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
Veterans are often labeled “Heroes” for serving their country. Many Veterans are heroes but may feel uncomfortable being singled out. Continue reading
So here’s the scenario…you’re teaching a course that has a dropbox folder assignment for each week of the semester. You last taught the course the previous year. The course structure has remained the same, and the dropbox portion is identical. The catch is that you had “end dates” for all the dropbox folders, and they all need to be updated to this year.
Bummer. 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
I just finished my first semester as an assistant professor here at UWGB. I’ve been told that the first year in an academic position is the most challenging. There are so many demands—new course preps, getting familiar with students, meetings, maintaining an active research agenda…the list goes on and on. One of the things that I think is a primary concern for many new faculty members like myself is the question of what students think of you and your courses. One of things that I was most looking forward to during winter break (of course, the chance to catch my breath from the hectic first semester was at the top of my list) was the opportunity to see what students thought of me on my teaching evaluations. Did students find me to be an effective teacher? Did they like my teaching style? Were the group activities that I planned useful to students? 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