Category Archives: Tips and techniques

Eight Tips for Writing Good Multiple-Choice Questions

multiplechoiceDo a quick Google search on “worst multiple choice questions” and you’ll come up with something like this:

Macbeth was probably written to honor:

(a) Macbeth; (b) Shakespeare; (c) James I; (d) God whose ancestors came from Scotland

With the half-way point of the semester behind us, and final exams around the corner, we thought we’d provide some tips for writing good multiple-choice questions. The eight tips below, drawn from the Teaching Professor’s Faculty Focus Blog, are based on Maryellen Weimer’s years of experience as a faculty member and from Kansas State University’s IDEA Paper No. 16: Improving Multiple-Choice Tests.

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The Tao of Teaching With Technology

Even in the best of times, using technology to teach your students can sometimes be a frustrating process. But with patience and an open mind, that TechYangprocess can also yield tremendous rewards for both the teacher as well as the student. The CTL’s resident Taoist, Bill Drummond, has compiled a few nuggets of wisdom to help you keep calm, find your center and ultimately, to peacefully co-exist with Instructional Technology.


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Keeping Students Engaged With Video

We at the CTL understand that many faculty prefer to remain as low-tech as possible, utilizing technology only when  necessary. Our guest blogger this month is one such faculty member. Mathematics Professor Lori Chapman had an opportunity to discover how posting her lectures on YouTube and ANGEL helped her engage students: 

I wanted to share how an out-of-classroom use of technology helped me stay connected with my students in the classroom.  First of all, I’m not a very “tech-centric” person; I can do what I need to do, but if I don’t need technology to do Chalkboardsomething, I won’t use it.  I take the same approach to teaching: if a shiny new technique genuinely enhances my courses I will use it, but mostly I stick with what I know works.  I know what works in the classroom is to stay connected with students! Continue reading

Show and Tell: Guest Speakers in the Digital Age

It’s past midterms, it’s right before spring break. Even your best students are card-carrying members of the Apathy Club and come to think of it … you’ve started your own count down to the end of the semester.

Well, SNAP OUT OF IT! Or better yet find a guest speaker. Bringing in a guest speaker can change-up the pace and add insights or knowledge that differ from your own.   Thanks to technology,  your guest doesn’t have to travel at all or you can record their one time talk and use it over again next semester or for online.

skype interview

Through the magic of technology, Professor Steinborn is able to interview speakers from Switzerland, Germany, and France while his students were here in the Detroit Metro-area.  How perfect for an international  business course!  Think of the possibilities of Skyping with peers in Mexico or Egypt for language courses.   Interviewing the author of the course textbook. Artists, CEO’s, Scientists, even your Grandmother in Florida, who know what stories and experiences are out there to share!

Cools tools to use:

  • Adobe Connect – for web Conferencing.
  • Skype – It’s easy and almost everyone has it.  Click here for Skyping in Education.
  • Panopto – use it to capture your live or virtual speaker.

Need to find someone? Check out these options

For tips on this subject check out this website:

Need help setting up the tools to connect with your guest speaker, let us know.  Have you brought in a guest speaker into your class? How did it go? Let us know in the comments.

Finally, Something Worth Giving Extra Credit For.

” Is there any extra credit?” Don’t you hate that question?  Even if you are not an clip art newsboyextra credit bestowing softy, this might be worth it trying so please read on.  Math Professor Mel Ackerman has an answer to that question and it is YES! Professor Ackerman encourages her students to help themselves by attening Macomb’s Student Succes Seminars.  These offer students an opportunity to learn strategies that will enhance their ability to succeed in college. The seminars, which are free to Macomb students and earn 0.1 CEU (Continuing Education Unit) credit per session, take place in the Learning Centers.   Students need  to bring their student ID to register.  Students who attend 10 or more different sessions during a two year period will be awarded a certificate of completion!

Professor Ackerman has her students register for these seminars through WebAdvisor.  At the end of the semester the students print out thier non-credit transcript.  They are given 2 points for each seminar.  Great idea, right?

student giving a thumbs upHere is how you can kick it up a notch.

If a student chooses to attend a seminar, have them write a short paragraph on what they learned in the seminar and how they have implemented what they learned in their studied, not limited to your course.  Or have your students write out a study plan based on your course.  Now isn’t that worth extra credit?

Click here for the Student Success Seminar Schedule

Mid-Course: Check Your Progress

Our Student Evaluation of Teaching (SET) can be very helpful in providing feedback.  However, these surveys are only administered at the end of the semester, much too late to assist the current students.  Also specific feedback on assignments, organization or anything else often gets lost in the sands of time if the course is not one that you teach on a regular basis.  So what is a Prof to do?

Self-reflection is a powerful tool used to improve ourselves personally and professionally.

October brings with it pumpkins, a possible frost and Midterms.  While students begin to sweat under pressure of tests, midterms are also a good time to take stock of your own progress.  Creating a midterm evaluation for both you and your students is great way to make sure you are hitting your mark, plus it gives you enough time to tweak things if you need to.  We find that students are much more candid when writing informal evaluations; they also appreciate your willingness to make accommodations.

Here are some ideas for evaluating your own teaching:


Keep a log, checklist, or list of goals for each lesson and at the end of class note whether you have met those stated goals.  Self-monitoring requires self-judgment and the difficult part is to let go of your ego.  Biases and misinterpretations of students’ reaction by the instructors themselves could interfere with objectivity of the evaluation. Even with these hurdles, there is great value in documenting your goals and getting in the routine of reflecting on achieving them.

Audio and Visual Recording

The camera may add ten pounds, but it also captures exactly what you said and how.  It is much easier to monitor others and notice their fumbles and foibles but is much more difficult to monitor yourself, especially when you are devoting most of your attention to explaining content, helping students and keeping the class engaged.   It might be a good idea to schedule recordings at the beginning middle and end of the semester to check your progress.  The CTL can help you with this.  We now have lecture capture availability or we can do a standard video taping.

Questionnaires/ Surveys

You can create your own survey to hand out in class.  A few simple questions go a long way.  If you are web-enhanced, you can use ANGEL surveys and results can be sent anonymously. Another way is to use TurningPoint (our “Clicker” system) to take a quick poll.  Don’t worry, results can be saved on TurningPoint and viewed later after class

Peer Feedback

Invite your colleagues to view your video, or sit in on your lecture.  Or ask to sit in on another colleague’s lecture.  What kind of assignments do they give, how do they explain the same topic? Ask them what kind of course evaluation questions do they give their students?   Why reinvent the wheel?

How do you obtain informal feedback throughout the semester? Do you use any of the techniques above or do you use a different technique that works better for you?

We know what you want

We know you better than you think. Even if you’ve never been to the CTL at Macomb, called us, emailed us, or even heard of us, we do know something about you. To prove it, we’re going to tell you something about yourself right now…. ready?

Ok, here goes: you understand the importance of using visuals in your classroom presentations, and you love free stuff.

See, we do know you!

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10 Hot Tips – PowerPoint

PowerPoint is just one of those things in life that we, as educators, will have to encounter, whether we like it or not! If done right, it can be an asset to our teaching toolbox. Since we’re going to be using it at some point, let’s become more efficient! Here are a few tips that will kick-off the new “10 Hot Tips” series. Enjoy!

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Presentation Zennnnn

I’ve been doing it wrong all along, and so have you!

Garr Reynold’s approach to presentation design is fresh and effective. As referred to in this previous post, we follow many incorrect conventions when creating our instructional material. The madness must stop! Here are a few ways to find the path to presentation zen:

  1. Attend the upcoming instructional technology workshop.
  2. Regularly read the presentation zen blog.
  3. Read the book.

And, of course, consult with your campus Center For Teaching and Learning for assistance!

TurningPoint Tip – Easier Class Lists!

If you are a current TurningPoint user, then we’ve got a cool tip for you! If you’re not yet a TurningPoint user, read this and then contact us to try a kit out for yourself!

Most instructors use TurningPoint to poll students anonymously, getting quick feedback and keeping them awake engaged during class. However, TurningPoint also allows instructors to create “participant lists” ahead of time, so the responses can be tied to specific students. This opens up new possibilities, including scored competitions, games, quizzes, and more meaningful data reports. The reason that many instructors have avoided using participant lists, is simply because they didn’t want to take the time to type in each student’s name and device (remote) ID into a list. Well now, there’s a better way!

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