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Teaching Excellence Center

Circle Summaries October 2001

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Monday 2:00 Session

 The teaching circle on large classes met Monday, October 8, with Jill Carrington, Bill Rogers and Jessica Rice. Bill shared some tips to encourage class participation he's borrowed from William McKeachie, Teaching Tips, 9th ed.: make a controversial statement; ask a question beginning with "What do you think..."; hold a panel discussion using questions the class has submitted in advance. He and Jessica conduct short in-class demonstrations; in some fields, such as Psychology, a list of demos is readily available for instructors. Our discussion ranged over a number of topics, including attendance and returning work in large classes.

Our third and final circle is scheduled for Monday, November 12, 2:00 in ED 252.

Wednesday 3:00 Session

 The second teaching circle for the Wednesday at 3:00 session discussing Teams was held in the McGee Building, Room 181 on October 17, 2001. The circle scheduled the remaining meeting for November 28, 2001.

The circle members discussed how teams in their classes were progressing. Ideas included how to deal with teams taking quizzes, on-line teams, under-performing teammembers, and how to deal with a team with fewer team members due to some team members dropping the course.

For example, if all teams include four members and then one team is reduced to three members because one has dropped the course, are adjustments made? Students, perhaps, may feel that with fewer team members they should not have the same workload as a team with more members. So, an option might be to adjust the assignment to fit the smaller size group.

Some discussion was held about the idea of students working in teams to study. Then on exams their answers might be remarkably similar. Is that cheating or is it an effective study technique?

Future topics will include further discussion of handling conflict/dissension in the teams and how to evaluate team performance.

Thursday 9:30 Session

(Issues with Distance Learning)

Gail Weatherly, Office of Instructional Technology (OIT) met with us to discuss what SFASU is doing with Distance Education.

OIT is offering a WebCt training program, recommended as a three-semester process, to help faculty develop a web-based course. From previous experience with faculty, it usually takes about one year before a course is ready to be offered on the web. At the end of the program, faculty sign a document, "Principles of Good Practice".

Gail handed out a great brochure entitled, "Guidelines for Faculty Offering Distance Education Courses at SFASU" that identifies the steps to take in order to offer web-based courses at SFASU.

Compensation for the development of distance courses follow:

Thursday 4:00 Sesison

Teaching Across the Disciplines

Oct. 4, 2001 in the HPE Complex Room 207

ATTENDANCE: Leigh Smith, Nancy Wisely, Perry Moon, Donna Hunt, Brenda Marques, Julia Ballenger, Kelly Salsberry, Carol Hammond, Sharon Templeman, and DawnElla Rust

The following article served as the focal point for discussion.

Eimers, M. T. (March-April 1999). Working with faculty from different disciplines. About Campus. 18-24.

Talking points included:

The 7 principles were:

1. encourage contacts between students and faculty
2. develops reciprocity and cooperation among students
3. uses active learning techniques
4. gives prompt feedback
5. emphasizes time on task
6. communicates high expectations
7. respects diverse talents and ways of learning

Meeting concluded with the facilitator asking the members of the Teaching Circle questions from the book by Jones titled "The Path &endash; Creating Your Mission Statement for Work for Life."

1. Describe the work life you would like most.
2. What do you want more of in your work relationship?
3. What do you want less in your work relationship?
4. Describe the ideal work setting.
5. Describe your ideal co-workers.

Next meeting will be November 1, 2001 in the HPE Complex Room 207.

Friday 12:00 Session

We started out with an interesting discussion about the validity of right brain/left brain "pop psychology". It was great to get perspectives from opposing viewpoints.

Following this, the general focus of the discussion was based on the qualities and behavioral items determined from Bill Buskist's research about "The Ways of the Master Teacher." Lauren gave a brief synopsis of the research that Bill presented at on October 15th.

Following from last month's discussion on encouraging "higher order learning," we discussed the item of "Promotes Critical Thinking", which faculty tended to rate highly, compared with the item of "Realistic Expectations of Students", which students tend to rate highly. We talked about how to communicate with the students and structure our classes and exams so that both could be accomplished.

We discussed critical thinking and how teachers must guide students into the process of how to problem solve. Students are accustomed to spewing forth facts that have been memorized. Teachers must change the students' expectations of the learning process.

One example is that it may be useful to explicitly give students a "heads up" about what will be expected of them in their learning behaviors as the semester progresses. Memorization comes first but it must lead to problem solving. Concepts must be understood for the student to be successful in the subject.

Also, give overview of the course - lay of the land. "By the end of this course you will be able to ....."

Ask students to write test questions. Writing the test questions requires the students to process the information more deaply. Many times, the ones students write are harder than the teacher would have written.

Some professors challenge students to correct their lectures.

Pop quizzes for extra credit (alternate at the beginning, middle and end of lecture) will keep students paying attention, not coming late, or packing up early.

Anita recommended two books:

Page Smith _Killing the Spirit_

Earl Shorris _Riches for the Poor_

Dixie reccommended the following book:

Betty Edwards _Writing/Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain_

Next meeting Nov. 30.


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