Blog Archive

David Yates, from the Department of Business Information & Analytics in the Daniels College of Business, shares the results of his recent OneNewThing Mini-Grant from the OTL.

What were you trying to change or solve?Yates_ONT

Optimization Modeling (INFO 3440) is a business information and analytics class that teaches students a variety of techniques and models to optimize some desired outcome.  Because the course is so focused on methods, it is sometimes hard for students to conceptualize the ‘why’ we would optimize (e.g., what problems does it help us solve) as opposed to the ‘how’ we optimize (e.g. the various techniques and software applications used in optimization).

In Facilitating Seven Ways of Learning, Davis and Arend (2013) explain different ways of learning, some of which I felt were missing from my class.  As a result, students had few opportunities to reinforce the ‘why’ optimize, making their conceptualization harder even as I tried to explain the methods more vigorously.

What did you do?

I created a series of five optimization challenges that I termed the “Optimization Pentathlon.”  These were small group competitions that had each student group competing to obtain the ‘best’ answer.  In the end, however, the only way to achieve the best answer was to apply an optimization technique – thus students gave the problems a try themselves, learned how hard they were, and then learned how to use the optimization techniques.  The five events were:

#1: ‘The Monument’: Using a series of clues gathered via campus scavenger hunt and put into a computer program, solve a puzzle that indicates the name of a famous monument.  Students had to decide how to optimally use their group members – should they all stick together, send runners, dedicate someone to the computer program, ???

#2: ‘The M&M Challenge’: Some group members are assigned a quantity of three different colors of M&M candies.  Using a reward and penalty system the group must quickly figure out the optimal way to exchange M&Ms with other group members that incurs the smallest total penalty.

#3: ‘Who’s Favorite Candy’: Fifteen faculty and staff members ranked fifteen different candy bars in order of their individual preference.  The groups’ task was to assign each faculty and staff member a specific candy bar such that the overall preference was maximized and each candy bar and each faculty staff member was assigned only once.  But what happens when everyone wants a Snickers??

#4: ‘The Tale of Two Churros’: Given a map with the location of twenty campus buildings (pictured above), where would be the optimal location to place two churro stands on campus so that the distance between every building and either churro stand was as small as possible?

#5: ‘Kevin Bacon and Two Friends’: A riff on the ‘Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon’ game, groups were tasked to pick two actors and identify as many possible links between the two actors and Kevin Bacon, with bonus points for identifying actors that linked all three together.  But who to pick given so many different actors to choose from??

How did it go, and what did you learn?

In an exit survey, the students reported that they found the events to be engaging, enjoyable, challenging and useful.  More importantly, (as hoped) the students recognized the challenges were an alternative method of learning which helped to make the optimization modeling techniques more accessible and representative of tangible, real-world problems.  The challenge aspect of the events made students take the activities more seriously.  I learned that students found the tasks confusing at times.  The tasks were designed that way so students would think critically about what they were doing, yet a good lesson learned was to make the tasks challenging yet spend more time explaining them before commencing.

Overall, the challenges were a great way to make the material relevant and help students conceptualize why optimization is valuable. The challenges involved a different learning technique which appealed to many students, and best of all they were fun and got the students out of their seats and solving problems as a group.

By the way – the best place to put two Churro stands?  According to our model, we would place them in Sturm Hall and Olin Hall!

Robin_CareyRobin Carey from the Morgridge College of Education facilitated a Faculty Showcase demonstrating a Personalized Learning approach. As Robin notes, personalized learning is not just giving students a textbook and saying “have at it!” but rather is a structured approach that allows a learning experience to be most applicable to each students’ individual settings and roles. It is designed to keep the learner at the center of their learning.

Robin began the session by asking participants to think about their own goals for learning in this session and what we would need to do to achieve those goals, modeling how she uses this approach with students. Robin tried out this approach as part of a OneNewThing OTL mini grant, and in this session she shared her structure and some of the student responses from her recent class.

Robin’s approach included:

  • Beginning the class with goal setting – What you do need to get out of this class? What are you most looking forward to? What do you anticipate will be most difficult?
  • Revisiting the goals in week 3 – Along with, What else is piquing your interest?
  • Revisiting the goals in week 5 and 7 – Also asking, What is changing for you? What do you wish to explore further?
  • Finishing the class with a final reflection of each student’s course goals –  Did your goals evolve or change? Did you meet your goals? What are your next steps?

In Robin’s class students posted their reflections in Canvas and were not required to read or respond to each other, yet she found students were interacting with each other, sharing common interests, providing additional thoughts and musings. In future classes she is considering bringing more of this discussion into the class sessions themselves to highlight the importance of the goal setting process and reflection, and to further support the community of learners.

She also described how the role of the instructor is analogous to “setting the banks in the river” of learning. There are many ways to navigate the river in between those banks, and personalized learning allows students to make their own path. The instructor’s role is to keep the students moving along and setting the boundaries, rather than dictating the exact path.

This approach makes sense for the graduate students in her Curriculum for Gifted Learners class, as one approach for gifted learners is “removing the ceiling” so as not to limit how high a learner can go in their learning. Yet, in response to questions during this session, she shared that this approach may be difficult but even more impactful with undergraduate students in required courses, allowing them to connect seemingly abstract content to their own lives and goals.

PaulMichalec-150x150-e1425592814348A recent OTL faculty showcase featured Paul Michalec, Clinical Professor in the Morgridge College of Education and recipient of DU’s 2014-15 Distinguished Teaching Professor Award.

Paul chose the theme Classrooms as Sacred Spaces to engage the audience in a discussion about how we might think about the ways we treat the learning spaces and environments in which we teach. He discussed the elements of sacred spaces in religious and spiritual contexts (mosques, synagogues, churches, etc.) and challenged us to find similarities with the classroom space while honoring the secular ideal of learning in higher education.

Many of the similarities seemed to really resonate with those in attendance. For example, exploring a relationship to something greater than oneself, the need for silence and deep listening, and respect for diverse ways of knowing. The group also discussed the need for a transitional area or time as one enters a sacred space. In the classroom this could be done in many ways, including simply taking a few moments to calmly recenter students around the learning at hand or to read an inspirational quote to center everyone, including the professor, around the learning potential in the upcoming class.

The discussion also centered around the idea that sacred spaces embody rituals, practices, and traditions. How do we honor and respect the traditions and practices of teaching, and how can we best help students understand and know how engage in the unique practices in our classrooms? Each classroom is different, and especially as we move towards new ways of teaching, we may need to give extra attention to helping students understand and appreciate our rituals which often means being explicit in our norms and expectations.

Paul shared many of his own classroom practices, including starting class with a relevant poem to encourage reflection (as he did in this session by reading a poem Two Kinds of Intelligence by Rumi). In his classes, he sets the norm that every person is an asset to the class. Sometimes an idea or some logic needs correcting, but the focus should be on the thinking and expanding knowledge rather than criticizing the person, this helps avoid the temptation to save the person as if they are broken and in need of fixing.

Paul’s philosophy about teaching is not about filling empty vessels with his knowledge, but rather calling out the learning that is inside everyone, which he illustrated through this thoughtful faculty showcase session.

 

A recording of this session is available upon request, contact bridget.arend@du.edu

Research on active learning points to the value of engaging students in in-class discussion, group problem-solving and application.  A recently-published  paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reported on a meta-analysis of 225 studies comparing STEM classes taught through various active learning approaches with classes taught via lecture.  Researchers found that across these studies “the average exam scores improved by about 6% in active learning sessions” and “students in classes with traditional lecturing were 1.5 times more likely to fail than were students in classes with active learning.”

Yet, what does active learning look like in the classroom?  Dr. Barbekka Hurtt, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, incorporates active learning into her non-majors biology class to help students apply what they are learning and see its value in their own lives.  Check out the video below to see Barbekka’s students engaging in active learning, and to hear Barbekka talk about why she likes to have her students learn this way, what the challenges are, and what she’s learned through the experience.

Active Learning with Professor Barbekka Hurtt

Our recent Faculty Showcase featured Julie Morris from the Department of Biology. The showcase was held in Sturm 134, DUIMG_6084‘s new “flat classroom.” Unlike larger classrooms that are typically built amphitheater-style, Sturm 134 was created specifically to support classes with larger enrollments that utilize active learning methods. The room seats up to 80 students and contains multiple screens, multiple whiteboards, and movable tables.

Julie began the session by giving those in attendance a small group activity, modeling what she often does with her intro-level biology classes. Participants gathered around whiteboards to brainstorm the benefits and challenges of active learning and then rotated to a different whiteboard to provide feedback to the responses of a different group.

She showed some of the activities she uses with students: “connect the concepts” terminology activities, learning journals that guide students through their study time, mini-lectures, and group quizzes.

Julie teaches two 80-student sections of a 3-quarter science sequence for non-science majors.  She admits that over the years she has created a “sales pitch,” not only to get students to understand the rationale for learning about biology, but also for learning through active, non-lecture methods. She feels this has been worth it. Students from previous year’s classes have been willing to come back to share how this class has taught them the importance of knowing about science, and learning for understanding and long-term retention rather than memorizing for the exam and immediately forgetting.

Be sure to join us for future Faculty Showcase sessions!

Nancy Sasaki and participants at past faculty showcaseThe Faculty Showcase Series is designed to share best practice in teaching among the DU faculty. Each showcase will feature innovative and effective teaching methods and concrete examples here at DU, while also providing a forum for the presenters to gain feedback on challenging and/or new practices.

Each session is an informal hour-long brown bag lunch session held in the OTL Conference Room (Anderson Academic Commons 345). Bring your lunch, the OTL will provide dessert!

Upcoming Faculty Showcase

October 25, 2017 | 12:00 PM-1:00 PM
Experiential Learning in the Classroom
Julie Anne Laser-Maira, GSSW
Experiential learning is a high-impact educational practice through which learners construct knowledge, skill, & value from direct experience. In this faculty showcase, Julie Anne Laser-Maira from the Graduate School of Social Work (GSSW), will share how she integrates experiential learning into her classroom. Julie will explain how and why she uses this approach and provide examples of learning activities that require students to take an active, hands-on approach to learning new content.

Register

Recent Faculty Showcases

October 4, 2017 | 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM
Transformational Teaching and Learning: Turning Ordinary Classrooms into the Extraordinary
Bruce Uhrmacher, Morgridge College of Education
Paula Adamo,
Department of Languages and Literatures

Based on John Dewey’s ideas on aesthetics as well as our own empirical research, we suggest that classroom teaching can be enhanced to turn ordinary classroom experiences into extraordinary ones. Instructors do not need to completely revolutionize their teaching; lectures as well as experiential learning activities can be taught in notable ways in any classroom. In this showcase, we share what can be done to amplify and transform classroom teaching.

April 5, 2017 | 12:00 PM- 1:00 PM
Mindful Moments in the Classroom: Creating Space for Awareness and Reflection
Kara Traikoff, Department of Languages and Literatures
Certified Yoga and Mindful Meditation Instructor
This faculty showcase, featuring Kara Traikoff from the Dept of Languages and Literatures, will explore the use of mindfulness activities in the classroom. Opening with an introduction to mindfulness practices, the session will then discuss the benefits of incorporating these practices into any higher education course, and present experiential examples of how to do so. The practices are meant as a supplement to enhance and deepen student learning, connection, and retention through a focus on present moment awareness.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017 | 12:00 PM- 1:00 PM
Teaching for Transfer: Shifting from What to How
Kara Taczak, Denver Writing Program
Co-author of Writing Across Contexts 
Writing, as a high-impact practice, supports student success as students writes (s/b write?) both in and out of school in various contexts and for various audiences. To help prepare students to effectively respond to these different writing situations, they need to have a vocabulary by which they understand what the writing situation is asking of them so that they know how to frame (and reframe) their response. The Teaching for Transfer (TFT) model helps students understand which knowledge to reference and which practices to employ in every writing situation. Teaching for Transfer, an innovative writing curriculum designed specifically to support students’ transfer of writing knowledge and practice into multiple sites of writing, relies on three interlocking components: key terms; systematic reflection; and students’ development of a Theory of Writing they use to frame new writing tasks. This presentation will discuss research findings supporting the TFT model and outline its pedagogical approach, including various adaptations for different academic writing contexts.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017 | 12:00 PM- 1:00 PM
Experiential Learning and Public Speaking: Using a TED Type Talk to Teach Public Speaking
Ann Vessels, Sturm College of Law
Ann Vessels teaches the Semester in Practice Seminar at the Sturm College of Law, a seminar that focuses on professional identity and public speaking for students who are working full time in the field. Public speaking is critical for all lawyers (and for students entering just about any field), and after many years of trying out various methods, Ann has found TED type talks to be a very successful means of teaching public speaking and bringing out the learning of students’ experiences. In this Faculty Showcase, Ann will share how she prepares students for the TED type talk, the assignment, and how the talks live on after the class through videos students use when interviewing.

Wednesday, January 18th, 2017 | 12:00pm to 1:00pm
Clickers in Large Classes: Dynamic learning and live assessment
Erika Trigoso Rubio, Department of Geography
Peer instruction devices (clickers) are a great tool to engage large classrooms providing live feedback on the understanding of discussed topics. This faculty showcase will focus on the use of clicker devices as a way of immediate assessment that allows the instructor to identify the concepts that are clear to the students right after explaining those as well and also detecting more challenging concepts and ideas that may need more attention. This showcase presents the results of a classroom project recipient of a One New Thing grant from the Office of Teaching and Learning (OTL). The project involved the improvement of clicker questions (Turning Technologies) for both Global Environmental Change and E-Systems classes. These are large core curriculum classes. The showcase will focus on the transition between static and descriptive clicker questions to more dynamic and active inquiries that help engage a large number of students.

Fall 2016 Faculty Showcase Schedule

Thursday, Novemeber 10, 2016|1:00pm-2:00pm
Incorporating Tableau in the Business Forecasting and Visualization Curriculum
Karen Xie, Knoebel School of Hospitality Management & Daniels College of Business
Tableau is a trendy and powerful software tool for business forecasting and visualization.  In this showcase, Karen Xie, will discuss how Tableau is transforming the way students learn visualization and forecasting in her data analytics courses.  She will share lecture materials that help students quickly pick up forecasting and visualization concepts and solve business problems using Tableau. Karen will also discuss her well-received data analytics course projects of using Tableau and other tools such as STATA and Excel to tell stories with business data and to conduct purposeful analytics presentations.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016|12:00pm-1:00 pm
Transformational Teaching and Learning: Turning Ordinary Classrooms into the Extraordinary
Bruce Uhrmacher, Morgridge College of Education
Paula Adamo,
Department of Languages and Literatures

Based on John Dewey’s ideas on aesthetics as well as our own empirical research, we suggest that classroom teaching can be enhanced to turn ordinary classroom experiences into extraordinary ones. Instructors do not need to completely revolutionize their teaching; lectures as well as experiential learning activities can be taught in notable ways in any classroom. In this showcase, we share what can be done to amplify and transform classroom teaching.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016 | 12:00pm-1:00 pm
Learn and Help Learn: Cooperative Peer Learning Opportunities in the Classroom
Nancy Sasaki, Department of Biological Sciences
The use of peer instruction is at the heart of learning in both testing and quizzing in Nancy’s non-major’s biology course where argumentation is used to help students’ clarify their learning and understanding of class concepts. In this showcase, Nancy will explain why she uses group exams and cheat quizzes and asks her students to “cheat” off their friends to receive full credit.

Learn More

Winter and Spring 2016 Faculty Showcases

Thursday, May 19, 2016|12:30-1:30 pm
Student-Centered Active Learning Methodologies in a Large Lecture Course
Robin Tinghitella and Shannon Murphy, Department of Biological Sciences
Student-centered active learning activities teach through narratives and hands-on manipulation of data, rather than lectures.  In collaboration with several graduate students, we developed 5 active-learning modules (case studies) for General Ecology, which is a large lecture course required of all Biology majors. In this faculty showcase, Shannon and Robin will discuss what worked, what didn’t and how we plan to proceed in the future. The instructors received a “One New Thing” mini grant to pilot their case studies in their Autumn 2015 course.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016|12:00-1:00 pm
Team-Based Learning
Matt Gordon, Engineering
Team-Based Learning (TBL) has been shown to be an effective strategy to engage students and improve learning. TBL includes both accountability for individuals and the benefits of working in a team. A sample lecture, using TBL, will be given to demonstrate how it works allowing individual instructors to decide if TBL is right for them.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016|12:00-1:00 pm
Putting Learning in the Hands of the Learner
Robin Carey, Morgridge College of Education
How can instructors help students personalize course outcomes to make them most applicable to their individual settings and roles?How can we design courses using a personalized learning/constructivist approach that keeps the learner at the center of their learning?This faculty showcase highlights how one instructor used personal goal setting as the impetus for learner engagement, retention, and efficacy in applying course content beyond the final date of class.  Specific examples of initial goal setting, reflections, and revisions will be shared.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016|12:00-1:00 pm
Classrooms as Sacred Space for Learning
Paul Michalec, Morgridge College of Education
The faculty showcase highlights the use of deep practices in teaching to foster a sense of the classroom as sacred space for learning about self, others and content.  This interactive session will explore types of curriculum, ways to establish norms and specific teaching techniques that build and sustain a classroom where learners are called into deeper relationship with self and content knowledge.

Learn more

Wednesday, February 24, 2016|12:00-1:00 pm
Making student practices visible
Juli Parrish and Sarah Hart Micke, Writing Program
Hannah Adams Ingram, Religious Studies
This faculty showcase highlights our use of a workplace app in a graduate-level writing center course. In part to bridge the gap between theory and practice, students used Slack to build a collaborative database of writing and tutoring strategies and reflections. Sharing their own best practices in this way allowed students to share their growing expertise and learn from one another. The instructors received a “OneNewThing” mini grant to pilot this collaborative technology in their Winter 2015 course.

Past Showcases

Cultivating community in online classes
Jae McQueen and Stephanie Begun, Graduate School of Social Work
This faculty showcase highlights strategies utilized to build a learning community in an asynchronous online course. The showcase will highlight a masters-level social welfare policy course adaption from classroom-based to fully-online, asynchronous delivery, including strategies that contributed to the conversion’s success and opportunities for continuous improvement. The showcase will be based on the presenters’ Interactive Poster at the 2015 Council on Social Work Education conference in Denver.

Learn more

Enhancing intercultural communication skills through negotiations
Phoenix Cai, Sturm College of Law
This faculty showcase highlights the opportunities to reflect and build upon intercultural competency skills in a cross-border business negotiations setting.  Students from diverse cultural backgrounds can improve their verbal (negotiation) and writing (legal drafting) skills by mindfully analyzing their communications.

Learn more

Active Learning strategies for large classes
Julie Morris, Department of Biology
Education research has clearly demonstrated that active learning approaches can have significant advantages over traditional 60-90 minute lectures. This showcase will discuss the challenges related to implementing these activities in large classes, and will share several strategies and tools.

Learn more

Engaging students through a “flipped” classroom
Deborah Mitchell, Department of Chemistry
Flipping a classroom allows instructors to free up in person time for active learning strategies. This is especially helpful in courses where there is a large problem solving component. A partial and fully flipped classroom may allow instructors to coach students through the problem solving process.

Learn more

 

Contact Bridget Arend or Kathy Keairns if you have suggestions for a faculty showcase.

Debbie Mitchell from the Department of Chemistry kicked off our first faculty showcase on September 23rd. Over twenty faculty and staff attended Debbie’s session about how she has spent the last few years converting her Chemistry course to a flipped classroom.PIcture of Debbie Mitchell and audience members

What is a “flipped” classroom?

Professor Mitchell shared the following definition of Flipped Learning:

A pedagogical approach where direct instruction moves from a group to an individual learning space. The group space is dynamic and interactive instead of a passive environment where students are lectured to for the majority of the class.

Debbie described how she first began by flipping one class per week, and found the approach so successful that she flipped her entire course this fall. She showed a few of the videos she has created for students to watch outside of class, staring from her earliest video using simple technology, and then showing more current videos that use more sophisticated software.

Debbie facilitated the session in the spirit of a flipped classroom – with participants using a worksheet to guide small and large group discussions. Participants at the session discussed how not only students but also instructors might benefit from a flipped or more active classroom environment – including better relationships with students and really getting to know their learning. Debbie and others referenced some of the research that supports a more active classroom environment.

One challenge discussed was student resistance to this teaching approach. Some suggested that you don’t necessarily want to use the term ‘flipping’ when describing your class. However, you do want to spend time explaining to students that they will be expected to view materials before coming to class and must be prepared to be actively engaged during class time.

Resources:

Active learning increases student performance in science, engineering, and mathematics

Technology resources for flipping your class

 

The Office of Teaching and Learning is excited to announce a new workshop series: The Faculty Showcase!

The Faculty Showcase Series is designed to share best practice in teaching among the DU faculty. Each session will feature innovative and effective teaching methods and concrete examples here at DU, while also providing a forum for the presenters to gain feedback on challenging and/or new practices.

Each session is an informal hour-long brown bag lunch session held in the OTL Conference Room. Bring your lunch, the OTL will provide dessert!

Please join us for these Fall Faculty Showcase sessions:

Sept 23, 12:00 – 1:00 pm
Engaging students through a “flipped” classroom
Deborah Mitchell, Department of Chemistry
Flipping a classroom allows instructors to free up in person time for active learning strategies. This is especially helpful in courses where there is a large problem solving component. A partial and fully flipped classroom may allow instructors to coach students through the problem solving process.

Register now!

October 7, 1:30 – 2:30 pm
Active Learning strategies for large classes
Julie Morris, Department of Biology
Education research has clearly demonstrated that active learning approaches can have significant advantages over traditional 60-90 minute lectures. This showcase will discuss the challenges related to implementing these activities in large classes, and will share several strategies and tools.

Important: This session will be held in the active learning classroom in Sturm 134.

Register now!

October 21, 12:00 – 1:00 pm
Enhancing intercultural communication skills through negotiations
Phoenix Cai, Sturm College of Law
This faculty showcase highlights the opportunities to reflect and build upon intercultural competency skills in a cross-border business negotiations setting.  Students from diverse cultural backgrounds can improve their verbal (negotiation) and writing (legal drafting) skills by mindfully analyzing their communications.

Register now!

November 18, 12:00 – 1:00 pm
Cultivating Community in Online Classes
Jae McQueen and Stephanie Begun, Graduate School of Social Work
This faculty showcase will highlight strategies utilized to build a learning community in an asynchronous online course. The showcase will highlight a masters-level social welfare policy course adaption from classroom-based to fully-online, asynchronous delivery, including strategies that contributed to the conversion’s success and opportunities for continuous improvement. The showcase will be based on the presenters’ Interactive Poster at the 2015 Council on Social Work Education conference in Denver.

Register now!

On the first day of the OTL’s Teaching and Learning Week, we started off with a session dedicated to DU’s “veteran” faculty members. Staying Inspired about Teaching through Your Career brought together a panel of three faculty members to discuss ideas and thoughts for continual motivation and energy around teaching.

Moderator Bridget Arend shared a few findings from studies about faculty career stages, happily noting that at least some studies show career/life satisfaction rising in later career/life stages.

David Thompson from the Sturm College of Law shared his secret of scheduling a personal retreat every year. David gets away to Santa Fe where he has protected a block of time to read through the articles, references, and ideas he collects in a large box throughout the year.

M.E. Warlick, from the Department of Art and Art History, discussed the value of variety in teaching assignments over the years. She shared examples where rotation and changes in teaching, along with past team teaching experiences, have kept her teaching energized. She has appreciated opportunities to watch others teach over the years.

Chip Reichardt from the Department of Psychology shared the philosophy of teaching he has been developing over the years – that of teaching thinking skills. He described how, much like a coach pushes students physically, he explains to his students that they are learning to think, and in turn, should be challenged and even reach points of mental exhaustion.

Other session participants shared ideas and challenges, and some of the resources shared include:

  • Much discussion centered around helping students see the relevance in learning. There is often a challenge to stay current with today’s students, but the Beloit College Mindset List is one way to see the realities of today’s incoming class.
  • Others noted challenges with managing an overwhelming amount of information, articles, and digital resources. Among other solutions, the library’s support of Browzine was recommended.
  • Four stages of mastery/competence (ranging from unconscious incompetence to unconscious competence) were discussed and joked about as a framework to keep in mind while we are teaching.
  • Former DU Professor Karen Kitchener’s model of Reflective Judgement was also brought up as a useful framework when we want to appropriately target our instruction and maintain realistic expectations of our students.
  • Chip mentioned Alphie Kohn’s work and subtle revelation that no matter how much we don’t believe it, we will always have a new group of students, and thus new adventures in teaching!

David and others are experimenting with journaling after teaching as a way to provide some continual balance in our teaching practice. And when all else fails, Lynn Scofield-Clark shared her approach of keeping a file labeled, “good emails for bad days!”

 

Don Bacon, Professor in the Department of Marketing, shares some of his ideas and thoughts about teaching Chinese students.

Get to know the country. I have mounted a large (3 x 4′) map of China on the wall in my office. Whenever a Chinese students visit me in my office, I ask them where they are from in China, and if I need help with the location, I ask them to point it out on the map. I then ask them a little about their hometown. I feel this helps me to connect better with the students and shows a genuine interest in them as individuals.

Cold call discussion questions but make preparation clear. My masters students are often assigned academic readings that we later discuss in class. I give students a list of discussion questions in advance for each article. Then, in class, I randomly call on students and ask them to address specific discussion questions. Having the questions in advance allows non-native speakers of English to prepare answers and get into the conversation somewhat. The discussion questions also help me to focus on what I believe are key learnings in the articles.

Use student information cards. I ask all students to fill out a 3 x 5 card containing contact information and a little background on themselves. I then tape on their pictures which I download from Web Central. This deck is handy to shuffle through to get to know student names. I also use this deck, shuffled, to randomly draw on names of students to call on in class.

Use a seating chart to learn names. For each of my classes, I use PowerPoint to make a drawing of the layout of the room, including chairs and tables. I then bring a printed copy of this graphic to each class, and ask students to sign their names over the chair that they are sitting in. The sign-in is a handy device for recording participation scores and it helps immensely to learn student names. (It is common for me to have classes with 30 or more students and half of them may be Chinese.)

Individually hand back assignments to learn names. When returning assignments, I sort the assignments by the order students typically sit in as shown on my seating charts. Then, I can quickly hand back the assignments to each student. In this process, I get one more repetition of learning the students’ names.

Mix activity groups. When conducting group activities in class, I have had some success with requiring that each group contain at least one Chinese student and one American student. Without this requirement, students may not mix as much as I would like them too. This diversity requirement may seem a little awkward, but everyone seems to understand the benefits of mixing with other and the (otherwise) social awkwardness of approaching strangers.

Add diversity to exercise materials. In any exercises and written examples that I may use in class, I try to mix in examples with Chinese names and Chinese settings. For example, instead of “Suppose Jane started a business with a bank loan of $20,000…”, I start with “Suppose Yun started a business with money she borrowed from her father…”


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