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
One of the most frequent comments I hear about teaching online is how hard it is to know how it’s going. Without those physical cues of light-bulb smiles, slouching students or confused faces, it can feel that you’re teaching into a vacuum for 14 weeks. And whatever your opinion of online CCQs, the results arrive too late to impact the students in front of you now. If you’ve shared this frustration, consider offering your students an informal mid-semester survey. Continue reading
Cheating never crossed my mind when I was a student. Not once while in grade school, high school or college. In my mind you don’t cheat, you just don’t go there. In fact, my sophomore year in high school I walked into my health class and saw there were numbers with associated letters written in pencil on the desk. I freaked out! Were these the answers to that day’s quiz? I could not have erased them fast enough! 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.