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Teaching Excellence Center

Circle Summaries September 1998

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Monday 4:00 Session A

See October summary -- contains summary for both September and October.

Monday 4:00 Session B (no summary)

Tuesday 8:30 Session

Topic: how to motivate students.

Instructors want to know the student individually, which is difficult in large classes and when some attend sporadically. Problem of student attendance.

Some beginning students seem unready to take classes seriously.

Awareness of lower scores or lower performance evaluation scores of some students in this age when a college education is considered a necessity.

The first day is crucial in catching student interest, communicating enthusiasm, goals and expectations. One way to impart enthusiasm is sharing our experiences in the subject area.

Sabbatical leave for faculty would help to renew instructor enthusiasm; periodic sabbatical leave should be supported and encouraged by the University.

Also discussed:

Topics for October meeting, with readings shared in advance:First class day strategies. The effectiveness of summer school instruction compared to the regular semester.

Topics for November meeting:Instructor and student expectations of student performance, student accountability. Interdisciplinarity, writing across the curriculum.

Tuesday 12:00 Session

Hot Topic:

How do instructors get students involved?

(Scharff brought responses from her SFA 101 class)

Future Topics:

Instructional Technology - October

Service Learning - November

Why should we involve students? students get more out of it; information sticks better, remember more; more fun for the teacher - empowering students for life long learning

Why not? --some think it's easier not to - tradition - fear of something new, egocentricism of professor, accountable to administrators who are using traditional criteria to evaluate

What can we do? give students choices (due dates, topics, etc.); show enthusiasm for topic and give them ways to relate it to their lives; ask for feedback; group work; use technology such as e-mail to make it personal; e-mail gives them anonymity to say what they want to; be willing to listen to students; perhaps let students write syllabus (with some cautions on fairness and helping them determine grades), keep assignments relevant to their field of study, bring demonstrations to class.

How do we get faculty colleagues involved? peer supervision; set performance goals; administrator should hold faculty accountable for teaching; starting with faculty bringing into administration people who value what they do; getting over fears by educating; attend teaching conferences

Wednesday 1:00 Session

The group discussed various ideas for getting students involved, including how to recognize a student who is actively involved in learning. A recurring theme of the discussion was the notion of course ownership. It was generally agreed that this includes some aspect of choice. Ideas discussed include the following:

Some possible problems with these were discussed.

Students are uncomfortable evaluating work of their peers.

Student assistants cost money, which may not be in our budgets.

Many students are not familiar with the use of a library or the World Wide Web as a research tool. Assignments requiring library research typically require some instruction on library resources by the professor in conjunction with the library staff. The library staff encourages faculty to make them aware of specific library research assignments so that they can anticipate the needs of the students who request assistance. This can ease student frustration as well as make life a bit easier for the librarians.

Large sections of introductory or survey courses can be very difficult to motivate.

Next meeting: Wednesday, October 28, 1998

Topic: Does the use of technology in the classroom enhance student learning?

Wednesday 3:00 Session

Jean Parker Eldred's teaching circle met on Wednesday, September 30th at 3:00 p.m. Four members of the group were present. Carol discussed library instruction and active learning exercises. We shared examples of different solutions or approaches in areas where we had similar problems. Despite discipline differences, the issues are the same.

The date for our next meeting is Wed. Oct. 28th. Thursday 3:15 Session

Our teaching circle met on Thursday, September 24. Our topic of discussion was how do you get students to be involved in the course. We discussed the following items:

Factors to consider in student involvement include the size of the class (interactive e-mail with the instructor may work well in smaller classes but be unmanageable with larger courses with many sections), the level of the class (seniors may be willing to take more responsibility for their instruction than lower level students), and the subject (some subjects may lend themselves more to student involvement).

Our next meetings will be scheduled for Thursday, October 29, at 3:15 p.m. and Thursday, December 3, at 3:15 p.m.

The theme for the October meeting will be Alternative Ways of Instruction.


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