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May 02, 2012

Weekly Teaching Notes: 2011-2012 index

As the academic year winds down and we look toward the summer, I present to you a list of all the Weekly Teaching Notes from this academic year, with links to their locations on the web. Weekly Teaching Notes will break for the summer and resume again in the fall.

I've enjoyed the email conversations I've had with many of you this year, as you responded to me about a particular idea. At the Center for Teaching and Learning, we are here all 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 Olena Zhadko (instructional designer) at or me at We will be delighted to work with you!

Student Motivation

Your Responses - Motivating Students to Improve Study Habits

Motivating Students to Improve Study Habits

Guide Your Students Toward More Effective Study Habits

Technology and Student Learning

Enhance Student Collaboration with Online Tools: Google Apps

More on Student Collaboration and Google Apps

What's the Right Tool for the Job?

Glogster and Audio Essays

Which Tool? ...  Blackboard? Google Apps? Something else?

Course Design

Use an Annotated Syllabus to Track Your Thinking about Course Design

Communicate High Expectations

Storytelling, Creativity, and Classroom Management

Engage Students in Your Course by Providing a Larger Context

Classroom Activities

Using Games in the Classroom

Value Lines Help Students Examine Both Sides of an Issue

Focused Listing

Critical Thinking 

Building Critical Thinking Skills with a Pro-Con-Caveat Grid

Developing Critical Thinking with Journal Writing

Lectures and Presentations

Make Your PowerPoint Memorable With Images

On the Use and Abuse of Lecture

To Post or Not to Post: What Are the Consequences of Posting PowerPoint Slides for Student Learning?

Academic Integrity and Plagiarism

Personalize Plagiarism to Prevent its Practice

Five Tips to Reduce Cheating

Turnitin is now available within Blackboard

Using SafeAssign as a Teaching Tool

Help Students Develop Paraphrasing Skills to Deter Plagiarism

Grading and Student Feedback

Grade Mechanics Quickly, While Helping Students Learn

Tips for Gathering and Responding to Student Feedback

Grading, Like It or Not!

Weekly Teaching Notes: 2010-2011 index

Author: francine_glazer

Apr 25, 2012

Personalize Plagiarism to Prevent its Practice

Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards. 

– Vernon Sanders Law, former major league baseball player (Pittsburgh Pirates)


Strong emotions help cement an experience into long-term memory. Not convinced? Think back – where were you when …

  • The first man landed on the moon?
  • A prominent political figure in your country was shot?
  • You first learned of the events of 9/11/2001?
  • You celebrated an important milestone?


We can use this phenomenon to help our students learn certain key concepts more deeply. For example, let’s look at how Deborah Zarker Miller, an assistant professor of English at Anderson University, makes plagiarism very personal to her students.


First, ask your students to create an original work that is in some way related to your course, and tell them they will each have 60 seconds to present their creation to the class. A student in Foundations of Inquiry might create a brief video or write a short essay elaborating on one of the disciplines introduced in that course; a student in Interior Design might create a montage of sustainable materials; a student in Life Sciences might build a 3-dimensional model to represent a structure in the cell; a student in Engineering might create a schematic for a new, energy-efficient vehicle.


At the next class, after each student presents his or her work, let the students wander around and examine them more closely. Most likely, you will see a range of creativity – and of effort – in the projects. Tell the students to identify the work they find the most creative by standing next to it. Some students will choose their own work, but other students will likely choose someone else’s.


Once everyone has made a choice, tell the students to cross out the name of the person who created the project they are standing by, and to write in their own names instead. Inform them that you will give credit to the student(s) who have identified that work as most creative, not to the student who produced it. Wait for your announcement to sink in, and then ask if there are any questions. As the discussion evolves, the students will begin to realize the connection between what has just happened and plagiarism. Perhaps experiencing plagiarism from “the other side” will make a deeper, longer-lasting impact. 



  • Ambrose, S. A., Bridges, M. W., DiPietro, M., Lovett, M. C., and Norman, M. K. (2010). How Learning Works: Seven Research-Based Principles for Smart Teaching (The Jossey-Bass Higher and Adult Education Series). Jossey-Bass, 1 edition.
  • Bransford, J. D., Brown, A. L., and Cocking, R. R. (2000). How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School: Expanded Edition. National Academies Press, 2 edition.
  • Miller, Deborah Zarker. (2012). A Lesson in Academic Integrity as Students Feel the Injustice of Plagiarism. Faculty Focus. Retrieved 4/24/2012 from
  • Zull, J. E. (2002). The Art of Changing the Brain: Enriching the Practice of Teaching by Exploring the Biology of Learning. Stylus Publishing, 1 edition.

To follow up on any of these ideas, please contact me at The activity created by Deborah Zarker Miller was used with permission.


Author: francine_glazer

Apr 18, 2012

Five Tips to Reduce Cheating

  • Clearly articulate your expectations for the class and for EACH INDIVIDUAL ASSIGNMENT. Can students work with others on their homework assignments? Can they use old exams, lab reports, etc. as aids in the course? If they work in teams in lab, can they work together on the write-up?
  • Explicitly link assignments to the student learning outcomes of the course. Students often cheat on assignments that they see as meaningless or“busy-work.” If they understand the point of the assignment, especially how it will help them learn the material, they are more likely to push through it on their own rather than copy from someone else.
  • Reduce temptations to cheating. We cannot control student behavior, but we can at least show them that we care about the integrity of our classes by doing little things. For example, space students out during exams, provide multiple versions of the same test, require students to leave all non-essential materials at the front of the room, and have theWiFi turned off in the test room.
  • Discuss the relationship of academic integrity to professional ethics and students’ future chosen careers. Students are more likely to uphold integrity in academic assignments if they see it as holding more value, as opposed to it just being “another institutional rule.”
Report all cheating when you see it, rather than ignore it or handle it on your own. A professor can become known as someone who does not tolerate cheating or look the other way, and then the cheaters will not choose her class!
Many professors mistakenly assume that they can reduce cheating on their own, but it takes the entire campus. If instructors do not report cheating to the department chair and to the campus dean of students, that same student may be cheating in other courses and no one would ever know!
  • Davis, S. F., Drinan, P. F. & Gallant, T. B. (2009). Cheating in School: What We Know and What We Can Do. London, Wiley-Blackwell.
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 sponsored by Western Kentucky University.
Barbara Millis
Teaching and Learning Center
University of Texas at San Antonio

Author: francine_glazer

Apr 10, 2012

Using Games in the Classroom

Are you looking for a way to try something new in your class, review material, encourage participation, or simply break up lecture with an activity? Consider incorporating games in your academic classes and involving your students actively in the learning process. 

Benefits of Using Games:
  • Involves students in active learning
  • Enlivens rote memorization
  • Can encourage students to draw on analysis, synthesis, evaluation
  • Can increase student motivation
  • Leverages a common experience among students
  • Provides intrinsic rewards
  • Can foster a more positive attitude toward the classroom experience – more attention, better attendance, better participation
  • Can improve retention, decision-making skills, and comprehension of general principles
  • Can encourage cooperation
Tips for Incorporating Games:
  • Define your educational objectives
  • Keep the games challenging, but not frustrating
  • Provide opportunities for success and positive reinforcement
  • Maintain a combination of knowledge and luck
  • Cooperative teams can be beneficial
  • Be sure to debrief afterwards
  • Try incorporating some student generated questions

Downloadable Templates:

  • Millis, B.J. and Cottell, P.G. (1998). Cooperative learning for higher education faculty. Phoenix, AZ: Oryx Press.
  • Jones, K. (1997). Games and simulations made easy: Practical tips to improve learning through gaming. London: Kogan Page Ltd.
  • Rosato, J.L. (1995). All I ever needed to know about teaching law school I learned teaching kindergarten: Introducing gaming techniques into the law school classroom. Journal of Legal Education 45 (4), pp. 568 – 581.
  • Sarason, Y. and Banbury, C. (2004). Active learning facilitated by using a game-show format, or who doesn’t want to be a millionaire? Journal of Management Education 28 (4), pp. 509 – 518.

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 sponsored by Western Kentucky University.

Micah Meixner Logan, D.M.A.
TEACH Program Consultant
Teaching, Learning, and Technology Center
Texas Tech University

Author: francine_glazer

Apr 03, 2012

Value Lines Help Students Examine Both Sides of an Issue

A Value Line ascertains students' opinions in a quick and visual way by asking them to line up according to how strongly they agree or disagree with a statement or proposition. For example, instructors may ask students to respond to the following statements:

  • Standardized tests are the best way to screen large numbers of students for college admissions. (Behavioral Sciences; Social Sciences; Education)
  • Fracking poses no health risks whatsoever. (Engineering; Healthcare)
  • The International Monetary Fund made the correct decision when in bailing out Greece. (Economics; Finance)
  • It is not necessary to label genetically-modified foods. (Ethics; Life Sciences; Healthcare) 
  • It’s essential to answer every question a patient has, even if they are taking an excessive amount of your time. (Ethics; Healthcare)

Clear instructions reinforced by visual aids are particularly important for implementation of a Value Line because many students are unaccustomed to active learning that involves active movement.

To initiate the structure, teachers should show the students the statement plus a five point Likert scale with the endpoints labeled “strongly agree” and “strongly disagree.” They then ask students, after a moment of "think time," to choose the number that best describes their position on the issue.

Another approach might be to have students select numbers based on their proficiency or comfort level with specific topics or skills, such as preparing and giving oral presentations.

To avoid indecisiveness, it is a good idea to have the students jot down theirnumber before the next step. Instructors next ask students who have chosen "one" to stand at a designated point along the wall of the room. The students who have chosen "two" follow them, and so forth until all students are lined up. It is important to stretch the line sufficiently so that students are not bunched together in large clumps.

After the students have formed a continuous line based on their responses to the prompt, form heterogeneous groups. Here’s an easy way to do that. First, divide the number of students in the class by the number of students you want in each group. Then, have the students count off by that number, and sort themselves into groups accordingly. For example, if I have 40 students in my class andwant them to work in groups of 4, I ask them to count to 10, starting at oneend of the line, and ask the 11th student to begin again at 1. Any students coming late to class join a team as an additional member.

Pairing students of opposing viewpoints allows them to stretch their perspectives and to learn to examine at least two sides of an issue.

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 sponsored by Western Kentucky University.

Barbara Millis
Teaching and Learning Center
University of Texas at San Antonio

Author: francine_glazer

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Gabriel Sunshine Gabriel Sunshine, Ph.D.
Department: Physics
Campus: Old Westbury
Shanice Jeni Branch Shanice Jeni Branch
Campus: Old Westbury
Major: Communication Arts, B.F.A./M.A.
Class Of: 2017
Trish Hannon (M.B.A. ‘06) Trish Hannon
Class of 2006
Profession: Chief operating officer for Baystate Medical Center and senior vice president for operations at Baystate Health