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Sep 14, 2011

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

What evidence exists about the impact of giving students a handout of the power point slides before or during class? Do instructors who proved the slides as handouts free students from the multi-tasking associated with copying information from the slides and allow them to concentrate on listening to the presentation and class discussion? Or does having a copy of the slides encourage students to skip class, allow them to surf the web during class, or otherwise disengage?

The study:
Marsh and Sink (2010) examined the content of notes students took during classes in two different conditions—when they had an advance copy of the presentation slides or when they only had blank paper for taking notes. Marsh and Sink also examined student performance on several types of course exams(multiple choice questions, short answer questions, free recall essays).

The findings:
Although students took more notes when they did not have copies of the presentation slides, the notes they took consisted primarily of verbatim copies of the content of the slides presented during class. Both groups recorded additional information from the lecture and discussion that had not been included on the slides, but both groups of students recorded this additional information at equal rates.

What were the consequences for learning? Students who received a copy of the slides as handouts before attending the lecture performed better than students who took notes and received the slide handouts later when both groups were tested with short-answer questions. The groups performed equivalently on other types of questions. Thus, student’s claims that having a copy of the slides in advance helps them focus on the meaning of the lecture by reducing the time they spend recording specific slide content appears to be supported by evidence.

The recommendation:
If you decide to post slides in advance, consider posting a bare-bones variant of the slides you plan to use in class, or even a simple outline of the main points plus a list of terminology. This handout will support note-taking without providing all the detail that might be included on class slides. This strategy creates an incentive to attend class, provides a structure for organizing the notes, and forces students to attend to details included in the class slides and your presentation as they add these details to the notes on their handouts.

  • Marsh, E. J., & Sink, H. E. (2010). Access to handouts of presentation slides during lecture: Consequences for learning, Applied Cognitive Psychology, 24, 691-706. doi: 10.1002/acp.1579

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.

Claudia J. Stanny, Ph.D., Director
Center for University Teaching, Learning, and Assessment
University of West Florida
Pensacola, FL

Author: francine_glazer

Sep 07, 2011

Engage Students in Your Course by Providing a Larger Context


Students enroll in courses for many reasons, some intrinsic, some extrinsic. They might be curious about a topic or discipline. They might have heard positive comments about an instructor from other students. Or the course might be required, either for all majors in a discipline (or relateddiscipline) or as an option to meet a graduation requirement.
Students who register for a course for intrinsic reasons arrive on the first day excited and motivated to engage in the course. Students who register primarily because a course satisfies a requirement might be resistant to engaging in the course. How can we engage and motivate students who are ambivalent about the course?
Students often select a major without fully understanding the breadth of the field. Sometimes, students regard required courses as obstacles, without recognizing the relevance of the knowledge and skills acquired in those courses to their future careers. The first day of class is a good opportunity to place the course in the context of the major and clarify the importance of the learning outcomes associated with that course for development of professional skills in the discipline.
Courses that function as service courses to a variety of majors may present additional challenges. It can be helpful to learn the intended careers of your students, and to use that information when selecting specific examples to discuss in class. Including applications that are relevant to the future careers of your students will add variety to the course content and will help keep your students engaged throughout the term.
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.

Claudia J. Stanny, Ph.D., Director
Center for University Teaching, Learning, and Assessment
University of West Florida

Author: francine_glazer

May 09, 2011

Weekly Teaching Notes: 2010-2011 index


Below is a list of all the Weekly Teaching Notes from the 2010-2011 academic year, with direct links to each one. If you’d like to explore any of these topics in more detail, please contact Fran Glazer at the Center for Teaching and Learning.
Starting the semester:
Semester Beginnings
Setting the Tone for Your Class: Guiding Students Toward Effective Study Strategies
Newsletter Format for a Course Syllabus
Encouraging Student Attendance
Course design:
Balancing Flexibility and Fairness through Course Design
How Experts Differ From Novices
Importance of Students’ Prior Knowledge
Brief Hybrids: A Small Step Towards Integrating Technology
Do No Harm: A Dose of SoTL
Learning by Writing
Sample Writing Assignment for an Introductory Science Course
Helping Students Write Better in all Courses
Teaching Writing in the Disciplines
Visual and Media Literacy:
Visual Literacy: What do you See?
Media Literacy
Seven Principles for Developing Assignments and Providing Good Feedback
Evaluating Students on Class Participation
Using Concept Maps
Using Quotations to Prime Class Discussions
Developing Creative Classrooms
Student teams:
Working With Student Teams: Structured Problem Solving
Working With Student Teams: Send-a-Problem
Successful Strategies for Teams: Team Member Handbook
Team Teach with a Student
Tips for Group Work
Wrapping things up:
Simple Stress Relief
Recall, Summarize, Question, Connect, Comment (RSQC2)
The Last Day of Class

Author: francine_glazer

May 04, 2011

Recall, Summarize, Question, Connect, Comment (RSQC2)

As the semester nears its end, it’s useful to have the students review what they’ve learned as a way to help them integrate all the topics. It’s also useful to us to gather information on which parts of the course might require revision over the summer. Here’s an activity that you can use for both these purposes. It can be completed in or out of class and can be a great way to generate discussion in an online or blended course.

This activity will help you look back over the semester, reflect on the course, identify the four or five most important points you have learned, and tie them together. It is similar to the Take-Home Lessons activity, but slightly more structured. By completing this activity, you will:

  • reinforce and synthesize the material covered.
  • personalize the material, adapting it to your own specific needs.
  • gain a multitude of perspectives on the unit's subject and how it could be useful to you.
  • provide insights to the instructor to understand what parts of the course have been effective and what may need to be taught in more depth the next time.


1.    Recall: Make a list - in words or simple phrases - of what YOU recall as the most important, useful, or meaningful items you've learned this semester. Choose three to five main points from your list and rank them in order of importance.
2.    Summarize: Summarize the ranked items in your list into one summary sentence that captures the essence of the course.
3.    Question: Write one or two questions that still remain unanswered.
4.    Connect: Explain in one or two sentences the connection(s) between your summary and the major goals of the entire course. (You may want to look back at the course goals and the student learning outcomes as listed on the syllabus to complete this section.)
5.    Comment: Write an evaluative comment or two about the course. Here are a few possible comment stems you can use as starting points: "What I enjoyed most/least was..." or "What I found most/least useful was..." or "During most of the course, I felt..."

If the course is online or blended, you can add the following two steps:
6.    Post your completed RSQC2 activity to the appropriate forum on the Discussion Board.
7.    Respond to at least two of your classmates' posts.


  • Angelo. T. A. and Cross K. P. (1993). Classroom Assessment Techniques: A Handbook for College Teachers, 2nd ed. Jossey-Bass.
  • Bransford, J. D., Brown, A. L., & Cocking, R. R. (Eds.). (2000). How people learn: Brain, mind, experience, and school. Commission on Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education National Research Council. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.

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.

Francine Glazer, PhD
Assistant Provost and Director,
Center for Teaching and Learning
New York Institute of Technology 

Author: francine_glazer

Apr 27, 2011

Developing Creative Classrooms

When IBM’s Institute for Business Value recently (2010) surveyed 1500 chief executives to find out the qualities CEOs value most in today’s business marketplace, the quality that rose to the top of the list was not dedication, a sense of humor, or technical expertise. Creativity is seen as the skill that helps businesses respond to changing customer relationships and operational problems.  In A Whole New Mind (2006), Daniel Pink emphasizes creativity as the basis for workers adept at what he calls “high touch” and “high concept,” and concludes that right-brained people will rule the world of the future. In The Creative Workforce (2008), Erica McWilliam stresses the same skill as the cornerstone of a twenty-first century education.
Yet even as the evidence mounts as to the importance of creativity, we see gifted programs cut from public schools and creativity not a showcased part of college curriculums.  Creativity must be seen on a par with those other skills businesses claim they need colleges to be teaching—i.e., team work, critical thinking, and communication (identified in a 2007 AACU survey as the big three). Interestingly, even the influential Foundation for Critical Thinking has started linking critical and creative thinking as part of the same process.
How many of you have creativity listed on your syllabus as a student learning outcome? If you have, do you intentionally teach creative thinking?  Have you thought of how to assess creative thinking in your field?  Obviously, in recent years business has jumped aboard the creativity bandwagon traditionally driven by the arts and humanities, but what about the sciences, health, education, and so on?  Every field needs creativity, and it has a place in every field.
In “Kubla Khan,” Coleridge compares the creative thinker to a demon. In “A Midsummer’s Night Dream,” Shakespeare notes the similarity between the poet and the madman.  The point is that most of us are afraid of the unknown, and sometimes college professors develop creativity-phobia.  The greatest enemy to fear is knowledge.  We are going to have to start to learn and teach creativity in the college classrooms.
Practically speaking, to teach creativity, you need to model it.  You must also turn your classroom into a creative hothouse.  And you must learn some simple process techniques, such as brainstorming, piggybacking, and perception shift.
Start with the basics.  You need to adapt the definition of creativity to your field.  The two key ingredients of creativity are novelty (it must be innovative) and usefulness (it must serve some purpose, solve some problem).  Most experts break creativity down into four categories (mnemonically recalled by the alliterative “P”):

  • Product (an invention)
  • Person (characteristics of a creative mind)
  • Process (steps to creativity that can be taught)
  • Press (environment)

“Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes,” claims Scott Adams of Dilbert fame.  In so pronouncing, Adams suggests the biggest change we can make to our classrooms—we can allow our students to take risks.  But before they do, we have to.

  • AAC&U. (2007). College Learning for the New Global Century. Accessed 4/24/2011 at   
  • Azzam, A. (2009). Why Creativity Now? A Conversation with Sir Ken Robinson. Educational Leadership 67(1): 22-26.
  • Coleridge, Samuel Taylor. (1816). Christabel, Kubla Khan, and the Pains of Sleep.
  • “Growing Creativity” Iowa State University Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching, accessed 4/24/2011 at   
  • IBM. (2010). Capitalizing on Complexity: Insights from the 2010 IBM Global CEO Study. Accessed 4/24/2011 at   
  • McWilliam, E. (2008). The Creative Workforce: How to Launch Young People into High-Flying Futures. University of New South Wales Press.
  • Paul, R. (2008). Thinker's Guide to the Nature and Functions of Critical & Creative Thinking. Foundation for Critical Thinking, 1 edition.
  • Pink, D. H. (2006). A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future. Riverhead Trade.
  • Shakespeare, William. A Midsummer Night's Dream – Act 5, Scene 1. Lines: 3-23.

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.

Hal Blythe and Charlie Sweet
Teaching and Learning Center
Eastern Kentucky University

Author: francine_glazer

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Karen Vahey Karen Vahey
Dean, Admissions and Financial Aid
Office: Enrollment
Campus: Old Westbury
Nancy Magrini (B.F.A. ‘80) Nancy Magrini
Class of 1980
Profession: Account Executive at Waldner’s Business Environments
Kristina Rozelle Kristina Rozelle
Campus: Old Westbury
Major: Interdisciplinary Studies, B.S.
Class Of: 2014