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Nov 20, 2013

Help Students Learn from their Mistakes

Testing is primarily used for assessment purposes. It is a way for a teacher to determine if students have mastered the required material. After exams are graded they are often returned to the students with the intention that students will review their incorrect answers and understand their errors. In reality, most students just look at their grade and file the exam away. They never follow through to understand what they did wrong or to learn the concept they missed.

Rather than reviewing exams in class and providing students with the correct answer, have students make “corrections” on their exam. This strategy will help to ensure that they not only understand why their answer was incorrect but also better understand the concepts. When making corrections, require the students to provide the following:

  • the correct response
  • a detailed explanation as to how they derived their answer. This includes all steps and calculations (if applicable to your discipline)
  • a detailed explanation of any relevant concepts
  • for multiple choice questions, an explanation as to why all of the other choices are incorrect.

Consider assigning a point value to this exercise, and allowing the students to earn some extra credit on their exam. For example, each question that is corrected, with detailed explanations, might earn back 1/3 the original number of points. As a result, students will be more likely to engage in this activity and complete the assignment.


To follow up on any of these ideas, please contact me at This Weekly Teaching Note was adapted from a contribution to the Teaching and Learning Writing Consortium hosted at Western Kentucky University and organized by Seneca College and New York Institute of Technology.

Cecile M. Roberti
Assistant Professor
Community College of Rhode Island
Department of Business Administration

Author: francine_glazer

Nov 13, 2013

NYIT Faculty Talk About How We Know Whether our Students are Learning

“I would ask my students what did you learn today? Many couldn't answer the question.” – Carlo Hallak, NYITCOM

How do we know that our students are learning what we are teaching? Do we check in at frequent intervals with our students to see whether they understand the material, or do we teach and hope for the best? And when we do check in, how do we know we are getting an accurate picture of their progress?

In the last two weeks of October, the Center for Teaching and Learning offered a two-week online workshop called “Are They Learning?” The online format enabled faculty and staff from different campuses to exchange ideas: 34 people participated from our campuses in Manhattan, Nanjing, NYIT Online, Old Westbury, and Vancouver. Another six NYIT faculty members joined as ‘resource people’ by reviewing workshop materials, facilitating the discussion, and sharing their expertise.

Classroom check-in techniques provide a way for us to get immediate feedback on what and how well our students are learning. The techniques are simple, non-graded, anonymous, in-class activities that give both you and your students useful feedback on the teaching and learning process. This information enables us to structure our teaching in a way that enhances student learning. At the same time, classroom check-in techniques provide a “reality check” for our students, helping them see the extent to which they have mastered a particular concept.

Classroom check-in techniques address questions such as

  • Are my students learning what I think I am teaching?
  • Who is learning and who is not learning?
  • What am I doing that is useful for these students?
  • What am I doing that is not useful for these students?

If we were to sum up the benefits of using check-in techniques for faculty and students, the list would probably look something like this:

For faculty, more frequent use of check-in techniques can:

  • Provide immediate feedback about the day-to-day learning and teaching process at a time when it is still possible to make mid-course corrections.
  • Provide useful information about student learning with a much lower investment of time compared to tests, papers, and other traditional means of learning assessment.
  • Provide information on student engagement.
  • Help foster good rapport with students and increase the efficacy of teaching and learning.
  • Encourage the view that teaching is a formative process that evolves over time with feedback.

For students, more frequent use of check-in techniques can:

  • Help students become better monitors of their own learning.
  • Help break down feelings of anonymity, especially in larger courses.
  • Point out the need to alter study skills.
  • Provide concrete evidence that the instructor cares about learning.

Workshop participants shared how they use various check-in techniques to learn about student learning:

Cecilia Dong, Engineering and Computing Sciences, Manhattan, stated: “One of the check-in techniques I use in my senior design class is a one-sentence summary, I ask students to explain their project to someone who does not have technical background (in layman terms) at the proposal stage. This helps them to practice their communication skills and reflect on their project’s objective. This also serves as a means to train their critical thinking by putting their knowledge to solve a real world problem and being able to explain it in a 2-3 minute pitch.”

Farzana Gandhi, Architecture and Design, Old Westbury, shares: “In many of my architecture design studio and seminar courses, I often ask students to step up and become "professors for the day." I ask them to present some of the major points of a previous lesson and then comment on each others work (using the evaluative criteria that has already been discussed) in pairs of two and/or in a large class group setting. Students often learn better from other students. To me, this is a spin on the check in technique called "directed paraphrasing."“

Jim Martinez, Education, uses a variation on the one-minute summary: “I call it the 1 minute reflection. Immediately after group work I go around the room and ask students to say something about how they participated in the group activity and how they perceived that choices were made in the group. I try to identify through the reflections the patterns or themes that emerge. For example, students will tend to use the tools, resources and concepts that were introduced immediately prior to the group work. Another example: students that self-identify as leaders will automatically assume those roles. I encourage students to get out of comfort zones during check-in by suggesting that they try on new roles during group work. I use the 1 minute reflections to help me figure out where the students are at and as a feedback mechanism to prepare for the next group activity.”

Monique Taylor, Global Academic Programs, Nanjing, described how she uses small groups in class. “I have large groups work as small groups and then the small groups talk as one voice or voices in a cluster when we come back together as a large group/I like having the room rearranged so students work in 5-7 or 10-12 etc etc as needed. I will put an outline in lieu of a lecture posted at front and have students fill in the lecture scaffolding from study questions that I provide or that students must develop. This allows me to walk around the room and teach something differently with each group I visit. Sometimes I will present an entire assignment to the larger group but ask each smaller group only to take a piece that they must present or post on the board at end of one class session or in next session (like a jigsaw puzzle).”

Anne Sanderson, Arts and Sciences, brings in another aspect of learning: “We so often leave out one of the most important parts of the equation: students learn best when there is an emotional connection. For some reason, we don't talk much about this. Whether the student is 5 or 50, the emotional connection with the teacher, with classmates, and yes, with the content, creates an atmosphere of trust where real learning can take place. It may not always be measurable by conventional assessment, but it happens.”


Olena Zhadko, PhD 
Instructional Designer, Center for Teaching and Learning
New York Institute of Technology

Author: francine_glazer

Nov 06, 2013

Dealing with Academic Dishonesty in the 21st Century

While some research shows that students are not more likely to cheat in online courses (Watson & Sottile, 2010), the 21st century has seen a rise in student acceptability of “cut and paste” behavior that is considered academic dishonesty by most faculty (McCabe, Butterfield, and Trevino, 2012). According to Olt (2002), there are three approaches faculty can take toward cheating either in the face-to-face or online environment:

  • the “virtues” approach (honor codes, discussion, tutorials, etc.)
  • the “prevention” approach through creating assignments and assessments that make dishonesty less likely
  • the “policing” approach using software (Turnitin, Safe Assign, Google, etc.) to “catch” dishonest students.

No matter what approach you decide to use, the best way to promote academic integrity in your courses is to help students learn what behaviors are considered dishonest and how they can avoid such behaviors. Ways to do this include:

  • communicate to students why academic integrity is valuable (in the syllabus and in face-to-face or online communications)
  • assist students with proper citation rules
  • model academic integrity when designing your course (for example, make sure you get permission to use materials and acknowledge copyrighted materials)

Other best practice strategies include:

  • use three or more short assessments rather than only a midterm and final. This lowers the stakes for each assessment, which can in turn reduce the student’s motivation to cheat
  • require coordination and cooperation among students for assessments so that they are also accountable to peers
  • use some fast, informal [Classroom Check-in Techniques]() so you can learn what is “typical work” for your students, and are able to recognize extreme aberrations
  • be clear about if and how much students are allowed to collaborate on assignments
  • change assignments frequently from semester to semester and tailor them specifically to course materials
  • draw from a large bank of questions and randomize when the test is administered
  • design assignments to be completed in stages, so students document their work as they create it


  • McCabe, D.L., Butterfield, K.D., and Trevino, L.K. (2012) Cheating in College: Why Students Do It and What Educators Can do About It. Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press.
  • Olt, M.R. (2002) Ethics and Distance Education: Strategies for Minimizing Academic Dishonesty in Online Assessment. Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, Volume V, Number III available at:
  • Watson, G & Sottile, J. (2010) Cheating in the Digital Age: Do Students Cheat More in Online Courses? Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, Volume XIII, Number I available at:

To follow up on any of these ideas, please contact me at This Weekly Teaching Note was adapted from a contribution to the Teaching and Learning Writing Consortium hosted at Western Kentucky University and organized by Seneca College and New York Institute of Technology.


Christopher Price, Ph.D. 
Director, Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT)
The College at Brockport, State University of New York

Author: francine_glazer

Oct 30, 2013

Student-Faculty Interaction: A Key to Better Learning

"At a basic level, all learning results from interactions, whether they be with aspects of the environment, with information, with other people or through some combination of these." Andrew Milne, Educause Review, 13-31, Jan/Feb 2007

The interactions that we, as faculty members, have with our students can be instrumental in students' decisions to engage more deeply with the course material. As noted by Chickering and Gamson (1987), a connection with a faculty member not only helps increase student motivation, it also plays an important role in helping students persist in the face of challenges. And it's not only interacting in class that makes a difference - interactions outside the classroom have a powerful motivating effect on student engagement and learning. These interactions might be any of the following:

  • a visit to office hours to discuss the course;
  • a conversation about career plans;
  • working with faculty members on a research project;
  • working with faculty members on student-life activities, or on committees;
  • or more.

Of course, on a commuter campus it can be difficult to have an unplanned conversation with a student, and sometimes your office hours are scheduled when your students have other classes. What to do?

Today, I'd like to introduce you to a new tool available at NYIT, which enables you to talk with your students face-to-face, even at a distance. is an on-demand web conferencing tool, much like Skype, but simpler to use. Zoom supports HD video- and audio-conferencing for up to 25 people at a time, screen-sharing with optional annotations, and recording.

The only person who needs an account is the person who originates the meeting. The program generates an email that includes all the information other participants will need to join the meeting. People invited to a meeting simply click a link in the invitation. It's accessible from Mac, Windows, iOS, and Android devices, and there's even a teleconference number for participants who don't have access to a computer or mobile device.

While meeting, you can share an application or your entire desktop, annotate the document being shared (think "revise an article prior to submission"), and record part or all of a meeting (think "exam review session") and put it online so students who cannot be there in person can access the information. Some faculty and staff at NYIT have already tried the application; here's a sampling of their reactions:

"Zoom was great.  I used it for my online Anatomy course for live reviews prior to the exams.  Both instructors were able to participate (the other professor lives in North Carolina), and approximately 20 students participated at one time.  I think it helped the students feel that they had a connection with us as the format allowed for give and take not only between professor and student, but also student to student.  We recorded the sessions and posted them on YouTube for those students who could not make the live session.  Feedback from the students was very positive." Rose Gallagher, School of Health Professions

"I used Zoom on my iPad to conference with colleagues; they were in OW and I was in Manhattan. I found Zoom much more streamlined than Skype, and easier to use, too. With respect to visual and audio, Zoom was much better than my experience with Skype. I felt as though I was right there in the room with my colleagues." Gail Linsenbard, College of Arts and Sciences

"I've been using Skype, Elluminate and Google Hangout. Zoom is a lot better than these three in terms of video quality, number of participants connected at the same time and connection speed. The best part I like is that it allows 25 participants to have video conversation at the same time without compromising the video quality. The desktop sharing feature is also wonderful." Shiang-Kwei Wang, School of Education

"We love Zoom so far ... much better than Skype for our purposes. Using Zoom has been incredibly helpful in conducting staff meetings. The video and audio quality is much higher compared to Skype, which would occasionally freeze or start to echo after a while and required us to recall the group. It is also very helpful to have the share screen feature that any one of the members can access. I plan to use Zoom to meet with a student who is off-campus later this week." Monika Schueren, Advising & Enrichment Center

"Zoom Pro has been an essential tool this semester so far for the Fine Arts Department, bringing together diverse groups quickly and efficiently in clear, easy-to-use multi-person video conferencing.  Participants simply need to click one link in an e-mail inviting them to the meeting, and they can join the video conference.  Whoever is talking gets featured on the large screen, and the transition is seamless and natural." Yuko Oda, College of Arts and Sciences

Everyone with an NYIT email address has an account. The basic account includes the full set of features, and limits meetings to 40 minutes, while Pro accounts do not limit the time. To activate your account, log in through Google Apps (PDF documentation). If you need any help getting started with Zoom, you can contact any of us at the Center for Teaching and Learning: Jea Ahn,, Olena Zhadko,, or myself at  


  • Chickering, A. W., Gamson, Z. F., & Poulsen, S. J. (1987). Seven principles for good practice in undergraduate education.
  • Graham, C., Cagiltay, K., Lim, B., Craner, J., & Duffy, T. M. (2001). Seven principles of effective teaching: A practical lens for evaluating online courses. The Technology Source, 30(5), 50. Accessed 10/29/2013 at
  • Getting Started with Zoom at NYIT:

Author: francine_glazer

Oct 23, 2013

Visualizing Data When You’re Not an Artist

"Infographics are graphic visual representations of information, data or knowledge intended to present complex information quickly and clearly. They can improve cognition by utilizing graphics to enhance the human visual system’s ability to see patterns and trends. The process of creating infographics can be referred to as data visualization, information design, or information architecture." Wikipedia,

Have you ever had the opportunity to see some wonderful infographics, perhaps in the slides provided to you by your textbook publishers, in your disciplinary publications or even popular publications? You may have also heard about the value of using the “assertion-evidence” method for creating effective slides to accompany your presentations, which depends on using relevant infographics.

Wouldn't it be great if you could create infographics yourself for your classes? “Yes,” you say, “but I am not an artist or particularly talented at thinking of ways to visualize information.” Fortunately, there are a number of amazing, free Web 2.0 tools on the Internet these days to help.

Many of them have templates in which you can type or import your data so that visual infographics are created for you! The resulting info graphics can then be linked to from your PowerPoint slides or downloaded for importing into slides or Blackboard or ...

Other sites provide creation tools and templates that make it relatively easy to select and build your own infographics, without much visual talent or experience. And if you have more ideas than you know what to do with, these tools can save you time by providing an efficient way to create them.

Another possibility: give your students the option of presenting information in an infographic as opposed to a more typical chart or diagram.


To follow up on any of these ideas, please contact me at This Weekly Teaching Note was adapted from a contribution to the Teaching and Learning Writing Consortium organized by Seneca College and New York Institute of Technology.

Molly Baker, Ph.D.
Director, Instructional Technology Department
Sauk Valley Community College

Author: francine_glazer

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Alan Fairbairn Alan Fairbairn (M.A. '90)
Associate Professor
Department: Hospitality Studies
Campus: Old Westbury
Emily Rukobo Emily Rukobo
Director, English Language Institute
Office: Academic Affairs
Campus: Manhattan
Michelle Hamin Michelle Hamin
Campus: Manhattan
Major: Life Sciences, B.S.
Class Of: 2015