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Sep 17, 2014

Assignment Planning Guide and Questions

Here are some things to consider and questions to ask yourself when planning an assignment.

Assignment description: A brief overview (one or two sentences) about the assignment.

  • Why are you giving the students this assignment?
  • Which learning outcome(s) is it designed to measure?
  • Who is the (perhaps hypothetical) audience for the assignment: academicians, people working in a particular setting, or the general public?
  • What assistance can you provide to students while they are working on the assignment? For example, are you willing to critique drafts?
  • How will you score or grade the assignment? The best way to communicate this is to give students a copy of the rubric that you will use to evaluate completed assignments.

Learning outcome(s): (that the assignment is designed to measure):

Before continuing to plan the assignment, carefully consider what the students need to do to show that they have achieved the learning outcomes, and whether the time that it will take for the students to complete the assignment successfully is reasonable considering the workload of the course (and of the other courses in the current semester).

Assignment title:

What is the title of the Assignment? Instead of using a title of ‘Research Essay’ or ‘Final Project,’ the title of the assignment should convey, in some way, the expectations of the assignment. Is this an argumentative essay, a research project on Social Media Trends, a feasibility analysis, or a Business Plan?)

Assignment audience:

Who is the audience for the assignment? Are the students preparing it for you and/or for a class presentation? Alternatively, consider having the students present their work to an external audience. Often, you will see a dramatic improvement in the quality of the work. One example: studio courses in the School of Architecture and Design have a final review at the end of each semester in which students present their work to the course instructors, the Dean, and members of the school’s Advisory Board.

Assignment goals:

What do you expect the students to learn by completing the assignment? Double check: do these goals relate clearly to one or more of the learning outcomes of the course?

Design decisions:

  • What should be included in the completed assignment?
  • What readings, reference materials, and technologies are they expected to use?
  • How much time do you expect students to spend on this assignment?
  • Can they collaborate with others? If so, to what extent?
  • How should they format the completed assignment?
  • How much will it count toward their final grade?

Skills required to successfully complete the assignment:

This is especially important if you are requiring that the student use a technology tool or media for the assignment. If you are planning an assignment that requires the students to use technologies that they may not be familiar with, how will you prepare for the extra work that entails both from the students’ perspectives and yours? How will you guide students through the process? What supports will you put in place to ensure that the students have the skills so that they are able to successfully complete the tasks?

Resources for the assignment:

  • Will you give the students a list of resources that they can use to complete the assignment?
  • If research is involved, what level of credibility or professional standards will you require?
  • Will you accept reference materials from the open web or only the library databases?
  • How many sources do they need?
  • How are you supporting student learning about ways to avoid plagiarism?

Grading criteria:

  • What are your grading criteria?
  • Have you created a checklist or rubric that indicates the expectations of the grading levels? Have you decided what an A, B, C, D, and F “looks like”?
  • Is there an exemplar that you can show the students?

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:
Valerie Lopes, PhD
Professor/Coordinator, Teaching and Learning
Seneca College, Toronto, Ontario
valerie.lopes@senecacollege.ca

Author: francine_glazer

Sep 10, 2014

Making the Most of “Reporting Out” After Group Work

Have you seen the following scenario take place? Students are engaged in some form of group work in class; think/pair/share, working through an assignment, or simply brainstorming ideas in small groups. The students may start out slowly, but soon they are actively engaged, everyone is sharing their ideas and the class is filled with energy.

Then, it’s time for “reporting out” the learning. Very quickly the energy is sucked from the room. Students don’t pay attention because they are busy thinking of what they will say, there is a lot of repetition, and some students simply tune out.

After observing this in several classes, including my own, I’ve come to realize that, as instructors, we often do not give much thought to the debriefing aspect of such activities. Yet this is where important aspects of the activity occur: students compare findings, learn additional insights, and recognize patterns in the concepts at hand. If we keep in mind the importance of reflection in actually learning from our experiences (Dewey, 1938), we recognize that the debriefing time of an active-learning group activity is where the class as a whole has a chance to reflect on their collective ideas and make meaning from the experience.

Here are a few suggestions about how to make debriefing time less about individual reports, and more about deepening the learning and making meaning from the activity.

  • Think through those 2–3 things you would really like students to get out of the activity and thus what is best suited for reporting out. The analytical or insightful aspects of an activity are better suited for sharing as a class than the repetitive or procedural aspects.
  • Don’t let the groups report out in a predictable order. As long as you’ve created a safe classroom environment, you can randomly choose groups to speak, and return back to previous groups, to keep them engaged in the discussion.
  • If the activity has multiple parts, discuss one aspect at a time. For example, “first let’s see what all the groups thought about the first question, then we’ll move on to the next one.”
  • Rather than asking each group to report in full, after the first group or two has a turn, ask the next groups to share only new ideas. Or have them compare and contrast their responses with previous groups.
  • To really get the reflection going, don’t have them report out at all. Perhaps as a group they fill out a concept map or matrix to turn in to you, and then the follow up discussion revolves around larger issues or application of the concepts. What insights did they gain from trying to create the concept map as a group? What disagreement occurred within their group? How would they apply their takeaways to a new scenario?
  • To deepen the learning even further, consider debriefing the process itself. Did they gain new insights by discussing this topic with others? Do they see the issue or concept differently now?

By viewing the reporting out aspect of a group activity as a distinct, yet vitally important, reflective component, we recognize it requires some thought and planning to fully maximize its benefits.

Resources:

  • John Dewey, Experience in Education (New York: Touchstone, 1938).

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:
Bridget Arend, PhD
Director of University Teaching
Office of Teaching and Learning
University of Denver
http://otl.du.edu

Author: francine_glazer

Sep 03, 2014

Design Motivating Courses by First Identifying Why Students are (and are not) Motivated

When we think about how to motivate students, we might assume our students will be motivated by the same goals and values that motivated us, but often that is not the case. If we try to motivate students with the wrong incentives, students disengage from classes and assigned learning activities, avoid doing more than the minimal work needed to get by, fail to use mentoring and tutoring opportunities we create, do not employ effective study strategies we suggest, or behave defensively, feigning understanding and avoiding tasks they believe might challenge their ability to perform. In the long run, all of these behaviors undermine students’ ability to learn.

Ambrose et al. (2010) discuss three factors that influence student motivation in a course. No one factor is definitive; the three work interactively to determine student motivation. If we want to structure our courses to motivate students, we must attend to all three factors:

  • The value a student places on the learning goals.
  • Whether the student expects he/she can achieve the learning goals.
  • Whether the student perceives support in the class – does the student believe course activities and supportive resources will help him/her achieve the learning goals?

Ambrose et al. (2010) describe strategies instructors can use to leverage each factor and improve student motivation.

Establish the value of your learning goals

  • Connect course content and skills to student interests.
  • Create problems and tasks that address real-world problems.
  • Connect content and skills in your course with other courses in the curriculum and describe the connections repeatedly in your course.
  • Explain how skills students acquire in your course (e.g., writing clearly) will contribute to their professional lives.

Help students develop expectations that they can achieve the learning goals

  • Determine the appropriate level of challenge for students in your course and design assignments at this level. Assignments that are too easy sap motivation as much as do assignments that set unrealistic demands.
  • Create assignments and assessments that align with learning goals. Describe the relationship between learning goals and assessments in a rubric in which you describe the learning outcomes for an assignment and articulate your expectations for performance.

Create a supportive structure and communicate the role of this structure to students

  • Create early, short, low-stakes assignments to give students an opportunity to practice skills and develop confidence in their ability before they tackle a larger, high-stakes assignment.
  • Provide constructive feedback and opportunities to use it. Feedback should identify strengths, weaknesses, and specific suggestions for actions students can take to improve the quality of their work.
  • Describe effective strategies for learning course material and explain why these strategies work.
  • Stereotypes about “talent” depict academic success as a manifestation of an unchangeable characteristic and undermine motivation when students encounter an early set-back. Students cannot alter their “talent” but they can alter their work habits. Emphasize the value of variables students can control: hard work, good time management, and practice guided by constructive feedback for success. Give explicit examples of these strategies in action.

Resources:

  • Ambrose, S. A., Bridges, M. W., DiPietro, M., Lovett, M. C., & Norman, M. K. (2010). How learning works: Seven research-based principles for smart teaching. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

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:
Claudia J. Stanny, Ph.D.
Director, Center for University Teaching, Learning, and Assessment
University of West Florida
Pensacola, FL
(850) 857–6355 or 473–7435
uwf.edu/cutla/

Author: francine_glazer

May 07, 2014

Weekly Teaching Notes Index, 2013-2014

Below is a list of all the Weekly Teaching Notes from the 2013–2014 academic year, with direct links to each one. Weekly Teaching Notes will break for the summer and resume again in the fall.

At the Center for Teaching and Learning, we are here throughout the summer and are eager to assist you with your teaching, course design or redesign, scholarly writing, and preparing your reappointment/tenure/promotion portfolios. (All consultations are voluntary and confidential.) To make an appointment with us, please email Jea Ahn (instructional Designer, Old Westbury) at jahn05@nyit.edu, Olena Zhadko (instructional designer, Manhattan) at ozhadko@nyit.edu, or me at fglazer@nyit.edu. We will be delighted to work with you!

Also this summer, we are offering our first summer book club. Here’s how it works: Once you let us know you’re interested, we will send you a copy of this summer’s book, Blended Learning: Across the Disciplines, Across the Academy. The book is yours to keep. We’ll each read the book independently over the summer, and then convene over lunch early in the fall semester for a conversation about it.

Register for the book club at by completing the online form at: http://bit.ly/SummerBookClub2014

Course Design

Activities to Make Lectures Interactive
http://www.nyit.edu/index.php/blogs/blog-full/activities_to_make_lectures_interactive/

How Do We Know Our Students Are Learning?
http://www.nyit.edu/index.php/blogs/blog-full/how_do_we_know_our_students_are_learning/

Course Design Tip Sheet - Planning to Teach
http://www.nyit.edu/index.php/blogs/blog-full/course_design_tip_sheet_planning_to_teach/

5 Tips to Help Structure Courses to Engage Students
http://www.nyit.edu/index.php/blogs/blog-full/5_tips_to_help_structure_courses_to_engage_students/

Beyond Bloom: Expanding our Ideas about Learning Objectives
http://www.nyit.edu/index.php/blogs/blog-full/beyond_bloom_expanding_our_ideas_about_learning_objectives/

Student-Faculty Interaction: A Key to Better Learning
http://www.nyit.edu/index.php/blogs/blog-full/student-faculty_interaction_a_key_to_better_learning/

Why Students Don’t Read: Strategies to Increase Student Preparation for Class
http://www.nyit.edu/index.php/blogs/blog-full/why_students_dont_read_strategies_to_increase_student_preparation_for_class/

“What a Tangled Web We Weave” … or Not?
http://www.nyit.edu/index.php/blogs/blog-full/what_a_tangled_web_we_weave_or_not/

Novel Strategies to Encourage Careful Reading and Energized Discussions
http://www.nyit.edu/index.php/blogs/blog-full/novel_strategies_to_encourage_careful_reading_and_energized_discussions/

Teaching with Technology

Teaching with New Media
http://www.nyit.edu/index.php/blogs/blog-full/teaching_with_new_media/

Sometimes, You Really Need to Meet Face-to-Face
http://www.nyit.edu/index.php/blogs/blog-full/sometimes_you_really_need_to_meet_face-to-face/

Catch Up on Missed Classes with VoiceThread
http://www.nyit.edu/index.php/blogs/blog-full/catch_up_on_missed_classes_with_voicethread/

Blended Courses that Work
http://www.nyit.edu/index.php/blogs/blog-full/blended_courses_that_work/

Bridging the Geographical Divide: Teaching in a DL Classroom
http://www.nyit.edu/index.php/blogs/blog-full/bridging_the_geographical_divide_teaching_in_a_dl_classroom/

Found Metaphors: A Strategy of Applied Creative Thinking
http://www.nyit.edu/index.php/blogs/blog-full/found_metaphors_a_strategy_of_applied_creative_thinking/

Visualizing Data When You’re Not an Artist
http://www.nyit.edu/index.php/blogs/blog-full/visualizing_data_when_youre_not_an_artist/

Metacognition: Thinking about Learning

The Power of Tests to Teach
http://www.nyit.edu/index.php/blogs/blog-full/the_power_of_tests_to_teach/

The ‘Gallery Walk’ as a Means to Making Metacognition Transparent
http://www.nyit.edu/index.php/blogs/blog-full/the_gallery_walk_as_a_means_to_making_metacognition_transparent/

Help Students Learn from their Mistakes
http://www.nyit.edu/index.php/blogs/blog-full/help_students_learn_from_their_mistakes/

Techniques to Help Students Think About Their Learning
http://www.nyit.edu/index.php/blogs/blog-full/techniques_to_help_students_think_about_their_learning/

Peer and Self-Evaluation of Participation in Discussion
http://www.nyit.edu/index.php/blogs/blog-full/peer_and_self-evaluation_of_participation_in_discussion/

Assessment: Demonstrating Learning

NYIT Faculty Talk About How We Know Whether our Students are Learning
http://www.nyit.edu/index.php/blogs/blog-full/nyit_faculty_talk_about_how_we_know_whether_our_students_are_learning/

Get Your Students’ Perspectives
http://www.nyit.edu/index.php/blogs/blog-full/get_your_students_perspectives/

Prior Knowledge Check
http://www.nyit.edu/index.php/blogs/blog-full/prior_knowledge_check/

Dealing with Academic Dishonesty in the 21st Century
http://www.nyit.edu/index.php/blogs/blog-full/dealing_withacademic_dishonesty_in_the_21st_century/

Learning Spaces

Space for Learning
http://www.nyit.edu/index.php/blogs/blog-full/space_for_learning/

Learning Spaces - Social Presence and Interaction
http://www.nyit.edu/index.php/blogs/blog-full/learning_spaces-social_presence_and_interaction/

NYIT Faculty Discuss Learning Spaces: Physical, Virtual, Social, and Intellectual
http://www.nyit.edu/index.php/blogs/blog-full/nyit_faculty_discuss_learning_spaces_physical_virtual_social_and_intellectu/

Indices to Previous Years

Weekly Teaching Notes 2012–2013 Index
http://www.nyit.edu/index.php/blogs/blog-full/weekly_teaching_notes_2012–2013_index/

Weekly Teaching Notes: 2011–2012 Index
http://www.nyit.edu/index.php/blogs/blog-full/weekly_teaching_notes_2011–2012_index/

Weekly Teaching Notes: 2010–2011 Index
http://www.nyit.edu/index.php/blogs/blog-full/weekly_teaching_notes_2010–2011_index

Author: francine_glazer

Apr 30, 2014

Blended Courses That Work

Blended courses replace part of the “seat time” with “online time” - anywhere from 30 - 80%. The immediacy of anytime-anywhere learning, combined with the structure of regular face-to-face meetings, can be a powerful way to learn. In fact, there’s good evidence that blended courses, when properly designed, can be even more effective than traditional face-to-face courses (DOE, 2010).

There are many different ways to design an effective blended course. In the recent online workshop about Learning Spaces, Nick Bloom (Associate Professor, Social Sciences) described a strategy he has used successfully:

“Here is a personal approach that takes a good bit of preparation, but once in place, is both very effective and easy to maintain. In essence, one is creating a ”multi-media textbook“ that can be renewed and updated every semester. I use this method for humanities/urban studies type classes. It can even be shared with other instructors teaching the course by cloning it into their blackboard ”shells."

"The process begins with the development of a recorded lecture series I have created using Camtasia (but any screen capture technology will do–Powerpoint, Zoom, etc.). These screencasts are then linked in Blackboard by week/theme. Here is one of my lectures (works best in Safari or Explorer: you may need to right click and save): http://iris.nyit.edu/~nbloom/ManchesterThenandNow.mp4. I have prepped over 50 of these lectures over the years and they are stored on the NYIT Iris site. They can be added and created at any point before, during, or after the semester.

"Here is what a student’s workload in my typical class looks like:

  1. EVERY WEEK: Independently watch an MP4 lecture video, linked multi-media, or even Netflix documentary. Read the accompanying pdf file.

  2. In-class quick quiz on the assigned materials (10 minutes max, basic questions seeing if they have reviewed the material: part of participation grade)

  3. Class (1.5 hours) is a detailed discussion of SELECTED and COMPLEX topics from the videos/reading. Almost no traditional lecturing at all, or maybe a mini-lecture on related topic. I find that students need this class time to clarify many issues which are quickly discussed in screen capture lectures, a film, etc. It is also a good time to challenge them about what they think of the materials. We always sit in circles, even larger classes.

  4. After class, students complete a detailed set of Blackboard questions about the lecture, class discussion, etc. They usually have 2–3 days to complete these. I use SafeAssign to check for plagiarism, or you can also use Turnitin. Students quickly learn to not cheat. I formerly had students complete these detailed question sets before class, but the quality of answers is so much better after a class discussion that I switched despite the greater uniformity of responses.

“Some students find the weekly work overwhelming, but most good students like the mix of in-class discussion plus assigned multi-media. Students from abroad like the videos and ask for more of them so that they can slowly review them.”

Summer Book Club

Are you interested in learning more ways to blend a course? Join your colleagues and the CTL staff in our first summer book club! Here’s how it works: Once you let us know you’re interested, we will send you a copy of this summer’s book, Blended Learning: Across the Disciplines, Across the Academy. The book is yours to keep. We’ll each read the book independently over the summer, and then convene over lunch early in the fall semester for a conversation about it.

Register for the book club at by completing the online form at: http://bit.ly/SummerBookClub2014

Resources:

  • Blended Learning Toolkit, University of Central Florida. Accessed 4/29/2014 at https://blended.online.ucf.edu
  • Glazer, F. S., editor (2012). Blended Learning: Across the Disciplines, Across the Academy. New Pedagogies and Practices for Teaching in Higher Education. Stylus Publishing, Sterling, VA.
  • U.S. Department of Education, Office of Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development (2010). Evaluation of evidence-based practices in online learning: A meta-analysis and review of online learning studies.

Contributor:
Nicholas Dagen Bloom, PhD
Associate Professor, Social Sciences
New York Institute of Technology
nbloom@nyit.edu

Author: francine_glazer

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Profiles
Amal Al Haddabi Amal Al Haddabi
Class of 2008
Profession: Head of Publications Department, Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and Research
Ndoumbe Fall Ndoumbe Fall
Campus: Manhattan
Major: Behavioral Science, B.S., concentration in Social Work
Class Of: 2016
Alex Seltzer Alex Seltzer
Campus: Old Westbury
Major: Undeclared
Class Of: 2017