U of M policies including:
• Your Faculty’s Students’ Code of Responsibilities
• Responsibilities of Academic Staff with Regard to Students Policy (ROASS)
• Human Rights Policy
KAREN R. GRANT
Used with permission
of author
1.8
T E A C H I N G AT T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F M A N I TO B A : A H A N D B O O K
• Sexual Harassment Policy
• Language Usage Policy
• Set an example for your students by complying with these and other university
policies.
• Familiarize yourself and your students with some of the resources and services on
campus that students may need:
• Student Resource Services – this branch of Student Affairs includes the chaplains,
disability services, the English Language Centre, the Learning Assistance Centre,
the Aboriginal Students Office, and the Play Care Centre
• Office of Student Advocacy – informs and advises students experiencing
academically-related difficulties and serves as an advocate or intermediary for
such students
• Equity Services Office – this office provides services in employment equity, conflict
resolution, and advice and assistance with human rights and sexual harassment
complaints and education
• University Health Service – this clinic provides health care to the university
community
• Psychological Service Centre – this centre provides therapy and counseling to
individuals, couples, families, and groups, with staff available to assist in crises,
and on a walk-in basis
• Counselling Service – this centre provides counselling to students for personal,
career and academic issues
Some things to try:
• Ask students to introduce one another in class.
• Try to learn the names of all of your students.
• Keep track of who talks (and, as important, who does not talk), and the nature of
the discussion. (Do students raise their hands? Do students interrupt the instructor?
Do students interrupt one another? How does interaction take place in class?)
• Be realistic about your expectations regarding student participation: expect participation
over time, thereby allowing for individual differences.
• Use praise and feedback as a strategy to encourage students to learn and participate.
• Don’t restrict the space you use as an instructor; instead, move around the classroom in
order to reach out to all of the students in your class.
DIVERSE TEACHING AND LEARNING EXPERIENCES
• Re-arrange physical settings to promote interaction (e.g., move the seats into a “U”
or a circle to make it easier for people to see each other).
• Use quizzes as a way to get students to talk about issues in small groups. This will also
make students feel that they have contributed to the class.
• If using small groups, make sure that the responsibility for recording group interaction
and discussion is rotated among class members.
• When you ask questions in class, don’t always pick the first hand that goes up; instead,
wait for other hands or call on individuals.
• Ask questions of all members of the class.
• Try to ensure proportional representation in calling on students. In some cases, it may
be appropriate to make a special effort to call on women and minority students.
• Consider singling out individuals to perform tasks in class, but don’t force the issue.
• When criticism is appropriate, phrase the issue in the form of a question (e.g., “Your
answer doesn’t take into account X.” versus “How would your answer be affected
by X?”).
• Intervene when negative behavior is evident. (For example, if suggestions or comments
are made by both men and women, but only those offered by men are acknowledged,
draw attention to this by picking up on the women’s comments and showing how they
have been overlooked.)
• Don’t communicate lower expectations for women and minority students.
• Treat the same behaviors in men and women in the same way and give the same
kinds of information, praise, and coaching to female and male students. (The same
applies to treating minority students like Caucasian students) Ask critical thinking
and factual questions of both women and men and of both minority students and
Caucasian students.
• Use language that is inclusive, or minimally gender-specific (i.e. use language that
includes men and women in the group; avoid using the generic “he”; refrain from
using or condoning sexist or racist humor).
• Avoid excluding any students.
• Make sure that students don’t feel squeezed out by the classroom dynamics.
• Avoid stereotyping any individual or group of students.
• Encourage all students.
1.9
1.10
T E A C H I N G AT T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F M A N I TO B A : A H A N D B O O K
Throughout your class:
• Ask for feedback from students on the process of learning and the content of
the course.
• Have students complete “one-minute” papers on issues as a way of identifying problem
areas in both process and content.
• Monitor instructional materials for unequal and discriminatory arguments, illustrations,
and content with regard to the depiction of women and cultural minorities.
• Update bibliographies making them more inclusive, and encourage students to pursue
inclusive reading and research.
• Arrange to have your lectures videotaped so you can see how you teach, and make
changes where they are needed. Arrange to work with a Peer Consultant from
University Teaching Services.
W H AT C A N YO U A N D T H E U N I V E R S I T Y D O T O
B U I L D A N E Q U I T Y C U LT U R E ?
• Promote continuing education related to pedagogy (including seeking administrative
support for faculty development workshops).
• Examine departmental and faculty curricula for diversity.
• Do the calendar descriptions for courses reflect what is taught? Do calendar
descriptions acknowledge new scholarship? Should they?
• Should new courses be introduced to make the curricula in our departments and
programs more inclusive?
• Include “climate” issues in course and peer evaluations (e.g., Have you felt
uncomfortable in this class because of your gender (race/ethnicity)? If so, how?
• Bring women or minority representatives to the campus as specialty instructors or
keynote speakers at colloquia.
• Make sure that university policies dealing with equity (i.e. language use, human
rights, sexual harassment, etc.) are publicized.
• Make sure that members of the University community adhere to university policies
dealing with equity.
• Keep equity in the decision-making processes of the University.
• Are there biases in the processes for appointment, tenure and promotion?
• How will equity concerns for staff (academic and non-academic) and students be
affected by university restructuring?
DIVERSE TEACHING AND LEARNING EXPERIENCES
• Foster mentoring through K-12/university alliances. Such alliances can be especially
significant in encouraging students to enter non-traditional fields (science and
engineering for women and nursing for men).
• Ensure that an effective student orientation program is established that promotes
anti-racism and anti-sexism.
• Make building an equity culture the work of Senate and other governing bodies of
the University.
• Encourage everyone to do the work of building an equity culture, with at least one
person in each unit who can take on a leadership role.
In their publication, Keeping Equity in the Decision-Making Process, the Council of
Ontario Universities Committee on the Status of Women and the Committee on
Employment and Educational Equity concluded:
“Equity and diversity are essential elements in excellence... If universities are places where we
value diversity of thought, places where we want to encourage creative debate, then they must
be places to which all people with the intellectual capacity and interest have equal access and in
which there is equal opportunity.
Focusing on equity has not been at the expense of excellence, but rather in the service of
excellence. We have been attempting to increase faculty diversity, not because of legislation,
but because we have wanted better institutions. We have focused on career development for
administrative staff, not only because this will make our employment equity numbers look
better, but because we want to ensure that everyone’s full potential is
realized. We have attempted to diversify our curriculum, not because of
‘political correctness, but because we want to teach at the ‘cutting edge’
of academic scholarship and to have our teaching reflect the needs of
our students. “
> TIP
Building an Equity Culture is everybody’s business. Please do your
part to make a difference!
Awareness of your
REFERENCES
your understanding of
Sandler, Bernice R., Silverberg, Lisa, and Hall, Roberta M., The Chilly Classroom
Climate: A Guide to Improve the Education of Women. Washington, D.C.: National
Association for Women in Education, 1996.
Sandler, Bernice R. and Hall, Roberta M., The Campus Climate Revisited- Chilly
for Women Faculty, Administrators, and Graduate Students. Washington, D.C.:
Association of American Colleges, 1986.
Sandler, Bernice R., Success and Survival Strategies for Women Faculty Members.
Washington, D.C.: Association of American Colleges, 1992.
Solar, Claudie (ed.), Inequity in the Classroom: A Manual for Professors and Adult
Educators. Montreal: Office of the Status of Women, Concordia University, 1992.
culture(s) will increase
your own behaviour,
and increase your
ability to have empathy
for your students.
1.11
1.12
T E A C H I N G AT T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F M A N I TO B A : A H A N D B O O K
Cultural Competence and Respectful Environment
R O S A LY N
H O WA R D
Used with permission
of author
W H E R E T O S TA R T: TA K I N G YO U R P E R S O N A L
C U LT U R A L C O M P E T E N C Y I N V E N T O R Y
ultural competence is a key skill for all members of a university community –
students, academic staff, and support staff. As academic staff, you can model
respectful, effective interpersonal behaviour, insure the cultural relevance
of your curriculum and teaching strategies, and support the development of cultural
competence in your students
C
Cultural competence includes:
• Awareness and acceptance of difference – recognizing the person for who they are.
(Absence of acceptance of difference can “erase” the other person’s different identity.)
• Awareness of one’s own cultural values – understanding culture from the “inside out”.
(Absence of self-awareness can lead you to unconsciously assume everyone else is like
you, thus “privileging” your own culture.)
• Understanding the dynamics of difference – perception of power, and building on
commonalities are key. (Absence of understanding power dynamics may mean you
pay “lipservice” without confronting real barriers to equity, and construct solutions
“for” minority groups, not “with” them.)
• Development of cultural knowledge – increasing awareness of possibly different
expectations and acting accordingly. (Incomplete or unremittingly negative cultural
knowledge can lead to “stereotyping” others within each group as “all alike” and as
“problems”.)
• Adaptability to fit the cultural context of the people with whom we interact – and to
help them deal with the dominant culture, where appropriate.
Increasing Cultural Competence
A great place to start is to reflect on you as a cultural being. What is your cultural background? What has shaped your mental models of perceptions, assumptions, values, and
expectations? You may identify ancestry, ethnic affiliations, age, generation, sex, gender,
socioeconomic status, parental status, physical or mental ability/disability, professional
perspective, etc., as part of your culture. Your combination of factors of identity influences
your expectations regarding respectful behaviour, your relations with colleagues, and
your relations with students. Awareness of your culture(s) will increase your understanding of your own behaviour, and increase your ability to have empathy for your students.
You are similar to – and different from – your departmental and faculty colleagues in
certain cultural ways. Your cultural pattern influences the extent to which you feel
confident of your knowledge of the norms, and influential as part of a critical mass.
DIVERSE TEACHING AND LEARNING EXPERIENCES
Your students also experience degrees of being an “insider” or “outsider”, in your class
and in other university communities.
All interactions are intercultural to some extent. Part of the challenge of intercultural
interactions is that, while we know our own assumptions and values as the most
significant aspect of our cultural being, we may notice only the more superficial aspects
of others’ cultures, the tip of the iceberg, and fail to understand the deeper context.
It is the collision of “under the surface” values and thought patterns that leads to many
of the surprises and challenges in interactions.
The extent to which we are cultural beings is often not recognized. Thus, the cultural
competency continuum below (source unknown) outlines stages of learning which
reflect increasing cultural competence.
_______________________________________________________________________________
Unconscious
Conscious
Conscious
Unconscious
Incompetence
Incompetence
Competence
Competence
We are often unaware of our cultural biases and their impact on behaviour: this is
unconscious incompetence. Once we become more aware of our cultural lenses regarding
curriculum planning, instructional strategies, and interpretation of our students’
behaviour (during the stage of conscious competence), then we may become motivated
1.13
1.14
T E A C H I N G AT T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F M A N I TO B A : A H A N D B O O K
to be more inclusive, through referencing sources from a variety of cultural perspectives,
or encouraging respectful class dialogue about student experiences. We move to
unconscious competence when we demonstrate culturally competence behaviors without
having to think about them, as a central part of our art of instruction.
The gradual process of developing cultural competence is outlined in the following
diagram, using nursing practice as an example:
Originally published
in Transcultural Care:
a Guide for Health
Care Professionals:
A Practical Guide for
Nurses and Other
Health Care
Professionals (1998) by
Irena Papadopoulos,
Mary Tilki, Gina
Taylor. Used with
permission of Quay
Books: a division of
M.A. Healthcare Ltd.
Figure 1: The Papadopoulos, Tilki and Taylor Model for Developing Cultural Competence
(Adapted from Culture
and the Classroom,
first printed in UTS
Newsletter, Vol. 13,
No.2, November 2004).
1
COMING TOGETHER: BUILDING A DIVERSE
CL ASSROOM COMMUNIT Y
Lee Knefelkamp of Columbia University pointed out that: “Every classroom is a cultural
community reflective of the disciplines and perspectives studied, the authors, the
students, and the classroom”, 2 reminding us that the complex dynamics related to culture
are always present in the process of instruction. Learning is about: the content of the
curriculum; but also the perspectives which informed it; and the perspectives through
which it is interpreted by instructor and students. The classroom can be a living laboratory for exploration of learning styles and multiple perspectives, identification of differences and similarities between cultural groups (breaking down stereotypes), and practice
in the collaborative inquiry and negotiations central to intercultural effectiveness in this
multicultural world.
DIVERSE TEACHING AND LEARNING EXPERIENCES
1.15
Maurianne Adams and Linda Marchesani from the University of Massachusetts identify
four dimensions of teaching and learning of relevance to social and cultural diversity,
and suggest how to manage them effectively:
• The students – know who they are and how their various backgrounds influence their
experience in the classroom
• The instructor – know your background, academic socialization, and learned beliefs
• The course content – create a curriculum with diverse perspectives
• The teaching methods – develop a broad repertoire of methods to promote complete
learning for different backgrounds and learning styles 3
The dynamics of culture and instruction are always present and impact the quality of the
learning experience in every discipline, not only “people-oriented” courses. Good thing
we don’t expect our work with students to be simple!
T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F M A N I T O B A’ S C U LT U R E O F R E S P E C T
Equity is not the same thing
as equality. When we treat
“The University of Manitoba supports a climate
people equally (that is,
exactly the same), we ignore
of respect in the workplace and the learning
differences. This may not
environment, to ensure that individuals or groups
be respectful. Equity is
of individuals are free from harassment.“
about fairness and requires
thinking about how to make
(Adapted from:
the learning environment one where all who can succeed have a fair opportunity to do so.
Respectful learning environments are built by instructors who consistently demonstrate
sensitivity to the diverse backgrounds and interests of the students. These instructors:
• structure opportunities for students to interact with their instructors and each other
meaningfully;
• communicate the expectation that all are responsible for the climate of the classroom;
• involve students in the identification of examples of true respect in the classroom; and
• model the behaviours expected of the students.
These strategies will diminish classroom incivilities.
B U L LY I N G I S A G A I N S T T H E R E S P E C T F U L W O R K
AND LEARNING ENVIRONMENT POLICY
The University of Manitoba has a Respectful Work and Learning Environment Policy to
support a climate of respect in the workplace and the learning environment, to ensure
that individuals or groups of individuals are free from harassment (abusive, unwelcome
ROADS to Respect,
first printed in UTS
Newsletter, Vol.12,
No. 3, February 2004).
1.16
T E A C H I N G AT T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F M A N I TO B A : A H A N D B O O K
1 Papadopoulos I,
Tilki M and
Taylor G (1998):
Transcultural
Care: A Guide for
Health Care
Professionals.
Quay Books,
Wilts
2 http://www.diver-
sityweb.org/Digest/
F97/curriculum.html
3 http://www.diver-
sityweb.org/digest/
W99/multidimensional.html
4 http://www.
umanitoba.ca/
admin/governance/
governing_
documents/
community.htm
conduct with the purpose or effect of creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive
environment, and resulting in a negative consequence for the target) and discrimination
(differential treatment, intended or not, of an individual or group of individuals).
Harassment may be personal, sexual, and/or based on characteristics identified in
human rights legislation (including ancestry, nationality or national origin, ethnic
background or origin, religion or creed, age, sex, pregnancy, gender, sexual orientation,
marital or family status, source or income, political belief or activity, and physical or
mental disability). The University of Manitoba supports equity, diversity and the dignity
of all people. The University promotes equity in learning programs, employment, and
the conduct of the University’s affairs. 4
Bullying (or personal harassment) is objectionable and unwelcome comments or actions
directed towards a specific target which serve no legitimate work or academic-related
purpose and have the effect of creating an intimidating, humiliating, hostile or offensive
environment. The bully does not need to be in a position of power over you, nor do
you have to understand why this is happening to you in order to make a complaint or
seek advice.
Who do I go to for assistance?
Equity Services will assist you with any kind of harassment or discrimination questions
or concerns. Also, for personal harassment questions and concerns, you may also contact
Student Advocacy, or Human Resources.
If I want to make a written complaint is there anyone who can help me?
Yes. The Equity Services Advisor will help you as well as provide you with a guideline
for writing a complaint. The Office of Student Advocacy will help students write a
complaint regarding personal harassment.
DIVERSE TEACHING AND LEARNING EXPERIENCES
1.17
2
C H A P T E R
Learning
INTRODUCTION
2.1
Introduction
earning is growth. When an individual identifies that they have learned
something, it generally means that the individual now knows something
that s/he did not know before. Learning can be cognitive – new knowledge;
psychomotor-a new physical skill; or affective – learning how to better
communicate. Learning is often very challenging. As teachers, it is our
responsibility to help facilitate student learning. It is most natural to guide another’s
learning in the same manner in which you, the teacher learn. If this method worked for
everyone there would not be any questions about learning or any motivation to understand how individuals learn. But learning is complex. One student will learn from a few
sentences of instruction. Another will learn from a simple demonstration. Some students
seem to struggle despite our best efforts.
L
There are multiple theories of learning – behaviourism, constructivism, humanism and
others. There is also a growing body of research on the neuroscience associated with
learning. An understanding of the various perspectives and theories surrounding learning
can guide the teacher’s teaching. For example, if we understand that the brain’s tendency
is to chunk information then that knowledge helps us decide
Introduction
how to best organize our course, our lesson or how to present our
examples, narratives or vignettes. The classroom is the teacher’s
Theoretical Foundations
laboratory – you will want to experiment with various approaches
to teaching and discover which approaches are most effective at
promoting student learning. Taking the time to plan your teaching and reflect on the
effectiveness of your teaching will allow you to develop a comprehensive repertoire of
teaching skills that will meet the learning needs of a broad range of students.
“Tell me and I'll forget; show me and I may remember;
involve me and I'll understand.”
– Chinese Proverb
2.1
2.2
2.2
T E A C H I N G AT T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F M A N I TO B A : A H A N D B O O K
Theoretical Foundations
What is Learning? Is Learning Product or Process?
MICHIGAN
S TAT E
UNIVERSITY
Used with permission
of Michigan State
University. Virtual
University Design and
Technology
http://vudat.msu.edu/
what_is_learning
T
his section explores different orientations to learning. Exploring these diverse
perspectives should help you think differently and more broadly about what
learning means and how it happens. Teaching is not just telling, and learning is
not just listening. The chart below provides a good overview of some of the main ideas
related to learning theory. Many other theories are based on combinations of these
basic theories. For example, the constructivist theory which is very popular now, draws
heavily on the cognitive approach, but also combines elements of the theories below.
Constructivism looks at learning as an active process in which the learner builds on prior
knowledge to select and transform information based on their own cognitive structure
(patterns of mental action that form intellectual activity).
Aspect\Theories
Behaviorist
Cognitivist
Humanist
Social and situational
Learning theorists
Thorndike, Pavlov,
Watson, Guthrie, Hull, Tolman,
Skinner
Koffka, Kohler, Lewin, Piaget,
Ausubel, Bruner, Gagne
Maslow, Rogers
Bandura, Lave and
Wenger, Salomon
View of the
learning process
Change in behavior
Internal mental process
(including insight,
information processing,
memory, perception
A personal drive to
fulfill potential
Interaction/observation in
social contexts. Movement
from the periphery to the centre
of a community of practice
Locus of learning
(where learning
takes place)
Stimuli in external
environment
Internal cognitive
structuring
Affective and cognitive
needs (occurs within basic
human curiousity)
Learning is in relationship
between people and
environment
Purpose in education
Produce behavioral change
in desired direction
Develop capacity and
skills to learn better
Become self-actualized,
autonomous
Full participation in
communities of practice and
utilization of resources
Educator's role
Arranges environment to
elicit desired response
Structures content of
learning activity (guided
learning, framing the concepts)
Facilitates development of
the whole person
Works to establish
communities of practice in
which conversation†and
participation can occur
Manifestations in
adult learning
Behavioral objectives
Competency -based education
Skill development and training
Cognitive development
Intelligence, learning and
memory as function of age
Learning how to learn
Self-directed learning
Take responsibility for
learning decisions
Socialization Social
participation Associationalism
Conversation
Reprinted with permission of John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Merrian, Sharona B., and Caffarella, Rosemary S. (1999) Learning in Adulthood, 1st ed.
http//vudat.msu.edu/what_is_learning
T H E O R E T I C A L F O U N D AT I O N S
2.3
Learning Assumptions
The following are only a few assumptions about learning that tend to be recognized
throughout education literature as fundamental to the planning of an education
program. These assumptions came from the general field of educational philosophy.
HONOLULU
COMMUNITY
COLLEGE
FAC U LT Y
GUIDEBOOK
ASSUMPTIONS ABOUT LEARNING
Persons at all ages have the potential to learn, with some learning faster than others.
Age may or may not affect a person’s speed of learning, and individuals vary in the way
they like to learn.
Reprinted with
permission of Honolulu
Community College
The individual experiencing a change process, such as a new learning situation, is likely
to feel stress and confusion. Some anxiety often increases motivation to learn, but too
much anxiety may cause fatigue, inability to concentrate, resentments, and other barriers
to learning. Learning is more comfortable and effective when the environmental conditions
support open exchange, sharing of opinions, and problem-solving strategies. The atmosphere
should foster trust and acceptance of different ideas and values.
In the classroom the instructor facilitates learning by incorporating students’ experience,
observations of others, and personal ideas and feelings. Exposure to varied behavioral
models and attitudes helps learners to clarify actions and beliefs that will aid in meeting
their own learning goals.
The depth of long-term learning may depend on the extent to which learners try to
analyze, clarify, or articulate their experiences to others in their family, work or social
groups. The depth of learning increases when new concepts and skills are useful in
meeting current needs or problems. This allows for immediate application of the theory
to a practical situation.
An educational program may only provide one step in an individual’s progress toward
acquiring new behaviors. The adoption of a new behavior depends on many factors.
Some conditions predispose an individual to take a particular action, such as former
knowledge and attitudes. Availability and access to resources, such as exercise or practice
facilities, may enable a person to carry out new plans of actions. Other environmental
conditions and family characteristics help to reinforce or hinder behavior changes.
Learning improves when the learner is an active participant in the educational process.
When selecting among several teaching methods, it is best to choose the method that
allows the learner to become most involved. Using varied methods of teaching helps the
learner maintain interest and may help to reinforce concepts without being repetitious.
In recent years teachers have found that many principles of adult learning also apply to
children and adolescents. For example, adults and children prefer learning experiences
Resale or further
copying of this
material is strictly
prohibited.
2.4
T E A C H I N G AT T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F M A N I TO B A : A H A N D B O O K
that are participatory; they learn faster when new concepts are useful in their present as
well as future lives. The roles of an educator for the young and elderly person is to assess
the audience’s interest, current skills, and aims. This information then guides the structuring of a learning atmosphere and selection of methods most satisfying and effective
for the learners.
TEN PRINCIPLES OF LEARNING
• We learn to do by doing.
• We learn to do what we do and not something else.
• Without readiness, learning is inefficient and may be harmful.
• Without motivation there can be no learning at all.
• For effective learning, responses must be immediately reinforced.
• Meaningful content is better learned and longer retained than less meaningful content.
• For the greatest amount of transfer learning, responses should be learned in the way they are
going to be used.
• One’s response will vary according to how one perceives the situation.
• An individual’s responses will vary according to the learning atmosphere.
• One does the only thing one can do given the physical inheritance, background,
and present acting forces.
Beyond Learning by Doing:
The Brain Compatible Approach
JAY W. R O B E R T S
Reprinted with
permission of the
©Association for
Experiential Education
(AEE). Resale or
further copying of this
material is strictly
prohibited. For more
information, go to
www.aee.org.
O
ver the last ten years, experiential education has made many in-roads with the
mainstream educational establishment. The success of programs such as Project
Adventure and Outward Bound working within schools has been well documented. Additionally, ropes courses, environmental, and outdoor education programs
have become prevalent in many school districts across the country. Yet, with all these
advances, there are still many barriers between our pedagogy and traditional schooling.
We remain literally, and figuratively, ‘outside’ the educational establishment. Recent
initiatives toward accountability and standards have placed experiential education in
the crosshairs of reform-minded politicians and school consultants. ‘Learning by doing’
is often described as ‘process heavy,’ devoid of content, and a hold-out from 1960s
progressivists’ approaches. One researcher has gone so far as to say “recent history of
T H E O R E T I C A L F O U N D AT I O N S
American education and controlled observations have shown that learning by doing
and its adaptations are among the least effective pedagogies available to the teacher”
(Hirsch, 1996, p. 257).
The current position of the field within mainstream education places at a premium
attempts to significantly broaden and deepen experiential pedagogy beyond mere
“learning by doing.” This paper will explore one such attempt-the Brain Compatible
Approach-and its potential linkages with experiential education. An overview of the
Brain Compatible Approach will be outlined, followed by a discussion of several key
principles. Linkages between these principles and experiential education will be
discussed as well as several “Quick Tips” on possible practical applications of the
research. Finally, the benefits of aligning experiential education with the Brain
Compatible Approach will be explored.
T H E B R A I N C O M PAT I B L E A P P R O A C H
In July of 1989, President George Bush declared the 1990s the ‘Decade of the Brain.’ What
followed was a revolution in research, articles, books, and television specials on what we
know about how the brain functions and learns. The medical advances in particular have
been many and remarkable. We have learned more about the brain in the past five years
than the previous one hundred. Additionally, nearly 90 percent of all neuroscientists who
have ever lived are alive today (Brandt & Wolfe, 1998).
While still relatively new as a field of inquiry, the Brain Compatible Approach has yielded
several intriguing findings:
• Neuroplasticity: The brain changes physiologically as a result of
experience and it happens much quicker than originally thought.
The environment in which the brain operates determines to a large
degree the functioning ability of the brain (Brandt & Wolfe. 1998).
• The brain is complex and interconnected: just as a city or jazz
quartet has many levels of interaction and connectedness, the brain
has an infinite number of possible interconnections. In essence,
there are no isolated, specialized areas but rather the brain is
simultaneously processing a wide variety of information all at once
(Caine & Caine, 1994).
• Every brain is unique: Our brains are far more individualized in
terms of physiology, neural wiring, bio-chemical balance, and
developmental stage than previously thought (Jensen, 2000).
Each of these findings suggests re-consideration of the way we
currently educate. Caution must also be practiced. Much of the
> TIP
Chunking can be
an effective tool for
presenting the learner
with information in
an organized,
meaningful way.
2.5
2.6
T E A C H I N G AT T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F M A N I TO B A : A H A N D B O O K
current research is new, and steps from research to application are inherently complex
and difficult. Already, several researchers have questioned the validity of educational
applications of brain research (Bruer, 1997). If nothing else, the sheer volume of new
information about how the brain functions and learns forces us to question what we
truly ‘know’ about learning and educational practice.
PRINCIPLES OF BRAIN BASED LEARNING
Drawing from the findings above, several intriguing principles and practical implications
have emerged. The following principles are of particular interest to experiential educators
as they support some long-standing practices within experiential education and also push
the envelope of what may be possible in the future.
Principle # 1: Pattern and Meaning Making
Research supports the claim that the search for meaning is innate and occurs through
patterning (Caine & Caine, 1994). Patterning refers to the meaningful organization and
categorization of information (Nummela & Rosegren, 1986). The brain is designed
to search for and integrate
new information into existing structures and actively
resists ‘meaningless’ patterns (Caine & Caine, 1994).
The process is constant and
does not stop-regardless of
whether or not we have
stopped teaching! This principle reinforces many of the practices we attribute to experiential learning including emphasis on context and framing, learner involvement in
the teaching of the material, alternating between details and big picture (whole/part),
reflection components, and relevancy (i.e., relating information to students’ previous
experience and learning).
“Learning is enhanced by challenge
and inhibited by threat.”
Quick Tip #1: Chunking can be an effective tool for presenting the learner with information in an organized, meaningful way. Look at the following list of letters: IBFVTNOJBLKFJ. Try to memorize them as presented. Now look at the next list of letters: JFK, LBJ,
ON, TV, FBI. The second list is much easier to memorize even though they are the same
letters. They have simply been chunked and arranged in a meaningful way that draws
on previous experience and information. Consider how you might chunk small activities
(lessons or even directions) and large, multi-day experiences. How can you arrange the
information in a more meaningful, patterned way?
Quick Tip #2: Use a ‘Big Picture.’ Remember that your students do not have the same
view of the course, lesson, or program that you do. Provide them with a big picture as
T H E O R E T I C A L F O U N D AT I O N S
soon as possible at the beginning of the experience. Rather than an exhaustive outline or
itinerary, the big picture gives your students a taste of what’s coming and allows them
to begin making patterns, connections, and frames for the experience. Re-visit the big
picture a few times throughout the experience to further solidify the link. In this regard,
it is helpful to have it on a flip chart or other visual aid. Try using a ‘you are here’ map
with a movable arrow.
Principle #2: The Brain as a Parallel Processor
The human brain is the ultimate, multi-tasking machine, constantly doing many things at
once. This is because the brain is geared toward survival and is, in actuality, poorly
designed for linear, lock-step instruction (Jensen, 2000). Consider how you learned to ride
a bicycle. Did you learn through reading a book or hearing a lecture on the separate topics
of bike parts, safety, and operation? No. It is more likely you learned through a more
dynamic and complex series of experiences. Current research supports the notion that
the brain learns best through rich, complex, and multi-sensory environments (Jensen).
In this sense, the teacher is seen more as an orchestrator of learning environments rather
than an instructor of linear lesson plans or even a facilitator of experiences (Deporter,
Reardon, & Singer- Nourie, 1999). Practical applications for parallel processing include
the use of multi-modal instructional techniques (visual, auditory, kinesthetic) and multiple intelligence activities (Gardner, 1985). Simulations and role-plays mimic our natural
learning environment and encourage complex processing. Lastly, enriched learning
environments can be orchestrated through the components of challenge, novelty, choice,
high feedback, social interaction, and active participation (Diamond & Hopson, 1998).
If the benefits of enriched, multi-sensory, complex learning environments continue to be
supported by the research, experiential theory and practice can and must play a larger
role in the classroom of the future.
Quick Tip #3: Use the EELDRC (Enroll, Experience, Label, Demonstrate, Review,
Celebrate) design frame (Deporter et al., 1999) to create a dynamic, complex, multi-sensory
lesson plan. In the Enroll segment, seek to engage students in the material through intrigue
and answering the learner question ‘What’s in it for me?’ Give them a brief Experience
to immerse students in the new information. Use the Label segment to punctuate the most
salient points with a ‘lecturette’ or de-brief. Provide an opportunity for the participants
to Demonstrate with the new information to encourage connections and personalization
of the material. Review the material to cement the big picture and, finally, find a way to
Celebrate the experience to reinforce positive associations with the learning.
Principle # 3: Stress and Threat
Learning is enhanced by challenge and inhibited by threat (Jensen, 2000). Paul MacLean
offers a model for considering this principle through his Triune Brain theory (1978).
MacLean categorizes the brain into three main regions or separate brains-the Reptilian
2.7
2.8
T E A C H I N G AT T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F M A N I TO B A : A H A N D B O O K
(or R– complex), the Mammalian (or Limbic), and the Neo– Mammalian (or Neo-Cortex).
The reptilian brain controls physical survival and basic needs (flight or fight responses).
This is our most primitive ‘brain.’ The second brain-the Mammalian-houses both the
hippocampus and amygdala-the primary centers for emotion and memory. Lastly, the
most advanced part of our brains, according to MacLean, is our Neo-Cortex. It is here
where we use higher order thinking skills-synthesizing, logical and operational thinking,
speech, and planning for the future (Caine & Caine, 1994).
In this model, the brain has the capacity to ‘shift’ up or down depending on perception
of the immediate environment. Perceived threat can force the brain to ‘downshift’ to
lower order thinking (Hart, 1983). Yet, heightened challenge and stress, referred to as
eustress, can invite an up-shift response into higher order thinking skills in the neo-cortex.
Recent research has suggested that the chemical and physiological responses to stress and
threat are radically different (Caine & Caine, 1994). Psychological models also support
a difference between perceived challenge and threat
(Csikszentmihalyi, 1991).
This idea is expressed in
experiential pedagogy
through the concepts of
adaptive dissonance and
the ‘comfort zone.’ In both
cases, the facilitator or
teacher intentionally places the learner in stressful situations to encourage and invite
new adaptive behaviors and mental models that may be more successful or effective
for the learner.
“The brain learns best through
rich, complex, and multi-sensory
environments.”
Caine and Caine (1994), suggest that specific learning conditions can create situations of
up-shifting or downshifting. Downshifting can occur when “pre-specified ‘correct’ outcomes have been established by an external agent; personal meaning is limited; rewards
and punishments are externally controlled; restrictive time lines are given; and the work
to be done is relatively unfamiliar with little support available” (Caine & Caine, p. 84).
By contrast, to create up-shifting conditions “outcomes should be relatively open ended;
personal meaning should be maximized; emphasis should be on intrinsic motivation;
tasks should have relatively open-ended time lines; and should be manageable and
supported” (Caine & Caine, p. 85). Emotions also play a critical role in both memory
encoding and threat perception (LeDoux, 1996). Too little emotion and the brain has a
difficult time ‘tagging’ the material for long term memory. Too much emotion and the
situation may be perceived as threatening, causing a downshift in mental functions
(Brandt & Wolfe, 1998).
T H E O R E T I C A L F O U N D AT I O N S
Practical applications of the stress/threat principle are numerous and exciting for the
experiential field. Experiential pedagogy, with its emphasis on novelty, interpersonal
interaction, challenge by choice, and the use of emotions such as play, fear, and humor,
is uniquely suited to address stress/threat balances. Understanding how these brain
compatible principles can be strengthened by experiential learning opens the possibility
for meaningful dialogue with mainstream education.
Quick Tip #4: To lower threat levels early in your program, make a strong emphasis on
relationship building both peer-peer and teacher-student. Work the group from the
‘inside-out’ by making a conscious effort to spend personal time with as many students
as possible, either on the trail or at water breaks. Work the group ‘outside-in’ by facilitating highly interactive experiences like paired shares, new games, or trust activities.
Quick Tip #5: Use the 60/40 rule for planning your lesson plans. Sixty percent of your
experiences should be ritual based activities that are repetitive (like morning check-ins,
skill progressions, warm – ups, or post-activity debriefs) to allow your participants to
experience known activities in an unknown environment. But be sure to make approximately 40 percent of activities novel. The introduction of elements of suspense, surprise,
and disorder keep learners engaged and can be an effective way to manage attention
spans. Instead of circling up every time, ‘rhombus-up’ with your group every so often.
Mix – up de-briefs by using paired shares, group reports, or silent journaling instead of
large group discussion. Introduce skill sections playfully with characters and costumes
(knots with Ivana Climbalot, or baking with Chef Boyarentyouhungry).
Evidence and theories from the Brain Compatible Approach support much of what we
do. Understanding the human brain’s tendency toward pattern and ‘meaning-making’
reinforces the intentional use of reflection and synthesis in experiential education.
Viewing the brain as a parallel processor encourages the creation of enriched environments for learners. Experiential methodology facilitates such enriched environments
through challenge, social interaction, feedback, and active participation. Finally, the
differences between stress and threat responses support our pedagogical approach
including the effective use of emotion and the importance of novelty and choice. Recent
developments in brain research should also push us toward new questions and research
queries. What is the role of emotion in experiential education? How do we define, operationally, the differences between stressful and threatening experiences and responses?
How is the mind-body connection supported in current brain research? What part can
experiential methodology play in the creation of enriched classroom environments?
We must move beyond mere ‘learning by doing’ for our fields’ philosophical underpinnings and practical approaches to become more influential in mainstream education.
Using only the learning by doing definition, experiential education becomes nothing
more than activities and events with little to no significance beyond the initial experience.
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T E A C H I N G AT T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F M A N I TO B A : A H A N D B O O K
One educator recently told me she calls this the ‘Inoculation Effect’ (shoot ‘em up; hope
it takes). This was not John Dewey’s vision and it cannot be our lasting legacy. Many
of us entered this field after becoming disenchanted or burned-out on mainstream
educational practice. We have also seen the remarkable changes and results that can
occur through experiential learning. We believe very strongly that it works. Yet, as a field,
we remain long on practice and short on theory and research. The Brain Compatible
Approach is one avenue for helping experiential educators articulate how and why the
methodology is effective.
How can we achieve more legitimacy while holding fast to our principles? Moves toward
identifying the philosophical approaches of experiential education should be encouraged
(Itin, 1999). Efforts must be made to increase both qualitative and quantitative research
that cross into mainstream education. As educators, we also have a responsibility to learn
about our field. At a recent AEE conference, I was surprised to learn how few experiential
education practitioners knew of E.D. Hirsch-one of the strongest critics of progressive
approaches and a major figure in the standards-based movement. Hirsch defines learning
by doing as “a phrase once used to characterize the progressivist movement but little used
today, possibly because the formulation has been the object of much criticism and even
ridicule” (Hirsch, 1996, p. 256). With critics like this and few legitimate platforms from
which to respond, it is not surprising that experiential education remains largely locked
out of our schools. Knowing some of the latest trends and movements within the fields of
education, psychology, and sociology will strengthen our voice and message.
While there is value in experiential education’s subversive, outside-the-mainstream persona, we must also seek ways to come in from the ‘outside,’ invite
dialogue, and encourage interaction across disciplines. The Brain
Compatible Approach, as a promising new area of research and
study, offers an excellent opportunity to do just that. In the next 20
years, will experiential education be a program (like field trips,
ropes courses, and character education) to be implemented in
Experiential methodschools or, will it be a broader, pedagogical foundation from which
ology facilitates
to work? The future depends on how we live that question.
> TIP
enriched environments
through challenge,
social interaction,
feedback, and active
participation.
REFERENCES
Brandt, R., & Wolfe, R (1998). What do we know from brain research? Educational
Leadership, 56(3), 8-13.
Bruer, J. T. (1997). Education and the brain: A bridge too far. Educational Researcher,
26(8), 4-16.
Caine, G., & Caine, R. (1994). Making connections: Teaching and the human brain.
New York, NY: Addison Wesley.
Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1991). Flow: The psychology of optimal experience.
New York, NY: Harper Perrenial.
T H E O R E T I C A L F O U N D AT I O N S
2.11
Deporter, B., Reardon, M., & Singer-Nourie, S. (1999). Quantum teaching. Needham Heights, MA: Allyn
& Bacon.
Diamond, M., & Hopson, J. (1998). Magic trees of the mind. New York, NY: Penguin Putnum.
Gardner, H. (1985). Frames of mind: The theory of multiple intelligences. New York: Basic Books.
Hart, L. (1983). Human brain, human learning. New York, NY: Longman.
Hirsch, E. D. (1996). The schools we need and why we don’t have them. New York, NY: Doubleday.
Itin, C. (1999). Reasserting the philosophy of experiential education as a vehicle for change in the 21st century.
Journal of Experiential Education, 22(2), 91-98.
Jensen, E. (2000). Brain-based learning. San Diego, CA: The Brain Store.
LeDoux, J. (1996). The emotional brain: The mysterious underpinnings of emotional life. New York, NY: Simon
& Schuster.
MacLean, P. D. (1978). A mind of three minds: Educating the triune brain. In J. Chall, & A. Mirsky (Eds.),
Education and the brain (pp. 308-342). Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
Nummela, R., & Rosengren, T (1986). What’s happening in students’ brains may redefine teaching.
Educational Leadership, 43(8), 49-53.
Student Learning Styles and Their
Implications for Teaching
T
his Occasional Paper will make the case that all faculty members, no matter the
discipline, can put an understanding of learning styles to good use in their own
teaching. In this regard, we use ourselves as cases in point. Montgomery is
responsible for a major introductory lecture course in chemical engineering and has
incorporated a variety of active learning strategies to accommodate a diversity of student
learning styles. Groat’s interest in learning styles derives from her research on pedagogical
practices that inhibit or promote the inclusion of women and minority students in
architectural education, particularly in one-to-one teaching settings such as the studio.
Neither of us is an ‘expert’ in learning styles research, and we acknowledge that
psychologists do not uniformly endorse many popular conceptualizations of learning
styles. Nevertheless, in our interactions with faculty and students and in our knowledge
of the literature, we know that the notion of learning styles resonates among faculty and
students. Therefore, this topic merits further consideration. Although we approach learning
styles from different disciplines and teaching experiences, we have both discovered that
an understanding of learning styles is fundamental to our individual approaches to
teaching. We believe it can have an impact on the teaching approaches of all faculty.
W H Y I N C O R P O R AT E L E A R N I N G S T Y L E S I N O U R T E A C H I N G ?
We believe there are many reasons to incorporate an understanding of learning styles in
our teaching. Here are some starting points for consideration.
EDITED BY
SUSAN M.
M O N T G O M E RY
A N D L I N DA
N . G R OAT.
© CRLT Occasional
Paper No. 10. 1998.
Used with permission
from The Center for
Research on Learning
and Teaching,
The University of
Michigan
http://www.crlt.umich.
edu/publinks/CRLT
no10.pdf
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T E A C H I N G AT T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F M A N I TO B A : A H A N D B O O K
Making Teaching and Learning a Dialogue. Whether we are aware of it or not, an
assumption underlying many of our current teaching practices is that students are
“empty vessels,” and our role is to fill them with knowledge. But increasingly, research
on student learning suggests that the metaphor of “dialogue” is more appropriate in that
it emphasizes “the interactive, cooperative, relational aspects of teaching and learning”
(Tiberius, 1986, p. 148). Once faculty shift from the “empty vessel” model to a dialogic
and communal one, old habits in teaching begin to shift. A lecture class no longer
entails simply a scripted delivery of information (no matter how well done), but it may
also include a variety of “active learning” techniques that truly engage students in the
collective dialogue.
Responding to a More Diverse Student Body. By now it is axiomatic to point out that
student bodies are increasingly diverse, not only in terms of ethnicity and gender, but
also in terms of age, nationality, cultural background. etc. This diversity can affect classroom settings in many ways, including the diversity of learning styles. For example,
older students who can
draw from their life
experience are more
likely to be independent,
“self-directed” learners
(Knowles, 1980). And
thanks to the work by
Belenky et al. (1986),
there is considerable evidence to suggest that many women tend to approach learning
in more “connected” ways, meaning a style that emphasizes empathy, collaboration,
and careful listening. Meanwhile other research suggests that African-American and
Mexican-American students are more likely to prefer working with others to achieve
common goals (Banks, 1988). Despite these apparent tendencies, it is equally important
not to pigeonhole students on the basis of expected learning styles since a vast range of
individual differences is evident within any demographic group.
“In a typical 50 minute lecture class,
students retain 70% of what is conveyed in
the first 10 minutes but only 20% from the
last 10 minutes.”
Communicating Our Message. As faculty, we tend to be passionately committed to our
discipline/profession and are anxious to convey its significance and knowledge base
to our students. Despite our good intentions, we may be so concerned with covering
the subject matter that we lose track of how much of that material really gets conveyed
through our taken-for-granted teaching modes. For example, in a typical 50-minute
lecture class, students retain 70% of what is conveyed in the first 10 minutes but only
20% from the last 10 minutes (McKeachie, 1994, p. 56). If we really want to get our
message across, we need to orchestrate “the material” in a multi-faceted way across the
range of student learning styles.
T H E O R E T I C A L F O U N D AT I O N S
Making Teaching More Rewarding. If we are not inclined to much self-reflection about
our teaching practices, we are likely to continue to teach others the way we learn best,
assuming that this way will work for all students. But given the increasing diversity of the
student body, as well as the higher expectations for teaching performance among university administrators, it’s likely that many of us are feeling a bit uneasy about teaching the
way we always have; it may simply feel a bit less ‘right,’ a little less rewarding. In the area
of research, faculty take great pride from launching substantive innovations in their fields.
It is our contention that by making an effort to consider student learning styles, we may
be able to reap equal satisfaction from reinvigorating our teaching practices.
Ensuring the Future of Our Disciplines. An undisputed assumption in career counseling is that any individual will be better suited to some tasks, subject areas, and careers
than others, as a function of personality, talents, cognitive styles, and so on. On the other
hand, not all the habits and conventions of a given discipline/profession are inherent in
even the most essential aspects of a given field. More important, now that we are obliged
to confront massive changes in nearly every field, some of the established traditions of
teaching and learning a given field may be counter-productive. Over 15 years ago, educational theorist David Kolb observed, “Over time..., selection and socialization pressures
combine to produce an increasingly impermeable and homogenous disciplinary culture
and correspondingly specialized student orientations to learning” (Kolb, 1981, p. 234).
In the end, we may be ensuring the long-term viability of our given field if we make sure
that students with a diversity of learning styles are welcomed and encouraged.
LEARNING ST YLE MODELS
In this Occasional Paper we summarize four models prevalent in discussions of learning
styles, and we offer a range of strategies for making our teaching sensitive to the important
issues they raise.
Myers-Briggs Type IndicatorTM
Description. Perhaps the most well-known instrument for identifying personality types
is the Myers-Briggs Type IndicatorTM. Developed by Isabel Briggs Myers and Katherine
Cooks Briggs, the inventory is based on Carl Jung’s concept of archetypes (McCaulley
et al., 1983; Myers & McCaulley, 1986). An individual’s personality profile is identified
along four dimensions: orientation to life (Extroverted/Introverted); perception
(Sensing/iNtuitive); decision making (Thinking/Feeling); and attitude to the outside
world (Judgment/Perception). People can thus be said to belong to one of sixteen
categories, based on their preferences along each of these dimensions. An introverted,
sensing, feeling, and judging person would thus be categorized as having an ISFJ
personality. Examples of the characteristics of each of these personality dimensions are
shown in Table 1.
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T E A C H I N G AT T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F M A N I TO B A : A H A N D B O O K
The Myers-Briggs Type IndicatorTM has been widely used to classify student learning
styles in various disciplines (McCaulley, et al., 1983; Schroeder, 1993). The first two
dimensions (Orientation and Perception) appear to have implications for learning
(Schroeder, 1993). Unfortunately, the predominant learning styles of college students
contrast sharply with the predominant styles of university faculty, as described in Table
2. About two-thirds of faculty are intuitive, and over half are introverted (Grasha, 1996).
While instructors as a whole prefer to focus on abstractions, the majority of students
prefer to start with practical applications and examples, building to abstract theories.
Another potential area of mismatch relates to the Thinking/Feeling dimension, the only
dimension which demonstrates a consistent gender difference. About two-thirds of
women have profiles in which feeling predominates, while two-thirds of men have profiles in which thinking predominates (Kroeger & Thuesen, 1988). (As many researchers
have argued, women’s tendency to emphasize humane values and an ethic of caring
may well be significantly influenced by the social construction of gender. This is indeed
a valid point of discussion, but outside the scope of this Occasional Paper.) This could
pose problems for students in particular gender-dominated disciplines. For example,
women students taking courses in male-dominated fields are more likely to find a
logical, objective emphasis alienating; and similarly male students taking courses in
other disciplines may be more likely to object to what they see as an over-emphasis on
subjective interpretations and personal relationships
ORIENTATION TO LIFE
Extroverted
Group interactions
Applications
Introverted
Working alone
Concepts and ideas
PERCEPTION
Sensing
Facts and data
Routine
iNtuiitive
Impressions
Not routine
DECISION MAKING
Thinking
Objective
Logical
Feeling
Subjective
Search for harmony
ATTITUDE TO OUTSIDE WORLD
Judgement
Planning
Control
Perception
Spontaneity
Adaptive
Table 1. Preferences of Myers-Briggs Personality Types
T H E O R E T I C A L F O U N D AT I O N S
Implications for Teaching. Realistically, no faculty member can expect to develop different
ways of teaching for each individual student. Rather, as faculty we should strive to provide
a variety of learning experiences, such that at one point or another each learning style is
addressed. For example, in a heavily abstract course, faculty should include some applications that will help the sensing student understand the reason for learning the abstract
concepts. Other activities that are particularly engaging for sensing learners include case
studies, group projects, and in- class presentations. We should expect students to solve not
only rote problems but also more open-ended problems, thus challenging both sensing
and intuitive learners. We should include a combination of individual and group work, not
relying solely on either mode, to satisfy both extroverts and introverts.
Kolb/McCarthy Learning Cycle
Description. A significant impetus in
the development of the Kolby/
McCarthy learning cycle model was
Kolb’s observation of the distress
encountered by many students whose
learning styles seemed mismatched to
their disciplinary majors (Kolb, 1981).
Faculty
Students
Extroverted
Introverted
46%
54%
70%
30%
Sensing
Intuitive
36%
64%
70%
30%
An underlying assumption of the
model is that all learning entails a cycle
Table 2. Preferences Patterns of Faculty and Students
of four learning modes, but each individual is likely to feel most comfortable
in one of the four modes of the cycle based on her/his preference along two dimensions:
Perception and Processing (KoIb, 1984, 1995; Harb et al., 1995). Perception (Abstract/
Concrete) has been found to correlate with the Decision-Making (Feeling/Thinking)
mode of the Myers-Briggs model (Kolb, 1984). Processing (Active/ Reflective) encompasses
primarily the Orientation (Extrovert/Introvert) mode of the Myers-Briggs model (Kolb,
1984). Together, Perception and Processing reflect the major directions of cognitive
development derived from the work of Piaget (1970).
The four learning styles in the Kolb model are also distinguished by the type of question
that concerns each category: “Why?” ”What?” ”How?” and “What if?” Likewise, each
academic field can be mapped against this same set of dichotomous dimensions according to what type of learning mode predominates in that discipline. Thus, according to
this model, the concrete/reflective quadrant encompasses social science and humanities;
the abstract/reflective quadrant reflects the physical sciences; the abstract/active
incorporates science-based professions such as engineering; and finally, the concrete/
active domain reflects the more social professions such as education. Figure 1 illustrates
the learning styles and learning cycle based on Kolb’s model.
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T E A C H I N G AT T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F M A N I TO B A : A H A N D B O O K
There is also some evidence that male and female students are differentially attuned to
the four different learning styles identified by this model. Researchers have found that in
a sample of adults (across a wide range in age and ethnicity), nearly half of the male
respondents (48%) preferred the assimilator (abstract/reflective) mode, whereas only
20% of the women did (Philbin et al, 1995). Not only were the women’s responses more
evenly distributed across the four styles, the women’s predominant modes were diverger
(concrete/reflective) and converger (abstract/active). Using the analysis provided in
Figure 2, this would mean that many women students are more likely to respond to
faculty who adopt either the motivator or coach stance; whereas male students are more
likely to feel comfortable with faculty who adopt the role of expert.
Implications for Teaching. The fact that students majoring in a given discipline are more
likely to have particular learning style characteristics common to faculty and practitioners
in that field may seem entirely consistent with common sense notions of expert competence. On the other hand, Kolb has pointed out that selection and socialization processes
may lead to such a homogenous disciplinary culture that it becomes impermeable to other
influences. Equally disturbing, one aspect of Kolb’s research demonstrated that over time
science students become more analytical and less creative, while arts students become
more creative and less analytical. In other words, the educational process has the potential
CONCRETE
EXPERIENCE
What if?
Why?
TYPE 4
ACCOMMODATORS
e.g., Education
ACTIVE
EXPERIMENTATION
TYPE 3
CONVERGERS
e.g., Engineering
TYPE 1
DIVERGERS
e.g., Social Science,
Humanities
TYPE 2
ASSIMILATORS
e.g., Physical Sciences
REFLECTIVE
OBSERVATION
What?
How?
ABSTRACT
CONCEPTUALIZATION
Figure 1. Learning Styles and Learning Cycle Based on Kolb’s Model
T H E O R E T I C A L F O U N D AT I O N S
to accentuate the gap in
capabilities between these
groups of students.
FACTS & DATA
ACCOMMODATORS
What if?
Faculty as Evaluator/remediator
DIVERGERS
Why?
Faculty as Motivator
Suggested activities and
faculty roles corresponMotivational stories
Open ended problems
ding to each of these
Group discussion
Student presentations
Group projects
Design projects
learning styles are shown
Subjective tests
Subjective exams
Field trips
Simulations
in Figure 2. Again, one
WATCHING
DOING
ASSIMILATORS
CONVERGERS
need not try to do it all,
What?
How?
but checking one’s course
Faculty as Expert
Faculty as Coach
plans against the suggested
Lectures
Homework problems
activities in Figure 2 could
Textbook reading
Computer simulations
Demonstrations by instructor
Field trips
spawn ideas for suppleIndependent research
Individuals’ reports
Objective exams
Demonstrations
mental activities to
SYMBOLS
provide a more complete
Figure
2.
Sample
Activities
and
Role of Faculty for Each Kolb Learning Style
educational experience.
The Kolb model suggests
following a “Learning
Cycle” that addresses these questions in order. By “teaching through the (Kolb Learning)
cycle” one can ensure that all learning styles have been addressed, in that all questions
have been answered. The questions include the following: “Why are we learning this?”
”What are the key points of this issue?” ”How do I use this knowledge?” and “What are the
implications of this information in other contexts?”
Felder-Silverman Learning Styles Model
Description. The learning styles model developed by Richard Felder and Linda
Silverman (Felder, 1993; Felder and Silverman, 1988) incorporates five dimensions, two
of which replicate aspects of the Myers-Briggs and Kolb models. To be specific, the
Perception dimension (sensing/intuitive) is analogous to the Perception of both MyersBriggs and Kolb; the Processing dimension (active/reflective) is also found in Kolb’s
model. In addition, Felder-Silverman posit three additional dimensions: Input (visual/
verbal), Organization (inductive/deductive), and Understanding (sequential/global).
Table 3 summarizes the five learning style dimensions. Soloman’s Inventory of Learning
Styles (Soloman, 1992) can be used to assess four of the five learning style preferences
in the Felder-Silverman classification scheme. For clarity, an overall comparison of
the dimensions in the Myers-Briggs, Kolb, and Felder-Silverman models is presented
in Table 4.
In our own teaching, we have each had occasion to use the Felder-Silverman model and
the associated inventory questionnaire developed by Soloman. Data we’ve compiled
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T E A C H I N G AT T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F M A N I TO B A : A H A N D B O O K
Dimension
PERCEPTION
Range
Sensing
Data obtained
via senses
Intuitive
Symbols
Facts and
observations
Interpretations
INPUT
Visual
Charts and
pictures
Verbal
Spoken word
ORGANIZATION
Inductive
Facts and
observations
Deductive
General principles
PROCESSING
Active
Doing something
Reflective
Introspective
processing
Group work
Independent work
Sequential
Linear
connections
Global
Holistic
connections
Small connected
chunks
“Big picture”
UNDERSTANDING
Table 3. Felder-Silverman Learning Style Dimensions
from students in our classes in chemical
engineering and architecture lend support to
Kolb’s contention that variations in disciplinary culture can be analyzed through learning
styles models. Based on the comparative data,
it appears that the engineers are more active,
sensing, verbal and sequential than the
architects. Moreover, when the data from
the architecture students were analyzed in
relation to level in the program, there was an
obvious tendency for advanced students to be
relatively more reflective, visual, and global
than beginning students; and the percentage
of intuitives at all levels of the program is
far higher than in the general population of
college students. Moreover, the advanced
students were more likely than the novice
students to have learning style profiles similar
to studio faculty. In engineering, graduate students and faculty are more intuitive, inductive
and reflective than engineering undergraduate
students (Felder and Silverman, 1988).
Data from both architecture and engineering are also consistent with observations of
gender differences in the research studies already cited (e.g., Belenky et al., 1986; Philbin
et al., 1995). Montgomery found that women engineering students were more geared
to an active learning mode than their male counterparts by a margin of 7% (72% to 65%);
and Groat found that women architecture students showed a similar tendency by a
margin of 17% (67% to 50%).
Implications for Teaching. Given the contemporary belief that organizations increasingly
require people who can work effectively in multidisciplinary teams and integrate concepts
across disciplinary knowledge bases (e.g. Reich, 1993), faculty should be teaching to a
sufficient diversity of student learning styles to encourage innovation in their fields.
In this regard and in concert with other researchers, Felder advocates a balance between
the extremes in each learning dimension. Suggestions one could incorporate into courses
include: providing a context for the concepts addressed, such as connections with relevant
material from students’ everyday experiences (global); balancing theory and models
(intuitive) with demonstrations and examples (sensing); using pictures, sketches, and
diagrams (visual) to supplement verbal information; using numerical as well as algebraic
T H E O R E T I C A L F O U N D AT I O N S
MODE
ORIENTATION TO LIFE
RANGE
Extrovert - Introvert
PROCESSING
PERCEPTION
DECISION MAKING
Active - Reflective
Concrete - Abstract
Feeling - Thinking
X
PERCEPTION
ATTITUDE TO
OUTSIDE WORLD
Sensing - Intuitive
X
Judging - Perceiving
X
INPUT
ORGANIZATION
Visual - Verbal
Inductive - Deductive
X
X
UNDERSTANDING
Sequential - Global
X
Myers-Briggs
X
Kolb
Felder-Silverman
X
X
X
X
Table 4. Comparison of Learning Style Models
examples (sensing, inductive) to illustrate abstract concepts (intuitive, deductive); and
providing time for both student participation (active) and reflection on the material
presented (reflective).
Grasha-Riechmann Learning Styles
Description. The learning styles typology developed by Anthony Grasha and Sheryl
Hruska-Riechmann is distinct from the other three models in that it is based on students’
responses to actual classroom activities rather than on a more general assessment of
personality or cognitive traits. Grasha argues that this situation-specific approach is
more likely to be reliable and valid. Using a personality type approach requires the
researcher to extrapolate the results to classroom settings; whereas the Grasha-Riechmann
typology is designed to help faculty identify teaching techniques that address particular
learning styles.
Table 5 describes the characteristics of each style along with corresponding preferences
in classroom environment. Another distinguishing aspect of the Grasha-Riechmann
typology is that it does not assume the bipolarity of the scales. Among the six styles of
Style
Characteristics
Classroom preferences
Competitive
Collaborative
Avoidant
Participant
Dependent
Independent
Compete with other students
Share ideas with others
Uninterested, non-participant
Eager to participate
Seek authority figure
Think for themselves
Teacher-centered, class activities
Student-led small groups
Anonymous environment
Lectures with discussion
Clear instructions, little ambiguity
Independent study and projects
Table 5. Characteristics of Grasha-Riechmann Learning Styles
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learning, only the Participant/Avoidant types represent a clear dichotomy that is supported by statistical analysis. Grasha originally hypothesized the other four styles as
dichotomous, in the following way: Competitive/Collaborative and Dependent/
Independent. But the dichotomy of these styles was not borne out. Over the years,
Grasha and other researchers have investigated the correlation of this learning style
typology to other demographic characteristics. In contrast to Kolb’s findings, Grasha has
not found any consistent relationship between academic major and his learning style
typology. On the other hand, his research has demonstrated some consistent variations
due to gender, student age, and grade (Grasha, 1996). More specifically, women students
typically have higher scores on the collaborative style; students over 25 tend to employ
more independent and participatory styles; and students with a participatory style get
higher grades than those
Cluster 2
Cluster 1
with avoidant styles.
Primary Learning Styles
Primary Learning Styles
Groat’s pilot study with
Participant/Dependent/Competitive
Dependent/Participant/Competitive
architecture students,
Primary
Teaching
Styles
using an abbreviated
Primary Teaching Styles
Personal Model/Expert/Formal Authority
Expert/Formal Authority
form of the GrashaRole Modeling by Illustration
Exams/Grades Emphasized
Riechmann question-Sharing Thought Processes
Lectures
naire, is consistent with
-Sharing Personal Experiences
Mini-Lectures + Triggers
Role Modeling by Direct Example
Teacher-Centered Questioning
the nature of Grasha’s
-Demonstrating Ways of Doing
Term Papers
findings: Women
Teacher/Coaching/Guiding Students
Technology-Based Presentation
architecture students
evidenced substantially
Cluster 4
Cluster 3
Primary Learning Styles
Primary Learning Styles
higher collaborative and
Independent/Collaborative/Participant
Collaborative/Participant/Independent
participatory scores,
while they also scored
Primary Teaching Styles
Primary Teaching Styles
Delegator/Facilitator/Expert
Facilitator/Personal Model/Expert
substantially lower on
Helping Trios
Case Studies
the competitive scale.
Independent Study/Research
Guided Readings
Also consistent with
Jigsaw Groups
Key Statement Discussions
Grasha’s findings, older
Learning Pairs
Laboratory Projects
Practicum
Problem Based Learning
architecture students
Small Group Work Teams
-GroupInquiry
scored substantially
Student Journals
-Guided Design
higher on the independ-Problem Based Tutorials
Role Plays/Simulations
ent scale.
Roundtable Discussion
Table 6. Teaching Methods Associated With Each Cluster of
Teaching and Learning Styles
Groat’s pilot study also
offers some suggestive,
program-specific trends
with regard to ethnic
T H E O R E T I C A L F O U N D AT I O N S
2.21
differences. Her data suggest that both African-American and Asian-American architecture
students evidenced higher scores on the dependent scale (and lower independent scale
scores) than either Caucasian or Hispanic students. Other data from a separate survey of
architecture program students found that African-American and Asian-American students
were the least satisfied with their academic program. This pattern seems consistent with
Randall et al.’s observation that “students tend to behave more independently when they
are confident of their ability to perform” (1995, p. 73). Thus, the learning styles analysis
has contributed to identifying some potential problem areas in the academic program and
could be followed up with more detailed focus interviews with relevant student groups.
The other distinguishing characteristic of Grasha’s approach to learning styles is that
he has also developed a corresponding typology of teaching styles, similarly based on
actual classroom behaviors. The result is that learning and teaching styles can be mapped
together to more fully describe the social dynamics of the classroom setting. Table 6
summarizes four basic clusters of compatible learning and teaching styles.
Implications for Teaching. Grasha does not advocate attempting to accommodate all
learning style preferences at
all times, but he shows that
an awareness of these styles
“Learning and teaching styles can be
can help faculty augment
modified over time and for different purposes
their methods of presentain different classroom contexts.”
tion. For example, one might
add to an originally lecturecentered course some opportunities for small group discussions to engage the collaborative learner; introduce openended questions to typical close-ended assignments to engage the independent learner;
and provide direction early in the semester for the dependent learner. Grasha encourages
faculty to assist students in developing the learning styles they are weak in by easing
them into the corresponding type of activity. For example, one might choose to provide
less and less direction as the semester progresses, enabling dependent learners to become
more independent.
CONCLUSIONS
Inevitably, students bring to the classroom a great diversity of learning styles. As Grasha
(1996) argues, the problem is not that faculty/student mismatches sometimes occur, but
rather it is the failure to acknowledge and work out the potential conflicts and misunderstandings that undermine student learning.
Indeed, acknowledgment can be empowering for students if they can be made aware
of their preferred learning style(s) and assisted in stretching their capabilities to accom-
2.22
T E A C H I N G AT T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F M A N I TO B A : A H A N D B O O K
modate greater variety (Randall et al., 1995). What can faculty do? First, faculty should
begin by being self-reflective about their pedagogical goals and strengths in teaching.
As Grasha suggests, any attempt to modify one’s teaching style needs to be framed
within this broader conceptual context. Second, it is important to remember that neither
learning nor teaching styles are immutable; they can be modified over time and for
different purposes in different classroom contexts. So while it may be advantageous to
modify one’s teaching style to fit a broader range of students in a particular class, it
may also be of benefit to those same students to gradually introduce class activities that
substantially expand their learning style preferences.
Moreover, matching teaching style to learning style is not a panacea that solves all classroom conflicts. Other factors such as classroom climate, previous background, motivation,
gender and multicultural issues will of course greatly influence the amount and quality
of learning that takes place, as McKeachie (1995) reminds us. Still, for faculty members,
being self-reflective and explicit about the role of learning styles can make teaching more
rewarding and enhance student learning at the same time.
REFERENCES
Banks, J.A. (1988). Ethnicity, class, cognitive, and motivational styles: Research and teaching implications.
Journal of Negro Education, 57(4), 452-466.
Belenky, M.F., Clinchy, B.M., Goldberger, N.R., & Tarule, J.M. (1986). Women‘s ways of knowing:
The development of self voice and mind. New York: Basic Books.
Felder, R.M. (1993). Reaching the second tier: Learning and teaching styles in college science education.
Journal of College Science Teaching, 23(5), 286-290.
Felder, R.M., & Silverman, L.K. (1988). Learning styles and teaching styles in engineering education.
Engineering Education, 78(7), 674-681.
Feldman, K.A., & Paulsen, M.B. (1994). Teaching and learning in the college classroom. ASHE Reader Series.
Needham Heights, MA: Gino Press.
Grasha, A.F. (1996). Teaching with style: A practical guide to enhancing learning by understanding teaching and
learning styles. Pittsburgh: Alliance Publishers.
Harb, J.N., Terry, R.E., Hurt, P.K., & Williamson, K.J. (1995). Teaching through the cycle: Applications of learning
style theory to engineering education at Brigham Young University. Provo, UT: Brigham Young University Press.
Knowles, M. (1980). The modern practice of adult education. Chicago: Follett.
Kolb, D.A. (1981). Learning styles and disciplinary differences. In Arthur Chickering and Associates (ed.),
The Modern American College (pp. 232-255). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass
Kolb, D.A. (1984). Experiential learning: Experience as the source of learning and development. Englewood
Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
Kroeger, O., & Thuesen, J. (1988). Type talk: The 16 personality types that determine how we live, love,
and work. New York: Dell.
McCanlley, M.H., Godleski, ES., Yokomoto, C.F., Harrisberger, L., & Sloan, E.D. (1983, February). Applications
of psychological type in engineering education. Engineering Education, 394-400.
McKeachie, W. (1994) Teaching tips: A guidebook for the beginning college teacher (9th edition). Lexington,
MA: Heath.
T H E O R E T I C A L F O U N D AT I O N S
McKeachie, WJ. (1995). Learning styles can become learning strategies. The National Teaching and Learning
Forum, 4(6) 1-3.
Meyers, C., & Jones, T. (1993). Promoting active learning: Strategies for the college classroom. San Francisco:
Jossey Bass.
Myers, TB., & McCaulley, M.H. (1986). Manual: A guide to the development and use of the Myers-Briggs type
indicator (2nd ed.). Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologists Press.
Philbin, M., Meier, E., Huffman, S., & Bouverie, P. (1995, April). A survey of gender and learning styles. Sex
Roles, 32, 485-94.
Piaget, J. (1970). The place of the sciences of man in the system of sciences. New York: Harper & Row.
Randall, L.E., Buscher, C., & Swerkes, S. (1995). Learning styles of physical education majors: Implications for
teaching and learning. Excellence in College Teaching, 6(2), 57-77.
Reich, R. (1991). The work of nations. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.
Schroeder, C.C. (1993, September/October). New students - New learning styles. Change, 21-26.
Soloman, B.S. (1992). Inventory of learning styles.
[Available at: http://www.ncsu.edufebler-public/ILSpage.html]
Stanton, A. (1997). Reconfiguring teaching and knowing in the college classroom. In N. Goldberger, J. Tarule,
B. Clinchy, and M. Belenky (eds.), Knowledge, Difference, and Power:
Essays Inspired by Women’s Ways of Knowing (pp. 25-56). New York: Basic Books.
Tiberius, R. (1986). Metaphors underlying the improvement of teaching and learning. British Journal of
Educational Technology, 17(2), 144-156.
Warren, R. (1997). Engaging students in active learning. About Campus, 2(1), 16-20.
2.23
3
C H A P T E R
Teaching
INTRODUCTION
3.1
Introduction
T
eaching is a process. It should be grounded in sound pedagogical
knowledge and reflective practice. The teaching act is informed by
knowledge about the processes involved in learning as well as the
personality and skill sets of the teacher and the student.
What constitutes effective teaching?
Planning: Learning is part of our existence. Every thing that is seen, heard or experienced has the potential to change the way an individual thinks, acts or believes. Within
the formal context of education it is the intent of the teacher to facilitate learning around
a body of knowledge. Ensuring that all students obtain the core level of knowledge
requires that the teacher articulate the degree and quality of learning that defines the
specific knowledge. This is accomplished by defining a curriculum, designing course
goals and explicitly defining behavioural learning outcomes.
Instruction: The methods or strategies utilized in teaching are as diverse and complex as
the learners. Instructional strategies vary from the Socratic methods of questioning in the
one teacher to one student relationship to the lecture format of
Introduction
presenting information in the one lecturer and 500 student relationships. It is not the instructional style of teaching that promotes
Good Teaching:
learning as much as it is the teacher who utilizes a particular
The Top Ten Requirements
method to nurture learning. There are multiple instructional
strategies, some of which are presented in the current chapter.
Preparing to Teach
We encourage you to explore the various approaches, try one,
some, or all of them in your teaching. Decide what works for you
Teaching Strategies
and your students and then modify the strategy or create your own.
Evaluation: As teachers we are accountable for our students
learning. This requires a transparent, explicit method of assigning
value to the student’s learning. We discuss this more fully in the
chapter on assessing learning.
3.1
3.2
3.4
3.30
Enhancing Student Learning
3.83
Classroom Management
3.94
Reflection: Good practice is not happenstance. It develops over time, with experience,
and by reflecting on effective and ineffective practices of teaching. Reflection is a
stimulus for the teacher’s personal learning, causing the teacher to rethink, accept,
modify, change or adapt their teaching practices to maximize the student’s learning.
3.2
T E A C H I N G AT T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F M A N I TO B A : A H A N D B O O K
Good Teaching:
The Top Ten Requirements
RICHARD
L E B L A N C , YO R K
U N I V E R S I T Y,
O N TA R I O
This article appeared in
The Teaching Professor
after Professor Leblanc
won a Seymous
Schülich Award for
Teaching Excellence
including a $10,000
cash award. Reprinted
here with permission of
Professor Leblanc,
October 8, 1998.
One.
Good teaching is as much about passion as it is about reason. It's about not
only motivating students to learn, but teaching them how to learn, and doing so in a
manner that is relevant, meaningful, and memorable. It's about caring for your craft,
having a passion for it, and conveying that passion to everyone, most importantly to
your students.
Two.
Good teaching is about substance and treating students as consumers of
knowledge. It's about doing your best to keep on top of your field, reading sources,
inside and outside of your areas of expertise, and being at the leading edge as often as
possible. But knowledge is not confined to scholarly journals. Good teaching is also
about bridging the gap between theory and practice. It's about leaving the ivory tower
and immersing oneself in the field, talking to, consulting with, and assisting practitioners,
and liaisoning with their communities.
Three.
Good teaching is about listening, questioning, being responsive, and
remembering that each student and class is different. It's about eliciting responses and
developing the oral communication skills of the quiet students. It's about pushing
students to excel; at the same time, it's about being human, respecting others, and being
professional at all times.
Four.
Good teaching is about not always having a fixed agenda and being rigid,
but being flexible, fluid, experimenting, and having the confidence to react and adjust to
changing circumstances. It's about getting only 10 percent of what you wanted to do in
a class done and still feeling good. It's about deviating from the course syllabus or
lecture schedule easily when there is more and better learning elsewhere. Good teaching
is about the creative balance between being an authoritarian dictator on the one hand
and a pushover on the other.
G O O D T E A C H I N G : T H E TO P T E N R E Q U I R E M E N T S
Five.
Good teaching is also about style. Should good teaching be entertaining?
You bet! Does this mean that it lacks in substance? Not a chance! Effective teaching is not
about being locked with both hands glued to a podium or having your eyes fixated on a
slide projector while you drone on. Good teachers work the room and every student in it.
They realize that they are the conductors and the class is the orchestra. All students play
different instruments and at varying proficiencies.
Six. This is very important – good teaching is about humor. It's about being
self-deprecating and not taking yourself too seriously. It's often about making innocuous
jokes, mostly at your own expense, so that the ice breaks and students learn in a more
relaxed atmosphere where you, like them, are human with your own share of faults and
shortcomings.
Seven. Good teaching is about caring, nurturing, and developing minds and
talents. It's about devoting time, often invisible, to every student. It's also about the
thankless hours of grading, designing or redesigning courses, and preparing materials
to still further enhance instruction.
Eight.
Good teaching is supported by strong and visionary leadership, and very
tangible institutional support – resources, personnel, and funds. Good teaching is
continually reinforced by an overarching vision that transcends the entire organization –
from full professors to part-time instructors – and is reflected in what is said, but more
importantly by what is done.
Nine.
Good teaching is about mentoring between senior and junior faculty, teamwork,
and being recognized and promoted by one's peers. Effective teaching should also be
rewarded, and poor teaching needs to be remediated through training and development
programs.
Ten. At the end of the day, good teaching is about having fun, experiencing pleasure
and intrinsic rewards ... like locking eyes with a student in the back row and seeing the
synapses and neurons connecting, thoughts being formed, the person becoming better,
and a smile cracking across a face as learning all of a sudden happens. Good teachers
practice their craft not for the money or because they have to, but because they truly
enjoy it and because they want to. Good teachers couldn't imagine doing anything else.
3.3
3.4
T E A C H I N G AT T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F M A N I TO B A : A H A N D B O O K
Preparing to Teach
Course Construction and Organization
“You encounter two bricklayers.
You ask each one what they are doing.
The first tells you he’s just laying bricks.
The second tells you she is building
A cathedral,
A grand structure that will seat 2,000
A building that will serve the community in many ways.”
L AU R A
M AC D O N A L D
Used with permission
of author
Y
ou’ve been asked to teach a course. It is your first time or you’ve taught a course
before or you want to refresh the course. A course syllabus exists or you’re going
to start from scratch. Perhaps the course is to be revised to be more contemporary
or revised because student evaluations of the course report it is boring, unfulfilling.
Maybe the evaluation component isn’t seemingly fair, or the student’s state ‘they don’t
know what the intent of the course truly is’. In all cases, constructing and organizing a
course requires all the skills inherent to critical thinking and creative development – after
all, are you building a pile of bricks or a grand structure?
There are four fundamental course construction elements to consider when given the
privilege of developing or organizing a course. The elements are essentially pillars of the
course. They are as follows:
• Course concept map
• Course goals and objectives
• Teaching and learning strategies
• Evaluation of student performance or achievement.
Responses to these elements provide you with your course syllabus, the document
outlining the course.1 Imagine that grand structure you are building as being a solid,
functional, esthetically impressive and inspiring contribution to student growth and
development. Know your course contributes to the mission of University of Manitoba2:
“To create, preserve and communicate knowledge, and thereby, contribute to the cultural,
social and economic well-being of the people of Manitoba, Canada and the world.”
P R E PA R I N G TO T E A C H
COURSE CONCEPT MAP
Briggs and Wager (1981) describe a course as “an organization of instructional activities,
resources, and evaluation activities which leads to a pre-specified directional change in
the learners’ behavior.”3 Given there is a planned change in the learner’s behavior, the
plan must have a ‘map’ of sorts. The concept map of the course is that critical thinking
piece you do before all else in constructing and organizing the course. This is time well
spent inquiring about the many issues, events, facts that influence the course. They will
be internally or externally driven within the department, the Faculty/School, and the
University. The influences impact on any academic plan4 or curriculum; and hence,
impact on any one individual course within that plan. Examples of questions to consider
when developing the course concept map are outlined in Table 1.
Discovering aspects of the course will greatly help in the planning of the course. Look to
see how the answers to your questions connect to each other. Look to see possible directions the course could take in meeting the need for the course. List the key words, concepts or content area of the course. The result of your investigation is the course concept
map. If you do this well, you will have the your course description drafted. The next
pillar to erect is the course goals and objectives, the intended outcome of the course or
what the learner will be able to do having successfully completed the course.
When a person learns they change, therefore, learning is change. Change in the way a
person thinks and processes information, or acts/behaves/performs, or feels, values, and
believes. The learning domains commonly associated with these changes are cognitive7,
affective8, and psychomotor9. Within each of these domains, are
levels of abilities which are often simply presented as knowledge,
application, and problem-solving. Thus, you have 3 domains and
3 levels of abilities within each domain. It is reasonable to think
that for learning to occur, for a change to take place, the person
will know, feel, and behave differently than before. Rather than
The objectives are
confining your course to a ‘cognitive base’, be sure to create
planned learning outcomes or objectives that affect the student to
the observable and
value it, and respond to it by behaving or acting (psychomotor)
measurable abilities
in some manner to it. If you tap into all three learning domains,
you enable the student to truly learn and not just know or do.
the student will have
> TIP
COURSE GOALS AND OBJECTIVES
If you know where you are going with respect to the course and
what influences have gotten you there, then the composition or
affirmation of the course goals and objectives becomes an easier
task. What is the difference between the course goal and course
once they successfully
complete the course.
3.5
3.6
T E A C H I N G AT T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F M A N I TO B A : A H A N D B O O K
Table 1. Course Concept Map: Example questions to consider
External Influences
Organizational Infuences
Internal Influences
Have content areas emerged in
the discipline?
Does the course fit with the
University mission?
How does the course fit with the
Faculty mission?
Has there been a paradigm
shift in the discipline or closely
related disciplines?
What is the history of the course?
Who is best to teach the course?
Who is available to teach it? Who
has taught the course? Why you?
Does the profession support the
course? Are there professional
resources to support the course
or its content? Any published
textbooks, web-based sites?
Can the Faculty/program support
the course? Is there room for the
course in the academic plan? Are
the facilities adequate to deliver
the course? Do resources exist, for
example: computers, community
agencies, instructional materials?
Who takes the course? Why do
they take it? Is it open to any
student? Do all who take it have
the same experiences or abilities?
What is the attitude of the
students toward the course?
Are there known existing gaps
between what graduates have and
don’t have to contribute to society?
How many credit hours are
allotted to the course? Are these
restricted? When did the course
offerings last get reviewed by
the curriculum committee? How
often is this done?
Are there prerequisites to the
course? Is it a prerequisite course?
What specific content must be
covered? Are there underlying
principles essential to deliver?
What are the absolute goals and
objectives of the course?
Do past students view the course to Is there duplication of core content
effectively contribute to their knowl- with another course?
edge-, skill-, and attitude-base?
Is it discipline specific? Does it
have to be? Why?
Is the course required for
accreditation of the program?
Does the Faculty welcome all
students to take the course or just
their own students?
What is the utility of the course to
the students? to the Faculty?
Is there a market for the course?
Can a student challenge the course
for credit?
What key words, content or topic
area must be included...is there a
list of key issues to be covered?
Are there existing resources and
materials to support the course?
How does the market measure
the quality of graduates?
Does the Faculty have a mandated
evaluation process/system?
Do you have freedom to determine
how you will evaluate the students?
P R E PA R I N G TO T E A C H
objectives? Firstly, both are to be student-centered; ‘what will the student be able to do’
as a result of taking the course. From an educational perspective, the goal is the overarching outcome of the course. It is the umbrella concept of the student intended performance.
The objectives are the spokes of the umbrella, each important to the umbrella’s integrity.
The objectives are the observable and measurable abilities the student will have once
they successfully complete the course. They are the planned intended change which the
student will experience if they participate in the course. Objectives simply put, can be
thought of as the predicted change in the student.
For example: The student will be able to conduct an interview with an adolescent
who is experiencing bullying at school to identify the key impacts that bullying has
on the adolescent’s ability to personally address the bullying person behavior.
This objective is part of the overall course goal of developing a therapeutic skill base
to deal with challenging influences on adolescent growth and development. The
objective fulfillment contributes to the goals achievement.
Composing objectives can be a challenging task for the new educator and the veteran.
It requires analytical skill to articulate the observable and measurable behavior of the
student as a result of participating in the course. Over and over again, it is important to
ask, “What will the student be able to do” having taken the course. Having spent time
on the course concept map, you will know what the student will be able to do, but you
may not have stated it. The objectives inform the student, the teacher, the program, and
interested others of what will actually constitute the course and to what level the student
will perform within the context of the course; how they will change.5 The focus is on the
student’s ability, not what the instructor will be able to do when delivering the course;
hence the stem of “The student will be able to...”.
Table 2 provides example objectives written in each of the three learning domains and
hierarchies of abilities. These objectives help fulfill the goal of a fictional course created
to provide example of how goals and objectives relate to each other. One of the goals of
the course is as follows: The student will “be able to understand concepts and principles
of drinking water purification for a large city population”.
How does one get from the goal to writing the objectives? It is not an easy task – it requires
creativity, logic, analysis, the whole realm of critical thinking.
6
To start, ask yourself three questions :
1) How will the student have changed (learned) because they have taken the course?
2) Are there certain conditions to be present for this change to occur within the student?
3) What criteria must be met by the student performance to ensure the student
has changed?
3.7
3.8
T E A C H I N G AT T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F M A N I TO B A : A H A N D B O O K
Table 2.
LEARNING
DOMAINS
Hierarchy of Ability
Cognitive
Affective
Psychomotor
Knowledge
(comprehension)
List three reasons for
purification of Winnipeg
drinking tap water.
Name a key purpose for
purifying drinking water.
Identify equipment
needed to test water
purity at Winnipeg
household site.
Application
(rules, methods,
concepts, respond)
Select at least two
potential water sources
for Winnipeg given a
list of criteria and sites.
Describe the outcome
on a person’s quality
of life given purified
drinking water.
Organize the equipment
to ensure efficient testing
of water purity at a
Winnipeg household site.
Problem-solving
(analysis, synthesis,
judgment)
Locate a new water
source for the City of
Winnipeg satisfying all
criteria for drinking water
source selection.
Modify initial personal
response to drinking
bottled versus Winnipeg
tap water.
Propose a novel piece
of equipment used for
water purification to
improve its efficiency
of use.
Consider the following two statements, applying those three questions to determine
the better constructed objective. “Students will understand the impact of global warming.” and “Students will be able to defend their view on global warming on farming in
Western Canada, citing at least three evidence based findings from the scientific literature.”
The latter statement better fulfills the questions. ‘Understand’ is an arbitrary outcome
whereas ‘defend’ is more observable and measurable. The first statement is open to any
interpretation whereas the latter objective states the condition of ‘on farming in Western
Canada’. The criteria the student knows they have to use to demonstrate their ability
is ‘to cite at least three evidence based findings from the scientific literature’. They know
this, if presented with the latter objective, but would not if given the first one. Writing
objectives is an academic scholarly task; it is not easy.
To articulate the change in a written statement (an objective), consider four elements of
objective writing. They are as follows (with example thoughts to illustrate the element):
• Who is going to be able to. . . (ie the student)?
• Are the students undergraduate or graduate, or both?
• Are the students in 1st year or their final year of undergraduate study?
• What actual performance is to be achieved (will be able to ___)?
P R E PA R I N G TO T E A C H
• What action verb best represents what the student will be able to do (and that can
be observed and measured)?
• For example: ‘list’ is a low level of ability; ‘describe’ can be a middle level of
ability or high depending on the context
• For example: ‘outline’ may be a middle level of ability; ‘critique’ would be a
higher level of ability
• Is the student to perform a task?
• Is the student to know specific material?
• Is the student to value a principle?
• Is this performance to be done under certain conditions?
• Are there imposed timelines?
• Specific situations or general ones?
• Is it to be done as a team effort or as an individual one?
• How will the performance be observed and measured, i.e., what degree determines
achievement of change?
• Is the expected outcome to be at a low level of ability (knowledge)?
• Is the expected outcome to be at a middle level of ability (application)?
• Is the expected outcome to be at a high level of ability (evaluation)?
If you respond to these elements you will have the audience (A), the expected behavior
(B), the condition (C) under which the behavior is to occur, and the degree (D) to which
it is to be performed. You will have met the ABCD elements of objective writing, with a
helpful acronym to use when critiquing the composed objective.
T E A C H I N G A N D L E A R N I N G M E T H O D S / S T R AT E G I E S
When constructing the course, you do have to have multiple talents. If learning is
change, than teaching is facilitating change. The teacher serves as a change agent,
per se. Return to the course concept map. You will be aware of the teaching facilities and
resources available to you. Are you confined to a lecture theatre or do you have a room
that can support a workshop setting? How much material is mandated to be covered in
the course? If it is plenty, you may have to opt for lecture style, but with some creative
thinking, you may not! Many readily accessible websites have been constructed on
teaching techniques and learning methods; many of them shared by the authors as their
best practice. Explore what others have done and be sure to broaden your search outside
of your own discipline. Often there is a technique common to one discipline and less so
in another, but with creative adaptation the technique enables the teacher to heighten a
student’s learning, at times appearing to do so like magic.
3.9
3.10
T E A C H I N G AT T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F M A N I TO B A : A H A N D B O O K
The course objectives help in deciding the teaching technique. For example, if the student is expected to cite scientific literature, do you have to teach them how to cite it or do
they already have this skill? How do you teach ‘cite’? Key to teaching is to capture the
spirit of the course. Is it action packed? Is it philosophically driven? Choose the teaching
technique which you are comfortable with, but do not fear trial and error, and do explore
the wide variety of styles available to you. Some may be tried, tested, and true; but, as
you gain experience you may discover ways of facilitating learning that you can report
on to your academic colleagues – that would be excellent scholarly activity.
Remember the course objectives are student-centered; therefore, the teaching strategies
are to be centered on the learner. You need to consider the learning styles of the students
and blend the teaching strategies with the learning methods.10-12 You might want to
consider profiling the students who take the course. This is part of your course concept.
Ask them how they like to learn? What are their strengths or talents that they bring
to the course? There exist volumes of evidence about getting to know the learners,
acknowledging your own learning styles and teaching strengths, and developing a
growing skill base as an educator to respond to diversity and to be inclusive in the
teaching/learning setting.
E VA L U AT I O N O F S T U D E N T P E R FO R M A N C E
“Given the importance of assessment of student performance in university teaching and
in student’s lives and careers, instructors are responsible for taking adequate steps to
ensure that assessment of students is valid, open, fair, and congruent with course objectives.”13 This is principle #8: Valid Assessment of Students, one of nine ethical principles
in university teaching proposed by the Society of Teaching and Learning in Higher
Education. Since much is vitally at stake for the student and the educational institution,
this responsibility in developing the course is a pillar of its construction. The University
has policy to support this pillar; for example a student must submit all course assessment
materials to be considered eligible to succeed in the course.
A well written course objective informs the teacher and the student on what constitutes
the student’s successful performance in achieving the intended, planned outcome.
When it comes to evaluating the student, it is not what will be evaluated (that is already
pre-established in the course objectives) nor is it ‘why’ will ‘what’ be evaluated (that is
also known from the course concept map). It is how, when, and where that needs to be
determined. How will you measure the student’s performance? When will you do this?
What frequency? Where will it take place in the course, midway, weekly, or at the end?
The course objective outlines what the student will be able to do, under what conditions,
and to what degree. Those are the first few steps in planning the evaluation of the
student performance. You accomplished this when you articulated the objectives.
P R E PA R I N G TO T E A C H
You do need to decide what weight each objective carries towards the overall student
performance or grade in the course. How you decide this will be determined by your
course concept. The result will be your evaluation blueprint. The criteria you use to
determine weight of the objective will be course specific; for example, you might use
time spent as a criterion of weight. If the bulk of the course time is spent on the first
two course objectives, they might receive the most weight or perhaps not as they were
simply foundational to the third course objective which was attributed the most weight.
Table 3 provides an example of a weighting system using the criteria of important/very
important and frequent/very frequent. If an objective is both very important and very
frequent, it follows that the objective would be weighted more heavily than an important
/frequent ability.
Table 3.
Frequency/Importance
Important
Very Important
Frequent
Objective #1
Objective #2
20%
Objective #3
25%
Very Frequent
Objective #5
25%
Objective #4
30%
How frequently will the student’s performance be monitored and for what purpose?
It is valuable to the student and teacher to know how well the student is progressing
toward the intended learning. You might consider several formative means to evaluate
this progress (formative evaluation). If you determine these checking-in points to be
informative of the student’s abilities, you might not use them toward the grade, but
rather to inform the student at those given points in time. You can use them for grade,
but do be careful that you are actually measuring the student’s ability and not their
development, unless, that in itself is a course objective. Summative evaluation is the
assessment of the student’s learning. There may be one final summative event or you
may choose to have two or three spread throughout the course. These tend to contribute
to the course grade.
How will the student demonstrate their ability, that is, what is the evaluation instrument?
Paper and pen test, externship reflections, essay, case study, project, or any number of
ways of the student ‘listing’, ‘exploring’, ‘demonstrating’, that is, achieving the course
objective. Remember the validity factor and ask yourself if a multiple choice question
measures the intended change at a high level of cognitive, affective, or psychomotor ability. A well written question certainly can, but they are very difficult to compose. Be sure
the student knows the medium that will be used for their demonstration of their ability.
At the University of Manitoba, this must be shared with the students within two weeks
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T E A C H I N G AT T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F M A N I TO B A : A H A N D B O O K
Table 4.
Reading List
Winnipeg Water
and Waste
http://www.
winnipeg.ca/
waterandwaste/
water/quality
FAQ.stm
Session
2
Session Activity
Evaluation
Formative (F) &
Summative (S)
Familiarize yourself
with the City of
Winnipeg Water and
Waste website
Form small groups;
create sense of
community
One minute paper
presenting one key
point discussed in
your small group. (F)
List three reasons for
purification of Winnipeg
drinking tap water.
Browse Health Canada
and WHO website
for @ least one reason
and one purpose of
purifying drinking
water.
Small group work
followed by mini
lecture
One minute paper
highlighting 3 reasons
and purposes for
purifying drinking
water. (F)
Name a key purpose for
purifying drinking water.
3...6
Readings &/or
Student
Responsibility
Introduction of course
concept and objectives
1
World Health
Organization (WHO)
http://www.who.int
/water_sanitation_
health/dwq/guidelines/en/
Health Canada
http://www.hc-sc.
gc.ca/ewh-semt/
water-eau/
drink-potab/
index_e.html
Course Objective &
Key Content Area
....
....
....
Due Date for
Assignment #1 on
objectives 1-6. (S)
of the beginning date of the course. Whatever you choose to use as the means of eliciting
the behavior, you’ll want to emulate it in your teaching strategies. For example, if you
are going to use a case study as an assignment, you’ll use case studies in the classroom
setting.
Students have the right to know how they are performing in the course. This makes the
evaluation open – it is their ability that is being measured and certainly assessment or
evaluation is a form of learning. The University of Manitoba regularly asks the students
if feedback on examinations and graded materials was valuable to their learning and if
what was measured was course objective based.14
O R G A N I Z AT I O N O F C O U R S E M AT E R I A L S
You have the course concept, the course goals and objectives, selected teaching strategies
for student learning, and an evaluation blueprint. Now you are ready to lay the bricks
around those pillars of the course construction – you are ready to organize the bricks
using this firm foundation. Tyler (1949) offered excellent advise when suggesting three
key principles on organizing a course:15 sequence, continuity, and integration. Sequence
of course content needs to be considered. Are you going to start with simple and move
to complex issues or will you begin with a complex issue and unravel it through problem-solving method? Continuity from start to finish is important. The student should
P R E PA R I N G TO T E A C H
feel the development of their ability, have a sense of the change that is occurring within
themselves. Arranging course lessons so that there is this sense of interconnectedness
between topics, issues, and ultimately course objectives is part of the course organization.
Remembering to revisit earlier course lessons or beginning the next topic by linking it
to the previous one, or the one earlier or one yet to be presented will help the student
synthesize the material. Similarly, integration promotes the student seeing the synergy of
the whole course, rather than single topic issues or tasks.
At this point in constructing the course, you are synchronizing the course content, objectives, evaluation with the administration elements of the course, such as imposed timelines
and available resources and facilities. This is the course syllabus.10 Table 3 provides an
example of this synchronization using the fictional course on water purification.
You are building a grand structure and contributing to a grand mission of the University
of Manitoba. Begin the construction of your course grounding the pillars and then build
around the pillars. Constructing and organizing a course is scholarly activity – evaluate
what you create and share your work.
REFERENCES
1. Lih (1997) Educ Future Exec, ASEE Prism, 6(5): 30-34
2. University of Manitoba (2003), Building a Bright Future. A strategic academic plan for the University of
Manitoba. Retrieved February 2007 from http://umanitoba.ca/admin/president/strategic_plan_jun03.pdf
3. Briggs, L. & Wager, W. (1981) Handbook of procedures for design of instruction. Educational Technology
Publications. New Jersey.
4. Stark, J. & Lattuca, L. (1997) Shaping the college curriculum: Academic plans in action. Allyn and Bacon,
Boston
5. Gronlund, N (2000 ) How to write and use instructional objectives. Merril. New Jersey.
6. UTS (1997), Teaching at the University of Manitoba. A Handbook, University of Manitoba, Manitoba.
7. Bloom, B. (1956) Taxonomy of educational objectives: the classification of educational goals. David Mckay,
New York.
8. Krathwohl et al, (1964) Taxonomy of Educational Objectives: Handbook II, Affective Domain. David Mckay,
New York.
9. Simpson, E. (1972) The Classification of educational objectives in the psychomotor domain.
The Psychomotor Domain. Vol 3. Gryphon House, Washington
10. Pregent, R (2000) Charting your course: How to prepare to teach more effectively. Atwood Publishing,
Wisconsin.
11. Davis, B. ( 2001) Tools for Teaching. Jossey-Bass Company, CA.
12. Lowman, J (1995) Mastering the Techniques of Teaching. Jossey-Bass Company, CA.
13. Murray, H. et al (1996) Ethical Principles in University Teaching. Society for Teaching and Learning in
Higher Education. Ontario.
14. University of Manitoba, Student Evaluation of Educational Quality (SEEQ) form retrieved February 2007
from the University of Manitoba webpage http://www.umanitoba.ca/uts/documents/seeq.pdf
3.13
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T E A C H I N G AT T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F M A N I TO B A : A H A N D B O O K
Preparing an Effective Syllabus:
Current Best Practices
JEANNE M.
S L AT T E RY A N D
JA N E T F.
CARLSON
Reprinted with
permission of authors,
College Teaching
(journal) and
Heldref Publications
www.heldref.org
S
yllabi can be useful in engaging students and creating an effective classroom
atmosphere, yet discussions of their effective use appear rarely. In the light of
current research and theory on syllabi, we review their typical uses (structural,
motivational, and evidentiary), commonly included components, and attributes that
positively impact the teaching and learning process.
Most, if not all, colleges require faculty to share syllabi with their students. Although
doing so is often an administrative requirement, seeing it as only that, underestimates the
importance of syllabi. A strong syllabus facilitates teaching and learning. It communicates
the overall pattern of the course so a course does not feel like disjointed assignments and
activities, but instead an organized and meaningful journey. In particular, a good syllabus
clarifies the relationship among goals and assignments. Students who read a good syllabus
are more likely to feel that course strategies have been designed to help them reach their
goals, rather than merely as busywork or, worse, to torture them (Littlefield 1999a).
Syllabi are a ubiquitous part of the teaching process, making the scarcity of research or
scholarship pertaining to them surprising. These realities gave rise to the current paper,
which attempts to use the relatively small existing base of research and writing on syllabi,
as well as “anecdotal” material, to describe the best current practices in writing syllabi.
FUNCTIONS OF SYLL ABI
Littlefield (1999a) suggested that a syllabus serves seven purposes. It sets the tone for a
course, motivates students to set lofty, but achievable goals, serves as a planning tool for
faculty, structures students' work over the course of the semester, helps faculty plan and
meet course goals in a timely manner, serves as a contract between faculty and students
about what students can expect from faculty and vice versa, and is a portfolio artifact for
tenure, promotion, or job applications. We understand these seven discrete objectives in
terms of their relationship to three overarching goals met by a strong syllabus: motivational,
structural, and evidentiary. We discuss these three major goals in greater detail below.
M O T I VAT I O N A L A S P E C T S
Students usually receive the course syllabus at the first class meeting. Both the syllabus and
discussion of the syllabus and course help set the tone for the class (Appleby 1999; Littlefield
1999a; Office of Teaching Effectiveness & Faculty Development 1999). In introducing the
syllabus, we must counter ingrained beliefs “that [students] are powerless to affect what
happens to them; that hard work will not pay off; that success is due to luck, and failure is
due to circumstances beyond their control” (Walvoord and Anderson 1998, p. 16).
P R E PA R I N G TO T E A C H
3.15
Syllabi differ widely in the tone they adopt: warm and friendly, formal, condescending,
or confrontational. Warm syllabi explain expectations in a clear and friendly fashion,
encourage and motivate students, and anticipate positive student outcomes, rather than
merely attempting to prevent problems. They are associated with positive student outcomes. Littlefield (1999a) reported that pseudo-students remembered the information on
“warm” syllabi better than that on less student-friendly syllabi. Presumably this is
because students see themselves as active participants rather than passive recipients in
the learning process when reading warm syllabi and believe that their behavior will
impact the course and their grades. Students who read less friendly syllabi may believe
that their professor does not expect them to be successful, which can create a self-fulfilling
prophecy. When formal statements imbue a sense of mistrust, it follows that student
retention at the university will be negatively impacted (Collins 1997; Tinto 1993).
Collins (1997), a first generation college student, described a different, albeit related
purpose to the tone-setting aspect of a syllabus. He emphasized the practical and
ethical importance of writing a syllabus that is inclusive and accessible to all students,
particularly to students from
groups that have been historically underrepresented in
higher education. By making
the implicit explicit and
communicating that we
believe that students can and
will succeed, faculty begin to
level the playing field and ensure that all students have equal opportunities in the
classroom. Many of the examples described below accomplish this objective.
“A well-designed syllabus is both
a consequence and a precursor of a strongly
articulated teaching philosophy”
STRUCTURE
A good syllabus creates an effective structure for both faculty and students, allowing
all parties to recognize where they need to go and what they need to do to get there.
Dates for papers, examinations, readings and other assignments, as well as weights for
these assignments help faculty stay on schedule throughout the semester, while also
helping students identify what they need to do to earn a particular grade.
Students often depend on a syllabus to manage their time effectively. Many students
report feeling overextended between school, work, and family demands, and use a syllabus to determine how to allocate their limited time. Furthermore, students' allocation
of time to a class often closely matches perceived reinforcements for their time on task,
with less time given to a quiz than a test, more for a formal paper than a reaction paper.
Students who cannot predict or influence their professor's expectations and behavior
may give up and display typical signs of learned helplessness. Similarly, when faculty
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T E A C H I N G AT T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F M A N I TO B A : A H A N D B O O K
shift deadlines frequently, students may become frustrated by their inability to plan
writing and studying time. As Mann and his colleagues (1970, cited in McKeachie 1994)
conclude, what may initially have been a professor's attempt to be responsive to class
needs, may ultimately undermine class morale.
A good course and syllabus need not be rigid in providing this structure, but should be
flexibly responsive to student concerns and external events such as the Columbine massacre and the terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington, DC. Responsiveness,
however, is not the same as an absence of structure (McKeachie 1994). Faculty can
provide structure for their students’ experiences and be sensitive to individual and group
needs to know where they are and where they are going. We believe an effective class
often teaches process goals rather than only content, generally building on these either
within or across courses (Walvoord and Anderson 1998). We believe that the strongest
syllabi and courses have assignments that are clearly related to process objectives and
that clearly help students meet these goals.
Finally, although we have talked about the purpose of a syllabus from a student's point
of view, syllabi are probably equally important for faculty, as they help us to develop
and organize our vision for the course (Appleby 1999). A well-designed syllabus is both
a consequence and a precursor of a strongly articulated teaching philosophy (Office of
Teaching Effectiveness & Faculty Development 1999).
EVIDENTIARY FUNCTION
Whether or not we mean a syllabus to serve this purpose, a syllabus often serves as a
contract between faculty and students. Brosman (1998) dates the
contractual aspect of the syllabus to the 1970s, when students first
began to challenge expectations that were not described in course
syllabi. Policies that are clearly outlined in a syllabus can help avert
lawsuits. Accordingly, some schools (e.g., Georgia Southern
University) make this contract explicit, ask students to sign that
Course goals
they read the syllabus, and agree to its terms (M. Nielsen, personal
are strongest
communication, September 19, 2001). When attempting to resolve
disputes, administrators often consult the syllabus to determine
when they use
whether the faculty member followed the rules that both professor
and student “agreed to” in the course (S. Johnson, personal
action verbs.
communication, October 2, 2001).
> TIP
In addition, a well-done syllabus effectively communicates the
nature and quality of a faculty member’s teaching philosophy and
abilities to Tenure and Promotion Committees or Search Committees
at other universities (Appleby 1999). Syllabi also serve a vital function
P R E PA R I N G TO T E A C H
in accreditation efforts, where accrediting bodies look to syllabi to ascertain what happens
in specific courses and then look across syllabi to gauge learning more broadly (such as
within a specific discipline or major). This function is an important one, as external bodies
often must assess teaching indirectly.
PA R T S O F A N E F F E C T I V E S Y L L A B U S
Like Gross (1993), we believe that a strong syllabus is relatively detailed. Detailed syllabi
educate students about course and university resources and reduce student anxieties.
We believe that faculty can prevent misunderstandings and a course can run more
smoothly when they provide sufficient detail.
Although syllabi differ widely in style and design, most syllabi share certain components. Almost without exception, they describe ways of contacting the professor, course
goals and objectives, means for meeting these goals, methods of grading, and a schedule
of events, generally in that order. Strong syllabi also include prerequisites for the course,
disclaimers, and a bibliography of required readings. In keeping with its motivational
function, a syllabus also may include rationales for course objectives and assignments,
positive and negative motivational statements, and assistance in identifying university
support services.
Identifying Information
Most schools require faculty to be available outside of class. As a result, most syllabi,
at a minimum, include office hours and the location of the faculty office. In this electronic
age, e-mail addresses and web page – if the faculty member has and uses these – are
becoming standard fare. When faculty strongly prefer e-mail to phone calls, sharing this
information with students is useful. Syllabi for web courses should indicate when the
faculty member is available for real time on-line discussions.
Course Description
This section sometimes reiterates the catalog description, but more often provides a
thumbnail sketch of how a particular faculty member idiosyncratically approaches a
course. Sometimes this section includes an institutional justification for the course
(e.g., “meets the university’s writing requirement”). Quotations also can orient students
to a course and excite them about it (see Root 2001; Kuhlenschmidt 2000). Slattery (2003)
uses each of these tactics in her Techniques in Interviewing and Casework course when
she follows opening quotes with:
Your previous Psychology classes have looked at the theory behind social problems
and how to address them. This class is likely to be the most applied class, other than
an internship, that you take in Psychology. Rather than only talking about listening,
we will practice it. Rather than only discussing a person’s background (in theory),
we will begin to assess it in the course of our interviews and write-up of our findings.
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This course will be especially useful for three kinds of students: (a) those who plan to go
to graduate school in one of the helping fields and want a head start relative to their
classmates; (b) those who do not plan to immediately go to graduate school and want
some preparation for entry level human services jobs; and (c) those who plan to work
outside of the helping fields, but know that listening skills are essential for their personal
and professional success.
Course Goals
Having strong course goals is helpful for students; developing them can strengthen a
faculty member’s teaching. Before sitting down to teach a course, imagine overhearing
graduating seniors discuss your course and how they have changed following taking it
(Appleby 2003; Gross, 1993). How might you meet these outcomes through your course
goals? This section of the syllabus clearly describes goals for students and, in so doing,
helps faculty identify their own goals for teaching.
Angelo and Cross’s (1993) “Teaching Goals Inventory” is a useful assessment of the wide
range of teaching goals that can inform a single course (e.g., develop analytical skills,
develop an openness to new ideas, strengthen speaking skills, etc.). Root (2001) includes
a comprehensive set of objectives for his Introduction to Psychology course and demonstrates how even “content-oriented” courses also teach process skills. He suggests that
students will gain various kinds of knowledge (i.e., of philosophical questions, historical
context, terminology, theory and methodology), and adds that they also will develop
stronger critical thinking skills and have fun.
We believe the strongest course goals use action verbs (e.g., evaluate, analyze, create)
rather than more passive and vague verbs (e.g., learn, recognize, understand). Action
verbs are especially important when a course has assignments other than multiple choice
examinations. The syllabus can encourage students to approach the course and learning
in specific ways (Coffman 2003). In particular, by asking students to set goals for the
course based on their initial reading of the syllabus and by including discussion or study
questions in the syllabus, faculty members encourage students to take ownership for
their learning.
Ways to Meet Course Goals
This section of the syllabus describes faculty expectations, including readings, assignments,
and means used to assess student progress. Although freshmen may not focus on this
section, continuing students see this information as important (Becker and Calhoun 1999),
perhaps because they recognize the variety of ways in which faculty assess learning.
Faculty should use course objectives to guide the development of assignments that help
students meet class goals. When assignments are unrelated to course goals, consider
whether the assignment is superfluous or a signal of an unidentified goal. On the other
P R E PA R I N G TO T E A C H
hand, some course goals may not have associated graded assignments (e.g., improve
personal well-being). When this happens, consider whether the goal is an integral but
unassessed part of the course or whether it should be subsumed under another part of
the syllabus, such as the description.
Not all faculty clearly describe their assignments in syllabi. In a study of 37 Augsburg
College syllabi, Littlefield (1999a) reported that only 50% described course projects, 25%
described papers and 18% described tests. Of course, as the syllabus is not the only way
for faculty and students to communicate with each other, it is possible that faculty shared
this information in other ways. However, as a syllabus is probably the handout most
easily retrieved by students, it should include at least a list of assignments and due dates.
Grades
Littlefield (1999a) reported that most Augsburg College syllabi described how final
grades are weighted. Few, however, described the grading criteria and rubrics used to
guide the determination of those grades. The more idiosyncratic the grading strategy of
the professor, or the more unusual the assignment, the more important the grading
rubric. Students writing their first paper for a professor often want to know the relative
importance of effectively summarizing the literature, analyzing and critiquing it, creativity,
and writing skill (Appleby 2001). Most students have had enough experience to know
that faculty differ in their relative emphasis on each of these criteria and that a paper
receiving a very positive grade in one course could receive a significantly lower grade in
a different course. Tata (1999) suggests that providing and adhering to a grading rubric
can prevent students from perceiving grades as unfair.
Two related issues deserve consideration as far as grades: class participation and groupwork. Students report considerable anxiety when they are asked to do groupwork.
Although there is considerable ecological validity for learning how to work in a group
(Astin 1985; Walvoord and Anderson 1998), students often dislike this work, especially
when grades are heavily dependent on their groupmates’ output. Informing students
early in the semester about what they must do to earn a desired grade can decrease
anxiety and increase class cohesiveness.
Gurung (2002), for example, handles this dilemma effectively in his Culture, Development
and Health class, both clarifying his expectations and creating a rubric that does not
penalize hard-working group members:
Group members will all get a similar grade UNLESS there are major discrepancies
in individual contributions as indicated by self-evaluations. Members in danger of
getting a lower grade than the group due to social loafing or for other reasons will be
notified in time [to increase their contributions] if possible. (p. 3)
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An increasing number of faculty include a means by which students may track their grades
electronically. Students seem to appreciate this opportunity. As classroom technologies like
Blackboard or other web-posted grading systems become more common, paper versions of
grading sheets will be less prevalent.
Schedule
Becker and Calhoun (1999) reported that schedule information was important to students
and used to guide preparation for exams. Omitting this information on one’s syllabus
may have serious implications for students’ abilities to plan and learn during the semester,
yet Littlefield (1999a) reported that many faculty omitted project due dates (42%) and
exam dates (65%).
A schedule also should help students identify reading assignments, if possible by content
area rather than only by chapter number. Introducing a subject area with an eye-grabbing
phrase (e.g., “Making the most of your undergraduate years”) can orient students to a
given topic and help them remember an essential idea or even motivate them (Lloyd
1998). With textbooks rising in cost, students are finding other ways to complete reading
assignments, including reading texts with similar material or a previous edition of a
current text. Identifying the chapter with an eye-catching phrase can help students using
other texts stay on track.
When reading assignments that are not in assigned texts, it is especially useful to include
a complete reference list. The text of one’s syllabus should indicate where these readings
can be found (e.g., on reserve in the library, purchased from the bookstore, on the
Internet, in pdf files linked to the web syllabus, etc.). Even when the instructor has made
readings available in a convenient place, providing the complete source information
makes it easier for students who choose to look for readings in a place more convenient
for them. Of course, formatting this reference list in discipline-specific format also serves
as a model for effective writing within the discipline.
Rationale
To encourage students to be passionate about a course and learning, tell them why you
find it exciting (Office of Teaching Effectiveness & Faculty Development 1999). Tell them
why you give assignments and why they are important. Littlefield (1999a) reported
that about 12% of the Augsburg College syllabi she reviewed included the rationale for
assignments, 4% included the philosophy of the course and assignments and none
related the course to the mission of the department or college. The relative scarcity of
rationales suggests that many faculty do not consider their motivation for particular
assignments – or at least fail to communicate this. We believe that providing the assignment’s rationale is an opportunity to get students and faculty working together. A clear
rationale for assignments is also an opportunity to educate students and make the
implicit explicit (Collins 1997). Consider Littlefield’s (1999b) rationale for groupwork:
P R E PA R I N G TO T E A C H
3.21
Cooperative learning... is extremely effective in helping students be successful in college.
This team-based approach assures active learning, and often allows for groups to work
together to accomplish more than you could as an individual. In business and industry,
teams are increasingly common; this class provides an opportunity to learn some teamrelated skills that will be useful to you in the workforce. (p. 3)
Motivational Messages
Littlefield (1999a) reported that 38% of Augsburg College faculty listed expectations of
students, but only 5% identified what students could expect of faculty. Many faculty
listed their expectations for attendance, due dates, and academic honesty. Few described
the consequences for violating these expectations.
Motivational messages can take either a positive or negative tone. In general, although
we want to set lofty, yet achievable goals for our students, we should indicate that we
expect that most students will meet these goals.
“The texts for this class are only a beginning. It is hoped (indeed, expected) that you will
be stimulated to go beyond
these sources and to read in
the primary literature that
makes up the corpus of early
psychological knowledge
and to read in the historical
research in psychology today.
History is not dead subject
matter to be gleaned from a textbook; it is a vital area of research, currently enjoying a
great deal of activity.” (Benjamin 2001, p. 2)
“A clear rationale for assignments is
also an opportunity to educate students and
make the implicit explicit.”
Legalistic statements about attendance and academic honesty are often required by
university handbooks and state laws and can easily undermine student/faculty relationships. Nonetheless, with forethought, one can be clear about the rules governing classroom
behavior without being cold and accusatory. Appleby (2003) reports that clearly outlining
expected and prohibited behaviors significantly decreases the frequency with which
students engage in distracting behaviors, such as arriving late to class meetings.
University Support Services
First year students often are not aware that university support services exist, and thus
may not access resources that could make the difference between success and failure in a
course or their academic careers (Collins 1997). Freshmen are interested in this information
and preferentially focus on university-provided support services described in syllabi
(Becker and Calhoun 1999).
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T E A C H I N G AT T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F M A N I TO B A : A H A N D B O O K
Students who read syllabi where faculty offered help were more likely to say that they
would be willing to use it (Perrine, Lisle, and Tucker 1995). However, few Augsburg
College syllabi mentioned professorial, departmental or university services (e.g., tutorial
services, counseling center, career services and writing centers) that might help students
meet academic or personal goals throughout the semester (Littlefield1999a). At first
blush, this may appear to be a trivial issue. It is anything but – when we fail to educate
students about services available, we fail to level the playing field that privileges
traditional college students at the expense of other groups including racial minorities,
immigrants, first generation college students, and students with learning disabilities or
psychological issues that interfere with learning (Collins 1997).
Appleby (2001) meets this goal in a somewhat different manner. He includes feedback
from previous students in his Orientation to a Major in Psychology class in the syllabus
(e.g., “Don’t drop the class when you hear about the workload – it’s not as difficult as it
sounds. Dr. A is very willing to help his students”).
C O N C L U S I O N S A N D R E C O M M E N D AT I O N S
The syllabus is often the first impression students have of a faculty member and course;
its looks, however, can overshadow the content when insufficient care is put into its
presentation (Matejka and Kurke 1994). We believe that the syllabus should be attractive
without being distracting, and should be consistent with the tone of the course. The
organization and highlighting features of word processing programs facilitate finding
information about the course. Information that students access most frequently should
be placed on the first page (Becker and Calhoun, 1999). Effective and selective use of
headers, graphics and layout strategies can make syllabi more attractive and user-friendly
(S. Kuhlenschmidt, personal communication, September 2, 2002). Kuhlenschmidt (2000),
for example, uses organizing questions as headers to increase the readability of her syllabi,
as well as to communicate that her syllabus is designed to meet her students’ needs.
We believe that syllabi should be easy to navigate and have seen syllabi for interesting
courses that were ineffective because of weak or ineffective organization. This is particularly important for web syllabi, syllabi that often contain a wealth of information, but
that can be difficult to navigate. Paper syllabi should generally present information in
the order described in this paper, with grading rubrics or paper assignments near or
appended to the end.
The most effective syllabi we have seen are user-friendly and use a friendly tone. They
are neither condescending, nor do they assume the reader knows information they would
be unlikely to have. As warm syllabi are better remembered (Littlefield 1999a), consider
presenting course requirements in a manner that suggests that faculty and students will
work well together. In general, however, consistency is key and the tone and proposed
P R E PA R I N G TO T E A C H
process articulated in the syllabus should match. Professors who expect to take an
expert role should clearly communicate this in their syllabi, just as those who adopt a
more student-centered approach should communicate this (Baecker 1998).
Syllabi are a paper contract between faculty members and their students, designed to
answer students’ questions about a course, as well as inform them about what will
happen should they fail to meet course expectations. Smith and Razzouk (1993) reported
that about half of the students in their study referred to their syllabi at least once a week.
Nonetheless, students still had relatively poor memories for information contained there.
Becker and Calhoun (1999) recommend revisiting information on the syllabus frequently
to help students make wise decisions about their use of time.
Although Smith and Razzouk (1993) acknowledged that syllabi are imperfect ways of
communicating course information, we believe that highly effective syllabi are characterized by completeness of information (e.g., identifying information, course description,
course goals, assignments, schedule, etc.), motivational comments, and a style of communication that engages students as effective collaborators in the learning process. Rarely,
however, will a syllabus be “perfect” the first time. Like Matejka and Kurke (1994), we
recommend that updating syllabi at the end of each semester based on the semester’s
experiences. Reviewing the course and the normal problems associated with it, while
also considering solutions and how to present material more clearly, can be important
first steps in creating a productive classroom learning environment.
REFERENCES
Angelo, T. A., and K. P. Cross. 1993. Classroom assessment techniques: A handbook for college teachers.
San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Appleby, D. C. 1999. How to improve your teaching with the course syllabus. In Lessons learned: Practical
advice for the teaching of psychology. Washington, DC: The American Psychological Society.
Appleby, D. 2001. B103 Orientation to a Major in Psychology. Retrieved on April 15, 2002, from
http://www.lemoyne.edu/OTRP/projectsyllabus.html/careers
Appleby, D. 2003, August. Purposes and components of course syllabi. In the evolving syllabus: Motivating
students and maximizing success. Symposium conducted at the annual meeting of the American Psychological
Association, Toronto, Canada.
Astin, A. W. 1985. Achieving educational excellence. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Baecker, D. 1998. Uncovering the rhetoric of the syllabus. College Teaching 46: 58-62.
Becker, A. H., and S. K. Calhoon. 1999. What introductory psychology students attend to on a course syllabus.
Teaching of Psychology 26: 6-11.
Benjamin, L. T. 2001. History and Systems of Psychology. Retrieved on April 16, 2002, from
http://www.lemoyne.edu/OTRP/syllabi_mac/history05mac.doc
Brosman, C. S. 1998. The case for (and against) departmental syllabi. Academic Questions 11(4): 58-65.
Coffman, S. J. 2003. Ten strategies for getting students to take responsibility for their learning. College
Teaching 51: 2-4.
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T E A C H I N G AT T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F M A N I TO B A : A H A N D B O O K
Collins, T. 1997. For openers. . . An inclusive syllabus. In New paradigms for college teaching. Edina, MN:
Interaction Book.
Dale, M., and M. Liss. 1995. Reforming liberal adult education. Adults Learning 6: 246-247.
Gross, B. D. 1993. Tools for teaching. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Gurung, R. A. R. 2001. Culture, Development and Health. Retrieved on April 14, 2002, from
http://www.lemoyne.edu/OTRP/projectsyllabus.html/health
Kuhlenschmidt, S. 2000. Issues in Using the Internet in Instruction. Retrieved on September 7, 2002, from
http://edtech.tph.wku.edu/%7Einternet/syll.htm
Littlefield, V. M. 1999a. My syllabus? It’s fine. Why do you ask? Or the syllabus: A tool for improving teaching
and learning. Presented at the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, Calgary, Canada.
Littlefield, V. M. 1999b. PSY 105: Principles of Psychology. Unpublished document.
Lloyd, M. A. 1998. Psychology 210 – Careers in Psychology (Lloyd) – Spring, 1998. Retrieved on June 24, 2002,
from http://www.lemoyne.edu/OTRP/syllabi_pdf/Careers1.pdf
Matejka, K., and L. B. Kurke. 1994. Designing a great syllabus. College Teaching 42: 115-117.
McKeachie, W. J. 1994. Teaching tips: Strategies, research and theory for college and university teachers
(9th ed.). Lexington, MA: D.C. Heath.
Office of Teaching Effectiveness & Faculty Development. 1999. Launching a teaching system - 1: A higher-level
syllabus. Retrieved on June 24, 2002, from http://www.cudenver.edu/OTE/nn/vol7/7_1.htm
Perrine, R. M., J. Lisle, and D. L. Tucker. 1996. Effects of a syllabus offer of help, student age, and class size on
college students’ willingness to seek support from faculty. Journal of Experimental Education 64: 41-52.
Reed, W. 2003. The commotion on teaching: Six principles in search of an audience. College Teaching 51: 71-75.
Root, M. 2001. Introduction to Psychology. Retrieved on April 15, 2002, from
http://www.lemoyne.edu/OTRP/projectsyllabus.html/introductory
Slattery, J. M. 2003. Techniques in Interviewing and Casework. Retrieved on October 23, 2003, from
http://psy1.clarion.edu/syllint.html
Smith, M. F., and N. Y. Razzouk. 1993. Improving classroom communication: The case of the course syllabus.
Journal of Education for Business 68 (4): 215-221.
Tata, J. 1999. Grade distributions, grading procedures, and students’ evaluations of instructors: A justice
perspective. Journal of Psychology 133: 263-271.
Tinto,V. 1993. Leaving college: The causes and cures of student attrition (2nd ed.). Chicago: University
of Chicago.
Walvoord, B. E., and V. J. Anderson. 1998. Effective grading: A tool for learning and assessment. San Francisco:
Jossey-Bass.
P R E PA R I N G TO T E A C H
3.25
Shared Teaching: Some Suggestions
W
ithout some planning and preparation, uncertainty and confusion can result
for students and instructors when two or more instructors teach a course.
The following list includes suggestions on how to make shared teaching1 as
effective and easy as possible for all parties involved. These suggestions are based on the
premise that, after the first few days of class, there should be no surprises because of a
change in instructors.
LY N N TAY L O R
Reprinted with
permission of author
If possible, both instructors should meet the students in the first week of classes. Even if
it’s September and one instructor isn’t planning to teach until January, a short lecture or
presentation by the second instructor will help allay uncertainties students may have.
At a minimum, students will be able to recognize both instructors and put a name with a
face, and they will understand how the course and expectations of them will or won’t
change when the second instructor takes over.
Both instructors should participate in writing course outlines. This collaboration allows
assignments, test, papers, class participation, attendance, and grading styles to remain
consistent throughout the course. Jointly written outlines don’t imply that the instructors
need to have identical teaching and evaluation methods, but it’s best when there is some
similarity and continuity. Deciding on similar or complementary teaching and evaluation
methods usually doesn’t take long, but it will give students a feeling of security concerning what is expected of them. It is particularly important that instructors agree on a
common grading scheme so that a numerical mark corresponds to a particular letter
grade in both halves of the course. Marking schemes cannot be
altered unilaterally by either instructor.
If at all possible, faculty members should select the same (set) of
textbook(s) for the two terms. Where this is difficult, care should be
taken not to impose an unnecessary financial burden on the students.
Particularly when two professors teach a section, students should be
told (in accordance with new university regulations) that if they
wish to formally appeal the grade assigned to term work, they shall
have (normally) ten working days after the grades for the term work
have been made available to them. This helps avoid the second
instructor being faced with questions about marks assigned by the
first instructor. Questions about past marks can be particularly
troublesome when the first instructor is not available and a decision
has to be made immediately. Ideally, the first instructor should make
definitive first term marks known to students before turning the
> TIP
A clear articulation of
the rationale for grades
in the course outline
can promote a clear
understanding between
professors and students
about the role of
grades in the course.
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1
Shared teaching
refers to two or more
instructors teaching a
course. This can
mean that one
instructor teaches the
first half of the
course and another
the second half, two
instructors alternating their teaching, or
several instructors
teaching portions of
a course.
class over to the second instructor. This lets students know exactly what mark they
have earned, allows them to verify the results, and reduces potential hassles at the end
of the course.
If possible, both instructors should plan to be involved in assigning the final course
grades. Unless grades are calculated using simple addition, considerations known only
to one instructor may be relevant in determining a borderline grade.
Let students know that the course is a joint effort and that both instructors are concerned
about the whole course. Students often feel confused and abandoned when a second
instructor with a different teaching style takes over. Letting students know that the
course is a joint effort, in spite of shared teaching and differing personal styles, can go a
long way toward the delivery of an effective course.
Again, the key to effective shared teaching assignments is that there should be no surprises
because of a change in instructors. A bit of planning and forethought before the course
starts can ensure this result.
Working Toward the Equitable Treatment of
Students in Multi-section Courses
LY N N TAY L O R
Reprinted with
permission of author
T
he issue of equity and fairness in multi-section courses is a perennial concern of
professors and students. On the one hand, professors have been entrusted with
guiding diverse groups of students along different learning paths to meet the
requirements of a single academic course. On the other, students often feel that they are
given comparable grades for widely differing learning experiences. Since grades are
often the basis on which student abilities and potential for future success are judged,
it is not surprising that students are concerned with equity across multiple sections of
the same course. Given the diversity inherent in teaching multi-section courses, how
can faculty address the legitimate concerns of students with respect to equity?
A general guideline for equity in multi-section courses at the U of M is set out in the
Policy and Procedure Manual which states, “For those courses which are offered in
multiple sections involving more than one instructor, provisions shall be made for
equitable treatment of all students enrolled in such courses.” In its broadest sense,
“equitable treatment” could include factors such as variations in professor and student
characteristics between sections. In terms of generating practical suggestions which can
be implemented in the real world of university teaching, however, it is useful to focus
on two specific aspects of equity across multiple sections:
P R E PA R I N G TO T E A C H
• course content, and;
• evaluation of student learning.
These aspects are critical because they are of primary concern to students and are, to a
great extent, under faculty control. The challenge in focusing on course content and
evaluation of student learning across sections is one of balance. How can a measure of
consistency be brought to student learning opportunities across multiple sections while
ensuring the primary resource of the scholar-teacher to students - his or her deep discipline
knowledge - is effectively utilized in university teaching?
Provisions for the equitable treatment of students enrolled in multi-section courses at
the U of M currently range from high degrees of standardization to low levels of comparability with respect to course content and evaluation procedures. While no single
approach to designing multi-section courses is appropriate in every situation, some
degree of communication between professors teaching sections of the same course helps
reduce students’ perceptions of inequity. Between the extremes of complete standardization (which is not always feasible) and low levels of comparability (which many students
perceive as inequitable), there is room for flexibility in addressing the issue of equity in
multi-section courses.
Several departments, concerned about students’ perceptions of inequity, have opted for
intermediate levels of standardization. Generally, these intermediate approaches involve
the partial structuring of each section around a common core of discipline knowledge
determined by the professors teaching the course, in consultation with their department.
In individual sections, this common core is supplemented with optional topics according
to each professor’s area of expertise. A common core addresses the issue of equity in
multi-section courses by making explicit the similarities between sections of a course.
When professors involved in teaching a multi-section course agree on a central core for
a course, that common core can be used to focus students’ attention on the similarities
between sections. This approach also accommodates the different areas of expertise
among faculty by ensuring that the core is arrived at by mutual agreement among
participating professors. In designing the core, mutual agreement can be sought on both
the specific content and the proportion of the course that will be guided by the core.
This flexible approach allows faculty to address the issue of equity across sections while
allowing for different areas of expertise among professors.
SELECTING A COMMON CORE
There are a number of aspects of course design that can be considered in determining the
common core portion of multi-section courses. Among the important ones are the selection
of course content, required texts and readings, a grading scale, and evaluation methods.
Each of these aspects can be thought of as existing on a “sliding scale” of consistency
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T E A C H I N G AT T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F M A N I TO B A : A H A N D B O O K
The University of
Manitoba, Policy and
Procedure Manual
between sections. It is up to individuals involved in teaching multi-section courses to
select the degree of consistency appropriate to their circumstances. To assist professors
or departments interested in addressing equity in multi-section courses through a
common core approach, there are a number of suggestions that may be considered in the
planning process.
Course Content
The adoption of a common core of course content usually does not involve a radical
change in course design. Professors who are interested in working together across sections
can begin by listing the concepts and skills they teach in their individual sections. This list
can be enhanced by constructing a “concept map” for the course, in which related items
of content are grouped together into concepts or knowledge groupings, and connections
between content groupings are identified. This process helps to organize information and
distill the most important aspects of the course. When professors who teach different
sections compare concept maps, they often find a basis for structuring the core areas of
common emphasis. However arrived at, a representation of the common core for each
section of the course should
be explicitly presented in
“The design of a multi-section course around a
the course outline for each
common core requires effective communication section, so that students are
aware of the commonalities
and co-operation between the professors who
between sections.
teach different sections.”
Textbooks and Readings
In choosing textbooks and
supplementary materials for multi-section courses, using a number of common sources
for core portions of a course heightens students’ perceptions of equity between sections.
Where common sources are not appropriate, it is useful to explain to students both how
a chosen source addresses core topics and the perspective a particular source provides.
Without specific reference to the appropriateness of resource materials, students may
be left to make superficial judgments about the variations between sections based on
assigned texts and readings. As in any course, the first priority is to choose the most
appropriate materials to support learning, not to achieve the outward appearance of
similarity. However, careful selection of sources may meet both ends.
Shared Grading Scale
The adoption of a shared grading scale across sections directly addresses students’ concerns about equity in grading practices in multi-section courses. When a specific numerical
mark does not correspond to the same letter grade in different sections of the same course,
students have strong perceptions of inequity. In actual practice, a common grading scale
P R E PA R I N G TO T E A C H
need not reduce professors’ autonomy in evaluating students because it allows for
differences in individual professors’ methods and standards of grading within that scale.
From a student perspective, however, a common grading scale is an important indicator
of equity.
Evaluation methods
The adoption of a common core in multi-section courses does not imply that identical
evaluation methods must be used across sections. Individual professors will offer
different materials, perspectives, and emphases and will have their own preferences for
evaluating students learning. The most important factor in enhancing equity in evaluation is for each professor to articulate clearly and follow strictly the grading policies and
procedures set out for the course. The guiding principle in the fair evaluation of student
learning is that there should be no surprises for students in the evaluation process. Once
the evaluation process has been explained to students, it should be carefully followed.
In addition to this general practice, it is useful for professors in multi-section courses to
compare evaluation methods across sections. Where wide discrepancies exist, professors
can address the issue at the course design level or make the reasons for these discrepancies
clear to students at the beginning of the course.
One way concerns for equitable learning experiences across multi-section courses can be
addressed is to adopt a partial course core across sections. The design of a multi-section
course around a common core requires effective communication and co-operation
between the professors who teach different sections. No less important is effective communication between individual professors and their students with respect to course
content and evaluation procedures. It is essential to make explicit to students how the
course has been structured to provide not only equitable, but high quality, learning
experiences. When lines of communication are open, the concerns of professors and
students with respect to multi-section courses are more likely to be addressed.
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T E A C H I N G AT T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F M A N I TO B A : A H A N D B O O K
Teaching Strategies
LECTURES
Large Classes: A Teaching Guide: Lecturing
Used with permission
from the Center for
Teaching Excellence,
University of
Maryland
T
he formal lecture is among the oldest teaching methods and has been widely use
in higher education for centuries. Potential benefits of a good lecture include:
• Presenting analyses and showing relationships between dissimilar ideas
• Modeling the thought-processes and problem-solving of a creative, intelligent person
• Summarizing and presenting an overview of a topic, which can set the stage for reading
and further discussion
• Supplementing and expanding the knowledge presented in a textbook or other source
of information
• Inspiring and motivating students to learn about a topic or subject matter
• Synthesizing, evaluating, and discussing information presented
• Tailoring the presentation of information to a particular group of students
While a lecture may benefit students in these and other ways, lecturing alone cannot
ensure that students become active learners. Many of us have been taught by lecture
and view it as safer, easier, and more reliable than other methods of instruction. Using
lectures in combination with other kinds of instruction, such as discussion and cooperative learning, can increase their effectiveness.
Generally speaking, qualities of an effective lecturer are:
• A good knowledge base
• An enthusiasm for the discipline (not necessarily a “performer”)
• Techniques for engaging students in active learning
P R E PA R I N G T H E C O U R S E C O N T E N T A N D L E C T U R E S
What are the fundamental concepts and/or knowledge that students are expected to
gain from this course?
Most large lecture courses are introductory courses meant to provide an overview of a
discipline that can help first and second-year students select a major field. Your department
T E A C H I N G S T R AT E G I E S
probably expects that its introductory courses familiarize prospective majors with the
concepts and information they will need to do upper-level work. Knowing what your
department expects the course to accomplish can help you focus your preparations for
the course and each lecture. You might ask colleagues for course descriptions and old
syllabi; departmental advisers can provide an overview of the undergraduate program.
What are your students’ experiences and background with the subject matter?
Knowing the goals of the course is one important factor in developing lectures. Making
the lectures relevant and interesting to students can aid their learning of the material.
Some instructors give students broad questionnaires asking about their background in
the subject as a diagnostic tool at the beginning of the semester. The information from
the questionnaires can also be used to tailor your presentation of course material.
What is the relationship between the lectures and other course materials?
Lectures should do more than repeat the information presented in the textbook. Instead,
they should illustrate the textbook’s concepts using real-world examples; prepare or
follow-up on class discussions, lab sections or readings ;provide up-to-date information
or thought on a theory; or present conflicting interpretations of a subject. Lectures can
also be used to provoke students to think beyond simply “getting the facts” and to
engage in the higher-order skills of critical thinking. Lectures also provide a forum for
you to share your knowledge and training with your students by modeling a solution to
a problem, illustrating a point with your own research, or demonstrating aloud how to
analyze a text or problem. After offering such demonstrations a few times, students can
practice it on their own or in groups.
ORGANIZING THE LECTURE
What are the four or five main points the lecture should convey?
A strength of lectures is their ability to present a great deal of information. It is important
to remember, however, that information that seems basic to an experienced scholar may
be new to students in an introductory course. A recent study duplicated this experience
for faculty members by having them take courses in disciplines completely different from
their home discipline.
One professor wrote at the conclusion of the course:
It seemed to me during these lectures that I lacked any framework of prior knowledge,
experience or intuition that could have helped me order the information I was receiving.
I had no way of telling what was important and what was not. I had difficulty distinguishing between what was being communicated to me merely for purpose of illustration
or analogy. I could not tell whether I understood or not. Students in introductory courses
face this same obstacle and need the lecturer to help them focus on the four or five main
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T E A C H I N G AT T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F M A N I TO B A : A H A N D B O O K
points. Emphasizing these points, providing several examples, and repeating them
throughout the lecture help students determine what information is most important.
Do your lecture notes include “stage directions”?
Teaching a large lecture class has been compared to performing for an audience. Smaller
class settings provide more room to improvise and adapt a lesson plan during a class.
In the large class, however, having a clear vision of where you need to be, when to
cue technology, and how long each segment should take is essential for keeping the class
moving and the “audience” engaged in the lesson.
If you’re using technology, do you have a Plan B just in case?
Technology--overhead projectors, slides, films, computer displays--can enhance instruction if they are well-integrated with the class plan. Even if you’ve tested the equipment
prior to class, things sometimes go wrong: a light bulb burns out, the power fails, a film
breaks. When using technology, always have a plan B. Will you dismiss students and
reschedule the film for another day, or will you summarize the film or deliver the next
week’s lecture?
P R E S E N T I N G I N FO R M AT I O N
How will you begin your lecture?
The way a lecture begins can capture students’ attention and emphasize the main point
of the day. Try posing a problem or using a piece of poetry; a quotation, a current event,
opinions, statistics, or anecdotes can also be used to engage students. Peter Frederick
sometimes poses a problem at the beginning of a lecture which he then answers gradually
throughout the course of the lecture. The answer to the problem becomes clear by the end
of class, as does the process used to solve it. A variation is to pause before providing the
solution and to ask students to make a guess or discuss it with classmates.
What activities and “energy shifts” are planned?
Studies of student attention span indicate that most students “tune out” of a lecture after
20 minutes even if they are taking notes. To combat this problem, an “energy shift”-changing of activities and pacing of the class--is recommended every 15 to 20 minutes.
Such shifts might include a demonstration, opening the floor of the class up for discussion,
asking a rhetorical question and pausing for an answer, or asking students to review the
main points of the day.
What activities will you use to reach students with different learning styles?
One recent “hot topic” in higher education has been the different ways in which students
learn. People have different preferences for processing new information. Some students
prefer to learn by listening, others like visual representations, and still others learn by
T E A C H I N G S T R AT E G I E S
doing. Most lectures heavily favor those students who prefer listening so it is important
to devise ways of presenting information that can appeal to learners with other
preferences. Possibilities include demonstrations, role plays, discussions, simulations,
problem-solving, real-world applications, or multi-media. By incorporating a variety of
presentations into your lectures you can alter the pace as well as increase the chance
that a different activity will clarify a point or a concept for students who may not be as
strong in one particular style.
What materials will you use in giving the lecture?
Diagrams, graphs, outlines, slides and films can contribute much to the lecture but it is
important to consider whether the technology you use is visible and audible to all students.
Before class begins, place an overhead on the projector and check if it is visible from a11
parts of the room. If it is hard to discern part of a diagram or model, you may consider
putting it on a handout instead of having students copy it for themselves. An OSU faculty
member uses two overhead projectors--one to display the outline of the lecture and the
second for the current point.
DELIVERING THE LECTURE
Are the main points or outline of the lecture written on the overhead or blackboard?
Are students aware of the focus of the day’s lecture?
Various methods can help keep students focused by providing a “map” of the lecture.
Using the blackboard or an overhead projector to highlight a lecture’s main points can
help students take effective notes. Announcing the focus and
objectives of the day’s class at the beginning of the hour can help
them determine which parts of the lecture are the most important.
Another way to facilitate note taking is to list new terms, names,
and references on the syllabus, the board or handouts.
> TIP
Are student contributions encouraged and integrated
into the lecture?
Many instructors would like students to participate more in the
lecture by asking questions or making comments but need to find
ways to overcome the reticence large classes can instill. Positive
responses to questions, e.g., “That’s a good question” or “I’m glad
you asked that”, show students you are open to questions will not
be “shoot them down” in front of the class. You can also encourage
students to ask questions by integrating their remarks into the
lecture, e.g., “And that gets back to the Susan’s point” or “That’s a
great question – it leads us to the next topic.”
Begin a lecture by
posing a problem or
using a piece of poetry;
a quotation, a current
event, opinions,
statistics, or anecdotes
can also be used to
engage students.
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Are you familiar enough with the lecture plan to deliver it without reading?
Knowing the material and lecture plan for your class well allows you to focus on the
reaction of your audience. Such familiarity enhances your delivery of the lecture since you
can focus on your audience and not on your notes.
Can students following you comfortably or are they scribbling madly? Can every
student see and hear you?
A common complaint about large classes noted on student evaluations is that lectures
move too quickly. In the large-class setting, most students are reluctant to volunteer that
the pace is too fast. Therefore, it is up to you to allow students to give you feedback on
the lecture’s pace. Observe what the students are doing--if they’re scribbling madly rather
than looking at you, you might slow things down. Periodically throughout the lecture,
you might ask students which points they would like repeated or explained again.
Questions can also be a way of pausing in the lecture and allowing students to “catch up”
in their notes and in following the lecture.
ENCOURAGING ACTIVE LEARNING
Is the material related to the students’ experiences and/or background?
Student interest can be heightened and comprehension of the class material enhanced when
examples and materials relate to the experiences and background of your particular audience.
How can students demonstrate their involvement in the class?
Taking notes is one way that students demonstrate their involvement in the class. Other
techniques that help keep students involved include taking an informal vote on an issue or
presenting a multiple choice question on the topic and ask students to choose the correct
answer. Peter Frederick has developed the “participatory lecture,” orderly brainstorming in
which students are asked to generate ideas and share their knowledge on a topic. Frederick
describes this technique in detail in his article, “The Lively Lecture: Eight Variations. “
Frederick, Peter J. (1986). The lively lecture: Eight variations. College Teaching, (34): 2.
What opportunities do you have to get feedback from students?
Numerous ways exist to get feedback on how your students are following your lecture.
• Collecting several students’ notebooks to get a sampling of how they’re understanding
the lectures.
• Having a question-answer box, in which students can deposit questions
• Having students write complete one-minute papers
• Asking students to generate a test item based on the day’s lecture
• Asking at the end of class, “What points would you like me to repeat or clarify” or
“Would you like additional information or explanations of anything we’ve discussed
today?” instead of “Are there any questions?”
T E A C H I N G S T R AT E G I E S
3.35
GROUP WORK
Using Cooperative Education Techniques to Help
Students Develop Effective Group Processes
O
ne of the challenges to using small group learning in our classes is that students
often experience difficulty in using small groups effectively. Some of the
difficulties include dominating students, reticent students, difficulty in focusing
on the task at hand, ineffective use of group time, and “free riders.”
These challenges to effective group process defeat the learning goals set by professors
and frustrate students. Students frequently need support in developing the skills necessary to work effectively in groups before they can benefit from small group learning and
small group work assignments.
Some of the techniques used in “cooperative learning” can provide a framework for
helping students develop their small group skills. Cooperative learning employs small
group interaction to facilitate students in maximizing both their own and each other’s
learning. The cooperative learning approach is characterized by carefully structured
assignments that address both substantive issues and the process students must engage
in both to help each other learn, understand, complete an assignment, and work together
in an effective way.
One strategy for improving students’ small group skills is to assign a specific role to each
group member. These roles can vary by assignment and the needs of the students but
can include:
• Problem poser/question asker: The responsibility of the person assuming this role is to
begin the group process by repeating the assignment and ensuring that each group
member understands the task.
• Reporter: The responsibility of the reporter is to be able to accurately report verbally,
or in short written form, the outcome of the group’s activity.
• Summarizer: Some tasks (e.g., discussions or problem-solving) may benefit from periodic
summarization of what the group has done so far and what has been accomplished.
• Time Monitor: On time-limited assignments, it might be important to keep the group
informed of the time remaining. This function helps to keep the process moving and to
encourage the completion of the assignment.
• Process Monitor: The responsibility of the process monitor is to monitor the group
process and to alert the group to wandering away from the agenda or getting bogged
down. Students may need a framework to help them in describing elements of process.
LY N N TAY L O R
Reprinted with
permission of author
3.36
T E A C H I N G AT T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F M A N I TO B A : A H A N D B O O K
• Participation Monitor: The participation monitor keeps track of participation (or
even patterns of participation) in group interaction and asks if non-participators have
anything to add before the closing assignment.
There are other possible roles, and the roles you choose for a specific assignment will
vary, based on the degree of structure required and the aspect of group process you wish
to emphasize. It is important to rotate roles from one assignment to the next and to
gradually reduce the amount of process structure imposed as students become more
skilled group members.
Do’s and Don’ts for Group Assignments
L A R RY
MICHAELSEN,
WITH
A DA P TAT I O N S
B Y B E V E R LY
CAMERON
Used with
permission of author
www.teambased
learning.org
N
ot all assignments are suitable for group work. When designing and
evaluating assignments for small group work, ask yourself the following
four key questions:
• Will this assignment promote individual accountability?
• Will this assignment facilitate learning of course concepts?
• Will this assignment build group cohesiveness?
• Will this assignment facilitate learning about the positive potential of group problem-
solving and decision-making?
Professor Michaelsen, who teaches most of his classes using small groups, has written
the following guide to answer these four questions:
• Group assignments promote individual accountability if they:
• Make the level of individual members’ preparation and participation visible to the
instructor and/or their peers
• Have a significant impact on the course grade.
• Group assignments facilitate learning the course concepts if they:
• Require students to produce a visible product (preferably one that could be graded)
• Are difficult enough that they cannot be successfully completed by any of the
group members working alone
• Cause students to engage in group discussions that are specifically focuses on
using course concepts
• Allow students to practice using the concepts to solve problems similar to those
they will face after the class (or unit of instruction) has been completed
T E A C H I N G S T R AT E G I E S
• Group assignments build group cohesiveness if they:
• Require input from a broad cross section of group members
• Ensure that opportunities, efforts, and rewards are equitably distributed among
group members.
• Group assignments facilitate learning about the positive potential of group problem
solving and decision making if they:
• Involve activities that groups do well (e.g. Process information)
• Avoid activities that groups do poorly (e.g. Create a polished document of any
substantial length)
The best group assignments promote:
• individual accountability;
• the learning of course concepts;
• group cohesiveness; and
• learning about the positive potential of group problem-solving and decision-making.
Group assignments, however, that sacrifice one or more of these objectives can still be
used. The key is maintaining overall balance. For example, assignments that primarily
promote learning of course concepts are perfectly appropriate-but only if they are interspersed with activities that promote individual accountability, group cohesiveness, and
the potential benefits of group work. Without this balance, groups will deteriorate to the
point that they are no longer effective, and many students will get the false impressions
that working in and with groups is a waste of time.
For more resources please visit www.teambasedlearning.org
3.37
3.38
T E A C H I N G AT T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F M A N I TO B A : A H A N D B O O K
DISCUSSIONS/QUESTIONING
Discussion as a Teaching Technique
H E L E N DAV I E S
Adapted with
permission from (1)
William E. Cashin, and
Philip C. McKnight,
(January, 1986).
“Improving
Discussions.” IDEA
#15, Center for Faulty
Evaluation &
Development, Kansas
State University, and
(2) Peter J. Frederick
(1981). The Dreaded
Discussion: Ten Ways
to Start, Improving
College and University
Teaching, 29(3),
109-114.
U
sed on its own or combined with lectures, discussion is an effective way to
facilitate learning. Discussion can provide the instructor with an opportunity to
assess student understanding of course material. In addition, by introducing
their own observations and questions, students can explore ideas thoroughly. Most
importantly, discussions allow students to participate actively in the learning process.
Learning is more interesting, and students are often more motivated, when they are
actively involved in using the course material.
Instructors must remember that some students are uncomfortable with the discussion
approach, and, therefore, a number of different teaching strategies must be used to
encourage students to trust their own opinions. A successful discussion doesn’t just
happen, it demands that the instructor be well prepared. To help you prepare for a class
discussion, common concerns and problems are listed below with suggestions for how
to deal with each.
PLANNING THE DISCUSSION
Define the objectives of the discussion group.
You can relieve anxiety by letting students know that you do not expect everyone to
speak every time. Emphasize that they are not expected to “perform”, but rather to
share their opinions and observations. It is important that you
acknowledge student fears and nervousness. Reassure students
that you will not grade everything they say, and stress that the
goal of a discussion group is to enhance student understanding
of a chosen topic or text.
> TIP
Generate discussion
by having students
prepare questions
based on their readings.
Explain the discussion format to the class.
Let students know if you require them to bring prepared material
to class or whether you will focus on a number of previously
handed-out questions or a particular theme. Change discussion
formats frequently to ensure that students don’t lose interest.
Define terms and state assumptions.
Participants in discussion must agree on definitions of terms and
assumptions so everyone is starting from the same point. The
instructor should watch for terms that may need definition and for
assumptions that may be implicit, but not stated. For example, in
T E A C H I N G S T R AT E G I E S
discussing adequate social services for individuals living in poverty: how is “adequate”
defined?; are students making assumptions about what social services exist or are readily
available?; and, how is “poverty” being defined?
G E N E R AT I N G D I S C U S S I O N
Asking questions.
Ask students ahead of time (in a previous class) to prepare one or two questions about
their reading. As students walk into the classroom, ask them to write down discussion
questions. Hand all the questions to one student (a shy one perhaps) who, at random,
selects questions for class attention. Divide the class into pairs or small groups (the size
of the class will influence the size and number of small groups), and ask each group to
decide upon one salient question to put to the rest of the class.1
Some reasons for asking questions include:
• to diagnose student difficulties
• to introduce a topic
• to stimulate analytical thinking
• to give direction to problem-solving
• to encourage imaginative thinking
• to help students discover connections between concepts and ideas (e.g. to link
cause and effect)
• to promote interest, and
• to encourage the application of tools learned by the students
Finding illustrative quotations.
Ask each student, either ahead of time or at the start of class, to find one or two particularly
significant quotations from the assigned readings.
Ask students to:
• point out quotations they especially liked or disliked
• find a quotation from the text that best illustrates the major thesis of the piece
• select a quotation from the assigned reading that is difficult to understand
With this exercise, instructors and students alike often discover new insight into a
particular text.
Break the class into smaller groups.
Some students find small groups less threatening and, therefore, are more likely to enter
into the discussion. In order to make this method effective, however, students must be
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T E A C H I N G AT T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F M A N I TO B A : A H A N D B O O K
given a clear task and a definite amount of time in which to complete it. Finally, they
must be asked to use their responses in a follow-up discussion with the class as a whole.2
Forced Debate
While the effectiveness of this strategy depends on the dynamics of the group, it can be
useful. Have students select one or the other side of two opposing opinions. They must
then defend their point of view. This exercise is most successful when students are given
some time to prepare before coming to class. Be sure, however, that they do not prepare
a formal presentation.
Ask for responses in writing.
One excellent way to get discussions going is to ask students to respond to the question
in writing. Usually five minutes is enough time for students to prepare an answer.
Quiet students will often speak up if they have the words before them. This strategy also
demands that students think concisely.
M A I N TA I N I N G D I S C U S S I O N
Control excessive talkers.
Don’t let one or two students monopolize the discussion.
• Do not call on the “talkers” first. Wait to see if some else raises a hand or volunteers a
comment.
• Solicit responses from the “non-talkers.” Be alert to nonverbal cues indicating that they
have something to say, then call on them: “Did you want to say something...?”, or
“Let’s hear from some of you who haven’t said anything yet.”
• Have the class observed by someone (e.g. a student selected from the class), then
discuss who is talking, how often, to whom, etc. Often this will make both the “talkers”
and the “nontalkers” modify their behavior.
• Talk to excessively talkative students outside of class, one-on-one, if all else fails.
Be careful that a bright conscientious student is not made to feel penalized. You don’t
want to destroy initiative, creativity, or confidence; you want to ensure that contributions
come from all or most members of the class.
The discussion that goes off track.
Stopping and asking students to summarize the discussion up to that point helps to
re-focus the group. Be sensitive, however, to the direction taken by a “tangent”, since it
may result in a valuable learning experience of great interest to students.
T E A C H I N G S T R AT E G I E S
Instructor’s role as group leader.
• Know your students. Start the discussion with a topic students can relate to. Use a
common experience or concern to initiate discussion.
• Be patient. Try not to monopolize the discussion.
1
2
3.41
Acitelli, 1989
Aciteli, 1989
3
Cashin and
McKnight, Gappa
and Gill, 1991
• Listen. Discussions are rarely beneficial when a leader does not listen to the contribu-
tions of the participants. Hear the students out and concentrate as much on the points
they are trying to make as on the points you want to make.
• Don’t question a single student for too long. If a student does not respond to a
question , do not embarrass him or her by continuing to question the individual.
Remember, you must challenge, not threaten, students.
• Use personal anecdotes. Relating your own experiences can facilitate the discussion if
done in moderation.
• Inquire. Ask the students to elaborate, clarify, expand, explain, explore.
• Paraphrase. It is valuable-
particularly for the leaderto summarize ideas, conclusions, and the general
direction of the discussion
several times during a
class. This summary helps
to ensure that everyone is
following the development of ideas and provides a starting point for continued
discussion.
“Be accepting rather than judgmental
or evaluative. Try to focus on the“correct”
part of the student’s response.”
• Relate concepts and ideas. The leader can ask participants to compare ideas or concepts
brought out in the discussion or use analogies of illustrative anecdotes to relate ideas.
• Be accepting rather than judgmental or evaluative. Try to focus on the “correct” part of
the student’s response.3
CONCLUDING THE DISCUSSION
Good discussions end with a summary so students know the important points that have
been covered. In addition to showing students why the discussion is important to their
learning, a summary provides an opportunity to fill in points not covered and to praise
the class for the quality of their responses.
3.42
T E A C H I N G AT T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F M A N I TO B A : A H A N D B O O K
Answering and Asking Questions
WILLIAM E.
CASHIN
Used with permission
from The IDEA Center©,
IDEA Paper 31
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We have adapted the approach used by Hyman (1974) because it has been found by
many instructors to be a useful way to understand what goes on in class. Therefore,
throughout the paper we will use the terms “question,” “answer” (response), and
“reaction” as follows:
• Question (Q) -any eliciting of an answer (response) regardless of grammatical form;
• Answer (A) -any response that fulfills the expectation of the question;
• Reaction (R) -any response that modifies (clarifies, expands) or rates (positively or
negatively) a previous statement (question, answer, or another reaction).
Example:
‘Who is president of the United States?” (Q)
“That’s too easy.” (R to Q)
“No it isn’t” (R to R) .
“George Washington.” (A to Q)
In general, when considering changing an approach to your teaching, ask yourself:
What exactly goes on in class? What do I do? What do the students do? For example,
imagine yourself in class when one of the students asks you a question. What do you
usually do? It is quite possible that you simply answer it. If your goal is to increase the
students’ knowledge, this is quite appropriate. However, if your goal is to develop
the students’ thinking skills, you may wish to begin a dialogue or use another technique
to help the students discover their own answers.
It may be that when you try to recall how you act in class, you cannot remember clearly.
Video or audiotaping your class can provide a wealth of detail, and in a format where
you can replay portions or can lay it for one or more of your colleagues.
STUDENTS ASKING QUESTIONS
What are some things that you can do when asked a question other than directly
answering it?
Repeat the question, paraphrasing it
This serves two purposes: it insures that the entire class hears the question; more importantly, it lets the questioner check your understanding of his or her question. When you
T E A C H I N G S T R AT E G I E S
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think about the question and possible answers to it.
Example (Introductory Psychology):
Student: You’ve said that learning is defined as changes in behavior that result from
past experience, but can’t people learn without any change being apparent? (Q1)
Instructor: You’re questioning whether learning has to be tied to observable change
(R to Q1), right Ann? (Q2)
Student: Right (A to Q2), although given our definition of psychology, I guess it would
have to be perceivable in some way. (R to Q2 and A to Q1)
Redirect the question
You might ask another student (one who might know the answer) to respond; or you
might redirect the question to the class in general, asking for an answer or comment,
or an elaboration upon the issue. This procedure not only encourages more student
participation, but it also implies that peers are a resource for learning.
Example (Seminar on Urban Problems):
St. 1: If people know about all of these harmful effects that pollute the environment,
why doesn’t the government stop the polluters? (Q1)
Inst.: Bill is asking, why don’t our political leaders do something about those things
that we know hurt the environment. (R to Q1, paraphrasing it.) What are some reasons
the rest of you can think of that might explain this apparently illogical behavior?
(Q2, redirecting Q1 to entire class.)
St. 2: Well, many of the things people do that cause pollution also have a lot of
benefits: factories produce goods we want, provide jobs, etc. (A to Q1 and Q2)
Ask probing questions
You might respond to the student’s question by directing her (or his) attention to a
particular aspect of the issue she has raised, or drawing her attention to some previously
learned course material that is relevant to answering the question or by going beyond
what the student has said in some way. The intent of probing questions is to draw
the student’s attention to things that may be only implied in her answer, and so help her
answer her own question.
Example (American History):
St: I think you can argue that the American Revolution wasn’t justified. The colonists
were better off than most Europeans. (Q1)
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3.44
T E A C H I N G AT T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F M A N I TO B A : A H A N D B O O K
Inst.:
That’s could
a good point,
Cindy.
(R to Q1,
student) It might
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St: Well, it was true that the colonists thought that they were not given the rights of
British citizens. (A to Q2).
Comment: The instructor’s question (Q2) focuses upon comparing the colonists with
Englishmen rather than with other Europeans. The instructor implies that this is a more
appropriate comparison (because the colonists thought of themselves as deserving the
rights of Englishmen).
Promote a discussion among the students
The three previous suggestions usually involve communication between two people,
typically the instructor and one student, with the rest of the class simply listening. It may
be that you will want to involve the majority of students in trying to answer some questions, for example, where there is considerable difference of opinion about the answer.
Example (Human Sexuality):
St. 1. It really seems to me that abortion has to be considered murder, no matter what
“justification” people give for it.
St. 2: I disagree, that is just repeating some abstract principle without considering the
other side of the argument, for example, a woman who has been raped.
Inst.: These two comments, together with other things members of the class have said,
suggest to me that there are strong disagreements about abortion. I think it might
help if we spent some time discussing it. I’d like you to get into buzz groups of three
or four people each (see McKeachie, 1993, for a description of buzz groups) and spend
about ten minutes coming up with as many arguments for and against abortion as
you can. When you’ve finished we’ll discuss them.
One reaction we generally do not recommend when a student asks a question is to assign
that student the task of looking up the answer. Frequently all this practice accomplishes is
to teach the class not to ask questions.
ANSWERING QUESTIONS
Because Part I concentrated upon ways to help students answer their own questions, the
suggestions dealt with reactions to student questions rather than answers. The remaining
parts of this guide discuss various aspects of questioning behavior that are not necessarily
directed towards helping students answer their own questions.
Directly answer the question
One obvious option an instructor has when a student asks a question is to answer it. In
general, we do not recommend answering a student’s question directly if you wish to
T E A C H I N G S T R AT E G I E S
3.45
foster
thinkingcould
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skills. However,
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questions takes less time than attempting to have a student or the class come up with
answers. If you choose to answer directly, make your answer brief and to the point. After
responding you may want to check to see if you have really answered the question by
saying something like: “Does that answer your question?” or “Was that what you were
asking?” etc...
Sometimes an instructor would like to use a student’s question as an opportunity to
bring in a related topic that the instructor wishes to cover, reasoning that students learn
better when they see the material as relevant to their own interests. This should be done
with care or it may only confuse everyone. Answer the student’s questions first, then be
explicit that you are covering something else that is on your agenda..
Example ( Introduction to Literature):
St.: Who wrote the first
novel in English? (Q1)
Inst.: Most experts consider
Samuel Richardson to be
the first modern English
novelist. (A to Q1) He wrote
Pamela in 1740. (R to A,
elaborating on answer).
“Students are more willing to attempt
answering divergent questions because they
run less of a risk of giving a“wrong”answer.“
While we are on the topic of the novel, I’d like to. . . (Instructor clues the class that she is
going beyond the student’s question.)
Comment: It is not unusual when the instructor herself is handling a discussion or recitation section of a course for which she gives the lectures, to use the occasion of students’
asking questions about material previously covered to add new material that could not
be included in the lectures because of lack of time. We recommend against this because it
may serve only to confuse the students and make them feel less positive about the course
when compared with recitation sections handled by TA’s who primarily answer questions
to clarify those parts of the lecture that some students did not understand.
Postpone answering the question
Students are more likely to learn and remember if the instructor answers their questions
when they ask them. Never the less, on certain occasions you may decide to put off
answering a question, for instance: when you are very short of time, especially if the
answer is complex, or when the material will be covered in an upcoming class, or when
the answer is of interest to only a few students. When the material is covered later, call it
3.46
T E A C H I N G AT T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F M A N I TO B A : A H A N D B O O K
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By doing this you very clearly communicate to all of the students your willingness to try
to answer their questions. Generally, you should answer more questions than you postpone or you are likely to find the students asking fewer and fewer questions.
Example (Physiology):
St.: Doctor, I still don’t really understand the Kreb’s cycle, could we review it,
please? (Q1)
Inst.: Fred, we’re running out of time. (R to Q1). Can you see me after class and we’ll
arrange a time when we can get together for a half hour or so? (Q2). For now follow
as best you can. (Further reaction to Q1, letting student know that the instructor is
aware of the learning problem.)
Discourage Inappropriate Questions
Usually students ask questions because they wish to learn, but sometimes a student will
ask a question to sidetrack the class, to get attention, or even to embarrass the instructor.
Handling such questions presents a dilemma. If you treat them like other questions you
may encourage the student to ask more of the same, but if you turn that student down
abruptly you may discourage not only that student but the rest of the class from asking
any kind of question. In reacting, it is probably best to tactfully indicate what about the
question is inappropriate.
Example (Physics I):
Inst.: Any questions about the material we covered last class? (Q1)
St.: I don’t have a question about that (A1 to Q1) but I was reading
about a physicist who has a theory about racial inferiority and I
don’t see what right a physicist has to teach something like that
outside of his field. (Q2)
Inst.: That’s a legitimate question, Gail, since this is an introductory
physics course (R to Q2, supporting student) but it takes us pretty
far afield from vectors and forces. (Further reaction, raising issue of
appropriateness) How many students would like to spend some
class time talking about Gail’s question? (Q3)
St.: (Only five students raise their hands. Their action can be
considered A2 to Q3)
Inst.: Well, why don’t you five see me after class and we can set up
a time to get together to discuss it. (R to A2)
T E A C H I N G S T R AT E G I E S
Comment:
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and appreciation of science. It seems to us that lecture outlines and course syllabi are not
railroad tracks that you must never leave, rather they are the main road that you intend
to travel, but with time for some interesting side trips. On the other hand, if the primary
objective of the course was for the students to learn skills needed in their prospective
professions, the instructor might suggest a meeting outside of class or perhaps recommend
one or two articles discussing the question that interested students could then read.
New teachers especially are often uncertain how to tell whether a student really wants
an answer or has some other purpose. This is probably best learned through experience
and new teachers will have to risk relying on their own judgment. One criterion is how
relevant the point of the question is to what the class is trying to learn.
Admit when you do not know an answer
If you do not know the answer to a student’s question, we recommend that you say so.
Although one of the roles of a college teacher is that of “expert” and “information
source,” admitting that you do not know the answer to a question will probably not
damage the students’ confidence in you. In fact, giving the students clues about how
certain you are of your answers is likely to increase their confidence in you, for example:
“The experts agree that. . . ,” “as I recall they found. . . ,” “I’ll have to look that up. . . ” etc.
On the other hand, if you try to fake it, there is a good chance the students will find you
out and your credibility will be seriously damaged. Unless the question is tangential to
the objectives of the course, we recommend that you assume responsibility for finding
the answer to questions you do not know and report back to the entire class.
Example (Food Management):
St.: What effect does the use of the preservative BHT have on the amount of breakage
in cookies? (Q1)
Inst.: That’s a good question, Howard (R to Q1), unfortunately I don’t have a good
answer; I don’t know. (A1 to Q1) I’ll have to find out and let you know. (Further
reaction to Q1)
Inst.: (Next class) Regarding Howard’s question last class about the effect of BHT on
the breakage of cookies, what they have found is... (A2 to Q1)
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T E A C H I N G AT T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F M A N I TO B A : A H A N D B O O K
A
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one word, often “yes” or “no”, or by a very brief phrase. An open-ended question leaves
the form of the answer up to the person answering and so elicits much more thinking or
information.
Example (Counseling):
Inst. A: If one of your counselees told you that she had plagiarized most of her doctoral dissertation, would you report it to her major professor? (Close-ended question can
be answered by a “yes” or “no.”)
Inst. B: If one of your counselees told you that he had plagiarized most of his
doctoral dissertation, would you report it directly to his major professor, inform the
major professor anonymously, or say nothing? (This is also a close-ended question;
the instructor has given the student three choices.)
Inst. C: If one of your counselees told you that she had plagiarized most of her
doctoral dissertation, what action would you take concerning informing her major
professor? (Open-ended, probing question leaves choice of answer up to the student.)
Closed-ended questions are most appropriate when the instructor wants to check
whether the students have learned or remembered specific information, or to get or keep
their attention. If an instructor wishes to encourage student involvement, open-ended
questions are preferable because they require a more complex student response.
Instructors sometimes complain that students never enter into a discussion that they
answer only in monosyllables. This may be because that is the only kind of answers our
questions permit.
Ask divergent as well as convergent questions
The distinction between convergent and divergent questions is whether there is a single
or accepted “correct” answer (to a convergent question) or are there a number of possible
answers, many of which may be acceptable (to divergent questions). Convergent questions may expect the student to repeat some conventional wisdom. Divergent questions
often require new, creative insights.
Example (Sociology):
Inst.: According to our textbook, in what ways does the present welfare system solve
the problems of poverty? (Convergent question, the range of acceptable answers is
determined by the textbook.)
Inst.: What are some ways in which the country might solve the problems of poverty?
(Divergent question, a wide range of acceptable answers are possible.)
T E A C H I N G S T R AT E G I E S
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Some answers to divergent questions may be more acceptable than others in terms of
logical consistency, synthesis of relevant data, solutions of major aspects of the problem,
etc. The major advantage in asking divergent questions is that the task they set for the
students is to think about an issue or problem, not to discover the “correct” answer
or the answer the teacher is looking for. Usually students are more willing to attempt
answering divergent questions because they run less of a (risk of giving a “wrong”
answer. Also divergent questions require a “higher” level of thinking (cf. Gronlund,
1985). They cannot be answered from just memory (unless the student has already been
exposed to answers to the question in a lecture, reading, etc.).
We have emphasized divergent questions because they are employed less frequently, even
in college-level instruction. We do not mean to imply that instructors should not ask convergent questions. In so far as what is taught at the college-level deals with correct answers,
convergent questions are obviously appropriate. What we do wish to caution against is
using mainly convergent questions, especially when trying to teach divergent thinking!
PA U S E S A N D S I L E N C E
One difficulty found by both novice and veteran instructors is deciding how to handle
pauses and silence after asking a question. We will argue that pauses and silence can
play a useful role in both lecture and discussion classes.
Wait, pauses and silence are not inappropriate class behaviors
The discomfort many, if not most, instructors feel when a pause leads to an extended
silence probably stems from a cultural norm for social conversation where the silence is
taken to mean that there is some inadequacy in the communication. This discomfort
often is especially acute for new teachers or teachers who lack self-confidence. If such an
instructor were to tape record his class, he might find that these pauses actually last only
a few seconds, very often less than five, not the “eternity” it seemed during the wait.
In the classroom, constant talking is neither required nor desirable.
Wait, give the students time to think
The basic reason for pausing after asking a question is to give the students time to think
about possible answers. If the question is worthwhile (and more than rhetorical), even
at the memory level, it deserves a wait. Questions at higher levels require considerable
time-minutes-for students to think before they can adequately answer.
After an appropriate wait (listening to tape recordings of one’s class is a useful means of
checking whether the length of the pause was appropriate), you may want to simply
3.49
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T E A C H I N G AT T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F M A N I TO B A : A H A N D B O O K
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would draw the students’ attention to relevant information.
If you really want the students to answer the question, you must give them enough time.
You might want to try one or more of the active learning techniques (cf. Bonwell & Eison,
1991). Give the students a few minutes to write out an answer. Have the students work
in groups of two or three to solve the problem, or propose possible solutions. Such
techniques require that all of the students are actively working on the answer, not just the
smarter or faster students.
Wait, or you will establish an undesirable norm
Classes, like any group, fairly quickly establish norms, that is, standards of what will
be considered acceptable behavior in that group. If, in the first week or two of class,
the instructor waits only a few seconds before answering her (or his) own questions,
the class will quickly learn that when the instructor asks a question she does not expect
an answer; wait a few seconds and she will answer it herself. Students are often more
than willing to let the instructor answer all of the questions. If you want your students
to answer the questions you ask, you must be careful to cultivate that expectation by
waiting after you ask a question.
Creating an Accepting Atmosphere
If encouraging students to ask questions is desirable behavior in most college classrooms,
then it is also desirable that the instructor create an atmosphere where students are not
afraid to ask questions for fear of embarrassment, etc.
Ask for questions
If you want the students to ask questions, give them opportunities to do so. Pause after
making an important point or explaining a topic, or say “Any questions?” or “Are you
with me?” or “Do you want me to say more?” However, such statements must be more
than rhetorical or used as a technique for you to get your thoughts together before going
to the next point Give the students time to formulate their questions before you move on.
Also, look at the students to make sure you do not miss someone with his or her hand up.
We think pausing and asking for questions is an effective teaching device to use routinely;
but if you are aware that some students are confused, it becomes a must when some
students are frowning or shaking their heads saying something like, “Some of you seem
puzzled, what don’t you understand?” should solicit questions that will help ‘you clear
up the misunderstanding. Some college professors feel that they have done their duty
by professing the material to the students. We believe that unless instructors help their
students to learn, they are not teaching.
T E A C H I N G S T R AT E G I E S
3.51
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ing a question or ignore student questions, which is what we do if you do not call upon a
student who has his hand up.
It is not unusual in a class of any size to have one or more students who tend to monopolize class time. One approach with such students is to give preference to those who
have not yet said anything. This can be done explicitly by saying, “Let’s take comments
from people we haven’t heard from,” or “Vincent, I’ve already answered several of your
questions, let’s hear from some of the others first”. Very often other students will ask
“Vincent’s question” and so he will get his answers, but others will have a chance to participate. If he still has a question after everyone else’s has been answered, you probably
should let him ask it.
Also it is not uncommon for
a class to have at least one
student who appears to
be antagonistic toward the
instructor or hostile to the
subject matter and who asks
questions that serve only to
express the student’s disagreements, which often have little generalizability to the rest of
the class. Because such questions usually stem from emotional rather than intellectual
concerns, answering only on a cognitive level serves little purpose. It is probably best to
see that student outside of class and explain what seems to be going on from your point
of view. Often such a talk is sufficient to enable the student at least to censor the questions
he or she asks in class, although it may do little to solve the underlying problem.
“It is desirable that the instructor create
an atmosphere where students are not afraid to
ask questions for fear of embarrassment, etc.”
Answer students’ questions adequately
It is not enough that you respond to the student’s questions, but you must answer the
question to the student’s satisfaction as best as you can. Your answer should be concise
and to the point, and you should ask the student if you have answered the question. This
fosters both accurate communication of content and says to the student “Your question
is important and I will take the time necessary to answer it if I can.” If, after two or three
attempts, you still have not answered satisfactorily, and other students cannot help
answer it, then it is appropriate to suggest getting together after class.
Listen to the question, or to any student comments
The way you listen to a question or comment also communicates your attitude toward
the students. In most North American cultures look at the students when they are
3.52
T E A C H I N G AT T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F M A N I TO B A : A H A N D B O O K
talking;
show you
are following
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Sometimes
little
things that
we do unknowingly communicate something to students
that is very different from what we intend. For example, one instructor used to occasionally take a look at his watch when a student would ask a question. He found out in the
end-of-course evaluation that one student interpreted this to mean that the instructor felt
the questions were wasting time, rather than that the instructor simply wanted to know
what time it was.
Do not put down the students
In general, you should avoid anything which would embarrass the student who asks the
question. Here are a few instructor responses well-calculated to insure that the student
asking the question will not ask any more questions.
We have suggested possible alternatives.
Examples:
(Poor) You should know that we covered that in…
(Better) What about…that we covered…weeks ago, how does that fit in?
(Poor) You’re completely wrong.
(Better) How would you reconcile what you’re saying with…(something previously
covered).
(Poor) I entirely disagree.
(Better) I’m not sure I agree, (or I think I disagree) because…
Rather than responding with a value judgment to a student’s question or comment, ask a
probing question. You may help the student arrive at the correct answer, or an acceptable
answer; in which case, rather than proving the student “wrong”, you have helped him or
her to be “right.”
POST SCRIPT
We hope that the distinctions and suggestions made in this paper will enable you to gain
a clearer view of your classroom questioning behavior and so will help you to improve
by increasing the number of alternatives available to you when considering how to handle
questions in your classes. We would like to repeat our conviction that there is no one
correct approach-several roads lead to Rome. The approach you finally decide upon will
depend upon you, your students, your course objectives, and other unique considerations.
T E A C H I N G S T R AT E G I E S
3.53
REFERENCES AND FURTHER READINGS
Bonwell, C. C., & Eison, J. A. (1991). Active Learning: Creating excitement in the classroom. ASHE-ERIC. Higher
Education Report, No.1. Washington, DC: George Washington University, School of Education and Human
Development. .
Christensen, C. R. (1991). The discussion teacher in action: Questioning, listening, and response. In C. R.
Christensen, D. A. Garvin, & A. Sweet (Eds.), The artistry of discussion leadership (pp. 153-172). Boston: Harvard
Business School Press.
Davis, B. G. (1993). Tools of teaching. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. .
Gronlund, N. E. (1985). Stating objectives for classroom instruction (3rd ed.). New York: Macmillan.
Hyman, R. T. (1974). Ways of teaching (2nd ed.). Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott.
Hyman, R. T. (1979). Strategic questioning. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
Hyman, R. T. (1980). Improving discussion leadership. New York: Teachers College Press.
McKeachie, W. J. (1994). Teaching tips: Strategies, research, and theory for college and university teachers. (9th ed.).
Lexington, MA: D. C. Heath.
“Challenging” Students in Discussion Classes
S
tudents come from a wide variety of backgrounds and life situations. They take
courses for an equally wide variety of reasons, and they relate to each other and
the instructor in different ways. These differences can sometimes cause problems
of classroom discipline for instructors, especially in discussion classes where interaction
is encouraged or necessary for teaching and learning.
EDITED BY
MICHELE
M A R I N C OV I C H
Adapted with
permission from
Teaching At Stanford
(1995)
Challenging students in small class situations can include:
THE ARGUER
If a student insists that you are not “allowing him his opinion”
(or her opinion) when you disagree with a statement he (she) has
made, point out that you disagree because the statement does not
correlate well with the course material for that class. If the student
begins to disrupt the discussion, offer to talk privately after class or
during office hours. Remain calm and nonjudgmental, no matter
how agitated the student becomes. Always use evidence when
disagreeing with a student. Using the authority of your position as
a teacher rarely proves anything in a disagreement and might
inhibit discussion. You can largely avoid students feeling that you
put them down by not beginning critical statements with “I.” Often
instructors find it helpful to tell students that any critical position
should be examined with healthy skepticism – including the
comments of the professor. Phrase criticism with reference to the
material from a class or other commonly shared information.
> TIP
When dealing with
challenging students –
maintain your
professionalism and
try not to respond
as if you feel
personally attacked.
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T E A C H I N G AT T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F M A N I TO B A : A H A N D B O O K
If a student is stubborn and refuses to postpone a disagreement until after class or office
hours and completely disrupts a class, remain calm. If the student is agitated to the point
of being unreasonable, ask him or her to carry the grievance to a higher authority (e.g., the
department head or dean). Make apparent your willingness to discuss the issue calmly,
but do not continue trying to reason with a student who is highly agitated. If you remain
calm in the presence of the group, the student may soon become cooperative again. In an
extreme case, you may have to ask the student to leave the classroom, or even dismiss the
class. Try to respond as calmly as possible. Avoid making an issue out of a small incident.
The hardest part of such a situation is to maintain your professionalism and not to respond
as if you feel personally attacked.
T H E O V E R TA L K AT I V E S T U D E N T
Over talkative students can deaden a class. If a student is dominating a section, try to elicit
responses from other students. Call on someone else even though the over talkative student
volunteers. Emphasize to the group that it is the quality, not the quantity, of responses that
most interests you, but do so carefully. You don’t want to discourage students unnecessarily
who lack self-confidence. Make sure class members see that you consider the class’s goal a
communal, and not a competitive, activity. If the over talkative student does not recognize
the importance of listening to other members of the group, talk with him or her about this
privately. Do not ridicule an over talkative student or make comments to other students in
the class, but try as tactfully as possible to keep the group’s activity going without reinforcing one student’s talkative behavior.
THE SILENT STUDENT
The student who never speaks out in class also presents a problem. By making sure that
all members of a class (if small enough) know each other by name, thus creating a safe
environment, you will sometimes overcome the silent student’s fear of speaking.
Occasional small group activities – where the students discuss issues in pairs, for example
may also make it easier for a shy student to join the discussion. As with the over talkative
student, do not ridicule or put the silent student on the spot, but do try to elicit answers
from him or her – at first once every class, and later more frequently – when he or she
begins to appear more comfortable about responding.
Talking with the student privately may also help. Reasons for a student being silent vary.
One silent student may merely enjoy listening. Another may feel too uncertain to contribute. The latter is very common among first year students. Some students simply have
quiet personalities; others may be undergoing personal stress that inhibits their speaking
in class. Even after you gently encourage students to speak, they may remain silent. This is
their right, which you must ultimately respect.
Requiring all students in your classes to talk with you during office hours at the beginning
of the course – assuming your classes are small enough to make this feasible – helps alleviate both over talkativeness and silence.
T E A C H I N G S T R AT E G I E S
3.55
STORYTELLING
Storytelling in Teaching
“Tell me a fact and I’ll learn. Tell me the truth and I’ll believe. But tell me a story and it will
live in my heart forever.”- Indian Proverb
O
nce upon a time, long ago and far away (or perhaps not so long ago), teachers
did not use fancy PowerPoint presentations, overhead projectors, or even
chalkboards. They simply shared their knowledge through stories.
Think back over your years of sitting in classrooms. What are the moments that you
most remember? For me, one of those moments was my professor in introduction to
psychology spinning the tale of Rosenhan’s pseudopatients, perfectly sane individuals
who checked into a mental institution and proceeded to act in normal ways. It seemed
like an amazing adventure - what was going to happen to these people in the mental
hospital? The class was hanging on his every word.
The odds are that your memorable moments, too, have to do with stories – not theories
or definitions or dates, but an unfolding narrative, complete with suspense, drama,
or humor, or perhaps a personal anecdote shared by a favorite teacher. Of course, a
classroom narrative may be linked to a major discovery, study, or figure in psychology,
but it is not always the importance of the discovery alone that allows it to stay fresh
over the years. Rather, the means of presenting the information can make it exciting
and unforgettable.
The power of stories has been recognized for centuries, and even today, in Hollywood
and beyond, storytelling is a multi-million dollar business. Stories are a natural mode of
thinking; before our formal education begins, we are already learning from Aesop’s
fables, fairy tales, or family history. Indeed, some researchers have even claimed that all
knowledge comes in the form of stories (Schank & Abelson, 1995)! Although this strong
claim has been questioned, it is generally agreed that stories are a powerful structure
for organizing and transmitting information, and for creating meaning in our lives and
environments.
N AT U R E O F S T O R I E S
What is a story? In essence, a narrative account requires a story that raises unanswered
questions or unresolved conflicts; characters may encounter and then resolve a crisis or
crises. A story line, with a beginning, middle and end, is identifiable. In Bruner’s (1986)
words, “[Narrative] deals in human or human-like intention and action and the vicissitudes and consequences that mark their course. It strives to put its timeless miracles into
the particulars of experience and to locate the experience in time and place.” Stories can
MELANIE C.
GREEN
Reprinted with
permission from author
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T E A C H I N G AT T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F M A N I TO B A : A H A N D B O O K
bring abstract principles to life by giving them concrete form. We cannot always give
students direct experience with psychological concepts, but stories might come close.
A story tends to have more depth than a simple example. A story tells about some event
– some particular individuals, and something that happens to them. Stories engage our
thinking, our emotions, and can even lead to the creation of mental imagery (Green &
Brock, 2000). Individuals listening to stories react to them almost automatically, participating, in a sense, in the action of the narrative (e.g., Polichak & Gerrig, 2002). Bringing all of
these systems to bear on the material in your course helps student learning. Students are
awake, following along, wanting to find out what happens next and how the story ends.
Bruner (1986) has contrasted the paradigmatic (logical, scientific) and narrative modes of
thinking, but these modes need not be mutually exclusive in the classroom.
PURPOSE OF STORIES
Stories can serve multiple functions in the classroom, including sparking student interest,
aiding the flow of lectures, making material memorable, overcoming student resistance or
anxiety, and building rapport between the instructor and the students, or among students
themselves.
Stories Create Interest
As an instructor, you can capitalize on the inherent narrative structure of research as the
quest for knowledge. Science is the process of solving mysteries; in fact, writers of journal
articles are often advised to make their findings into “a good story.” Psychologists often
start out by confronting an intriguing problem. For example, why are bicycle riders faster
when they are racing against another person than going around the track by themselves?
Researchers also encounter and overcome various obstacles in their quest to understand
a phenomenon. For example, when researchers tried to replicate social facilitation effects,
sometimes the presence of others improved performance, and other times it harmed
performance. Why would that be? Take advantage of the suspense that this chain of
events can create. Telling the story of how researchers became interested in a particular
issue, without immediately providing the resolution, will motivate your class to think of
their own approaches to solving the problem. They can share in the sense of discovery.
Understanding the process of solving a research problem can generate excitement, as
well as an increased appreciation for the “detective work” involved in psychology.
Characters are an important element of any tale, and indeed, stories can also make material
concrete and memorable by putting a human (or animal) face on theories and issues.
Students may remember the peril of H. M., the patient who could not form new memories,
long after they have forgotten other details of brain anatomy or memory research. They
may have a vivid mental image of Harry Harlow’s orphaned monkeys interacting with
cloth or wire “mothers.” If they remember the concrete elements of the story, they may
T E A C H I N G S T R AT E G I E S
3.57
then be able to reconstruct the abstract lessons illustrated by the story. Furthermore,
listeners may identify with the protagonists of your stories, and thus might be better able
to relate course material to their own lives. Making the material personally relevant
can lead to increased thinking about the material and a greater ability to apply the new
knowledge.
Similarly, giving some background about the researchers who developed particular
theories can help engage student interest by humanizing the research process, and may
even provide role models for students who may be interested in pursing research themselves. (This approach can be used to excellent effect in history of psychology courses.)
Stories can convey the passion, enthusiasm, and curiosity of the researchers. Sometimes
psychological research can seem divorced from the real world, but in the process of
developing his theories about compliance, Cialdini actually went through training
programs to becomes a salesman of encyclopedias, dance lessons, and the like. He also
went “on the inside” as a participant-observer to study advertising, public relations, and
fundraising agencies to learn about their techniques. Students studying social influence
love to hear about Cialdini
immersing himself in
the world of compliance
professionals.
“Stories engage our thinking,
our emotions, and can even lead to the
creation of mental imagery.“
Stories Provide
a Structure for
Remembering
Course Material
Coherence is the hallmark of a good narrative. Remembering a list of isolated concepts
and definitions is difficult, but recalling the flow of a research story may be easier for
students. As mentioned above, stories may also help create vivid mental images, another
cue for recall. Because stories provide natural connections between events and concepts,
mentioning one part of the story may help evoke the other parts of the story, just as hearing
one bar of a familiar tune may bring the entire song to mind.
Stories Are a Familiar and Accessible Form of Sharing Information
Some students may be intimidated by abstract concepts, or may doubt their ability to
master or understand the material. A story may provide a non-threatening way to ease
students into learning. A narrative opening may seem simple and straightforward,
allowing students to relax and grasp a concrete example before moving into more
technical details of a theory or finding. Sometimes stories can even be about the learning
process; tales of previous students who struggled but then succeeded might serve as
inspiration for current students. (It probably goes without saying that telling stories that
mock or disparage previous students may do more harm than good.)
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T E A C H I N G AT T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F M A N I TO B A : A H A N D B O O K
Telling a Story From Experience Can Create a More Personal
Student-Teacher Connection
This rapport can lead to a positive classroom climate. Perhaps you are a clinical psychologist who has seen a patient with a particularly compelling presentation of the disorder
you’re discussing in class. Or maybe you’re a social psychologist who has had your own
brush with bystander intervention and diffusion of responsibility. Sharing these experiences gives the class a new tone, and makes the subject come alive. As long as every class
session isn’t another chapter from your autobiography, students enjoy seeing a glimpse
of the human side of their professors. As an added benefit, in discussion classes, providing
this kind of opening may inspire reciprocity and help create an atmosphere where students
are more willing to share their opinions and experiences.
FINDING AND SELECTING STORIES
There are a wealth of sources for teachable stories – current events, history, television
programs, classic literature or drama, and personal experience (your own and others).
Some instructors find it useful to have a folder or notebook for teaching stories; make a
habit of clipping relevant
newspaper stories, or
making notes about events
“Role-playing is another means of
that are perfect illustrations
merging the power of stories with the
of some psychological
benefits of active learning.”
concept that appears in
your course. These don’t
have to be current events
to capture student interest: A colleague uses a scene from the book Killer Angels (Shaara,
1974), about the Battle of Gettysburg, to demonstrate the power of perception over
reality. In the book, the Confederate General Longstreet is portrayed as sitting calmly
before the battle. A foreign journalist infers that he is composing himself, thinking of
strategy and so forth. In reality, he is weeping, knowing his men will die because he asks
them to, knowing what the day will bring.
And remember, research results need to be true, but stories do not. Do not be afraid to
use stories from fiction, especially well-known fiction. For instance, the children’s story
“The Emperor’s New Clothes” demonstrates social influence principles; the interactions
between Iago, Othello, and Desdemona in Shakespeare’s play Othello provide a powerful
illustration of the importance of perceptions over objective reality.
Textbooks may also be sources of stories; some books use stories to introduce or frame
chapters, while others (such as Aronson’s Social Animal) intersperse narratives throughout. Readers may want to consider books with “inside stories.” Such stories have been
T E A C H I N G S T R AT E G I E S
collected by Brannigan and Merrens (1995) in their Research Adventures series.
Other recommendations for sources of stories include:
• A History of Geropsychology in Autobiography. (Birren & Schroots, (2000))
• Case Studies in Abnormal Behavior (6th ed.) (Meyer, 2003)
• Classic Studies in Psychology (Schwartz, 1986).
• Disordered Personalities in Literature (Harwell, 1980)
• Forty Studies that Changed Psychology: Explorations into the History of Psychological Research
(4th Ed.) (Hock, 2002)
• Pioneers of Psychology (3rd ed.) (Fancher, 1996)
• Portraits of Pioneers in Psychology (Kimble, Wertheimer, & White, 1991)
• The Story of Psychology (Hunt, 1993)
Think about common experiences that your students have likely had – stories about
leaving home, dealing with roommates, handling relationships, and the like may be
especially relevant to a college-age audience.
The case study method, frequently used in business schools, is a popular means of introducing stories into the classroom. Cases typically set up a problem by giving background
information about a situation (for example, the history of a company), and end with a
current dilemma faced by an individual or organization. They are often designed to
illustrate a particular point or demonstrate certain analytic procedures. Students are
encouraged to generate possible solutions and consider the consequences of those
solutions. This method encourages active learning, and in essence, puts students in the
role of writing the ending to the story.
A related method (which can be more or less narrative in form) is role-playing, where
students actively create or take part in a mini-drama in the classroom. McKeachie (1999)
gives the example of students taking the perspective of Freud or Skinner in responding
to a treatment situation. Role-playing is another means of merging the power of stories
with the benefits of active learning.
Stories may also be integrated with technology. You may be able to locate computerbased or interactive stories that relate to your course content. (If you are programmingsavvy or have time on your hands, you may even be able to develop these kinds of
applications.) Teaching Web sites can also be rich sources of stories. And you don’t
always have to be the storyteller; films and Web sites may also be effective means of
delivering psychology’s stories.
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TELLING STORIES IN CL ASS
The lecture itself may be structured as a narrative, or a story can simply be an illustration
of a key point. Taking advantage of the natural drama of research stories can help the
pacing and flow of your lectures. Imagine yourself as a storyteller, perhaps with your
students gathered around a campfire. Rather than marching through the material, fact by
fact, you can add storytelling flourishes. Let the suspense build – pause for a moment
before revealing the results of the study, to draw in students’ attention. Stories can also be
a natural way to introduce humor into your lecture.
One way to learn about how to tell a story is to listen to master storytellers at work.
National Public Radio provides some wonderful examples: Garrison Keillor, for instance,
enthralls thousands of people each week with his tales of Lake Wobegon. You may also
know people in your own life – relatives, friends, and colleagues – who can spin a
marvelous tale. Take note of how they involve their audience, and use those techniques
as you develop your own style. Do they pause at key places? What information do they
give early on to draw listeners in, and how do they maintain suspense? Do they bring
characters to life with vivid descriptions or unique voices? Just as you develop your own
style of teaching, so too can you develop your own style of storytelling that draws on
role models, but fits your own personality.
As with any example, a story should be a clear illustration of the principle you’re trying
to demonstrate. Because listeners have their own interpretations of the point of stories,
it is your responsibility as an instructor to make the message of the story clear, and draw
links between the story and the abstract principles it demonstrates. Beginning students,
especially, may not be able to make these connections on their own,
or they may remember peripheral aspects of the story rather than
the main point. Students should be aware that classroom stories
are part of the learning experience, not a tangent from it. Keep the
story clean and to the point. Furthermore, if a story doesn’t quite
match the concept you are trying to demonstrate, you may be better
Link aspects of
off omitting it. At exam time, students who remember a story from
student’s stories
class should not be misled by its conclusions.
> TIP
to theories or
principles in the
literature.
When is the best time to tell a story for it to have the maximum
impact? Schank (1990) suggest that stories should come after surprises, or expectation failures. When individuals have recognized
flaws in their existing models of the world, they are open to
correcting those models. Individuals are especially open to learning
when the expectation failure and story are relevant to their goals.
For example, suppose you had just come back from teaching a
particularly frustrating day of class, where students’ minds were
T E A C H I N G S T R AT E G I E S
wandering and you couldn’t seem to engage the class. If at that moment, your colleague
told you about how she had transformed her classroom environment by starting each
lecture with a story that presented a real-world problem or mystery, and working
through it over the course of the class session, you might be especially open to learning
from that tale. For your students, framing stories with relevant problems (succeeding at a
job, getting along with roommates) may help make them more likely to be attended to
and recalled.
Along the same lines, stories can be told from different points of view. Think about
perspective when you’re designing your lecture. You could describe an experiment from
the researcher’s point of view, but you might instead begin by telling the story of what a
participant in that study experienced instead, to draw students into the situation.
Imagine, for example, being a participant in the Asch conformity studies, with rising
levels of confusion and doubt as your fellow participants continue to give wrong
answers to a line judgment task. Stories can encourage empathy, and putting themselves
in participants’ shoes can sometimes help students understand the power of experimental
situations. Varying the presentation of research to focus on a researcher versus a participant
perspective can also help add spice to your lectures.
In some types of courses, particularly smaller seminars, it may be appropriate to have
students share stories from their own lives, and indeed, students may spontaneously
do this even in larger courses. This is another form of active learning, and students may
be even more attentive to a story told by their peers. An instructor’s role might then be
to link aspects of these narratives to theories or principles in the psychological literature.
(Students may become frustrated with a course that appears to consist only of sharing
individual experiences, without links to theory or research.) If individuals are likely to
be sharing stories that may be sensitive – for example, struggles with psychological
disorders, experiences with stereotyping or prejudice, – ground rules about respect for
others, not discussing personal revelations outside the classroom, and the like should
be established early.
Can there be a downside to using stories in the classroom? One issue that psychology
instructors sometimes face, especially in introductory and social psychology courses,
is helping students to understand that personal experience isn’t everything, and that
psychological questions can be tested scientifically and evaluated with data. Your use
of stories should be integrated with reference to empirical evidence, so that students do
not come away with the impression that a single story, even an especially vivid and
compelling one, should be understood as proof for a particular position.
You may also want to solicit student feedback on your stories, especially if you are telling
a particular story for the first time, or if you are new at introducing storytelling into your
teaching. You might ask students to list stories that they found to be interesting and useful,
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and alternatively, note whether any stories seemed to wander or create confusion.
At the end of class or after telling a story, you might take a minute or so to ask students
to summarize the point of a story you told, to make sure that your message has been
conveyed.
Stories can serve another function that goes beyond the classroom. Shared narrative can
be a force in creating community. Stories tie current students to traditions and people
from the past. If an important event or discovery took place on your campus or in your
town, let students know about it. Tell stories that embody the values of your discipline
and your campus. Share your teaching stories with colleagues.
And may you and your students live happily ever after.
REFERENCES AND RECOMMENDED READING
Aronson, E. (1995). The social animal (7th ed.). New York: W. H. Freeman.
Birren, J. E., & Schroots, J. J. F. (Eds.). (2000). A history of geropsychology in autobiography. Washington, DC:
American Psychological Association.
Brannigan, G.G., & Merrens, M.R. (1995). The social psychologists: Research adventures. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Bruner, J. S. (1986). Actual minds, possible worlds. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Fancher, R. E. (1996). Pioneers of psychology (3rd ed.). New York: Norton.
Green, M. C., & Brock, T. C. (2000). The role of transportation in the persuasiveness of public narratives.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 79, 401-421.
Green, M. C., Strange, J. J. & Brock, T. C. (Eds.) (2002). Narrative impact: Social and cognitive foundations.
Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
Harwell, C. W. (1980). Disordered personalities in literature. New York: Longman.
Hock, R. R. (2002). Forty studies that changed psychology: Explorations into the history of psychological research
(4th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
Hunt, M. (1993). The story of psychology. New York: Anchor Books.
Kimble, G. A., Wertheimer, M., & White, C. L. (Eds.). (1991). Portraits of pioneeers in psychology. Hillsdale, NJ:
Erlbaum.
McKeachie, W.J. (1999). Teaching tips (10th ed.). Lexington, MA: D.C. Heath & Company.
Meyer, R. G. (2003). Case studies in abnormal behavior (6th ed.). Boston: Allyn and Bacon.
Polichak, J.W., & Gerrig, R.J. (2002). Get up and win: Participatory responses to narrative. In Green, M. C.,
Strange, J. J. & Brock, T. C. (Eds.), Narrative impact: Social and cognitive foundations, (pp. 71-96). Mahwah, NJ:
Erlbaum.
Schank, R.C. (1990). Tell me a story. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons.
Schank, R. C., & Abelson, R. P. (1995). Knowledge and memory: The real story. In R. S. Wyer, Jr. (Ed.),
Advances in social cognition (Vol. VIII, pp. 1-85). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
Schwartz, S. (1986). Classic studies in psychology. Mountain View, CA: Mayfield Publishing.
Shaara, M. (1974). The Killer Angels. New York: Ballentine Books.
T E A C H I N G S T R AT E G I E S
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L A B O R AT O R Y T E A C H I N G
Tips for Running Laboratory Sessions
I
n a number of disciplines, such as Science or Engineering, laboratories form an
integral part of the instruction. Some courses are taught exclusively in laboratories,
or, more commonly, laboratory sections are taught along with lecture or other types
of instruction. For the smooth operation of laboratories, there are often several different
people involved with the laboratory. Any particular laboratory may have one or more
of the following:
J. P. S V E N N E
Reprinted with
permission from author
• Professor or Instructor in charge of the course. This may be the person with overall
responsibility for the course, delivering the lecture part of the course or, in some largeenrollment courses, may be a member of a team of instructors teaching the course.
She or he has overall responsibility for the operation of the laboratory.
• Laboratory Steward or
Technician. This person is
normally responsible for
the set-up and technical
work associated with
several laboratories in
the department.
“When students understand the goals of
the lab they won’t feel they’re completing
a meaningless exercise.”
• Laboratory Demonstrator
or TA. This person is one of the (usually several) people who have the most direct
contact with students attending the laboratory. Normally, each laboratory section will
have at least one demonstrator. The demonstrator may also be responsible for grading
laboratory reports.
In large-enrollment courses, such as first-year, each of these individuals will be involved
with the course, with specific responsibilities, generally determined by the instructor
in charge of the course. In some departments, there may be no lab steward. In smallenrollment labs, there may be no demonstrators, but the instructor will perform the
demonstrating duties. In what follows, it is assumed that all three levels are involved with
the laboratory instruction, even if the three roles are all embodied in the same person.
THE INSTRUCTOR:
• Decides on the overall objectives for the laboratory, and the detailed objectives for
individual experiments.
• Designs the experiments to meet these objectives. (These first two steps may be done
once, then changed or added to, as the course develops or changes.)
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• Ensures that the appropriate equipment and supplies are available, and orders
whatever is needed within the available budget.
• Prepares any printed or videotaped material to be made available to the students at
the start of every laboratory exercise.
• Ensures that the steward and demonstrators clearly understand their duties and
supervises them doing their jobs.
• Organizes the schedule of laboratory experiments. Prepares a hand-out summarizing
both policies on laboratory attendance (which may be tied to the course grade) and the
rules for makeup labs, which should be provided to the students at the first lab session.
• Explains the overall objectives of the laboratory and the detailed objectives to students
in the lecture sections or ensures that the demonstrator explains these to students.
• Ensures that the links between lecture material and laboratory work are clarified
to students.
• Is familiar with, and familiarizes the students with, safety procedures, such as:
• Location of storeroom and the first aid kit.
• Location of safety showers and fire extinguishers.
• How to handle the equipment students will be using, and emphasizing the appropriate safety precautions. The instructor should take the time to demonstrate the use
of equipment students are unfamiliar with. (In large-enrollment courses, this will
most likely be done by the laboratory demonstrators, but the instructor should also
know these procedures.)
• Grades the laboratory reports, or instructs the demonstrators on grading standards and
expectations, and ensures consistency of grading among the several laboratory sections.
T H E L A B O R AT O R Y S T E W A R D :
• Well in advance of the start of the laboratory session, ensures that all equipment and
supplies are available and in good repair.
• In consultation with the instructor, prepares orders for any supplies and equipment
needed.
• Ensures the availability and proper functioning of any safety equipment.
• For each laboratory period, sets up necessary equipment and supplies and prepares
any materials, such as growth media, needed for an experiment.
• After the laboratory session, dismantles and removes all equipment and materials and
clears up the laboratory room.
T E A C H I N G S T R AT E G I E S
T H E L A B O R AT O R Y D E M O N S T R AT O R :
The demonstrator should be prepared to:
• Read the experiment before going to the lab and make arrangements to actually conduct
the experiment.
• Perform the experiment in advance. By going through the lab, the demonstrator
becomes familiar with stumbling blocks students may confront.
• Read and study the theory on which the experiment is based. This prepares the
demonstrator for student questions. Remember that students lose respect for the
course, the lab instructor, and themselves when their uncertainties aren’t alleviated
by a capable, confident, and prepared lab instructor.
• Check equipment and materials. If you’re required to conduct a demonstration,
confirm that you have all the necessary equipment and material before class begins.
• Familiarize yourself and students with safety procedures. Know where the storeroom
and the first aid kit are located. Know where safety showers and fire extinguishers are
located. Show students how to handle the equipment they’ll be using, and emphasize
the appropriate safety precautions. Take the time to demonstrate the use of equipment
with which students are unfamiliar.
• Clarify objectives:
• Consider taking a few minutes at the beginning of the lab to establish connections
between the current lab and the previous one.
• Remind students of the purpose or objectives of the lab.
• Explain in detail what students can expect to learn during the laboratory experience.
• Use the chalkboard, overheads, or handouts to give the students a clear overview
of the lab exercise so they understand the goal of the lab demonstration. When
students understand the goals of the lab they won’t feel they’re completing a meaningless exercise. (NOTE: This may be done already by the lab instructor, in written
materials, or, in large multi-section courses, this may be done through a short video
presentation played at the beginning of the laboratory exercise.)
• Explain reports and procedures
• Explain what sort of report is expected for each laboratory experiment and when it
will be due. Inform students of the criteria used to evaluate lab reports.
• For lab reports, specifically show students how raw data should be handled, how
calculations should be recorded, how graphs and diagrams should be inserted,
and in what forms conclusions should be listed. (This may be done with a printed
hand-out.)
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• Make sure students understand the policy on attendance (which may be tied to their
course grade), rules for makeup labs, and so on.
CONDUCTING THE CL ASS
• Circulate among your students while the lab is in progress and be available to give
assistance and answer questions. Don’t feel you have to wait for students to ask you a
question. They may be hesitant. Ask a few strategic questions of your own to find out
what your students do or do not understand.
• Be aware of the difference between intimidating students by hovering around them
and circulating around in a friendly, helpful way.
CONCLUDING THE CL ASS
• Reconvene the class as a whole or, if that isn’t possible, make sure you meet with each
team working on the experiment to discuss results, answer questions, and hear student
reactions to the lab.
• Review key points. Let the students tell you what happened. If their results are at
odds with what you expected, encourage students to speculate about the plausibility
of their findings.
USING TECHNOLOGY
Teaching with Technology
GEORGE
SIEMENS
Used with permission
of author
T
he adoption of new approaches to teaching and learning can be stressful. The
complexity of continually evolving software and hardware presents formidable
challenges. How are educators to stay current in their own discipline and
simultaneously alter the process of teaching?
Fortunately, principles of effective instruction online are similar to classrooms. Chickering
and Ehrmann (1996) suggest seven key “good practice” elements are required:
1. encourages contact between students and faculty
2. develops reciprocity and cooperation among students
3. encourages active learning
4. gives prompt feedback
5. emphasizes time on task
6. communicates high expectations
7. respects diverse talents and ways of learning
T E A C H I N G S T R AT E G I E S
While the above list can be augmented to include affordances inherent to technology
(handling technology, integrating into teaching activities, or fostering dialogue with
distributed learner group), they suffice as an introduction to the similarity of teaching
well with technology and teaching well in a classroom.
Technology presents a dual change challenge for educators:
• to learn the new tools
• to learn the new methodologies (and thereby affordances) of teaching with technology
Additionally, technology extends the classroom – using experts and resources outside
of the university (many excellent video and audio files are available from authorities in
their fields). Directing learners to listen to a video presentation (on YouTube: http://
www.youtube.com/watch?v=v5OHkcXXxVg) of the Stanford Prison Experiment is
much more vivid and meaningful than reading an article alone. Technology can open
doors closed by geographical distance or time.
What traits and mindsets are required to successfully teach with technology?
• Spirit of experimentation...
• Willingness to engage learners in the creation of learning (co-creation of content)
• Tolerance of failure
• Spirit of inquiry
In the same spirit as academics function in their discipline, teaching with technology
requires a willingness to experiment. Through an ongoing cycle
of personal research, theory and practice, educators are able to
create an approach to technology that fits within the scope of their
discipline, and the expectations of learners.
> TIP
Models of teaching with technology attempt to tease out the
uniqueness of the online space and the utilization of progressive
tactics to develop competence. Teaching with technology can be
viewed as gradients within three broad categories:
• Augmented – the use of technology to extend a physical classroom.
This may be as simple as incorporating web quests into student
work, or the use of an online discussion forum. The learners still
meet regularly with faculty in classrooms.
• Blended – technology partly replaces in-classroom learning. Part
of the course is face-to-face and part is online. For example, the
instructor may initiate a course with a series of classroom lectures,
with the rest of the course held online.
Using a variety of
teaching approaches
like blogs, wikis and
lectures provides
greater results than
any single approach.
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• Online – technology entirely replaces face-to-face classroom teaching. For example,
online video and audio may be used to replace traditional lectures
I M P O R TA N T C O N S I D E R AT I O N S :
Technology, while widely described as a “tool to aid” learning, is becoming a critical
component in the lives of learners today. Beyond simply a tool, technology is beginning
to shape the structure of education itself.
But trends in technology are not the only factors influencing how teaching occurs today.
The open source views of software have spilled over into all aspects of society – business,
music, movies, news media, and now education. Napster reflected how technology frees
existing mindsets. Purchasing an album, for example, requires purchasing songs that
the listener may not want. Out of ten tracks, the listener may only want two or three.
Napster unbundled the packaging of industry and provided end users control.
In a similar manner, the development of amateur or citizen journalism has resulted in a
shift from experts filtering news, to amateurs expressing news from their own context.
The rise of wikipedia as an information source reflects similar trends. Additionally,
most online sites have now adopted what Tim Berners-Lee classified as the read/write
web. Instead of consumers of resources, site visitors now contribute to and interact with
content creators.
A more recent inclusion in society trends is the prominence of “do it yourself” media.
YouTube, blogs, wikis, podcasts, and other tools (we will explore these shortly) enable
anyone to create content. Gutenberg enabled everyone to read. Today’s web trends
enable everyone to record, author, narrate, create.
What does this mean to educators? The learners entering higher education have experienced a greater level of personal control and choice than any previous generation.
They expect learning in a flexible, open, social, and multi-media manner (Oblinger, 2005).
To what degree teaching should adjust to reflect the lived experiences and contexts of
learners is, of course, a matter for each faculty to consider. In a broad sense, however,
the changed nature of our learners, the rapid development of new information, and the
increased technological focus of society creates an environment where educators must
reflect on the validity of existing teaching practices.
Technology serves the means to enlarge the walls of traditional lecture halls, but also to
provide a context with which learners are currently comfortable. Educators may find
using a variety of approaches to teaching – blogs, wikis, and lectures – provides results
greater than any single approach.
T E A C H I N G S T R AT E G I E S
AUGMENTING CL ASSROOMS:
While teaching with technology can appear to be a formidable challenge, educators prepared to experiment can move into the process at a pace of personal comfort. An “all or
nothing” mindset is not helpful. Small steps are often the best approach for both educators
and learners. Augmenting traditional classrooms with technology is one such approach.
Teaching tasks can broadly be defined in four areas:
• Content presentation – the provision of key material relating to a particular course.
Through lectures, video, readings, audio recordings, and more recently, simulations,
learners are exposed to the key components of a course. Whether handled in a traditional presentation model (like a lecture) or with more recent approaches (which begin
to blend content presentation with learning activities, such are problem based learning)
• Dialogue – in a teaching context, involves direct learner to educator contact (learner to
learner dialogue is classified as a learning activity). This dialogue is important to move
learners toward higher order thinking (http://education.qld.gov.au/corporate/new
basics/html/pedagogies/intellect/int1a.html), or what corporations are increasingly
calling “deep smarts” – a combination of experience and higher level understanding
thinking skills. Bloom’s taxonomy presents the following levels of cognition: knowledge,
comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. Learners, especially at
graduate levels, are directed toward analysis, synthesis, and evaluation levels.
• Learning activities – directly involve the learners in “doing” – as individuals or as a
group. The activities generally arise from the content within a course. The purpose of
a learning activity is to assist learners in forming deeper understanding of subject
matter. A biology lab, for example, involves the practical (and thereby, more meaningful) application of textbook theory.
• Assessment is often perceived as separate from the act of teaching. However, assessment
can provide valuable additional learning. Through the use of formative assessment
techniques, learners can self-assess their understanding, and instructors can evaluate
their teaching approach.
Technology affords the opportunity for instructors to move content acquisition activities,
which learners can do on their own (such as read a text or list to audio lectures), online
so class time can be spent on dialogue and learning activities. Online quizzes can
improve the learner’s ability to self-assess as well. Completion rates for advanced readings
can be improved as well if learners are required to complete a short quiz in WebCT, for
example, based on readings. These short quizzes may contribute to the overall course
mark, and provide motivation for learners to read material in advance of class discussions.
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Classes can also be augmented through the use of online discussion forums, web quests,
class listserv, blogs, and group-work in wikis. The primary intent of augmenting classroom
instruction is to increase effectiveness of learning by providing contact with experts, diverse
viewpoints, and dialogue.
BLENDED LEARNING
Definitions vary for blended learning. In our context, we will define it as learning which
occurs partly in a classroom and partly online. In contrast with augmented learning –
where regular scheduled classes are held – blended learning may include an initial
face-to-face class, followed by several weeks of online classes, and a wrap up face-to-face
class. Blended Teaching has a useful resource on research indications with this approach:
http://blendedteaching.org/Blended_Online_Seminars .
Online classes may be synchronous (real time) or asynchronous (time delay).
Synchronous tools include:
• Virtual class tools (like Adobe Connect or elluminate Live). These tools are integrated
suites, enabling instructors
to present content via
PowerPoint with audio,
“Through an ongoing cycle of personal research,
application sharing, polling,
theory and practice, educators are able to create an
shared whiteboard, joint
approach to technology that fits within the scope of
web-browsing and other
functionality. In many
their discipline, and the expectations of learners.”
ways, these tools duplicate
classrooms.
• Chat or instant messaging. Chat can occur within a tool like WebCT, or in stand alone
applications like MSN messenger or IRC.
• Voice over IP – through the use of free tools like Skype, GoogleTalk, or iVocalize
(which enables presentation via PowerPoint, but does not have the extended
functionality of a virtual classroom tool)
Asynchronous tools include:
• Discussion forums (in WebCT or online platforms)
• Email, commonly with listserv (like Mailman) or group-based lists like Yahoo or
Google Groups
• Blogs or wikis for reflection or collaborative writing
T E A C H I N G S T R AT E G I E S
ONLINE LEARNING
Courses delivered completely online may be offered through platforms like WebCT
(for content presentation, discussion, and evaluation) or offered through a combination
of blogs, emails, podcasts, and group-based activities (for example, Yahoo Groups).
A completely online course offers challenges not evident in augmented or blended
models. A common concern expressed by learners in online courses is the sense of
isolation from other learners and instructors. This challenge can readily be addressed
through well-conceived design and active instruction.
For example, if an online course is cohort based, or has a set start and end date (in contrast to open enrolment), activities can be utilized which allow learners to dialogue about
course content. Each week can include a variety of content resources (readings from a
text or online, podcast, online video), combined with personal reflection (comments to
a discussion forum), group activity (web quests, collaborative writing in a wiki), and
interaction with the instructor (synchronous chat or skype call or email).
When the physical cues and processes are eliminated from a course, it become imperative that the instructor reviews course material and learning activities to ensure clear
communication (consider having a colleague or student review the material or pilot the
course before initial offering so potential challenges can be attended to in advance of
delivery). In a face-to-face course, confusing sections of an assignment can be easily
clarified by approaching an instructor after class. Online, small questions, combined with
a sense of isolation, can rapidly develop into high level of learner frustration.
Consider hosting virtual office hours on a weekly basis. Learners can enter a chat space
(or if you have access to a virtual classroom, audio can be used) and ask questions and
clarify concerns. Podcasts are also an effective means of adding audio to a course.
Even a short weekly podcast reviewing the week’s activities can provide a strong sense
of connection to an instructor.
While the online medium has many affordances (ability for learning to occur regardless
of time and space, depth of conversation, time of reflection), it also has many “lost
affordances” over physical classrooms. As previously discussed, sense of isolation,
learner expectations and experience, and other factors are important for educators to
consider in their design and delivery of online courses. Continual experimentation and
reflection will produce a model that works well for the individual educator, learners,
and subject matter.
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SPECTRUM OF TOOLS:
TECHNOLOGY TOOLS
Informal
Formal
Blogs
Wikis
LMS*
Content Mangement
Video & Audio Conferrencing
Podcasts
Social Bookmarking
Social Networking Tools
Collaborative Tools
* Learning Management System
CONTENT
Learner-created
Learner-co-created
Faculty-created
Blogs
Papers
Essays
Discussion Content
Wikis
Annotation
Co-create content &
Resources with Instructor &
Students
Traditional Lecture
Texts
Readings
APPROACHES
Augmented
Blended
Online
Add email,
audio, blogs
discussion
Part Face to Face
Part online
LMS*
Synchronous Class Rooms
Informal Tools
* Learning Management System
T E A C H I N G S T R AT E G I E S
M O V E T O FA C I L I TAT I O N
The educator faces a significant transition in teaching styles when moving online.
Seymour Papert (http://www.papert.org/articles/const_inst/const_inst1.html) suggests
two broad approaches to learning: instructing or having students actively involved in
doing. While this view may be a bit narrow for the diverse disciplines found in higher
education, it provides an important dichotomy between instructor and learner involvement. Effective learning online requires an instructor to focus less on lecturing and
content presentation, and more on assisting learners in creating personal learning or
knowledge networks. Through access to varied resources and experts, learners are guided
to explore content and ideas, and engage actively in conversation with each other, the
instructor, and often, members of the larger discipline. Learners actively “forage for
knowledge”, instead of passively consuming knowledge dispensed by the instructor.
The move to facilitation does not negate the value of lecture. Lectures, when appropriately
used, are a valuable tool in the process of learning. But instead of being viewed as a
primary tool, lectures are a tool in the toolbox of instructors. The nature of the particular
learning task determines the best approach. For example, if basic content is being presented, a lecture may be an effective approach. If learners are being asked to evaluate and
synthesize certain aspects of a discipline, conversation, discussion, and group learning
may be the best option.
Same tools in instructors learning tookit include:
• Lecture
• Course readings
• Web quests
• Group exploration
• Group presentations to the larger class
• Podcasts or video files available online
• Learner membership in online communities in a particular subject matter
• Learners contacting experts in the field via email or interview (Skype, for example)
• Collaborative wikis with other educators
• Blogs as reflective journals
• Contribution to wikipedia to ensure accuracy
• Use of social book marking to connect with other disciplines and related concepts
(the creation of a personal learning network or web)
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This list is simply a starting point. Educators can add, refine, and adjust the balance of
instructor presentation with learner exploration in a manner that works best for a particular course. Enlarging the classroom to include online resources provides a richer, connected
model of learning that often permits learners to stay connected to a community even after
completing a course or program.
OTHER TOOLS:
The change pressures of technology and societal shifts (globalization, open source,
open access, emerging nations) create a cycle of continual change. As the image below
indicates, change pressures are generally felt most by those closest to the change. As the
change grows in prominence (as we are currently seeing with new distributed, sociallybased software in contrast to centrally-controlled software – a trend that is filtering into
education as a whole) – new methods are adopted to cope with the changed environment. These new methods, over a period of time, result in the creation of new spaces
and structures of learning (a trend currently evident in the use of learning management
systems, blogs, wikis, podcasts, and other tools in education). The structures and spaces
generate new affordances, which then cycle into new change pressures.
New or developing approaches to teaching with technology are discussed on the
connected listserv and Learning Technology Centre’s blog:
http://ltc.umanitoba.ca/wordpress/
REFERENCES:
Oblinger, Diana http://www.educause.edu/educatingthenetgen
Chickering and Ehrmann http://www.tltgroup.org/programs/seven.html
Higher Order Thinking, Retrieved on Nov, 2006 from http://education.qld.gov.au/corporate/newbasics/
html/pedagogies/ intellect/int1a.html)
Papert, Seymour. (1980). Retrieved on Nov, 2006 from http://www.papert.org/articles/const_inst/
const_inst1.html
T E A C H I N G S T R AT E G I E S
3.75
Active Learning with PowerPoint
THE POTENTIAL OF POWERPOINT
here are many reasons why PowerPoint is becoming more widely used in college
classrooms. Students frequently ask professors to prepare their lecture notes
using PowerPoint, and as more and more classrooms become wired, it’s easy to
use presentation technologies in them.
T
There are both positive and negative aspects to using PowerPoint in the classroom.
First, the positives. PowerPoint is easy for professors to update, saving them time and
energy. It’s neat and clean, and it allows for “portability” of materials. Professors can
take slides from one lecture, update them, include them in another lecture, and share
them with colleagues or students. It also provides a platform for incorporating a variety
of different kinds of multi-media file-types: images, video, audio and animations.
There are also drawbacks to using PowerPoint as a teaching tool. PowerPoint, when used
incorrectly, can encourage student (and teacher) passivity by discouraging interaction
between them. Professors often overload slides with information, forcing them to move
through the material too quickly while overwhelming students with details. This can
sometimes discourage students and lead them to stop listening to the lecture altogether.
So, we’re left with the obvious: PowerPoint is only a tool. It will not, in and of itself,
improve student learning. It’s the way the professors use PowerPoint that can encourage
student learning. By strategically employing it to create opportunities for active learning,
lectures can capitalize on PowerPoint’s strength as a presentation platform to engage
students in the learning process.
To that end, we’re going to be talking about a variety of active learning strategies that
you can use to help students learn more from your lectures.
P R E PA R I N G T O U S E P O W E R P O I N T I N T H E C L A S S R O O M
You can use PowerPoint to improve students’ learning before you even get into the
classroom. First, you should think carefully about what part of your lecture you want to
make available for students either before or after class. Many faculty choose to do this
and others choose not to for a variety of reasons. Some faculty are afraid that handing
students copies of their presentations will discourage them from coming to class. And in
some cases this might happen, particularly when the expectation is that the lecture itself
provides no added benefit i.e., is simply a rehashing of what’s on the PowerPoint slides.
Students’ learning can be improved, however, by avoiding handouts that simply duplicate
your in-class presentation and providing instead a skeletal outline of the lecture content or
a list of the questions to be discussed in class. In the latter case, students will be compelled
BILL ROZAITIS
A N D PAU L
BA E P L E R
Used with permission
of authors
Center for Teaching
and Learning,
University of
Minnesota, 2005
http://www1.umn.
edu/ohr/teachlearn/
tutorials/powerpoint/
lecturing.html
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to come to the lecture because you and they will be filling in the information together
during class. If the handout is made available prior to class, students will be able to preview
the content of the session’s lecture ahead of time so that they can come prepared for the
way ideas relate both to one another and to things that they already know.
You can also encourage student learning in handouts by leaving blank slides, slides that
ask questions, or slides that ask students to fill in information at various points. For
example, at certain points in a handout you may have students come up with a question
of their own or respond to one that you provide. In this way, students are encouraged
to engage the material at a high level as they prepare for your class or review afterwards.
You’ll likely have better attendance and notice that students come to class prepared to
absorb and to discuss the information that you’re presenting.
In addition to providing (and provoking) questions, which can enliven your lectures,
PowerPoint can actually improve note-taking abilities. This might seem counter-intuitive
at first, because if you hand students a print out of your slideshow the material is already
copied for them. It’s important to remember, though, that in this case students will have
accurate information. Students won’t miscopy equation sets or misspell foreign names.
You can also guide and focus students’ note-taking on what you consider to be higher
order skills. Rather than becoming stenographers, feeling compelled to write down
every word, students can be asked to note and work with information in an active way.
They can synthesize material and spend less time reciting, in written form, the content
of the lecture.
THE BEGINNING OF A LECTURE
Lectures have beginnings, middles, and ends. Each of these parts has different goals that
you should try to meet.
Let’s start with the goals for the beginning of a lecture. First of all, you should try to gain
students’ attention and motivate them to learn. PowerPoint can be used very effectively
to this end. You can put up an image that relates to the day’s concepts, you can play
music, or have a short video clip to draw their attention or stimulate discussion. At this
stage the point is simply to bring students into the sphere of your topic.
Secondly, an important goal of the beginning of a lecture is to tell students what they
will learn in the day’s session. You state your objectives. Presentation technology allows
you to easily enumerate your main points and what you expect students to gain from
the session. Students learn be connecting what they know to new concepts, so this is
extremely important. There are a variety of different strategies for getting students to
stimulate their prior knowledge of a topic before you progress to new material.
T E A C H I N G S T R AT E G I E S
You can start with an opening question. Prepare a PowerPoint slide that simply says
“Opening Question,” and then present your question. You can do a variety of things
with this. You can have students write about the questions, or think quietly. You can
do a “think-pair-share” activity in which students think for a few moments about the
question, pair up with a partner to discuss the question briefly, and then come back to
share their thoughts with the larger group. This also helps you assess students’ knowledge of the particular topic and might help you then shift the focus of your lecture to
what students actually need.
There are many different activities you can use in this manner. An example is brainstorming. Again, have students select a partner, show a slide that presents a question or
statement, and ask students to think of as many things as they can that relate to this
particular topic. They should write down their results, either as lists, concept maps,
or in a narrative format. In this way, you’re getting students to think about the material
and you’re getting them ready for what comes in the middle part of the lecture.
T H E “ M E AT ” O F T H E L E C T U R E
This mid-point of the lecture is where you present your content. This is also the point in
which most faculty go roaring forward. One of your strategies for the middle point of
the lecture should be to pause every twelve or fifteen minutes for students to process the
information actively. Research has shown that people can’t attend to lectures for longer
than about twelve or fifteen minutes. If you lecture for longer than this students begin
to lose focus and their minds will wander. It’s in these lulls that you want to shake
students from their oncoming stupor! This is when trying some kind of active learning
technique would give you your greatest chance of success.
Many instructors are reluctant to try active learning strategies during a lecture for a
variety of reasons. Some don’t think active learning strategies can work in large classes,
but this in fact is not the case. Active learning strategies don’t need to be difficult to
manage or take a lot of time. They can be one or two-minute activities, done alone or in
pairs, that break up a lecture at twelve or fifteen minute intervals. Some of the strategies
that we are going to talk about can be adapted very nicely to this particular timeline.
One of the advantages of PowerPoint is that you can build active learning strategies into
your slideshow that remind you to stop and take a breath at various points during the
lecture. If you don’t have these activities built into your lecture, it’s very easy to just keep
moving forward.
Let’s talk about some of the strategies that you can use in the mid-point of a lecture. First,
as we have already noted, you can use a think-share-pair strategy based on questions that
you develop or that students themselves develop.
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An interesting strategy that you can use during the mid-point of a lecture is the “stump
your partner” strategy. Ask students to turn to a neighbor and come up with a question
that they feel is difficult. They should try to stump their partner. You can then collect
some of these questions, either verbally or on 3x5 note card and re-purpose them in other
lectures, in practice exams, or on a mid-term. This gives students a greater investment in
the course content and what they produce. And it’s also fun.
You can also do a “note check” during the midpoint of a lecture. Again, introduce the
activity on a PowerPoint slide. Ask students to turn to a partner and compare notes,
focusing specifically on what the most important points of the preceding content are and
what they are most confused about. You can collect this information verbally or on note
cards and use it in a variety of ways. For further examples of active learning techniques
you can use with PowerPoint see the section on active learning.
WRAPPING IT UP
The end of a lecture should be like the end of a good story. It should summarize the
information, provide closure, and ask students to connect the information to themselves,
their own values, and its
application to the world.
You can achieve this in a
“PowerPoint is only a tool. It’s the way
variety of ways.
the professors use PowerPoint that can
encourage student learning.”
First of all you can ask students what the muddiest
point of the day was. Type
out “muddiest point?” on
a slide and ask students to write about this. You can then collect the information either
verbally or on 3x5 inch note cards. You might also have a slide that asks students for
any “final questions.” In this way, you encourage students to process the material and
communicate with you about it.
Finally you can ask students to answer two or three very brief questions. We call this a
classroom assessment technique. In a sense what you are doing is asking students if
they understood what you consider to be the most important parts of the day’s material.
You can collect this either verbally or in writing, and it will help you assess whether or
not you’ve met your teaching goals. If not, you can cover some of the material at the
start of the next day’s lecture or create assignments that will help students process it.
In addition to assessing your students, you’re really demonstrating to them that you
genuinely care about their learning and that they are achieving what they set out to by
enrolling in your course.
T E A C H I N G S T R AT E G I E S
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Organizing and Managing Good Online
Discussions: Some Tips
SELECTING AN ONLINE DISCUSSION ACTIVIT Y
Before selecting an online discussion activity, it is helpful to identify what you want
the students to learn from this activity by creating some specific learning outcomes.
An example is: Upon completion of this activity, students will be able to make a logical
argument and support it with evidence.
A DA P T E D
FROM EFFECTIVE
ONLINE
C O M M U N I C AT I O N S
WORKSHOPS
GIVEN FOR UTS
B Y C H E RY L
MCLEAN
Once you have established the learning outcomes, decide what kind of evidence will
show whether or not students have achieved those outcomes and how you might grade
that evidence.
Then, select the most appropriate activity to achieve the outcomes. Some activities that
work well in online discussions are:
• Group discussions on a pre-determined topic, focusing on critical thinking
• Debates
• Learning groups
• Article and/or book reviews
• Ask an expert
Tips on conducting each of these activities are listed below.
I N FO R M AT I O N O V E R L O A D
The activities should be integral and relevant to the course and
relevant to the participants. Be particularly careful to balance the
workload if the online discussion is being added to an existing
course, otherwise participants may be overwhelmed, resulting in
reduced participation in the online discussion.
> TIP
Design some
Regardless of the activity chosen, it is important to manage the
amount of information with which students will be dealing.
Discussions can quickly become a burden if there are too many
messages to read. The suggestions below apply mostly to activities
that involve group discussions. Other activities, such as book
reviews, may require different parameters.
introductory activities
• Limit the number of participants in a group: Between 7 and 15
before getting into the
participants seems to work well. If there are fewer than 7, it is
difficult to get good synergy going. More than 15 active participants
can produce an overwhelming number of messages.
that allow students to
become comfortable
with the technology
actual online activity.
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• Set time limits: Two to three weeks works well for many activities. Two weeks are often
needed to get into an in-depth discussion and after more than three weeks students
may become bored.
• Set participation expectations: 3-5 messages per week is considered high participation;
2 messages per week is considered moderate.
• Limit length of student contributions: Usually 250-500 words are sufficient. Overly long
messages may be ignored by students.
E N S U R I N G YO U R S T U D E N T S A R E C O M FO R TA B L E O N L I N E
It is surprising how often we still encounter students with limited computer skills.
One way to level the playing field is to design some introductory activities that allow
students to become comfortable with the technology before getting into the actual online
activity. Some instructors have created online discussion areas called “student lounge”
or “coffee area.” In this area, students might introduce themselves and reply to at least
one other student’s message. The instructor monitors the activity, watching for any
students who are not participating. Technical problems can be addressed here before the
main activity starts.
Be sure to deal with technical difficulties as quickly as possible so that students do not
become frustrated. Some instructors prepare printed handouts with detailed instructions
on how to get into the online discussion; others provide a telephone number or e-mail
address for technical help; some demonstrate how to access the system in class; and others
create a frequently asked questions (FAQ) document that is either online or in print.
Once the introductory activities are complete, the student lounge or coffee area often
becomes a place for students to chat among themselves, leaving the other online activity
areas for the planned activities.
NETIQUETTE RULES
Instructors should prepare at least a draft of the netiquette rules prior to the start of the
online discussion. Some instructors ask students to contribute to these rules. Some sample
rules are found at http://www.albion.com/netiquette/. It is helpful to think about how
you will handle breaches of the rules prior to the start of the online discussion.
S O M E T I P S FO R A C T I V I T I E S :
Group discussions focusing on critical thinking
Selecting a good question is key.
The question should be thought provoking and ill-structured. Ill-structured questions
do not have a correct or obvious answer. Be careful not to imply your preference.
Once an answer is given that is perceived to be correct, the conversation is at an end.
T E A C H I N G S T R AT E G I E S
Three examples of questions that have worked well are: What is the future of marriage?
Is a power struggle inevitable in a relationship? What is critical thinking?
Select a method of evaluation.
Grading on the basis of participation is easy and may be enough for what you are trying
to achieve. One frequently used participation rate is a minimum of 5 messages of 250-500
words in the time allowed.
Grading for critical thinking is more difficult. Many instructors use criteria that are
similar to those used for grading essays. You will also need to consider whether or not
grammar and spelling are important.
Moderating the online discussion
Moderators can promote critical thinking by:
• using short questions to probe for elaboration and other perspectives;
• using leading questions, refocusing questions, and open-ended questions; and
• presenting conflicting opinions
Moderators can model critical thinking by:
• summarizing or synthesizing discussions to prepare them for further discussion or
simply to highlight the main points;
• weaving the threads of the discussion by making connections and identifying themes;
and
• challenging his or her own entries. If the moderator switches sides in the argument,
it demonstrates that he or she is serious about welcoming all viewpoints in class
discussions.
Students can perform a moderator role, acting, for example, as “starters” or “wrappers.”
A starter might present the question and then state his or her particular point of view.
A wrapper might summarize the main points of the discussion.
Debates
Consider using debates as a more formal alternative to discussions. Each team should
have their own discussion area to prepare for the debate. Teams then come together in a
new area for the debate itself. Some instructors have other class members judge the
debate so that everyone is involved.
Again, set specific time frames and parameters for the messages, including the length
and the number of messages. Having clear debating rules is crucial.
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Learning Groups
Each learning group has a specific, clearly defined topic, either assigned by the instructor
or generated by the students. Students create their own knowledge about the topic
through study and discussion. One or two students can be assigned to summarize the
knowledge for sharing with the class.
Book Reviews
The instructor creates a book and/or article list and creates a format for reviewing the
items. Students select items to review and post their reviews in the online discussion area.
If you limit the number of reviews that can be done on each book, students are encouraged
to post their reviews early.
If you require each review to deal with a different aspect of the book or article than has
been covered by another review, then students must read other students’ reviews.
Students could also be encouraged to comment on points made by other students
reviewing the same material. One student could be assigned to summarize the reviews.
Ask an Expert
It’s often easier to persuade experts to participate online in your class from their homes
than it is to persuade them to come to your classroom in person. Textbook authors are
sometimes willing to participate in a brief online discussion, particularly if you are using
his or her textbook in your class. To keep your expert coming back, limit the time to a
few days.
The topic area should be clearly defined. It may be helpful to divide students into groups
to generate and select appropriate questions so that enough questions are asked.
SUMMARY
Online discussions are effective tools to engage students in the learning process. Students
can improve their critical thinking skills through online discussions of ill-structured
questions, hone their debating skills, seek advice from an expert in the field, share ideas
and generate their own knowledge through learning groups, and develop article/book
reviews for peer review. These are only a few ideas to help you get started!
ENHANCING STUDENT LEARNING
3.83
ENHANCING
STUDENT LEARNING
Motivating Students
F
ew teachers would deny either that motivated students are easier to teach, or that
the students who are interested in learning do, in fact, learn more. Anyone who
has taught a required course can attest to the fact. So how do faculty members
motivate their students?
A DEFINITION
Academic motivation comes from a combination of forces - which operate both inside
and outside an individual’s mind. Psychologists characterize academic motivation in
terms of behaviors. For instance, motivation can be described as a combination of three
behaviors:
• energy to act [effort];
• decisions to act in light of a certain purpose(s) or goal(s) [choice], and;
• a continuation to act in a way that leads to completion of a learning task.
The challenge is to encourage and take advantage of student behavior in ways that will
harmonize with the acquisition of skills, knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs considered
important by the teacher.
S O M E R E S E A R C H R E S U LT S
Research indicates that:
• Academic motivation to learn is not fixed, but it does not change drastically in short
periods of time. It may be that a semester is too short a time to change an individual’s
motivational pattern;
• Motivation should be thought of in optimal not maximal terms. Either too much or too
little motivation may impede learning;
• Positively-motivated students (those who want to learn) have stronger and more
positive self-images;
• Values and perceptions of time vary with the strength of motivation. More positively-
motivated students are aware of the past, present, and future when making decisions
and deciding on future actions, while students who are not academically motivated
tend to either hold on to, or try to avoid, certain aspects of their academic experience.
B E V E R LY
CAMERON
Adapted with
permission from
William E. Cashin,
IDEA PAPER #1,
Manhattan, KS
Center for Faculty
Evaluation and
Development,
Kansas State
University
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Students who are not motivated to learn resist new information, tend to make snap
decisions, use categorical reasoning (e.g., viewing things as strictly good or bad) rather
than a relative evaluative continuum, and freeze their judgment even when new information suggests the wisdom of revising. These findings have implications for teachers.
Motivation and commitment may be personal matters with each student, but teachers
can try to eliminate barriers that block them.
T E A C H I N G B E H AV I O R S T H AT M O T I VAT E
A review of the research on academic motivation indicates that the following teacher
behaviors motivate students and correlate highly with positive student motivation.
The teacher:
• explained course material clearly and to the point
• changed teaching approaches to meet new situations
• summarized material in a manner which aided retention
• demonstrated the importance and significance of the subject matter
• made it clear how each topic fit into the overall course
• clearly stated the objectives of the course
• used humor in a way students appreciated
• found ways to help students answer their own questions
• introduced stimulating ideas about the subject
• was available to help students individually
• explained the reasons for criticisms of students’ academic performance
These findings strongly suggest that it is not simply showmanship which motivates
students (although if you do not have the students’ attention, they are much more
difficult to teach), but it is the use of a variety of teaching approaches.
S O M E P R A C T I C A L S U G G E S T I O N S FO R M O T I VAT I N G S T U D E N T S
The following suggestions are based more on the personal experience (or experiences) of
teachers than upon empirical data. They are offered as food for thought, not as a canons
of good teaching that must be followed.
Begin Where The Students Are
• Capitalize on the students’ existing interests. Find out what their majors are, why they
are taking the course, and so on.
• Find out what the students’ weaknesses or difficulties are. For example, if the course
has a prerequisite, give a diagnostic test early in the term so students will know what
they still remember and what they must review.
ENHANCING STUDENT LEARNING
3.85
Establish The Relevance of the Course Material
• Relate the course to the students’ interests when possible.
• If students don’t see the course as relevant (often the case with required courses), spend
time to explain in detail why the course is required. Use examples of how the course
may be useful in their majors, their general education, and careers.
• Discuss the ways you find the course interesting.
• Use questions, problems, case studies, etc. to demonstrate the relevance of course
material and assignments.
I N V O LV E S T U D E N T S I N T H E C H O I C E O F W H AT W I L L B E S T U D I E D ,
WHEN POSSIBLE
• Find out which topics are of most interest or value to the students (recognizing that
they may not be the best judges).
• Include some optional or
alternative units, readings,
and so on.
• Use a variety of teaching
and learning methods (e.g.,
lectures, discussions, and
independent study).
“Praise what the student has done right; this
tends to build self-confidence. A sense of inner
satisfaction is often the greatest motivation.”
A R R A N G E L E A R N I N G TA S KS AT L E V E L S A P P R O P R I AT E T O T H E
A B I L I T I E S O F YO U R S T U D E N T S
• Do not make tasks too easy or too hard. At first it may be better to err on the side of
too easy; success breeds success. Include a range of difficulty in your assignments, and
even in your quizzes and exams, so that every student has a better chance to experience success as well as be challenged.
• Tests and grades during the course motivate to a greater extent when they are used to
indicate what the students have learned, not just what they don’t know.
• If motivation is too intense it creates anxiety and interferes with learning. While you
have to set realistic standards, do it in a supportive rather than a threatening way. For
example, if you find out that a student is far behind, don’t say to the student, “You’re
way behind,” but rather, “These are the things you need to learn. How may I help?”
REWARD STUDENTS
• Give students feedback on their work as soon as possible, e.g., return tests and papers
quickly.
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• Both positive and negative comments can stimulate learning, but positive comments
seem to be more effective. Do not give only negative feedback.
• Praise what the student has done right; this tends to build self-confidence. A sense of
inner satisfaction is often the greatest motivation.
• When giving negative feedback, make it clear you are commenting on a particular
performance, not on the student as a person.
• Recognize sincere efforts even if the product is not the greatest. This does not suggest
that students should receive grades for effort rather than learning, but praise should be
given for effort as well as results.
• Since success motivates, encourage self-competition. Help students to focus on their
continued improvement, not just on the final criteria for the course.
• Help students set realistic goals. Failure to attain unrealistic goals can become a source
of continuing disappointment and frustration.
USE THE DISCOVERY METHOD OF TEACHING
• Use the students’ curiosity. Pose questions. Encourage students to suggest solutions to
a problem, to guess the results of an experiment, and to propose a theory to explain
empirical results.
• Stress understanding as much as, or more than, memorization of facts. Understanding
motivates students to ask further questions and learn more.
• Encourage student initiative by leaving gaps. If you use this method, draw attention to
the gaps, and explain that you expect students to fill them.
• Don’t direct your class excessively or you may get back blind conformance or defiance.
Provide some direction and structure, however, or you may frustrate students.
• Help students evaluate their own progress. Encourage them to critique their own
work, to analyze their own strengths and weaknesses, and to do their own research.
This helps students learn how to learn as well as to perform well on an exam.
USE TEACHER-STUDENT INTERACTIONS
• Keep the channels of communication open. Try to understand what students are saying,
and check with them to be sure you are correct.
• Students’ feelings about their instructor can be a significant help or hindrance to
learning. Although students need to learn how to learn from professors they dislike
(just as adults have to work with people they dislike), fostering the students’ dislike
is not a good strategy.
ENHANCING STUDENT LEARNING
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• Students need to be actively involved if there is to be “learning.”
• Take a variety of roles from active direction to reflective support.
• Provide a good model for the students to imitate be human!
CONCLUSIONS
• Motivation is a significant variable in a student’s readiness and willingness to learn
• Most students are curious and do have a sincere desire to know and understand.
• These assets can be capitalized on if the learning situation provides for successful
accomplishments at a fairly consistent rate.
• Good teachers can do a great deal to create an atmosphere where learning will be more
efficient by stimulating student commitment and intrinsic motivation.
Teaching Effective Thinking Skills
any students approach tests for assignments with trepidation and uncertainty.
They wonder if they should memorize definitions, formulae, and numbers
from the readings or lectures. They wonder if they’ll have to make calculations
and show their work. Essentially, they wonder what the instructor expects from them.
Usually, the instructor expects students to understand the material and be effective
thinkers. But many students don’t really understand what this means, and, as a result,
their test and assignments scores are poor.
M
Poor student performance can be frustrating to instructors, too. They find it difficult to
understand why students don’t do well on assignments and tests. For most instructors,
teaching is more fun and rewarding when the students are “getting it”.
Part of the solution is to explicitly teach students effective thinking skills and have
instructors explicitly model effective thinking skills as they apply to the discipline. When
students understand the skills that are expected of them and see the same skills used by
the instructor, it’s less likely they’ll fail to understand and live up to the instructor’s
expectations on assignments and tests.
The discussion that follows gives some suggestions for teaching students to become
more effective thinkers.
E F F E C T I N G T H I N K I N G : W H AT I S I T ?
Thinking effectively isn’t easy. It requires work, and it requires practice. Effective
thinking involves more than taking notes during lectures and more than memorizing
definitions and formulae. Effective thinking isn’t regurgitating the lectures or readings.
Effective thinking requires the application of knowledge and finding the best answer
B E V E R LY
CAMERON
Reprinted with
permission of HBJ
Holt-Rinehart, Inc.
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out of many possibilities. It requires analysis, synthesis, and evaluation of situations.
Effective thinking is an active process, a process that requires the use of knowledge.
Effective thinking isn’t easy, but it is the goal most instructors have for their students.
Effective thinking occurs “when an individuals not only knows but is also able to
interpret, understand and use words, concepts, and symbols to facilitate his or her own
thought processes and judgments”.1 This requires the thinker to be actively involved. To
interpret, understand, and use words, concepts, and symbols requires that a person not
just passively absorb information.
LEVELS OF THINKING
Thinking can be divided into six levels of difficulty and two sections called lower-and
higher-order thinking skills.2 The lower-order thinking skills are knowledge, which
involves recall and recognition and comprehension. Higher-order thinking skills are
application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. A discussion of levels of thinking in class
may sound unnecessarily academic, but if students have a basic understanding of what
effective thinking involves, and what is expected from them, it will help them study,
prepare for tests, and meet your expectations.
Lower-Order Thinking Skills
Knowledge requires recall or recognition of material or ideas, for example, repeating the
text’s definition of photosynthesis or the equation for calculating the area of a circle.
Students don’t have to understand the definition or equation; they just have to recall it.
Bloom and his colleagues use the term knowledge to refer to the lowest level of thinking
skills, but to avoid confusion with a broader meaning of the word knowledge, it is easier
to refer to the knowledge thinking skill as recall and recognition.
Comprehension, the next level of skill, requires the students to interpret meaning, translate a concept into their own words, and make inferences based on an understanding of
the material. For example, the instructor might ask the students to give an explanation of
a metaphor in their own words. Producing their own definition or explanation requires
greater understanding than just repeating a memorized definition.
Higher-Order Thinking Skills
Higher-order thinking skills are more difficult to master than lower-order skills but are
usually more useful and interesting.
Application asks students to select and apply appropriate content knowledge when
faced with a new situation. For instance, students might be given data and expected to
determine the flow of water through a pipe over a given time period.
Analysis required that information be broken down into its component parts and
relationship between the parts detected. A student might be asked to examine a
ENHANCING STUDENT LEARNING
non-equilibrium market situation and predict its likely economic consequences. Analysis
may require the use of formulae and data or a written or verbal description of a problem
outcome.
Synthesis requires integration and uses information from many sources. A student must
sort through possible sources of information and use those that are most relevant.
Synthesis allows room for creativity. Students might be asked for probable economic
and social consequences of racial discrimination in a large metropolitan area.
Evaluation asks for even more. It requires that the student make judgments about the
value of an idea, solution or method. Students may be given the criteria on which to base
their evaluation or they may have to construct their own criteria. An example would be
asking a medical researcher to evaluate the overall effectiveness and consequences of
prescribing a new drug to reduce or eliminate a patient’s brain tumor.
The use of higher-order thinking skills earns the highest grades in most courses. The use
of application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation skills is required to ever-greater extents
as students progress to upper level courses. Students will be asked to use higher-order
effective thinking skills not only in university, but also by future employers. When
graduates are hired as professionals, they are seldom asked to repeat definitions learned
in university courses. Employers will expect knowledge, and that new employees can
use knowledge effectively. University graduates will be presented with problems and
expected to solve them. They’ll be expected to be effective thinkers, and their ability to do
so will reflect well or poorly on the programs and university from which they graduated.
Improved thinking skills increase the likelihood that an individual will be given challenging
assignments, interesting jobs, and promotions. Honing thinking skills in university has
benefits for students well beyond good grades.
AN EFFECTING THINKING PROCESS
Effective thinking is often equated with problem solving. Both involve a process with a
series of identifiable steps. Expert thinkers may appear to reach brilliant conclusions or
solutions instantly, but this generally means they’ve had so much practice that they go
through the effective thinking process very quickly. The essential point, however, is that
effective thinkers do follow a process, a process they’ve learned and practiced many
times. Expert thinkers may not be able to describe their thinking process, but researchers
have identified steps effective thinkers follow – knowingly or unknowingly.
B A S I C A L LY, T H E S T E P S I N V O LV E :
A. defining the situation
B. stating the problem(s) and the exact goal(s) to be achieved
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C. generating ideas that could be used to reach the goal(s) and selecting the one(s)
judged to be best
D. defining the new situation that would result if selected idea(s) are implemented
E. preparing a detailed plan to reach the goal based on the best idea(s) generated
F. implementing the plan, and
G. evaluating the success or failure of the implemented plan
Notice that the thinker must be actively involved in the thinking process to follow these
steps. The effective thinker must define, state, generate, select, prepare, implement, and
evaluate. Effective thinkers must use that which they know.
Steps in an Effective Thinking Process
Experience shows that students become better thinkers when the process of effective
thinking is made explicit to them, and when they see examples of this process.3 To help
you teach effective thinking skills, the explicit steps from Guided Design, one successful
problem solving process, are listed below.
The Guided Design steps4 have been used by many students in a wide variety of disciplines
and fields. These steps were first developed for engineering students, and research has
shown that Guided Design helped raise student grade-point averages in all four years of
their program.5 The steps are tried and true!
T W E LV E G U I D E D D E S I G N S T E P S :
> TIP
Be explicit about
telling students
what you expect,
and explicitly model
an effective thinking
process for them.
Define the Situation
Who is involved? What happened? What is involved? When and
where did it happen? Why did it happen? How serious are the
consequences? You don’t have to answer all of these questions for
each situation. Pick the ones that help you define the particular
situation you face.
State the Problem and the Goal
1. Analysis: What might be the problem(s)?
This is the hardest step for most students. It’s worth spending time
on this step because it’s very difficult for students to reach a good
solution or conclusion if they don’t understand what problem(s)
they should be solving. It’s also not much use to have a solution or
conclusion without knowing the problem to which it is the solution
or conclusion. Examine the why and how statements in the Define
the Situation step to discover the problem(s).
2. Synthesis: What could be the goals you want to achieve?
ENHANCING STUDENT LEARNING
This step requires creativity. Think of all the possible goals that could be generated in
relation to the problem(s) in step 1. Devise a goal for each one of the possible problems
you listed.
3. Evaluation: Out of all the possible goals in step 2, decide which one(s) you should
achieve.
This step requires you to specify musts, wants, constraints, and assumptions. Evaluate
all the possible goals in step 2, and select the one(s) you think are best. Don’t select too
many goals in this step. Narrow the goals from step 2 down to the best one or two
Generate Ideas for Meeting your Goal(s) in Step 3.
4. Analysis: What problems might be involved in meeting the goals(s) in step 3?
Look carefully at all aspects of your goals(s) from step 3. What might cause problems in
meeting the goals(s)?
5. Synthesis: What could be done to solve the goal problems in step 4?
Again, this calls for creativity. Imagine what could be done to solve each one of the goal
problems in step 4. Integrate and synthesize ideas to suggest possible solutions.
6. Evaluation: Of all the possible solutions to your goal problems in step 5, what should
be done to solve those problems?
This means that you must evaluate all the possible solutions in step 5 to find the best
one(s). To do this, consider your goal(s) in step 3 again, specify conditional constraints,
anticipate future consequences, and select the best combination of ideas. Then select the
best solution, the one you think you should try.
Define the New Situation
The new situation includes both the old situation’s list of who, what, when, where, why,
and how, plus the solutions(s) you selected in step 6. Determine and include various
costs and benefits of implementing your step 6 solution(s) in your description of the new
situation.
Prepare A Plan
7. Analysis: What might be a problem(s) with the new situation?
Look at all parts of the new situation to determine what might cause, contribute to, or be
a problem.
8. Synthesis: What could be part of a plan to solve the new situation problems identified
in step 7?
Use your imagination to determine possible options for solving the problems in step 7.
Generate options that could solve each problem. Integrate your ideas to produce a
synthesis of new plans.
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9. Evaluation: Which of the possible plans in step 8 should be used to solve the new
situation problems?
Consider your goal(s) (step 3), selected solution(s) (step 6), constraints, assumptions, and
any anticipated consequences in deciding which plan(s) from step 8 you should choose.
Evaluate the possible plans and select the best.
Take Action
10. Analysis: What might be a problem with the plan you have selected in step 9?
Rehearse and visualize the plan from step 9. Separate it into its component parts to
determine what might possibly be, contribute to, or cause a problem once the plan is
implemented.
11. Synthesis: What could be, becomes reality as you implement the plan.
Actually implement the plan you selected in step 9. As you do so, generate options for
action that solve every problem that could occur.
12. Evaluation: What should be the next action once you see the results of the implemented plan?
Compare the actual results of your plan with your goal(s) in step 3, the ideas you selected
in step 6, and the plan you developed in step 9. Specify any constraints and assumptions
you’ve made, anticipate future consequences, evaluate the situation, and select the best
future action.
Notice the different levels of thinking skills required as the thinker progresses through
these steps. The higher-order skills of analysis, synthesis, and evaluation are specifically
required in each of the four sections of this problem solving process.
A C O M M E N T O N T H E 12 G U I D E D D E S I G N S T E P S
For some problems and situations, there is no way students can take action and
implement their plan in section F. In this case, they may want to stop after step 9 or 10,
knowing they’ve generated a well-thought-out, plausible solution. Professionals don’t
always carry out the solutions they suggest. They generate possible solutions based on
theory and logic.
In other cases, it will be possible to implement a plan. Then steps 10, 11 and 12 will be
useful. For instance, it may be the case that a plan calls for changing an estimate of an
engineering measurement. Students might be able to put the new estimates into a formula
or computer program and see the resulting changes. They may also be able to compare
their work with that of professionals, for example, using existing data available to government policy makers or business managers and actual outcomes. Students will be able
to assess the results or implications of solutions as they are actually implemented.
ENHANCING STUDENT LEARNING
IS ALL THIS NECESSARY?
The 12 Guided Design steps may sound rigid or unnecessary; students have been
thinking all their lives well enough to get into university. True enough, but the goal of
this process is to make them expert thinkers, not just average ones. Becoming an expert
thinker, like becoming an expert in any skill or field of endeavor, can sometimes seem a
painstaking process. It takes time, there are many steps involved, and enthusiasm flags
at times.
1 Dressel and
Marcus, 1982, p.25.
2 Bloom, 1956.
3 McKeachie, et al.,
1986, p. 37
4 Wales, et al., 1987.
5 Wales, 1979, pp.
394-398
Becoming an effective thinker can be likened to learning how to ride a bicycle. As people
first learn, it helps if they put their feet and hands in specified places each time they get
on the bicycle. After a while, this becomes second nature, and they become accomplished
cyclists. Even though the hands and feet of the expert rider might be in the same places
as those of the beginner, their placement by the expert is automatic. The expert rider does
not have to think about such minor details. Becoming an effective thinker is much the
same. If students start as novices, learning and practicing all the correct steps, they’ll
eventually become experts who don’t need to consciously think each step out. Thinking
is no longer a series of rigid steps, but a fluid process that flows naturally from defining
the situation and determining the problem(s) to implementing a well-evaluated plan of
action.
W H AT N O W ?
Remember that effective thinking is a skill which develops with practice. Be explicit
about telling students what you expect, and explicitly model an effective thinking
process for them. This is how they learn to think like chemists,
architects, nurses, anthropologists, and so on.
When students know what effective thinking involves, when
instructors are explicit about the thinking they go through in solving
problems with course material, students find it easier to think
effectively themselves. The 12 Guided Design steps are one way of
explicitly teaching the skills of effective thinking, although instructors may have other methods. What is important is that students be
given clear and explicit guidance in becoming effective thinkers.
University courses, and life in general, provide a wealth of problems and situations that benefit from the work of effective thinkers.
Effective thinking isn’t easy, but most students find it fun once they
gain some experience and skill. It’s also more fun to teach students
who are becoming effective thinkers.
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> TIP
Effective thinking is
often equated with
problem solving.
Both involve a
process with a series
of identifiable steps.
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CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT
Academic Integrity: The Responsibilities
of an Instructor
B R A N DY U S I C K
Used with permission
of author
A
t the University of Manitoba, Student Advocacy assists students with academic
issues, including academic dishonesty. Our approach emphasizes prevention of
dishonesty and promotion of ethics, highlighted by our annual academic integrity
week. Student Advocates are experts on student discipline, and your resource for
questions about process and practices. This article outlines the responsibilities of instructors
for student discipline.
University community members agree that academic integrity is the cornerstone of
academic work. What is not so clear are the specific duties of academic staff to uphold
academic integrity. Although the university mission may be to instill academic integrity,
the default strategy is to provide admonitions of dishonest behaviour. Unfortunately,
reactive strategies may not be effective. In 1999, The Center for Academic Integrity
(CAI) challenged academic communities to discuss academic integrity in positive terms.
U of M (a member of CAI) defines academic integrity as five fundamental values:
honesty, trust, fairness, respect, and responsibility.
Academic integrity means active commitment to those values. Each institution should
promote a culture in which all members – students and faculty – subscribe to the values.
The classroom is an important place to discuss academic integrity. Here, instructors set
expectations and model desired behaviour.
DEFINITIONS
U of M has an Academic Integrity” policy, with two subsections (“Plagiarism and
Cheating” and “Personation of Examinations”), in the General Academic Regulations
and Requirements section of the Calendar. The U of M defines cheating on tests as:
“copying from another student or bringing unauthorized materials into the exam room
(e.g., crib notes, pagers or cell phones)...and exam impersonation” (University of
Manitoba, 2004, p. 26). The U of M defines plagiarism as: “...to take ideas or words of
another person and pass them off as one’s own... stealing something intangible...
Plagiarism applies to. . . written...as well as orally...presented work...,whether quoted
directly or paraphrased[, and to]...diagrams, statistical tables...and materials or information from Internet sources (University of Manitoba, 2004, p. 26). Two other forms of
student plagiarism are: Duplicate submission, or “an assignment...submitted for marks
for one course” which is then “used for a different course assignment” and Inappropriate
collaboration, or “working with other students. . . when...not permitted by the instructor”
(University of Manitoba, 2004, p. 27).
CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT
Plagiarism occurs on a spectrum. Low level plagiarism may be inadvertent technical
and mechanical referencing mistakes. At the far end are extreme forms, such as the
submission of an entire document written by another, whether peers or an internet paper
mill (e.g. schoolsucks.com, or cheathouse.com). Plagiarism between these two extremes
include: weaving/chunking of source material; sentence/paragraph alteration of source
material; failure to include quotation marks or properly reference quotations or paraphrases; and fabricating sources/references. These forms are challenging, because it is
difficult to decide whether the student intended to plagiarize or had poor referencing,
writing, or paraphrasing skills.
THREE RESPONSIBILITIES
An instructor has responsibilities for prevention, detection and response. These are not
discrete, but require thoughtful steps when creating curriculum, teaching, and interacting
with students.
Prevention
The Responsibility of Academic Staff with Regard to Students policy requires each course
syllabus to refer to academic integrity policy and state the degree of collaboration
allowed on assignments. Some faculties require additional information, such as a
definition of plagiarism and consequences. Check with your unit head for templates or
required information. Some prevention strategies for teaching and evaluation are:
• Explain why referencing is important: the student’s work contributes to a body of
knowledge; citations demonstrate the development of the thesis statement and lend
credibility to arguments. Provide a rubric that describes an excellent paper.
• Discuss the academic dishonesty policy at length in class, and on the course outline.
Explain the consequences. Communicate clearly about collaboration.
• Aim for relevancy in assignments. Help students to create connections between course
content, their interests, current events, and their program/discipline.
• Consider limiting sources; for example, require a number of traditional sources and
restrict internet sources. Direct students to reliable, scholarly online sources. Tell students
copies of sources may be requested. Encourage keeping a research log.
• Require a smaller sample of writing before a major paper, or break a large project into
smaller pieces (e.g. annotated bibliography, outline etc). Keep copies of all submitted
work.
• Indicate and review documentation style. Provide examples in course material. Use the
web, the vehicle which students prefer to access information, to teach students about
appropriate referencing.
Consider: http://library.acadiau.ca/tutorials/plagiarism/ (Smith & Usick, 2005)
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Preventative strategies for exam cheating include: changing question sheets and tests,
informing students in advance that tests are changed each year; avoiding recycling of
questions; active invigilation; and reviewing before each exam the policy on authorized
material (e.g. calculators, electronic translators etc). Consider the motivations that lead
to decisions to plagiarize or cheat.
• Instructors who take shortcuts, by recycling assignments and tests, will encourage
students to submit recycled submissions and test answers. If a student perceives the
work or class to be irrelevant, s/he may believe shortcuts are justified.
• Students feel overwhelmed with pressure to obtain excellent grades; they perceive each
grade as essential to a professional or academic goal. Tight scheduling of assignment
or exam dates contributes to stress even for organized students.
• Technology (electronic or digital devices) may facilitate dishonest behaviour.
• The quality and timing of feedback on assignments shape a student’s respect for the
instructor and course.
• Unclear expectations lead to misunderstandings, particularly inappropriate
collaboration.
• Cultural differences play a role in understanding academic integrity.
Detection
Plagiarism may be blatant: sections cut and pasted from a required course reading.
Or a phrase or sentence may seem familiar but the original is not recalled. Consult your
reference librarian. For more subtle cases, “Low tech” clues include: language more
complex than usual or expected; paper doesn’t quite fit the topic; poor sentence and
paragraph transitions; cited materials are not in library; and referenced web sites are
inactive (Bates & Fain, 2004). The web is a powerful tool for finding plagiarized sources.
The phrase(s) suspected of being plagiarized can be searched within quotation marks on
a search engine to track down the source. Become familiar with information on-line, and
let students know you are web-savvy. Plagiarism detection software is another option.
The U of M has not subscribed to a detection company such as Turnitin.com.
Response
Do something if you are suspicious. It is a mistake to not investigate without “airtight”
evidence. If there are strong grounds, instructors should pursue the matter via the
Student Discipline Bylaw. Students under investigation obtain information about their
rights from the Bylaw. If the evidence is weak, the instructor should still talk to the student, to “give notice” and review expectations. See this as a strategy to prevent future
transgressions. It is a mistake for you to assign a penalty. Instructors do not have the
jurisdiction: the disciplinary outcome must be referred to the appropriate administrator,
CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT
normally the Department Head. For those instances which seem unintentional in
which a remedial approach might be appropriate, instructors should consult with the
Department Head.
Suspicion/Discovery
Validate/Gather Evidence
(find original source)
Prof meets student to communicate
concern/allegation in a confidential meeting
Plagiarism
- Inform Student
- Refer matter to Dept Head
Plagiarism, but
- Inform Student
- Provide remedial opportunity
- Refer to appropriate services
- Consult/Inform Dept Head
- Advisable to keep record
Dept. Head communicates
concern/allegation to the
student via formal letter
Not Plagiarism
(Inadvertent?, citation
or technical errors. EAL)
- Inform Student
- No further action
- No record
Outcome.
Inform student of
disciplinary outcome.
Student can appeal.
For further information, please contact Student Advocacy.
REFERENCES
Center for Academic Integrity. (1999, October). The Fundamental Values of Academic Integrity. [Brochure].
Durham, NC: Duke University.
Bates, B & Fain, M. (2004, November 4) Cheating 101: Detecting Plagiarized Papers. Retrieved January 10, 2005
from Coastal Carolina University, Kimbel Library Web site: http://www.coastal.edu/library/plaguarz.html.
Smith, L. & Usick, B. (2005, February). Plagiarism Technology: A Primer on Prevention and Detection.
UTS Newsletter,13(3).
University of Manitoba. (2004). Undergraduate Calendar 2004-2005. Winnipeg, MB: Author.
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Incivilities in the Classroom
NANCY
C A L L AG H A N
Used with permission
of author
M
any professors love to teach, finding it challenging and also highly rewarding.
However, there are times when teaching is not only difficult but also downright
frustrating, particularly when dealing with uncivil or inappropriate student
behaviour in the classroom.
Incivilities in the classroom come in many forms. Some behaviours are mere annoyances
while others are more serious since they interfere with the teaching or alter the dynamics
of the class as a whole. Below is a short list of student behaviours that professors and
TA’s have encountered within their classrooms. Some may be familiar to you:
• Sleeping in class.
• Reading the newspaper or doing other coursework during your lectures.
• Cell phones ringing and students answering them.
• Monopolizing lecture time with questions and/or comments.
• Attempting to discredit your knowledge and/or authority.
• Making rude comments about your class and/or teaching style during your lectures.
• Directing vulgar comments toward you and/or other students.
Most students at the University of Manitoba will not display any of the above rude,
uncivil, or disruptive behaviours in the classroom. However, being prepared to deal
with inappropriate behaviour is a worthwhile endeavour.
When you think about implementing strategies to minimize uncivil student behaviour it
is important to first consider what kinds of behaviours that, as the professor, you will or
will not tolerate. Then you can tailor your classroom rules accordingly. As a means of
establishing and maintaining the learning environment that you desire, it is then helpful
to outline your expectations for classroom behaviour at the outset of every course and
remain vigilant in its upkeep for its duration. Here are some practical tips successfully
used by other professors, as reported in workshops over the years:
• Communicate classroom rules on the first day of class: Clearly state, both verbally and
on the syllabus, your expectations for student conduct and the consequences that will
follow if they are violated. Take a moment to discuss them with the class to ensure
they are understood.
• Model the behaviour you expect from your students: Avoid double standards regarding
your own behaviour as the professor versus their behaviour as students. This includes
starting and stopping lectures on time, following the syllabus, handing back tests and
assignments on time, etc. Students can become frustrated if they feel that their time or
rights are being disrespected.
CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT
• Be consistent and fair about what is and is not tolerated in class: Students can be very
attuned to differential treatment so take care to ensure that rules of conduct are applied
to everyone in an even manner.
• Learn students’ names: Reducing anonymity is one way of affecting behaviour.
• Provide feedback to students throughout the term to help reduce their anxiety about
how they are doing. When assessing students’ participation and academic performance,
try to use language that fosters a respectful and collaborative classroom and acknowledges student differences.
• If there has been a problem with a student or group of students try to re-engage them
within the classroom. This may help to shift interactions from negative ones into
positive and constructive ones.
• Positively reinforce student behaviours that are desirable rather than only addressing
instances where negative behaviours are present.
• Develop a complaint-resolution process for the entire class to use. For example, you
may be willing to review assigned grades, but not on the day in which the grade was
returned. One complaint resolution policy may be that only after 24 hours have lapsed
will you will review grades. And then, only if the student re-submits the original
assignment along with a letter explaining why the grade merits your reconsideration.
• Always document events that are of concern to you for future reference. Include the
time, date, place, names of witnesses if any, and a brief synopsis of what transpired and
how the event ended. Record any warnings that were issued to the student should
you need to invoke a consequence at a later date.
Clearly stating rules and expectations and the corresponding consequences should they
be breached is often enough to keep negative events from transpiring in the first place.
However, if you have put your strategies in place and still encounter inappropriate
behaviour from a student then additional actions may need to be taken.
Once you have determined that a student’s behaviour is problematic and warrants some
measure of response you must also decide how and when to do so. Keep in mind that
the time and place you choose to discuss matters with the student, and the approach
that you take, can have a significant impact on whether you achieve the results you seek.
Any response should target the behaviour that is of concern and not the student
him/herself.
The following are some tips for addressing student behaviour in a respectful and
constructive way:
• Take some time, and a deep breath, before you say or do anything. If you are feeling
angry or upset by the student’s behaviour, a moment to collect yourself before
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responding can be helpful as you decide what to do. Emotions can impair your own
good judgment and lead to over-reacting or worsening a situation.
• Remain calm and keep your statements simple, clear and direct.
• Identify and focus on the specific behaviour of concern. Avoid global statements
(e.g., “you always...” or “you never...”) about the student and his/her conduct during
your course.
• Be clear about what modifications to the behaviour that you would like and discuss
the consequences that will follow if the present behaviour persists. Whenever possible,
try to problem solve with the student rather than just dictating your own terms.
Attempt to see the problem from different angles, including the student’s.
• If you are at the point of imposing a consequence be clear about why. Be prepared to
outline some steps the student can take and/or provide the name of an appropriate
person s/he can talk to if there is disagreement with your decision.
• Make an effort to speak to the student in a setting that you feel is safe but affords some
“Clearly stating rules and expectations and
the corresponding consequences should they
be breached is often enough to keep negative
events from transpiring in the first place.“
privacy. Attempting to
address someone’s conduct
when there is an audience
can potentially encourage
the person to become more
challenging and intensify
the situation.
• Trust your own instincts. If you sense that your interaction with the student is escalat-
ing, you can always end it and arrange to meet at another time or place.
• Always document what transpired for future reference. Include the time, date, who
was present, what was said, and the outcome of the event or interaction.
There are policies and support services to assist you if you are currently facing a difficult
student situation, or if you have concerns that a situation could escalate. You may want
to inform your Program Director, Department Head or Dean of the challenges you are
experiencing, especially if there are indications that the problem may persist or require
a higher level of intervention. You may also confidentially consult with someone from
an office like Student Advocacy or Equity Services. These offices exist to also assist
professors and administrators, and can provide you with the resources you need if you
have an uncivil or disruptive student in your classroom.
CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT
3.101
Plagiarism Technology: A Primer on
Prevention and Detection
T
he teaching and learning environment has been greatly influenced by technology.
Virtually all aspects of knowledge delivery and acquisition have felt the impact of
technology and for the most part the results, while largely positive, have raised
issues and caused other adaptations. One area of concern at the University of Manitoba
and other educational institutions is how technology and the internet may be contributing
to an increase in academic dishonesty, in particular plagiarism.
Generally the media reports that plagiarism is on the rise due to the unprecedented
access to online information. However, empirical studies suggest that internet plagiarism
is not rampant among undergraduate students1. But this may change with the next
generation of students2.
The Canadian Consortium 2002 Online Survey3 provided information about the types of
dubious academic student behaviours observed by faculty:
• submitting of work completed by someone else (50%),
• copying a few sentences without footnoting (55%),
• submitting of a paper downloaded for free from paper mill or website (22%),
• submitting of a paper purchased from paper mill or website (11%),
• copying from internet source without footnoting (5%).
The proliferation of information and its ready availability via the internet is obvious to
both faculty and students. There are billions of websites, electronic equivalents of ‘Cole’s
Notes’ (e.g., www.pinkmonkey.com, www.sparknotes.com), on-line research “assistants”
(e.g., www.authorityfinder.com, www.noodletools.com, www.itools.com), and electronic
paper mills that feature free essays (e.g., www.OPPapers.com, www.awerty.com) or
custom written essays (e.g.,www.schoolsucks.com, www.cheathouse.com, www.paperstore.net).
In traditional classroom settings and in the online classroom, the essentials of promoting
and preventing plagiarism are similar. It is important that the instructor take an active
role in providing information to students about academic integrity and structuring
the course and its evaluative components so that academic integrity is promoted. An
important first consideration is that instructors model good referencing habits in all of
their communications with students, including lecture notes and presentations in both
traditional and electronic formats. There is an array of other prevention strategies that
can be incorporated into good teaching practice.
LY N N S M I T H A N D
B R A N DY U S I C K
Used with permission
of authors
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T E A C H I N G AT T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F M A N I TO B A : A H A N D B O O K
• Explain why referencing is an important aspect of academic writing. The student’s work
is his/her own contribution to a body of knowledge in a particular field and their citations
demonstrate the development of his/her thesis statement. Citations serve to both credit
another author’s work and to give credibility to one’s statements or arguments.
• Explain that plagiarism is the absence or inappropriate use of references, a behaviour
that may result in serious academic consequences.
• Discuss the academic dishonesty policy at length and as per the R.O.A.S.S. policy
include this information on the course outline.
• Aim for relevancy when developing assignments. Help students to create connections
between course content and what’s happening in the world, their program/discipline
and student’s own interests.
• Be clear when collaboration on assignments is permitted and when not permitted.
• Consider limiting sources, for example require a certain number of traditional sources
and restrict internet related sources. Direct students to reliable and scholarly online
sources.
• Indicate and review preferred documentation style. Provide examples of referencing
style in course outline and in all material generated for the course.
• Provide a rubric or an information sheet that outlines elements of an excellent paper.
This minimizes students’ anxiety about the evaluative process.
• Encourage students to create a research log and to keep copies of all sources used.
> TIP
Instructors who model
good reference habits
in lecture notes and
presentations help to
prevent plagiarism in
students.
• Require a smaller sample of written work before submission of
larger paper or project. Better yet, break a large project into
smaller pieces (e.g. annotated bibliography, outline etc). Keep
copies of all submitted work.
Using the web to teach students about appropriate referencing
capitalizes on the vehicle by which students prefer to access
information. A helpful and engaging Canadian tutorial to consider
is http://library.acadiau.ca/tutorials/plagiarism/
In most cases, students will not be intentionally plagiarizing.
However, if you suspect that an assignment has been plagiarized,
you can use technology to assist with the investigation. Some
clues that a paper may not be completely original are:
• language usage more complex than usual or expected,
• paper doesn’t quite fit the assigned topic,
• poor sentence and paragraph transitions,
CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT
• printed text is grey/shaded not crisp or in a different font both which may be tell-tale
signs of copy and paste plagiarism,
• cited materials not available in library,
4
• web sites referenced are inactive .
When you meet with the student to discuss the allegation of plagiarism, as recommended
in the Student Discipline By-Law, there may be some additional elements that contribute
to the evidence.
• The student cannot summarize main points of paper or recall main source materials
used.
5
• The student cannot provide sources upon request .
For other cases you may find the need to use technology to assist you in the detection of
plagiarism. A powerful way an instructor may curb plagiarism is to inform students
s/he is aware of what is available online and have access to plagiarism detection tools
such as:
• Web search engines (e.g., www.google.com, www.altavista.com, www.dogpile.com
(metasearch),
• Plagiarism Detection Software (e.g., www.turnitin.com, www.canexus.com/eve).
The University of Manitoba does not subscribe to plagiarism detection software but
the use of Google and its recent academic counterpart Google Scholar may prove to be
as effective and avoid the legal issues related to the services of companies such as
Turnitin.com.
Student Advocacy promotes an educational approach to deterring plagiarism and is
dedicated to assisting instructors to prevent plagiarism. However, any concerns about
plagiarism may necessitate two further steps: detection and appropriate response
according to the Student Discipline Bylaw. Student Advocacy can assist instructors and
administrators with any of these three responsibilities.
3.103
1 Kellog, A. P.
“Students plagiarize
online less than
many think, a new
study finds.” The
Chronicle of Higher
Education 48 no.23
(2002) : A44.
2
Scanlon, P. M. &
Neumann, D. R.
“Internet plagiarism
among college
students.” Journal of
College Student
Development 43 no.3
(2002) : 347-385.
3 Eleven Canadian
universities and
colleges, including
the U of M
participated.
4 Adapted from Fain,
M. Cheating 101 :
Paper Mills and You-Detecting Plagiarized
Papers Teaching
Effectiveness Seminar
Homepage. 5 March
1999. Web site.
Available from
http://www.coastal.
edu/library/
plaguarz.html
Accessed 31 March,
2000
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Tips to Help You Meet the Challenges
of Teaching Large Classes
H E AT H E R
GILL-ROBINSON
Used with permission
of author
C H A L L E N G E S FO R T H E S T U D E N T
Personal risks
• Students often won’t ask questions or participate in discussions – they risk being
identified as “too smart” or “too stupid”. Be aware of this and encourage students
to participate in other ways: by e-mail, personal notes to the instructor, or group
response activities
Personal growth
• Large classes are often first year classes. Many students are already dealing with
substantial personal lifestyle changes that accompany higher education; remember
that students, like professors, have complex lives and sometimes a little understanding
is necessary.
C H A L L E N G E S FO R T H E T E A C H E R
Environmental challenges
Teaching Space
• Check out your teaching space before classes start – this will help you to plan discussions
and active learning activities with an awareness of the environment
• Plan your audio-visual needs, think about how you can move around the space to
engage students while using technology, and be aware of who to contact when technical
problems occur
Cell phones, Palm Pilots, Text messaging
• Make clear to students on the first day of class what your policy is regarding cell
phones and other electronic devices; be prepared to re-iterate the policy frequently
• Move around the classroom often – students will be less tempted to text message or use
similar electronic devices if they know that you will be moving throughout the room
• Making the class highly interactive gives students fewer opportunities to use electronic
devices since they are fully involved in the class
• For tests and examinations, make clear that electronic devices are not permitted under
any circumstances. Be certain that nothing other than the test paper and other permitted material are visible and/or accessible. You will have to watch carefully since it can
be easy to transmit questions to someone outside of the room who can then provide
the answers. Watch for hands not on the desk – it usually takes both hands to write a
CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT
test, but only one hand to text message, for example. Students who often pause for
thought and then appear to have “pulled the answer out of the air” may have been
inspired by an electronic source – watch their hand movements.
Communication challenges
Lectures
• Look and sound confident: speaking in front of large groups can be intimidating,
but if you project confidence and respect, your students will sense this.
• Again: Move around the room often
• Make eye contact with students.
• Use concrete examples when possible
• Use visual aids where possible, but try not to overwhelm students with too much
sensory input at any one time
• Segment your lectures and use active learning to keep students engaged – vary your
style of delivery, throw out rhetorical questions and give students time to think about
the answer, use a short video or sound clip, try a short pair- or group-based activity
• Develop your own teaching style: when you are comfortable with how you teach,
your students will feel able to learn
Interaction
• Be available to your students immediately before and after classes
• Greet students – at least with a smile!
• Encourage students to communicate with you and participate in class via e-mail,
during office hours, through notes to you, and suggestion boxes
• It may not be possible to learn everyone’s name, but make the effort to learn names
whenever you can
• I have developed the “Student Choice Lecture”. Students are encouraged to suggest
topics, related to the course subject matter, in which they are interested, but which we
may not have covered in class. All of the suggestions are put to the entire class for an
anonymous vote and I prepare a special class on the chosen topic. Students then feel
as if they had made a significant contribution to the class and their own learning. This
has been successful in classes of all sizes.
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T E A C H I N G AT T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F M A N I TO B A : A H A N D B O O K
Active Learning challenges
Questioning
• Offer questions that may have multiple or personal answers and give students enough
time to think. If answers are quite personal, remember that answers do not always
have to be shared in class in order for students to feel involved
• Ask “educated guess” questions. None of the students will know the specific answer,
so everyone will feel as if they are on level footing.
• Have “group response” questions – eg. “Hands up if you think the answer is X. Now
hands up if you think the answer is Y”. This can be less risky for students than stating
answers as an individual
• Encourage students to provide examples for things discussed in class. Students can
often offer clear, relevant examples that are often useful for other students
• Avoid general questions such as, “Is everything clear?”, and be more specific. For
example, ask at the end of class, “Can anyone tell me one of the main ideas that we
talked about today?”
“Develop your own teaching style: when
you are comfortable with how you teach,
your students will feel able to learn.”
Group work
• Although it may take a
little organization time to
get the students into pairs
or groups, it is worth
investing the time for the
peer interaction and idea
sharing
• Set time limits for each task or discussion – the students are more productive if they
know there is a finite amount of time
• Walk around the room and observe the groups. Contribute comments and respond
to ideas.
Evaluation
• With large classes you will certainly have students with several different learning
styles, so be sure to present information in several different ways in order to ensure
you are reaching as many people as possible
• Test logistics may be complicated – you may need to book a different room (to gain
enough space to discourage copying,) or have multiple versions of the same test
• Even if you do not ordinarily have Teaching Assistants, arrange extra help for all test
and exam settings – you will need more than one pair of eyes to monitor large classes
CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT
• Always check photo I.D. Tell students to expect an I.D. check in advance so that they
bring I.D. with them. Use examination attendance rolls for every test/exam or have
students sign their answer sheets. Compare signatures to the photo I.D.
• Do not allow copies of the examination paper to leave the class if you plan to use any
of the questions in the future
• Short-term feedback can be obtained from “one-minute papers” or by giving students
sample exam questions. Ask students to identify the most important/least important
thing learned in a specific class or unit. Provide chapter or unit review questions and
get the students to contribute some of the review material.
Classroom management challenges
Attendance
Give students a reason to come class – be an enthusiastic, committed facilitator. Even in
very large classes, students will attend if they are interested in what you are saying and
feel included in the class.
Decide how important attendance and participation is. Do you need to evaluate it as part
of the course mark?
Noise and talking
Moving around the room discourages non-class related conversation. If you use
Powerpoint, consider buying a remote for your laptop so that you can change slides
from anywhere in the room
Tell students at the beginning of term what your policy is on personal conversation
during class. There may be times the discussion is relevant or important, but if it is
constant or clearly not class-related, speak to the students individually following the
class or immediately before the next class.
With persistent talkers, I have asked them in class if there is a point that they need
clarification of something I have said; but I prefer not to embarrass students and have
found that a quiet word after class is much more effective. I have, on occasion, asked
specific students not to sit together because they are disturbing others.
T H E M O S T I M P O R TA N T P O I N T S :
• There are challenges – with preparation, planning, hard work and commitment,
teaching large classes can be a positive experience
• Don’t be afraid to ask for help or try new things
• Be Yourself, Be interested and have fun!
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Discipline and Control in Large Classes
EILEEN M.
HERTEIS
Adapted with
permission from
Eileen M. Herteis,
with additions by
Beverly J. Cameron.
C
ommon discipline problems are exacerbated by large classes. For instance, lateness is made worse if the tardy student has to climb up ten stairs and disturb
twenty students in order to sit down, and chattering is more disruptive when
the instructor can hear the culprits but can’t see them well enough to make eye contact.
We all know that it’s important to deal with disruptive incidents quickly, effectively, and
constructively, but sometimes it’s hard to know how to do this. At times more knowledge is all it takes to solve a problem. A chronically late student may have a class before
yours on the other side of campus and the other professor always goes overtime. In this
case you might ask others in the class to leave a few empty seats by the door for individuals who have to travel long distances between classes. The student who falls asleep in
class regularly, or seems otherwise distracted, may be a single parent working part-time
to pay for tuition. Here you might, suggest the student sit in the front of the room where
it’s easier to pay attention and less conducive to falling asleep.
On the other hand, anonymity makes it easier for students in a large class to challenge
the teacher’s authority in subtle, or not so subtle, ways. If students are using the fact that
you don’t know them, then get to know them. This can usually be accomplished by
asking them to stay after class to talk with you. Find out their names, and explain that
their behavior is disrupting other students, the class, or you. When several students are
involved you might suggest they take separated seats for future classes so they will
be less tempted to talk to each other. This direct approach, which does not embarrass
individuals in front of the class, but lets them know you are
concerned about their behavior, often works well.
> TIP
Maintain interest
by making the
subject matter
relevant to
students’ lives.
Of course, occasional chatter or inattention is different from chronic
disruptiveness. While the former may be dealt with quickly and
effectively through eye contact, the use of humor (but not at the
expense of an individual or individuals), or moving toward chattering students, the latter requires a more serious remedy. You may
want to stop lecturing to deal with the problem. In these cases, it is
important to focus on how the behavior affects your teaching and
how the learning process of the rest of the class is hindered.
M O T I VAT I O N P R O B L E M S I N L A R G E C L A S S E S
Many instructors see student motivation as a key to understanding,
and preventing, disruptive behavior in large classes. Perhaps the
“disrupters” feel that their backgrounds, educational and career
goals, and previous experiences are not being recognized by the
instructor. If so, they may become bored and dissatisfied, especially
CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT
3.109
if the class is compulsory. This may result in disruptive behavior such as openly
confronting a professor through excessive questioning (e.g., “Isn’t that too obvious?”)
or other inappropriate behavior designed to challenge a professor’s authority.
One approach to a general lack of attention or motivation is to speak openly to the class
(or certain individuals) in an effort to improve the students’ self-discipline and responsibility. Ask students how they would resolve the perceived problem, and be ready to
implement some of their suggestions. The key here is the instructor’s willingness to
accommodate students’ ideas. Don’t ask for suggestions if you don’t intend to take any
of them.
Faculty members can improve students’ motivation and attentiveness by:
• varying the teaching methods (e.g., mixing lectures with five minute periods where
the students solve problems related to the lecture material, having short discussions
periods with the whole class on a topic of interest, asking students to talk about an idea
with the person next to them and integrating their responses into the continuation of
the lecture).
• giving unannounced
quizzes to encourage
students to review course
material.
• trying to include more
“There is no right or wrong method to deal
with discipline and control problems in a
class. Find a way that works best for you.”
applications of the theory
into lectures. Particularly
effective is using examples that pertain to students’ lives and concerns.
• asking students for suggestions of topics they would like to see covered in class.
There is no right or wrong method to deal with discipline and control problems in a
class. Find a way that works best for you. However, as Robert Brooks says, “Most
discipline problems in the classroom are simple nuisances or distractions. There are a
few instances when, during a full moon, a student loses his or her inhibitions and
publicly challenges the instructor’s authority. The way in which the instructor responds
to these challenges in large measure determines how many and how serious subsequent
ones will be.”
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Dealing With “Challenging” Students
EDITED BY
MICHELE
M A R I N C OV I C H
Adapted with
permission from
Teaching At
Stanford (1995)
B
eing thoughtful with your students can save you from many problems. If you
phrase questions and criticism carefully, you will generally avoid defensive or
hostile responses. If you are supportive, encouraging, and respectful of student
ideas in class, then you may collect wrong answers, point out feeble arguments, or
highlight weak points in a positive manner without discouraging your students. Rather
than asking what is wrong with a written paragraph or a problem solution, ask how it
could be improved. Instead of asking what the weak point of an argument is, ask how
well it applies to, or uses, the material from the class. Rather than dismissing an idea
immediately, ask the student to clarify using the class material. Don’t, on the other hand,
respond with “good point” when the idea was, in fact, poorly presented. Always show
students the courtesy of attending to their answers when they offer an idea; don’t write
on the blackboard or scribble on a note pad while they are speaking.
You are more likely to work smoothly with your students if you resolve any conflicting
feelings you may have about your authority as a teacher. Students are confused by, and
often alienated from, a teacher who alternatively acts as a friend or peer, then as a stern
authority figure. You must also be careful about teasing or sarcastic humors since these
are too easily misinterpreted. On the other hand, don’t lose your sense of humor or the
ability to laugh at your own mistakes.
However careful you are, you may still run into students who present specific problems.
A few recurrent types – and ways to work with them – are discussed below.
THE “GRADE GRUBBER”
You may find that some students will unrelentingly pursue you if you give them a lower
grade than they expected. Many faculty and TAs complain that they have even had
“A’s” vigorously contested! There are ways to minimize such incidents. Make entirely
clear from the beginning of the course exactly what you expect in papers or tests. If
possible, hand out guidelines for a good essay or examples of a superior exam answer.
When you do give a grade, note in some detail, weak or strong points of the work and
suggestions for improving performance. With papers, you might give students the
option of handing in an initial draft that you will not grade but will comment on.
When students actually come to you to contest grades for term work, indicate that when
you reconsider their paper, assignment, or problem-set mark, you retain the right to
adjust their grade either up or down. If you are the TA, advise students that in the case
of unresolved differences, the professor will make the final decision. (Be sure to discuss
this with the professor beforehand!) When no resolution is possible, brief the student
on which office to turn to (such as the department head, dean’s office, or the Student
CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT
Advocate) to pursue an appeal. Although grade grubbers may discourage you and
appear to undermine the academic enterprise, remember that this generation of students
is under pressures you may not have had as an undergraduate. Competition for graduate
and professional schools is fierce. You will have more success with these students if you
listen to, and respond to, their anxieties as well as their complaints.
Remember, also, that it’s possible that you have made a mistake in evaluating a student’s
work, and a re-evaluation might be justified.
T H E S T U D E N T W I T H S P E C I A L C I R C U M S TA N C E S
Students often come with a variety of excuses on why they can’t/didn’t take a test or
exam, why they need an extension for a paper or assignment, or why they haven’t
attended class, Research shows that about two-thirds of students admit to making at
least one untrue excuse during university, but that untrue excuses are about as common
as true ones.
While it is likely better to err on the side of understanding and compassion, it is important not to be so gullible that a few students have quite different deadlines and course
requirements than the majority of the class. Stating rules for missed tests and exams,
late assignments and papers, and class attendance in the syllabus is probably the best
way to limit problems from excuses. Suggestions for what to include in the course
outline include:
• requiring notes from a physician in case of illness;
• allowing students to miss one assignment or test – assuming there are many during the
course- for whatever reason, but giving a second miss a zero no matter what the reason;
• deducting marks for each day a paper or assignment is late;
• requiring students to call you, or leave a message on your answering machine, on the
due date if they miss a test or are/will be late with a paper and;
• not giving make-up tests but allowing one missed test, paper or assignment to be
averaged with marks received on other course requirements.
THE DISCOURAGED STUDENT
Students can enter a course with great enthusiasm only to become very discouraged after
the first test or assignment is returned. Others enter some required courses with great
dread and fear of failure. The problem, especially for first year students, may be the
transition to a new set of academic standards and expectations. Other courses, especially
those with mathematical content in non-mathematical disciplines, have long-standing
reputations for being “impossible.”
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You can talk to these discouraged and frightened students and suggest study methods,
and you can encourage them to continue working, but hearing from a former student
who “survived” the course often works best. Having former students come to your class
can convince present students that their problems, perceptions, and worries are not
unique. Former students can also give study and test preparation tips. Most of all, former
students are living poof that individuals who may have done poorly on the first test or
assignment, or who entered the course with dread, can pass with a reasonable grade.
Resolving Conflicts With Students
EDITED BY
MICHELE
M A R I N C OV I C H
Adapted with
permission from
Teaching At
Stanford (1995)
S
ometimes serious conflicts do arise between teacher and student concerning
charges of poor instruction, irregular or unfair grading, deviation from announced
procedures about course requirements, or the use of nonacademic criteria in
computing grades. Although you may assume such problems are rare, in fact they are
not. In 1995/96 the Student Advocate reported over 500 formal appeals involving grades,
disciplinary matters, registration complaints, and so on.
Ideally, such problems should be averted by carefully formulating and announcing
classroom policies, especially regarding grading. Once a problem does arise, however,
you should first try to resolve it through discussion with the student. If you are a TA,
involve the professor early on. Fortunately, most conflicts can be worked out cooperatively at this stage. Otherwise, formal or informal discussions or procedures at the
departmental or faculty level may lead to a satisfactory resolution. Failing this, faculty
and students often talk to the Student Advocate. Although the Advocate’s job is to
represent students’ grievances, she or he is willing to discuss situations with faculty
who need advice on these matters.
Conflicts arise when teachers are attracted to their students or vice-versa. To avoid such
potential clashes and conflicts of interest, some departments explicitly forbid instructors
to date students they are currently teaching or advising; other departments simply frown
on it or assume such dating will not occur. The U of M has explicitly adopted a policy
on sexual harassment and is committed to creating an atmosphere free of sexual harassment and all forms of sexual intimidation and exploitation. It is strongly advised that all
faculties become familiar with both the Policy on Sexual Harassment and the Policy on
Human Rights at the U of M. Both can be found in the General Calendar.
CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT
3.113
4
C H A P T E R
Assessing
Learning
INTRODUCTION
4.1
Introduction
A
ssessing students’ learning is one of the most challenging and sometimes
the least pleasant aspects of teaching. It requires the teacher to measure
the student’s learning. It sounds simple to say that the teacher will teach,
the student will learn and the teacher will assign value to how well the
student learned the material. In reality, it is a much more complex process.
Assessing Learning includes the following principles.
ASSESSMENT SHOULD:
• Be based on attainable learning objectives
• Be planned at the beginning of the course
• Be transparent
• Promote learning
• Be focused on the learning, not the individual
• Be ongoing
Introduction
4.1
Traditional Assessment
4.2
Alternative Assessment
4.11
Grading/Marking
4.38
• Measure the outcomes of the learning objectives
• Be appropriate for the level of learning that is required
• Be authentic
• Demonstrate learning
This chapter presents ideas on traditional forms of assessment like
multiple choice tests but also challenges the teacher to explore
alternative forms of assessment like portfolios. It also reviews the
various forms of grading commonly used in education.
Each department or faculty may have specific guidelines surrounding marks, assignments, grading practices, grading scales, norm or criterion referenced evaluation and
communication of marks/grades to students. Ensure that you have checked your
department and university policies to ensure that your expectations of students are
congruent with the system wide policies.
4.2
T E A C H I N G AT T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F M A N I TO B A : A H A N D B O O K
Traditional Assessment
Writing Multiple Choice, True & False, Matching,
Completion, Short Answer and Essay Exams
A DA P T E D B Y
B E V E R LY J.
CAMERON
With permission from
(I) . V.L. Clegg, and
W.E. Cashin,
Improving MultipleChoice Tests, IDEA
Paper # 16, Mahattan,
KS Kansas State
University Center for
Faculty Evaluation and
Development, and (2)
N. Chism and .
Associates, Teaching
at The Ohio State
University A
Handbook, (1996).
Columbus, OH The
Ohio State University
Center for Teaching
Excellence.
T
he tendency in course examinations is to pose the question, ‘How much do you
remember of what has been covered?’ rather than, ‘What can you do with what
you have learned?”1 While both questions are important, examinations should
reflect the goals the instructor has set for the course. When you sit down to write or select
questions for a test or examination go back to the goals you set for the course. Do your
goals call for students to recall definitions and recognize facts, to solve problems, or to
do both? Do your goals require students to separate ideas into component parts, to
combine ideas into a new product, to judge ideas with established standards, or all three?
Your course goals should determine the kind of examination questions you use. The
questions relating to course goals in the previous paragraph involve different levels of
thinking and learning.2 These levels can be described in a number of ways, one of which
is illustrated below.3
LEVELS OF THINKING AND LEARNING
Knowledge – simple recognition or recall of material or facts
Comprehension – restating or reorganizing material to show understanding
Application – problem solving or applying ideas’ in new situations
Analysis – separating ideas into component parts...and examining relationships
Synthesis – combining ideas into a statement or product new to the learner
Evaluation – making judgments by using self-produced criteria or established standards
These six levels can be further divided into lower- and higher-order thinking skills.
Lower-order skills involve knowledge and comprehension skills, while higher-order
skills involve application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation skills. The difference
between lower and higher order skills is that higher order skills require the active use of
course material while lower-order skills do not. Knowing the thinking and learning
expectations your course goals set for students helps determine the appropriate type of
exam questions and provides a guide for how questions should be presented.
TRADITIONAL ASSESSMENT
P L A N N I N G A N D E VA L U AT I N G A T E S T O R E X A M
One way to ensure that an exam you’re planning or have written is consistent with the
course goals and covers the course content as intended, is to rate the questions by thinking level and content area. When this information is put in a grid form, a quick glance
indicates if you achieved what you’ve intended. For example, the grid below depicts an
economics exam with 60 percent higher-order questions and 40 percent lower-order
questions. Questions are evenly distributed between the three topics areas. If your course
objectives involve a slightly greater emphasis on higher-order, rather than lower-order,
thinking skills and equal emphasis on topics, this exam is likely a good evaluation instrument that most students will feel is fair. However, students who have only memorized
facts, definitions, and concepts from lectures and the text may find this exam difficult.
They may have memorized because they didn’t understand the course objectives, or they
may not know how to study for higher-order questions. (Teaching students to develop
higher-order thinking skills is addressed in the Ensuring Learning section of this book.)
On the other hand, students who are prepared to use the material and have also
memorized some facts, definitions, and concepts will likely find that this exam meets
their expectations.
TO P I C C OV E R AG E
|
Supply & Demand
|
Price Elasticity
|
Consumer Choice
QUESTION NUMBERS
Objectives
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
LOWER-ORDER THINKING SKILLS
•
Recall and recognition
Restating and reorganizing
•
•
•
HIGHER-ORDER THINKING SKILLS
•
Application of formulae and theories
Evaluation of conclusions
•
•
Analysis of situations and arguments
Synthesis of information
•
•
•
|
4.3
4.4
T E A C H I N G AT T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F M A N I TO B A : A H A N D B O O K
T YPES OF TEST ITEMS
Limited-Choice vs. Open-Ended Items
The term “limited-choice” describes test questions that require students to choose one
or more given alternatives (e.g., multiple choice, true/false, or matching columns).
“Open-ended” refers to questions that require students to formulate their own answers
(e.g. sentence completion, essay).
Level of Learning Objective
In principle, both limited-choice and open-ended items may be used to test a wide range
of learning objectives. In practice, most instructors find it easier to construct limitedchoice items to test recall and comprehension skills, and to use open-ended items to test
higher-level thinking skills, but other possibilities exist. For example, limited-choice items
that require students to classify statements as fact or opinion go beyond rote learning,
and focused essay questions can easily stay at the recall level4.
Content Coverage
Since more limited-choice than open-ended items can be used in exams of the same time
length, it is possible to sample more of the course content with limited-choice items.
However, a small number of open-ended items that are broad in scope, and call for the
inclusion of many specifics, can test subject matter comprehensively.
Practice and Reward of Writing and Reading Skills
Many instructors wish to cultivate students reading and writing skills. If you want
students to hone their reading and writing skills, select test and examination items that
will reward and encourage these skills. For example, limited-choice items give virtually
no writing practice, while open-ended exams, particularly short-answer (e.g., one or
more paragraphs) and essay questions, provide opportunities to improve writing. Openended exams, therefore, give students with good writing skills an advantage over those
who do not have these skills, whereas limited-choice exams neither favor nor penalize
students who write well. However, limited-choice exams do favor students who read
well, since these students have the skills to recognize key words, spot logical qualifications
and clues, and discriminate between close choices.
Practice and Reward of Creativity and Divergent Thinking
Depending on how the item is written, open-ended items, especially essay questions,
provide far more opportunity for creative or divergent thinking than limited-choice items.
An essay question calls for convergent thinking, such as reaching a correct or probable
solution to a problem situation. Limited choice exams may fail to foster, or may actually
penalize, creative or divergent thinking.
TRADITIONAL ASSESSMENT
Practice and Reward of Listening and Speaking Skills
Listening and speaking skills, often emphasized in elementary and high schools, are
usually not rewarded by limited-choice or open-ended items. However, these skills may
be rewarded and encouraged on tests and examinations by asking students to respond
to tape-recorded passages or passages read by the instructor. In addition, students should
be asked to provide spoken responses to questions posed by the instructor. These
responses may be given one-on-one to the teacher, to a small group of students and the
instructor or to the entire class. Arrangements may also be made for students to tape-record
their responses to questions or passages.
Feedback to Teacher and Student
Limited-choice exams allow faster feedback than open-ended exams. Open-ended
exams, however, usually reveal more to the teacher about specific student strengths and
weaknesses in processes such as comprehension and reasoning. These exams result in
more communication between teacher and student if used properly.
Reliability in Grading
Open-ended exams are much harder to grade reliably (consistently) than limited-choice
exams. To enhance reliability, a marker should compare exams to model answers,
determine scales that help assign marks to predetermined components of the answer,
and, if possible, use multiple graders to determine grades.5
WRITING TEST ITEMS
In the discussion of limited-choice items that follows, the term
‘stem’ refers to the part of the item that asks the question. The terms
responses, choices, and alternatives refer to the parts of the item that
will answer the question. For example:
Stem:
The Industrial Revolution in England occurred between?
Responses:
A) 1650 and 1875 B) 1700 and 1800 C) 1750 and 1850
D) 1840 and 1900
M U LT I P L E C H O I C E I T E M S
Multiple-choice items are considered to be among the most versatile
of all item types. They can test factual recall (lower-order thinking
skills), or understanding and the ability to apply learning (higherorder thinking skills). Multiple-choice items also provide an
excellent basis for post-test discussion, especially if the discussion
> TIP
Both limited-choice
and open-ended items
may be used to test a
wide range of learning
objectives.
4.5
4.6
T E A C H I N G AT T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F M A N I TO B A : A H A N D B O O K
addresses why responses were incorrect as well as why the responses were correct.
Unfortunately, they are difficult and time consuming to construct well. (Some experienced
item writers take half an hour or more to construct a multiple-choice question that
requires higher-order thinking skills to answer correctly). In addition, items may appear
too discriminating (“picky”) to students, especially when the alternatives are well-constructed and are open to misinterpretation by students who read more into questions
than is there. Also, poorly constructed multiple-choice items may not adequately test the
students’ ability to read, write, or reason well. There are four commonly used types of
multiple choice items that ask students to pick the (a) one correct answer, (b) best answer
(c) one answer that is not correct, (d) answer that completes an analogy. (e.g., salt is to
pepper as white is to...)
Suggestions for Constructing Multiple-choice Items
• Use the stem to present the problem or question as clearly as possible.
• Use direct questions, rather than incomplete statements, for the stem.
• Include as much of the item as possible in the stem so the alternatives will be brief.
• When you test for definitions, use the term to be defined in the stem rather than as
a choice option.
• List alternatives on separate lines so that students will clearly distinguish each.
• Write alternatives in a similar format (e.g., all phrases, all sentences, etc.).
• Make sure all options offer plausible responses to the stem. Poor alternatives should
not be included simply for the sake of offering more options.
• Check to see that all choices are grammatically consistent with the stem.
• Try to make all alternatives approximately the same length. Making the correct response
consistently longer is a common error.
• Use misconceptions students have indicated in class, or errors commonly made by
students, as the basis for incorrect alternatives.
• Use “all of the above” and “none of the above” sparingly since students often choose
these alternatives on the basis of incomplete knowledge.
• Use capital letters (A,B,C,D,E) as response signs rather than lower case letters (“a”
gets confused with “d” and “c” with “e” if the type or duplication is poor or if students
hand write their choices.)
• Try to write items with equal numbers of alternatives so that students need not
continually adjust to a new pattern.
• Put the incomplete part of the sentence at the end, rather than the beginning, of the
stem when using a statement rather than a direct question.
TRADITIONAL ASSESSMENT
• Use negatively-stated items sparingly. When they are used, underline or visually
emphasize the negative word.
• Make sure there is only one best or correct response to the stem.
• Use three to five alternatives. The more alternatives offered, the lower the probability
of students guessing the correct answer. Offering more than five alternatives, however,
results in confusion and usually poor alternatives.
• Randomly distribute correct responses among the alternative positions so that there
are no discernible patterns to the answer sequence (e.g., ABBCABB CABBC, etc.), and
make sure a nearly-equal portion of As, Bs, Cs, etc. are correct.
• Avoid using right minus wrong scoring. Students who know most, but not all, of an
answer will be unduly penalized for making informed guesses.
T R U E / FA L S E I T E M S
True/false items are relatively easy to prepare since each item comes directly from the
content. They are often used to test lower-order thinking skills, but it is easy to adapt
them for higher-order skills, especially problem solving (e.g., T or F If C = a + b(Y-T),
and a = 6, b = 0.7, Y=100, and T=20, C must = 44). True/false items offer the instructor
the opportunity to write questions that cover more content than most other item types
since students can only respond to so many questions in the time allowed. True/false
items are easy to score accurately and quickly, but they may not give a true estimate of
the students’ knowledge since chance guesses score 50 percent. They are very poor for
diagnosing student strengths and weaknesses and are generally considered “tricky”
by students. Since true/false questions tend to be either extremely easy or extremely
difficult, they do not discriminate between students of varying ability.
A variation on true/false items is to instruct students to correct the question if false. The
correction forces students to use their knowledge to calculate, explain, or design a true
statement. This adaptation makes it easier to write true/false items that test higher-order
thinking skills.
Suggestions for Constructing True/False Items
• Keep the language in the statement as simple and clear as possible.
• Use a relatively large number of items (e.g., 75 or more when the entire test is T/F).
• Avoid taking statements verbatim from the text.
• Be aware that extremely long or complicated statements will test reading skill rather
than content knowledge.
4.7
4.8
T E A C H I N G AT T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F M A N I TO B A : A H A N D B O O K
• Require students to circle or underline a typed “T” or “P” rather than fill in a “T” or
“P” next to the statement. This avoids having to interpret confusing handwriting.
• Avoid using negatives, especially double negatives, in your questions.
• Avoid ambiguous and tricky items.
• Make sure that statements used are entirely true or entirely false. Partially or marginally
true or false statements cause unnecessary ambiguity.
• Use certain keywords sparingly since they tip students off to the correct answer.
The words all, always, never, every, none, and only usually indicate a false statement,
whereas the words generally, sometimes, usually, maybe, and often frequently indicate
true statements.
• Use precise terms such as 50% of the time, rather than less precise terms, such as several,
seldom, and frequently.
• Use more false than true items, but not by more than 15 percent. (False items tend
“Your course goals should
determine the kind of examination
questions you use.”
to discriminate more than
true items. This is especially
true when you use true and
correct-it-false items.)
M AT C H I N G I T E M S
Matching items are
generally quite brief and
uninvolved and are especially suitable for who, what, when, and where questions
(usually requiring lower-order skills, e.g. On what date did Canada formally enter
WWII?). They may also be used so that students discriminate among and apply concepts
(higher-order skills are required). Matching items permit efficient use of space when
there are a number of similar types of information to be tested. They are easy to score
accurately and quickly. But matching items do not measure learning beyond the recognition of basic factual knowledge. They are usually poor for diagnosing, student strengths
and weaknesses, are appropriate in only a limited number of situations, and are difficult
to construct since parallel information is required.
Suggestions for Constructing Matching Items
• Use only homogeneous material in a set of matching items (i.e. dates and places should
not be used in the same set).
• Use more involved expressions in the stem, and keep the responses short and simple.
• Supply directions that clearly state the basis for the matching, indicate whether or not a
response may be used more than once, and state where the answer should be placed.
TRADITIONAL ASSESSMENT
• Make sure there are never multiple correct responses for one stem (although a response
may be used as the correct answer to more than one stem).
• Avoid giving inadvertent grammatical clues to the correct answer.
• Arrange items in the response column in some logical order (e.g., alphabetical, numerical,
chronological) so that students can find them easily.
• Avoid breaking a set of items (stems and responses) over two pages.
• Use no more than 15 items in one set.
• Provide more responses than stems to make process-of-elimination guessing less effective.
• Number each stem for ease in later discussion.
• Use capital letters for the response sign rather than lower case letters to avoid confusion
with handwriting.
COMPLETION ITEMS
Completion items are especially useful in assessing mastery of factual information when
a specific word or phrase is important to know (usually a lower-order thinking skill).
Completion items preclude the kind of guessing that is possible on limited-choice items
since they require a definite response rather than simple recognition of the correct
answer. Because only a short answer is required, completion items enable a wide, though
often shallow, sampling of content. Completion items, however, tend to test only rote,
repetitive responses and may encourage a fragmented study style since memorization of
bits and pieces results in higher scores. They are more difficult to score than forced-choice
items, and scoring often must be done by the test writer since more than one answer may
be considered correct. On the whole, completion items have little advantage over other
item types unless the need for specific recall is essential.
Suggestions for Writing Completion Items
• Use vocabulary and phrasing from the text or class presentation.
• Provide clear and concise cues about the expected response statement.
• Use original questions rather than quoting directly from the text.
• When possible, provide explicit directions concerning the amount of variation that you
will accept in the answers.
• Give more credit for completions than for T/F or matching items.
• Avoid using a long quotation followed by multiple blanks the student
must complete.
• Require students to supply only one word or phrase in each blank.
4.9
4.10
T E A C H I N G AT T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F M A N I TO B A : A H A N D B O O K
• Make scoring easier by having students write their responses on lines arranged in a
column to the right of the items.
• Ask students to fill in only important terms or expressions.
• Avoid providing grammatical clues to the correct answer by using “a/an”, etc. instead
of specific modifiers.
ESSAY/SHORT ANSWER ITEMS
The main advantages of essay and short answer items (e.g., answers that are usually one
to three paragraphs long) are that they encourage students to strive toward understanding a concept as an integrated whole; permit students to demonstrate achievement of
higher-order thinking skills, such as analyzing given conditions and critical thinking;
allow expression of both breadth and depth of learning; and encourage originality,
creativity, and divergent thinking. Essay items provide instructors with an opportunity
to evaluate students and give detailed feedback rather than just provide a mark. Written
items also offer students the opportunity to use their own judgment, writing styles, and
vocabularies. Essay/short answer items are less time consuming to prepare than any
other item type. Unless well-constructed, tests consisting solely of written items will
examine only a limited amount of course content due to the time required for students to
respond. Poorly written short answer questions may also encourage rigid or “formulaic”
responses and, thus, may be ineffective in measuring higher-order thinking skills. In
addition, essay items are not the most efficient means for assessing knowledge of basic
facts (multiple-choice, true/false, and matching items are considered more efficient), and
if not well-constructed, essay items will provide students with more opportunity for
bluffing, rambling, and “snowing” than limited-choice items. Essay items favor students
who possess good writing skills and neatness and are difficult for students who do not
organize their thoughts well on paper or who misinterpret the main point of the question. A further disadvantage is that essay items are very difficult and time consuming to
score and are potentially subject to bias and unreliable scoring.
Suggestions for Constructing Essay and Short Answer Questions
• Use novel problems or material whenever possible, but only if they relate to class learning.
• Make essay questions comprehensive rather than focusing on small units
of content.
• Provide clear directions indicating your expectations.
• Allow students an appropriate amount of time. (It is helpful to give students some
guidelines on how much time to use on each question, as well as the desired length
and format of their response, such as full sentences, phrases only, or outline.)
A LT E R N AT I V E A S S E S S M E N T
• Inform students, before the exam, of the proportional value of each item in comparison
to the total grade.
• Require students to demonstrate command of background information by asking them
to provide supporting evidence for claims and assertions.
Types of Essay Exams
Several types of essay exam formats exist. Some of these are (1) No choice tests – Students
are given a question(s) that they must answer. (2) Choice of questions – Students are
given several questions and allowed to select the one(s) they want to answer. Test directions
may read, “Select two out of the following three questions.” (3) Questions are known
before the exam. Students may be given a list of questions and told that a certain number
of them will appear on the exam. For example, out of a list of twelve questions the
instructor picks five for the exam. Many instructors use this method because it encourages
students to review a wide range of course material. (4) Take-home exams – Students are
given the exam question(s) to take away to answer in a fixed length of time, e.g., two
days. The students are free to consult any sources they want during the set time period.
4.11
1 Dressel, 1976,
p. 208.
2 Cameron, 1997.
3 Bloom, 1956.
4 Chism, 1996.
5 Ibid.
Alternative Assessment
Grading Class Participation
In my experience, grading class participation is one of the most difficult aspects of student
evaluation. Over the past few years I have spent a lot of time trying to figure out why
I expect students to participate, how I want them to participate, how to communicate
those expectations to them, and, finally, how to grade it. What follows is the system that
I currently use. The system is in a state of continual improvement, and hence is never static.
Nevertheless, it provides me with a set of guidelines for the answers to these tough questions.
W H Y D O I W A N T S T U D E N T S T O PA R T I C I PAT E
IN CLASS DISCUSSIONS?
I want students to participate so they can learn from each other. We know that active
involvement in learning increases what is remembered, how well it is assimilated, and
how the learning is used in new situations. In making statements to peers about their own
thoughts on a class topic, students must articulate those thoughts and also submit them
to (hopefully constructive) examination by others. In listening to their peers, students
hear many different ways of interpreting and applying class material, and thus are able to
MARTHA L.
MAZNEVSKI
© Martha L.
Maznevski/Teaching
Resource Center,
University of Virginia,
Spring 1996. "Grading
Class Participation"
from Teaching
Concerns has been
copied with permission
from the Teaching
Resource Center,
University of Virginia.
Resale or further copying of this material is
strictly prohibited.
4.12
T E A C H I N G AT T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F M A N I TO B A : A H A N D B O O K
integrate many examples of how to use the information. Especially in a course that
stresses application of material, extensive participation in class discussions is an essential
element of students’ learning.
W H AT C L A S S PA R T I C I PAT I O N B E H AV I O R S C O N T R I B U T E
TO OTHERS’ LEARNING?
In organizational behavior and management classes, we teach that one of the best ways
to evaluate performance on the job is to develop a set of behavioral indicators of good
performance specific for a given job. Behavioral indicators can be evaluated much more
objectively than, say, characteristics or traits (e.g., positive outlook, enthusiasm, commitment). Furthermore, they can be assessed at frequent intervals, unlike final output which
can only be assessed irregularly. So, in part to practice what I preach, and in part to
demonstrate to the students that I believe what I teach, I developed a set of behavioral
indicators of good class participation. A perfect score (“4” on a 4-point scale) is then
assigned to the behaviors that are indicators of ideal participation, a score of “3”
(equivalent to “B”) is assigned to the behaviors I expect on average from most students
in order for the class to meet its learning objectives. Scores of “2” and below are assigned
to behavioral indicators of less participation. I depend on Bloom’s taxonomy of learning
objectives to provide guidelines for developing the criteria, since I can link them clearly
with the learning objectives for the course. For example, the criteria for “4” always
include synthesis and evaluation (Bloom’s highest levels of learning objectives). Included
below is the list of indicators I use for my current courses (which consist of about onethird cases, one-third involvement exercises, and one-third other types of sessions). It is
critical that the expectations for participation, i.e., the list of behavioral indicators of good participation, match the goals and type of
course. For example, in an accounting or math class, knowing facts
from a case or reading may be irrelevant, and good completion of
homework problems may become more important.
> TIP
One of the best
ways to evaluate
performance is
to develop a set
of behavioural
indicators of good
performance.
H O W C A N PA R T I C I PAT I O N B E G R A D E D ?
Once the behavioral list is created, it provides a fairly simple mechanism for grading participation. First, it should be given to students
at the beginning of the semester so they know which behaviors will be
rewarded with high participation grades. At this time an additional
advantage of the behavioral approach becomes apparent: even students
who are wary of the “subjective” nature of grading participation
are less anxious when presented with this relatively objective set of
criteria. Second, at the end of each class the professor can sit down
with a class list and give each person a rating on the 4-point scale
A LT E R N AT I V E A S S E S S M E N T
(this requires knowing students’ names quickly; in the past I’ve taken photographs on the
first day and referred to them frequently). After a couple of classes, this procedure
becomes fairly easy. Of course, not every student will receive a rating every day, especially
in a larger class. But it quickly becomes obvious if the professor is consistently “missing”
a particular student or set of students, and early intervention in improving participation
and learning is possible. If I haven’t watched a specific student closely enough to rate him
or her for three classes in a row, then I make a particular point of watching that student in
the next class and “cold calling” him or her (in a supportive way) fairly early if no active
contribution is volunteered.
Interim feedback is important to students, and can be provided in various forms. About
mid-way through the semester I provide feedback to each student in memo form,
re-articulating the criteria and giving each student an interim grade on the 4-point scale.
I also conduct conferences with students if they request them. Prior to the interim assessment, and at the beginning of any conference I conduct, I ask students to think about how
they would rate themselves on these criteria. Low assessments by either myself or the
student provide stimulus for discussion about improvement, and together we develop
strategies to help the student overcome shyness or other difficulties. For example, I may
agree that a particular student can “start” the next class by addressing a previously
agreed-upon set of issues, so s/he has reduced ambiguity concerning when s/he will be
participating and what the content will be. It is important that the students take the
responsibility for their own behaviors, though. While I may promise to try to “invite”
their participation more explicitly over the next few classes, I ensure they understand it
is up to them to be prepared, respond to these invitations, and eventually contribute
without the need to be explicitly invited.
CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT
I have used the basic approach outlined here with undergraduates, graduate, and MBA
students (highly competitive and vocal), and in continuing education settings; and it
has been refined extensively over the years. I am sure this is not the final version, but it
does help with handling the sticky elements of evaluating class participation.
E X P E C TAT I O N S FO R C L A S S PA R T I C I PAT I O N
(Information Given to the Students)
Participation is graded on a scale from 0 (lowest) through 4 (highest), using the criteria
below. The criteria focus on what you demonstrate and do not presume to guess at
what you know but do not demonstrate. This is because what you offer to the class is
what you and others learn from. I expect the average level of participation to satisfy the
criteria for a “3”.
4.13
4.14
T E A C H I N G AT T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F M A N I TO B A : A H A N D B O O K
GRADE
CRITERIA
0
Absent.
1
Present, not disruptive.
Tries to respond when called on but does not offer much.
Demonstrates very infrequent involvement in discussion.
2
Demonstrates adequate preparation: knows basic case or reading facts, but does
not show evidence of trying to interpret or analyze them.
Offers straightforward information (e.g., straight from the case or reading), without
elaboration or very infrequently (perhaps once a class).
Does not offer to contribute to discussion, but contributes to a moderate degree
when called on.
Demonstrates sporadic involvement.
3
Demonstrates good preparation: knows case or reading facts well, has thought
through implications of them.
Offers interpretations and analysis of case material (more than just facts) to class.
Contributes well to discussion in an ongoing way: responds to other students’
points, thinks through own points, questions others in a constructive way, offers
and supports suggestions that may be counter to the majority opinion.
Demonstrates consistent ongoing involvement.
4
Demonstrates excellent preparation: has analyzed case exceptionally well,
relating it to readings and other material (e.g., readings, course material,
discussions, experiences, etc.).
Offers analysis, synthesis, and evaluation of case material, e.g., puts together
pieces of the discussion to develop new approaches that take the class further.
Contributes in a very significant way to ongoing discussion: keeps analysis
focused, responds very thoughtfully to other students’ comments, contributes to
the cooperative argument-building, suggests alternative ways of approaching
material and helps class analyze which approaches are appropriate, etc.
Demonstrates ongoing very active involvement.
A LT E R N AT I V E A S S E S S M E N T
4.15
Peer Assessment and Peer Evaluation
T
his material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation
under grant number EEC-9802942. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or
recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not
necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.
DEFINITION
A team is a small group of people with complementary skills who are committed to a
common purpose, performance goals, and an approach for which they hold themselves
mutually accountable.1 Although student teams may not satisfy all the requirements of
the definition, the degree to which they do often determines their effectiveness.
INTRODUCTION
One approach to grading team assignments is to give the same grade to every team
member. However, giving every individual the same grade for a team assignment runs
counter to the principle of individual accountability in cooperative learning. Further, it
may reward and even encourage “hitchhiking” by some members of a team. However,
determining individual grades for work products submitted by a team is a challenging
task. One approach to obtain information that may be helpful in determining individual
grades is peer assessment. To help faculty members in using peer assessment and/or
peer evaluation in their classes, the following issues are addressed:
W H AT I S I T ?
Peer assessment or peer evaluation can mean many things – a means of raising the bar by
exposing students to exceptionally good (or bad) solutions; peer grading of homework,
quizzes, etc.; and an aid to improving team performance or determining individual effort
and individual grades on team projects. For the purposes of the present discussion, peer
assessment or peer evaluation is a process in which faculty members adjust individual
grades for team assignments by using data collected by asking team members to evaluate
each team member. Peer assessment or peer evaluation is not the same as peer grading.
WHY MIGHT I USE TEAM ASSIGNMENTS?
The reasons for offering team assignments include student, faculty, and learning issues.
Learning Issues
• Teams come to faculty members with higher level questions, which implies that they
have resolved the lower-level questions
• Research on social dependence supports the assertion that positive interdependent
groups produce higher quality results
T H E F O U N DAT I O N
C OA L I T I O N
© Jeffrey Froyd /
Foundation Coalition.
“Peer Assessment
and Peer Evaluation”
<http://www.foundationcoalition.org/
publications/brochures/
2002peer_assessment.
pdf> has been copied
with permission from
Jeffrey Froyd /
Foundation Coalition.
Resale or further
copying of this material
is strictly prohibited.
This material is based
upon work supported
by the National Science
Foundation under
grant #EEC-9802942.
Any opinions, findings,
and conclusions or
recommendations
expressed in this
material are those of
the author(s) and
do not necessarily
reflect the views of
the National Science
Foundation.
4.16
T E A C H I N G AT T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F M A N I TO B A : A H A N D B O O K
Student Issues
• Allow students to gain experience working in a team (looks good on a résumé)
• Make students more comfortable with using Teams
Faculty Issues
• Make faculty members in subsequent classes less skeptical of student abilities
• Grade fewer (50% to 25%) papers
• Have peers grade with careful guidance some of the above papers
W H AT A R E T H E G E N E R A L I S S U E S T O C O N S I D E R I N
USING PEER ASSESSMENT?
Issue 1: Tell them early
Announce rules and format on the first day. Many instructors hand out copies of the
forms used for assessment and evaluation with (or as a part of) the syllabus.
Issue 2: Give them practice
Do assessment before (it counts) evaluation. Students usually have no experience with
assessing or evaluating the work of peers (or often even their own work). Provide
opportunities for them to assess other team members in situations in which their assessments do not affect project grades.
Issue 3: Include feedback
Allow improvement. Most students (given honest feedback from peers) will improve
performance and are more willing to give honest feedback to peers as they gain
experience with assessment.
W H AT I S T H E Q U A L I T Y O F T H E E VA L U AT I O N S O F
TEAM MEMBERS OF EACH OTHER?
Won’t they give everyone the same grade or over-rate their own performance?
Experience indicates that both of these outcomes occur frequently in the first or second
cycle of assessment; however, faced with (often unanimous) contrary feedback from
their teammates, most students come to a more consistent and reasonable assessment in
subsequent cycles. Research also indicates that peer assessment data can be effectively
1, 2
used in assigning individual grades.
One faculty member reported that the slacker students almost always report themselves
as the weakest on the team... the difference is whether they contributed 95% (their report)
or 50% – 75% (the range assigned by their teammates).
What are considerations for team grading?
Many tools are available when grading team assignments:
• Signature blocks indicate who contributed to the assignment
A LT E R N AT I V E A S S E S S M E N T
• Workload/Percent-effort tables allow grade adjustment and tracking of a team
member’s workload
• Peer assessments give students feedback and opportunities to improve performance
before grading
• Peer evaluations provide peer ratings of each team member that may serve as a
multiplier on the team grade or can determine the team grade
• Bonus points are given to other team members by each member
Combinations of these tools are possible and sometimes desirable. As a general rule
instructors may use signature blocks on individual assignments to either give the same
grade or a zero. Use other methods to adjust semester or project average for individual
performance.
TOOLS:
Peer Evaluations
• Assigning individual grades can be done by having students directly assign grades or by
using student evaluations of performance to determine individual grades
• Direct Assignment: The faculty member determines the overall team grade, but the team
makes adjustments to the team grade to determine individual grades
• Faculty Adjustment: Count peer evaluation as a multiplier on the team grade. Typically,
each student on a team of four might receive between 70% and 110% of the team grade
(depending on peer evaluation). Brown offers a quantitative algorithm.3
Bonus Points
Allow each student to assign a certain number of bonus points (usually 5) with the
following restrictions:
• A student can give points to anyone (sometimes limited to members of his/her team
but can be anyone in the class, i.e., the person who helped him/her the most)
• Students cannot keep any points for themselves
• Limit the maximum number of bonus points so that the effect on the overall score for
each student is restricted
Assignment Cover Sheets
Faculty members may require that each assignment include cover sheets with either a
signature block or a workload table. Both of these indicate the extent to which individual
members of the team contributed to the assignment and can be used to determine
appropriate individual grades from the team assignment.
4.17
4.18
T E A C H I N G AT T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F M A N I TO B A : A H A N D B O O K
Signature Blocks
Team members signing the signature block may receive the same grade, whereas those
who do not (or are not allowed to) sign the cover sheet may receive no credit for the
assignment.
Here are some suggestions:
• Require a signature block on all team assignments. A signature means I did my share
of the work, and I have a general understanding of the contents of the assignment
• Students can decline to sign, or teams can refuse to let a member or members sign
• Students who do not sign the cover sheet receive a grade of zero on the assignment
Workload/Percent-effort Tables
A workload table allows some members of the team to receive a greater (or lesser) share
of the credit for the assignment. Some faculty members ask students to list percent effort
for each individual, some ask for percent credit, and some ask students to divide the
points for the assignment in the workload table. Here are some options:
• Use student-assigned grades or percentages to adjust grades, including the option of
a zero for exceptional individual effort. Typically, students are asked to fill in a table on
the cover sheet, assigning percentages to each member of their team or distributing
available points
• Often instructors require additional documentation for exceptionally high- (or low-)
workload assignments
Peer Assessments
If you use peer evaluations to provide data for adjusting individual grades, consider
using peer assessments so students can practice evaluating team members. Let team
members submit ratings of all team members to the faculty member. Then, the faculty
member can review the team ratings and provide each student with feedback that can
help them improve ratings of their peers. Peer assessments allow the students to gain
experience with giving and receiving feedback and give them an opportunity to improve
performance before it counts against their grades.
Announce the practices you will use early in the semester, practice them during the
semester, and use them to reinforce the importance of individual responsibility to the team.
W H AT A R E E X A M P L E S O F W H AT T E A C H E R S
ARE DOING IN THE CLASSROOM?
Faculty members have been using the FC assessment and evaluation methods. Here are
helpful tips from four of them.
A LT E R N AT I V E A S S E S S M E N T
4.19
Example 1: Jim Morgan, Texas A&M University ([email protected])
Dr. Morgan assigns individual grades based on team effort in a first-year engineering
class of 100 students as described below.
• Use a signature block on all team assignments. A signature means: I did my share of the
work, and I have a general understanding of the contents of the assignment. Students
can decline to sign or teams can refuse to let members sign. All team members get the
same grade on any single assignment, or, if a signature is missing from the assignment,
those who do not sign get no credit
• Use peer assessment (including anonymous feedback) after each month to allow
students to see themselves as others see them and to give an opportunity for improved
performance
• Use peer evaluation to adjust semester-average team grades for individual students.
The average grade on a team is the grade earned (and given) by the instructor
Example 2: P. K. Imbrie, Purdue University([email protected])
Dr. Imbrie utilizes an automated (Web-based) version of the method described in
Example 1 for assigning individual grades based on team effort in
first-year engineering classes of
180 to 475 students
Before students do the peer
evaluation that will affect the final
grade, they are assigned multiple
reflective exercises such as:
“Peer assessment or peer evaluation is a
process in which faculty members adjust
individual grades for team assignments by
using data collected by asking team
members to evaluate each team member.”
• How could you have improved your team’s performance?
• How could others on your team have improved your team’s performance?
Example 3: Terry Kohutek, Texas A&M University ([email protected])
Dr. Kohutek assigns individual grades based on team effort in a first-year engineering
class of 100 students as follows:
• Bonus points are distributed to each student at the end of the semester
• A student cannot keep any points
• Points must be distributed in integer amounts
• Points can be given to any student in the class (based on which student most improved
his/her performance this semester)
• No student can receive more than 10 points
• Points are applied to the final course grade
4.20
T E A C H I N G AT T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F M A N I TO B A : A H A N D B O O K
1. Kaufman, D.B.,
Felder, R.M., and
Fuller, H. (2000),
“Accounting for
Individual Effort in
Cooperative
Learning Teams,”
Journal of
Engineering
Education, 89(2),
133–140.
2. Van Duzer, E., and
McMartin, F. (1999),
“Building Better
Teamwork
Assessments: A
Process for
Improving the
Validity and
Sensitivity of
Self/Peer Ratings,”
Proceedings, ASEE
Conference.
3. Brown, R.W. (1995),
“Autorating: Getting
Individual Marks
from Team Marks
and Enhancing
Teamwork,”
Proceedings, FIE
Conference.
http://www.eas.asu.
edu/~asufc/teaming
info/teams.html
http://www.uoregon.edu/~bartj/pae
/peer-eval.html
http://arapaho.
nsuok.edu/~
legatski/
4213Peer.htm
http://iluvatar.lcps.
k12.nm.us/manual/
eval/peer.html
Example 4: Russ Pimmel, University of Alabama ([email protected])
Dr. Pimmel uses the following process in a senior-level course that includes a month long
team design project. The course includes several components (essential when using peer
evaluation in determining grades):
• Some training in teams (at least 30 minutes discussing team roles, team dynamics,
meeting strategies, and so on)
• Required weekly progress reports in which each team member individually answers
three multiple-choice questions asking if he/she achieved the week’s goals, spent
adequate time, and worked together as a team. Possible answers translate roughly
into “yes,” “almost yes,” and “no.” Students are also asked to indicate any particular
problem and to identify any noncontributing individual
• Meetings with teams that are making no progress or having problems, including a non-
contributing member. At the project’s end, each team submits a report, and each student
completes an individual quiz and an evaluation form asking him/her to distribute the
“effort” among the team members on a percentage basis. Students rate each teammate
against the rater’s expectations for that student, taking into account talent, background,
and personal situations. The rater is to be fair and honest, not only because it the right
thing to do, but also because, when working as professionals, he/she will evaluate peers;
this provides practice for this skill. Percentages given to each student are combined to get
an effort score
• Scores are simply averaged, or a “figure-skating” process is used (the highest and the
lowest scores are dropped before averaging). Inconsistent scores are resolved in various
ways, based on the professor’s personal knowledge of the students, by talking to
them, or by giving everyone an equal-effort score. From the team report grade, the
individual quiz grade, and effort scores, individual report grades and a team quiz grade
are computed. The former is obtained by multiplying the team report grade by the
individual effort scores and the latter by averaging the individual quiz grades using the
effort scores as weighting factors
A LT E R N AT I V E A S S E S S M E N T
4.21
Performance Assessment
W H Y U S E P E R FO R M A N C E A S S E S S M E N T ?
lthough facts and concepts are fundamental in any undergraduate course,
knowledge of methods, procedures and analysis skills that provide context are
equally important. Student growth in these latter facets prove somewhat difficult
to evaluate, particularly with conventional multiple-choice examinations. Performance
assessments, used in concert with more traditional forms of assessment, are designed to
provide a more complete picture of student achievement.
A
W H AT I S P E R FO R M A N C E A S S E S S M E N T S ?
Performance assessments are designed to judge student abilities to USE specific knowledge
and research skills. Most performance assessments require the student to manipulate
equipment to solve a problem or make an analysis. Rich performance assessments reveal
a variety of problem solving approaches, thus providing insight into a student’s level of
conceptual and procedural knowledge.
T I M OT H Y S L AT E R
© Timothy F Slater,
1999. ”Performance
Assessment” in
Classroom Assessment
Techniques (CATS).
Field-Tested Learning
Assessment Guide.
National Institute for
Science Education.
http://www.flaguide.org
/extra/download/cat/
perfass/perfass.pdf.
Adapted with permission from Timothy F
Slater. Resale or further
copying of this material
is strictly prohibited.
W H AT I S I N V O LV E D ?
Instructor Preparation Time: Medium.
Preparing Your Students: None.
Class Time: 10 – 40 minutes depending on complexity of task.
Disciplines: Appropriate for laboratory-based sciences.
Class Size: Small for direct applications, unlimited for embedded
assessments using student-completed forms.
Special Classroom/Technical Requirements: Varies according
to task.
Individual or Group Involvement: Both.
Analyzing Results: Low.
Things to Consider: Manipulative materials are often required
as well as room monitors
> TIP
Rich performance
assessments
reveal a variety of
problem solving
approaches.
4.22
T E A C H I N G AT T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F M A N I TO B A : A H A N D B O O K
DESCRIPTION
Performance assessment strategies are composed of three distinct parts: a performance
task; a format in which the student responds; and a predetermined scoring system. Tasks
are assignments designed to assess a student’s ability to manipulate equipment (laboratory equipment, computers, documents, etc.) for a given purpose. Students can either
complete the task in front of a panel of judges or use a written response sheet. The student is then scored by comparing the performance against a set of written criteria. When
used with students with highly varying abilities, performance tasks can take maximum
advantage of judging student abilities by using tasks with multiple correct solutions.
Students are graded on the process of problem solving using a rating scale based on
explicit standards. Performance assessments have been validated by English faculty who
conduct writing assessments, Olympic judges who score competition divers, jury panels
who evaluate musical performances and K-12 science teachers (Shavelson, et al.). In these
examples, individuals receive a score based on analyzing and evaluating various required
components of a performance individually. This is known as ANALYTIC SCORING.
F I G U R E 1 : S A M P L E A U T H E N T I C TA S KS :
• Is this water sample suitable for drinking?
• Remove these old, unlabeled chemicals from the lab.
• What is the approximate age of this fossil-bearing rock?
• How fast was the car moving before it crashed if it left 15 meter skid marks in front
of this building?
Performance assessment strategies are best utilized in concert with other forms
of assessment.
Similar to driver education or pilot certification, both factual knowledge and procedural
knowledge are important components of a complete of education.
ASSESSMENT PURPOSES
The purpose of performance assessment is to evaluate the actual process of doing science
or mathematics. Performance assessments examine students’ actual application of
knowledge to solve problems. In some cases, the solution of the problem may imply the
application of a specific procedure learned in class; in others, a combination of procedures;
still in others it may require a thoughtful adaptation of students’ knowledge. The assessment of student’s knowledge focuses on the performance and the result.
L I M I TAT I O N S
Performance assessments are typically inappropriate for measuring student knowledge
of facts.
A LT E R N AT I V E A S S E S S M E N T
TEACHING GOALS
Develop ability to:
• apply systematic procedures
• authentically utilize resource texts, laboratory equipment, and computers.
• use scientific methodology
• apply and evaluate multiple approaches
• solve complex problems
S U G G E S T I O N S FO R U S E
Diagnostic Purposes
Performance assessments may be used for diagnostic purposes. What do students know
about how to solve certain types of problems? Do they know how to control variables?
How to use instruments? How to evaluate findings? Information provided at the
beginning of the course may help decide where to start or what issues of the course need
special attention.
Instructional Purposes
A good performance assessment often is indistinguishable from a learning activity,
except for standardization and scoring. In this light, a performance task that simulates
the authentic tasks of a scientists or mathematician may be used as either an instructional
activity or an assessment activity. If the assessment task is used in such a way that the
student would normally not know it is an assessment activity, it is
called an embedded task.
Monitoring Purposes
The goal of a performance assessment is to judge the level of competency students have achieved in doing science and mathematics.
Accordingly, performance assessment strategies are best used to
monitor student process skills and problem solving approaches.
The most effective performance assessments are authentic tasks that
are open-ended with multiple-correct solution paths.
Step-by-Step Instructions
• Carefully construct the learning goals for the instructional unit
• Decide if performance assessment supports student learning and
assessment for these goals.
• Clearly define the knowledge and skills students need to apply or
demonstrate in solving a problem.
> TIP
The most effective
performance
assessments are
authentic tasks that
are open-ended
with multiple-correct
solution paths.
4.23
4.24
T E A C H I N G AT T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F M A N I TO B A : A H A N D B O O K
• Determine the criteria (standards) against which students will be judged and define
indicators of “levels” of competence.
• Inform students of your expectations that students have every opportunity to clearly
demonstrate to that course learning objectives have been mastered.
• Design an authentic task that is somewhat undefined, complex, and has multiple entry
and exit points.
• Determine which distinct components of the task need to be analyzed.
• Directly observe students or develop a structured student-answer sheet that allows you
to evaluate various components of the task.
• Match student performance to criteria (standards) and determine which level most
closely matches student performance.
• Provide student feedback in terms of levels of competence, not numerical scores.
Figure 2: Holistic Scoring Example, The Telescope Task
Your task is to set up and align the 8” telescope, find three different sky objects, and accurately describe some aspects of these objects that astronomers consider to be important.
Level 3: Student completes all aspects of task quickly and efficiently and is able to
answer questions about the equipment used and objects observed beyond what is
obvious. The tasks are:
• align telescope mount with north celestial pole;
• align finder telescope with primary telescope;
• center on target object;
• select and focus appropriate eyepiece;
• provide information about the target beyond the literal descriptive level; and
• answer questions about the target correctly.
Level 2: Student completes all aspects of task and provides
descriptive information about the equipment and objects observed.
Level 1: Student is not able to complete all aspects of task or is not able to sufficient
provide information about the equipment used or objects observed.
Level 0: No attempt or meaningful effort obvious.
A LT E R N AT I V E A S S E S S M E N T
F I G U R E 3 : A N A LY T I C S C O R I N G E X A M P L E , P H Y S I C S L A B O R AT O R Y
Performance Task Evaluation Sheet
Performance Task Title: _________________________________________Date: __________
Student Name: ___________________________________________Total Score: __________
Performance Goals:
No Evidence – 0 points
Exceeds Goals – 3 points
Approaches Goals – 1 point
Meets Goals – 2 points
Method of Research:
Identifies the information and steps needed to solve the problem.
0123
Appropriate Use of Equipment and Apparatus:
Demonstrates the correct application and cautious use of equipment and
apparatus to meet this standard.
0123
Accuracy and Precision:
Demonstrates the ability to make accurate measurements to appropriate
precision and to judge the reasonableness of the results.
0123
Comprehension:
Properly applies concepts and formulas related to phenomena.
0123
Calculations:
Properly uses mathematics and mathematical conversions (as needed) to
solve the problem.
0123
Laboratory Report:
Communicates conclusions in a complete, clear, and organized way
using illustrations.
0123
Note: Adapted, with permission, from T.F. Slater and J.M. Ryan (1993). Laboratory
performance assessment. The Physics Teacher, v. 31, no. 5, pages 306 – 309.
VA R I AT I O N S
Checklists for Highly Structured Tasks
In science and mathematics, some tasks require systematic procedures that do not yield
multiple entry points or exit points. In this case, a check list system can be appropriately
used by an observer or a highly-structured student-answer sheet in which each aspect
of the procedure and result is described in detail. Faculty have often found the highlystructured format useful when working with large-enrollment classes. Highly-structured
assessment tasks provide students with step-by-step instructions to follow. In contrast,
4.25
4.26
T E A C H I N G AT T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F M A N I TO B A : A H A N D B O O K
less structured assessment tasks give students more opportunity to make judgments in
determining the procedures needed to solve the problem.
Collaborative Groups
Performance assessment can be administered individually, in pairs, or collaborative
groups. If it is administered in pairs or groups, students should write in their own
answer/response sheet. It is important to keep in mind that when students solve the
problem in pairs or groups, the goal and the composition of the group will affect the
student’s individual performance. In this context, it should be clear exactly what the
purpose of the assessment is (e.g., how well students’ ability to interact and collaborate
with others).
Panel of Peers
Similar to the professional lives of college and university faculty, peer assessment can plan
an important role in improving student learning of both the assessed and the assessors. If
criteria (standards) are clearly described to students with examples showing each level of
competency, they are often able to judge the performance of peers effectively and reliably.
Analysis
It is important to have predetermined criteria to evaluate the students’ performance.
Students should not be scored/graded against their peers, but based on the criteria
predefined. Ideally, students should be provided with the criteria before the assessment.
Accordingly, the grade book and student feedback reflects levels of competency, rather
than comparative scores. It is always useful to try to find in students’ performance patterns
of appropriate and inappropriate responses (e.g., most of students
did not control variable “X”). This helps focus on problems observed
across many students during instruction.
> TIP
Student performance
Pros and Cons
• Performance assessments provide a way of observing the
application of procedures.
should be graded
• Performance assessments emphasize multiple correct answers
on pre-determined
criteria.
and creative solutions.
• Performance assessments simulate the real-world tasks that
scientists, mathematicians, engineers, and researchers encounter.
• Performance assessments allow faculty to measure overarching
course goals of concept application.
However:
• Performance assessments address fewer learning objectives than
other forms of assessment.
A LT E R N AT I V E A S S E S S M E N T
• Students who have been successful at memorizing initially find performance assess-
ments intimidating.
• Development of clear criteria (standards) that indicate competency levels requires
multiple iterations.
THEORY AND RESEARCH
The acknowledged weaknesses of conventional paper and pencil assessments have led
to the recent development of alternative testing strategies. Already validated and used in
many K-12 schools, one of the most widely used of these is called PERFORMANCE
ASSESSMENT. The keystone of performance assessment is the use of a graded, authentic
task. An AUTHENTIC task is one in which students are required to address problems
grounded in real-life contexts. Such tasks are typically complex, somewhat ill-defined,
engaging problems that require students to apply, synthesize, and evaluate various problem solving approaches (Shavelson, Baxter, and Pine, 1991; Wiggins, 1989). For example,
a team of students could be assigned the task of conducting a cost/benefit feasibility
study for a recycling program at a local business. Such tasks are clearly different in
nature, form, and length from multiple-choice questions that can usually be responded to
in a matter of seconds.
Performance assessments use grading strategies that are commonly used in the performing arts, fine arts, and Olympic competitions. In the context of the science laboratory,
students are graded on the performance of manipulating variables, using scientific
apparatus, identifying hypotheses, making measurements and calculations, organizing
and managing data, and the communication of results (Slater and Ryan, 1993). Graded
laboratory performances go far beyond grading a final field report – this strategy considers
the processes that become the laboratory report as well. For example in geology, the
manipulation of a Brunton compass to make strike and dip measurements can be a graded
task as part of a larger group-mapping project. In the evaluation of a performance task,
the process of performing the task is emphasized more than the final product itself.
Studies that have looked closely at performance assessments find that, if the criteria is
clear and that examples are available to show levels of competency, performance assessments are highly consistent across different evaluators (Kulm and Malcom, 1991; O’Neil,
1992). Moreover, the clear indication of what is expected of students improves student
performance. There are, however, some indications at the K-12 levels that students perform
inconsistently from one performance task to the next (Shavelson, Baxter, & Pine, 1991).
This suggests that student grades will be most reliably determined from a number of
performance assessments in concert with other forms of assessment.
4.27
4.28
T E A C H I N G AT T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F M A N I TO B A : A H A N D B O O K
REFERENCES
Kulm, Gerald & Malcom, Shirley M. (1991) Science Assessment in the Service of Reform. American Association
for the Advancement of Science, Washington, DC.
Shavelson R.J., Baxter, G.P. & Pine J. (1991) Performance assessment in science. Applied Measurement in
Education, 4(4): 347.
Slater, T.F. & Ryan, J.M. (1993) Laboratory performance assessment. The Physics Teacher, 31(5): 306-309.
Tobias, S. & Raphael, J. (1995) In-class examinations in college science - new theory, new practice. Journal of
College Science Teaching, 24(4): 240-244.
Wiggins, G. (1989) A true test: Toward a more authentic and equitable assessment. Phi Delta Kappan, 70(9): 703.
Portfolios
T I M OT H Y S L AT E R
© Timothy F Slater,
1999. ”Portfolios” in
Classroom Assessment
Techniques (CATS).
Field-Tested Learning
Assessment Guide.
National Institute for
Science Education.
http://www.flaguide.org
/extra/download/cat/
portfolios/portfolios.pdf.
Adapted with
permission from
Timothy F Slater.
Resale or further
copying of this material
is strictly prohibited.
W H Y U S E P O R T FO L I O S ?
ortfolio assessment strategies provide a structure for long-duration, in depth
assignments. The use of portfolios transfers much of the responsibility of demonstrating mastery of concepts from the professor to the student.
P
W H AT A R E P O R T FO L I O S ?
Student portfolios are a collection of evidence, prepared by the student and evaluated by
the faculty member, to demonstrate mastery, comprehension, application, and synthesis
of a given set of concepts. To create a high quality portfolio, students must organize,
synthesize, and clearly describe their achievements and effectively communicate what
they have learned.
W H AT I S I N V O LV E D ?
Instructor Preparation Time: Minimal, after the course learning objectives have been
clearly identified. Can be high if multiple graders are to be trained (e.g., graduate teaching
assistants) when used in large classes.
Preparing Your Students: Clear expectations must be provided to students at the beginning
of the course.
Class Time: None.
Disciplines: Appropriate for all.
Class Size: Most applicable in small classes (n < 30); possible in large classes with
pre-existing infrastructure and less “open ended” character of evidence allowed.
Special Classroom/Technical Requirements: None.
Individual or Group Involvement: Individual.
A LT E R N AT I V E A S S E S S M E N T
4.29
Analyzing Results: Intense and requires a scoring rubric.
Other Things to Consider: Materials are presented in the natural language of the student
and will vary widely within one class.
DESCRIPTION
Student portfolios are a collection of evidence, prepared by the student and evaluated by
the faculty member, to demonstrate mastery, comprehension, application, and synthesis
of a given set of concepts. Accordingly, portfolio assessment strategies substantially
increase the rigor of an introductory science or mathematics course. For example, in a
physics course, this might include quantitative analysis of a video showing motion.
In a geology course, this might include an analysis of the impact of agriculture on the
community’s water quality using locally acquired data.
Students must organize, synthesize, and clearly describe their achievements and effectively
communicate what they have learned. The evidence can be presented in a three-ring
binder, as a multimedia tour, or as a series of short papers.
A unique aspect of a successful portfolio is that it also
contains explicit statements
of self reflection. Statements
accompanying each item
describe how the student
went about mastering the
material, why the presented
piece of evidence demonstrates mastery, and why mastery of such material is relevant
to contexts outside the classroom. Self-reflections make it clear to the reader the processes
of integration that have occurred during the learning process. Often, this is achieved
with an introductory letter to the reader or as a summary at the end of each section.
Such reflections insure that the student has personally recognized the relevance and level
of achievement acquired during creation and presentation of the portfolio. It is this selfreflection that makes a portfolio much more valuable than a folder of student-selected work.
“Student portfolios are a collection of evidence,
prepared by the student and evaluated by
the faculty member, to demonstrate mastery,
comprehension, application, and synthesis
of a given set of concepts.”
ASSESSMENT PURPOSES
The overall goal of the preparation of a portfolio is for the learner to demonstrate and
provide evidence that he or she has mastered a given set of learning objectives. More
than just thick folders containing student work, portfolios are typically personalized,
long-term representations of a student’s own efforts and achievements. Whereas multiplechoice tests are designed to determine what the student doesn’t know, portfolio assessments emphasize what the student does know.
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T E A C H I N G AT T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F M A N I TO B A : A H A N D B O O K
L I M I TAT I O N S
Portfolio assessments provide students and faculty with a direct view of how students
organize knowledge into overarching concepts. As such, portfolios are inappropriate for
measuring students’ levels of factual knowledge (i.e., recall knowledge) or for drill-andskill activities and accordingly should be used in concert with more conventional forms
of assessment. Similarly, student work completed beyond the context of the classroom is
occasionally subject to issues of academic dishonesty
TEACHING GOALS
• Develop ability to communicate scientific conceptions accurately
• Develop ability to write effectively using graphics as support
• Develop ability to relate principle concepts to real-world applications
• Develop ability to cite sources and references appropriately
• Develop ability to synthesize and integrate information and ideas
• Develop ability to be reflective and effectively conduct self-assessment
• Develop ability to think creatively and critically
S U G G E S T I O N S FO R U S E
Portfolios are most appropriate when students need to integrate a number of complex
ideas, procedures, and relationships. Portfolios can more much of the responsibility of
assessment from the instructor to the student if the learner is instructed to demonstrate
and provide evidence that he or she has mastered a given set of learning objectives.
The most useful portfolios are composed of student solutions to multifaceted tasks.
Such tasks are typically complex, somewhat undefined, engaging problems that require
students to apply, synthesize, and evaluate various problem solving approaches.
S T E P - BY- S T E P I N S T R U C T I O N S
• Carefully construct and distribute 12-25 overarching learning objectives for the course.
• Decide if a portfolio supports student learning and assessment for these objectives.
• Determine if the portfolio is primarily a learning activity or an assessment tool.
• Inform students of your expectations that students have the opportunity to clearly
demonstrate to the professor that course learning objectives have been attained.
• Require that each piece of evidence must be clearly labeled as to which objective the
evidence pertains.
• Require that each piece of evidence must be accompanied by a written paragraph of
rationale and a separate written paragraph of self-reflection.
A LT E R N AT I V E A S S E S S M E N T
• Emphasize to students that it is their responsibility to clearly demonstrate mastery of
the learning objectives for this course.
• Score each item of evidence in the portfolio according to a scheme that has been
distributed to the students when the portfolios are initially assigned.
F I G U R E 1 : I L L U S T R AT I V E C O U R S E L E A R N I N G O B J E C T I V E S
List of Course Learning Objectives for Introductory Environmental Geology
1. The size of the human population, and the causes for change in its size in various
areas of the world.
2. The source, use, pollution and cleanup of the worlds water resources.
3. The origin and evolution of soils, and the way soils are affected by agriculture.
4. Current and alternative sources of food.
5. The origin, advantages and disadvantages of current sources of energy.
6. The origin, operation and potential for alternative sources of energy.
7. The causes of extinction and the processes which control the rate of extinction.
8. Factors which control the use of land by people.
9. The geologic processes which cause earthquakes, and the potential for predicting
and preventing such events.
10. The origin, extraction and importance of ores.
11. The composition, management and recycle potential for solid & hazardous waste
material.
12. The origin, evolution and productivity of coastal areas.
13. The impact of human activities on coastal areas.
14. The origin, effect and remediation of atmospheric pollution.
15. How humans affect the earth’s environment.
List of Course Learning Objectives for First Semester
Algebra-based College Physics
1. Understand the nature of scientific knowledge and the various disciplines of science.
2. Appreciate the historical and practical uses of units and measures.
3. Convert numerical quantities from one system of units to another and within a
given system.
4. Describe the various concepts and units used to describe motion.
5. Solve one-dimensional problems related to the acceleration of objects due to gravity.
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6. Diagram and describe quantitatively the motion of a projectile.
7. Appropriately apply vectors qualitatively to describe physical situations.
8. Use vectors to quantitatively solve problems relating to motion.
9. Create a free-body diagram to represent the total force on an object (including friction).
10. State and apply the laws of motion developed by Isaac Newton.
11. Solve problems related to static equilibrium and rotational equilibrium.
12. Apply the Law of Universal Gravitation to objects moving in circles.
13. Calculate the work done on an object and its relationship to energy.
14. Quantitatively and qualitatively describe systems in which energy is conserved.
15. Identify the various sources of energy and power.
16. Solve problems related to impulse and the Conservation of Momentum.
17. Apply principles of fluid dynamics to describe phenomena in nature.
18. Distinguish between heat and temperature.
19. Identify the ways that heat can be transferred between two points.
20. Explain the distinguishing characteristics of solids, liquids, and gases.
21. State the laws of thermodynamics and their importance to technology.
22. Solve problems relating to periodic (cyclical) motion.
> TIP
23. Describe the properties of sound waves with respect to pitch,
volume, and intensity.
24. Apply the Doppler Effect to physical situations quantitatively
and qualitatively.
Use open-format
VA R I AT I O N S
portfolios to
Showcase Portfolios
A showcase portfolio is a limited portfolio where a student is only
allowed to present a few pieces of evidence to demonstrate mastery of
learning objectives. Especially useful in a laboratory course, a showcase portfolio might ask a student to include items that represent:
evaluate mastery of
learning objectives.
• their best work;
• their most interesting work;
• their most improved work;
• their most disappointing work;
• and their favorite work.
A LT E R N AT I V E A S S E S S M E N T
Items could be homework assignments, examinations, laboratory reports, news clippings, or other creative works. An introductory letter that describes why each particular
item was included and what it demonstrates makes this type of portfolio especially
insightful to the instructor.
Checklist Portfolios
A checklist portfolio is composed of a predetermined number of items. Often, a course
syllabus will have a predetermined number of assignments for students to complete.
A checklist portfolio takes advantage of such a format and gives the students the choice
of a number of different assignment selections to complete in the course of learning
science. For example, instead of assigning exactly 12 sets of problems from the end of
each text chapter, students could have the option of replacing several assignments with
relevant magazine article reviews or laboratory reports that clearly demonstrate mastery
of a given learning objective. Additionally, class quizzes and tests can become part of
the portfolio if that is what is on the checklist of items to be included. A sample checklist
might require a portfolio to have 10 correctly worked problem sets, two magazine article
summaries, two laboratory reports, and two examinations in addition to self-reflection
paragraphs where the student decides which objectives most closely fit which assignments.
Open-Format Portfolios
An open-format for a portfolio generally provides the most insightful view of a student’s
level of achievement. In an open-format portfolio, students are allowed to submit
anything they wish to be considered as evidence for mastery of a given list of learning
objectives. In addition to the traditional items like exams and assignments, students
can include reports on museum visits, analysis of amusement park rides, imaginative
homework problems, and other sources from the “real world”. Although these portfolios
are more difficult for the student to create and for the instructor to score, many students
report that they are very proud of the time spent on such a portfolio.
Use in Large Enrollment Courses
Portfolios can be used successfully in large courses provided there is an infrastructure
for students and instructors to utilize. Most importantly, the format of each item in the
portfolio needs to be in a similar format; the use of cover sheets, forms, and prescribed
notebooks often helps. Second, students’ creativity must be sacrificed to some degree for
the sake of uniformity. This can be accomplished by assigning student tasks that have
fewer multiple-correct solutions. Finally, if graduate teaching assistants are used, each
assistant should take responsibility for a particular series of learning goals, thus becoming
an expert and seeing all student submissions. If announced to the students, this helps
curtail academic dishonesty and variation in scoring.
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Analysis
Because each portfolio is individualized, student assessment must be compiled by
looking at the portfolio’s contents relative to the course learning objectives. Each piece
of evidence should be graded according to a predetermined scheme. The items can be
scored discretely as a 0, 1, 2, or 3 based on the grader’s judgment about the student’s
presentation as related to the stated learning goals. (A larger scale can be used, but the
reliability of different faculty giving the student the same score decreases.)
F I G U R E 2 : I L L U S T R AT I V E G R A D I N G C R I T E R I A FO R P O R T FO L I O S
Grading Criteria
Each individual piece of evidence will be graded according to the following scale:
Score 0: No evidence - the evidence is not present, it is not clearly labeled, or there is
no rationale or self-reflection.
Score 1: Weak evidence - the evidence is presented is inaccurate, implies misunderstandings, has insufficient rationale or insufficient self-reflection.
Score 2: Adequate evidence - the evidence is presented accurately with no errors nor
misunderstandings implied, but the information is dealt with at the literal definition
level with no integration across concepts. Opinions presented are not sufficiently
supported by referenced facts or facts are presented without clear relevance to
opinions or positions.
Score 3: Strong Evidence - the evidence is presented accurately and clearly indicates
understanding by integration across concepts. Opinions and positions are clearly
supported by referenced facts.
GRADING RUBRIC
The overall portfolio is scored as follows as an indication of the extent to which the
portfolio indicates that the student has mastered the 15 course objectives listed elsewhere
in the syllabus:
Grade:
Rubric:
A
Strong evidence in at least 12 objectives; adequate in other three
B+
Strong evidence in at least 12 objectives; adequate in at least one other;
B
Strong evidence in 10 objectives; adequate in all others;
C+
Strong evidence in 9 objectives; adequate in others;
C
Strong evidence in 9 objectives; adequate in at least one other;
D+
Adequate evidence in 12 objectives;
D
Adequate evidence in 10 objectives;
F
Adequate evidence in less than 10 objectives;
A LT E R N AT I V E A S S E S S M E N T
SUBMISSION AND POSSESSION OF EVIDENCE:
Submission of evidence for mastery of each objective is to be done during laboratory
class meetings and the portfolios will be securely maintained in the laboratory. It is your
responsibility to see that your portfolio is current and accurate. No late submissions will
be accepted . Any submissions remotely suspected of plagiarism will receive a score of 0.
Evidence scored as a 0 or a 1 is rather straightforward based on the criteria listed in
figure 2. The most difficult judgment usually lies between awarding a score of 2 and a
score of 3. In particular, a score of 2 is awarded if the student has addressed the learning
objective correctly and clearly, but only at the literal-descriptive level; there is little
explicit integration across concepts or indication of relevance to the student. A common
characteristic of such evidence is that facts are not used to support an opinion or position.
Furthermore, evidence that does not clearly identify relevance to the student’s life or
career path is also given a score of 2. To be awarded a score of 3, the evidence must clearly
indicate that the student understands the objective in an integrated fashion. Such evidence
provides the reader deep insight into the complexity of the student’s comprehension.
Viewing student portfolios from this perspective drastically changes the emphasis
from collections of facts to encompassing concepts. Such a grading procedure also shifts
responsibility for demonstrating competence from the instructor to the student.
Effectively shifting this responsibility affects comments placed in the portfolio by the
grader; comments are directed toward improving the next submission as well as indicating
the inadequacies of the current evidence.
PROS AND CONS
• Portfolios put the responsibility of demonstrating knowledge and integration across
concepts on the students
• Portfolios provide a structure for long-duration assignments
• Portfolios encourage student creativity and allow for students to emphasize the aspects
of a concept most relevant to them in meaningful ways
• Portfolios engender self-reflection and self-assessment
However:
• Portfolios take longer to score than machine graded multiple-choice exams
• Portfolios involve student work outside of class
• Portfolios do not easily demonstrate students’ knowledge-recall abilities
• Students who have been successful at memorizing their way to an “A” initially find
portfolios intimidating
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T E A C H I N G AT T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F M A N I TO B A : A H A N D B O O K
THEORY AND RESEARCH
Today, it is generally recognized that the commonly used series of 60-minute examinations
can only provide an instructor with a quick and limited view of the knowledge a student
has actually achieved during a semester course (Slater, 1997). Conventional multiple-choice
tests do not provide the instructor with enough information to ascertain why the student
gave a particular response. Unfortunately, even student-supplied responses, in-class essays,
and quantitative problem-oriented test items are severely limited in scope and complexity
due to unavoidable time constraints. These deficiencies and others have previously been
thoroughly described and documented (Berlack et al., 1992, p. 8).
Portfolio assessment strategies, such as those used in fine arts such as photography,
architecture, and writing, might hold the most promise for earth science instruction.
In the introductory level science course, portfolios provide a forum for extended and
complex learning activities and observations (Slater, 1994; Collins, 1992; 1993). For
example, an introductory geology portfolio might contain maps drawn by the student,
cross-sections, and interpretations from student observations. The student can also
provide an indication pertaining to some of the difficulties encountered in obtaining
information and justification for any assumptions employed. In such a procedure, much
of the responsibility of both learning and assessment is transferred to the student.
In terms of effectiveness, Slater (1997) reports how different types of portfolios in three
separate classroom contexts were used to explore the effectiveness of portfolio assessment
strategies. In each study, a two-group comparison strategy was used and the groups were
compared on several measures. These included a common final examination and a
pretest/posttest self-report survey.
Additionally, each group that used portfolios completed open-ended surveys and participated in focus group interviews. Three classroom contexts were used: (1) college physics
at an urban community college; (2) physical science for elementary education majors at
medium-sized university; and (3) introductory environmental science for non-science
majors in a large-enrollment lecture course ( n > 280) at a major university.
For each study, one of two course sections was randomly selected to be assessed primarily
by portfolios while the other was assessed traditionally using quizzes and tests. With
the exception of the final examination, students who were primarily assessed using
portfolios were not administered any of the quizzes or tests that the traditional students
took. Student portfolios were evaluated at regular intervals throughout the semester
using a holistic scoring rubric (described thoroughly by Rischbieter, Ryan, & Carpenter,
1993; Astwood & Slater, 1996; Kuhns, 1993). At the end of the semester course, all
students took the same multiple-choice final examination with 24 to 50 items that were
directly correlated to the course learning objectives.
A LT E R N AT I V E A S S E S S M E N T
In each study, the results were essentially identical. Students assessed by portfolios scored
just as well on a traditional multiple-choice final examination as their traditionally
assessed counterparts.
However, an analysis of the qualitative data suggests that, from the students’ perspectives,
there may be major advantages to the portfolio assessment strategy.
All students completed open-ended surveys and representatives from each class using
portfolios participated in focus group interviews. Overall the students reported that they
liked this alternative procedure for assessment. Probably most important to the students,
the portfolios significantly reduced the level of “test anxiety” (Slater, Samson, & Ryan,
1995). This reduction in student anxiety clearly shows up in the way that students attend
to class discussions. Students suggest that they feel like they are being relieved of their
traditional vigorous note taking duties so they are free to look at the holistic science of a
given situation – not just the formulas. They state that they enjoy class discussion more
because of the atmosphere promoted by the assessment strategies employed.
Students assessed by portfolios also report that they spend a lot of time going over the
textbook or required readings to be sure that they comprehend the depths of each
learning objective. Although it is unclear exactly how much time students devote to
creating their portfolios, they do report that they contemplate the concepts outside of
the classroom environment – always looking for that “neat thing” to include in their
portfolio. Students reported that they thought that would remember what they were
learning much better and longer than they would the material for other classes they took.
Students suggest that this is because they have internalized the material while working
with it, thought about the principles, and applied concepts creatively and extensively
over the duration of the course.
REFERENCES
Astwood, P.M. & Slater, T.F. (1996). Portfolio assessment in large-enrollment courses: effectiveness and
management. Journal of Geological Education, 45(3).
Berlak, H., Newmann, F.M., Adams, E., Archbald, D.A., Burgess, T., Raven, J., and Romberg, T.A. (1992)
Toward a new science of educational testing and assessment: Albany, State University of New York Press.
Collins, A. (1993) Performance-based assessment of biology teachers. Journal of College Science Teaching,
30(9): 1103-1120.
Collins, A. (1992) Portfolios for science education: Issues in purpose, structure, and authenticity. Science
Education, 76(4): 451-463.
Guba, E.G. and Lincoln, Y.S. (1989). Fourth Generation Evaluation: Newbury Park, CA, Sage Publications, Inc.,
p. 294.
Kuhs, T.M. (1994) Portfolio assessment: Making it work for the first time. The Mathematics Teacher, 87(5): 332-335.
Rischbieter, M.O., Ryan, J.M., & Carpenter, J.R. (1993). Use of microethnographic strategies to analyze some
affective aspects of learning-cycle-based minicourses in paleontology for teachers. Journal of Geological
Education, 41(3): 208-218.
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Slater, T.F. (1994) Portfolio assessment strategies for introductory physics. The Physics Teacher, 32(6): 415-417.
Slater, T.F. (1997) The effectiveness of portfolio assessments in science. Journal of College Science Teaching, 26(5).
Slater, T.F. & Astwood, P.M. (1995) Strategies for grading and using student assessment portfolios. Journal of
Geological Education, 45(3): 216-220
Slater, T.F., Ryan. J.M, & Samson, S.L. (1997). The impact and dynamics of portfolio assessment and traditional
assessment in college physics. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 34(3).
Tobias, S. & Raphael, J. (1995) In-class examinations in college science - new theory, new practice. Journal of
College Science Teaching, 24(4): 240-244.
Wiggens, G. (1989, May) A true test: Toward more authentic and equitable assessment. Phi Delta Kappan,
70(9): 703-713.
Wolf. D. (1989) Portfolio assessment: Sampling student work. Educational Leadership, 46(7): 35-37.
Grading/Marking
Summative Feedback (Grading)
O H I O S TAT E
T E AC H I N G
HANDBOOK
© Office of Faculty and
TA Development /
Ohio State University,
2001. Chapter 7
“Testing and Grading:
Assessing Student
Performance,”
Teaching at The Ohio
State University: A
Handbook, pp.94-98
http://ftad.osu.edu/
Publications/Teaching
Handbook/chap-7.pdf,
adapted with
permission from
Office of Faculty and
TA Development /
Ohio State University.
Resale or further
copying of this material
is strictly prohibited.
A
t given intervals during a course and at the completion of a course, instructors
often decide or are required to assign grades to students. Many instructors
indicate that grading is the most difficult and anxiety-producing part of teaching.
Although many construct systems designed to ensure fairness, grades are inevitably
subject to value decisions and the relative framework within which knowledge is generated and assessed. Milton, Pollio, and Eison (1986) provide a frank discussion of the
difficulties entailed in assigning grades. Despite their limitations, students, instructors,
and prospective employers and educators tend to use grades to make decisions.
McKeachie (1994) identifies some purposes for which grades are used by these interested
groups: students want to be able to use grades to assist them in making decisions about
possible majors and careers; instructors advising students use grades to judge whether
their students have the motivation, skill, knowledge, and ability to do well in advanced
courses; prospective employers and educators want to use grades to tell whether a
student is qualified for employment or further education and how well the student will
do in his or her future work.
Many different types of summative evaluation may be effective depending on the design
of specific course materials and goals. However, good grading methods are characterized
by the following attributes.
GRADING/MARKING
4.39
VA L I D I T Y
It is of paramount importance that the method of evaluation employed be able to accurately measure the skill or knowledge that it seeks to measure, that it be valid. It is also
important that evaluations exhibit what is known as face validity. Face validity means
that elements of the evaluation appear to be related to stated course objectives. It is a
common student complaint that they could not perceive the connection between the
evaluation and course objectives. It is therefore necessary not only that the instructor
be able to make a connection between the evaluation and the course, but that the student
be able to do so as well.
In addition to face validity; evaluations must have content validity; The format of an evaluation must conform closely to the course objectives that it seeks to evaluate. If a course
objective states that students will be able to apply theories of practice to case studies, then
an evaluation should provide them with appropriate cases to demonstrate this ability.
Finally; effective methods of evaluation have certain predictive characteristics. A student
who performs well on an evaluation concerning a certain skill might be expected to
perform well on similar evaluations on related skills.
Additionally, that student
might be expected to score
consistently when evaluated
in the future.
“Evaluation methods should
demonstrate face and content
validity as well as reliability.”
RELIABILIT Y
The concept of reliability is
closely related to (and often confused with) validity. A reliable method of evaluation will
produce similar results (within certain limitations) for the same student across time and
circumstances. While it is understood that performances will vary, the goal is to eliminate
as many sources of error as possible. Svinicki (n.d.) notes three major sources of error in
reliably evaluating students:
• Poor communication of expectations. It is imperative that the student understand the
question or the task assigned. Poor student performance can be the result of a failure to
provide clear instructions. For example, assignments should always be written to avoid
any verbal misunderstanding. The results of a failure to communicate are often a poor
grade given to a student who may actually have mastered the subject matter.
• Lack of consistent criteria for judgment. Lack of consistent criteria for judgment exists
where the basis for making the judgment is not clear. Where there are not consistent
criteria, identical tasks can he evaluated differently by the same grader at a later date or
by a different grader concurrently. However, if a specific set of criteria is established
prior to the evaluation, error in this area can be diminished.
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T E A C H I N G AT T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F M A N I TO B A : A H A N D B O O K
• Lack of sufficient information about performance. A third source of error in evaluating
students occurs when the instructor does not have sufficient evidence of a student’s
performance. It is important that the information collected reflect this performance in a
variety of formats. Clearly; using a single paper submitted at the end of the quarter to
determine the entire course grade would violate this principle.
C L E A R C O M M U N I C AT I O N O F E VA L U AT I O N P L A N
P R I O R T O P E R FO R M A N C E
Students often complain that the basis for their evaluation is unclear to them. Students’
ability to “guess” what topics will be presented as a part of their evaluation and in what
form is hardly indicative of their mastery of course content. Additionally, questions
employed for evaluative purposes should be of the same nature and scope as day-today
class activities and assignments. This is not to say that the evaluation must be a “regurgitation” of classwork and readings but rather that it should be within the same general
framework. Not-for-grade trial tests, given early in the quarter, can be useful tools both
to alert the instructor as to the students’ abilities and to provide the students with an
understanding of the method of evaluation that will be used.
R E A L I S T I C E X P E C TAT I O N S
As has been previously noted, the more student work available to the instructor, the
more reliable the evaluation of student learning. However, consideration must be given
to the Fact that students are also enrolled in several other courses that demand their time
and attention. Instructors are also limited in the number and types of evaluations they
can develop and administer in any individual course, while still grading and returning
work in a reasonable time. Ideally, these constraints can be recognized and the best
possible system of evaluation can he generated within these parameters.
M E T H O D S O F G R A D I N G A N D R E L AT I V E A D VA N TA G E S
There are many methods of grading. They are all based on human judgment, although
it is easy to forget this, especially when the method relies on numbers. Numeric methods
are not necessarily more “objective” than those that rely on written comments or holistic
approaches. Instructors find that thinking through their grading philosophy and purposes
before developing a scheme is a very important step. Before selecting a grading method,
it is also advisable to check if there are any relevant course or departmental policies.
C A L C U L AT I N G G R A D E S
There are three basic types of grading systems: criterion-referenced or absolute systems,
norm-referenced or relative systems, and hybrid (combination of criterion- and normreferenced) systems. Simply stated, norm-referenced systems (often referred to as
“grading on a curve”) evaluate students’ performance in relation to one another and rest
GRADING/MARKING
on the underlying assumption that relative levels of student ability do not vary much
from quarter to quarter, and that student achievement is evenly distributed. When using
norm-referenced systems, however, there is a danger that the instructor will inappropriately use the grading curve to compensate for poorly constructed tests.
Criterion-referenced systems, on the other hand, apply an absolute scale against which
individual student performances are measured. The setting up of such a grading scale
ideally requires some knowledge of the levels of student ability likely to be present in
the class. With the criterion-referenced system, it is theoretically possible for all students
to receive an “A” or for everyone to fail the course. Hybrid systems, probably the most
common grading schemes, contain aspects of both systems. A few examples of each
system and their implications follow:
NORM-REFERENCED SYSTEMS
The Simple Curve
In this system the instructor determines beforehand that a certain percentage of students
will receive A’s and a similar percentage will receive E’s, The same holds for B’s and D’s.
The remainder receive C’s. Cut-offs are based on the number of students in the class and
are figured by counting down the distribution of grades until that number is reached.
Since this system involves nothing more sophisticated than counting and division, it is
easy to use. However, when students know that only a fixed percentage of them can
achieve A’s, they often feel a sense of competition with each other. If you intend to do
any sort of collaborative or cooperative group work, this form of grading can undermine
your ability to get students to work together.
The Normalized Curve
This is a more complex system in which the actual score a student
earns is converted into what is called a standard score based on
the class average and the distribution of the scores. Then, using
standard tables, the instructor converts these standard scores into
percentiles based on a normal curve.
The Office of the Registrar’s Test Scanning and Scoring Services
provides this information on all machine scored tests scanned by
their office. The student’s score is reported as being in the 90th
percentile or the 50th, with some predetermined percentiles representing each of the letter grades. Percentile scores have some real
advantages when it comes to comparing grades from a wide range
of activities, but their computation and interpretation can be
confusing. This method also has the same issues with competitiveness that the simple curve does.
> TIP
Grading systems:
• criterion-referenced
or absolute systems,
• norm-referenced or
relative systems, and
• hybrid (combination
of criterion and normreferenced) systems.
4.41
4.42
T E A C H I N G AT T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F M A N I TO B A : A H A N D B O O K
CRITERION–REFERENCED SYSTEMS
Percentage of Total Points Possible
In this system, there are a fixed number of points available to be earned. Earning 90%
(or some arbitrary percent) of those points will result in an A, while 80% will result in a
B and so on. Students are evaluated against a preset criterion, hence the name, and not
against their peers. It does not matter how many students reach a given level. Everyone
can earn an A or an E. This avoids the issue of placing students in competition with each
other, but requires that the instructor have a very clear idea of the level of achievement
students are likely to reach in advance, so as to be able to set appropriate grade levels.
Mastery, or Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory
In this case, there is only one preset level of achievement, usually based on a set of specific
objectives that must be passed. If these are passed, the student moves on; if not, the student
must repeat the evaluation or fail the course. Sometimes the specific requirements for the
assessment of mastery refer to a given percent of the total number of skills rather than to
the achievement of all given skills.
The mastery approach assigns a basic satisfactory/unsatisfactory grade to students
based on their achievement of specified goals. In a mastery system, students are ordinarily
allowed to take different amounts of time to accomplish a goal and to repeat tests or
assignments without penalty until they achieve the desired outcome.
The advantages of this system are that the grades are meaningfully tied to the performance level, that students may achieve goals faster when they know what they are,
that the focus is on success rather than failure, that student performance anxiety may he
lowered, and that the system supports cooperation and may raise morale.
Disadvantages include its time consuming nature, the limit of freedom placed on teachers,
and the possibility of strict prescription of means to achieve .mastery it may also discourage
students from setting and meeting their own goals, and if used in a program where the whole
faculty sets up performance criteria, it has the disadvantages inherent in committees.
Contract System
A contract system of grading involves the development of a written contract between
the student and the instructor that specifies precisely what will be required to achieve
any given grade. The course syllabus is a good place to communicate this possibility.
Advantages of grading contracts include reducing anxieties since the student knows
what is expected, minimizing the role of personal judgment In grading, and encouraging
student-set goals.
The disadvantages of this system are the potential for overemphasis on quantity, possible
difficulty in measuring diverse student activity and that ambiguity may exist in qualitative
distinctions between grades.
GRADING/MARKING
H Y B R I D ( C O M B I N AT I O N O F C R I T E R I O N A N D
NORM-REFERENCED SYSTEMS)
Percent of Maximum Obtained
This system uses a predetermined set of cut-off percentages for each grade as in a criterionreferenced system, but bases the actual grades on the highest score achieved by a student
in the class. This latter characteristic makes the grades somewhat comparative as in a
norm-referenced system. The class performance plays a role in determining what is
needed for each grade, but the number of students who can earn each grade is not
restricted as in the norm-referenced systems. Except on the broadest level the students
are not in competition with one another. This system gives neither absolute nor relative
performance information, but it is easy to compute and easy for students to understand.
Gap System
This could be labeled the “interocular” system since it involves laying out the score
distribution and looking for gaps in the distribution. Sometimes, the distribution of
student scores cluster in such a way that obvious breaks show where the cutoff scores for
the various grades should be.
One advantage of this system is that the instructor has a practical reason for setting the
grade cut-offs where they are. The idea is to identify real differences in performance that
will then be reflected in the grades. Under this system, “A” performance really appears
to be different from “B” performance because the two groups of students have a gap
separating them. All other systems are based on more or less arbitrary cut-offs, even
though they may have a sound statistical basis. Like norm- referenced systems, the gap
system gives us relative but not absolute performance information. It is also easy to
compute and explain.
Self-Evaluation
Instructors can use student self-evaluation to determine part or all of the course grade.
A variety of formats can be used. The significant difference in this form of grading is that
the source of the evaluation is the student.
Self-evaluation can be a learning experience for the student, one that encourages them
to take responsibility for their own learning. When properly coached in how to do selfassessment, students are usually fair, objective, and demanding of themselves. However,
this method can be taken less seriously as the novelty wears off and is subject to abuse if
students are nor taught to be introspective, or if they are under extreme pressure for grades.
4.43
4.44
T E A C H I N G AT T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F M A N I TO B A : A H A N D B O O K
Reducing the Complexity and Subjectivity of
Marking: The Successful Use of Rubrics
D I E T E R J.
SCHÖNWETTER
Used with permission
of author
P
aul Dressel has humorously defined marking as “an inadequate report of an inaccurate judgment by a biased and variable judge of the extent to which a student
has attained an undefined level of mastery of an unknown portion of an indefinite
amount of material.” (Basic College Quarterly p. 6, 1957). Marking is probably one of the
more regretted responsibilities of teaching, yet it is a required task. However, there are
ways to move beyond the “subjectivity” of marking to a sense of fairness, equity and
consistency as observed by students in the evaluation of their assignments. Probably one
of the most effective tools is the marking rubric. In order to maximize the efficiency of
this tool, rubrics will be defined, effective use of rubrics will be explored, and tips for
creating rubrics will be highlighted. A list of valuable references from which this section
was developed is included.
RUBRIC DEFINED
“Rubrike” finds its origins in Middle English, referring to the “heading in red letters of
part of a book” and more recently, as “an established rule, tradition, or custom”
(Webster’s, 2003). For the teacher, the rubric is “a scoring guide or scale consisting of a set
of criteria that describe what expectations are being assessed/evaluated and descriptions
of levels of quality used to evaluate students work or to guide students to desired
performance levels”. It is at best viewed as “an authentic assessment tool...that seeks to
evaluate a student's performance based on the sum of a full range of criteria rather than a
single numerical score”.
PURPOSE OF A RUBRIC
As an assessment tool, the well-developed rubric influences both the teacher and the student. For the teacher, it enhances the quality of direct instruction, increases the efficiency
of marking, permits comprehensive grading, and reduces potential student allegations.
Rubrics enhance the quality of direct instruction by implicitly articulating to students
what makes a good final product and why. A rubric reduces repetitive work and provides
the ease of transferring to numerous activities for almost any content area. Moreover, it
increases the efficiency and consistency across multi-section courses, where teams of
graders can align their marking efforts for common assignments. Designed with room
for encouraging commentary, rubrics provide personalized feedback to students. Rubrics
afford comprehensive grading by providing streamlined information on a student’s
strengths and challenges, as well as a focus on a particular set of skills being developed.
Most importantly, rubrics help to reduce allegations from students about inconsistency in
grading. For the grader, a well-designed rubric prompts the memory of the method and
GRADING/MARKING
4.45
rationale for the grade given and provides little room for deviations when students come
to contest a grade.
For students, rubrics improve their projects, increase learning, and impact the perception
of fairness of marking. By providing students with explicit guidelines regarding expectations and marking criteria, students can prepare accordingly, are more motivated to
pay close attention to specific requirements and in turn, take ownership of the projects,
especially when involved in creating the rubric. Rubrics provide the scaffolding required
to enhance the quality of work and increases students’ knowledge, which in turn impacts
their learning. The rubric also becomes the model of what is expected for students. Most
importantly, rubrics reduce the perceived “subjective” nature of marking, given that all
students’ work is marked on the same criteria.
T YPES OF RUBRICS
Instructors tend to use one of two types of rubrics: holistic and analytic. As seen in Figure
1, holistic rubrics assess the student’s work as a complete unit, whereas analytic rubrics,
as seen in Figure 2, focus on details, breaking the performance outcome into smaller
units, each receiving an evaluation. If detail is important and/or two or more graders
are being utilized (i.e., large classes) than an analytical rubric is preferable. However,
when the overall project outcome is more of interest, a holistic rubric is most appropriate.
Figure 1. Research Writing Content Rubric – HOLISTIC
Value
Characteristics
5
The topic and arguments are developed fully and organized well. The statements made are well
supported by empirical literature using interesting language and sufficient detail.
4
Most parts of the topic mentioned in a score of 5 above are developed, organized, and well supported
by empirical literature. A couple of aspects may need to be more fully or more interestingly developed.
3
Some aspects of the topic are developed and organized well, but not as much empirical support or
organization is expressed as in a score of 4.
2
A few parts of the topic are slightly developed. Organization and empirical support need improvement.
1
Parts of the topic are addressed without attention to empirical support or organization.
4.46
T E A C H I N G AT T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F M A N I TO B A : A H A N D B O O K
C R E AT I N G R U B R I C S
In order to create a rubric, the instructor decides what the purpose is for the assignment,
generates the criteria and the levels of quality, assigns specific performance descriptors
for each grading-by-assignment interaction (e.g., individual cells in a rubric), and weighting the rubric – a five step process.
Step One:
The criteria to be evaluated need to be chosen, such as a list of what the student is to
accomplish through the assignment. As seen in Figure 2, this should include the essential
learning objectives/outcomes, evidence to be produced, measurable skills, and easily
identifiable outcomes.
Figure 2. Analytical Rubric Template
Beginning
1
(60-69%)
Developing
2
(70-79%)
Accomplished
3
(80-89%)
Exemplary
4
(90-100%)
Stated
Objective or
Performance
Descriptor
(performance
weight)
Description of
identifiable
performance
characteristics
reflecting a
beginning
level of
performance.
Description of
identifiable
performance
characteristics
reflecting
development
and movement
toward mastery
of performance.
Description of
identifiable
performance
characteristics
reflecting
mastery of
performance.
Description of
identifiable
performance
characteristics
reflecting the
highest level of
performance.
(an example)
Is able to
use common
and familiar
terms correctly.
Is able to
use common,
familiar, and
some newly
acquired
terms correctly.
Is able to
use common,
familiar, and
most newly
acquired
terminology
correctly.
Ability for
the student to
use common,
familiar, and
all newly
acquired
terminology
correctly.
Grading
Criteria
Assignment
Criteria
Uses correct
terminology
(20 points)
Score
GRADING/MARKING
Step Two:
The assignment criteria (e.g., the stated objective or performance) need to be organized
in a logical and/or sequential order, from most important to least important. Prior to
creating and filling the template grid, the evaluator needs to identify the specific elements of the assignment that requires to be completed. Critical at this stage is selecting
criteria that best reflect the objective of the assignment. For example, an assignment of
writing a research paper may yield a number of different criteria that will need to be
organized from most important to least important. For a psychology course, content may
be perceived as most important followed by organization, grammar, and citation. For a
course in English, grammar, composition, organization, content and citation, may be a
more appropriate ordering.
Step Three:
Step three involves inserting the criteria into the grid of the rubric. Here the evaluator
assigns specific grading criteria for each main category. These can include criteria such
as “Limited, Some, Considerable, High Degree”; “Poor, Average, Good, Excellent”; or
“Beginning, Developing, Accomplished, Exemplary”. As seen in each cell in Figure 2, a
performance descriptor needs to be chosen that best describe both the grading criteria
and the assignment criteria. For the column under the “Beginning” grading criteria,
this would include a description of the minimum expected from a student who will be
receiving a passing (60-69%) grade. If criterion is “uses correct terminology” the minimum
expected is that students will use the most common or familiar terms. This is a limited
capacity, but clearly defines for the students what the level of quality is for a Level 1
performance. A performance descriptor would most likely include “is able to use common
and familiar terms correctly”.
For Level 2, or Beginning, a mediocre performance level is described by a student having
clearly passed but is not the standard expected (70-79%). At this level, the criteria is
“uses correct terminology”, and the student is expected to move one step beyond Level 1.
Since level one indicates the student uses common or familiar terms, the next step is that
he/she is using some of the newer terminology as well. This is a “some” capacity, but a
definite and clear difference from Level 1. A performance descriptor might best be: is able
to use common, familiar, and some newly acquired terms correctly.
At Level 3 or Accomplished, the student has achieved the standard expectation performance level and reflects what the general population of students is capable of demonstrating
(80-89%). At this level, students are expected to move one step beyond Level 2. Based on
our example, students are using most or all of the newer terminology in their written
and oral work. This is a “accomplished” capacity, but a definite and clear difference from
Level 2. It is not perfect, but a standard level of expected competence. Here the performance descriptor is best described as: is able to use common, familiar, and most newly
acquired terminology correctly.
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4.48
T E A C H I N G AT T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F M A N I TO B A : A H A N D B O O K
At Level 4 or Exemplary, the student’s efforts are beyond the standard expectation performance level and one that identifies a student who has moved beyond what is taught
in the classroom (90-100%). Again, the effort is one step beyond Level 3. Students may
pick up more obscure words used in class but do not necessarily expect students to
know and remember. They may use the words correctly in a new context, apply a global
perspective, or apply the words to convey meaning about themselves. The most appropriate performance descriptor is the ability for the student to use common, familiar, and
all newly acquired terminology correctly.
Step Five
The final stage in creating a rubric requires weighting or identifying certain performance
outcomes as more important than others. In doing so, the instructor clearly indicates
which components of a project are more important for a particular activity or assignment
and assigns numeric weights accordingly. The weighting of a rubric can be modified to
stress different aspects of an assignment over a period of time as different criteria are
being taught. For instance, highlighting research literature in a paper might be stressed as
most important in the beginning of the year. As the student progresses in a given class,
the significance of citing works may become the next valued component as reflected in a
revised rubric.
T H E VA L U E O F S T U D E N T- G E N E R AT E D R U B R I C S
As part of experiencing project-based learning, students can either individually or in
groups, be encouraged to create rubrics, but under the guidance of the instructor who
provides the parameters (i.e., which performance outcomes to include). By having
students invest significant amount of time, energy, and effort in the development of a
rubric, students’ interest and motivation in the project are increased, which in turn,
influences their performance. Moreover, engaging students in rubric development
enables them to become more reflective learners, an experience and skill that will help
them in many other areas of life.
R U B R I C A D M I N I S T R AT I O N
For the rubric to have the most influence on students, it is wise to distribute it to
students when explaining the assignment. Invite questions and provide any clarification.
For modeling, present to your students exemplars of products at various levels of
development. Evaluate students’ work with the rubric to determine whether they have
mastered the content. Attach a copy of the rubric filled in with the student’s scores to
the graded work.
GRADING/MARKING
A rubric is also something that needs to be continuously evaluated to ensure that it is
efficient in measuring what it is intended to measure, that it addresses any concerns
raised by students, captures common errors made by students as a new criteria, and that
any grey areas be further refined to ensure clarity of what is expected.
Upfront effort, in the form of a well-developed rubric, pays dividends in grading by promoting perceptions of consistency, fairness, and equity among students; not only guiding
the evaluation process, but also the teaching process; and provides additional learning
for students.
ADDITIONAL RESOURCES
A page of resources for rubrics and assessment:
http://people.senecac.on.ca/selia.karsten/CTC/resources_7.html
1(http://fcis.oise.
utoronto.ca/~krobbins/rubrics.html,
Nov 15, 2004).
2(http://www.
teachervision.com/
index.html, February
15, 2005).
3(http://www.
teachervision.com/
index.html , February
15, 2005; http://gs.
fanshawec.ca/
rubrics/, February
15, 2005).
4(http://www.
A web page showing an example of evaluation criteria: http://www.ux1.eiu.edu/%7Ecfmgb/web.htm
RubiStar is a tool to help teachers design rubrics. Some of the categories include: oral presentations, multimedia,
research projects, writing, science and math. You can use one of their templates or customize your own.
This application will even make printable rubrics so there’s no need to cut and paste. You can even save your
customized rubric on the server and then re-design whenever necessary. http://rubistar.4teachers.org
teachervision.com/
index.html , February
15, 2005; http://gs.
fanshawec.ca/
rubrics/, February
15, 2005).
Marking guidelines for the team web project in Selia Karsten’s eCommerce class:
http://people.senecac.on.ca/selia.karsten/EC/e-site-evaluation.html
Criteria for marking web reports: http://people.senecac.on.ca/selia.karsten/EC/reportcriteria.html
W H E R E T O G E T M O R E I N FO R M AT I O N
Allen, R.R. (1990). Teaching Assistant Strategies: An introduction to college teaching. Dubuque: Kendall/Hunt.
Angelo, T. & Cross, P. (1993). Classroom assessment techniques: A handbook for college teachers. San Francisco:
Jossey Bass.
Erwin, T. D. (1991). Assessing student learning and development. San Francisco:
Jossey-Bass.
Lowman, J. (1987). Giving students feedback. In Weimer, M. (Ed.), Teaching Large
Classes Well. New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 32, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
> TIP
McKeachie, W.J. (1999). Teaching Tips: Strategies, Research and Theory for College &
University Teachers. (10 ed.) (pp. 117-130). New York: Houghton Mifflin.
Rubrics promote
McMillan, J.H. (1988). Assessing Students’ Learning. New Directions for Teaching
and Learning, 34. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
perceptions of
Prentice-Hall Canada. (1987). Making the Grade: Evaluating Student Progress.
Scarborough: Prentice-Hall.
consistency, fairness
Stevens, D., & Levi, A. J. (2004). Introduction to Rubrics: An Assessment Tool to Save
Grading Time, Convey Effective Feedback and Promote Student Learning
and equity among
Walvoord, B.E. & Anderson, V.J. (1998). Effective grading: A tool for learning and
assessment. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
4.49
students.
5
C H A P T E R
Teachers
INTRODUCTION
5.1
Introduction
What does it mean to be a teacher? We listened to University of Manitoba students who
recommended teachers for awards of teaching excellence. This is what they said:
A N E XC E L L E N T T E A C H E R I S O N E W H O :
Is KNOWLEDGEABLE in their discipline
Their knowledge is extensive and evolving
Their research is current
Their personal standards for knowledge and research are high
They encourage debate, questioning, reflection
They are challenged, not threatened by critical thought
Is INSPIRATIONAL
Passionate about their discipline, about learning and about life
Stimulate creative and critical thought
Share their learning through personal narratives
Model the best attributes of their discipline
Inspire students to be the best they can be
Believes in the student
Introduction
CREATES A CLIMATE FOR LEARNING by
Reflecting on the
Respecting students as learners and teachers
Practice of Teachng
Acknowledging student’s prior learning and life experience
Treating the students as colleagues in learning
Presenting material in an enthusiastic, energetic, humorous and innovative style
Being transparent about their own learning
Encouraging students to reflect on their learning
ENGAGES the students by:
Presenting challenging subject material
Assisting, nudging, and/or pushing students gently and firmly into learning
Engaging students in increasingly complex thinking
Providing prompt, clear feedback that encourages independence and fosters learning
Helping students to discover the answers
CONNECTS with students by:
Being respectful, helpful, supportive and encouraging to students
Patiently listening to and validating the student’s concerns
Helping the student overcome his/her challenges and fear of failure
Celebrating student successes with the student
5.1
5.2
5.2
T E A C H I N G AT T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F M A N I TO B A : A H A N D B O O K
Reflecting on the
Practice of Teaching
Ethical Principles in University Teaching
H A R RY M U R R AY,
EILEEN GILLESE,
MADELINE
LENNON,
PAU L M E R C E R ,
A N D M A R I LY N
ROBINSON
© 1996,
STLHE/SAPES
Permission is hereby
granted to copy this
document by whatever
means, provided that it
is reproduced in its
entirety, including the
title page with credit to
the authors, and
including the copyright
information and this
notice.
T
he purpose of this document is to provide a set of basic ethical principles that
define the professional responsibilities of university professors in their role as
teachers.
Ethical principles are conceptualized here as general guidelines, ideals, or expectations
that need to be taken into account, along with other relevant conditions and circumstances, in the design and analysis of university teaching. The intent of this document is
not to provide a list of ironclad rules, or a systematic code of conduct, along with prescribed
penalties for infractions, that will automatically apply in all situations and govern all
eventualities. Similarly, the intent is not to contradict the concept of academic freedom,
but rather to describe ways in which academic freedom can be exercised in a responsible
manner. Finally, the present document is intended only as a first approximation, or as
‘food for thought’, not necessarily as a final product that is ready for adoption in the
absence of discussion and consideration of local needs.
Ethical Principles in University Teaching was developed by the Society for Teaching and
Learning in Higher Education, and is endorsed by the winners of the national 3M teaching
award whose names appear on the cover page. The document was created by individuals
actively involved in university teaching, and will be distributed to university professors
across Canada with the support of 3M Canada. The Society for Teaching and Learning in
Higher Education (STLHE) believes that implementation of an ethical code similar to that
described herein will be advantageous to university teachers (e.g., in removing ambiguity
concerning teaching responsibilities); and will contribute significantly to improvement of
teaching. For these reasons, STLHE recommends that the document be discussed thoroughly at Canadian universities, with input from professors, students, and administrators,
and that universities consider adopting or implementing ethical principles of teaching
similar to those described in this document.
PRINCIPLE 1: CONTENT COMPETENCE
A university teacher maintains a high level of subject matter knowledge and ensures that course
content is current, accurate, representative, and appropriate to the position of the course within the
student’s program of studies.
REFLECTING ON THE PRACTICE OF TEACHING
5.3
This principle means that a teacher is responsible for maintaining (or acquiring) subject
matter competence not only in areas of personal interest but in all areas relevant to
course goals or objectives. Appropriateness of course content implies that what is actually
taught in the course is consistent with stated course objectives and prepares students
adequately for subsequent courses for which the present course is a prerequisite.
Representativeness of course content implies that for topics involving difference of
opinion or interpretation, representative points of view are acknowledged and placed
in perspective.
Achievement of content competence requires that the teacher take active steps to be
up-to-date in content areas relevant to his or her courses; to be informed of the content of
prerequisite courses and of courses for which the teacher’s course is prerequisite; and to
provide adequate representation of important topic areas and points of view.
Specific examples of failure to fulfil the principle of content competence occur when an
instructor teaches subjects for which she or he has an insufficient knowledge base, when
an instructor misinterprets research evidence to support a theory or social policy favored
by the instructor, or when
an instructor responsible for
a prerequisite survey course
teaches only those topics in
which the instructor has a
personal interest.
“Ethical Principles are general
guidelines, ideals or expectations.”
PRINCIPLE 2:
PEDAGOGICAL COMPETENCE
A pedagogically competent teacher communicates the objectives of the course to students, is
aware of alternative instructional methods or strategies, and selects methods of instruction that,
according to research evidence (including personal or self-reflective research), are effective in
helping students to achieve the course objectives.
This principle implies that, in addition to knowing the subject matter, a teacher has
adequate pedagogical knowledge and skills, including communication of objectives,
selection of effective instructional methods, providing opportunity for practice and
feedback, and dealing with student diversity. If mastery of a certain skill (e.g., critical
analysis, design of experiments) is part of the course objectives and will be considered
in evaluation and grading of students, the teacher provides students with adequate
opportunity to practice and receive feedback on that skill during the course. If learning
styles differ significantly for different students or groups of students, the teacher is aware
of these differences and, if feasible, varies her or his style of teaching accordingly.
5.4
T E A C H I N G AT T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F M A N I TO B A : A H A N D B O O K
To maintain pedagogical competence, an instructor takes active steps to stay current
regarding teaching strategies that will help students learn relevant knowledge and skills
and will provide equal educational opportunity for diverse groups. This might involve
reading general or discipline-specific educational literature, attending workshops and
conferences, or experi-mentation with alternative methods of teaching a given course or
a specific group of students.
Specific examples of failure to fulfil the principle of pedagogical competence include
using an instructional method or assessment method that is incongruent with the stated
course objectives (e.g., using exams consisting solely of fact-memorization questions
when the main objective of the course is to teach problem-solving skills); and failing to
give students adequate opportunity to practice or learn skills that are included in the
course objectives and will be tested on the final exam.
PRINCIPLE 3: DEALING WITH SENSITIVE TOPICS
Topics that students are likely to find sensitive or discomforting are dealt with in an open,
honest, and positive way.
Among other things, this principle means that the teacher acknowledges from the outset
that a particular topic is sensitive, and explains why it is necessary to include it in the
course syllabus. Also, the teacher identifies his or her own perspective on the issue and
compares it to alternative approaches or interpretations, thereby providing students with
an understanding of the complexity of the issue and the difficulty of achieving a single
“objective” conclusion. Finally, in order to provide a safe and open environment for class
discussion, the teacher invites all students to state their position on the issue, sets ground
rules for discussion, is respectful of students even when it is necessary to disagree, and
encourages students to be respectful of one another.
As one example of a sensitive topic, analysis of certain poems written by John Donne can
cause distress among students who perceive racial slurs embedded in the professor’s
interpretation, particularly if the latter is presented as the authoritative reading of the
poem. As a result, some students may view the class as closed and exclusive rather than
open and inclusive. A reasonable option is for the professor’s analysis of the poem to be
followed by an open class discussion of other possible interpretations and the pros and
cons of each.
Another example of a sensitive topic occurs when a film depicting scenes of child abuse is
shown, without forewarning, in a developmental psychology class. Assuming that such a
film has a valid pedagogical role, student distress and discomfort can be minimized by
warning students in advance of the content of the film, explaining why it is included in the
curriculum, and providing opportunities for students to discuss their reactions to the film.
REFLECTING ON THE PRACTICE OF TEACHING
PRINCIPLE 4: STUDENT DEVELOPMENT
The overriding responsibility of the teacher is to contribute to the intellectual development of the
student, at least in the context of the teacher’s own area of expertise, and to avoid actions such as
exploitation and discrimination that detract from student development.
According to this principle, the teacher’s most basic responsibility is to design instruction
that facilitates learning and encourages autonomy and independent thinking in students,
to treat students with respect and dignity, and to avoid actions that detract unjustifiably
from student development. Failure to take responsibility for student development occurs
when a teacher comes to class underprepared, fails to design effective instruction, coerces
students to adopt a particular value or point of view, or fails to discuss alternative theoretical interpretations (see also Principles 1, 2, and 3).
Less obvious examples of failure to take responsibility for student development can
arise when teachers ignore the power differential between themselves and students and
behave in ways that exploit or denigrate students. Such behaviors include sexual or
racial discrimination; derogatory comments toward students; taking primary or sole
authorship of a publication reporting research conceptualized, designed, and conducted
by a student collaborator; failure to acknowledge academic or intellectual debts to
students; and assigning research work to students that serves the ends of the teacher but
is unrelated to the educational goals of the course.
In some cases, the teacher’s responsibility to contribute to student development can come
into conflict with responsibilities to other agencies, such as the university, the academic
discipline, or society as a whole. This can happen, for example, when a marginal student
requests a letter of reference in support of advanced education, or when a student with
learning disabilities requests accommodations that require modification of normal grading
standards or graduation requirements. There are no hard and fast rules that govern
situations such as these. The teacher must weigh all conflicting responsibilities, possibly
consult with other individuals, and come to a reasoned decision.
P R I N C I P L E 5 : D U A L R E L AT I O N S H I P S W I T H S T U D E N T S
To avoid conflict of interest, a teacher does not enter into dual-role relationships with students
that are likely to detract from student development or lead to actual or perceived favoritism on the
part of the teacher.
This principle means that it is the responsibility of the teacher to keep relationships with
students focused on pedagogical goals and academic requirements. The most obvious
example of a dual relationship that is likely to impair teacher objectivity and/or detract
from student development is any form of sexual or close personal relationship with a
current student. Other potentially problematic dual relationships include: accepting a
teaching (or grading) role with respect to a member of one’s immediate family, a close
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friend, or an individual who is also a client, patient, or business partner; excessive socializing with students outside of class, either individually or as a group; lending money
to or borrowing money from students; giving gifts to or accepting gifts from students;
and introducing a course requirement that students participate in a political movement
advocated by the instructor. Even if the teacher believes that she or he is maintaining
objectivity in situations such as these, the perception of favoritism on the part of other
students is as educationally disastrous as actual favoritism or unfairness. If a teacher does
become involved in a dual relationship with a student, despite efforts to the contrary, it is
the responsibility of the teacher to notify his or her supervisor of the situation as soon as
possible, so that alternative arrangements can be made for supervision or evaluation of
the student.
Although there are definite pedagogical benefits to establishing good rapport with students
and interacting with students both inside and outside the classroom, there are also serious
risks of exploitation, compromise of academic standards, and harm to student development. It is the responsibility of the teacher to prevent these risks from materializing into
real or perceived conflicts
of interest.
“Students are provided with prompt and accurate
feedback on their performance, an explanation as to
how their work was graded, and constructive suggestions
as to how to improve their standing in the course.”
PRINCIPLE 6:
CONFIDENTIALIT Y
Student grades, attendance
records, and private
communications are treated
as confidential materials,
and are released only with student consent, or for legitimate academic purposes, or if there are
reasonable grounds for believing that releasing such information will be beneficial to the student or
will prevent harm to others.
This principle suggests that students are entitled to the same level of confidentiality in
their relationships with teachers as would exist in a lawyer-client or doctor-patient
relationship. Violation of confidentiality in the teacher-student relationship can cause
students to distrust teachers and to show decreased academic motivation. Whatever
rules or policies are followed with respect to confidentiality of student records, these
should be disclosed in full to students at the beginning of the academic term.
It could be argued that in the absence of adequate grounds (i.e., student consent, legitimate
purpose, or benefit to student) any of the following could be construed as a violation of
confidentiality: providing student academic records to a potential employer, researcher,
or private investigator; discussing a student’s grades or academic problems with another
faculty member; and using privately communicated student experiences as teaching or
REFLECTING ON THE PRACTICE OF TEACHING
research materials. Similarly, leaving graded student papers or exams in a pile outside
one’s office makes it possible for any student to determine any other student’s grade
and thus fails to protect the confidentiality of individual student grades. This problem
can be avoided by having students pick up their papers individually during office hours,
or by returning papers with no grade or identifying information or grade visible on the
cover page.
P R I N C I P L E 7: R E S P E C T FO R C O L L E A G U E S
A university teacher respects the dignity of her or his colleagues and works cooperatively with
colleagues in the interest of fostering student development.
This principle means that in interactions among colleagues with respect to teaching, the
overriding concern is the development of students. Disagreements between colleagues
relating to teaching are settled privately, if possible, with no harm to student development.
If a teacher suspects that a colleague has shown incompetence or ethical violations in
teaching, the teacher takes responsibility for investigating the matter thoroughly and
consulting privately with the colleague before taking further action.
A specific example of failure to show respect for colleagues occurs when a teacher makes
unwarranted derogatory comments in the classroom about the competence of another
teacher...for example, Professor A tells students that information provided to them last
year by Professor B is of no use and will be replaced by information from Professor A
in the course at hand. Other examples of failure to uphold this principle would be for a
curriculum committee to refuse to require courses in other departments that compete
with their own department for student enrolment; or for Professor X to refuse a student
permission to take a course from Professor Y, who is disliked by Professor X, even
though the course would be useful to the student.
P R I N C I P L E 8 : VA L I D A S S E S S M E N T O F S T U D E N T S
Given the importance of assessment of student performance in university teaching and in
students’ lives and careers, instructors are responsible for taking adequate steps to ensure that
assessment of students is valid, open, fair, and congruent with course objectives.
This principle means that the teacher is aware of research (including personal or selfreflective research) on the advantages and disadvantages of alternative methods of
assessment, and based on this knowledge, the teacher selects assessment techniques
that are consistent with the objectives of the course and at the same time are as reliable
and valid as possible. Furthermore, assessment procedures and grading standards are
communicated clearly to students at the beginning of the course, and except in rare
circumstances, there is no deviation from the announced procedures. Student exams,
papers, and assignments are graded carefully and fairly through the use of a rational
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marking system that can be communicated to students. By means appropriate for the
size of the class, students are provided with prompt and accurate feedback on their
performance at regular intervals throughout the course, an explanation as to how their
work was graded, and constructive suggestions as to how to improve their standing in
the course. In a similar vein, teachers are fair and objective in writing letters of reference
for students.
One example of an ethically questionable assessment practice is to grade students on
skills that were not part of the announced course objectives and/or were not allocated
adequate practice opportunity during the course. If students are expected to demonstrate
critical inquiry skills on the final exam, they should have been given the opportunity to
develop critical inquiry skills during the course. Another violation of valid assessment
occurs when faculty members teaching two different sections of the same course use
drastically different assessment procedures or grading standards, such that the same
level of student performance earns significantly different final grades in the two sections.
P R I N C I P L E 9 : R E S P E C T FO R I N S T I T U T I O N
In the interests of student development, a university teacher is aware of and respects the educational
goals, policies, and standards of the institution in which he or she teaches.
This principle implies that a teacher shares a collective responsibility to work for the
good of the university as a whole, to uphold the educational goals and standards of the
university, and to abide by university policies and regulations pertaining to the education
of students.
Specific examples of failure to uphold the principle of respect for institution include
engaging in excessive work activity outside the university that conflicts with university
teaching responsibilities; and being unaware of or ignoring valid university regulations
on provision of course outlines, scheduling of exams, or academic misconduct.
REFERENCES
The authors are indebted to the following for ideas that were incorporated into the present document:
American Psychological Association (1990). Ethical principles of psychologists.American Psychologist,
45, 390-395.
University of Calgary (1994). Code of Professional Ethics for Academic Staff.
Matthews, J.R. (1991). The teaching of ethics and the ethics of teaching. Teaching of Psychology, 18, 80-85.
REFLECTING ON THE PRACTICE OF TEACHING
5.9
Reflecting on Your Teaching
L
earning new techniques for teaching is like the fish that provides a meal for
today; reflective practice is the net that provides the meal for the rest of one’s life
(Biggs 2003, p. 7).
Enhancing learning for our students involves more that just understanding and being
able to apply general learning and teaching principles or guidelines. Most importantly,
it involves being able to make sense of what is going on in our classrooms, which means
understanding our students and being able to respond appropriately to their needs and
feedback. It also involves understanding ourselves as teachers, which means being
aware of why we do what we do and the impact of this upon our students’ learning.
We develop this awareness and understanding through engaging in an ongoing process
of reflection.
The following provides an introduction to the following aspects of reflection and
reflective practice:
• the benefits of reflective practice
• the critical components of reflective practice
• a framework for reflection.
THE BENEFITS OF REFLECTIVE PRACTICE
Reflection involves thinking about and critically analysing our experiences and actions,
and those of our students, with the goal of improving our professional practice. It allows
us to adapt general guidelines of learning and teaching to our particular contexts and
disciplines, and to our own particular teaching strengths and preferences.
It is a necessary component to becoming a scholarly teacher and a “reflective practitioner”
(Schon 1983), engaged in continuous self-directed development and capable of making
informed decisions about approaches to learning and teaching within particular disciplinary
and academic contexts.
Most importantly, reflection helps us to develop our own learning and teaching framework. Brookfield (1995) proposes that this framework:
• allows us to consciously develop our own repertoire of strategies and techniques to
draw upon in our teaching, which are relevant to our particular context and discipline
• helps us take informed actions that can be justified and explained to others and that we
can use to generate answers to teaching problems
• allows us to adjust and respond to issues and problems. For instance, rather than being
devastated by a poor teaching evaluation, it allows us to investigate and understand
JA N M C L E A N
Used with permission
of the author
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T E A C H I N G AT T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F M A N I TO B A : A H A N D B O O K
what underlies these evaluations and to take appropriate action, which might be to
adjust our teaching
• helps us to become aware of our underlying beliefs and assumptions about learning
and teaching so we understand why we do what we do and what might need to
change
• helps to promote a positive learning environment. Through reflection, our teaching
becomes responsive to student feedback and needs, which can serve to build trust in
students when they see their feedback is valued and taken seriously through changes
to teaching
• helps us to locate our teaching in the broader institutional, social, and political context
and to appreciate the many factors that influence student learning. In this way,
reflection helps us to keep our perspectives and to avoid blaming ourselves for every
problem that arises in our classrooms.
THE CRITICAL COMPONENTS OF REFLECTIVE PRACTICE
To be effective, reflection should be a continuous cycle in which experience and reflection
on this experience are inextricably linked. This is demonstrated by a model proposed by
Boud, Keogh, and Walker (1985) where reflection involves “returning to the experience,
attending to the feelings and re-evaluating the experience based on current knowledge
and intent, and integrating this new
knowledge into your conceptual framework” (pp. 26–31).
Concrete experience and reflective
observation are also critical stages of
the experiential learning cycle, a model
developed by Kolb and Fry (1975).
These models demonstrate the cyclic
nature of reflective practice, and Biggs
(2003) suggests that an effective way
to formally encourage and direct reflective practice is as action research which
is “being systematic about changing
your teaching and making sure the
changes are in the right direction; that
your students are now learning better
than they used to” (Biggs 2003, p. 7).
REFLECTING ON THE PRACTICE OF TEACHING
Another important element is that reflection is not just about the individual and, when
used effectively, can enhance the development of communities of practice. When our
reflection is cyclical, our practice can develop into a systematic inquiry that begins alone
with personal reflection on our own learning and teaching experiences, but becomes
collective when informed by our interactions with colleagues, students, and the theoretical
literature.
A F R A M E W O R K FO R R E F L E C T I O N
Brookfield (1995) emphasises that reflection goes beyond just describing what we do, to
thinking about why we do things and to whether they have gone as intended, why we
think they may have worked well, and how we might do them differently next time.
To do this effectively, we somehow need to assume the perspective of an external observer
to ourselves, which can be quite a difficult thing to do. He suggests that an effective way
to move beyond the limitations of our own experiences and to reframe our teaching is
by viewing our practice through “lenses” that reflect back to us a differently highlighted
picture of who we are and what we do.
Brookfield proposes the following four lenses:
• our autobiographies as learners
• our colleagues’ experiences and perceptions
• our students’ eyes
• the theoretical literature.
Our autobiographies as learners
We can draw great insights into how we teach by examining our own learning. Referring
to our biographies puts us in the role of “other”, so we can stand back from our own
experience and view it more objectively. The tools to help us do this include reflective
logs or journals, diaries, concept mapping, and critical incident surveys.
Our colleagues’ experiences and perceptions
Hearing colleagues’ experiences allows us to check, reframe, and broaden our own
theories of practice, and to consider new ideas, ways of doing things, and problemsolving approaches that we might not have thought of ourselves. It also makes us aware
that we all share common problems and issues, which can be profoundly reassuring and
can also suggest ways we can work together to overcome these challenges.
Our students’ eyes
Brookfield describes seeing ourselves through our students’ eyes as one of the most
consistently surprising elements in any teacher’s career. It allows us to check student
understanding and find out whether they are hearing what we intended them to hear;
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it can also allow us to become aware of the diversity of meanings students interpret
from our actions. Some methods for collecting this feedback include Critical Incident
Questionnaires, student performance, informal feedback, and formal evaluations.
The theoretical literature
Theory can help us to understand our practice and experience by “naming” it in different
ways. The theoretical literature can extend our understanding and appreciation of our
own learning and teaching practice by offering interpretive frameworks. It can provide
multiple perspectives on similar situations that seem challenging in different ways, and it
can help us to maintain perspective by indicating that what we see as personal failings
might arise from broader economic, social, and political processes.
REFERENCES
Biggs, J. 2003, Teaching for Quality Learning at University: What the Student Does, 2nd ed, SRHE & Open
University Press, Berkshire.
Brookfield, S. 1995, Becoming a Critically Reflective Teacher , Jossey-Bass, San Francisco.
Boud, D., Cohen, R. & Walker, D. (eds) 1993, Using Experience for Learning, SRHE & Open University Press,
Buckingham.
Boud, D., Keogh, R. & Walker, D. 1985, Reflection: Turning Experience into Learning, Croom Helm, London.
Kolb, D. 1984, Experiential Learning: Experience as the Source of Learning and Development, Prentice-Hall,
New Jersey.
Kolb, D. and Fry, R. 1975, “Toward an applied theory of experiential learning”, in C. Cooper (ed.) Theory of
Group Processes, John Wiley and Sons Inc, New York.
Schon, D. 1983, The Reflective Practitioner: How Professionals Think in Action, Temple Smith, London
Developing a Statement of Teaching Philosophy
M A RY B E N B O W
Used with permission
of the author
A
statement of teaching philosophy is a central component of a teaching dossier and is
often required in applications for academic positions. Faculty often view developing
and writing their statements of teaching philosophy as onerous and perplexing.
One of the reasons for this is that faculty are not clearly aware of their own guiding philosophy or are confused by the notion of a philosophy determining their everyday activities.
Therefore, it is important that in developing a statement of teaching philosophy that faculty
realize that the aim is to reveal an underlying philosophy rather than trying to create one.
To accomplish this we therefore need to understand what a statement of teaching philosophy is for, some general guidelines of how it can structured and presented, but in particular
how we can reflect upon our teaching and discover our own guiding philosophy.
In developing a statement of teaching philosophy, however, there are also a few points
to keep in mind:
REFLECTING ON THE PRACTICE OF TEACHING
• A statement of teaching philosophy must distinctively and authentically convey the
individuality of the author.
• The development and writing of a statement of teaching philosophy will require a few
drafts and reviewing as with any other piece of writing. Similarly the final version
must be impeccable in terms of spelling and grammar. Therefore, some time (but not a
lot) will need to be devoted to this process as well as creativity and thought.
• The final statement should be only one to three pages in length, be written in plain
language avoiding excessive jargon. However, it is important to keep in mind who will
read the statement and for what purpose. As these statements become part of career
decision-making procedures, it is important for statement authors to present their most
authentic and best selves.
T H E R O L E O F T H E S TAT E M E N T O F T E A C H I N G P H I L O S O P H Y
A statement of teaching philosophy can either stand alone, often as part of a job application, or as an introduction to a teaching dossier. For the latter, the statement needs to refer
to aspects of teaching revealed in the larger dossier document. In writing a statement of
teaching philosophy an instructor may not only become aware of their own guiding
principles but also of how they would like to develop as a teacher. Readers of a statement of teaching philosophy do so with a mental agenda regarding expected and desired
qualities and writers obviously need to be aware of this. A statement of teaching philosophy is a useful way to indicate interests and strengths evidenced in a teaching dossier.
In particular, however, a statement of teaching philosophy can indicate the scholarly
and informed motivations for the many choices in teaching
practice, and in doing so convey a deeper and authentic picture of
the author.
> TIP
D E V E L O P I N G A S TAT E M E N T O F
TEACHING PHILOSOPHY
In academia, our scholarly development is strongly influenced by
our experience of others’ work. Therefore, it is not surprising that
faculty will feel at a loss in writing a statement of teaching philosophy if they have little or no prior experience of reading one.
Therefore, as a first step, looking at relevant statements of teaching
philosophy from colleagues and peers can be a useful way to develop a basic picture of what is expected. Peter Seldin’s book “The
Teaching Portfolio” and O’Neil and Wright’s “Recording Teaching
Accomplishment” include some examples. Colleagues and peers
may also be willing to share their own statements. However, in the
absence of available models relevant to an author’s specialty,
Each of us brings
unique gifts and skills
to teaching and
consequently our own
statement of teaching
philosophy should be
equally unique,
professional, and
compelling.
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examples may be found online; a quick Google search entering key words (e.g. teaching/
philosophy/your discipline) can yield numerous examples. It is, of course, obvious that
this can provide some ideas but the final statement must be entirely original save for
perhaps a few carefully cited academic sources; it would be most unwise to cite another’s
statement of teaching philosophy.
At its most basic, the development of a statement of teaching philosophy requires the
author to reflect on a few basic questions that can produce an array of diverse and
extensive answers. For example:
• Why do I teach?
• Why do I teach the way I do?
• What does teaching in my discipline mean to me?
• How do students learn?
• How have my past experiences brought me to where I am today?
• How do I see my teaching developing in the future?
• How do I view the relationship between teaching and research?
• In general, what are my teaching objectives? Do I have a mission?
In our time-pressed lives it can be difficult to find time to reflect on questions such as
these. A few strategies to develop ideas around these questions include:
• Brainstorm ideas with a colleague over coffee or lunch.
• Write these questions on a whiteboard or large piece of paper in an area of your office
where it is visible. Jot down ideas as they come to you.
• Note down keywords or terms that are most meaningful for you, rather than
immediately trying to write formal answers to these questions.
• Consider whether these questions could they be answered using an experience in your
past, the influence of a mentor, or an important topic in your field?
T H E S T R U C T U R E O F A S TAT E M E N T O F T E A C H I N G P H I L O S O P H Y
There are numerous ways to express the ideas that become apparent through such selfreflection, and most frequently the chosen form is that of formal written text. Under certain
circumstances, an image, a piece of creative writing such as a poem, or a metaphor may be
a useful and discipline-relevant tool. However, before employing such unusual formats,
be sure that they are widely accepted forms of expression in your discipline. If in doubt,
err on the side of caution.
You may wish to introduce your statement of teaching philosophy with an introductory
paragraph describing yourself and your career experience to date. This could include
REFLECTING ON THE PRACTICE OF TEACHING
5.15
your years of experience, field, type of courses taught, and so on. Organize the paragraphs
that follow to focus on certain themes and conclude with future goals.
Some writing suggestions include:
• Develop a list of key terms and ideas that you feel must be evident in your statement of
teaching philosophy.
• Keep in mind who will be reading your statement of teaching philosophy.
• If possible, allow some time after writing before you review the final product. Even
better, ask a valued colleague to read it through and give you their honest comments.
Last but not least, keep in mind that each of us brings unique gifts and skills to teaching
and consequently our own statement of teaching philosophy should be equally unique,
professional, and compelling.
REFERENCES
Seldin, P., 1997, The Teaching Portfolio: A Practical Guide to Improve Performance and Promotion/Tenure Decisions.
O’Neil, C. and Wright, A., 1993, Recording Teaching Accomplishment: A Dalhousie Guide to the Teaching Dossier.
Using Student Feedback: Mid-term Student
Evaluations of Teaching
M
id-term course evaluations are becoming more popular with faculty who are
interested in improving their teaching and student learning. Mid-term evaluations may take the form of a formal questionnaire, an open-ended request for
written comments, or an open discussion with the class. Questions might be as general
as, “What do you like about the class so far?” or “How can the class be improved?”
On the other hand, an instructor might be interested to learn how a specific assignment
or segment of the syllabus was received. In this case, questions could focus on specific
activities: “Do you feel that the in-class writing assignments have improved your understanding of the material?” or “Are you receiving sufficient feedback on your assignments?”
If the teacher wishes to evaluate the success of a series of class sessions, an end-of-class
“minute-paper” would be very useful. Students, in this case, are asked to comment on the
most important point they learned in the class or to write any questions they still have
about the topic. This relatively informal method of feedback not only helps the instructor
learn whether a certain lesson has achieved its goals but also helps students review and
articulate what they learned.
The process of mid-term evaluation allows students to provide feedback on the teaching
in a given course while there is still time for the instructor to react to their comments.
M A R K L AWA L L
Reprinted with
permission of author
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A frequent comment from students is that they do not see any changes or results from the
end-of-term process of instructor or course evaluation. Of course, not all changes suggested
by students may be desirable or feasible. You might get conflicting suggestions. Even so,
the process of a mid-term evaluation can open a useful dialogue between instructor and
students. In the case of conflicting suggestions, follow-up discussion should address the
instructor’s reasons for adopting one or neither suggestion.
Mid-term evaluations are most successful when used strictly for self-improvement and
exploring areas of interest to the faculty member. Any criticism should be offered and taken
constructively. There is an ever-present danger in this process that negative comments
might create a hostile classroom atmosphere. For this reason, students should be assured
that the intent of the exercise is the improvement of the class. This aim should be discussed
with the students throughout the process. In order to insure this constructive atmosphere,
the following conditions are advisable:
• Teachers should only initiate a process of mid-term evaluation on a voluntary basis.
• The format and content of the mid-term evaluation should remain the decision of the
individual instructor.
“Mid-term evaluations should be viewed as
collaborative research with students working
with the instructor to improve the course.”
• The results of the exercise
should not be used for
unintended purposes
such as consideration for
promotion or tenure.
Mid-term evaluations
should be viewed as collaborative research with students working with the instructor to
improve the course. This collaborative venture can become quite difficult to implement
in faculties using multiple instructors or team-taught courses. If an instructor only teaches one class period, how can there be a mid-term evaluation? One approach in such cases
is to use the mid-term evaluation to learn how the individual instructors are serving
the overall objectives of the course and how the students perceive their learning in the
course as a whole. Feedback midway through such a course might remind the remaining
instructors that they should, for example, remember to clarify how their unit fits into
the curriculum. This might not be a problem for the remaining instructors, but if this
was a problem in the first half of the course, students will appreciate its resolution in the
second half.
Perhaps the greatest fear associated with this, or any method of teaching evaluation, is
that mid-term evaluations mean even more paper-work for faculty and even more time
away from teaching-time for students to complete questionnaires. An advantage of this
method, however is that the instructor has complete control over the amount and nature
REFLECTING ON THE PRACTICE OF TEACHING
5.17
of the resulting feedback. A long questionnaire is not mandatory; a single, open-ended
question, seeking a short response, may satisfy the instructor’s interests. The instructor
also determines the amount of time spent discussing and administering the evaluation.
Whatever amount of time spent will be regained by the resulting increase in student
interest in their own learning process and by the refinement of teaching methods to
maximize student learning. Indeed, Overall and Marsh’s (1979) study of a multi-section
computer programming course found that students in sections using mid-term evaluations
performed better on common final examinations, rated their instructors higher on end-ofterm evaluations, and developed a greater interest in the course content, as compared with
their peers in other sections.
Using the Student Evaluation of
Educational Quality (SEEQ)
T
he Student Evaluation of Educational Quality (SEEQ) was developed by
Herbert Marsh in the late 1970s. It has been extensively analyzed, has a high
degree of reliability (r = 0.88 – 0.97), correlates well with a wide range of measures
of learning outcome, and correlates well with instructors’ self ratings. The SEEQ is one of
many student evaluation tools and was adopted by the University of Manitoba in 1996
after considerable investigation and discussion. The vast majority of institutions of higher
education utilize student evaluations and they are widely viewed as important tools of
accountability.
Faculty commonly express concerns regarding the value of the SEEQ as an evaluation
of their teaching. But, evaluation results of teaching tend to show significant similarities
regardless of the tool used. Some of the concerns reflect certain trends whilst others,
although often raised, are without foundation. For example:
• elective courses generally receive higher ratings than required courses,
• majors tend to receive more favourable ratings than minors,
• students who have a prior interest in subject matter also tend to give higher ratings.
• there are differences between disciplines.
• the relationship between research productivity and teacher ratings is either positive
or nil, and
• student ratings are positively correlated with those of alumni.
M A RY B E N B O W
Used with permission
of author
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It is important for faculty to recognize that student evaluations are required for each
course with six or more students (except where exempt with Senate approval), but it is
far more important for them to utilize the available data in an appropriate manner and to
use it to make changes where relevant. Outlined below are suggestions to use the SEEQ
more effectively and how to generate, analyze, present and use the SEEQ data.
A DESCRIPTION OF THE SEEQ
The SEEQ survey sheet has a total of 41 questions with spaces for an additional 27
responses to questions provided in an additional handout. Additional questions can be
developed by the instructor to gain specific feedback on particular topics of interest that
the standard SEEQ questions may not cover. A database of potential supplementary
questions can be found at the University of Curtin website. The standard SEEQ questions
are grouped into “Factors” that indicate areas of interest, such as learning, enthusiasm,
organization, and individual rapport.
Question 1-29 are formative questions that can be useful to provide direction for teaching
development.
Questions 30-32 are the summative questions that provide a general indication of the
overall experience of the course and an assessment of the instructor.
There are also eight questions (questions 33-41) that can yield useful information about
the students including their views on the pace of the course and workload, and also
additional characteristics such as their year of study. Space is also provided on the survey
sheet for students to add their own written comments.
In reviewing SEEQ data, it is important that all of the questions are examined to give an
accurate picture of the evaluation.
A D M I N I S T R AT I O N O F T H E S E E Q
Some units are exempt from using the SEEQ but have also developed their own evaluation
tools that are more suited to their distinctive teaching conditions. In addition, some units
distribute their own evaluation tool in addition to the SEEQ. In both cases, as the SEEQ is
Senate-mandated, permission is required to use these alternate evaluation approaches.
Toward the end of a course, the SEEQ is distributed to students in class following uniform
procedures and without the instructor present. Additional questions may also be provided,
and the survey sheets are collected and sealed. These are computer scanned and the raw
results produced in table form. Copies of the summary sheet are kept by each unit, and
copies are stored in the University of Manitoba Libraries and the University of Manitoba
Students Union (UMSU). Students, indeed anyone, can view all the SEEQ summaries by
requesting the data at either a library or at the UMSU office.
REFLECTING ON THE PRACTICE OF TEACHING
5.19
U S I N G T H E S E E Q D ATA
The SEEQ is one of a number of potential sources of information regarding teaching
quality and success. Instructors may wish to have a colleague or peer consultant observe
their teaching and provide feedback. Instructors may also undertake their own research,
in the form of the scholarship of teaching and learning, as a means to objectively measure
the impact of their teaching practices. Student evaluations however are regularly obtained
and so have the added benefit of providing consistent feedback that can effectively track
changes over time and indicate quality on a wide variety of topics.
The SEEQ summary statistics indicate the number and percentage of responses to each
option for each question. A quick overview can indicate the dominant response to each
question, and can also show outliers in the data. An overview of the student and course
characteristics data can also help in revealing the nature of the students and their experience.
In the case of an outlier, instructors can sort through the survey sheets returned to them to
identify the outlier respondent and then examine their other responses to identify concerns.
For example, if there is one student who indicates dissatisfaction regarding learning, it may
be because they are a more
advanced student than the
rest of the class (indicated by
year in program). Written
comments can also be very
useful in that they provide
not only an indication of
student satisfaction but also
offer insightful suggestions for changes in the future. Obviously supplementary questions
can also provide valuable information on specific topics of concern to the instructor.
“Evaluation data is diagnostic and not
prescriptive; our aim therefore is not to
change teaching to improve scores, but to
use the data to develop areas of concern.”
Prior to looking at the SEEQ data it is most beneficial for instructors to make a copy of a
blank survey sheet and assess their own course and teaching practices. The data from the
self-evaluation can be compared to the student SEEQ data. The comparison can indicate
strengths and weaknesses of which an instructor was aware, or unaware, as well as
perhaps temper their response to student feedback. Instructors can systematically review
their evaluation, identify potential areas of development, and then evaluate teaching
practices to institute in the future.
P R E S E N T I N G S E E Q D ATA
Data from student evaluations are important components in annual reviews and for
tenure and promotion. In addition, often job advertisements specify interest in teaching
success which can be addressed by evaluation data. At The University of Manitoba,
Senate-mandated guidelines preclude the manipulation and further statistical analysis of
the SEEQ data by administrators, in order to prevent the production of misleading
5.20
T E A C H I N G AT T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F M A N I TO B A : A H A N D B O O K
“league tables”. However, individual instructors are allowed to create averages of their
own data that can be presented in table form; this can usefully track changes in responses
from year to year. This provides a useful summary, especially in teaching dossiers, for
promotion and tenure decisions where SEEQ data may have been collected for many
years. However, it is also important to include copies of the original summary report.
Although instructors find the students’ written comments to be very informative,
such written statements are considered to be anonymous so must not be included in
documents used for making employment and career decisions such as tenure.
MAKING CHANGE IN TEACHING PRACTICE
The primary purpose of collecting student evaluation data is to improve teaching and
learning. Once an instructor can review student responses, it is also important to consider
what changes to their teaching they may wish to implement in the future. It is however
extremely important to keep in mind that such evaluation data is diagnostic and not
prescriptive; our aim therefore is not to change teaching to improve scores, but to use the
data to develop areas of concern. The evaluation may reveal a few areas of practice that
may benefit from change. However, it can also be useful to seek advice from a colleague
or unit head. In looking at the SEEQ data there are often a number of areas that might
indicate a need for change so it is important to consider which are the most important to
the instructor and their discipline.
Once a number of areas for improved have been identified, the instructor needs to decide
where and how to make changes. Written comments may clarify concerns and provide
suggestions. “Tips to Improve Academic Teaching”, available from University Teaching
Services, provides tips for each SEEQ factor and provides a useful beginning. Instructors
may wish to take a relevant workshop, undertake some self-directed research on the
teaching, or request advice from a colleague. A number of potential choices may become
apparent and instructor may wish to chose one, or perhaps try a number to examine
their effect. Finally, it is most effective to monitor the impact of the implemented changes
by using a mid-term evaluation, monitoring SEEQ data in following years, or by asking a
colleague or peer consultant to observe class practice.
REFLECTING ON THE PRACTICE OF TEACHING
5.21
Peer Review of Teaching: A Multi-Faceted
Approach to Improving Student Learning
T
here has been much debate on the degree to which academy values teaching as
compared to research by faculty members. One way to determine the value of
an activity is to look at how the activity is evaluated. The sine qua non in the
evaluation of scholarly research is peer review. As scholars, we present our research
findings to our peers at conferences and publish in peer- reviewed journals. Peer review
is the way we evaluate the quality of our research.
Consider how teaching is evaluated. Often, student evaluations are the only measure
taken to assess the quality of teaching. While student evaluations are an important part
of teaching assessment (Marsh 1987; McKeachie et al. 1991), there are certain aspects of
teaching that should be evaluated by peers. As Hutchings (1996a) states (emphasis in
original):
If teaching were to be seen as scholarly, intellectual work, it would not be enough to
evaluate teaching simply by looking at student ratings. Teaching, like research, should be
peer reviewed. Indeed, until teaching is peer reviewed, it will never be truly valued.
Besides the need for peer review as a validating agent of effective teaching, peer review
is also essential in the improvement of teaching. In the “booming, buzzing confusion of
the classroom,” it is hard for the instructor, who is deeply involved in the process, to take
it all in. The help of a peer in seeing ourselves teach “from the outside” is imperative
when trying to improve teaching (Shulman 1993).
When I started this study, my view of peer review of teaching was very one-dimensional.
For me, peer review of teaching meant having another faculty member sit in on my class
and critique it. As my research unfolded, I discovered there is much more to peer review.
In fact, using several methods in combination can result in a synergistic whole greater
than the individual methods themselves. This study, then, outlines several methods that
have been successfully used in the peer review of teaching.
PEER REVIEW OF TEACHING: ELEMENTS OF SUCCESS
Before discussing the methods used for peer review of teaching, it is important to
determine the attributes of a successful peer review program. As Hutchings (1996b)
states, the three main goals of peer review should be:
1. Intellectual rigor,
2. Appropriateness to the discipline, and
3. Improvement of teaching.
M AT T H E W W.
ROBERTS
Used with permission
of The Teaching
Excellence Center at
the University of
Wisconsin-Platteville
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As the last of these goals states, peer review should not just be about evaluating teaching
but should improve student learning. In addition, it is important that peer review be a
process that is “owned” by the faculty. As Hutchings (1996a) states (emphasis in the
original), “On most campuses, the evaluation of teaching is something that happens to
faculty; they are objects, not agents, of the process.”
Time is also an important consideration. Faculty are very busy and reluctant to commit
to excessively time-consuming projects. In many of the peer review projects I studied,
the time commitment was surprisingly small. It was typically on the order of a half hour
per week or less.
METHODS OF PEER REVIEW OF TEACHING
Having established the elements of a successful program and that peer review of teaching
is important, below is a discussion on various techniques that can be used.
Reciprocal Visits and Observations
Visiting the classroom was initially what I thought of as peer review of teaching. In my
study, I not only realized that there were other helpful methods but that classroom
visitation can be more involved than I had initially envisioned. A successful classroom
visitation program will provide many of the following elements (Hutchings 1996a):
• Multiple visits occur throughout the semester.
• A previsit meeting is held to discuss expectations and aspects of instruction that should
be “watched for.” The visitation is discussed afterward.
• Student interviews are conducted to gain further insight into
> TIP
the classroom experience. More information on effective student
interviews can be found in Morehead and Shedd (1980).
• Students are informed of the process and what to expect.
Attributes of a peer
review program include:
1. Intellectual rigor
2. Appropriateness
to the discipline
3. Improvement
of teaching
• Observations are based on a systematic teaching model, and
observers are trained on how to evaluate teaching based on the
model (Millis and Kaplan 1995).
• A good fit is found between the purposes of the observation and
the observers. For example, if assessing the content of instruction
is important, then someone current in the field should be chosen.
Or, if a teaching method is to be assessed, the observer should
have expertise in working with and evaluating the method.
An important consideration of using classroom visitation is the lack
of anonymity for observers. Because of this, it is difficult to elicit the
frank assessment that is needed for a summative evaluation of
REFLECTING ON THE PRACTICE OF TEACHING
5.23
teaching (French-Lazovik 1975). In addition, class visitation is typically more effective when
used in conjunction with other methods, such as student interviews (as mentioned above).
An alternative to student interviews is the “Small Group Instructional Diagnosis”
(White 1991). In this method, the class is broken into small groups of 4-6 students.
In their groups, the students discuss and come up with answers for questions such as
“What helps you learn in this class?” and “What improvements would you like, and
how would you suggest they be made?” After the group discussion, the class is brought
together, and the groups report their answers. Further discussion ensues to distill the
answers to the most important issues, which are then reported to the instructor.
Teaching Circles
A teaching circle is a small group of faculty that meet to improve teaching and learning.
A successful teaching circle will (Hutchings 1996a):
• Have a clear purpose with goals, expectations, and ground rules;
• Focus on specifics such as student groups or curriculum (teaching circles that entail
“general” discussion
of teaching are usually
not as effective); and
“If teaching were to be seen as scholarly,
intellectual work, it would not be enough to evalu• Disseminate results
through the publishing
ate teaching simply by looking at student ratings.
of minutes, the creation
of a brochure, publication Teaching, like research, should be peer reviewed.”
of a scholarly paper, etc.
Teaching circles are often formed that focus on a specialized topic like large classes or
first-year students. One teaching circle included students who were able to provide
valuable insight. Another used the Internet to conduct the meetings online. The organizer
of a teaching circle that included faculty from the mathematics department noted,
“Mathematicians are allergic to anything with a touch-feely quality,” and so the teaching
circle had to be more rigorous in nature (Hutchings 1996a). I would imagine the same
would hold true for engineering professors. Accordingly, if I am ever involved in setting
up a teaching circle, I will ensure that the structure does not become too “touch-feely.”
In reading about teaching circles, one catalyst for success was mentioned repeatedly:
providing refreshments!
Teaching Portfolios
Teaching portfolios are an effective way to document teaching excellence. A peer
review of the portfolio further helps to improve teaching. Some advantages of teaching
portfolios as a peer review technique are (Hutchings 1996a):
• They give faculty more control over assessment,
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T E A C H I N G AT T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F M A N I TO B A : A H A N D B O O K
• They complement student ratings, and
• They provide a way to share teaching technique with others.
While teaching portfolios have been used for some time, a course portfolio may be more
helpful in some situations. Focusing on a specific course helps to get a better grasp on the
content offered and leads to improved teaching. For teaching or course portfolios, there
are several guidelines for success:
• The purpose of the portfolio (if it is required) should be clear. That is, the faculty should
know what is at stake based on evaluation of the portfolio.
• Faculty should be encouraged to be selective in the material included and avoid
including material “just in case.” This will ease the burden on those who evaluate the
portfolio and increase the likelihood the evaluators will actually read the portfolio.
• Various kinds of evidence (quantitative and qualitative) should be included from
various sources (colleagues, former students, etc.).
• The portfolio should include reflective commentary to indicate to reviewers what to
look for.
• The portfolio can be thought of like a research paper complete with “a thesis with
relevant evidence” (Hutchings 1996a).
• The portfolio should set goals and show how they are achieved.
Team Teaching
Working with a colleague in the teaching of a class is a good way to assess and improve
teaching. Team teaching has been raised to new levels with the advent of “coordinated
studies.” In coordinated studies, students take a block of classes rather than registering
for individual classes. This coordination of classes allows the instructors to better “mesh”
the content of the separate courses and improve student learning. The professors of the
coordinated classes can meet to discuss specific students. Such a system involves much
planning and institutional support.
Collaborative Inquiry
As Austin and Baldwin (1991) state, “The image of the solitary scholar working alone in
a library carrel or laboratory is no more than a fond memory or historical artifact.” Just as
collaboration has become ubiquitous in scholarly research, it is important for educational
goals as well. Collaboration can help to assess whether a desired instructional goal is
being met. It is especially important to use collaboration when the desired assessment
falls outside the expertise of the instructor. Collaborative inquiry is also desirable to show
that teaching methods are effective. One instructor who had seen a dramatic improvement
in student performance was told by colleagues that his results were “interesting,” but
they desired more proof that the students were actually “better than before,” not
REFLECTING ON THE PRACTICE OF TEACHING
simply that they liked the new teaching method better (Hutchings 1996a). In response,
he designed a study using collaborative inquiry and found that his new method did
indeed appear to improve student performance.
In my naïveté, I initially decided that I would study the “best practices” of peer review of
teaching. I had decided to find the best program and hoped to emulate such a program.
In doing the research for this study, I realized that there is no “best practice” for the peer
review of teaching. There are many successful methods that can be employed depending
on the goals of the instructor and the type of information desired.
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
I am greatly appreciative of funding from the Teaching Excellence Center at the
University of Wisconsin-Platteville to conduct this study.
REFERENCES
Austin, A. E. and Baldwin, R. G. (1991). Faculty collaboration: Enhancing the quality of scholarship and
teaching. ASHE-ERIC Higher Education Report 7, The George Washington University School of Education and
Human Development, Washington, DC.
French-Lazovik, G. (1975). Evaluation of college teaching: Guidelines for summative and formative procedures,
Association of American Colleges, Washington, DC.
Hutchings, P. (1996a). Making teaching community property: A menu for peer collaboration and peer review,
American Association for Higher Education, Washington, DC.
Hutchings, P. (1996b). The peer collaboration and review of teaching. Occasional Paper # 33, American Council
of Learned Societies.
Marsh, H. W. (1987). Students’ evaluation of university teachings: Research findings, methodological issues,
and directions for future research, Pergamon, Elmsford, NY.
McKeachie, W. J., Lin, Y.-G., Daugherty, M., Moffett, M. M., Neigler, C., Nork, J.,
Walz, M., and Baldwin, R. (1991). Using student ratings and consultation to improve instruction. British Journal
of Educational Psychology, 6(1), 20–22.
Millis, B. J. and Kaplan, B. B. (1995). Enhancing teaching through peer classroom observations. Improving
College Teaching, P. Seldin, ed., Boston, MA, Anker Publishing, 137–149.
Morehead, J.W. and Shedd, P. J. (1980). Student interviews: A vital role in the scholarship of teaching.
Innovative Higher Education, 50, 168–174.
Shulman, L. S. (1993). Teaching as community property: Putting an end to pedagogical solitude.
Change, 25(6), 6–7.
White, K. E. (1991). Mid-course adjustments: Using small group instructional diagnosis to improve teaching
and learning. Washington Center News, 6(1), 20–22.
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Developing Your Teaching Dossier
M A RY B E N B O W
Used with permission
of author
W H AT I S A T E A C H I N G D O S S I E R ?
teaching dossier consists of two major components: the first part describes and
explains your teaching activities; the second part consists of a collection of teaching
materials and evidence to support your written statements. A teaching dossier is,
therefore, a comprehensive record of teaching activities including teaching responsibilities,
goals, philosophy, and evidence of teaching innovations and effectiveness. A teaching
dossier is often required in applications for university positions, for tenure and promotion,
and for annual activity reports.
A
When preparing a teaching dossier it is important to bear in mind the following issues:
• Every teacher is different, and so every teaching dossier will be different.
• The most daunting requirement of a teaching dossier is the development of the statement
of teaching philosophy. Remember that even if you are not aware of your teaching
philosophy, it forms an integral part of your teaching activities. Even if you have not yet
verbalized your philosophy, it is already there!
• Develop a system of filing and record-keeping that eases the collection of teaching
materials, evaluations, and evidence.
• Teaching dossiers require only a representative sampling of evidence. Select pieces
of evidence from your records that effectively convey your teaching innovations,
students’ work, and course materials.
THE PURPOSE OF A TEACHING DOSSIER
There are three main purposes for which a faculty member would develop a teaching
dossier (Seldin, 1997):
• Reflective: To assemble sufficient information to allow each faculty member to reflect
on his/her teaching.
• Formative: To present information which accurately reflects teaching activities
and accomplishments as a basis for making decisions about further developing
one’s teaching.
• Administrative: To present information required to apply for academic posts, tenure,
promotion, annual reviews, and awards.
Note: Although you may develop your teaching dossier for one specific purpose
(for example, tenure), that does not preclude you from using it to reflect upon, and as
a consequence, to improve upon your teaching.
REFLECTING ON THE PRACTICE OF TEACHING
5.27
THE STEPS IN PRODUCING A TEACHING DOSSIER
The following steps identify the stages in the development of a teaching dossier (O’Neil
and Wright, 1993). Each step requires that faculty are aware of their teaching priorities
and practices. However, during the development of a teaching dossier, additional or
alternate priorities and practices can reveal themselves. Therefore, the development of a
teaching dossier is often a tentative process as you return to prior stages in order to
include additional ideas. The following stages are common in this dynamic process:
• Clarify teaching responsibilities
• Describe your approach to teaching
• Select items to include and prepare statements on each
• Decide on order of items
• Update regularly
G U I D E L I N E S FO R T E A C H I N G D O S S I E R S
The dominant purpose of your teaching dossier (reflective, formative, or administrative)
will give you some
direction in the nature of
“A teaching dossier is a comprehensive record of
its content. Make sure that
teaching activities including teaching
you understand what
materials your teaching
responsibilities, goals, philosophy, and evidence of
dossier needs to include,
teaching innovations and effectiveness.”
and what aspects of your
teaching need to be
described. This is especially important for dossiers developed for tenure and promotion.
Make sure you have copies of Departmental, Faculty, and University Guidelines for
annual reviews, tenure, and promotion, as well as the relevant parts of the Collective
Agreement.
Teaching Responsibilities
You need to identify your teaching responsibilities in order to explain what, and how
much, you teach. The reader of your teaching dossier may be unfamiliar with your area
of expertise, faculty, or institution, and in addition, you may have experienced changes
in your career or teaching load. Therefore, you need to identify, for example, additional
administrative responsibilities, maternity or paternity leave, course remissions, and
additional teaching responsibilities. It is also useful to show how your responsibilities
compare to those of your colleagues. This information can reveal a great deal about
your teaching priorities and how they change. Keep this data on a year-by-year basis and
consider what it means.
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T E A C H I N G AT T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F M A N I TO B A : A H A N D B O O K
Writing Your Statement of Teaching Philosophy
Your teaching philosophy encompasses the principles that direct your teaching style
and activities. It explains why you teach the way you do, and so acts as a foundation for
evidence of your teaching activities and accomplishments. The statement of teaching
philosophy is usually one to three pages in length and describes, in general terms, why
you teach the way you do. It is also a useful way to introduce a teaching dossier, because
it establishes the context of the information and materials that follow. Although the
principles and ideas that it contains are familiar to you and guide your everyday activities,
the development of a statement of teaching philosophy can be a daunting prospect
and is often viewed as a difficult task. The approach outlined in this handbook (see
“Developing a Statement of Teaching Philosophy”) will provide you with a number of
ideas on which to draw, as you build your statement of teaching philosophy.
Evidence of Teaching Activities and Accomplishments
The other major component of a teaching dossier is the evidence of your teaching activities
and accomplishments. This evidence, which can encompass a broad range of materials,
demonstrates how you put your teaching philosophy into practice. This is also the point at
which many teachers find they have a huge amount of material, and as a consequence,
some teaching dossiers become extremely large. Therefore, it is important to remember
that, regardless of the purpose of your teaching dossier, it is not intended to be a complete
repository of all your teaching materials. Keep complete copies of your teaching materials
in your filing cabinet and select only representative evidence for your teaching dossier.
Selecting Items to Include in Your Teaching Dossier
It is especially important to note that for tenure and promotion, committee members
may expect to see certain pieces of evidence. It is important to identify these and ensure
that they are well-represented in your teaching dossier.
• Students’ evaluations
• List of courses
• List of materials and how they are used
• Participation in workshops
• Observations from colleagues
• Attempts at innovations (and the results)
• Letters from students
• Curriculum development (including new courses you proposed)
• Supervision of honours, masters, and doctoral students
• Tests, exercises, etc., and examples of students’ work
REFLECTING ON THE PRACTICE OF TEACHING
Other Materials Included in Teaching Dossiers
There is a broad range of other materials that can also be included in your teaching
dossier, and although the list presented here is fairly extensive, there are probably many
ideas that it does not cover. It is important to include materials that reflect your teaching,
and those materials may include sources that are not covered here.
• Record of changes made in teaching, and results
• Statement of teaching plans and goals for the future
• Evidence to illustrate your teaching methods (such as discussion groups, critical
thinking, technologies, fieldwork, and students’ projects)
• Personal evaluation of teaching
• Research concerning teaching
• Awards and recognition of teaching
• Information about student interaction, advising, and availability
• Service to committees focused upon teaching
• Funding for teaching-related projects
• How non-print materials are used in class (computer software, movies)
• Tests and exercises, as a reflection of your academic rigor
• Students’ performance on standardized tests (pre- and post-course)
• Invitations to present papers on teaching your discipline (or presentations to
outside agencies)
• Role in faculty development, such as mentoring new faculty or
facilitating UTS workshops
• A videotape of your teaching
Deciding on the Order of Your Teaching Dossier Components
The order of the materials in your teaching dossier determines the emphasis. If you want
to demonstrate improvements in teaching, show these first; if you want to demonstrate
teaching innovations, show these first.
Although it is important to remember that your teaching dossier does not present every
piece of evidence that you have to describe your teaching, often they still can be confusing
to examine. A table of contents can be useful in developing the order of the dossier, and
in guiding the readers through your teaching materials. An overview at the beginning of
your dossier can add emphasis, as well as be incorporated in a covering letter for a job
application, or as a section of your curriculum vitae. Teaching dossiers can be further
clarified by grouping evidence together, to reflect some aspects of your teaching philosophy,
responsibilities, or criteria.
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Describing Your Teaching Materials
In describing your teaching materials, you are highlighting their relevancy, their importance, and how they demonstrate your teaching priorities and skills. For faculty applying
for tenure and promotion, these descriptions can “point the committee in the right
direction.” In other words, rather than presenting a mass of disconnected course outlines,
evaluations, letters, and lists, you can provide a meaningful structure, first by developing
an order in which to present these materials, and second by writing a statement to
describe and explain them.
It is important, that in writing these statements, to be clear on which pieces of evidence
you are discussing and where a reader can find them in your teaching dossier. You may
wish to refer to each section specifically and deal with your evidence in the order in
which it is presented.
Presentation of Your Teaching Dossier
Ring binders probably offer the most effective way of storing teaching dossiers and
their associated materials. They also ease the problems of regular updates and allow
the reader to easily
move between different
parts of the dossier.
Dividers also allow
“The order of the materials in your teaching
you to organize your
dossier determines the emphasis.”
supporting material.
Updating a
Teaching Dossier
Once you have developed your teaching dossier, it is fairly easy to keep it up-to-date.
When you first develop your teaching dossier, it is important that you decide upon a
structure for your dossier that is meaningful and relevant to you. In this way, you need
only to consider adding and updating evidence of teaching activities (such as course
outlines, new exercises, and teaching evaluations) and revising your written statements
to reflect these changes.
However, over the long term, you may find that your teaching has changed considerably.
In particular, you may find that your teaching philosophy has altered, and needs to be
rewritten.
FURTHER RESOURCES ON TEACHING DOSSIERS
Seldin, P. 1997. The teaching portfolio: A practical guide to improved performance and promotion/
tenure decisions.
O’Neil, C., & Wright, A. 1993. Recording teaching accomplishment: A Dalhousie guide to the teaching dossier.
REFLECTING ON THE PRACTICE OF TEACHING
5.31
6
C H A P T E R
Resources
at the
University of
Manitoba
R E S O U R C E S AT T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F M A N I TO B A
C
olleagues and mentors are excellent sources of information about
university resources available
to assist faculty members in their role as
educators. Your colleagues can advise
you on how to access the resources and
provide examples of how they utilize
the resources in their teaching. A brief
description of the teaching resources of
the University of Manitoba is listed
below. Current locations and phone
numbers are available through the
website links or through the University
of Manitoba Telephone Directory.
CLASSROOM AND
MEDIA SERVICES
Classroom and Media Services provides
audio visual equipment and media for
instructional use.
They provide trained technicians who will
set up equipment at the time and place
requested. These services are available at
no charge for credit course classes listed in
the general academic calendar. A media
resource service is available to assist faculty
and students in acquiring films and videotapes and other media materials. This
service includes: access to a collection of
over 3,000 films and videotapes; a media
reference service using tools such as on-line
database searches, printed subject lists
and catalogues; scheduling loan and rental
of material from external sources; access
to media viewing facilities; receiving
suggestions for new materials and purchasing media materials; and copyright
verification/clearance.
http://www.umanitoba.ca/campus/ist/cms/
LIBRARIES
The University of Manitoba has 21
library units. Contact the libraries for
information on available services and
librarian support.
http://umanitoba.ca/libraries/directors_
office/index.html
THE UNIVERSIT Y OF
M A N I T O B A B O O KS T O R E
The University of Manitoba operates a
bookstore on the Fort Garry Campus as
well as one on the Bannatyne Campus.
Faculty Tools (re: textbooks):
http://umanitoba.ca/bookstore/
textbooks/tools.html
I N S T R U C T I O N A L T E C H N O L O GY
FO R T E A C H I N G
The University offers two course
management tools, WebCT and JUMP.
Support and instruction are available
for both official and personal pages.
The IST computer labs are open to all
U of M students and staff for drop-in
use. Wireless hotspots can also be
found on campus.
Bookable teaching labs are located in the
Microcomputer Centre, 331 University
Centre. The Centre has two 24-seat
PC teaching labs that can be booked
by instructors. No charge for daytime
internal use. Limited bookings can be
arranged in the other IST computer labs.
http://umanitoba.ca/computing/ist/
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T E A C H I N G AT T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F M A N I TO B A : A H A N D B O O K
T E A C H I N G A N D T E C H N O L O GY
L ANGUAGE CENTER
( FA C U LT Y O F A R T S )
A teaching and learning exchange
through networking, collaboration,
research and development.
http://umanitoba.ca/faculties/arts/
departments/language_centre/teach_
tech/924.htm
S T U D E N T A F FA I R S
The mission of Student Affairs is to create
opportunities for student success by
engaging students and other members of
the University of Manitoba community in
a student-centered process of integrated
learning and development. Knowledge
of these resources will allow the teacher
to refer students requiring additional academic support to an appropriate service.
http://umanitoba.ca/student/
English Language Centre
The ELC offers students academic
English courses and programs to
prepare students for university study
and assistance to students already in
academic study.
http://umanitoba.ca/student/elc/
Student Services
The Aboriginal Student Centre
The Aboriginal Student Centre provides
services designed to support student’s
academic endeavors by building on
their strengths.
http://umanitoba.ca/student/asc/
International Centre for Students
The International Centre for Students
(ICS) provides support for all University
of Manitoba students. They offer programs and services to help international
students before and after their arrival
to ease their transition to Canada and
ensure their experience is enjoyable,
safe, and successful. The ICS office
also provides programs and resources
for students looking for opportunities
outside of Canada.
http://www.umanitoba.ca/student/ics/
Student Advocacy Office
This office provides confidential centralized services for receiving student
complaints and grievances. Students are
assisted in the resolution of any problems
or concerns resulting from academic
and/or discipline decisions.
http://umanitoba.ca/student/resource/
index.html
Student Counseling and Career Center
The Student Counseling and Career
Centre is staffed by professional counselors whose primary goal is to facilitate
the personal, social, academic, and
vocational development of university
students.
http://umanitoba.ca/student/
counselling/index.html
Disability Services
Disability Services helps to arrange
accommodations for students with
disabilities at the University of Manitoba.
http://umanitoba.ca/student/resource/
disability_services/index.html
R E S O U R C E S AT T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F M A N I TO B A
University Health Services
This clinic provides health care to the
university community.
http://www.umanitoba.ca/student/health/
UNIVERSIT Y 1
Learning Assistance Centre
Offering quality academic support to
all UM students through accessible
adaptable programming that will
facilitate learning and enhance writing.
http://umanitoba.ca/student/u1/lac/
The Virtual Learning Commons
The Virtual Learning Commons is an
on-line space that provides academic
tools for students like the assignment
manager; an online writing tutor;
academic information on writing papers,
oral presentations, study skills (reading,
note taking, learning and memory and
test taking) and library research; and a
place to list your "to-dos" and chat online
with other students.
https://www.umanitoba.ca/
virtuallearningcommons/
UNIVERSIT Y
TEACHING SERVICES
University Teaching Services (UTS) is a
collegial faculty development program
that initiates and organizes a wide range
of activities related to teaching and
learning for faculty and graduate students.
The goal of UTS is to help enhance the
quality of teaching and learning at the
U of M. We provide a wide range
of programs including consultations,
educational sessions, and resources for
all faculties. For more information on
these and other programs, or to ask how
UTS can help individuals or groups with
any teaching and learning issue, please
contact UTS at 474-6958.
http://www.umanitoba.ca/uts
6.3
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