When I was first starting out as a professor students would ask me questions I just found ridiculous. Like, did they need to take a particular art history course. I thought, geez, take what the catalogue tells you to take! I didn’t always comprehend that a major or minor could have options, there could be confusion, and that the students themselves maybe didn’t know who else to ask those questions of. No, I thought, as the professor, their questions for me should be strictly limited to class content! Everything else was, “See your advisor.” And the advisor was never going to be me. Continue reading
For most of my life, I was the one being mentored – by my parents, friends, faculty. It all began to change when I entered the job market. I had two monumental transitions in my life – getting my first university job and becoming a parent. As I gave my research presentation during the on-campus interview, I could feel my son kicking, but my journey of teaching self-examination and change has only just began. In retrospect, as I was learning to be a parent, I was also learning to be a teacher, and, ultimately a mentor. Continue reading
As I was preparing my first First Year Seminar, Denise Bartell offered me a bit of advice: she said, “the only difference between a high school senior and a college freshman is a summer.” I think her point was that I should set realistic expectations, both for the students and myself, but her advice also made me realize that I really have no idea what my students expect. Are they taking my class just to fill some University requirement? Are they actually interested in the topic? And what on Earth do they hope do with all of this knowledge? Continue reading
Teaching inside and learning outside the classroom
I am still new to teaching, but I already understand that although teaching is the goal, ensuring that students are learning is the more difficult task. When I think back to my time at UWGB, I remember having a successful classroom career. I faithfully took notes during lecture, reviewed them, and answered questions efficiently on exams. The mitochondria are the powerhouse of the cell. Wilhelm Wundt was the first to conduct psychological experiments. I can still bring a pretty good argument to the table as to why jazz developed in New Orleans and not somewhere else like, say, Paris. Continue reading
I have a complicated relationship with multiple-choice (MC) questions. Their main failing is that they are fundamentally limited in their ability to assess a student’s understanding of the material. I have often found myself writing questions with answers “A and C,” “All but D,” and “None of the above,” in an attempt to make MC questions that aren’t obvious, despite being awkward or overly complicated.
But…MC questions are easy to grade. This is the crux of it. For a large class, they are almost a necessity. This gives me a guilty conscience. Continue reading
Just the other morning, I woke up feeling my neck muscles sore and painful. I knew it was a problem with my pillow and my sleep position, and that this was a temporary discomfort for a day or two. I knew the Chinese words for this symptom; “But how do you say this in English?” I asked myself, and I did not know – I was not born and raised in the U.S., and English was not my first language. Continue reading
When teaching, there is a diverse array of factors that an instructor has to be aware of. On a class to class basis you have to be sure that you have the right amount of content, that you provide opportunities for active learning and that you build in factors to increase engagement. When it comes to more of the minutia of class management, an instructor also has to make a lot of decisions in advance about what the norms for appropriate classroom behavior will be. These can range from behaviors more directly related to learning and attention such as the use of laptops, texting, and attendance, to factors such as eating and talking to neighbors, which may not be as directly tied to attention. Continue reading
As I am sitting here trying to write this blog, I am trying to think how I can help a professor who has many hours of teaching students and framing their thoughts, ideas, and opinions. How can I help them understand what it might be like to be a Veteran in the classroom?
It seems I always get excited for a new semester – so I thought I’d share with you the top 5 things that I love about starting with a fresh group of students in a course I’ve taught at least 3 times a year in the last 7 years, no particular order.
Learning about rubrics and how they’ll be used to assign grades can be dry, boring and confusing for students. Grading your instructor on the other hand, can be a pleasurable way to spend your first lecture. Continue reading