Tag Archives: classroom behavior

What To Do When Lesson Plans Blow Up

To show the students in my first-year seminar that nonhuman technologies are used to control humans everywhere on our campus, I constructed a lesson plan that included having students go on a scavenger hunt. I gave each team a sheet of paper on which to list every example they found and read more

Talk Less, Teach More. But How?

“Talk less, teach more” sums up the mantra of the active learning approach to pedagogy. But how can you do that? I have four suggestions.

First, if you ask students a question, listen to their answers. We all know the research showing that most instructors wait two seconds or less before answering their own questions. Don’t do that! Ask a question, count to 10 silently, and if no one has responded, ask the question again. Still no response? Paraphrase the question and ask it one read more

Not “the muddiest point” but “the clearest point”

Several books on college teaching recommend using a classroom assessment technique (CAT) in which instructors ask students to reflect on what they’ve done that day and then write about something that still puzzles them – – the so-called “muddiest point.” For example, Angelo and Cross, in their classic book on Classroom Assessment Techniques, argued that the technique forces students read more

Ask, Don’t Tell

During a recent class, after hearing presentations by my students, I considered doing a summary evaluation myself. I had made notes on what I’d observed, organized them, and had a few points I wanted to make. I rose to go to the whiteboard, prepared to jot them down and then tell the students what I thought I’d learned.

But then I stopped.

Harvey Littleton

Harvey Littleton glass sculpture (Courtesy of Steven P. Aldrich)

Why tell them anything? They had done the preparation for the presentations. They had sat through all of them. Each presentation was between 10 and 15 minutes read more

Setting Assignment Due Dates: Early, Late, or In-Between?

Students often complain that they can’t get enough sleep because they have too much work to do (Hershner and Chervin 2014). My first response has been to suggest that they are just not managing their time well. I seemed to have found evidence for my view when I taught a first-year honors seminar in the fall of 2016 with 24 students. Because I had the students submit their assignments through Sakai, each two-page paper came with read more

Guidelines for Reducing Implicit Bias in Your Grading

Kyoto Garden

Garden in Kyoto

When asked what they most dislike about teaching, many instructors put grading at the top of the list. They find the process time consuming and stressful, topped off by demands from students that their assessments be logically justified. Of course, this feeling is the same for the students themselves. Although we hate  grading, students also hate writing these assignments and essays.  Who hasn’t found themselves in a situation of confronting a student who feels treated unfairly in the read more

The Sound of Silence Can Be Deafening & the Questions You Ask Your Students Can Provoke It

A colleague recently visited my office with a problem. He said the students in his undergraduate class “didn’t want to talk.” He and I had previously talked about how to get students more engaged, and I had suggested to him that he ask questions. I probed, “what kinds of questions have you asked your students?” He replied, “Well, the first question I asked this morning was ‘what is the main point of the article I assigned for the day?’” Nobody said anything.

Instructor pointing at student

You WILL answer my question!

I pointed out that read more

Why Students Need Milestones & Small Wins

In my first year honors seminar, 5% of the grade is earned by making five posts on a webpage Forum. I added this to the course because I was searching for a way to keep the students engaged between class meetings. I invited students to comment on the readings, posts from other students, and anything else relevant to the course theme. I tried to reinforce their postings by commenting on those that I thought were particularly insightful. By mid-semester, I noticed that only about half the students read more

Teaching a class? Be the 1st to arrive

When I leave my office and head for class, I’ve noticed that my step quickens noticeably. I feel excited about the class I’m about to teach and eager to share with the students what I’ve learned about the day’s topic. However, I also walk briskly because I want to arrive in the classroom before my students do. My goal is always to be the first to arrive so that I’m there to greet the students as they enter. This may seem like a minor detail in the greater scheme of read more

Assignments: better late than never?

A few days ago, a colleague came to me for teaching advice. On his syllabus, he had written that he did not accept late assignments. One of the students, a young woman who was struggling in the class, had turned in a paper that was woefully incomplete and he told her that it did not meet the assignment requirements. However, rather than rejecting it outright, he took account of her struggles and accepted that she hadn’t decided to read more