Tag Archives: teaching tips

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?

Cheating is easy!

We are all educators here, which, by rule means none of us have EVER cheated in a class… right? Suuure. Well, as long as there are students, exams, papers and homework assignments, there will be cheating. We’re not helpless, though, there are some steps that we can take to educate ourselves, and to help our students avoid this dangerous path.

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Wake your students!

How many of us have suffered through classes that follow this pattern?

Go to class, listen to lecture, stare at PowerPoint slides  –  go home and (sort-of) read the book  –  return to class and take multiple-choice test  –  repeat until the end of the semester.

And more importantly, how many of us are still teaching this way?!

One of the most challenging tasks for an educator is to create classroom exercises that mirror the big, bad, scary real-world, which also engage students in the learning process. Enter… the group project! Through our interactions with faculty here in the CTL, we’ve learned that group projects are actually quite challenging to administer and monitor. How do you, as the instructor, ensure that each student’s group learning experience is meaningful? Continue reading

Sister blog!

Our “Instructional Technology at Macomb” blog is relatively new to the blogosphere (don’t you love made-up tech words like blogosphere?!). We’re still settling into the neighborhood, but we’re already making new friends!

Susan over at Adelphi University in New York is our newest friend, and we appreciate her kind words about our blog! Their Faculty Center is like our Center for Teaching and Learning, and they run an excellent blog, so check it out!

And if you enjoy free stuff like we do, be sure to read their entry on “Free and Public Domain Multimedia for Classroom Use!”

7 Ways to Enhance Student Learning

Teaching is one of the most challenging jobs in the world. There, I said it! In no other profession can one have such a profound effect on the minds of young (and not-s0-young!) people. Teachers wear many hats, including; content expert, speaker, counselor, disciplinarian,  entertainer, and role model. The real challenge in teaching lies not in understanding the subject matter itself, but in the manner in which that content is shared, because everyone’s learning style is different!

So, what to do, what to do?! Well, you could present the content in 30 different ways, once for each student’s unique learning style. That might extend your office hours a bit, though. Instead, why not incorporate some very basic, yet proven principles to enhancing student learning?

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PowerPoint and bullet points, a deadly combination

We’ve all been through this nightmare – sitting in a dark room, staring at a screen filled with clip art and an endless army of bullet points while the presenter reads the slides aloud, as you struggle to stay awake. Oh, the horror! Is this the best way to present information to a class? Of course not! Then why subject your students to that same torture? Stop PowerPoint before it harms more students!

No Bullets               Kill the bullets

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