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Oct 16, 2013

Why Students Don’t Read: Strategies to Increase Student Preparation for Class

A “flipped” class requires students to read assigned materials and complete other assigned work that prepares them to apply new learning during in-class activities that promote deep learning of course content and skills. Instructors can assign readings, but what if students do not complete these readings before coming to class?

Hoeft (2012) reports that 56%-68% of students in a first-year class reported that they did not read assigned material before class. The most common reasons students give to explain why they did not read assigned materials are:

  • They had too much to read.
  • Their work schedule does not allow enough time for extensive reading.
  • Their social life leaves little time for reading.

Students who say that they read the assigned materials usually said that they were motivated to complete reading assignments because they were concerned about grades.

Students who say that they did not complete assigned readings suggested that instructors might increase the number of students who read assigned material if they

  • give quizzes on the assigned readings,
  • assign supplementary graded work based on the readings to help them focus, and
  • make the assigned readings interesting.

Hoeft tried each strategy in one of three different courses. She found that reading quizzes and supplementary graded work successfully motivated students to complete assigned reading (74% of students in a course that used reading quizzes; 95% of students in a course that used an assigned, graded reading journal). Although more students reported reading when the journal assignment was used as a motivator, an independent measure of reading comprehension indicated that quizzes improved comprehension more than the journal assignment. Students in the reading journal assignment class appeared to read superficially, skimming the readings to find answers to questions included in the assignment; students in the reading quiz class appeared to read more deeply because the reading quizzes tapped reading content in less predictable ways than did the journal assignments.

Instructors can implement reading quizzes by creating self-grading quizzes in eLearning as graded assignments. Close access to the quizzes on the due date for the assigned reading to motivate students to complete the reading before class sessions. Alternatively, some instructors implement reading quizzes in the first 5 minutes of the class meeting (perhaps as clicker questions). If completed during class, the reading quizzes also serve to motivate students to attend class and participate in planned learning activities.

Resources:

To follow up on any of these ideas, please contact me at fglazer@nyit.edu. 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.

Contributor:
Claudia J. Stanny, Ph.D., Director
Center for University Teaching, Learning, and Assessment
University of West Florida
uwf.edu/cutla

Author: francine_glazer

Oct 09, 2013

Teaching with New Media

"When people talk to me about the digital divide, I think of it not so much about who has access to what technology as about who knows how to create and express themselves in the new language of the screen. If students aren't taught the language of sound and images, shouldn't they be considered as illiterate as if they left college without being able to read and write?" - George Lucas, filmmaker

For some instructors, incorporating new media, namely audio, video, and web resources, into traditional text-heavy curriculum/assignments can appear overwhelming. Where do you start? What tools should be used? How will the assignment unfold? Will students learn what they need to learn? Below are five basic guiding principles for getting started with teaching with new media.

1) Begin at the End: Start with student learning outcomes and work backwards. What is the ultimate concept, skill, or behavior you'd like your students to learn through the new media assignment? For example, if you want students to develop visual literacy, you might consider assigning a photo essay or a short video project.

2) Adapt: Instead of overhauling the curriculum, identify a part that can benefit from new media. Is there a component of a class or an assignment that can benefit from the use of images, audio, or videos? For example, photo analysis, audio reflections, and video essays are common new media assignments.

3) Choose Easy Tools: The number of new media tools available today is just staggering (see links below for the most popular ones). The best strategy is to choose low-barrier tools — the ones that require minimal technical skills and resources to employ. For example, Animoto and Stupeflix are web-based video creation tools that require no technical knowledge whatsoever, but the results are pretty awesome.

4) Iterate Often: As with any new approach to teaching, the key is to gather feedback, make adjustments, and redeploy. An easy way to do this is to ask your students to provide feedback before, during, and after the new media assignment, and use the feedback to make adjustments for the next round.

5) Cultivate, Don't Control: Teaching with new media requires instructors to let go of some control of the learning process. Digital students are often more savvy and knowledgeable with new media, so the key is to channel their energy towards learning. For example, instead of restricting how students approach the assignment, focus instead on helping them achieve the learning outcome for that assignment.

Resources:

To follow up on any of these ideas, please contact me at fglazer@nyit.edu. 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.

Contributor:
Mike Truong
Executive Director, Office of Innovative Teaching and Technology
Center for Teaching, Learning, and Assessment
Azusa Pacific University
http://www.apu.edu

Author: francine_glazer

Oct 02, 2013

Activities to Make Lectures Interactive

In order to retain student attention and facilitate learning, consider integrating a variety of activities into a lecture-based course. Start by finding natural breaks in the content material and break up the lecture into shorter segments. In between the shorter lectures, add activities that require the students to review and apply their new learning and interact with each other. Mix it up by incorporating different activities each week. The change of pace, interaction, and variety can help to enliven the classroom atmosphere and encourage deeper learning for every student. Some activities to consider are listed below.

  • Skeleton notes – Create a handout with key points of the lecture on the left margin, leaving space for students to fill in notes during lecture. Pair up or group students to compare notes and fill in gaps.
  • Press Conference – Ask students to work in teams to write and organize questions, and then interview the instructor in a simulated press conference.
  • Clusters – Break reading material into sections and have each individual or group read an assigned section, becoming an “expert” on that section. Each individual or group then teaches the others about the specific material that they learned.
  • Select the Best Response – Present your students with a question or scenario and then ask them to consider which one of three responses best applies. This technique can be used to recall and apply information presented in lecture.
  • Correct the Error – This idea can be used in math or lab courses. The instructor creates an intentional error based on important lecture material. Students then work to correct the error.
  • Support a Statement – Give your students a statement and have them locate support in lecture notes or textbooks and give data to support the statement.
  • Re-order Steps – The instructor presents a series of steps in a mixed order and the students are asked to sequence the items correctly.
  • Short Video Clip – A short, relevant video clip can be useful for introducing a new topic, punctuating the main point, or providing a springboard for class discussion.
  • One Minute Paper – Near the end of the class period, ask students to write for one minute on the main 1-2 points of the class. This assignment allows you to gauge student comprehension and gives students an incentive to absorb and comprehend course material. At the beginning of the next class, provide some feedback, telling the students which responses were on target, and clarifying any misconceptions that were revealed by their responses.
  • Student-Created Visuals - Ask students to work in small groups to create visual study aids such as flow charts, graphs, diagrams, artwork, maps, or photography. A variation on this activity could produce student-created study guides prior to each major exam.

To follow up on any of these ideas, please contact me at fglazer@nyit.edu. 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.

Contributor:
Belinda Richardson and Debi Griffin
Bellarmine University
www.bellarmine.edu

 

Workshop Invitation

The Center for Teaching and Learning is offering an online workshop about student learning, and I invite you to participate. Some of our NYIT faculty will be joining in as ‘resource people’ and discussion facilitators providing their expertise and insight into the issue. Specific topics will include:

  • benefits of using classroom check-in techniques
  • when to check in with your students and why
  • some simple classroom check-in techniques to get you started
  • additional resources

The workshop is asynchronous, meaning that you can read the materials and reply to emails at your convenience. All you will need is a web browser and an email account. Here’s how it will work: On October 21, resources will become available on the web. Participants will then have a conversation by email for 1-2 weeks. Our goal is to bring faculty together from all our campuses, so we can explore the topic from all the cultural and societal frames of reference that comprise NYIT.

I hope you will join us! Please register to receive the link to materials and to be added to the email list. The registration link for the workshop is at: http://goo.gl/L9u9SW

Author: francine_glazer

Sep 24, 2013

How Do We Know Our Students Are Learning?

You’re teaching a class, and it seems that everything’s going well. The students are nodding attentively, and when you ask if there are any questions, there aren’t. “Do you understand?” garners lots of nods and “yes” and “you bet!” responses. Then, a couple of weeks later, the students take the first exam, and based on their test answers, they didn’t really understand, after all.

Has this ever happened to you? How do we really know that our students are learning what we are teaching?

Many of us use traditional methods such as tests, quizzes, exams, and papers, reports, or projects to test student knowledge and skill acquisition. These “high-stakes” activities - that is, activities that comprise a large part of the course grade - usually gives us an idea where our students are and if they understand the material.

Ideally, we should be giving our students opportunities to practice using their new knowledge before they get to these high-stakes assessments, and giving students feedback about their learning far enough in advance of the tests that they have an opportunity to revisit the material, and often enough that they can gauge their own progress.

There are many types of “low-stakes” activities we can use, for example:

  • problem sets;
  • short essays analyzing or synthesizing course content;
  • smaller components of a larger project (such as an annotated bibliography or an outline as a preparatory stage of a research project); and
  • class discussions.

Here’s the problem: grading all that student work takes time, and providing thoughtful feedback takes even more time. And we all know that feedback isn’t very useful unless it comes promptly. Plus, class discussions don’t let us assess everyone, only the students who participate actively.

Here’s a solution: We need an efficient way to track student learning, and one that gives students feedback at the same time would be ideal. There are a number of easy-to-use techniques that allow you to assess your students learning, and that can easily be integrated into your teaching. Many of them are easy to develop, easy to implement, and easy to evaluate.

The Center for Teaching and Learning is offering an online workshop about student learning, and I invite you to participate. Some of our NYIT faculty will be joining in as ‘resource people’ and discussion facilitators providing their expertise and insight into the issue. Specific topics will include:

  • benefits of using classroom check-in techniques
  • when to check in with your students and why
  • some simple classroom check-in techniques to get you started
  • additional resources

The workshop is asynchronous, meaning that you can read the materials and reply to emails at your convenience. All you will need is a web browser and an email account. Here’s how it will work: On October 21, resources will become available on the web. Participants will then have a conversation by email for 1-2 weeks. Our goal is to bring faculty together from all our campuses, so we can explore the topic from all the cultural and societal frames of reference that comprise NYIT.

I hope you will join us! Please register to receive the link to materials and to be added to the email list. The registration link for the workshop is at: http://goo.gl/L9u9SW

Author: francine_glazer

Sep 18, 2013

Course Design Tip Sheet – Planning to Teach

Adapted from the Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning, Harvard University Online Document Course Design Tip Sheet – available at: http://isites.harvard.edu/fs/html/icb.topic58474/CourseDesign.html

In preparing to teach a course, it is helpful to first consider:

1. What is the purpose of this course? - What is it that the students will be able to know/think/do as a result of taking this course?

What do you hope to teach the students? What is the single most important thing you hope they will leave the course knowing or being able to do? Why are you teaching it? (This is not about what facts you want them to know at the end, but about what your larger or deeper objectives are for the course.) What are the SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely) Learning outcomes of this course?

2. What are your students' capacities and expectations and needs?

Who are your students? What do they know already, as they enter the course? How will you know what they know? What levels of sophistication can you expect? How much can you expect them to do? What courses have they taken? How much do they need to know at this level? What prior knowledge is essential in order for students to be successful in this course?

3. What assessments will you use to determine whether or not the students have achieved the learning outcomes?

What will you use as evidence that the students have learned what you intend for them to learn? How will theses assessments guide the teaching and learning activities and resources? How will you use assessments to help students to learn? Do you have formative as well as summative assignments?

Once the answers to the questions above are clearly established, then there are a host of other questions to consider:

  • How will you design the weekly sessions and lessons? How are you going to tie the course together? What is the story line for this course? What are the logical links between sessions? And what are the main topics and sub-topics? How will you enable the students to follow the course's progression from week to week? Can you create a concept map for the course?

  • How are you going to get to the broader, underlying conceptual issues, as opposed to simply covering the material? Given the underlying purpose or concept or level of the course, what material should be emphasized and what can be cut?

  • What “active” teaching methods are you going to use – e.g., lectures, discussions, role plays, demonstrations – and in what proportions? What activities other than the readings and class discussions might be appropriate? How will you stimulate students to think about the material before class? How will you encourage/require students to prepare? How will you get students to actively engage in reading, listening to lectures or viewing videos that are used to deliver course content? What learning strategies will you use?

  • How will you evaluate your students? How will you know what they do and do not understand? How will you know if they have learned anything, and if so, what they have learned? How will you know which students are A students, which are B, C, and D students? What about students who fail?

  • How will you give feedback to the students? How will you grade and comment on their written and oral work? What opportunities will students have to use feedback to improve their work?

  • How flexible are you going to be in meeting students' different backgrounds, interests and needs? Are you willing/able to change any aspects of the course in the middle of the semester if that seems appropriate? Are you willing to entertain different approaches to the material?

  • How will you get feedback from the students? How will you know if the course is working for them?

Having answered the questions above – how are you going to let the students know the overall plan for the course, including the class guidelines, suggested readings, assignment requirements and deadlines, tests and final exams dates, weekly schedules and all other pertinent information?

Lots of questions – but once they are all answered – you will be able to tell the story of your course and showing how all the pieces are connected.

To follow up on any of these ideas, please contact me at fglazer@nyit.edu. 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.

Contributor:
Valerie Lopes, PhD
Professor, Centre for Academic Excellence
Seneca College
senecac.on.ca

Author: francine_glazer

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Charles Matz Charles Matz, A.I.A., R.I.B.A., C.I.D.
Associate Professor
Department: Interior Design
Campus: Old Westbury
Fred Harris (B.S. ’08, M.B.A. ’10) Fred Harris
Class of 2008, 2010
Profession: Senior manager at professional services firm Deloitte in Long Island, N.Y.
Frank Mruk Frank Mruk
Associate Dean and Professor
Department: Architecture
Campus: Old Westbury