1 A HANDBOOK Teaching at the University of Manitoba
2 A HANDBOOK Teaching at the University of Manitoba Edited by Eunice Friesen UTS Associate Director Cheryl Kristjanson UTS Director Development Team: Eunice Friesen Cheryl Kristjanson Erica Jung Rita Froese Bill Zenert
3 ii TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK Copyright 2007 University Teaching Services The University of Manitoba Cover and book designed by Barry Hammond Flamingo Design, Winnipeg, Manitoba Printed and bound by Art Bookbindery Winnipeg, Manitoba Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication Teaching at the University of Manitoba : a handbook / edited by Eunice Friesen and Cheryl Kristjanson. 3rd ed. Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN University of Manitoba--Faculty--Handbooks, manuals, etc. 2. College teaching--manitoba--handbooks, manuals, etc. 3. College teaching--handbooks, manuals, etc. I. Friesen, Eunice, II. Kristjanson, Cheryl, III. University of Manitoba. University Teaching Services LE3.M383T '43 C Published by University Teaching Services The University of Manitoba 220 Sinnott Building, 70 Dysart Road Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada R3T 2N2 (204) , Fax (204) University Teaching Services wishes to thank the communications offices of the Faculties of Agriculture, Nursing and University 1, and the Public Affairs Office of the University of Manitoba for permission to use photos that appear in this book. University Teaching Services would like to acknowledge the support of the Office of the President, University of Manitoba and the Faculty Development Fund Committee for this project. Cover Photo Credits: Bill Zenert, Jarod Cantor
4 CONTENTS iii Contents Profile of the University of Manitoba Foreword vi ix CHAPTER 2: LEARNING Introduction 2.1 Preface University Teaching Services Acknowledgements List of Contributors x xi xiv xvi THEORETICAL FOUNDATIONS What is Learning? ~ Michigan State University 2.2 Learning Assumptions ~ Honolulu Community College Faculty Guidebook 2.3 CHAPTER 1: STUDENTS Beyond Learning by Doing: The Brain Compatible Approach ~ Jay Roberts 2.4 Introduction 1.1 DIVERSE TEACHING AND LEARNING EXPERIENCES Teaching and Learning with Aboriginal Students ~ Kali Storm 1.2 Tips for Working with Second Language Students ~ Marcia Friesen 1.3 Practical and Simple Teaching Accommodations for International Students ~ Marcia Friesen 1.4 Non-Traditional Age Students ~ Three Rivers Community College 1.5 Building an Equity Culture: How You Can Make a Difference ~ Karen R. Grant 1.7 Student Learning Styles and Their Implication for Teaching ~ Susan M. Montgomery, Linda N. Groat 2.11 CHAPTER 3: TEACHING Introduction 3.1 Good Teaching: The Top Ten Requirements ~ Richard Leblanc 3.2 PREPARING TO TEACH Course Construction and Organization ~ Laura MacDonald 3.4 Preparing an Effective Syllabus: Current Best Practices ~ Jeanne M. Slattery & Janet F. Carlson 3.14 Cultural Competence and Respectful Environment ~ Rosalyn Howard 1.12
5 iv TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK Shared Teaching: Some Suggestions ~ Lynn Taylor 3.25 Working Towards Equitable Treatment of Students in Multi-Section Courses ~ Lynn Taylor 3.26 TEACHING STRATEGIES Lectures Large Classes: Lecturing ~ CTE, University of Maryland 3.30 Group Work Using Cooperative Education Techniques to Help Students Develop Effective Group Process ~ Lynn Taylor 3.35 Do s and Don ts for Group Assignments ~ Larry Michaelsen 3.36 Discussions/Questioning Discussion as a Teaching Technique ~ Helen Davies 3.38 Answering and Asking Questions ~ William E. Cashin 3.42 Challenging Students in Discussion Classes ~ Michele Marincovich 3.53 Storytelling Storytelling in Teaching ~ Melanie C. Green 3.55 Laboratory Teaching Using Technology Teaching with Technology ~ George Siemens 3.66 Active Learning with PowerPoint ~ Bill Rozaitis, Paul Baepler 3.75 Organizing and Managing Good Online Discussions: Some Tips ~ Cheryl McLean 3.79 ENHANCING STUDENT LEARNING Motivating Students ~ Beverly Cameron 3.83 Teaching Effective Thinking Skills ~ Beverly Cameron 3.87 CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT Academic Integrity The Responsibilities of the Instructor ~ Brandy Usick 3.94 Incivilities in the Classroom ~ Nancy Callaghan 3.98 Plagiarism Technology: A Primer on Prevention and Detection ~ Lynn Smith, Brandy Usick Tips to Help you Meet the Challenges of Teaching Large Classes ~ Heather Gill-Robinson Discipline and Control in Large Classes ~ Eileen M. Herteis Tips for Running Laboratory Sessions ~ J.P. Svenne 3.63
6 CONTENTS v Dealing with Challenging Students ~ Michele Marincovich Resolving Conflicts with Students ~ Michele Marincovich CHAPTER 4: ASSESSING LEARNING Introduction 4.1 TRADITIONAL ASSESSMENT Writing a Multiple Choice, True & False, Matching, Completing, Short Answer, and Essay Exam ~ Beverly Cameron 4.2 ALTERNATIVE ASSESSMENT Grading Class Participation ~ Martha L. Maznevski 4.11 Peer Assessment and Peer Evaluation ~ The Foundation Coalition 4.15 Performance Assessment ~ Timothy F. Slater 4.21 Portfolios ~ Timothy F. Slater 4.28 GRADING/MARKING CHAPTER 5: TEACHERS Introduction 5.1 REFLECTING ON THE PRACTICE OF TEACHING Ethical Principles in University Teaching ~ Harry Murray, Eileen Gillese, Madeline Lennon, Paul Mercer, and Marilyn Robinson 5.2 Reflecting on Your Teaching ~ Jan McLean 5.9 Developing a Statement of Teaching Philosophy ~ Mary Benbow 5.12 Using Student Feedback: Mid-term Student Evaluations of Teaching ~ Mark Lawall 5.15 Using the Student Evaluation of Educational Quality (SEEQ) ~ Mary Benbow 5.17 Peer Review of Teaching ~ Matthew W. Roberts 5.21 Developing Your Teaching Dossier ~ Mary Benbow 5.26 CHAPTER 6: RESOURCES AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA Grading ~ Ohio State Teaching Handbook 4.38 Reducing the Complexity and Subjectivity of Marking: The Successful Use of Rubrics ~ Dieter J. Schönwetter 4.44
7 vi TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK Profile of the University of Manitoba Welcome to the University of Manitoba. We would like to introduce you to some of the characteristics that make our University unique. We trust that as you read the history of our great University you will develop a richer understanding of our heritage and how it influences our future. HISTORY The University of Manitoba was established in 1877 to confer degrees on students graduating from its three founding colleges St. Boniface College, St. John s College, and Manitoba College. The University was the first to be established in western Canada. In 1900 the Manitoba legislature changed the University Act so that the university could do its own teaching, and in 1904 a building in downtown Winnipeg became the first teaching facility with a staff of six professors, all of whom were scientists. By 1929, following the addition of more programs, schools, and faculties, the University had moved to its permanent home in Fort Garry. From its founding until the present time, the University has added a number of colleges to its corporate and associative body. In 1882 the Manitoba Medical College, which had originally been founded by some practicing physicians and surgeons, became a part of the University. Other affiliations followed: Methodist Church s Wesley College in 1888 Manitoba College of Pharmacy in 1902 Manitoba Agriculture College in 1906 St. Paul s College in 1931 Brandon College in 1938 St. Andrew s College, established to train the ministry for the Ukrainian Greek Orthodox Church, became an affiliated College in 1981 In 1967 two of the colleges that had been part of the University of Manitoba were given university status by the provincial government. United College, which had been formed by the merging of Wesley College and Manitoba College, became the University of Winnipeg, and Brandon College became Brandon University. St. Boniface College (French-speaking) and St. John s College, two of the founding colleges of the University, are still part of the University of Manitoba.
8 PROFILE OF THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA vii THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA IN THE 21ST CENTURY Our University continues to change and adapt to the educational requirements of an evolving society while maintaining certain core values. We trust that you will find the following values of the University of Manitoba to be essential guideposts in your practice of teaching. Excellence Quality in what we do comes first. For this reason we aspire to excellence in undergraduate and graduate teaching, and in research scholarship and creative work. We expect superior performance of our faculty, staff and students. Selectivity Our uniqueness in Manitoba lies in our mandate to offer professional and graduate education, to take a leadership role in advancing scholarly understanding and creative expression, and to generate new knowledge. These foci create an enriched learning environment for undergraduate students and an outstanding environment in our areas of academic strength. Equity and Diversity We believe in the inherent dignity of all people. All who have the potential to succeed at our University should have access to it. We respect our differences, celebrate our commonalities and are united in our mutual focus on intellectual achievement. We promote equity in access to our programs and employment and in the conduct of the University s affairs. Academic Freedom We will protect the right of everyone in our academic community to intellectual independence and critical inquiry. Advancement of understanding in research, scholarship and creative work and the transmission of that knowledge to students requires the privilege of speaking and writing freedom. Members of our University have a personal and institutional commitment to academic freedom in the performance of their academic duties. Integrity We are committed to intellectual honesty, and our actions will continue to be consistent with our beliefs. Mission Statement To create, preserve and communicate knowledge, and thereby, contribute to the cultural, social and economic well-being of the people of Manitoba, Canada and the world.
9 viii TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK Innovation We believe in change to maximize opportunities for learning and to bring about a pedagogic excellence. We appreciate the roles of experimentation and free exploration in fostering discovery. We accept the responsibility to identify ways to transfer knowledge easily and quickly for the betterment of society. Responsibility to Society By enhancing the opportunities for faculty, student and staff to learn and to work in an enriched environment, by taking care to foster in our students habits of mind and deepening of character, by focusing on outstanding achievements in scholarly inquiry and Vision To affirm the position of the University of Manitoba among the best of Canada s research-intensive institutions and to lead our nation in demonstrating a commitment to the education of a broad research by our professors, and by increasing and elaborating community and professional service, we act in the best interest of the people of Manitoba. Our activities in teaching, research and service will improve the quality of life and assist in the economic, social and cultural development of our province and the world. Accountability The University of Manitoba is accountable for: Facilitating access to its programs for as many students as meet its admission requirements and as can be accommodated and effectively educated with the available resources; Providing programs that meet or exceed appropriate standards for admission, evaluation and graduation of students and for curriculum content and teaching effectiveness; Facilitating research, scholarship and creative works that are of high quality as judged by international standards; Exhibiting an exemplary work environment for work and study with particular attention to policies and procedures designed to foster equity; and Exhibiting responsible management of physical and human resources These core values are the foundation for our research, teaching and service at the University of Manitoba. sector of society.
10 FOREWORD ix Foreword Learning does not always require teaching and self-directed learners are individuals who are essentially their own instructors. However, for most university students effective learning involves mutual engagement between teacher and student, student and student, and subject and student. These dyadic relations are not always equally intense, nor equally important, but engagement must occur for true learning to take place. It is worth remembering that the student who receives a quality education has obtained more than the knowledge peculiar to a specific discipline. Disciplinary knowledge changes, and sometimes changes rapidly. What does not change are the analytic skills, the critical thinking skills, the ability to perform standard mathematical tasks, the ability to use modern communication technology. These skills are all transportable to the workplace. They are also the products of a good education, imparted by conscientious teachers who expect more from their students than just the facts. A high quality education arises through the interaction of many factors, but high quality teaching is surely among the most important. To be a good teacher is a proper goal for those who seek knowledge, because how well we impart our understanding to our students is a check on how well we understand what we have discovered ourselves. Moreover, there is no greater delight to those who care about knowledge, than seeing the transformation understanding brings to their students. Good teaching, then, is in the professor s interest as much as the student s interest, and consequently good teaching is in the university s interest. Dr. Emó ke J.E. Szathmáry President and Vice-Chancellor University of Manitoba In the most recent strategic academic plan for the University of Manitoba, Building for a Bright Future, there is a clear commitment to focus on high quality academic programs within which there is an environment that fosters student success. Such a commitment can only be honoured if one presumes a similar commitment to teaching excellence. Understanding the needs of individual students and the nuances of curriculum development requires a sound knowledge of pedagogy and a wide range of skills and strategies. Acquiring, developing and nurturing such understandings requires not only the active participation of faculty and staff but the support of skilled individuals whose sole focus is the enhancement of the teaching enterprise. The University Teaching Services team is dedicated to student success and seeks to both stimulate and excite faculty members with regard to a wide spectrum of teaching activities. Although teaching evaluations can be helpful in improving teaching, they are but one tool. However, through the provision of a broad range of services, cooperation with the Faculties and by working directly with faculty members to provide mentorship, the University Teaching Services provide comprehensive support to those who engage in teaching. Through this text, the work of the University Teaching Services and a University committed to excellence in teaching, we will surely be able to provide a culture of learning in which we can all take pride. Dr. Robert Kerr Vice-President (Academic) and Provost University of Manitoba
11 x TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK Preface Welcome to the University of Manitoba. One of your responsibilities is to teach students. Interestingly, not that long ago you were the student. At this point, you might be thinking how will I meet this challenge? What tools are available to assist me? University Teaching Services has developed a Teaching Handbook for University of Manitoba Instructors and Professors. It is designed especially, but not exclusively, for new Faculty members. We recognize that learning to teach is a complex act that is usually not part of an academic s disciplinary education. Teaching at the University of Manitoba: A Handbook is a collection of best practices that describe pedagogically sound principles of teaching and learning. The information is presented in a succinct format which provides practical examples that can be easily utilized or adapted to teaching in any discipline. It is organized in an intuitive fashion for those individuals who may be somewhat unfamiliar with the disciplinary language of Education. The broad categories include: Students, Learning, Assessing Learning, Teaching and finally, the Teacher you! Each chapter is preceded by a brief introduction to the topic. We wanted to share with you the desires and beliefs of our students and staff surrounding teaching and learning. Consequently, we listened to students presenting awards, to teachers sharing their learning in workshops, to students and teachers informal connections and identified the highlights for you. Without exception, the insights of our students and faculty are supported by educational research on students, teaching and learning. It is our intention that you will first and foremost be motivated by the content in this handbook. We trust that novice teachers will find many practical bits of information that can form their teaching practice. We expect that many of you will identify the content as something that resonates with your practice of teaching and consequently affirms your teaching. We also anticipate that many teachers will find their own aha moments as they read the handbook. We hope that these new insights will positively impact your practice of teaching. The Handbook is also an excellent resource for those faculty members who are no longer novice teachers. The truly effective teacher is one who is constantly reflecting on their practice of teaching. Walking down any hallway in our University you can hear faculty members dialoging about a class they just finished teaching or one that they are on their way to teach. Comments such as: I tried that new strategy but it did not work very well or, I tried a new approach and the students were so enthusiastic that everyone came back to class after the break!! are common exchanges. Teachers are consciously and unconsciously, modifying their practice of teaching to maximize the learning potential of their students. Teaching is process, not product. Teaching at the University of Manitoba: A Handbook is only one resource in the teacher s toolkit. A colleagial community of educators is in all probability the most powerful resource to improve your teaching. We encourage you to utilize the handbook as an initial point of dialogue about your teaching, with your colleagues. Eunice Friesen Editor, Associate Director UTS University of Manitoba
12 University Teaching Services UNIVERSITY TEACHING SERVICES xi University Teaching Services (UTS) is a collegial faculty development program that initiates and organizes a wide range of activities related to teaching and learning for faculty and graduate students. The goal of UTS is to help enhance the quality of teaching and learning at the U of M. We provide a wide range of programs including consultations, educational sessions, and resources for all faculties. Below you will find a brief description of each program. For more information on these and other programs, or to ask how UTS can help individuals or groups with any teaching and learning issue, please contact UTS at FACULTY DEVELOPMENT WORKSHOPS Faculty Development workshops on a broad range of topics related to teaching and learning are offered during the fall and winter school term as well as during the months of May and June. Current workshops and registrations are on our website ( UTS also facilitates customized workshops for individual departments or groups. NEW FACULTY SERIES UTS provides a series of linked workshops specifically designed to address the needs of new faculty. PROFESSIONAL SERIES UTS provides a series of linked workshops designed to address the issues that are most common to faculties of professional programs. TEACHING ASSISTANT WORKSHOP This annual practical workshop for teaching assistants (TAs) is sponsored by UTS along with the Faculties of Arts, Science, Engineering, University 1 and the Faculty of Graduate Studies. Teaching assistants receive practical advice on the role of the TA, dealing with common student issues, accommodating diversity, and a range of teaching strategies. PEER CONSULTATION PROGRAM This program allows new and experienced faculty to enhance their teaching by working one-on-one in a confidential relationship with a trained faculty consultant. Peer consultants come from a variety of faculties and have been recognized by their colleagues as accomplished teachers. CERTIFICATION IN HIGHER EDUCATION TEACHING (CHET) UTS offers a certification program to help prepare graduate students for the teaching component of faculty positions and for careers that require communication and presentation skills.
13 xii TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK PRINT RESOURCES Teaching at The University of Manitoba: A Handbook 3rd edition This 250+ page book contains a wealth of practical articles on teaching and learning. Copies of Teaching at The University of Manitoba: A Handbook, can be purchased at the U of M Bookstore. The book is also available on-line as a pdf. UTS Newsletter The UTS Newsletter is distributed to all faculty members and academic administrators. The Newsletter contains articles on teaching, announcements of teaching and learning activities, teaching tips supplied by faculty members, research results of interest, and recognition of teaching award winners. Developing Your Teaching Dossier Guide: This is a workbook designed to help the faculty member compile their teaching dossier. It is available through a UTS workshop with the same title. Black Bar Series Academic Honesty A Brief Description of SEEQ Collaborative Learning Activities Do s and Don ts for Group Assignments Five Ways to Improve Written Responses to Student Work Grading: Suggestions for Maximizing Students Perceptions of Fairness Mentoring: A Strategy for Career Development The Objectionable Utterance Preparing a Teaching Dossier Shared Teaching: Some Suggestions Teaching Sequenced Courses: Some Suggestions Tips for Writing a University Paper Use and Abuse of Overhead Transparencies Using Cooperative Education Techniques as a Framework to Help Students Develop Effective Group Processes Working Toward the Equitable Treatment of Students in Multi-section Courses Information Booklet Students Rating Teaching (a 37-page booklet) Teaching Tips: This series of booklets contains practical tips used by master teachers in a variety of disciplines. Titles include: Learning and Academic Value Instructor Enthusiasm Organization and Clarity Group Interaction Individual Rapport Breadth of Coverage Exams and Graded Material Assignments and Readings
14 UNIVERSITY TEACHING SERVICES xiii TEACHING AWARDS UTS assists in the application process for two teaching awards sponsored by The Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (STLHE). These two awards are the 3M Teaching Fellowships for teaching excellence and educational leadership and the Alan Blizzard award for collaboration in teaching. 3M Teaching Fellowships These awards recognize teaching excellence as well as educational leadership. Up to ten Fellowships are awarded each year. The award includes a citation and an invitation to participate in a three-day retreat at Chateau Montebello in Quebec. This very popular retreat provides the winners with an opportunity to share past teaching experiences and discuss new ideas. The Alan Blizzard Award The Allan Blizzard Award is designed to stimulate and reward collaboration in teaching, and encourage and disseminate scholarship in teaching and learning. It is sponsored by McGraw-Hill Ryerson (Higher Education Division) and is presented at the annual conference of The Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (STLHE). Further information is available at the STLHE website. The University of Manitoba also presents several annual teaching awards. Saunderson Award The Saunderson Award is presented to a member of the U of M teaching staff for excellence in teaching. The faculty member holds the rank of lecturer or instructor I or above. Nominations for a Saunderson Award are accepted from members of the graduating class. Stanton Award The Stanton Award is presented to a member of the U of M teaching staff for excellence in teaching. The faculty member holds the rank of lecturer or instructor I or above. Nominations for a Stanton Award are accepted from members of the graduating class. STUDENTS TEACHER RECOGNITION RECEPTION UTS sponsors this annual reception at which outstanding graduating students honour teachers who have made special contributions to their education. The students each honour two teachers, one from their Kindergarten to Grade 12 years and one from the U of M. Note: Many faculties have their own teaching awards.
15 xiv TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK Acknowledgements The process of producing the current edition of Teaching at the University of Manitoba: A Handbook has been challenging. Many of the individuals who have contributed to the production of the book have experienced transitions in their lives which have not allowed them to participate in the final product. University Teaching Services (UTS) extends their appreciation to David Kirby, Joyce Joyal, Norma Buydens, Jennifer Tennant, Arun Chaturvedi, and Michelle Poulin for their contributions. We also want to thank the previous editors Beverly Cameron and Mark Lawall, and the previous UTS director Lynn Taylor for following their vision of creating a teaching handbook for our Faculty members. The current edition of the Handbook has developed into a collaborative resource of insights on teaching and learning from multiple practitioners in the field of education. A special thank-you to colleagues at the University of Manitoba who generously contributed their time and knowledge by writing articles for the handbook. Kali Storm (Aboriginal Student Centre) Mary Benbow (Environment and Geography) Marcia Friesen (Faculty of Engineering) Karen Grant (Vice Provost- Academic Affairs) Rosalyn Howard (Learning and Development Services) Laura McDonald (Dental Hygiene) Lynn Taylor (Past UTS Director) George Siemens (Learning Technology Centre) Dieter Schönwetter (Faculty of Dentistry) Brandy Usick (Student Advocacy) We want to thank the communications departments of many faculties who willingly shared photos of their staff and students for publication in the handbook. Thank you to Arun Chaturvedi and Brendan Friesen who reformatted the many articles and to Mervin Friesen for editing the cover photos. A big thank you to Julie Chychota who spent many hours obtaining copyrights for the articles that were written by colleagues external to the University of Manitoba. This handbook could not have happened without the funding from the Faculty Development Fund, Office of the President, and the hard work of the staff at UTS. Thank you to Bill Zenert who took pictures and reformatted tables, figures and pictures into a format that could be utilized in the handbook. Thank you to Erica Jung who completed
16 ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS xv multiple administrative organizational tasks including compiling the list of contributors a job that required the skills of a true treasure hunter. Thank you to both Erica and Rita Froese for the many hours of tireless and detailed proofreading of the book. A big thank you to Barry Hammond from Flamingo Design who patiently listened to our ideas, provided gentle encouragement and direction, and just about never said no to any of our ideas. He spent countless hours working and reworking the contents of the Handbook to produce a truly professional looking book. And a big thank you to Cheryl Kristjanson who inspired the reflection required to maintain the focus of the handbook as well as ensured the pedagogical accuracy of the text. This book is a fine example of group work! Eunice Friesen Editor, Associate Director UTS University of Manitoba UTS STAFF: For more information, please feel free to contact us at: University Teaching Services (UTS) The University of Manitoba 220 Sinnott Bldg. 70 Dysart Road Tel: (204) Fax: (204) Cheryl Kristjanson, Director Eunice Friesen, Associate Director Angela Tittle, Research Assistant Valentina Tautkus, Office Manager Erica Jung, Program Administrator Rita Froese, Program Assistant Bill Zenert, Technology Assistant
17 xvi TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK Contributors Paul Baepler, PhD Multimedia Designer and Instructional Consultant Center for Teaching and Learning University of Minnesota Minneapolis, Minnesota Mary Benbow, PhD Associate Professor, Department of Environment & Geography and Associate Dean Academic, Clayton H. Riddell Faculty of Environment, Earth & Resources University of Manitoba Winnipeg, Manitoba Nancy Callaghan Student Advocate University of Manitoba Winnipeg, Manitoba Beverly Cameron, PhD Former Director University 1 University of Manitoba Winnipeg, Manitoba Janet F. Carlson, PhD Professor and Department Head General Academics Texas A&M University at Galveston Galveston, Texas William E. Cashin, PhD Kansas State University Manhattan, Kansas Center for Teaching Excellence (CTE) University of Maryland College Park, Maryland Helen Davies, PhD Professor Department of Microbiology School of Medicine University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, Pennsylvania The Foundation Coalition Supported by the National Science Foundation Arlington, Virginia Marcia Friesen, MEd Program Director Internationally Educated Engineers Qualifications Pilot Program (IEEQ Program) University of Manitoba Winnipeg, Manitoba Heather Gill-Robinson, PhD Assistant Professor Department of Anthropology, Faculty of Arts University of Manitoba Winnipeg, Manitoba
18 CONTRIBUTORS xvii Eileen Gillese, LLD, LLM Former Dean and Professor Faculty of Law University of Western Ontario London, Ontario Karen Grant, PhD Vice-Provost (Academic Affairs) and Associate Professor Sociology University of Manitoba Winnipeg, Manitoba Melanie C. Green, PhD Assistant Professor Department of Psychology University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, North Carolina Linda N. Groat, PhD Professor Architecture and Women s Studies A. Alfred Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning University of Michigan Ann Arbor, Michigan Rosalyn Howard, MA Director Learning & Development Services (LDS) University of Manitoba Winnipeg, Manitoba Eileen Herteis, MA Director Purdy Crawford Teaching Center Mount Allison University Sackville, New Brunswick Honolulu Community College University of Hawaii Honolulu, Hawaii Mark Lawall, PhD Professor Department of Classics, Faculty of Arts University of Manitoba Winnipeg, Manitoba Richard Leblanc, PhD Professor Corporate Governance, Law and Ethics Atkinson Faculty of Liberal and Professional Studies York University Toronto, Ontario Madeline Lennon Professor Department of Visual Arts University of Western Ontario London, Ontario Laura MacDonald, MEd Associate Professor School of Dental Hygiene Faculty of Dentistry University of Manitoba Winnipeg, Manitoba Michele Marincovich, PhD Associate Vice Provost of Undergraduate Education and Director Center for Teaching and Learning Stanford University Stanford, California Martha L. Maznevski, PhD Professor Organizational Behaviour and International Management International Institute for Management Development (IMD) Lausanne, Switzerland
19 xviii TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK Cheryl McLean, PhD Director Distance & Online Education University of Manitoba Winnipeg, Manitoba Larry Michaelsen, PhD Professor Faculty of Management Harmon College of Business Administration University of Central Missouri Warrensburg, Missouri Jan McLean, MEd Program Coordinator School of Public Health and Community Medicine Graduate Certificate in Learning and Teaching The University of New South Wales Sydney, Australia Paul Mercer, PhD Professor Emeritus Department of Physiology Faculty of Medicine University of Western Ontario London, Ontario Virtual University Design and Technology (vudat) Teaching and Learning Michigan State University East Lansing, Michigan Susan M. Montgomery, PhD Lecturer and Undergraduate Program Advisor University of Michigan Ann Arbor, Michigan Harry Murray, PhD Professor Emeritus Department of Psychology University of Western Ontario London, Ontario Ohio State Teaching Handbook Office of Faculty & TA Development (ftad) Ohio State University Columbus, Ohio Jay Roberts, MEd Director of Wilderness Programs and Instructor in the Education Program Earlham College Richmond, Indiana Matthew W. Roberts, PhD Assistant Professor Department of Civil Engineering University of Wisconsin-Platteville Platteville, Wisconsin Marilyn Robinson, PhD (deceased) Professor Department of Physiology and Director Educational Development Office University of Western Ontario London, Ontario
20 CONTRIBUTORS xix Bill Rozaitis, PhD Education Specialist Center for Teaching and Learning University of Minnesota Minneapolis, Minnesota Dieter Schönwetter, PhD Education Specialist and Assistant Professor Faculty of Dentistry University of Manitoba Winnipeg, Manitoba George Siemens Associate Director, Research & Development Learning Technologies Centre University of Manitoba Winnipeg, Manitoba Timothy F. Slater, PhD Associate Professor Department of Astronomy Steward Observatory Conceptual Astronomy and Physics Education Research (CAPER) Team University of Arizona Tucson, Arizona Jeanne M. Slattery, PhD Assistant Professor Department of Psychology Clarion University Clarion, Pennsylvania Kali Storm, MEd Director Aboriginal Student Centre University of Manitoba Winnipeg, Manitoba Juris Peteris Svenne, PhD Senior Scholar Department of Physics and Astronomy University of Manitoba Winnipeg, Manitoba Lynn Taylor, PhD Director Centre for Learning and Teaching Dalhousie University Halifax, Nova Scotia Angela M. Tittle, MSc Research Associate University Teaching Services University of Manitoba Winnipeg, Manitoba Tutoring and Academic Success Centers (T.A.S.C.) Three Rivers Community College Norwich, Connecticut Brandy Usick, MEd Director Student Advocacy and Resource Services University of Manitoba Winnipeg, Manitoba Lynn Smith, PhD Executive Director Student Services University of Manitoba Winnipeg, Manitoba
21 1 CHAPTER Students
22 Introduction INTRODUCTION 1.1 The largest segment of the University of Manitoba student body is composed of undergraduate students (see below). Almost half of the undergraduate students are young adults who transition directly from high school to University. In an effort to gain a better understanding of our students we listened to them describing their educational experience during a teaching award ceremony. The following is a list of student comments about what is important to them during their educational experiences at the University of Manitoba. We want to be recognized by our teacher as individuals, with names, not just numbers We want to be treated with respect and as a person of equal value. We want teachers to communicate that our presence in the classroom matters to the teacher. We want to be accepted for our previous accomplishments and our individual talents. We want flexibility in our learning. We want our teachers to believe in us and to inspire us to be the best we can be. We want to be challenged, but know that our teacher will help us overcome the challenges. We want to know that we can be successful we want to know when we are becoming successful, and how to change when we are less successful. We want our teachers to be proud of our accomplishments. We want a connection with our teachers outside of the classroom. But, most importantly, we want our teachers to LISTEN to us. Introduction 1.1 Diverse Teaching and Learning Experiences 1.2 Aboriginal Aboriginal identity is self-declared and voluntary, therefore the actual numbers would be less than the total population of Canadian Aboriginal students on campus. Univ 1 Other Transfers, Other High School Admissions & Special Admission. Mature 21 year old students who did not qualifyfor direct admission from high school. Data and student category definitions quoted from the Office of Institutional Analysis website: Bargenda, D., Doern, B., Gama, V., Hermiston, J., Kurjewicz, Z., Mansfield, S., Olsen, D., Roller,R., Trask, W. & Lussier, T.G. (Director). (2006). IS Book Online. Retrieved February 23, 2007 from University of Manitoba, Office of Institutional AnalysisWebsite: institutional_analysis/index.htm
23 1.2 TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK Diverse Teaching and Learning Experiences KALI STORM Used with permission of author as adapted by Norma Buydens Teaching and Learning with Aboriginal Students Aboriginal students are increasingly present in our University classrooms. They gain invaluable learning opportunities; but Aboriginal students also provide the University community with unique learning opportunities. Most instructors will have Aboriginal students in their class. This article will discuss a few of the many ways in which we can maximize the richness of their presence. The term Aboriginal includes all peoples Indigenous to North America/Turtle Island. It is important to represent these Peoples as unique and separate, with distinct cultures, languages, beliefs, traditions and customs. Instructors can gain a great deal through researching the traditions and histories (oral and written) of Aboriginal Peoples, before attempting to teach them. Once this is done, your classes can become more inclusive by including Aboriginal issues (historical and current) whenever possible, presenting Aboriginal issues in a factual and balanced way. For instance, try to incorporate more positive examples when discussing Aboriginal Peoples, and be sure to contextualize contemporary Aboriginal issues with historical facts. Words such as massacre and victory have a negative connotation and should be avoided. Consider using fewer materials and texts which describe as heroes only those Aboriginal persons who helped Europeans and Euro-Americans/Canadians. Aboriginal history is a part of Canadian history. There are materials available that show respect and understanding, portraying Aboriginal societies as sophisticated and complex. In some courses, you can acknowledge oral history and Traditional Teachings, giving them equal value and credibility as the knowledge in books, which represent only those people at a given time who had the opportunity to have their thoughts published. Try to use books and materials written by Aboriginal Peoples; literature written by non-aboriginals about Aboriginal people should always be carefully scrutinized. Spirituality teaches values and is part of any culture. Be aware that Aboriginal spirituality is a way of life; Aboriginal people do not separate church from state but look at life holistically. This makes the Aboriginal spirituality of some your Aboriginal students a valuable resource and counterpoint for your courses. However, since many Aboriginal people have been educated through the public school system, not all of them know their own histories, cultures or details of Native spirituality.
24 DIVERSE TEACHING AND LEARNING EXPERIENCES 1.3 Encourage Aboriginal students to participate in discussions about their family traditions or their people s cultures if they feel comfortable in doing so. It might be useful to invite an Aboriginal guest speaker or presenter to your class. Keep in mind that you may have Aboriginal students in your class without realizing it many Aboriginal people do not self-disclose their identity. Finally, when dealing with all students, instructors should show respect for each student as an individual, with a private and family life, and with his or her own set of priorities, responsibilities and obligations. Keeping these points in mind, we are in a position to benefit from the increasing presence of Aboriginal students in our classrooms. Tips for Working with Second-Language (L2) Students Asurvey of first-year Engineering students in early 2003 indicated that nearly 25% of students come to our Faculty from outside of Canada. A quick look into an undergraduate classroom confirms the presence of many different cultures and languages, and the international component is even more apparent in the graduate student population. A focus group held with a group of international students in engineering in late 2003 highlighted some common challenges for second-language speakers in listening to, reading, and writing in English. Listening: Second language (L2) students appreciate it when professors Speak with full volume; Speak in a moderate pace (not too fast); Explain the meanings of acronyms (for example, IEEE, NSERC, etc.); Limit the use of idioms, or explain what they mean (for example, that answer is way out in left field ; you should be up to speed on this chapter ); and, Explain new or unfamiliar vocabulary. Reading: L2 students appreciate it when professors Assess the difficulty (complexity) and amount of reading assignments and give an adequate amount of time to complete it; Make sets of notes available before class or at the beginning of the term, to allow the student to pre-read; and, Make type-written sets of notes available, to limit the difficulties in reading cursive penmanship. > Demonstrate respect for each student as an individual, with a MARCIA FRIESEN Used with permission of author private and family life, and with his or her own set of priorities, responsibilities and obligations. TIP
25 1.4 TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK Writing: L2 students appreciate it when professors Give a clear description of the requirements for writing assignments, both for content and format, length, and style; and, Make examples of writing assignments available for reference on format, length, and style. In addition, L2 students appreciate accessible office hours with both the instructor and the teaching assistants. MARCIA FRIESEN Used with permission of author Practical and Simple Teaching Accommodations for International Students Being an international student often means being a second-language speaker as well. Here are some practical strategies to use in the classroom to make teaching & learning more effective for second language speakers and for students of non-western cultures. Many of these suggestions come from good teaching practice and can benefit all students in your classroom. Whether you learn the names of your students in class or during office hours, show respect for students by learning to pronounce their names as accurately as possible. Ask them to correct your pronunciation, and practice the name often. When speaking in class, enunciate clearly and be careful to not speak too quickly. Be cautious when using humour or sarcasm, as humour is often the last language skill to be mastered. Assume that some of your students will not understand unfamiliar words and include their explanations in the normal course of your lecturing. Clarify any acronyms used in class. If possible, prepare a glossary of new/unfamiliar terms and acronyms, or write them on the board at the beginning of class and leave them as a visual reminder for the duration of the class. During discussions or when asking questions, second language speakers often struggle to express their thoughts, opinions, and questions as eloquently in English as they would in their primary language. Re-phrase or paraphrase their questions and their contributions to class discussion, ask whether you have understood them correctly, and use probes ( can you tell me more about that, can you explain that a little further ) to allow them opportunities to fully express their thoughts. Be aware that the university classroom environment in some cultures is more hierarchical, formal, and structured than in Canada. Asking questions is not necessarily okay in all cultures. Be prepared to draw out quieter students by asking them questions directly.
26 DIVERSE TEACHING AND LEARNING EXPERIENCES 1.5 Be aware that how one gives and receives feedback varies from culture to culture. What sounds like clear, directive feedback in Canada may sound harsh in another culture, or may be too unclear and have no feedback value in a third culture. Use probing, paraphrasing, and re-phrasing in class discussions to soften students comments that sound overly direct or harsh. Be prepared to sharpen vague or indirect comments using the same techniques. During office hours, take your cue from the student as to how formal or informal they want to deal with you as the instructor. Some students will be most comfortable in a formal relationship with no personal component. Other students will welcome questions about their other classes, their family, their jobs, etc. As you have time, educate yourself on cultural differences and how they manifest themselves in everyday work, communication, and interaction. Cultures vary along a number of parameters, including hierarchical and participative cultures, individualistic and collectivistic cultures, risk tolerant and risk averse cultures, and high context and low context cultures. We all operate out of a specific cultural orientation, but we usually fail to recognize our own culture and its effects since we are so involved in it. Some suggested readings include: Riding the Waves of Culture, by Fons Trompenaars & Charles Hampden-Turner (1998) Building Cross-Cultural Competence, by Charles Hampden-Turner and Fons Trompenaars (2000) Managing Cultural Diversity in Technical Professions, by Lionel Laroche (2003) Non-Traditional Age Students Anon-traditional student is anyone who is not a teenager and who has not just graduated from high school. Non-traditional students include adults who have been downsized at work and are creating new careers. Others are housewives who are coming back to education after years of taking care of their families and homes. Some students need certain courses in order to move up in their jobs or to hold onto their jobs. Still other non-traditional students have been mandated by various assistance programs to either work or obtain an education within a certain time limit. There are all kinds of reasons for adults to come back to school. What do all of these students have in common? Fear. They are afraid they will not fit in; they are afraid they have been out of school too long; they are afraid they won t succeed. This fear may manifest itself in anger, sadness, inertia, an attitude problem, or overcompensation. THREE RIVERS COMMUNITY COLLEGE Non-Traditional Student. Used with permission of Tutoring and Academic Success Centers, Three Rivers Community College, 2002
27 1.6 TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK RESPONSIBILITIES These students have often suffered set-backs and heartaches. They have responsibilities that most recent high school graduates have not yet experienced. With demands from spouses, and/or children, and/or jobs, they have problems balancing their schedules. With demands on their limited resources from paying for housing, food, utilities, daycare, transportation, books, tuition, etc. they may also have problems managing their money. They encounter problems with their childcare sitters - often at the last minute. They may also have transportation problems. HIGHLY MOTIVATED STUDENTS However, most non-traditional students are highly motivated. They know it is up to them to make their lives better. As a tutor, you can help them reinforce the relationship between (1) successfully completing each course, (2) which will help them meet their educational goals, (3) which will lead to their new career, their new promotion, and/or their transition from assistance to the workforce. Letting these non-traditional students know they are not alone, that there is an obtainable goal, and that they are the ones who are creating these changes in their own lives, can often help give these students the confidence, determination, and encouragement they need to persevere. The process of learning affects the content of learning. TIPS FOR TUTORING NON-TRADITIONAL AGE STUDENTS The following are some suggestions to make working with non-traditional students more productive: Use appropriate reinforcement. Show a genuine interest. Respect their past experience, but do not allow this to be an excuse for poor performance. Model time management skills. Be empathetic. Relate information to known experience. Use tutoring time wisely. Remember, their time is usually very valuable.
28 DIVERSE TEACHING AND LEARNING EXPERIENCES 1.7 Building an Equity Culture: How You Can Make A Difference Many of the ideas in this article are based on a forum/workshop by Dr. Bernice Sandler, an internationally respected expert who has conducted research on strategies to warm the chilly classroom climate. The forum and workshop were hosted by the Faculty of Arts. As you prepare for your classes, take a few moments to consider the following strategies that colleagues have identified for avoiding discrimination and making the classroom more hospitable for all students. These suggestions are offered to you with the following thought in mind: the process of learning affects the content of learning. If we can make our classrooms anti-racist and anti-sexist, if we can foster the participation of students who might be diffident, if we can think more self-consciously about what we teach and how we teach it, if we work to avoid subtly encouraging some students while discouraging others, if we reflect on what we, as individual instructors, can do and what we can encourage within our institution perhaps then we can create teaching and learning environments that enhance the experience of all faculty and students. KAREN R. GRANT Used with permission of author WHAT CAN PROFESSORS DO TO CREATE A POSITIVE CLASSROOM ENVIRONMENT? There are many things that instructors can do to foster a positive teaching and learning environment. Keeping in mind the size and format of your classes, you might wish to consider the following: As you prepare your syllabus: Reflect on your teaching orientation and pedagogical style, and then let your students know how you plan to teach the course (include this in your syllabus). Include women and minority scholars as part of the knowledge base, but don t marginalize women s or minority issues in class. Include women and minorities among any guest speakers invited to your classes. Once your class begins: Talk about the issues of climate in class (there are several very good videos on the subject, some of which include resource guides that can be used to facilitate discussion). Familiarize your students with U of M policies including: Your Faculty s Students Code of Responsibilities Responsibilities of Academic Staff with Regard to Students Policy (ROASS) Human Rights Policy
29 1.8 TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK Sexual Harassment Policy Language Usage Policy Set an example for your students by complying with these and other university policies. Familiarize yourself and your students with some of the resources and services on campus that students may need: Student Resource Services this branch of Student Affairs includes the chaplains, disability services, the English Language Centre, the Learning Assistance Centre, the Aboriginal Students Office, and the Play Care Centre Office of Student Advocacy informs and advises students experiencing academically-related difficulties and serves as an advocate or intermediary for such students Equity Services Office this office provides services in employment equity, conflict resolution, and advice and assistance with human rights and sexual harassment complaints and education University Health Service this clinic provides health care to the university community Psychological Service Centre this centre provides therapy and counseling to individuals, couples, families, and groups, with staff available to assist in crises, and on a walk-in basis Counselling Service this centre provides counselling to students for personal, career and academic issues Some things to try: Ask students to introduce one another in class. Try to learn the names of all of your students. Keep track of who talks (and, as important, who does not talk), and the nature of the discussion. (Do students raise their hands? Do students interrupt the instructor? Do students interrupt one another? How does interaction take place in class?) Be realistic about your expectations regarding student participation: expect participation over time, thereby allowing for individual differences. Use praise and feedback as a strategy to encourage students to learn and participate. Don t restrict the space you use as an instructor; instead, move around the classroom in order to reach out to all of the students in your class.
30 DIVERSE TEACHING AND LEARNING EXPERIENCES 1.9 Re-arrange physical settings to promote interaction (e.g., move the seats into a U or a circle to make it easier for people to see each other). Use quizzes as a way to get students to talk about issues in small groups. This will also make students feel that they have contributed to the class. If using small groups, make sure that the responsibility for recording group interaction and discussion is rotated among class members. When you ask questions in class, don t always pick the first hand that goes up; instead, wait for other hands or call on individuals. Ask questions of all members of the class. Try to ensure proportional representation in calling on students. In some cases, it may be appropriate to make a special effort to call on women and minority students. Consider singling out individuals to perform tasks in class, but don t force the issue. When criticism is appropriate, phrase the issue in the form of a question (e.g., Your answer doesn t take into account X. versus How would your answer be affected by X? ). Intervene when negative behavior is evident. (For example, if suggestions or comments are made by both men and women, but only those offered by men are acknowledged, draw attention to this by picking up on the women s comments and showing how they have been overlooked.) Don t communicate lower expectations for women and minority students. Treat the same behaviors in men and women in the same way and give the same kinds of information, praise, and coaching to female and male students. (The same applies to treating minority students like Caucasian students) Ask critical thinking and factual questions of both women and men and of both minority students and Caucasian students. Use language that is inclusive, or minimally gender-specific (i.e. use language that includes men and women in the group; avoid using the generic he ; refrain from using or condoning sexist or racist humor). Avoid excluding any students. Make sure that students don t feel squeezed out by the classroom dynamics. Avoid stereotyping any individual or group of students. Encourage all students.
31 1.10 TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK Throughout your class: Ask for feedback from students on the process of learning and the content of the course. Have students complete one-minute papers on issues as a way of identifying problem areas in both process and content. Monitor instructional materials for unequal and discriminatory arguments, illustrations, and content with regard to the depiction of women and cultural minorities. Update bibliographies making them more inclusive, and encourage students to pursue inclusive reading and research. Arrange to have your lectures videotaped so you can see how you teach, and make changes where they are needed. Arrange to work with a Peer Consultant from University Teaching Services. WHAT CAN YOU AND THE UNIVERSITY DO TO BUILD AN EQUITY CULTURE? Promote continuing education related to pedagogy (including seeking administrative support for faculty development workshops). Examine departmental and faculty curricula for diversity. Do the calendar descriptions for courses reflect what is taught? Do calendar descriptions acknowledge new scholarship? Should they? Should new courses be introduced to make the curricula in our departments and programs more inclusive? Include climate issues in course and peer evaluations (e.g., Have you felt uncomfortable in this class because of your gender (race/ethnicity)? If so, how? Bring women or minority representatives to the campus as specialty instructors or keynote speakers at colloquia. Make sure that university policies dealing with equity (i.e. language use, human rights, sexual harassment, etc.) are publicized. Make sure that members of the University community adhere to university policies dealing with equity. Keep equity in the decision-making processes of the University. Are there biases in the processes for appointment, tenure and promotion? How will equity concerns for staff (academic and non-academic) and students be affected by university restructuring?
32 DIVERSE TEACHING AND LEARNING EXPERIENCES 1.11 Foster mentoring through K-12/university alliances. Such alliances can be especially significant in encouraging students to enter non-traditional fields (science and engineering for women and nursing for men). Ensure that an effective student orientation program is established that promotes anti-racism and anti-sexism. Make building an equity culture the work of Senate and other governing bodies of the University. Encourage everyone to do the work of building an equity culture, with at least one person in each unit who can take on a leadership role. In their publication, Keeping Equity in the Decision-Making Process, the Council of Ontario Universities Committee on the Status of Women and the Committee on Employment and Educational Equity concluded: Equity and diversity are essential elements in excellence... If universities are places where we value diversity of thought, places where we want to encourage creative debate, then they must be places to which all people with the intellectual capacity and interest have equal access and in which there is equal opportunity. Focusing on equity has not been at the expense of excellence, but rather in the service of excellence. We have been attempting to increase faculty diversity, not because of legislation, but because we have wanted better institutions. We have focused on career development for administrative staff, not only because this will make our employment equity numbers look better, but because we want to ensure that everyone s full potential is realized. We have attempted to diversify our curriculum, not because of political correctness, but because we want to teach at the cutting edge > of academic scholarship and to have our teaching reflect the needs of TIP our students. Building an Equity Culture is everybody s business. Please do your Awareness of your part to make a difference! culture(s) will increase REFERENCES your understanding of Sandler, Bernice R., Silverberg, Lisa, and Hall, Roberta M., The Chilly Classroom Climate: A Guide to Improve the Education of Women. Washington, D.C.: National your own behaviour, Association for Women in Education, Sandler, Bernice R. and Hall, Roberta M., The Campus Climate Revisited- Chilly and increase your for Women Faculty, Administrators, and Graduate Students. Washington, D.C.: Association of American Colleges, ability to have empathy Sandler, Bernice R., Success and Survival Strategies for Women Faculty Members. Washington, D.C.: Association of American Colleges, for your students. Solar, Claudie (ed.), Inequity in the Classroom: A Manual for Professors and Adult Educators. Montreal: Office of the Status of Women, Concordia University, 1992.
33 1.12 TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK ROSALYN HOWARD Used with permission of author Cultural Competence and Respectful Environment WHERE TO START: TAKING YOUR PERSONAL CULTURAL COMPETENCY INVENTORY Cultural competence is a key skill for all members of a university community students, academic staff, and support staff. As academic staff, you can model respectful, effective interpersonal behaviour, insure the cultural relevance of your curriculum and teaching strategies, and support the development of cultural competence in your students Cultural competence includes: Awareness and acceptance of difference recognizing the person for who they are. (Absence of acceptance of difference can erase the other person s different identity.) Awareness of one s own cultural values understanding culture from the inside out. (Absence of self-awareness can lead you to unconsciously assume everyone else is like you, thus privileging your own culture.) Understanding the dynamics of difference perception of power, and building on commonalities are key. (Absence of understanding power dynamics may mean you pay lipservice without confronting real barriers to equity, and construct solutions for minority groups, not with them.) Development of cultural knowledge increasing awareness of possibly different expectations and acting accordingly. (Incomplete or unremittingly negative cultural knowledge can lead to stereotyping others within each group as all alike and as problems.) Adaptability to fit the cultural context of the people with whom we interact and to help them deal with the dominant culture, where appropriate. Increasing Cultural Competence A great place to start is to reflect on you as a cultural being. What is your cultural background? What has shaped your mental models of perceptions, assumptions, values, and expectations? You may identify ancestry, ethnic affiliations, age, generation, sex, gender, socioeconomic status, parental status, physical or mental ability/disability, professional perspective, etc., as part of your culture. Your combination of factors of identity influences your expectations regarding respectful behaviour, your relations with colleagues, and your relations with students. Awareness of your culture(s) will increase your understanding of your own behaviour, and increase your ability to have empathy for your students. You are similar to and different from your departmental and faculty colleagues in certain cultural ways. Your cultural pattern influences the extent to which you feel confident of your knowledge of the norms, and influential as part of a critical mass.
34 DIVERSE TEACHING AND LEARNING EXPERIENCES 1.13 Your students also experience degrees of being an insider or outsider, in your class and in other university communities. All interactions are intercultural to some extent. Part of the challenge of intercultural interactions is that, while we know our own assumptions and values as the most significant aspect of our cultural being, we may notice only the more superficial aspects of others cultures, the tip of the iceberg, and fail to understand the deeper context. It is the collision of under the surface values and thought patterns that leads to many of the surprises and challenges in interactions. The extent to which we are cultural beings is often not recognized. Thus, the cultural competency continuum below (source unknown) outlines stages of learning which reflect increasing cultural competence. Unconscious Conscious Conscious Unconscious Incompetence Incompetence Competence Competence We are often unaware of our cultural biases and their impact on behaviour: this is unconscious incompetence. Once we become more aware of our cultural lenses regarding curriculum planning, instructional strategies, and interpretation of our students behaviour (during the stage of conscious competence), then we may become motivated
35 1.14 TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK to be more inclusive, through referencing sources from a variety of cultural perspectives, or encouraging respectful class dialogue about student experiences. We move to unconscious competence when we demonstrate culturally competence behaviors without having to think about them, as a central part of our art of instruction. The gradual process of developing cultural competence is outlined in the following diagram, using nursing practice as an example: Originally published in Transcultural Care: a Guide for Health Care Professionals: A Practical Guide for Nurses and Other Health Care Professionals (1998) by Irena Papadopoulos, Mary Tilki, Gina Taylor. Used with permission of Quay Books: a division of M.A. Healthcare Ltd. Figure 1: The Papadopoulos, Tilki and Taylor Model for Developing Cultural Competence 1 (Adapted from Culture and the Classroom, first printed in UTS Newsletter, Vol. 13, No.2, November 2004). COMING TOGETHER: BUILDING A DIVERSE CLASSROOM COMMUNITY Lee Knefelkamp of Columbia University pointed out that: Every classroom is a cultural community reflective of the disciplines and perspectives studied, the authors, the students, and the classroom, 2 reminding us that the complex dynamics related to culture are always present in the process of instruction. Learning is about: the content of the curriculum; but also the perspectives which informed it; and the perspectives through which it is interpreted by instructor and students. The classroom can be a living laboratory for exploration of learning styles and multiple perspectives, identification of differences and similarities between cultural groups (breaking down stereotypes), and practice in the collaborative inquiry and negotiations central to intercultural effectiveness in this multicultural world.
36 DIVERSE TEACHING AND LEARNING EXPERIENCES 1.15 Maurianne Adams and Linda Marchesani from the University of Massachusetts identify four dimensions of teaching and learning of relevance to social and cultural diversity, and suggest how to manage them effectively: The students know who they are and how their various backgrounds influence their experience in the classroom The instructor know your background, academic socialization, and learned beliefs The course content create a curriculum with diverse perspectives The teaching methods develop a broad repertoire of methods to promote complete learning for different backgrounds and learning styles 3 The dynamics of culture and instruction are always present and impact the quality of the learning experience in every discipline, not only people-oriented courses. Good thing we don t expect our work with students to be simple! THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA S CULTURE OF RESPECT Equity is not the same thing as equality. When we treat people equally (that is, exactly the same), we ignore differences. This may not be respectful. Equity is about fairness and requires thinking about how to make the learning environment one where all who can succeed have a fair opportunity to do so. Respectful learning environments are built by instructors who consistently demonstrate sensitivity to the diverse backgrounds and interests of the students. These instructors: structure opportunities for students to interact with their instructors and each other meaningfully; communicate the expectation that all are responsible for the climate of the classroom; involve students in the identification of examples of true respect in the classroom; and model the behaviours expected of the students. These strategies will diminish classroom incivilities. The University of Manitoba supports a climate of respect in the workplace and the learning environment, to ensure that individuals or groups of individuals are free from harassment. BULLYING IS AGAINST THE RESPECTFUL WORK AND LEARNING ENVIRONMENT POLICY The University of Manitoba has a Respectful Work and Learning Environment Policy to support a climate of respect in the workplace and the learning environment, to ensure that individuals or groups of individuals are free from harassment (abusive, unwelcome (Adapted from: ROADS to Respect, first printed in UTS Newsletter, Vol.12, No. 3, February 2004).
37 1.16 TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK 1 Papadopoulos I, Tilki M and Taylor G (1998): Transcultural Care: A Guide for Health Care Professionals. Quay Books, Wilts 2 F97/curriculum.html 3 W99/multidimensional.html 4 umanitoba.ca/ admin/governance/ governing_ documents/ community.htm conduct with the purpose or effect of creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment, and resulting in a negative consequence for the target) and discrimination (differential treatment, intended or not, of an individual or group of individuals). Harassment may be personal, sexual, and/or based on characteristics identified in human rights legislation (including ancestry, nationality or national origin, ethnic background or origin, religion or creed, age, sex, pregnancy, gender, sexual orientation, marital or family status, source or income, political belief or activity, and physical or mental disability). The University of Manitoba supports equity, diversity and the dignity of all people. The University promotes equity in learning programs, employment, and the conduct of the University s affairs. 4 Bullying (or personal harassment) is objectionable and unwelcome comments or actions directed towards a specific target which serve no legitimate work or academic-related purpose and have the effect of creating an intimidating, humiliating, hostile or offensive environment. The bully does not need to be in a position of power over you, nor do you have to understand why this is happening to you in order to make a complaint or seek advice. Who do I go to for assistance? Equity Services will assist you with any kind of harassment or discrimination questions or concerns. Also, for personal harassment questions and concerns, you may also contact Student Advocacy, or Human Resources. If I want to make a written complaint is there anyone who can help me? Yes. The Equity Services Advisor will help you as well as provide you with a guideline for writing a complaint. The Office of Student Advocacy will help students write a complaint regarding personal harassment.
38 DIVERSE TEACHING AND LEARNING EXPERIENCES 1.17
39 2 CHAPTER Learning
40 Introduction INTRODUCTION 2.1 Learning is growth. When an individual identifies that they have learned something, it generally means that the individual now knows something that s/he did not know before. Learning can be cognitive new knowledge; psychomotor-a new physical skill; or affective learning how to better communicate. Learning is often very challenging. As teachers, it is our responsibility to help facilitate student learning. It is most natural to guide another s learning in the same manner in which you, the teacher learn. If this method worked for everyone there would not be any questions about learning or any motivation to understand how individuals learn. But learning is complex. One student will learn from a few sentences of instruction. Another will learn from a simple demonstration. Some students seem to struggle despite our best efforts. There are multiple theories of learning behaviourism, constructivism, humanism and others. There is also a growing body of research on the neuroscience associated with learning. An understanding of the various perspectives and theories surrounding learning can guide the teacher s teaching. For example, if we understand that the brain s tendency is to chunk information then that knowledge helps us decide Introduction 2.1 how to best organize our course, our lesson or how to present our examples, narratives or vignettes. The classroom is the teacher s Theoretical Foundations 2.2 laboratory you will want to experiment with various approaches to teaching and discover which approaches are most effective at promoting student learning. Taking the time to plan your teaching and reflect on the effectiveness of your teaching will allow you to develop a comprehensive repertoire of teaching skills that will meet the learning needs of a broad range of students. Tell me and I'll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I'll understand. Chinese Proverb
41 2.2 TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK Theoretical Foundations MICHIGAN STATE UNIVERSITY Used with permission of Michigan State University. Virtual University Design and Technology what_is_learning What is Learning? Is Learning Product or Process? This section explores different orientations to learning. Exploring these diverse perspectives should help you think differently and more broadly about what learning means and how it happens. Teaching is not just telling, and learning is not just listening. The chart below provides a good overview of some of the main ideas related to learning theory. Many other theories are based on combinations of these basic theories. For example, the constructivist theory which is very popular now, draws heavily on the cognitive approach, but also combines elements of the theories below. Constructivism looks at learning as an active process in which the learner builds on prior knowledge to select and transform information based on their own cognitive structure (patterns of mental action that form intellectual activity). Aspect\Theories Behaviorist Cognitivist Humanist Social and situational Learning theorists Thorndike, Pavlov, Watson, Guthrie, Hull, Tolman, Skinner Koffka, Kohler, Lewin, Piaget, Ausubel, Bruner, Gagne Maslow, Rogers Bandura, Lave and Wenger, Salomon View of the learning process Change in behavior Internal mental process (including insight, information processing, memory, perception A personal drive to fulfill potential Interaction/observation in social contexts. Movement from the periphery to the centre of a community of practice Locus of learning (where learning takes place) Stimuli in external environment Internal cognitive structuring Affective and cognitive needs (occurs within basic human curiousity) Learning is in relationship between people and environment Purpose in education Produce behavioral change in desired direction Develop capacity and skills to learn better Become self-actualized, autonomous Full participation in communities of practice and utilization of resources Educator's role Arranges environment to elicit desired response Structures content of learning activity (guided learning, framing the concepts) Facilitates development of the whole person Works to establish communities of practice in which conversation and participation can occur Manifestations in adult learning Behavioral objectives Competency -based education Skill development and training Cognitive development Intelligence, learning and memory as function of age Learning how to learn Self-directed learning Take responsibility for learning decisions Socialization Social participation Associationalism Conversation Reprinted with permission of John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Merrian, Sharona B., and Caffarella, Rosemary S. (1999) Learning in Adulthood, 1st ed. http//vudat.msu.edu/what_is_learning
42 THEORETICAL FOUNDATIONS 2.3 Learning Assumptions The following are only a few assumptions about learning that tend to be recognized throughout education literature as fundamental to the planning of an education program. These assumptions came from the general field of educational philosophy. ASSUMPTIONS ABOUT LEARNING Persons at all ages have the potential to learn, with some learning faster than others. Age may or may not affect a person s speed of learning, and individuals vary in the way they like to learn. The individual experiencing a change process, such as a new learning situation, is likely to feel stress and confusion. Some anxiety often increases motivation to learn, but too much anxiety may cause fatigue, inability to concentrate, resentments, and other barriers to learning. Learning is more comfortable and effective when the environmental conditions support open exchange, sharing of opinions, and problem-solving strategies. The atmosphere should foster trust and acceptance of different ideas and values. In the classroom the instructor facilitates learning by incorporating students experience, observations of others, and personal ideas and feelings. Exposure to varied behavioral models and attitudes helps learners to clarify actions and beliefs that will aid in meeting their own learning goals. The depth of long-term learning may depend on the extent to which learners try to analyze, clarify, or articulate their experiences to others in their family, work or social groups. The depth of learning increases when new concepts and skills are useful in meeting current needs or problems. This allows for immediate application of the theory to a practical situation. An educational program may only provide one step in an individual s progress toward acquiring new behaviors. The adoption of a new behavior depends on many factors. Some conditions predispose an individual to take a particular action, such as former knowledge and attitudes. Availability and access to resources, such as exercise or practice facilities, may enable a person to carry out new plans of actions. Other environmental conditions and family characteristics help to reinforce or hinder behavior changes. Learning improves when the learner is an active participant in the educational process. When selecting among several teaching methods, it is best to choose the method that allows the learner to become most involved. Using varied methods of teaching helps the learner maintain interest and may help to reinforce concepts without being repetitious. In recent years teachers have found that many principles of adult learning also apply to children and adolescents. For example, adults and children prefer learning experiences HONOLULU COMMUNITY COLLEGE FACULTY GUIDEBOOK Reprinted with permission of Honolulu Community College Resale or further copying of this material is strictly prohibited.
43 2.4 TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK that are participatory; they learn faster when new concepts are useful in their present as well as future lives. The roles of an educator for the young and elderly person is to assess the audience s interest, current skills, and aims. This information then guides the structuring of a learning atmosphere and selection of methods most satisfying and effective for the learners. TEN PRINCIPLES OF LEARNING We learn to do by doing. We learn to do what we do and not something else. Without readiness, learning is inefficient and may be harmful. Without motivation there can be no learning at all. For effective learning, responses must be immediately reinforced. Meaningful content is better learned and longer retained than less meaningful content. For the greatest amount of transfer learning, responses should be learned in the way they are going to be used. One s response will vary according to how one perceives the situation. An individual s responses will vary according to the learning atmosphere. One does the only thing one can do given the physical inheritance, background, and present acting forces. JAY W. ROBERTS Reprinted with permission of the Association for Experiential Education (AEE). Resale or further copying of this material is strictly prohibited. For more information, go to Beyond Learning by Doing: The Brain Compatible Approach Over the last ten years, experiential education has made many in-roads with the mainstream educational establishment. The success of programs such as Project Adventure and Outward Bound working within schools has been well documented. Additionally, ropes courses, environmental, and outdoor education programs have become prevalent in many school districts across the country. Yet, with all these advances, there are still many barriers between our pedagogy and traditional schooling. We remain literally, and figuratively, outside the educational establishment. Recent initiatives toward accountability and standards have placed experiential education in the crosshairs of reform-minded politicians and school consultants. Learning by doing is often described as process heavy, devoid of content, and a hold-out from 1960s progressivists approaches. One researcher has gone so far as to say recent history of
44 THEORETICAL FOUNDATIONS 2.5 American education and controlled observations have shown that learning by doing and its adaptations are among the least effective pedagogies available to the teacher (Hirsch, 1996, p. 257). The current position of the field within mainstream education places at a premium attempts to significantly broaden and deepen experiential pedagogy beyond mere learning by doing. This paper will explore one such attempt-the Brain Compatible Approach-and its potential linkages with experiential education. An overview of the Brain Compatible Approach will be outlined, followed by a discussion of several key principles. Linkages between these principles and experiential education will be discussed as well as several Quick Tips on possible practical applications of the research. Finally, the benefits of aligning experiential education with the Brain Compatible Approach will be explored. THE BRAIN COMPATIBLE APPROACH In July of 1989, President George Bush declared the 1990s the Decade of the Brain. What followed was a revolution in research, articles, books, and television specials on what we know about how the brain functions and learns. The medical advances in particular have been many and remarkable. We have learned more about the brain in the past five years than the previous one hundred. Additionally, nearly 90 percent of all neuroscientists who have ever lived are alive today (Brandt & Wolfe, 1998). While still relatively new as a field of inquiry, the Brain Compatible Approach has yielded several intriguing findings: Neuroplasticity: The brain changes physiologically as a result of experience and it happens much quicker than originally thought. The environment in which the brain operates determines to a large degree the functioning ability of the brain (Brandt & Wolfe. 1998). The brain is complex and interconnected: just as a city or jazz quartet has many levels of interaction and connectedness, the brain has an infinite number of possible interconnections. In essence, there are no isolated, specialized areas but rather the brain is simultaneously processing a wide variety of information all at once (Caine & Caine, 1994). Every brain is unique: Our brains are far more individualized in terms of physiology, neural wiring, bio-chemical balance, and developmental stage than previously thought (Jensen, 2000). Each of these findings suggests re-consideration of the way we currently educate. Caution must also be practiced. Much of the > TIP Chunking can be an effective tool for presenting the learner with information in an organized, meaningful way.
45 2.6 TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK current research is new, and steps from research to application are inherently complex and difficult. Already, several researchers have questioned the validity of educational applications of brain research (Bruer, 1997). If nothing else, the sheer volume of new information about how the brain functions and learns forces us to question what we truly know about learning and educational practice. PRINCIPLES OF BRAIN BASED LEARNING Drawing from the findings above, several intriguing principles and practical implications have emerged. The following principles are of particular interest to experiential educators as they support some long-standing practices within experiential education and also push the envelope of what may be possible in the future. Principle # 1: Pattern and Meaning Making Research supports the claim that the search for meaning is innate and occurs through patterning (Caine & Caine, 1994). Patterning refers to the meaningful organization and categorization of information (Nummela & Rosegren, 1986). The brain is designed to search for and integrate new information into existing structures and actively resists meaningless patterns (Caine & Caine, 1994). The process is constant and does not stop-regardless of whether or not we have stopped teaching! This principle reinforces many of the practices we attribute to experiential learning including emphasis on context and framing, learner involvement in the teaching of the material, alternating between details and big picture (whole/part), reflection components, and relevancy (i.e., relating information to students previous experience and learning). Quick Tip #1: Chunking can be an effective tool for presenting the learner with information in an organized, meaningful way. Look at the following list of letters: IBFVTNO- JBLKFJ. Try to memorize them as presented. Now look at the next list of letters: JFK, LBJ, ON, TV, FBI. The second list is much easier to memorize even though they are the same letters. They have simply been chunked and arranged in a meaningful way that draws on previous experience and information. Consider how you might chunk small activities (lessons or even directions) and large, multi-day experiences. How can you arrange the information in a more meaningful, patterned way? Quick Tip #2: Use a Big Picture. Remember that your students do not have the same view of the course, lesson, or program that you do. Provide them with a big picture as Learning is enhanced by challenge and inhibited by threat.
46 THEORETICAL FOUNDATIONS 2.7 soon as possible at the beginning of the experience. Rather than an exhaustive outline or itinerary, the big picture gives your students a taste of what s coming and allows them to begin making patterns, connections, and frames for the experience. Re-visit the big picture a few times throughout the experience to further solidify the link. In this regard, it is helpful to have it on a flip chart or other visual aid. Try using a you are here map with a movable arrow. Principle #2: The Brain as a Parallel Processor The human brain is the ultimate, multi-tasking machine, constantly doing many things at once. This is because the brain is geared toward survival and is, in actuality, poorly designed for linear, lock-step instruction (Jensen, 2000). Consider how you learned to ride a bicycle. Did you learn through reading a book or hearing a lecture on the separate topics of bike parts, safety, and operation? No. It is more likely you learned through a more dynamic and complex series of experiences. Current research supports the notion that the brain learns best through rich, complex, and multi-sensory environments (Jensen). In this sense, the teacher is seen more as an orchestrator of learning environments rather than an instructor of linear lesson plans or even a facilitator of experiences (Deporter, Reardon, & Singer- Nourie, 1999). Practical applications for parallel processing include the use of multi-modal instructional techniques (visual, auditory, kinesthetic) and multiple intelligence activities (Gardner, 1985). Simulations and role-plays mimic our natural learning environment and encourage complex processing. Lastly, enriched learning environments can be orchestrated through the components of challenge, novelty, choice, high feedback, social interaction, and active participation (Diamond & Hopson, 1998). If the benefits of enriched, multi-sensory, complex learning environments continue to be supported by the research, experiential theory and practice can and must play a larger role in the classroom of the future. Quick Tip #3: Use the EELDRC (Enroll, Experience, Label, Demonstrate, Review, Celebrate) design frame (Deporter et al., 1999) to create a dynamic, complex, multi-sensory lesson plan. In the Enroll segment, seek to engage students in the material through intrigue and answering the learner question What s in it for me? Give them a brief Experience to immerse students in the new information. Use the Label segment to punctuate the most salient points with a lecturette or de-brief. Provide an opportunity for the participants to Demonstrate with the new information to encourage connections and personalization of the material. Review the material to cement the big picture and, finally, find a way to Celebrate the experience to reinforce positive associations with the learning. Principle # 3: Stress and Threat Learning is enhanced by challenge and inhibited by threat (Jensen, 2000). Paul MacLean offers a model for considering this principle through his Triune Brain theory (1978). MacLean categorizes the brain into three main regions or separate brains-the Reptilian
47 2.8 TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK (or R complex), the Mammalian (or Limbic), and the Neo Mammalian (or Neo-Cortex). The reptilian brain controls physical survival and basic needs (flight or fight responses). This is our most primitive brain. The second brain-the Mammalian-houses both the hippocampus and amygdala-the primary centers for emotion and memory. Lastly, the most advanced part of our brains, according to MacLean, is our Neo-Cortex. It is here where we use higher order thinking skills-synthesizing, logical and operational thinking, speech, and planning for the future (Caine & Caine, 1994). In this model, the brain has the capacity to shift up or down depending on perception of the immediate environment. Perceived threat can force the brain to downshift to lower order thinking (Hart, 1983). Yet, heightened challenge and stress, referred to as eustress, can invite an up-shift response into higher order thinking skills in the neo-cortex. Recent research has suggested that the chemical and physiological responses to stress and threat are radically different (Caine & Caine, 1994). Psychological models also support a difference between perceived challenge and threat (Csikszentmihalyi, 1991). This idea is expressed in experiential pedagogy through the concepts of adaptive dissonance and the comfort zone. In both cases, the facilitator or teacher intentionally places the learner in stressful situations to encourage and invite new adaptive behaviors and mental models that may be more successful or effective for the learner. Caine and Caine (1994), suggest that specific learning conditions can create situations of up-shifting or downshifting. Downshifting can occur when pre-specified correct outcomes have been established by an external agent; personal meaning is limited; rewards and punishments are externally controlled; restrictive time lines are given; and the work to be done is relatively unfamiliar with little support available (Caine & Caine, p. 84). By contrast, to create up-shifting conditions outcomes should be relatively open ended; personal meaning should be maximized; emphasis should be on intrinsic motivation; tasks should have relatively open-ended time lines; and should be manageable and supported (Caine & Caine, p. 85). Emotions also play a critical role in both memory encoding and threat perception (LeDoux, 1996). Too little emotion and the brain has a difficult time tagging the material for long term memory. Too much emotion and the situation may be perceived as threatening, causing a downshift in mental functions (Brandt & Wolfe, 1998). The brain learns best through rich, complex, and multi-sensory environments.
48 THEORETICAL FOUNDATIONS 2.9 Practical applications of the stress/threat principle are numerous and exciting for the experiential field. Experiential pedagogy, with its emphasis on novelty, interpersonal interaction, challenge by choice, and the use of emotions such as play, fear, and humor, is uniquely suited to address stress/threat balances. Understanding how these brain compatible principles can be strengthened by experiential learning opens the possibility for meaningful dialogue with mainstream education. Quick Tip #4: To lower threat levels early in your program, make a strong emphasis on relationship building both peer-peer and teacher-student. Work the group from the inside-out by making a conscious effort to spend personal time with as many students as possible, either on the trail or at water breaks. Work the group outside-in by facilitating highly interactive experiences like paired shares, new games, or trust activities. Quick Tip #5: Use the 60/40 rule for planning your lesson plans. Sixty percent of your experiences should be ritual based activities that are repetitive (like morning check-ins, skill progressions, warm ups, or post-activity debriefs) to allow your participants to experience known activities in an unknown environment. But be sure to make approximately 40 percent of activities novel. The introduction of elements of suspense, surprise, and disorder keep learners engaged and can be an effective way to manage attention spans. Instead of circling up every time, rhombus-up with your group every so often. Mix up de-briefs by using paired shares, group reports, or silent journaling instead of large group discussion. Introduce skill sections playfully with characters and costumes (knots with Ivana Climbalot, or baking with Chef Boyarentyouhungry). Evidence and theories from the Brain Compatible Approach support much of what we do. Understanding the human brain s tendency toward pattern and meaning-making reinforces the intentional use of reflection and synthesis in experiential education. Viewing the brain as a parallel processor encourages the creation of enriched environments for learners. Experiential methodology facilitates such enriched environments through challenge, social interaction, feedback, and active participation. Finally, the differences between stress and threat responses support our pedagogical approach including the effective use of emotion and the importance of novelty and choice. Recent developments in brain research should also push us toward new questions and research queries. What is the role of emotion in experiential education? How do we define, operationally, the differences between stressful and threatening experiences and responses? How is the mind-body connection supported in current brain research? What part can experiential methodology play in the creation of enriched classroom environments? We must move beyond mere learning by doing for our fields philosophical underpinnings and practical approaches to become more influential in mainstream education. Using only the learning by doing definition, experiential education becomes nothing more than activities and events with little to no significance beyond the initial experience.
49 2.10 TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK One educator recently told me she calls this the Inoculation Effect (shoot em up; hope it takes). This was not John Dewey s vision and it cannot be our lasting legacy. Many of us entered this field after becoming disenchanted or burned-out on mainstream educational practice. We have also seen the remarkable changes and results that can occur through experiential learning. We believe very strongly that it works. Yet, as a field, we remain long on practice and short on theory and research. The Brain Compatible Approach is one avenue for helping experiential educators articulate how and why the methodology is effective. How can we achieve more legitimacy while holding fast to our principles? Moves toward identifying the philosophical approaches of experiential education should be encouraged (Itin, 1999). Efforts must be made to increase both qualitative and quantitative research that cross into mainstream education. As educators, we also have a responsibility to learn about our field. At a recent AEE conference, I was surprised to learn how few experiential education practitioners knew of E.D. Hirsch-one of the strongest critics of progressive approaches and a major figure in the standards-based movement. Hirsch defines learning by doing as a phrase once used to characterize the progressivist movement but little used today, possibly because the formulation has been the object of much criticism and even ridicule (Hirsch, 1996, p. 256). With critics like this and few legitimate platforms from which to respond, it is not surprising that experiential education remains largely locked out of our schools. Knowing some of the latest trends and movements within the fields of education, psychology, and sociology will strengthen our voice and message. While there is value in experiential education s subversive, outside-the-mainstream persona, we must also seek ways to come in from the outside, invite dialogue, and encourage interaction across disciplines. The Brain Compatible Approach, as a promising new area of research and TIP study, offers an excellent opportunity to do just that. In the next 20 years, will experiential education be a program (like field trips, Experiential methodology facilitates to work? The future depends on how we live that question. ropes courses, and character education) to be implemented in schools or, will it be a broader, pedagogical foundation from which enriched environments REFERENCES through challenge, Brandt, R., & Wolfe, R (1998). What do we know from brain research? Educational Leadership, 56(3), social interaction, Bruer, J. T. (1997). Education and the brain: A bridge too far. Educational Researcher, 26(8), feedback, and active Caine, G., & Caine, R. (1994). Making connections: Teaching and the human brain. New York, NY: Addison Wesley. participation. Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1991). Flow: The psychology of optimal experience. New York, NY: Harper Perrenial. >
50 THEORETICAL FOUNDATIONS 2.11 Deporter, B., Reardon, M., & Singer-Nourie, S. (1999). Quantum teaching. Needham Heights, MA: Allyn & Bacon. Diamond, M., & Hopson, J. (1998). Magic trees of the mind. New York, NY: Penguin Putnum. Gardner, H. (1985). Frames of mind: The theory of multiple intelligences. New York: Basic Books. Hart, L. (1983). Human brain, human learning. New York, NY: Longman. Hirsch, E. D. (1996). The schools we need and why we don t have them. New York, NY: Doubleday. Itin, C. (1999). Reasserting the philosophy of experiential education as a vehicle for change in the 21st century. Journal of Experiential Education, 22(2), Jensen, E. (2000). Brain-based learning. San Diego, CA: The Brain Store. LeDoux, J. (1996). The emotional brain: The mysterious underpinnings of emotional life. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster. MacLean, P. D. (1978). A mind of three minds: Educating the triune brain. In J. Chall, & A. Mirsky (Eds.), Education and the brain (pp ). Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. Nummela, R., & Rosengren, T (1986). What s happening in students brains may redefine teaching. Educational Leadership, 43(8), Student Learning Styles and Their Implications for Teaching This Occasional Paper will make the case that all faculty members, no matter the discipline, can put an understanding of learning styles to good use in their own teaching. In this regard, we use ourselves as cases in point. Montgomery is responsible for a major introductory lecture course in chemical engineering and has incorporated a variety of active learning strategies to accommodate a diversity of student learning styles. Groat s interest in learning styles derives from her research on pedagogical practices that inhibit or promote the inclusion of women and minority students in architectural education, particularly in one-to-one teaching settings such as the studio. Neither of us is an expert in learning styles research, and we acknowledge that psychologists do not uniformly endorse many popular conceptualizations of learning styles. Nevertheless, in our interactions with faculty and students and in our knowledge of the literature, we know that the notion of learning styles resonates among faculty and students. Therefore, this topic merits further consideration. Although we approach learning styles from different disciplines and teaching experiences, we have both discovered that an understanding of learning styles is fundamental to our individual approaches to teaching. We believe it can have an impact on the teaching approaches of all faculty. EDITED BY SUSAN M. MONTGOMERY AND LINDA N. GROAT. CRLT Occasional Paper No Used with permission from The Center for Research on Learning and Teaching, The University of Michigan edu/publinks/crlt no10.pdf WHY INCORPORATE LEARNING STYLES IN OUR TEACHING? We believe there are many reasons to incorporate an understanding of learning styles in our teaching. Here are some starting points for consideration.
51 2.12 TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK Making Teaching and Learning a Dialogue. Whether we are aware of it or not, an assumption underlying many of our current teaching practices is that students are empty vessels, and our role is to fill them with knowledge. But increasingly, research on student learning suggests that the metaphor of dialogue is more appropriate in that it emphasizes the interactive, cooperative, relational aspects of teaching and learning (Tiberius, 1986, p. 148). Once faculty shift from the empty vessel model to a dialogic and communal one, old habits in teaching begin to shift. A lecture class no longer entails simply a scripted delivery of information (no matter how well done), but it may also include a variety of active learning techniques that truly engage students in the collective dialogue. Responding to a More Diverse Student Body. By now it is axiomatic to point out that student bodies are increasingly diverse, not only in terms of ethnicity and gender, but also in terms of age, nationality, cultural background. etc. This diversity can affect classroom settings in many ways, including the diversity of learning styles. For example, older students who can In a typical 50 minute lecture class, students retain 70% of what is conveyed in the first 10 minutes but only 20% from the last 10 minutes. draw from their life experience are more likely to be independent, self-directed learners (Knowles, 1980). And thanks to the work by Belenky et al. (1986), there is considerable evidence to suggest that many women tend to approach learning in more connected ways, meaning a style that emphasizes empathy, collaboration, and careful listening. Meanwhile other research suggests that African-American and Mexican-American students are more likely to prefer working with others to achieve common goals (Banks, 1988). Despite these apparent tendencies, it is equally important not to pigeonhole students on the basis of expected learning styles since a vast range of individual differences is evident within any demographic group. Communicating Our Message. As faculty, we tend to be passionately committed to our discipline/profession and are anxious to convey its significance and knowledge base to our students. Despite our good intentions, we may be so concerned with covering the subject matter that we lose track of how much of that material really gets conveyed through our taken-for-granted teaching modes. For example, in a typical 50-minute lecture class, students retain 70% of what is conveyed in the first 10 minutes but only 20% from the last 10 minutes (McKeachie, 1994, p. 56). If we really want to get our message across, we need to orchestrate the material in a multi-faceted way across the range of student learning styles.
52 THEORETICAL FOUNDATIONS 2.13 Making Teaching More Rewarding. If we are not inclined to much self-reflection about our teaching practices, we are likely to continue to teach others the way we learn best, assuming that this way will work for all students. But given the increasing diversity of the student body, as well as the higher expectations for teaching performance among university administrators, it s likely that many of us are feeling a bit uneasy about teaching the way we always have; it may simply feel a bit less right, a little less rewarding. In the area of research, faculty take great pride from launching substantive innovations in their fields. It is our contention that by making an effort to consider student learning styles, we may be able to reap equal satisfaction from reinvigorating our teaching practices. Ensuring the Future of Our Disciplines. An undisputed assumption in career counseling is that any individual will be better suited to some tasks, subject areas, and careers than others, as a function of personality, talents, cognitive styles, and so on. On the other hand, not all the habits and conventions of a given discipline/profession are inherent in even the most essential aspects of a given field. More important, now that we are obliged to confront massive changes in nearly every field, some of the established traditions of teaching and learning a given field may be counter-productive. Over 15 years ago, educational theorist David Kolb observed, Over time..., selection and socialization pressures combine to produce an increasingly impermeable and homogenous disciplinary culture and correspondingly specialized student orientations to learning (Kolb, 1981, p. 234). In the end, we may be ensuring the long-term viability of our given field if we make sure that students with a diversity of learning styles are welcomed and encouraged. LEARNING STYLE MODELS In this Occasional Paper we summarize four models prevalent in discussions of learning styles, and we offer a range of strategies for making our teaching sensitive to the important issues they raise. Myers-Briggs Type Indicator TM Description. Perhaps the most well-known instrument for identifying personality types is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator TM. Developed by Isabel Briggs Myers and Katherine Cooks Briggs, the inventory is based on Carl Jung s concept of archetypes (McCaulley et al., 1983; Myers & McCaulley, 1986). An individual s personality profile is identified along four dimensions: orientation to life (Extroverted/Introverted); perception (Sensing/iNtuitive); decision making (Thinking/Feeling); and attitude to the outside world (Judgment/Perception). People can thus be said to belong to one of sixteen categories, based on their preferences along each of these dimensions. An introverted, sensing, feeling, and judging person would thus be categorized as having an ISFJ personality. Examples of the characteristics of each of these personality dimensions are shown in Table 1.
53 2.14 TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator TM has been widely used to classify student learning styles in various disciplines (McCaulley, et al., 1983; Schroeder, 1993). The first two dimensions (Orientation and Perception) appear to have implications for learning (Schroeder, 1993). Unfortunately, the predominant learning styles of college students contrast sharply with the predominant styles of university faculty, as described in Table 2. About two-thirds of faculty are intuitive, and over half are introverted (Grasha, 1996). While instructors as a whole prefer to focus on abstractions, the majority of students prefer to start with practical applications and examples, building to abstract theories. Another potential area of mismatch relates to the Thinking/Feeling dimension, the only dimension which demonstrates a consistent gender difference. About two-thirds of women have profiles in which feeling predominates, while two-thirds of men have profiles in which thinking predominates (Kroeger & Thuesen, 1988). (As many researchers have argued, women s tendency to emphasize humane values and an ethic of caring may well be significantly influenced by the social construction of gender. This is indeed a valid point of discussion, but outside the scope of this Occasional Paper.) This could pose problems for students in particular gender-dominated disciplines. For example, women students taking courses in male-dominated fields are more likely to find a logical, objective emphasis alienating; and similarly male students taking courses in other disciplines may be more likely to object to what they see as an over-emphasis on subjective interpretations and personal relationships ORIENTATION TO LIFE PERCEPTION DECISION MAKING ATTITUDE TO OUTSIDE WORLD Extroverted Group interactions Applications Sensing Facts and data Routine Thinking Objective Logical Judgement Planning Control Introverted Working alone Concepts and ideas intuiitive Impressions Not routine Feeling Subjective Search for harmony Perception Spontaneity Adaptive Table 1. Preferences of Myers-Briggs Personality Types
54 THEORETICAL FOUNDATIONS 2.15 Implications for Teaching. Realistically, no faculty member can expect to develop different ways of teaching for each individual student. Rather, as faculty we should strive to provide a variety of learning experiences, such that at one point or another each learning style is addressed. For example, in a heavily abstract course, faculty should include some applications that will help the sensing student understand the reason for learning the abstract concepts. Other activities that are particularly engaging for sensing learners include case studies, group projects, and in- class presentations. We should expect students to solve not only rote problems but also more open-ended problems, thus challenging both sensing and intuitive learners. We should include a combination of individual and group work, not relying solely on either mode, to satisfy both extroverts and introverts. Kolb/McCarthy Learning Cycle Description. A significant impetus in the development of the Kolby/ McCarthy learning cycle model was Kolb s observation of the distress encountered by many students whose learning styles seemed mismatched to their disciplinary majors (Kolb, 1981). Extroverted Introverted Sensing Intuitive Faculty 46% 54% 36% 64% Students 70% 30% 70% 30% An underlying assumption of the model is that all learning entails a cycle Table 2. Preferences Patterns of Faculty and Students of four learning modes, but each individual is likely to feel most comfortable in one of the four modes of the cycle based on her/his preference along two dimensions: Perception and Processing (KoIb, 1984, 1995; Harb et al., 1995). Perception (Abstract/ Concrete) has been found to correlate with the Decision-Making (Feeling/Thinking) mode of the Myers-Briggs model (Kolb, 1984). Processing (Active/ Reflective) encompasses primarily the Orientation (Extrovert/Introvert) mode of the Myers-Briggs model (Kolb, 1984). Together, Perception and Processing reflect the major directions of cognitive development derived from the work of Piaget (1970). The four learning styles in the Kolb model are also distinguished by the type of question that concerns each category: Why? What? How? and What if? Likewise, each academic field can be mapped against this same set of dichotomous dimensions according to what type of learning mode predominates in that discipline. Thus, according to this model, the concrete/reflective quadrant encompasses social science and humanities; the abstract/reflective quadrant reflects the physical sciences; the abstract/active incorporates science-based professions such as engineering; and finally, the concrete/ active domain reflects the more social professions such as education. Figure 1 illustrates the learning styles and learning cycle based on Kolb s model.
55 2.16 TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK There is also some evidence that male and female students are differentially attuned to the four different learning styles identified by this model. Researchers have found that in a sample of adults (across a wide range in age and ethnicity), nearly half of the male respondents (48%) preferred the assimilator (abstract/reflective) mode, whereas only 20% of the women did (Philbin et al, 1995). Not only were the women s responses more evenly distributed across the four styles, the women s predominant modes were diverger (concrete/reflective) and converger (abstract/active). Using the analysis provided in Figure 2, this would mean that many women students are more likely to respond to faculty who adopt either the motivator or coach stance; whereas male students are more likely to feel comfortable with faculty who adopt the role of expert. Implications for Teaching. The fact that students majoring in a given discipline are more likely to have particular learning style characteristics common to faculty and practitioners in that field may seem entirely consistent with common sense notions of expert competence. On the other hand, Kolb has pointed out that selection and socialization processes may lead to such a homogenous disciplinary culture that it becomes impermeable to other influences. Equally disturbing, one aspect of Kolb s research demonstrated that over time science students become more analytical and less creative, while arts students become more creative and less analytical. In other words, the educational process has the potential CONCRETE EXPERIENCE What if? TYPE 4 ACCOMMODATORS e.g., Education ACTIVE EXPERIMENTATION TYPE 3 CONVERGERS e.g., Engineering How? TYPE 1 DIVERGERS e.g., Social Science, Humanities TYPE 2 ASSIMILATORS e.g., Physical Sciences Why? What? REFLECTIVE OBSERVATION ABSTRACT CONCEPTUALIZATION Figure 1. Learning Styles and Learning Cycle Based on Kolb s Model
56 THEORETICAL FOUNDATIONS 2.17 to accentuate the gap in capabilities between these groups of students. Suggested activities and faculty roles corresponding to each of these learning styles are shown in Figure 2. Again, one need not try to do it all, but checking one s course plans against the suggested activities in Figure 2 could spawn ideas for supplemental activities to provide a more complete educational experience. The Kolb model suggests following a Learning DOING ACCOMMODATORS What if? Faculty as Evaluator/remediator Open ended problems Student presentations Design projects Subjective exams Simulations CONVERGERS How? Faculty as Coach Homework problems Computer simulations Field trips Individuals reports Demonstrations FACTS & DATA DIVERGERS Why? Faculty as Motivator Motivational stories Group discussion Group projects Subjective tests Field trips ASSIMILATORS What? Faculty as Expert Lectures Textbook reading Demonstrations by instructor Independent research Objective exams SYMBOLS Cycle that addresses these questions in order. By teaching through the (Kolb Learning) cycle one can ensure that all learning styles have been addressed, in that all questions have been answered. The questions include the following: Why are we learning this? What are the key points of this issue? How do I use this knowledge? and What are the implications of this information in other contexts? Felder-Silverman Learning Styles Model Description. The learning styles model developed by Richard Felder and Linda Silverman (Felder, 1993; Felder and Silverman, 1988) incorporates five dimensions, two of which replicate aspects of the Myers-Briggs and Kolb models. To be specific, the Perception dimension (sensing/intuitive) is analogous to the Perception of both Myers- Briggs and Kolb; the Processing dimension (active/reflective) is also found in Kolb s model. In addition, Felder-Silverman posit three additional dimensions: Input (visual/ verbal), Organization (inductive/deductive), and Understanding (sequential/global). Table 3 summarizes the five learning style dimensions. Soloman s Inventory of Learning Styles (Soloman, 1992) can be used to assess four of the five learning style preferences in the Felder-Silverman classification scheme. For clarity, an overall comparison of the dimensions in the Myers-Briggs, Kolb, and Felder-Silverman models is presented in Table 4. In our own teaching, we have each had occasion to use the Felder-Silverman model and the associated inventory questionnaire developed by Soloman. Data we ve compiled WATCHING Figure 2. Sample Activities and Role of Faculty for Each Kolb Learning Style
57 2.18 TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK Dimension PERCEPTION INPUT ORGANIZATION PROCESSING UNDERSTANDING Range Sensing Data obtained via senses Facts and observations Visual Charts and pictures Inductive Facts and observations Active Doing something Group work Sequential Linear connections Small connected chunks Intuitive Symbols Interpretations Verbal Spoken word Deductive General principles Reflective Introspective processing Independent work Global Holistic connections Big picture Table 3. Felder-Silverman Learning Style Dimensions from students in our classes in chemical engineering and architecture lend support to Kolb s contention that variations in disciplinary culture can be analyzed through learning styles models. Based on the comparative data, it appears that the engineers are more active, sensing, verbal and sequential than the architects. Moreover, when the data from the architecture students were analyzed in relation to level in the program, there was an obvious tendency for advanced students to be relatively more reflective, visual, and global than beginning students; and the percentage of intuitives at all levels of the program is far higher than in the general population of college students. Moreover, the advanced students were more likely than the novice students to have learning style profiles similar to studio faculty. In engineering, graduate students and faculty are more intuitive, inductive and reflective than engineering undergraduate students (Felder and Silverman, 1988). Data from both architecture and engineering are also consistent with observations of gender differences in the research studies already cited (e.g., Belenky et al., 1986; Philbin et al., 1995). Montgomery found that women engineering students were more geared to an active learning mode than their male counterparts by a margin of 7% (72% to 65%); and Groat found that women architecture students showed a similar tendency by a margin of 17% (67% to 50%). Implications for Teaching. Given the contemporary belief that organizations increasingly require people who can work effectively in multidisciplinary teams and integrate concepts across disciplinary knowledge bases (e.g. Reich, 1993), faculty should be teaching to a sufficient diversity of student learning styles to encourage innovation in their fields. In this regard and in concert with other researchers, Felder advocates a balance between the extremes in each learning dimension. Suggestions one could incorporate into courses include: providing a context for the concepts addressed, such as connections with relevant material from students everyday experiences (global); balancing theory and models (intuitive) with demonstrations and examples (sensing); using pictures, sketches, and diagrams (visual) to supplement verbal information; using numerical as well as algebraic
58 THEORETICAL FOUNDATIONS 2.19 MODE ORIENTATION TO LIFE PROCESSING PERCEPTION DECISION MAKING PERCEPTION ATTITUDE TO OUTSIDE WORLD INPUT ORGANIZATION UNDERSTANDING RANGE Extrovert - Introvert Active - Reflective Concrete - Abstract Feeling - Thinking Sensing - Intuitive Judging - Perceiving Visual - Verbal Inductive - Deductive Sequential - Global Myers-Briggs X X X X Kolb X X Felder-Silverman X X X X X Table 4. Comparison of Learning Style Models examples (sensing, inductive) to illustrate abstract concepts (intuitive, deductive); and providing time for both student participation (active) and reflection on the material presented (reflective). Grasha-Riechmann Learning Styles Description. The learning styles typology developed by Anthony Grasha and Sheryl Hruska-Riechmann is distinct from the other three models in that it is based on students responses to actual classroom activities rather than on a more general assessment of personality or cognitive traits. Grasha argues that this situation-specific approach is more likely to be reliable and valid. Using a personality type approach requires the researcher to extrapolate the results to classroom settings; whereas the Grasha-Riechmann typology is designed to help faculty identify teaching techniques that address particular learning styles. Table 5 describes the characteristics of each style along with corresponding preferences in classroom environment. Another distinguishing aspect of the Grasha-Riechmann typology is that it does not assume the bipolarity of the scales. Among the six styles of Style Competitive Collaborative Avoidant Participant Dependent Independent Characteristics Compete with other students Share ideas with others Uninterested, non-participant Eager to participate Seek authority figure Think for themselves Classroom preferences Teacher-centered, class activities Student-led small groups Anonymous environment Lectures with discussion Clear instructions, little ambiguity Independent study and projects Table 5. Characteristics of Grasha-Riechmann Learning Styles
59 2.20 TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK Cluster 1 Primary Learning Styles Dependent/Participant/Competitive Primary Teaching Styles Expert/Formal Authority Exams/Grades Emphasized Lectures Mini-Lectures + Triggers Teacher-Centered Questioning Term Papers Technology-Based Presentation learning, only the Participant/Avoidant types represent a clear dichotomy that is supported by statistical analysis. Grasha originally hypothesized the other four styles as dichotomous, in the following way: Competitive/Collaborative and Dependent/ Independent. But the dichotomy of these styles was not borne out. Over the years, Grasha and other researchers have investigated the correlation of this learning style typology to other demographic characteristics. In contrast to Kolb s findings, Grasha has not found any consistent relationship between academic major and his learning style typology. On the other hand, his research has demonstrated some consistent variations due to gender, student age, and grade (Grasha, 1996). More specifically, women students typically have higher scores on the collaborative style; students over 25 tend to employ more independent and participatory styles; and students with a participatory style get Cluster 3 Primary Learning Styles Collaborative/Participant/Independent Primary Teaching Styles Facilitator/Personal Model/Expert Case Studies Guided Readings Key Statement Discussions Laboratory Projects Problem Based Learning -GroupInquiry -Guided Design -Problem Based Tutorials Role Plays/Simulations Roundtable Discussion Cluster 2 Primary Learning Styles Participant/Dependent/Competitive Primary Teaching Styles Personal Model/Expert/Formal Authority Role Modeling by Illustration -Sharing Thought Processes -Sharing Personal Experiences Role Modeling by Direct Example -Demonstrating Ways of Doing Teacher/Coaching/Guiding Students Cluster 4 Primary Learning Styles Independent/Collaborative/Participant Primary Teaching Styles Delegator/Facilitator/Expert Helping Trios Independent Study/Research Jigsaw Groups Learning Pairs Practicum Small Group Work Teams Student Journals Table 6. Teaching Methods Associated With Each Cluster of Teaching and Learning Styles higher grades than those with avoidant styles. Groat s pilot study with architecture students, using an abbreviated form of the Grasha- Riechmann questionnaire, is consistent with the nature of Grasha s findings: Women architecture students evidenced substantially higher collaborative and participatory scores, while they also scored substantially lower on the competitive scale. Also consistent with Grasha s findings, older architecture students scored substantially higher on the independent scale. Groat s pilot study also offers some suggestive, program-specific trends with regard to ethnic
60 THEORETICAL FOUNDATIONS 2.21 differences. Her data suggest that both African-American and Asian-American architecture students evidenced higher scores on the dependent scale (and lower independent scale scores) than either Caucasian or Hispanic students. Other data from a separate survey of architecture program students found that African-American and Asian-American students were the least satisfied with their academic program. This pattern seems consistent with Randall et al. s observation that students tend to behave more independently when they are confident of their ability to perform (1995, p. 73). Thus, the learning styles analysis has contributed to identifying some potential problem areas in the academic program and could be followed up with more detailed focus interviews with relevant student groups. The other distinguishing characteristic of Grasha s approach to learning styles is that he has also developed a corresponding typology of teaching styles, similarly based on actual classroom behaviors. The result is that learning and teaching styles can be mapped together to more fully describe the social dynamics of the classroom setting. Table 6 summarizes four basic clusters of compatible learning and teaching styles. Implications for Teaching. Grasha does not advocate attempting to accommodate all learning style preferences at all times, but he shows that Learning and teaching styles can be modified over time and for different purposes in different classroom contexts. an awareness of these styles can help faculty augment their methods of presentation. For example, one might add to an originally lecturecentered course some opportunities for small group discussions to engage the collaborative learner; introduce openended questions to typical close-ended assignments to engage the independent learner; and provide direction early in the semester for the dependent learner. Grasha encourages faculty to assist students in developing the learning styles they are weak in by easing them into the corresponding type of activity. For example, one might choose to provide less and less direction as the semester progresses, enabling dependent learners to become more independent. CONCLUSIONS Inevitably, students bring to the classroom a great diversity of learning styles. As Grasha (1996) argues, the problem is not that faculty/student mismatches sometimes occur, but rather it is the failure to acknowledge and work out the potential conflicts and misunderstandings that undermine student learning. Indeed, acknowledgment can be empowering for students if they can be made aware of their preferred learning style(s) and assisted in stretching their capabilities to accom-
61 2.22 TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK modate greater variety (Randall et al., 1995). What can faculty do? First, faculty should begin by being self-reflective about their pedagogical goals and strengths in teaching. As Grasha suggests, any attempt to modify one s teaching style needs to be framed within this broader conceptual context. Second, it is important to remember that neither learning nor teaching styles are immutable; they can be modified over time and for different purposes in different classroom contexts. So while it may be advantageous to modify one s teaching style to fit a broader range of students in a particular class, it may also be of benefit to those same students to gradually introduce class activities that substantially expand their learning style preferences. Moreover, matching teaching style to learning style is not a panacea that solves all classroom conflicts. Other factors such as classroom climate, previous background, motivation, gender and multicultural issues will of course greatly influence the amount and quality of learning that takes place, as McKeachie (1995) reminds us. Still, for faculty members, being self-reflective and explicit about the role of learning styles can make teaching more rewarding and enhance student learning at the same time. REFERENCES Banks, J.A. (1988). Ethnicity, class, cognitive, and motivational styles: Research and teaching implications. Journal of Negro Education, 57(4), Belenky, M.F., Clinchy, B.M., Goldberger, N.R., & Tarule, J.M. (1986). Women s ways of knowing: The development of self voice and mind. New York: Basic Books. Felder, R.M. (1993). Reaching the second tier: Learning and teaching styles in college science education. Journal of College Science Teaching, 23(5), Felder, R.M., & Silverman, L.K. (1988). Learning styles and teaching styles in engineering education. Engineering Education, 78(7), Feldman, K.A., & Paulsen, M.B. (1994). Teaching and learning in the college classroom. ASHE Reader Series. Needham Heights, MA: Gino Press. Grasha, A.F. (1996). Teaching with style: A practical guide to enhancing learning by understanding teaching and learning styles. Pittsburgh: Alliance Publishers. Harb, J.N., Terry, R.E., Hurt, P.K., & Williamson, K.J. (1995). Teaching through the cycle: Applications of learning style theory to engineering education at Brigham Young University. Provo, UT: Brigham Young University Press. Knowles, M. (1980). The modern practice of adult education. Chicago: Follett. Kolb, D.A. (1981). Learning styles and disciplinary differences. In Arthur Chickering and Associates (ed.), The Modern American College (pp ). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Kolb, D.A. (1984). Experiential learning: Experience as the source of learning and development. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall. Kroeger, O., & Thuesen, J. (1988). Type talk: The 16 personality types that determine how we live, love, and work. New York: Dell. McCanlley, M.H., Godleski, ES., Yokomoto, C.F., Harrisberger, L., & Sloan, E.D. (1983, February). Applications of psychological type in engineering education. Engineering Education, McKeachie, W. (1994) Teaching tips: A guidebook for the beginning college teacher (9th edition). Lexington, MA: Heath.
62 THEORETICAL FOUNDATIONS 2.23 McKeachie, WJ. (1995). Learning styles can become learning strategies. The National Teaching and Learning Forum, 4(6) 1-3. Meyers, C., & Jones, T. (1993). Promoting active learning: Strategies for the college classroom. San Francisco: Jossey Bass. Myers, TB., & McCaulley, M.H. (1986). Manual: A guide to the development and use of the Myers-Briggs type indicator (2nd ed.). Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologists Press. Philbin, M., Meier, E., Huffman, S., & Bouverie, P. (1995, April). A survey of gender and learning styles. Sex Roles, 32, Piaget, J. (1970). The place of the sciences of man in the system of sciences. New York: Harper & Row. Randall, L.E., Buscher, C., & Swerkes, S. (1995). Learning styles of physical education majors: Implications for teaching and learning. Excellence in College Teaching, 6(2), Reich, R. (1991). The work of nations. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. Schroeder, C.C. (1993, September/October). New students - New learning styles. Change, Soloman, B.S. (1992). Inventory of learning styles. [Available at: Stanton, A. (1997). Reconfiguring teaching and knowing in the college classroom. In N. Goldberger, J. Tarule, B. Clinchy, and M. Belenky (eds.), Knowledge, Difference, and Power: Essays Inspired by Women s Ways of Knowing (pp ). New York: Basic Books. Tiberius, R. (1986). Metaphors underlying the improvement of teaching and learning. British Journal of Educational Technology, 17(2), Warren, R. (1997). Engaging students in active learning. About Campus, 2(1),
63 3 CHAPTER Teaching
64 Introduction INTRODUCTION 3.1 Teaching is a process. It should be grounded in sound pedagogical knowledge and reflective practice. The teaching act is informed by knowledge about the processes involved in learning as well as the personality and skill sets of the teacher and the student. What constitutes effective teaching? Planning: Learning is part of our existence. Every thing that is seen, heard or experienced has the potential to change the way an individual thinks, acts or believes. Within the formal context of education it is the intent of the teacher to facilitate learning around a body of knowledge. Ensuring that all students obtain the core level of knowledge requires that the teacher articulate the degree and quality of learning that defines the specific knowledge. This is accomplished by defining a curriculum, designing course goals and explicitly defining behavioural learning outcomes. Instruction: The methods or strategies utilized in teaching are as diverse and complex as the learners. Instructional strategies vary from the Socratic methods of questioning in the one teacher to one student relationship to the lecture format of presenting information in the one lecturer and 500 student relationships. It is not the instructional style of teaching that promotes learning as much as it is the teacher who utilizes a particular method to nurture learning. There are multiple instructional strategies, some of which are presented in the current chapter. We encourage you to explore the various approaches, try one, some, or all of them in your teaching. Decide what works for you and your students and then modify the strategy or create your own. Evaluation: As teachers we are accountable for our students learning. This requires a transparent, explicit method of assigning value to the student s learning. We discuss this more fully in the chapter on assessing learning. Reflection: Good practice is not happenstance. It develops over time, with experience, and by reflecting on effective and ineffective practices of teaching. Reflection is a stimulus for the teacher s personal learning, causing the teacher to rethink, accept, modify, change or adapt their teaching practices to maximize the student s learning. Introduction 3.1 Good Teaching: The Top Ten Requirements 3.2 Preparing to Teach 3.4 Teaching Strategies 3.30 Enhancing Student Learning 3.83 Classroom Management 3.94
65 3.2 TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK Good Teaching: The Top Ten Requirements RICHARD LEBLANC, YORK UNIVERSITY, ONTARIO This article appeared in The Teaching Professor after Professor Leblanc won a Seymous Schülich Award for Teaching Excellence including a $10,000 cash award. Reprinted here with permission of Professor Leblanc, October 8, One. Good teaching is as much about passion as it is about reason. It's about not only motivating students to learn, but teaching them how to learn, and doing so in a manner that is relevant, meaningful, and memorable. It's about caring for your craft, having a passion for it, and conveying that passion to everyone, most importantly to your students. Two. Good teaching is about substance and treating students as consumers of knowledge. It's about doing your best to keep on top of your field, reading sources, inside and outside of your areas of expertise, and being at the leading edge as often as possible. But knowledge is not confined to scholarly journals. Good teaching is also about bridging the gap between theory and practice. It's about leaving the ivory tower and immersing oneself in the field, talking to, consulting with, and assisting practitioners, and liaisoning with their communities. Three. Good teaching is about listening, questioning, being responsive, and remembering that each student and class is different. It's about eliciting responses and developing the oral communication skills of the quiet students. It's about pushing students to excel; at the same time, it's about being human, respecting others, and being professional at all times. Four. Good teaching is about not always having a fixed agenda and being rigid, but being flexible, fluid, experimenting, and having the confidence to react and adjust to changing circumstances. It's about getting only 10 percent of what you wanted to do in a class done and still feeling good. It's about deviating from the course syllabus or lecture schedule easily when there is more and better learning elsewhere. Good teaching is about the creative balance between being an authoritarian dictator on the one hand and a pushover on the other.
66 GOOD TEACHING: THE TOP TEN REQUIREMENTS 3.3 Five. Good teaching is also about style. Should good teaching be entertaining? You bet! Does this mean that it lacks in substance? Not a chance! Effective teaching is not about being locked with both hands glued to a podium or having your eyes fixated on a slide projector while you drone on. Good teachers work the room and every student in it. They realize that they are the conductors and the class is the orchestra. All students play different instruments and at varying proficiencies. Six. This is very important good teaching is about humor. It's about being self-deprecating and not taking yourself too seriously. It's often about making innocuous jokes, mostly at your own expense, so that the ice breaks and students learn in a more relaxed atmosphere where you, like them, are human with your own share of faults and shortcomings. Seven. Good teaching is about caring, nurturing, and developing minds and talents. It's about devoting time, often invisible, to every student. It's also about the thankless hours of grading, designing or redesigning courses, and preparing materials to still further enhance instruction. Eight. Good teaching is supported by strong and visionary leadership, and very tangible institutional support resources, personnel, and funds. Good teaching is continually reinforced by an overarching vision that transcends the entire organization from full professors to part-time instructors and is reflected in what is said, but more importantly by what is done. Nine. Good teaching is about mentoring between senior and junior faculty, teamwork, and being recognized and promoted by one's peers. Effective teaching should also be rewarded, and poor teaching needs to be remediated through training and development programs. Ten. At the end of the day, good teaching is about having fun, experiencing pleasure and intrinsic rewards... like locking eyes with a student in the back row and seeing the synapses and neurons connecting, thoughts being formed, the person becoming better, and a smile cracking across a face as learning all of a sudden happens. Good teachers practice their craft not for the money or because they have to, but because they truly enjoy it and because they want to. Good teachers couldn't imagine doing anything else.
67 3.4 TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK Preparing to Teach Course Construction and Organization You encounter two bricklayers. You ask each one what they are doing. The first tells you he s just laying bricks. The second tells you she is building A cathedral, A grand structure that will seat 2,000 A building that will serve the community in many ways. LAURA MACDONALD Used with permission of author You ve been asked to teach a course. It is your first time or you ve taught a course before or you want to refresh the course. A course syllabus exists or you re going to start from scratch. Perhaps the course is to be revised to be more contemporary or revised because student evaluations of the course report it is boring, unfulfilling. Maybe the evaluation component isn t seemingly fair, or the student s state they don t know what the intent of the course truly is. In all cases, constructing and organizing a course requires all the skills inherent to critical thinking and creative development after all, are you building a pile of bricks or a grand structure? There are four fundamental course construction elements to consider when given the privilege of developing or organizing a course. The elements are essentially pillars of the course. They are as follows: Course concept map Course goals and objectives Teaching and learning strategies Evaluation of student performance or achievement. Responses to these elements provide you with your course syllabus, the document outlining the course. 1 Imagine that grand structure you are building as being a solid, functional, esthetically impressive and inspiring contribution to student growth and development. Know your course contributes to the mission of University of Manitoba 2 : To create, preserve and communicate knowledge, and thereby, contribute to the cultural, social and economic well-being of the people of Manitoba, Canada and the world.
68 PREPARING TO TEACH 3.5 COURSE CONCEPT MAP Briggs and Wager (1981) describe a course as an organization of instructional activities, resources, and evaluation activities which leads to a pre-specified directional change in the learners behavior. 3 Given there is a planned change in the learner s behavior, the plan must have a map of sorts. The concept map of the course is that critical thinking piece you do before all else in constructing and organizing the course. This is time well spent inquiring about the many issues, events, facts that influence the course. They will be internally or externally driven within the department, the Faculty/School, and the University. The influences impact on any academic plan 4 or curriculum; and hence, impact on any one individual course within that plan. Examples of questions to consider when developing the course concept map are outlined in Table 1. Discovering aspects of the course will greatly help in the planning of the course. Look to see how the answers to your questions connect to each other. Look to see possible directions the course could take in meeting the need for the course. List the key words, concepts or content area of the course. The result of your investigation is the course concept map. If you do this well, you will have the your course description drafted. The next pillar to erect is the course goals and objectives, the intended outcome of the course or what the learner will be able to do having successfully completed the course. When a person learns they change, therefore, learning is change. Change in the way a person thinks and processes information, or acts/behaves/performs, or feels, values, and believes. The learning domains commonly associated with these changes are cognitive 7, affective 8, and psychomotor 9. Within each of these domains, are levels of abilities which are often simply presented as knowledge, application, and problem-solving. Thus, you have 3 domains and > 3 levels of abilities within each domain. It is reasonable to think TIP that for learning to occur, for a change to take place, the person will know, feel, and behave differently than before. Rather than confining your course to a cognitive base, be sure to create The objectives are planned learning outcomes or objectives that affect the student to the observable and value it, and respond to it by behaving or acting (psychomotor) in some manner to it. If you tap into all three learning domains, measurable abilities you enable the student to truly learn and not just know or do. the student will have COURSE GOALS AND OBJECTIVES If you know where you are going with respect to the course and what influences have gotten you there, then the composition or affirmation of the course goals and objectives becomes an easier task. What is the difference between the course goal and course once they successfully complete the course.
69 3.6 TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK Table 1. Course Concept Map: Example questions to consider External Influences Have content areas emerged in the discipline? Has there been a paradigm shift in the discipline or closely related disciplines? Does the profession support the course? Are there professional resources to support the course or its content? Any published textbooks, web-based sites? Are there known existing gaps between what graduates have and don t have to contribute to society? Do past students view the course to effectively contribute to their knowledge-, skill-, and attitude-base? Is the course required for accreditation of the program? Is there a market for the course? How does the market measure the quality of graduates? Organizational Infuences Does the course fit with the University mission? What is the history of the course? Can the Faculty/program support the course? Is there room for the course in the academic plan? Are the facilities adequate to deliver the course? Do resources exist, for example: computers, community agencies, instructional materials? How many credit hours are allotted to the course? Are these restricted? When did the course offerings last get reviewed by the curriculum committee? How often is this done? Is there duplication of core content with another course? Does the Faculty welcome all students to take the course or just their own students? Can a student challenge the course for credit? Does the Faculty have a mandated evaluation process/system? Internal Influences How does the course fit with the Faculty mission? Who is best to teach the course? Who is available to teach it? Who has taught the course? Why you? Who takes the course? Why do they take it? Is it open to any student? Do all who take it have the same experiences or abilities? What is the attitude of the students toward the course? Are there prerequisites to the course? Is it a prerequisite course? What specific content must be covered? Are there underlying principles essential to deliver? What are the absolute goals and objectives of the course? Is it discipline specific? Does it have to be? Why? What is the utility of the course to the students? to the Faculty? What key words, content or topic area must be included...is there a list of key issues to be covered? Are there existing resources and materials to support the course? Do you have freedom to determine how you will evaluate the students?
70 PREPARING TO TEACH 3.7 objectives? Firstly, both are to be student-centered; what will the student be able to do as a result of taking the course. From an educational perspective, the goal is the overarching outcome of the course. It is the umbrella concept of the student intended performance. The objectives are the spokes of the umbrella, each important to the umbrella s integrity. The objectives are the observable and measurable abilities the student will have once they successfully complete the course. They are the planned intended change which the student will experience if they participate in the course. Objectives simply put, can be thought of as the predicted change in the student. For example: The student will be able to conduct an interview with an adolescent who is experiencing bullying at school to identify the key impacts that bullying has on the adolescent s ability to personally address the bullying person behavior. This objective is part of the overall course goal of developing a therapeutic skill base to deal with challenging influences on adolescent growth and development. The objective fulfillment contributes to the goals achievement. Composing objectives can be a challenging task for the new educator and the veteran. It requires analytical skill to articulate the observable and measurable behavior of the student as a result of participating in the course. Over and over again, it is important to ask, What will the student be able to do having taken the course. Having spent time on the course concept map, you will know what the student will be able to do, but you may not have stated it. The objectives inform the student, the teacher, the program, and interested others of what will actually constitute the course and to what level the student will perform within the context of the course; how they will change. 5 The focus is on the student s ability, not what the instructor will be able to do when delivering the course; hence the stem of The student will be able to.... Table 2 provides example objectives written in each of the three learning domains and hierarchies of abilities. These objectives help fulfill the goal of a fictional course created to provide example of how goals and objectives relate to each other. One of the goals of the course is as follows: The student will be able to understand concepts and principles of drinking water purification for a large city population. How does one get from the goal to writing the objectives? It is not an easy task it requires creativity, logic, analysis, the whole realm of critical thinking. To start, ask yourself three questions 6 : 1) How will the student have changed (learned) because they have taken the course? 2) Are there certain conditions to be present for this change to occur within the student? 3) What criteria must be met by the student performance to ensure the student has changed?
71 3.8 TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK Table 2. LEARNING DOMAINS Hierarchy of Ability Cognitive Affective Psychomotor Knowledge (comprehension) List three reasons for purification of Winnipeg drinking tap water. Name a key purpose for purifying drinking water. Identify equipment needed to test water purity at Winnipeg household site. Application (rules, methods, concepts, respond) Select at least two potential water sources for Winnipeg given a list of criteria and sites. Describe the outcome on a person s quality of life given purified drinking water. Organize the equipment to ensure efficient testing of water purity at a Winnipeg household site. Problem-solving (analysis, synthesis, judgment) Locate a new water source for the City of Winnipeg satisfying all criteria for drinking water source selection. Modify initial personal response to drinking bottled versus Winnipeg tap water. Propose a novel piece of equipment used for water purification to improve its efficiency of use. Consider the following two statements, applying those three questions to determine the better constructed objective. Students will understand the impact of global warming. and Students will be able to defend their view on global warming on farming in Western Canada, citing at least three evidence based findings from the scientific literature. The latter statement better fulfills the questions. Understand is an arbitrary outcome whereas defend is more observable and measurable. The first statement is open to any interpretation whereas the latter objective states the condition of on farming in Western Canada. The criteria the student knows they have to use to demonstrate their ability is to cite at least three evidence based findings from the scientific literature. They know this, if presented with the latter objective, but would not if given the first one. Writing objectives is an academic scholarly task; it is not easy. To articulate the change in a written statement (an objective), consider four elements of objective writing. They are as follows (with example thoughts to illustrate the element): Who is going to be able to... (ie the student)? Are the students undergraduate or graduate, or both? Are the students in 1st year or their final year of undergraduate study? What actual performance is to be achieved (will be able to )?
72 PREPARING TO TEACH 3.9 What action verb best represents what the student will be able to do (and that can be observed and measured)? For example: list is a low level of ability; describe can be a middle level of ability or high depending on the context For example: outline may be a middle level of ability; critique would be a higher level of ability Is the student to perform a task? Is the student to know specific material? Is the student to value a principle? Is this performance to be done under certain conditions? Are there imposed timelines? Specific situations or general ones? Is it to be done as a team effort or as an individual one? How will the performance be observed and measured, i.e., what degree determines achievement of change? Is the expected outcome to be at a low level of ability (knowledge)? Is the expected outcome to be at a middle level of ability (application)? Is the expected outcome to be at a high level of ability (evaluation)? If you respond to these elements you will have the audience (A), the expected behavior (B), the condition (C) under which the behavior is to occur, and the degree (D) to which it is to be performed. You will have met the ABCD elements of objective writing, with a helpful acronym to use when critiquing the composed objective. TEACHING AND LEARNING METHODS/STRATEGIES When constructing the course, you do have to have multiple talents. If learning is change, than teaching is facilitating change. The teacher serves as a change agent, per se. Return to the course concept map. You will be aware of the teaching facilities and resources available to you. Are you confined to a lecture theatre or do you have a room that can support a workshop setting? How much material is mandated to be covered in the course? If it is plenty, you may have to opt for lecture style, but with some creative thinking, you may not! Many readily accessible websites have been constructed on teaching techniques and learning methods; many of them shared by the authors as their best practice. Explore what others have done and be sure to broaden your search outside of your own discipline. Often there is a technique common to one discipline and less so in another, but with creative adaptation the technique enables the teacher to heighten a student s learning, at times appearing to do so like magic.
73 3.10 TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK The course objectives help in deciding the teaching technique. For example, if the student is expected to cite scientific literature, do you have to teach them how to cite it or do they already have this skill? How do you teach cite? Key to teaching is to capture the spirit of the course. Is it action packed? Is it philosophically driven? Choose the teaching technique which you are comfortable with, but do not fear trial and error, and do explore the wide variety of styles available to you. Some may be tried, tested, and true; but, as you gain experience you may discover ways of facilitating learning that you can report on to your academic colleagues that would be excellent scholarly activity. Remember the course objectives are student-centered; therefore, the teaching strategies are to be centered on the learner. You need to consider the learning styles of the students and blend the teaching strategies with the learning methods You might want to consider profiling the students who take the course. This is part of your course concept. Ask them how they like to learn? What are their strengths or talents that they bring to the course? There exist volumes of evidence about getting to know the learners, acknowledging your own learning styles and teaching strengths, and developing a growing skill base as an educator to respond to diversity and to be inclusive in the teaching/learning setting. EVALUATION OF STUDENT PERFORMANCE Given the importance of assessment of student performance in university teaching and in student s lives and careers, instructors are responsible for taking adequate steps to ensure that assessment of students is valid, open, fair, and congruent with course objectives. 13 This is principle #8: Valid Assessment of Students, one of nine ethical principles in university teaching proposed by the Society of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education. Since much is vitally at stake for the student and the educational institution, this responsibility in developing the course is a pillar of its construction. The University has policy to support this pillar; for example a student must submit all course assessment materials to be considered eligible to succeed in the course. A well written course objective informs the teacher and the student on what constitutes the student s successful performance in achieving the intended, planned outcome. When it comes to evaluating the student, it is not what will be evaluated (that is already pre-established in the course objectives) nor is it why will what be evaluated (that is also known from the course concept map). It is how, when, and where that needs to be determined. How will you measure the student s performance? When will you do this? What frequency? Where will it take place in the course, midway, weekly, or at the end? The course objective outlines what the student will be able to do, under what conditions, and to what degree. Those are the first few steps in planning the evaluation of the student performance. You accomplished this when you articulated the objectives.
74 PREPARING TO TEACH 3.11 You do need to decide what weight each objective carries towards the overall student performance or grade in the course. How you decide this will be determined by your course concept. The result will be your evaluation blueprint. The criteria you use to determine weight of the objective will be course specific; for example, you might use time spent as a criterion of weight. If the bulk of the course time is spent on the first two course objectives, they might receive the most weight or perhaps not as they were simply foundational to the third course objective which was attributed the most weight. Table 3 provides an example of a weighting system using the criteria of important/very important and frequent/very frequent. If an objective is both very important and very frequent, it follows that the objective would be weighted more heavily than an important /frequent ability. Table 3. Frequency/Importance Important Very Important Frequent Objective #1 Objective #2 20% Objective #3 25% Very Frequent Objective #5 25% Objective #4 30% How frequently will the student s performance be monitored and for what purpose? It is valuable to the student and teacher to know how well the student is progressing toward the intended learning. You might consider several formative means to evaluate this progress (formative evaluation). If you determine these checking-in points to be informative of the student s abilities, you might not use them toward the grade, but rather to inform the student at those given points in time. You can use them for grade, but do be careful that you are actually measuring the student s ability and not their development, unless, that in itself is a course objective. Summative evaluation is the assessment of the student s learning. There may be one final summative event or you may choose to have two or three spread throughout the course. These tend to contribute to the course grade. How will the student demonstrate their ability, that is, what is the evaluation instrument? Paper and pen test, externship reflections, essay, case study, project, or any number of ways of the student listing, exploring, demonstrating, that is, achieving the course objective. Remember the validity factor and ask yourself if a multiple choice question measures the intended change at a high level of cognitive, affective, or psychomotor ability. A well written question certainly can, but they are very difficult to compose. Be sure the student knows the medium that will be used for their demonstration of their ability. At the University of Manitoba, this must be shared with the students within two weeks
75 3.12 TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK Table 4. Reading List Winnipeg Water and Waste winnipeg.ca/ waterandwaste/ water/quality FAQ.stm World Health Organization (WHO) /water_sanitation_ health/dwq/guidelines/en/ Health Canada gc.ca/ewh-semt/ water-eau/ drink-potab/ index_e.html Session Course Objective & Key Content Area Introduction of course concept and objectives List three reasons for purification of Winnipeg drinking tap water. Name a key purpose for purifying drinking water.... Readings &/or Student Responsibility Familiarize yourself with the City of Winnipeg Water and Waste website Browse Health Canada and WHO website least one reason and one purpose of purifying drinking water.... Session Activity Form small groups; create sense of community Small group work followed by mini lecture... Evaluation Formative (F) & Summative (S) One minute paper presenting one key point discussed in your small group. (F) One minute paper highlighting 3 reasons and purposes for purifying drinking water. (F) Due Date for Assignment #1 on objectives 1-6. (S) of the beginning date of the course. Whatever you choose to use as the means of eliciting the behavior, you ll want to emulate it in your teaching strategies. For example, if you are going to use a case study as an assignment, you ll use case studies in the classroom setting. Students have the right to know how they are performing in the course. This makes the evaluation open it is their ability that is being measured and certainly assessment or evaluation is a form of learning. The University of Manitoba regularly asks the students if feedback on examinations and graded materials was valuable to their learning and if what was measured was course objective based. 14 ORGANIZATION OF COURSE MATERIALS You have the course concept, the course goals and objectives, selected teaching strategies for student learning, and an evaluation blueprint. Now you are ready to lay the bricks around those pillars of the course construction you are ready to organize the bricks using this firm foundation. Tyler (1949) offered excellent advise when suggesting three key principles on organizing a course: 15 sequence, continuity, and integration. Sequence of course content needs to be considered. Are you going to start with simple and move to complex issues or will you begin with a complex issue and unravel it through problem-solving method? Continuity from start to finish is important. The student should
76 PREPARING TO TEACH 3.13 feel the development of their ability, have a sense of the change that is occurring within themselves. Arranging course lessons so that there is this sense of interconnectedness between topics, issues, and ultimately course objectives is part of the course organization. Remembering to revisit earlier course lessons or beginning the next topic by linking it to the previous one, or the one earlier or one yet to be presented will help the student synthesize the material. Similarly, integration promotes the student seeing the synergy of the whole course, rather than single topic issues or tasks. At this point in constructing the course, you are synchronizing the course content, objectives, evaluation with the administration elements of the course, such as imposed timelines and available resources and facilities. This is the course syllabus. 10 Table 3 provides an example of this synchronization using the fictional course on water purification. You are building a grand structure and contributing to a grand mission of the University of Manitoba. Begin the construction of your course grounding the pillars and then build around the pillars. Constructing and organizing a course is scholarly activity evaluate what you create and share your work. REFERENCES 1. Lih (1997) Educ Future Exec, ASEE Prism, 6(5): University of Manitoba (2003), Building a Bright Future. A strategic academic plan for the University of Manitoba. Retrieved February 2007 from 3. Briggs, L. & Wager, W. (1981) Handbook of procedures for design of instruction. Educational Technology Publications. New Jersey. 4. Stark, J. & Lattuca, L. (1997) Shaping the college curriculum: Academic plans in action. Allyn and Bacon, Boston 5. Gronlund, N (2000 ) How to write and use instructional objectives. Merril. New Jersey. 6. UTS (1997), Teaching at the University of Manitoba. A Handbook, University of Manitoba, Manitoba. 7. Bloom, B. (1956) Taxonomy of educational objectives: the classification of educational goals. David Mckay, New York. 8. Krathwohl et al, (1964) Taxonomy of Educational Objectives: Handbook II, Affective Domain. David Mckay, New York. 9. Simpson, E. (1972) The Classification of educational objectives in the psychomotor domain. The Psychomotor Domain. Vol 3. Gryphon House, Washington 10. Pregent, R (2000) Charting your course: How to prepare to teach more effectively. Atwood Publishing, Wisconsin. 11. Davis, B. ( 2001) Tools for Teaching. Jossey-Bass Company, CA. 12. Lowman, J (1995) Mastering the Techniques of Teaching. Jossey-Bass Company, CA. 13. Murray, H. et al (1996) Ethical Principles in University Teaching. Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education. Ontario. 14. University of Manitoba, Student Evaluation of Educational Quality (SEEQ) form retrieved February 2007 from the University of Manitoba webpage
77 3.14 TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK JEANNE M. SLATTERY AND JANET F. CARLSON Reprinted with permission of authors, College Teaching (journal) and Heldref Publications Preparing an Effective Syllabus: Current Best Practices Syllabi can be useful in engaging students and creating an effective classroom atmosphere, yet discussions of their effective use appear rarely. In the light of current research and theory on syllabi, we review their typical uses (structural, motivational, and evidentiary), commonly included components, and attributes that positively impact the teaching and learning process. Most, if not all, colleges require faculty to share syllabi with their students. Although doing so is often an administrative requirement, seeing it as only that, underestimates the importance of syllabi. A strong syllabus facilitates teaching and learning. It communicates the overall pattern of the course so a course does not feel like disjointed assignments and activities, but instead an organized and meaningful journey. In particular, a good syllabus clarifies the relationship among goals and assignments. Students who read a good syllabus are more likely to feel that course strategies have been designed to help them reach their goals, rather than merely as busywork or, worse, to torture them (Littlefield 1999a). Syllabi are a ubiquitous part of the teaching process, making the scarcity of research or scholarship pertaining to them surprising. These realities gave rise to the current paper, which attempts to use the relatively small existing base of research and writing on syllabi, as well as anecdotal material, to describe the best current practices in writing syllabi. FUNCTIONS OF SYLLABI Littlefield (1999a) suggested that a syllabus serves seven purposes. It sets the tone for a course, motivates students to set lofty, but achievable goals, serves as a planning tool for faculty, structures students' work over the course of the semester, helps faculty plan and meet course goals in a timely manner, serves as a contract between faculty and students about what students can expect from faculty and vice versa, and is a portfolio artifact for tenure, promotion, or job applications. We understand these seven discrete objectives in terms of their relationship to three overarching goals met by a strong syllabus: motivational, structural, and evidentiary. We discuss these three major goals in greater detail below. MOTIVATIONAL ASPECTS Students usually receive the course syllabus at the first class meeting. Both the syllabus and discussion of the syllabus and course help set the tone for the class (Appleby 1999; Littlefield 1999a; Office of Teaching Effectiveness & Faculty Development 1999). In introducing the syllabus, we must counter ingrained beliefs that [students] are powerless to affect what happens to them; that hard work will not pay off; that success is due to luck, and failure is due to circumstances beyond their control (Walvoord and Anderson 1998, p. 16).
78 PREPARING TO TEACH 3.15 Syllabi differ widely in the tone they adopt: warm and friendly, formal, condescending, or confrontational. Warm syllabi explain expectations in a clear and friendly fashion, encourage and motivate students, and anticipate positive student outcomes, rather than merely attempting to prevent problems. They are associated with positive student outcomes. Littlefield (1999a) reported that pseudo-students remembered the information on warm syllabi better than that on less student-friendly syllabi. Presumably this is because students see themselves as active participants rather than passive recipients in the learning process when reading warm syllabi and believe that their behavior will impact the course and their grades. Students who read less friendly syllabi may believe that their professor does not expect them to be successful, which can create a self-fulfilling prophecy. When formal statements imbue a sense of mistrust, it follows that student retention at the university will be negatively impacted (Collins 1997; Tinto 1993). A well-designed syllabus is both a consequence and a precursor of a strongly articulated teaching philosophy Collins (1997), a first generation college student, described a different, albeit related purpose to the tone-setting aspect of a syllabus. He emphasized the practical and ethical importance of writing a syllabus that is inclusive and accessible to all students, particularly to students from groups that have been historically underrepresented in higher education. By making the implicit explicit and communicating that we believe that students can and will succeed, faculty begin to level the playing field and ensure that all students have equal opportunities in the classroom. Many of the examples described below accomplish this objective. STRUCTURE A good syllabus creates an effective structure for both faculty and students, allowing all parties to recognize where they need to go and what they need to do to get there. Dates for papers, examinations, readings and other assignments, as well as weights for these assignments help faculty stay on schedule throughout the semester, while also helping students identify what they need to do to earn a particular grade. Students often depend on a syllabus to manage their time effectively. Many students report feeling overextended between school, work, and family demands, and use a syllabus to determine how to allocate their limited time. Furthermore, students' allocation of time to a class often closely matches perceived reinforcements for their time on task, with less time given to a quiz than a test, more for a formal paper than a reaction paper. Students who cannot predict or influence their professor's expectations and behavior may give up and display typical signs of learned helplessness. Similarly, when faculty
79 3.16 TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK > Course goals are strongest when they use action verbs. shift deadlines frequently, students may become frustrated by their inability to plan writing and studying time. As Mann and his colleagues (1970, cited in McKeachie 1994) conclude, what may initially have been a professor's attempt to be responsive to class needs, may ultimately undermine class morale. A good course and syllabus need not be rigid in providing this structure, but should be flexibly responsive to student concerns and external events such as the Columbine massacre and the terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington, DC. Responsiveness, however, is not the same as an absence of structure (McKeachie 1994). Faculty can provide structure for their students experiences and be sensitive to individual and group needs to know where they are and where they are going. We believe an effective class often teaches process goals rather than only content, generally building on these either within or across courses (Walvoord and Anderson 1998). We believe that the strongest syllabi and courses have assignments that are clearly related to process objectives and that clearly help students meet these goals. Finally, although we have talked about the purpose of a syllabus from a student's point of view, syllabi are probably equally important for faculty, as they help us to develop and organize our vision for the course (Appleby 1999). A well-designed syllabus is both a consequence and a precursor of a strongly articulated teaching philosophy (Office of Teaching Effectiveness & Faculty Development 1999). EVIDENTIARY FUNCTION Whether or not we mean a syllabus to serve this purpose, a syllabus often serves as a contract between faculty and students. Brosman (1998) dates the contractual aspect of the syllabus to the 1970s, when students first began to challenge expectations that were not described in course syllabi. Policies that are clearly outlined in a syllabus can help avert lawsuits. Accordingly, some schools (e.g., Georgia Southern University) make this contract explicit, ask students to sign that they read the syllabus, and agree to its terms (M. Nielsen, personal communication, September 19, 2001). When attempting to resolve disputes, administrators often consult the syllabus to determine whether the faculty member followed the rules that both professor and student agreed to in the course (S. Johnson, personal communication, October 2, 2001). In addition, a well-done syllabus effectively communicates the nature and quality of a faculty member s teaching philosophy and abilities to Tenure and Promotion Committees or Search Committees at other universities (Appleby 1999). Syllabi also serve a vital function TIP
80 PREPARING TO TEACH 3.17 in accreditation efforts, where accrediting bodies look to syllabi to ascertain what happens in specific courses and then look across syllabi to gauge learning more broadly (such as within a specific discipline or major). This function is an important one, as external bodies often must assess teaching indirectly. PARTS OF AN EFFECTIVE SYLLABUS Like Gross (1993), we believe that a strong syllabus is relatively detailed. Detailed syllabi educate students about course and university resources and reduce student anxieties. We believe that faculty can prevent misunderstandings and a course can run more smoothly when they provide sufficient detail. Although syllabi differ widely in style and design, most syllabi share certain components. Almost without exception, they describe ways of contacting the professor, course goals and objectives, means for meeting these goals, methods of grading, and a schedule of events, generally in that order. Strong syllabi also include prerequisites for the course, disclaimers, and a bibliography of required readings. In keeping with its motivational function, a syllabus also may include rationales for course objectives and assignments, positive and negative motivational statements, and assistance in identifying university support services. Identifying Information Most schools require faculty to be available outside of class. As a result, most syllabi, at a minimum, include office hours and the location of the faculty office. In this electronic age, addresses and web page if the faculty member has and uses these are becoming standard fare. When faculty strongly prefer to phone calls, sharing this information with students is useful. Syllabi for web courses should indicate when the faculty member is available for real time on-line discussions. Course Description This section sometimes reiterates the catalog description, but more often provides a thumbnail sketch of how a particular faculty member idiosyncratically approaches a course. Sometimes this section includes an institutional justification for the course (e.g., meets the university s writing requirement ). Quotations also can orient students to a course and excite them about it (see Root 2001; Kuhlenschmidt 2000). Slattery (2003) uses each of these tactics in her Techniques in Interviewing and Casework course when she follows opening quotes with: Your previous Psychology classes have looked at the theory behind social problems and how to address them. This class is likely to be the most applied class, other than an internship, that you take in Psychology. Rather than only talking about listening, we will practice it. Rather than only discussing a person s background (in theory), we will begin to assess it in the course of our interviews and write-up of our findings.
81 3.18 TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK This course will be especially useful for three kinds of students: (a) those who plan to go to graduate school in one of the helping fields and want a head start relative to their classmates; (b) those who do not plan to immediately go to graduate school and want some preparation for entry level human services jobs; and (c) those who plan to work outside of the helping fields, but know that listening skills are essential for their personal and professional success. Course Goals Having strong course goals is helpful for students; developing them can strengthen a faculty member s teaching. Before sitting down to teach a course, imagine overhearing graduating seniors discuss your course and how they have changed following taking it (Appleby 2003; Gross, 1993). How might you meet these outcomes through your course goals? This section of the syllabus clearly describes goals for students and, in so doing, helps faculty identify their own goals for teaching. Angelo and Cross s (1993) Teaching Goals Inventory is a useful assessment of the wide range of teaching goals that can inform a single course (e.g., develop analytical skills, develop an openness to new ideas, strengthen speaking skills, etc.). Root (2001) includes a comprehensive set of objectives for his Introduction to Psychology course and demonstrates how even content-oriented courses also teach process skills. He suggests that students will gain various kinds of knowledge (i.e., of philosophical questions, historical context, terminology, theory and methodology), and adds that they also will develop stronger critical thinking skills and have fun. We believe the strongest course goals use action verbs (e.g., evaluate, analyze, create) rather than more passive and vague verbs (e.g., learn, recognize, understand). Action verbs are especially important when a course has assignments other than multiple choice examinations. The syllabus can encourage students to approach the course and learning in specific ways (Coffman 2003). In particular, by asking students to set goals for the course based on their initial reading of the syllabus and by including discussion or study questions in the syllabus, faculty members encourage students to take ownership for their learning. Ways to Meet Course Goals This section of the syllabus describes faculty expectations, including readings, assignments, and means used to assess student progress. Although freshmen may not focus on this section, continuing students see this information as important (Becker and Calhoun 1999), perhaps because they recognize the variety of ways in which faculty assess learning. Faculty should use course objectives to guide the development of assignments that help students meet class goals. When assignments are unrelated to course goals, consider whether the assignment is superfluous or a signal of an unidentified goal. On the other
82 PREPARING TO TEACH 3.19 hand, some course goals may not have associated graded assignments (e.g., improve personal well-being). When this happens, consider whether the goal is an integral but unassessed part of the course or whether it should be subsumed under another part of the syllabus, such as the description. Not all faculty clearly describe their assignments in syllabi. In a study of 37 Augsburg College syllabi, Littlefield (1999a) reported that only 50% described course projects, 25% described papers and 18% described tests. Of course, as the syllabus is not the only way for faculty and students to communicate with each other, it is possible that faculty shared this information in other ways. However, as a syllabus is probably the handout most easily retrieved by students, it should include at least a list of assignments and due dates. Grades Littlefield (1999a) reported that most Augsburg College syllabi described how final grades are weighted. Few, however, described the grading criteria and rubrics used to guide the determination of those grades. The more idiosyncratic the grading strategy of the professor, or the more unusual the assignment, the more important the grading rubric. Students writing their first paper for a professor often want to know the relative importance of effectively summarizing the literature, analyzing and critiquing it, creativity, and writing skill (Appleby 2001). Most students have had enough experience to know that faculty differ in their relative emphasis on each of these criteria and that a paper receiving a very positive grade in one course could receive a significantly lower grade in a different course. Tata (1999) suggests that providing and adhering to a grading rubric can prevent students from perceiving grades as unfair. Two related issues deserve consideration as far as grades: class participation and groupwork. Students report considerable anxiety when they are asked to do groupwork. Although there is considerable ecological validity for learning how to work in a group (Astin 1985; Walvoord and Anderson 1998), students often dislike this work, especially when grades are heavily dependent on their groupmates output. Informing students early in the semester about what they must do to earn a desired grade can decrease anxiety and increase class cohesiveness. Gurung (2002), for example, handles this dilemma effectively in his Culture, Development and Health class, both clarifying his expectations and creating a rubric that does not penalize hard-working group members: Group members will all get a similar grade UNLESS there are major discrepancies in individual contributions as indicated by self-evaluations. Members in danger of getting a lower grade than the group due to social loafing or for other reasons will be notified in time [to increase their contributions] if possible. (p. 3)
83 3.20 TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK An increasing number of faculty include a means by which students may track their grades electronically. Students seem to appreciate this opportunity. As classroom technologies like Blackboard or other web-posted grading systems become more common, paper versions of grading sheets will be less prevalent. Schedule Becker and Calhoun (1999) reported that schedule information was important to students and used to guide preparation for exams. Omitting this information on one s syllabus may have serious implications for students abilities to plan and learn during the semester, yet Littlefield (1999a) reported that many faculty omitted project due dates (42%) and exam dates (65%). A schedule also should help students identify reading assignments, if possible by content area rather than only by chapter number. Introducing a subject area with an eye-grabbing phrase (e.g., Making the most of your undergraduate years ) can orient students to a given topic and help them remember an essential idea or even motivate them (Lloyd 1998). With textbooks rising in cost, students are finding other ways to complete reading assignments, including reading texts with similar material or a previous edition of a current text. Identifying the chapter with an eye-catching phrase can help students using other texts stay on track. When reading assignments that are not in assigned texts, it is especially useful to include a complete reference list. The text of one s syllabus should indicate where these readings can be found (e.g., on reserve in the library, purchased from the bookstore, on the Internet, in pdf files linked to the web syllabus, etc.). Even when the instructor has made readings available in a convenient place, providing the complete source information makes it easier for students who choose to look for readings in a place more convenient for them. Of course, formatting this reference list in discipline-specific format also serves as a model for effective writing within the discipline. Rationale To encourage students to be passionate about a course and learning, tell them why you find it exciting (Office of Teaching Effectiveness & Faculty Development 1999). Tell them why you give assignments and why they are important. Littlefield (1999a) reported that about 12% of the Augsburg College syllabi she reviewed included the rationale for assignments, 4% included the philosophy of the course and assignments and none related the course to the mission of the department or college. The relative scarcity of rationales suggests that many faculty do not consider their motivation for particular assignments or at least fail to communicate this. We believe that providing the assignment s rationale is an opportunity to get students and faculty working together. A clear rationale for assignments is also an opportunity to educate students and make the implicit explicit (Collins 1997). Consider Littlefield s (1999b) rationale for groupwork:
84 PREPARING TO TEACH 3.21 Cooperative learning... is extremely effective in helping students be successful in college. This team-based approach assures active learning, and often allows for groups to work together to accomplish more than you could as an individual. In business and industry, teams are increasingly common; this class provides an opportunity to learn some teamrelated skills that will be useful to you in the workforce. (p. 3) Motivational Messages Littlefield (1999a) reported that 38% of Augsburg College faculty listed expectations of students, but only 5% identified what students could expect of faculty. Many faculty listed their expectations for attendance, due dates, and academic honesty. Few described the consequences for violating these expectations. Motivational messages can take either a positive or negative tone. In general, although we want to set lofty, yet achievable goals for our students, we should indicate that we expect that most students will meet these goals. The texts for this class are only a beginning. It is hoped (indeed, expected) that you will be stimulated to go beyond these sources and to read in A clear rationale for assignments is also an opportunity to educate students and make the implicit explicit. the primary literature that makes up the corpus of early psychological knowledge and to read in the historical research in psychology today. History is not dead subject matter to be gleaned from a textbook; it is a vital area of research, currently enjoying a great deal of activity. (Benjamin 2001, p. 2) Legalistic statements about attendance and academic honesty are often required by university handbooks and state laws and can easily undermine student/faculty relationships. Nonetheless, with forethought, one can be clear about the rules governing classroom behavior without being cold and accusatory. Appleby (2003) reports that clearly outlining expected and prohibited behaviors significantly decreases the frequency with which students engage in distracting behaviors, such as arriving late to class meetings. University Support Services First year students often are not aware that university support services exist, and thus may not access resources that could make the difference between success and failure in a course or their academic careers (Collins 1997). Freshmen are interested in this information and preferentially focus on university-provided support services described in syllabi (Becker and Calhoun 1999).
85 3.22 TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK Students who read syllabi where faculty offered help were more likely to say that they would be willing to use it (Perrine, Lisle, and Tucker 1995). However, few Augsburg College syllabi mentioned professorial, departmental or university services (e.g., tutorial services, counseling center, career services and writing centers) that might help students meet academic or personal goals throughout the semester (Littlefield1999a). At first blush, this may appear to be a trivial issue. It is anything but when we fail to educate students about services available, we fail to level the playing field that privileges traditional college students at the expense of other groups including racial minorities, immigrants, first generation college students, and students with learning disabilities or psychological issues that interfere with learning (Collins 1997). Appleby (2001) meets this goal in a somewhat different manner. He includes feedback from previous students in his Orientation to a Major in Psychology class in the syllabus (e.g., Don t drop the class when you hear about the workload it s not as difficult as it sounds. Dr. A is very willing to help his students ). CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS The syllabus is often the first impression students have of a faculty member and course; its looks, however, can overshadow the content when insufficient care is put into its presentation (Matejka and Kurke 1994). We believe that the syllabus should be attractive without being distracting, and should be consistent with the tone of the course. The organization and highlighting features of word processing programs facilitate finding information about the course. Information that students access most frequently should be placed on the first page (Becker and Calhoun, 1999). Effective and selective use of headers, graphics and layout strategies can make syllabi more attractive and user-friendly (S. Kuhlenschmidt, personal communication, September 2, 2002). Kuhlenschmidt (2000), for example, uses organizing questions as headers to increase the readability of her syllabi, as well as to communicate that her syllabus is designed to meet her students needs. We believe that syllabi should be easy to navigate and have seen syllabi for interesting courses that were ineffective because of weak or ineffective organization. This is particularly important for web syllabi, syllabi that often contain a wealth of information, but that can be difficult to navigate. Paper syllabi should generally present information in the order described in this paper, with grading rubrics or paper assignments near or appended to the end. The most effective syllabi we have seen are user-friendly and use a friendly tone. They are neither condescending, nor do they assume the reader knows information they would be unlikely to have. As warm syllabi are better remembered (Littlefield 1999a), consider presenting course requirements in a manner that suggests that faculty and students will work well together. In general, however, consistency is key and the tone and proposed
86 PREPARING TO TEACH 3.23 process articulated in the syllabus should match. Professors who expect to take an expert role should clearly communicate this in their syllabi, just as those who adopt a more student-centered approach should communicate this (Baecker 1998). Syllabi are a paper contract between faculty members and their students, designed to answer students questions about a course, as well as inform them about what will happen should they fail to meet course expectations. Smith and Razzouk (1993) reported that about half of the students in their study referred to their syllabi at least once a week. Nonetheless, students still had relatively poor memories for information contained there. Becker and Calhoun (1999) recommend revisiting information on the syllabus frequently to help students make wise decisions about their use of time. Although Smith and Razzouk (1993) acknowledged that syllabi are imperfect ways of communicating course information, we believe that highly effective syllabi are characterized by completeness of information (e.g., identifying information, course description, course goals, assignments, schedule, etc.), motivational comments, and a style of communication that engages students as effective collaborators in the learning process. Rarely, however, will a syllabus be perfect the first time. Like Matejka and Kurke (1994), we recommend that updating syllabi at the end of each semester based on the semester s experiences. Reviewing the course and the normal problems associated with it, while also considering solutions and how to present material more clearly, can be important first steps in creating a productive classroom learning environment. REFERENCES Angelo, T. A., and K. P. Cross Classroom assessment techniques: A handbook for college teachers. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Appleby, D. C How to improve your teaching with the course syllabus. In Lessons learned: Practical advice for the teaching of psychology. Washington, DC: The American Psychological Society. Appleby, D B103 Orientation to a Major in Psychology. Retrieved on April 15, 2002, from Appleby, D. 2003, August. Purposes and components of course syllabi. In the evolving syllabus: Motivating students and maximizing success. Symposium conducted at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association, Toronto, Canada. Astin, A. W Achieving educational excellence. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Baecker, D Uncovering the rhetoric of the syllabus. College Teaching 46: Becker, A. H., and S. K. Calhoon What introductory psychology students attend to on a course syllabus. Teaching of Psychology 26: Benjamin, L. T History and Systems of Psychology. Retrieved on April 16, 2002, from Brosman, C. S The case for (and against) departmental syllabi. Academic Questions 11(4): Coffman, S. J Ten strategies for getting students to take responsibility for their learning. College Teaching 51: 2-4.
87 3.24 TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK Collins, T For openers... An inclusive syllabus. In New paradigms for college teaching. Edina, MN: Interaction Book. Dale, M., and M. Liss Reforming liberal adult education. Adults Learning 6: Gross, B. D Tools for teaching. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Gurung, R. A. R Culture, Development and Health. Retrieved on April 14, 2002, from Kuhlenschmidt, S Issues in Using the Internet in Instruction. Retrieved on September 7, 2002, from Littlefield, V. M. 1999a. My syllabus? It s fine. Why do you ask? Or the syllabus: A tool for improving teaching and learning. Presented at the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, Calgary, Canada. Littlefield, V. M. 1999b. PSY 105: Principles of Psychology. Unpublished document. Lloyd, M. A Psychology 210 Careers in Psychology (Lloyd) Spring, Retrieved on June 24, 2002, from Matejka, K., and L. B. Kurke Designing a great syllabus. College Teaching 42: McKeachie, W. J Teaching tips: Strategies, research and theory for college and university teachers (9th ed.). Lexington, MA: D.C. Heath. Office of Teaching Effectiveness & Faculty Development Launching a teaching system - 1: A higher-level syllabus. Retrieved on June 24, 2002, from Perrine, R. M., J. Lisle, and D. L. Tucker Effects of a syllabus offer of help, student age, and class size on college students willingness to seek support from faculty. Journal of Experimental Education 64: Reed, W The commotion on teaching: Six principles in search of an audience. College Teaching 51: Root, M Introduction to Psychology. Retrieved on April 15, 2002, from Slattery, J. M Techniques in Interviewing and Casework. Retrieved on October 23, 2003, from Smith, M. F., and N. Y. Razzouk Improving classroom communication: The case of the course syllabus. Journal of Education for Business 68 (4): Tata, J Grade distributions, grading procedures, and students evaluations of instructors: A justice perspective. Journal of Psychology 133: Tinto,V Leaving college: The causes and cures of student attrition (2nd ed.). Chicago: University of Chicago. Walvoord, B. E., and V. J. Anderson Effective grading: A tool for learning and assessment. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
88 PREPARING TO TEACH 3.25 Shared Teaching: Some Suggestions Without some planning and preparation, uncertainty and confusion can result for students and instructors when two or more instructors teach a course. The following list includes suggestions on how to make shared teaching 1 as effective and easy as possible for all parties involved. These suggestions are based on the premise that, after the first few days of class, there should be no surprises because of a change in instructors. If possible, both instructors should meet the students in the first week of classes. Even if it s September and one instructor isn t planning to teach until January, a short lecture or presentation by the second instructor will help allay uncertainties students may have. At a minimum, students will be able to recognize both instructors and put a name with a face, and they will understand how the course and expectations of them will or won t change when the second instructor takes over. Both instructors should participate in writing course outlines. This collaboration allows assignments, test, papers, class participation, attendance, and grading styles to remain consistent throughout the course. Jointly written outlines don t imply that the instructors need to have identical teaching and evaluation methods, but it s best when there is some similarity and continuity. Deciding on similar or complementary teaching and evaluation methods usually doesn t take long, but it will give students a feeling of security concerning what is expected of them. It is particularly important that instructors agree on a common grading scheme so that a numerical mark corresponds to a particular letter grade in both halves of the course. Marking schemes cannot be altered unilaterally by either instructor. > If at all possible, faculty members should select the same (set) of textbook(s) for the two terms. Where this is difficult, care should be taken not to impose an unnecessary financial burden on the students. Particularly when two professors teach a section, students should be told (in accordance with new university regulations) that if they wish to formally appeal the grade assigned to term work, they shall have (normally) ten working days after the grades for the term work have been made available to them. This helps avoid the second instructor being faced with questions about marks assigned by the first instructor. Questions about past marks can be particularly troublesome when the first instructor is not available and a decision has to be made immediately. Ideally, the first instructor should make definitive first term marks known to students before turning the TIP LYNN TAYLOR Reprinted with permission of author A clear articulation of the rationale for grades in the course outline can promote a clear understanding between professors and students about the role of grades in the course.
89 3.26 TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK 1 Shared teaching refers to two or more instructors teaching a course. This can mean that one instructor teaches the first half of the course and another the second half, two instructors alternating their teaching, or several instructors teaching portions of a course. class over to the second instructor. This lets students know exactly what mark they have earned, allows them to verify the results, and reduces potential hassles at the end of the course. If possible, both instructors should plan to be involved in assigning the final course grades. Unless grades are calculated using simple addition, considerations known only to one instructor may be relevant in determining a borderline grade. Let students know that the course is a joint effort and that both instructors are concerned about the whole course. Students often feel confused and abandoned when a second instructor with a different teaching style takes over. Letting students know that the course is a joint effort, in spite of shared teaching and differing personal styles, can go a long way toward the delivery of an effective course. Again, the key to effective shared teaching assignments is that there should be no surprises because of a change in instructors. A bit of planning and forethought before the course starts can ensure this result. LYNN TAYLOR Reprinted with permission of author Working Toward the Equitable Treatment of Students in Multi-section Courses The issue of equity and fairness in multi-section courses is a perennial concern of professors and students. On the one hand, professors have been entrusted with guiding diverse groups of students along different learning paths to meet the requirements of a single academic course. On the other, students often feel that they are given comparable grades for widely differing learning experiences. Since grades are often the basis on which student abilities and potential for future success are judged, it is not surprising that students are concerned with equity across multiple sections of the same course. Given the diversity inherent in teaching multi-section courses, how can faculty address the legitimate concerns of students with respect to equity? A general guideline for equity in multi-section courses at the U of M is set out in the Policy and Procedure Manual which states, For those courses which are offered in multiple sections involving more than one instructor, provisions shall be made for equitable treatment of all students enrolled in such courses. In its broadest sense, equitable treatment could include factors such as variations in professor and student characteristics between sections. In terms of generating practical suggestions which can be implemented in the real world of university teaching, however, it is useful to focus on two specific aspects of equity across multiple sections:
90 PREPARING TO TEACH 3.27 course content, and; evaluation of student learning. These aspects are critical because they are of primary concern to students and are, to a great extent, under faculty control. The challenge in focusing on course content and evaluation of student learning across sections is one of balance. How can a measure of consistency be brought to student learning opportunities across multiple sections while ensuring the primary resource of the scholar-teacher to students - his or her deep discipline knowledge - is effectively utilized in university teaching? Provisions for the equitable treatment of students enrolled in multi-section courses at the U of M currently range from high degrees of standardization to low levels of comparability with respect to course content and evaluation procedures. While no single approach to designing multi-section courses is appropriate in every situation, some degree of communication between professors teaching sections of the same course helps reduce students perceptions of inequity. Between the extremes of complete standardization (which is not always feasible) and low levels of comparability (which many students perceive as inequitable), there is room for flexibility in addressing the issue of equity in multi-section courses. Several departments, concerned about students perceptions of inequity, have opted for intermediate levels of standardization. Generally, these intermediate approaches involve the partial structuring of each section around a common core of discipline knowledge determined by the professors teaching the course, in consultation with their department. In individual sections, this common core is supplemented with optional topics according to each professor s area of expertise. A common core addresses the issue of equity in multi-section courses by making explicit the similarities between sections of a course. When professors involved in teaching a multi-section course agree on a central core for a course, that common core can be used to focus students attention on the similarities between sections. This approach also accommodates the different areas of expertise among faculty by ensuring that the core is arrived at by mutual agreement among participating professors. In designing the core, mutual agreement can be sought on both the specific content and the proportion of the course that will be guided by the core. This flexible approach allows faculty to address the issue of equity across sections while allowing for different areas of expertise among professors. SELECTING A COMMON CORE There are a number of aspects of course design that can be considered in determining the common core portion of multi-section courses. Among the important ones are the selection of course content, required texts and readings, a grading scale, and evaluation methods. Each of these aspects can be thought of as existing on a sliding scale of consistency
91 3.28 TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK The University of Manitoba, Policy and Procedure Manual between sections. It is up to individuals involved in teaching multi-section courses to select the degree of consistency appropriate to their circumstances. To assist professors or departments interested in addressing equity in multi-section courses through a common core approach, there are a number of suggestions that may be considered in the planning process. Course Content The adoption of a common core of course content usually does not involve a radical change in course design. Professors who are interested in working together across sections can begin by listing the concepts and skills they teach in their individual sections. This list can be enhanced by constructing a concept map for the course, in which related items of content are grouped together into concepts or knowledge groupings, and connections between content groupings are identified. This process helps to organize information and distill the most important aspects of the course. When professors who teach different sections compare concept maps, they often find a basis for structuring the core areas of common emphasis. However arrived at, a representation of the common core for each section of the course should The design of a multi-section course around a common core requires effective communication and co-operation between the professors who teach different sections. be explicitly presented in the course outline for each section, so that students are aware of the commonalities between sections. Textbooks and Readings In choosing textbooks and supplementary materials for multi-section courses, using a number of common sources for core portions of a course heightens students perceptions of equity between sections. Where common sources are not appropriate, it is useful to explain to students both how a chosen source addresses core topics and the perspective a particular source provides. Without specific reference to the appropriateness of resource materials, students may be left to make superficial judgments about the variations between sections based on assigned texts and readings. As in any course, the first priority is to choose the most appropriate materials to support learning, not to achieve the outward appearance of similarity. However, careful selection of sources may meet both ends. Shared Grading Scale The adoption of a shared grading scale across sections directly addresses students concerns about equity in grading practices in multi-section courses. When a specific numerical mark does not correspond to the same letter grade in different sections of the same course, students have strong perceptions of inequity. In actual practice, a common grading scale
92 PREPARING TO TEACH 3.29 need not reduce professors autonomy in evaluating students because it allows for differences in individual professors methods and standards of grading within that scale. From a student perspective, however, a common grading scale is an important indicator of equity. Evaluation methods The adoption of a common core in multi-section courses does not imply that identical evaluation methods must be used across sections. Individual professors will offer different materials, perspectives, and emphases and will have their own preferences for evaluating students learning. The most important factor in enhancing equity in evaluation is for each professor to articulate clearly and follow strictly the grading policies and procedures set out for the course. The guiding principle in the fair evaluation of student learning is that there should be no surprises for students in the evaluation process. Once the evaluation process has been explained to students, it should be carefully followed. In addition to this general practice, it is useful for professors in multi-section courses to compare evaluation methods across sections. Where wide discrepancies exist, professors can address the issue at the course design level or make the reasons for these discrepancies clear to students at the beginning of the course. One way concerns for equitable learning experiences across multi-section courses can be addressed is to adopt a partial course core across sections. The design of a multi-section course around a common core requires effective communication and co-operation between the professors who teach different sections. No less important is effective communication between individual professors and their students with respect to course content and evaluation procedures. It is essential to make explicit to students how the course has been structured to provide not only equitable, but high quality, learning experiences. When lines of communication are open, the concerns of professors and students with respect to multi-section courses are more likely to be addressed.
93 3.30 TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK Teaching Strategies Used with permission from the Center for Teaching Excellence, University of Maryland LECTURES Large Classes: A Teaching Guide: Lecturing The formal lecture is among the oldest teaching methods and has been widely use in higher education for centuries. Potential benefits of a good lecture include: Presenting analyses and showing relationships between dissimilar ideas Modeling the thought-processes and problem-solving of a creative, intelligent person Summarizing and presenting an overview of a topic, which can set the stage for reading and further discussion Supplementing and expanding the knowledge presented in a textbook or other source of information Inspiring and motivating students to learn about a topic or subject matter Synthesizing, evaluating, and discussing information presented Tailoring the presentation of information to a particular group of students While a lecture may benefit students in these and other ways, lecturing alone cannot ensure that students become active learners. Many of us have been taught by lecture and view it as safer, easier, and more reliable than other methods of instruction. Using lectures in combination with other kinds of instruction, such as discussion and cooperative learning, can increase their effectiveness. Generally speaking, qualities of an effective lecturer are: A good knowledge base An enthusiasm for the discipline (not necessarily a performer ) Techniques for engaging students in active learning PREPARING THE COURSE CONTENT AND LECTURES What are the fundamental concepts and/or knowledge that students are expected to gain from this course? Most large lecture courses are introductory courses meant to provide an overview of a discipline that can help first and second-year students select a major field. Your department
94 TEACHING STRATEGIES 3.31 probably expects that its introductory courses familiarize prospective majors with the concepts and information they will need to do upper-level work. Knowing what your department expects the course to accomplish can help you focus your preparations for the course and each lecture. You might ask colleagues for course descriptions and old syllabi; departmental advisers can provide an overview of the undergraduate program. What are your students experiences and background with the subject matter? Knowing the goals of the course is one important factor in developing lectures. Making the lectures relevant and interesting to students can aid their learning of the material. Some instructors give students broad questionnaires asking about their background in the subject as a diagnostic tool at the beginning of the semester. The information from the questionnaires can also be used to tailor your presentation of course material. What is the relationship between the lectures and other course materials? Lectures should do more than repeat the information presented in the textbook. Instead, they should illustrate the textbook s concepts using real-world examples; prepare or follow-up on class discussions, lab sections or readings ;provide up-to-date information or thought on a theory; or present conflicting interpretations of a subject. Lectures can also be used to provoke students to think beyond simply getting the facts and to engage in the higher-order skills of critical thinking. Lectures also provide a forum for you to share your knowledge and training with your students by modeling a solution to a problem, illustrating a point with your own research, or demonstrating aloud how to analyze a text or problem. After offering such demonstrations a few times, students can practice it on their own or in groups. ORGANIZING THE LECTURE What are the four or five main points the lecture should convey? A strength of lectures is their ability to present a great deal of information. It is important to remember, however, that information that seems basic to an experienced scholar may be new to students in an introductory course. A recent study duplicated this experience for faculty members by having them take courses in disciplines completely different from their home discipline. One professor wrote at the conclusion of the course: It seemed to me during these lectures that I lacked any framework of prior knowledge, experience or intuition that could have helped me order the information I was receiving. I had no way of telling what was important and what was not. I had difficulty distinguishing between what was being communicated to me merely for purpose of illustration or analogy. I could not tell whether I understood or not. Students in introductory courses face this same obstacle and need the lecturer to help them focus on the four or five main
95 3.32 TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK points. Emphasizing these points, providing several examples, and repeating them throughout the lecture help students determine what information is most important. Do your lecture notes include stage directions? Teaching a large lecture class has been compared to performing for an audience. Smaller class settings provide more room to improvise and adapt a lesson plan during a class. In the large class, however, having a clear vision of where you need to be, when to cue technology, and how long each segment should take is essential for keeping the class moving and the audience engaged in the lesson. If you re using technology, do you have a Plan B just in case? Technology--overhead projectors, slides, films, computer displays--can enhance instruction if they are well-integrated with the class plan. Even if you ve tested the equipment prior to class, things sometimes go wrong: a light bulb burns out, the power fails, a film breaks. When using technology, always have a plan B. Will you dismiss students and reschedule the film for another day, or will you summarize the film or deliver the next week s lecture? PRESENTING INFORMATION How will you begin your lecture? The way a lecture begins can capture students attention and emphasize the main point of the day. Try posing a problem or using a piece of poetry; a quotation, a current event, opinions, statistics, or anecdotes can also be used to engage students. Peter Frederick sometimes poses a problem at the beginning of a lecture which he then answers gradually throughout the course of the lecture. The answer to the problem becomes clear by the end of class, as does the process used to solve it. A variation is to pause before providing the solution and to ask students to make a guess or discuss it with classmates. What activities and energy shifts are planned? Studies of student attention span indicate that most students tune out of a lecture after 20 minutes even if they are taking notes. To combat this problem, an energy shift -- changing of activities and pacing of the class--is recommended every 15 to 20 minutes. Such shifts might include a demonstration, opening the floor of the class up for discussion, asking a rhetorical question and pausing for an answer, or asking students to review the main points of the day. What activities will you use to reach students with different learning styles? One recent hot topic in higher education has been the different ways in which students learn. People have different preferences for processing new information. Some students prefer to learn by listening, others like visual representations, and still others learn by
96 TEACHING STRATEGIES 3.33 doing. Most lectures heavily favor those students who prefer listening so it is important to devise ways of presenting information that can appeal to learners with other preferences. Possibilities include demonstrations, role plays, discussions, simulations, problem-solving, real-world applications, or multi-media. By incorporating a variety of presentations into your lectures you can alter the pace as well as increase the chance that a different activity will clarify a point or a concept for students who may not be as strong in one particular style. What materials will you use in giving the lecture? Diagrams, graphs, outlines, slides and films can contribute much to the lecture but it is important to consider whether the technology you use is visible and audible to all students. Before class begins, place an overhead on the projector and check if it is visible from a11 parts of the room. If it is hard to discern part of a diagram or model, you may consider putting it on a handout instead of having students copy it for themselves. An OSU faculty member uses two overhead projectors--one to display the outline of the lecture and the second for the current point. DELIVERING THE LECTURE Are the main points or outline of the lecture written on the overhead or blackboard? Are students aware of the focus of the day s lecture? Various methods can help keep students focused by providing a map of the lecture. Using the blackboard or an overhead projector to highlight a lecture s main points can help students take effective notes. Announcing the focus and objectives of the day s class at the beginning of the hour can help them determine which parts of the lecture are the most important. > Another way to facilitate note taking is to list new terms, names, and references on the syllabus, the board or handouts. TIP Are student contributions encouraged and integrated into the lecture? Many instructors would like students to participate more in the lecture by asking questions or making comments but need to find ways to overcome the reticence large classes can instill. Positive responses to questions, e.g., That s a good question or I m glad you asked that, show students you are open to questions will not be shoot them down in front of the class. You can also encourage students to ask questions by integrating their remarks into the lecture, e.g., And that gets back to the Susan s point or That s a great question it leads us to the next topic. Begin a lecture by posing a problem or using a piece of poetry; a quotation, a current event, opinions, statistics, or anecdotes can also be used to engage students.
97 3.34 TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK Are you familiar enough with the lecture plan to deliver it without reading? Knowing the material and lecture plan for your class well allows you to focus on the reaction of your audience. Such familiarity enhances your delivery of the lecture since you can focus on your audience and not on your notes. Can students following you comfortably or are they scribbling madly? Can every student see and hear you? A common complaint about large classes noted on student evaluations is that lectures move too quickly. In the large-class setting, most students are reluctant to volunteer that the pace is too fast. Therefore, it is up to you to allow students to give you feedback on the lecture s pace. Observe what the students are doing--if they re scribbling madly rather than looking at you, you might slow things down. Periodically throughout the lecture, you might ask students which points they would like repeated or explained again. Questions can also be a way of pausing in the lecture and allowing students to catch up in their notes and in following the lecture. ENCOURAGING ACTIVE LEARNING Is the material related to the students experiences and/or background? Student interest can be heightened and comprehension of the class material enhanced when examples and materials relate to the experiences and background of your particular audience. How can students demonstrate their involvement in the class? Taking notes is one way that students demonstrate their involvement in the class. Other techniques that help keep students involved include taking an informal vote on an issue or presenting a multiple choice question on the topic and ask students to choose the correct answer. Peter Frederick has developed the participatory lecture, orderly brainstorming in which students are asked to generate ideas and share their knowledge on a topic. Frederick describes this technique in detail in his article, The Lively Lecture: Eight Variations. Frederick, Peter J. (1986). The lively lecture: Eight variations. College Teaching, (34): 2. What opportunities do you have to get feedback from students? Numerous ways exist to get feedback on how your students are following your lecture. Collecting several students notebooks to get a sampling of how they re understanding the lectures. Having a question-answer box, in which students can deposit questions Having students write complete one-minute papers Asking students to generate a test item based on the day s lecture Asking at the end of class, What points would you like me to repeat or clarify or Would you like additional information or explanations of anything we ve discussed today? instead of Are there any questions?
98 TEACHING STRATEGIES 3.35 GROUP WORK Using Cooperative Education Techniques to Help Students Develop Effective Group Processes One of the challenges to using small group learning in our classes is that students often experience difficulty in using small groups effectively. Some of the difficulties include dominating students, reticent students, difficulty in focusing on the task at hand, ineffective use of group time, and free riders. These challenges to effective group process defeat the learning goals set by professors and frustrate students. Students frequently need support in developing the skills necessary to work effectively in groups before they can benefit from small group learning and small group work assignments. Some of the techniques used in cooperative learning can provide a framework for helping students develop their small group skills. Cooperative learning employs small group interaction to facilitate students in maximizing both their own and each other s learning. The cooperative learning approach is characterized by carefully structured assignments that address both substantive issues and the process students must engage in both to help each other learn, understand, complete an assignment, and work together in an effective way. One strategy for improving students small group skills is to assign a specific role to each group member. These roles can vary by assignment and the needs of the students but can include: Problem poser/question asker: The responsibility of the person assuming this role is to begin the group process by repeating the assignment and ensuring that each group member understands the task. Reporter: The responsibility of the reporter is to be able to accurately report verbally, or in short written form, the outcome of the group s activity. Summarizer: Some tasks (e.g., discussions or problem-solving) may benefit from periodic summarization of what the group has done so far and what has been accomplished. Time Monitor: On time-limited assignments, it might be important to keep the group informed of the time remaining. This function helps to keep the process moving and to encourage the completion of the assignment. Process Monitor: The responsibility of the process monitor is to monitor the group process and to alert the group to wandering away from the agenda or getting bogged down. Students may need a framework to help them in describing elements of process. LYNN TAYLOR Reprinted with permission of author
99 3.36 TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK Participation Monitor: The participation monitor keeps track of participation (or even patterns of participation) in group interaction and asks if non-participators have anything to add before the closing assignment. There are other possible roles, and the roles you choose for a specific assignment will vary, based on the degree of structure required and the aspect of group process you wish to emphasize. It is important to rotate roles from one assignment to the next and to gradually reduce the amount of process structure imposed as students become more skilled group members. LARRY MICHAELSEN, WITH ADAPTATIONS BY BEVERLY CAMERON Used with permission of author learning.org Do s and Don ts for Group Assignments Not all assignments are suitable for group work. When designing and evaluating assignments for small group work, ask yourself the following four key questions: Will this assignment promote individual accountability? Will this assignment facilitate learning of course concepts? Will this assignment build group cohesiveness? Will this assignment facilitate learning about the positive potential of group problemsolving and decision-making? Professor Michaelsen, who teaches most of his classes using small groups, has written the following guide to answer these four questions: Group assignments promote individual accountability if they: Make the level of individual members preparation and participation visible to the instructor and/or their peers Have a significant impact on the course grade. Group assignments facilitate learning the course concepts if they: Require students to produce a visible product (preferably one that could be graded) Are difficult enough that they cannot be successfully completed by any of the group members working alone Cause students to engage in group discussions that are specifically focuses on using course concepts Allow students to practice using the concepts to solve problems similar to those they will face after the class (or unit of instruction) has been completed
100 TEACHING STRATEGIES 3.37 Group assignments build group cohesiveness if they: Require input from a broad cross section of group members Ensure that opportunities, efforts, and rewards are equitably distributed among group members. Group assignments facilitate learning about the positive potential of group problem solving and decision making if they: Involve activities that groups do well (e.g. Process information) Avoid activities that groups do poorly (e.g. Create a polished document of any substantial length) The best group assignments promote: individual accountability; the learning of course concepts; group cohesiveness; and learning about the positive potential of group problem-solving and decision-making. Group assignments, however, that sacrifice one or more of these objectives can still be used. The key is maintaining overall balance. For example, assignments that primarily promote learning of course concepts are perfectly appropriate-but only if they are interspersed with activities that promote individual accountability, group cohesiveness, and the potential benefits of group work. Without this balance, groups will deteriorate to the point that they are no longer effective, and many students will get the false impressions that working in and with groups is a waste of time. For more resources please visit
101 3.38 TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK HELEN DAVIES Adapted with permission from (1) William E. Cashin, and Philip C. McKnight, (January, 1986). Improving Discussions. IDEA #15, Center for Faulty Evaluation & Development, Kansas State University, and (2) Peter J. Frederick (1981). The Dreaded Discussion: Ten Ways to Start, Improving College and University Teaching, 29(3), DISCUSSIONS/QUESTIONING Discussion as a Teaching Technique Used on its own or combined with lectures, discussion is an effective way to facilitate learning. Discussion can provide the instructor with an opportunity to assess student understanding of course material. In addition, by introducing their own observations and questions, students can explore ideas thoroughly. Most importantly, discussions allow students to participate actively in the learning process. Learning is more interesting, and students are often more motivated, when they are actively involved in using the course material. Instructors must remember that some students are uncomfortable with the discussion approach, and, therefore, a number of different teaching strategies must be used to encourage students to trust their own opinions. A successful discussion doesn t just happen, it demands that the instructor be well prepared. To help you prepare for a class discussion, common concerns and problems are listed below with suggestions for how to deal with each. PLANNING THE DISCUSSION Define the objectives of the discussion group. You can relieve anxiety by letting students know that you do not expect everyone to speak every time. Emphasize that they are not expected to perform, but rather to share their opinions and observations. It is important that you acknowledge student fears and nervousness. Reassure students TIP that you will not grade everything they say, and stress that the goal of a discussion group is to enhance student understanding of a chosen topic or text. Generate discussion Explain the discussion format to the class. by having students Let students know if you require them to bring prepared material to class or whether you will focus on a number of previously prepare questions handed-out questions or a particular theme. Change discussion based on their readings. formats frequently to ensure that students don t lose interest. > Define terms and state assumptions. Participants in discussion must agree on definitions of terms and assumptions so everyone is starting from the same point. The instructor should watch for terms that may need definition and for assumptions that may be implicit, but not stated. For example, in
102 TEACHING STRATEGIES 3.39 discussing adequate social services for individuals living in poverty: how is adequate defined?; are students making assumptions about what social services exist or are readily available?; and, how is poverty being defined? GENERATING DISCUSSION Asking questions. Ask students ahead of time (in a previous class) to prepare one or two questions about their reading. As students walk into the classroom, ask them to write down discussion questions. Hand all the questions to one student (a shy one perhaps) who, at random, selects questions for class attention. Divide the class into pairs or small groups (the size of the class will influence the size and number of small groups), and ask each group to decide upon one salient question to put to the rest of the class. 1 Some reasons for asking questions include: to diagnose student difficulties to introduce a topic to stimulate analytical thinking to give direction to problem-solving to encourage imaginative thinking to help students discover connections between concepts and ideas (e.g. to link cause and effect) to promote interest, and to encourage the application of tools learned by the students Finding illustrative quotations. Ask each student, either ahead of time or at the start of class, to find one or two particularly significant quotations from the assigned readings. Ask students to: point out quotations they especially liked or disliked find a quotation from the text that best illustrates the major thesis of the piece select a quotation from the assigned reading that is difficult to understand With this exercise, instructors and students alike often discover new insight into a particular text. Break the class into smaller groups. Some students find small groups less threatening and, therefore, are more likely to enter into the discussion. In order to make this method effective, however, students must be
103 3.40 TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK given a clear task and a definite amount of time in which to complete it. Finally, they must be asked to use their responses in a follow-up discussion with the class as a whole. 2 Forced Debate While the effectiveness of this strategy depends on the dynamics of the group, it can be useful. Have students select one or the other side of two opposing opinions. They must then defend their point of view. This exercise is most successful when students are given some time to prepare before coming to class. Be sure, however, that they do not prepare a formal presentation. Ask for responses in writing. One excellent way to get discussions going is to ask students to respond to the question in writing. Usually five minutes is enough time for students to prepare an answer. Quiet students will often speak up if they have the words before them. This strategy also demands that students think concisely. MAINTAINING DISCUSSION Control excessive talkers. Don t let one or two students monopolize the discussion. Do not call on the talkers first. Wait to see if some else raises a hand or volunteers a comment. Solicit responses from the non-talkers. Be alert to nonverbal cues indicating that they have something to say, then call on them: Did you want to say something...?, or Let s hear from some of you who haven t said anything yet. Have the class observed by someone (e.g. a student selected from the class), then discuss who is talking, how often, to whom, etc. Often this will make both the talkers and the nontalkers modify their behavior. Talk to excessively talkative students outside of class, one-on-one, if all else fails. Be careful that a bright conscientious student is not made to feel penalized. You don t want to destroy initiative, creativity, or confidence; you want to ensure that contributions come from all or most members of the class. The discussion that goes off track. Stopping and asking students to summarize the discussion up to that point helps to re-focus the group. Be sensitive, however, to the direction taken by a tangent, since it may result in a valuable learning experience of great interest to students.
104 TEACHING STRATEGIES 3.41 Instructor s role as group leader. Know your students. Start the discussion with a topic students can relate to. Use a common experience or concern to initiate discussion. Be patient. Try not to monopolize the discussion. Listen. Discussions are rarely beneficial when a leader does not listen to the contributions of the participants. Hear the students out and concentrate as much on the points they are trying to make as on the points you want to make. Don t question a single student for too long. If a student does not respond to a question, do not embarrass him or her by continuing to question the individual. Remember, you must challenge, not threaten, students. Use personal anecdotes. Relating your own experiences can facilitate the discussion if done in moderation. Inquire. Ask the students to elaborate, clarify, expand, explain, explore. Paraphrase. It is valuableparticularly for the leaderto summarize ideas, conclusions, and the general direction of the discussion several times during a class. This summary helps to ensure that everyone is following the development of ideas and provides a starting point for continued discussion. Relate concepts and ideas. The leader can ask participants to compare ideas or concepts brought out in the discussion or use analogies of illustrative anecdotes to relate ideas. Be accepting rather than judgmental or evaluative. Try to focus on the correct part of the student s response. 3 CONCLUDING THE DISCUSSION Good discussions end with a summary so students know the important points that have been covered. In addition to showing students why the discussion is important to their learning, a summary provides an opportunity to fill in points not covered and to praise the class for the quality of their responses. 1 Acitelli, Aciteli, Cashin and McKnight, Gappa and Gill, 1991 Be accepting rather than judgmental or evaluative. Try to focus on the correct part of the student s response.
105 3.42 TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK WILLIAM E. CASHIN Used with permission from The IDEA Center, IDEA Paper 31 Answering and Asking Questions This article paper could is concerned not be with included the answering this and electronic asking of questions copy in collegelevel copyright courses. It stipulations. makes suggestions Please regarding visit questioning the following techniques URL that are due to to read appropriate the article for lecture classes as well as for discussion groups. We have adapted the approach used by Hyman (1974) because it has been found by many instructors to be a useful way to understand what goes on in class. Therefore, throughout the paper we will use the terms question, answer (response), and reaction as follows: Question (Q) -any eliciting of an answer (response) regardless of grammatical form; Answer (A) -any response that fulfills the expectation of the question; Reaction (R) -any response that modifies (clarifies, expands) or rates (positively or negatively) a previous statement (question, answer, or another reaction). Example: Who is president of the United States? (Q) That s too easy. (R to Q) No it isn t (R to R). George Washington. (A to Q) In general, when considering changing an approach to your teaching, ask yourself: What exactly goes on in class? What do I do? What do the students do? For example, imagine yourself in class when one of the students asks you a question. What do you usually do? It is quite possible that you simply answer it. If your goal is to increase the students knowledge, this is quite appropriate. However, if your goal is to develop the students thinking skills, you may wish to begin a dialogue or use another technique to help the students discover their own answers. It may be that when you try to recall how you act in class, you cannot remember clearly. Video or audiotaping your class can provide a wealth of detail, and in a format where you can replay portions or can lay it for one or more of your colleagues. STUDENTS ASKING QUESTIONS What are some things that you can do when asked a question other than directly answering it? Repeat the question, paraphrasing it This serves two purposes: it insures that the entire class hears the question; more importantly, it lets the questioner check your understanding of his or her question. When you
106 TEACHING STRATEGIES 3.43 have This not article completely could understood, not be included often the student in this will electronic rephrase or copy elaborate upon the question. due to copyright In doing so the stipulations. student is often Please thinking visit out the loud following and may URL come to his or her own to read conclusions the article without further help. This process also gives the other students time to think about the question and possible answers to it. Example (Introductory Psychology): Student: You ve said that learning is defined as changes in behavior that result from past experience, but can t people learn without any change being apparent? (Q1) Instructor: You re questioning whether learning has to be tied to observable change (R to Q1), right Ann? (Q2) Student: Right (A to Q2), although given our definition of psychology, I guess it would have to be perceivable in some way. (R to Q2 and A to Q1) Redirect the question You might ask another student (one who might know the answer) to respond; or you might redirect the question to the class in general, asking for an answer or comment, or an elaboration upon the issue. This procedure not only encourages more student participation, but it also implies that peers are a resource for learning. Example (Seminar on Urban Problems): St. 1: If people know about all of these harmful effects that pollute the environment, why doesn t the government stop the polluters? (Q1) Inst.: Bill is asking, why don t our political leaders do something about those things that we know hurt the environment. (R to Q1, paraphrasing it.) What are some reasons the rest of you can think of that might explain this apparently illogical behavior? (Q2, redirecting Q1 to entire class.) St. 2: Well, many of the things people do that cause pollution also have a lot of benefits: factories produce goods we want, provide jobs, etc. (A to Q1 and Q2) Ask probing questions You might respond to the student s question by directing her (or his) attention to a particular aspect of the issue she has raised, or drawing her attention to some previously learned course material that is relevant to answering the question or by going beyond what the student has said in some way. The intent of probing questions is to draw the student s attention to things that may be only implied in her answer, and so help her answer her own question. Example (American History): St: I think you can argue that the American Revolution wasn t justified. The colonists were better off than most Europeans. (Q1)
107 3.44 TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK This Inst.: article That s could a good point, not be Cindy. included (R to Q1, in praising this electronic student) It might copy help if we due considered to copyright how the stipulations. British government Please treated visit the the colonists following compared URL with their to treatment read the of article people living in England. (Q2) St: Well, it was true that the colonists thought that they were not given the rights of British citizens. (A to Q2). Comment: The instructor s question (Q2) focuses upon comparing the colonists with Englishmen rather than with other Europeans. The instructor implies that this is a more appropriate comparison (because the colonists thought of themselves as deserving the rights of Englishmen). Promote a discussion among the students The three previous suggestions usually involve communication between two people, typically the instructor and one student, with the rest of the class simply listening. It may be that you will want to involve the majority of students in trying to answer some questions, for example, where there is considerable difference of opinion about the answer. Example (Human Sexuality): St. 1. It really seems to me that abortion has to be considered murder, no matter what justification people give for it. St. 2: I disagree, that is just repeating some abstract principle without considering the other side of the argument, for example, a woman who has been raped. Inst.: These two comments, together with other things members of the class have said, suggest to me that there are strong disagreements about abortion. I think it might help if we spent some time discussing it. I d like you to get into buzz groups of three or four people each (see McKeachie, 1993, for a description of buzz groups) and spend about ten minutes coming up with as many arguments for and against abortion as you can. When you ve finished we ll discuss them. One reaction we generally do not recommend when a student asks a question is to assign that student the task of looking up the answer. Frequently all this practice accomplishes is to teach the class not to ask questions. ANSWERING QUESTIONS Because Part I concentrated upon ways to help students answer their own questions, the suggestions dealt with reactions to student questions rather than answers. The remaining parts of this guide discuss various aspects of questioning behavior that are not necessarily directed towards helping students answer their own questions. Directly answer the question One obvious option an instructor has when a student asks a question is to answer it. In general, we do not recommend answering a student s question directly if you wish to
108 TEACHING STRATEGIES 3.45 foster This article thinking could or problem-solving not be included skills. However, in this when electronic the questions copy ask for information due that to other copyright students stipulations. in the class are Please not likely visit to have the (or following questions asking URL for the instructor s to read the opinion), article directly answering question is appropriate. Directly answering questions takes less time than attempting to have a student or the class come up with answers. If you choose to answer directly, make your answer brief and to the point. After responding you may want to check to see if you have really answered the question by saying something like: Does that answer your question? or Was that what you were asking? etc... Sometimes an instructor would like to use a student s question as an opportunity to bring in a related topic that the instructor wishes to cover, reasoning that students learn better when they see the material as relevant to their own interests. This should be done with care or it may only confuse everyone. Answer the student s questions first, then be explicit that you are covering something else that is on your agenda.. Example ( Introduction to Literature): St.: Who wrote the first novel in English? (Q1) Inst.: Most experts consider Samuel Richardson to be the first modern English novelist. (A to Q1) He wrote Pamela in (R to A, elaborating on answer). Students are more willing to attempt answering divergent questions because they run less of a risk of giving a wrong answer. While we are on the topic of the novel, I d like to... (Instructor clues the class that she is going beyond the student s question.) Comment: It is not unusual when the instructor herself is handling a discussion or recitation section of a course for which she gives the lectures, to use the occasion of students asking questions about material previously covered to add new material that could not be included in the lectures because of lack of time. We recommend against this because it may serve only to confuse the students and make them feel less positive about the course when compared with recitation sections handled by TA s who primarily answer questions to clarify those parts of the lecture that some students did not understand. Postpone answering the question Students are more likely to learn and remember if the instructor answers their questions when they ask them. Never the less, on certain occasions you may decide to put off answering a question, for instance: when you are very short of time, especially if the answer is complex, or when the material will be covered in an upcoming class, or when the answer is of interest to only a few students. When the material is covered later, call it
109 3.46 TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK to This the article student s could attention: not Here be included is the answer in to this the electronic question you copy asked before, Frank... If due the to answer copyright will not be stipulations. covered during Please the course, visit we the recommend following that URL you offer to answer to read it after the article class or make an appointment to get together with the student sometime. By doing this you very clearly communicate to all of the students your willingness to try to answer their questions. Generally, you should answer more questions than you postpone or you are likely to find the students asking fewer and fewer questions. Example (Physiology): St.: Doctor, I still don t really understand the Kreb s cycle, could we review it, please? (Q1) Inst.: Fred, we re running out of time. (R to Q1). Can you see me after class and we ll arrange a time when we can get together for a half hour or so? (Q2). For now follow as best you can. (Further reaction to Q1, letting student know that the instructor is aware of the learning problem.) Discourage Inappropriate Questions Usually students ask questions because they wish to learn, but sometimes a student will ask a question to sidetrack the class, to get attention, or even to embarrass the instructor. Handling such questions presents a dilemma. If you treat them like other questions you may encourage the student to ask more of the same, but if you turn that student down abruptly you may discourage not only that student but the rest of the class from asking any kind of question. In reacting, it is probably best to tactfully indicate what about the question is inappropriate. Example (Physics I): Inst.: Any questions about the material we covered last class? (Q1) St.: I don t have a question about that (A1 to Q1) but I was reading about a physicist who has a theory about racial inferiority and I don t see what right a physicist has to teach something like that outside of his field. (Q2) Inst.: That s a legitimate question, Gail, since this is an introductory physics course (R to Q2, supporting student) but it takes us pretty far afield from vectors and forces. (Further reaction, raising issue of appropriateness) How many students would like to spend some class time talking about Gail s question? (Q3) St.: (Only five students raise their hands. Their action can be considered A2 to Q3) Inst.: Well, why don t you five see me after class and we can set up a time to get together to discuss it. (R to A2)
110 TEACHING STRATEGIES 3.47 Comment: This article If a could majority not of the be class included indicated in an this interest electronic in discussing copy the topic, perhaps the due instructor to copyright would want stipulations. to spend some Please of the visit class the time, following especially if URL one of the important to read the objectives article of course was for students to gain a broader understanding and appreciation of science. It seems to us that lecture outlines and course syllabi are not railroad tracks that you must never leave, rather they are the main road that you intend to travel, but with time for some interesting side trips. On the other hand, if the primary objective of the course was for the students to learn skills needed in their prospective professions, the instructor might suggest a meeting outside of class or perhaps recommend one or two articles discussing the question that interested students could then read. New teachers especially are often uncertain how to tell whether a student really wants an answer or has some other purpose. This is probably best learned through experience and new teachers will have to risk relying on their own judgment. One criterion is how relevant the point of the question is to what the class is trying to learn. Admit when you do not know an answer If you do not know the answer to a student s question, we recommend that you say so. Although one of the roles of a college teacher is that of expert and information source, admitting that you do not know the answer to a question will probably not damage the students confidence in you. In fact, giving the students clues about how certain you are of your answers is likely to increase their confidence in you, for example: The experts agree that..., as I recall they found..., I ll have to look that up... etc. On the other hand, if you try to fake it, there is a good chance the students will find you out and your credibility will be seriously damaged. Unless the question is tangential to the objectives of the course, we recommend that you assume responsibility for finding the answer to questions you do not know and report back to the entire class. Example (Food Management): St.: What effect does the use of the preservative BHT have on the amount of breakage in cookies? (Q1) Inst.: That s a good question, Howard (R to Q1), unfortunately I don t have a good answer; I don t know. (A1 to Q1) I ll have to find out and let you know. (Further reaction to Q1) Inst.: (Next class) Regarding Howard s question last class about the effect of BHT on the breakage of cookies, what they have found is... (A2 to Q1)
111 3.48 TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK ASKING This article QUESTIONS could not be included in this electronic copy Ask due open-ended, to copyright not stipulations. just close-ended Please questions visit the following URL Ato close-ended read the question article structures response for student and can be answered by one word, often yes or no, or by a very brief phrase. An open-ended question leaves the form of the answer up to the person answering and so elicits much more thinking or information. Example (Counseling): Inst. A: If one of your counselees told you that she had plagiarized most of her doctoral dissertation, would you report it to her major professor? (Close-ended question can be answered by a yes or no. ) Inst. B: If one of your counselees told you that he had plagiarized most of his doctoral dissertation, would you report it directly to his major professor, inform the major professor anonymously, or say nothing? (This is also a close-ended question; the instructor has given the student three choices.) Inst. C: If one of your counselees told you that she had plagiarized most of her doctoral dissertation, what action would you take concerning informing her major professor? (Open-ended, probing question leaves choice of answer up to the student.) Closed-ended questions are most appropriate when the instructor wants to check whether the students have learned or remembered specific information, or to get or keep their attention. If an instructor wishes to encourage student involvement, open-ended questions are preferable because they require a more complex student response. Instructors sometimes complain that students never enter into a discussion that they answer only in monosyllables. This may be because that is the only kind of answers our questions permit. Ask divergent as well as convergent questions The distinction between convergent and divergent questions is whether there is a single or accepted correct answer (to a convergent question) or are there a number of possible answers, many of which may be acceptable (to divergent questions). Convergent questions may expect the student to repeat some conventional wisdom. Divergent questions often require new, creative insights. Example (Sociology): Inst.: According to our textbook, in what ways does the present welfare system solve the problems of poverty? (Convergent question, the range of acceptable answers is determined by the textbook.) Inst.: What are some ways in which the country might solve the problems of poverty? (Divergent question, a wide range of acceptable answers are possible.)
112 TEACHING STRATEGIES 3.49 Comment: This article Notice could that not question be included 1 is an open-ended in this question electronic even copy though a convergent one. due Convergent to copyright questions stipulations. are often closed-ended; Please visit divergent the following questions URL must always be open-ended. to read the article Some answers to divergent questions may be more acceptable than others in terms of logical consistency, synthesis of relevant data, solutions of major aspects of the problem, etc. The major advantage in asking divergent questions is that the task they set for the students is to think about an issue or problem, not to discover the correct answer or the answer the teacher is looking for. Usually students are more willing to attempt answering divergent questions because they run less of a (risk of giving a wrong answer. Also divergent questions require a higher level of thinking (cf. Gronlund, 1985). They cannot be answered from just memory (unless the student has already been exposed to answers to the question in a lecture, reading, etc.). We have emphasized divergent questions because they are employed less frequently, even in college-level instruction. We do not mean to imply that instructors should not ask convergent questions. In so far as what is taught at the college-level deals with correct answers, convergent questions are obviously appropriate. What we do wish to caution against is using mainly convergent questions, especially when trying to teach divergent thinking! PAUSES AND SILENCE One difficulty found by both novice and veteran instructors is deciding how to handle pauses and silence after asking a question. We will argue that pauses and silence can play a useful role in both lecture and discussion classes. Wait, pauses and silence are not inappropriate class behaviors The discomfort many, if not most, instructors feel when a pause leads to an extended silence probably stems from a cultural norm for social conversation where the silence is taken to mean that there is some inadequacy in the communication. This discomfort often is especially acute for new teachers or teachers who lack self-confidence. If such an instructor were to tape record his class, he might find that these pauses actually last only a few seconds, very often less than five, not the eternity it seemed during the wait. In the classroom, constant talking is neither required nor desirable. Wait, give the students time to think The basic reason for pausing after asking a question is to give the students time to think about possible answers. If the question is worthwhile (and more than rhetorical), even at the memory level, it deserves a wait. Questions at higher levels require considerable time-minutes-for students to think before they can adequately answer. After an appropriate wait (listening to tape recordings of one s class is a useful means of checking whether the length of the pause was appropriate), you may want to simply
113 3.50 TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK acknowledge This article the could pause not by saying be included something in like: this It s electronic a difficult question copy and takes some due to time copyright to think about. stipulations. This clues the Please students visit that the you following are willing URL to wait for their responses. to read the Or you article may want to rephrase question or ask a probing question which would draw the students attention to relevant information. If you really want the students to answer the question, you must give them enough time. You might want to try one or more of the active learning techniques (cf. Bonwell & Eison, 1991). Give the students a few minutes to write out an answer. Have the students work in groups of two or three to solve the problem, or propose possible solutions. Such techniques require that all of the students are actively working on the answer, not just the smarter or faster students. Wait, or you will establish an undesirable norm Classes, like any group, fairly quickly establish norms, that is, standards of what will be considered acceptable behavior in that group. If, in the first week or two of class, the instructor waits only a few seconds before answering her (or his) own questions, the class will quickly learn that when the instructor asks a question she does not expect an answer; wait a few seconds and she will answer it herself. Students are often more than willing to let the instructor answer all of the questions. If you want your students to answer the questions you ask, you must be careful to cultivate that expectation by waiting after you ask a question. Creating an Accepting Atmosphere If encouraging students to ask questions is desirable behavior in most college classrooms, then it is also desirable that the instructor create an atmosphere where students are not afraid to ask questions for fear of embarrassment, etc. Ask for questions If you want the students to ask questions, give them opportunities to do so. Pause after making an important point or explaining a topic, or say Any questions? or Are you with me? or Do you want me to say more? However, such statements must be more than rhetorical or used as a technique for you to get your thoughts together before going to the next point Give the students time to formulate their questions before you move on. Also, look at the students to make sure you do not miss someone with his or her hand up. We think pausing and asking for questions is an effective teaching device to use routinely; but if you are aware that some students are confused, it becomes a must when some students are frowning or shaking their heads saying something like, Some of you seem puzzled, what don t you understand? should solicit questions that will help you clear up the misunderstanding. Some college professors feel that they have done their duty by professing the material to the students. We believe that unless instructors help their students to learn, they are not teaching.
114 TEACHING STRATEGIES 3.51 Answer This article questions could not be included in this electronic copy If due you to want copyright your students stipulations. to ask questions, Please then visit you should the following reinforce them URLwhen they do to by read answering the article their questions. Therefore we suggest that you rarely postpone answering a question or ignore student questions, which is what we do if you do not call upon a student who has his hand up. It is not unusual in a class of any size to have one or more students who tend to monopolize class time. One approach with such students is to give preference to those who have not yet said anything. This can be done explicitly by saying, Let s take comments from people we haven t heard from, or Vincent, I ve already answered several of your questions, let s hear from some of the others first. Very often other students will ask Vincent s question and so he will get his answers, but others will have a chance to participate. If he still has a question after everyone else s has been answered, you probably should let him ask it. Also it is not uncommon for a class to have at least one student who appears to be antagonistic toward the instructor or hostile to the subject matter and who asks questions that serve only to express the student s disagreements, which often have little generalizability to the rest of the class. Because such questions usually stem from emotional rather than intellectual concerns, answering only on a cognitive level serves little purpose. It is probably best to see that student outside of class and explain what seems to be going on from your point of view. Often such a talk is sufficient to enable the student at least to censor the questions he or she asks in class, although it may do little to solve the underlying problem. It is desirable that the instructor create an atmosphere where students are not afraid to ask questions for fear of embarrassment, etc. Answer students questions adequately It is not enough that you respond to the student s questions, but you must answer the question to the student s satisfaction as best as you can. Your answer should be concise and to the point, and you should ask the student if you have answered the question. This fosters both accurate communication of content and says to the student Your question is important and I will take the time necessary to answer it if I can. If, after two or three attempts, you still have not answered satisfactorily, and other students cannot help answer it, then it is appropriate to suggest getting together after class. Listen to the question, or to any student comments The way you listen to a question or comment also communicates your attitude toward the students. In most North American cultures look at the students when they are
115 3.52 TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK talking; This article show you could are following not be included by nodding, in etc.; this check electronic whether you copy really understand what due to they copyright are saying by stipulations. rephrasing the Please question. visit the following URL Sometimes to read the little article things that we do unknowingly communicate something to students that is very different from what we intend. For example, one instructor used to occasionally take a look at his watch when a student would ask a question. He found out in the end-of-course evaluation that one student interpreted this to mean that the instructor felt the questions were wasting time, rather than that the instructor simply wanted to know what time it was. Do not put down the students In general, you should avoid anything which would embarrass the student who asks the question. Here are a few instructor responses well-calculated to insure that the student asking the question will not ask any more questions. We have suggested possible alternatives. Examples: (Poor) You should know that we covered that in (Better) What about that we covered weeks ago, how does that fit in? (Poor) You re completely wrong. (Better) How would you reconcile what you re saying with (something previously covered). (Poor) I entirely disagree. (Better) I m not sure I agree, (or I think I disagree) because Rather than responding with a value judgment to a student s question or comment, ask a probing question. You may help the student arrive at the correct answer, or an acceptable answer; in which case, rather than proving the student wrong, you have helped him or her to be right. POST SCRIPT We hope that the distinctions and suggestions made in this paper will enable you to gain a clearer view of your classroom questioning behavior and so will help you to improve by increasing the number of alternatives available to you when considering how to handle questions in your classes. We would like to repeat our conviction that there is no one correct approach-several roads lead to Rome. The approach you finally decide upon will depend upon you, your students, your course objectives, and other unique considerations.
116 TEACHING STRATEGIES 3.53 REFERENCES AND FURTHER READINGS Bonwell, C. C., & Eison, J. A. (1991). Active Learning: Creating excitement in the classroom. ASHE-ERIC. Higher Education Report, No.1. Washington, DC: George Washington University, School of Education and Human Development.. Christensen, C. R. (1991). The discussion teacher in action: Questioning, listening, and response. In C. R. Christensen, D. A. Garvin, & A. Sweet (Eds.), The artistry of discussion leadership (pp ). Boston: Harvard Business School Press. Davis, B. G. (1993). Tools of teaching. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.. Gronlund, N. E. (1985). Stating objectives for classroom instruction (3rd ed.). New York: Macmillan. Hyman, R. T. (1974). Ways of teaching (2nd ed.). Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott. Hyman, R. T. (1979). Strategic questioning. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall. Hyman, R. T. (1980). Improving discussion leadership. New York: Teachers College Press. McKeachie, W. J. (1994). Teaching tips: Strategies, research, and theory for college and university teachers. (9th ed.). Lexington, MA: D. C. Heath. Challenging Students in Discussion Classes Students come from a wide variety of backgrounds and life situations. They take courses for an equally wide variety of reasons, and they relate to each other and the instructor in different ways. These differences can sometimes cause problems of classroom discipline for instructors, especially in discussion classes where interaction is encouraged or necessary for teaching and learning. Challenging students in small class situations can include: THE ARGUER If a student insists that you are not allowing him his opinion (or her opinion) when you disagree with a statement he (she) has made, point out that you disagree because the statement does not correlate well with the course material for that class. If the student begins to disrupt the discussion, offer to talk privately after class or during office hours. Remain calm and nonjudgmental, no matter how agitated the student becomes. Always use evidence when disagreeing with a student. Using the authority of your position as a teacher rarely proves anything in a disagreement and might inhibit discussion. You can largely avoid students feeling that you put them down by not beginning critical statements with I. Often instructors find it helpful to tell students that any critical position should be examined with healthy skepticism including the comments of the professor. Phrase criticism with reference to the material from a class or other commonly shared information. > TIP When dealing with EDITED BY MICHELE MARINCOVICH Adapted with permission from Teaching At Stanford (1995) challenging students maintain your professionalism and try not to respond as if you feel personally attacked.
117 3.54 TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK If a student is stubborn and refuses to postpone a disagreement until after class or office hours and completely disrupts a class, remain calm. If the student is agitated to the point of being unreasonable, ask him or her to carry the grievance to a higher authority (e.g., the department head or dean). Make apparent your willingness to discuss the issue calmly, but do not continue trying to reason with a student who is highly agitated. If you remain calm in the presence of the group, the student may soon become cooperative again. In an extreme case, you may have to ask the student to leave the classroom, or even dismiss the class. Try to respond as calmly as possible. Avoid making an issue out of a small incident. The hardest part of such a situation is to maintain your professionalism and not to respond as if you feel personally attacked. THE OVERTALKATIVE STUDENT Over talkative students can deaden a class. If a student is dominating a section, try to elicit responses from other students. Call on someone else even though the over talkative student volunteers. Emphasize to the group that it is the quality, not the quantity, of responses that most interests you, but do so carefully. You don t want to discourage students unnecessarily who lack self-confidence. Make sure class members see that you consider the class s goal a communal, and not a competitive, activity. If the over talkative student does not recognize the importance of listening to other members of the group, talk with him or her about this privately. Do not ridicule an over talkative student or make comments to other students in the class, but try as tactfully as possible to keep the group s activity going without reinforcing one student s talkative behavior. THE SILENT STUDENT The student who never speaks out in class also presents a problem. By making sure that all members of a class (if small enough) know each other by name, thus creating a safe environment, you will sometimes overcome the silent student s fear of speaking. Occasional small group activities where the students discuss issues in pairs, for example may also make it easier for a shy student to join the discussion. As with the over talkative student, do not ridicule or put the silent student on the spot, but do try to elicit answers from him or her at first once every class, and later more frequently when he or she begins to appear more comfortable about responding. Talking with the student privately may also help. Reasons for a student being silent vary. One silent student may merely enjoy listening. Another may feel too uncertain to contribute. The latter is very common among first year students. Some students simply have quiet personalities; others may be undergoing personal stress that inhibits their speaking in class. Even after you gently encourage students to speak, they may remain silent. This is their right, which you must ultimately respect. Requiring all students in your classes to talk with you during office hours at the beginning of the course assuming your classes are small enough to make this feasible helps alleviate both over talkativeness and silence.
118 TEACHING STRATEGIES 3.55 STORYTELLING Storytelling in Teaching Tell me a fact and I ll learn. Tell me the truth and I ll believe. But tell me a story and it will live in my heart forever. - Indian Proverb Once upon a time, long ago and far away (or perhaps not so long ago), teachers did not use fancy PowerPoint presentations, overhead projectors, or even chalkboards. They simply shared their knowledge through stories. Think back over your years of sitting in classrooms. What are the moments that you most remember? For me, one of those moments was my professor in introduction to psychology spinning the tale of Rosenhan s pseudopatients, perfectly sane individuals who checked into a mental institution and proceeded to act in normal ways. It seemed like an amazing adventure - what was going to happen to these people in the mental hospital? The class was hanging on his every word. The odds are that your memorable moments, too, have to do with stories not theories or definitions or dates, but an unfolding narrative, complete with suspense, drama, or humor, or perhaps a personal anecdote shared by a favorite teacher. Of course, a classroom narrative may be linked to a major discovery, study, or figure in psychology, but it is not always the importance of the discovery alone that allows it to stay fresh over the years. Rather, the means of presenting the information can make it exciting and unforgettable. The power of stories has been recognized for centuries, and even today, in Hollywood and beyond, storytelling is a multi-million dollar business. Stories are a natural mode of thinking; before our formal education begins, we are already learning from Aesop s fables, fairy tales, or family history. Indeed, some researchers have even claimed that all knowledge comes in the form of stories (Schank & Abelson, 1995)! Although this strong claim has been questioned, it is generally agreed that stories are a powerful structure for organizing and transmitting information, and for creating meaning in our lives and environments. MELANIE C. GREEN Reprinted with permission from author NATURE OF STORIES What is a story? In essence, a narrative account requires a story that raises unanswered questions or unresolved conflicts; characters may encounter and then resolve a crisis or crises. A story line, with a beginning, middle and end, is identifiable. In Bruner s (1986) words, [Narrative] deals in human or human-like intention and action and the vicissitudes and consequences that mark their course. It strives to put its timeless miracles into the particulars of experience and to locate the experience in time and place. Stories can
119 3.56 TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK bring abstract principles to life by giving them concrete form. We cannot always give students direct experience with psychological concepts, but stories might come close. A story tends to have more depth than a simple example. A story tells about some event some particular individuals, and something that happens to them. Stories engage our thinking, our emotions, and can even lead to the creation of mental imagery (Green & Brock, 2000). Individuals listening to stories react to them almost automatically, participating, in a sense, in the action of the narrative (e.g., Polichak & Gerrig, 2002). Bringing all of these systems to bear on the material in your course helps student learning. Students are awake, following along, wanting to find out what happens next and how the story ends. Bruner (1986) has contrasted the paradigmatic (logical, scientific) and narrative modes of thinking, but these modes need not be mutually exclusive in the classroom. PURPOSE OF STORIES Stories can serve multiple functions in the classroom, including sparking student interest, aiding the flow of lectures, making material memorable, overcoming student resistance or anxiety, and building rapport between the instructor and the students, or among students themselves. Stories Create Interest As an instructor, you can capitalize on the inherent narrative structure of research as the quest for knowledge. Science is the process of solving mysteries; in fact, writers of journal articles are often advised to make their findings into a good story. Psychologists often start out by confronting an intriguing problem. For example, why are bicycle riders faster when they are racing against another person than going around the track by themselves? Researchers also encounter and overcome various obstacles in their quest to understand a phenomenon. For example, when researchers tried to replicate social facilitation effects, sometimes the presence of others improved performance, and other times it harmed performance. Why would that be? Take advantage of the suspense that this chain of events can create. Telling the story of how researchers became interested in a particular issue, without immediately providing the resolution, will motivate your class to think of their own approaches to solving the problem. They can share in the sense of discovery. Understanding the process of solving a research problem can generate excitement, as well as an increased appreciation for the detective work involved in psychology. Characters are an important element of any tale, and indeed, stories can also make material concrete and memorable by putting a human (or animal) face on theories and issues. Students may remember the peril of H. M., the patient who could not form new memories, long after they have forgotten other details of brain anatomy or memory research. They may have a vivid mental image of Harry Harlow s orphaned monkeys interacting with cloth or wire mothers. If they remember the concrete elements of the story, they may
120 TEACHING STRATEGIES 3.57 then be able to reconstruct the abstract lessons illustrated by the story. Furthermore, listeners may identify with the protagonists of your stories, and thus might be better able to relate course material to their own lives. Making the material personally relevant can lead to increased thinking about the material and a greater ability to apply the new knowledge. Similarly, giving some background about the researchers who developed particular theories can help engage student interest by humanizing the research process, and may even provide role models for students who may be interested in pursing research themselves. (This approach can be used to excellent effect in history of psychology courses.) Stories can convey the passion, enthusiasm, and curiosity of the researchers. Sometimes psychological research can seem divorced from the real world, but in the process of developing his theories about compliance, Cialdini actually went through training programs to becomes a salesman of encyclopedias, dance lessons, and the like. He also went on the inside as a participant-observer to study advertising, public relations, and fundraising agencies to learn about their techniques. Students studying social influence love to hear about Cialdini immersing himself in the world of compliance professionals. Stories engage our thinking, our emotions, and can even lead to the creation of mental imagery. Stories Provide a Structure for Remembering Course Material Coherence is the hallmark of a good narrative. Remembering a list of isolated concepts and definitions is difficult, but recalling the flow of a research story may be easier for students. As mentioned above, stories may also help create vivid mental images, another cue for recall. Because stories provide natural connections between events and concepts, mentioning one part of the story may help evoke the other parts of the story, just as hearing one bar of a familiar tune may bring the entire song to mind. Stories Are a Familiar and Accessible Form of Sharing Information Some students may be intimidated by abstract concepts, or may doubt their ability to master or understand the material. A story may provide a non-threatening way to ease students into learning. A narrative opening may seem simple and straightforward, allowing students to relax and grasp a concrete example before moving into more technical details of a theory or finding. Sometimes stories can even be about the learning process; tales of previous students who struggled but then succeeded might serve as inspiration for current students. (It probably goes without saying that telling stories that mock or disparage previous students may do more harm than good.)
121 3.58 TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK Telling a Story From Experience Can Create a More Personal Student-Teacher Connection This rapport can lead to a positive classroom climate. Perhaps you are a clinical psychologist who has seen a patient with a particularly compelling presentation of the disorder you re discussing in class. Or maybe you re a social psychologist who has had your own brush with bystander intervention and diffusion of responsibility. Sharing these experiences gives the class a new tone, and makes the subject come alive. As long as every class session isn t another chapter from your autobiography, students enjoy seeing a glimpse of the human side of their professors. As an added benefit, in discussion classes, providing this kind of opening may inspire reciprocity and help create an atmosphere where students are more willing to share their opinions and experiences. FINDING AND SELECTING STORIES There are a wealth of sources for teachable stories current events, history, television programs, classic literature or drama, and personal experience (your own and others). Some instructors find it useful to have a folder or notebook for teaching stories; make a habit of clipping relevant newspaper stories, or Role-playing is another means of merging the power of stories with the benefits of active learning. making notes about events that are perfect illustrations of some psychological concept that appears in your course. These don t have to be current events to capture student interest: A colleague uses a scene from the book Killer Angels (Shaara, 1974), about the Battle of Gettysburg, to demonstrate the power of perception over reality. In the book, the Confederate General Longstreet is portrayed as sitting calmly before the battle. A foreign journalist infers that he is composing himself, thinking of strategy and so forth. In reality, he is weeping, knowing his men will die because he asks them to, knowing what the day will bring. And remember, research results need to be true, but stories do not. Do not be afraid to use stories from fiction, especially well-known fiction. For instance, the children s story The Emperor s New Clothes demonstrates social influence principles; the interactions between Iago, Othello, and Desdemona in Shakespeare s play Othello provide a powerful illustration of the importance of perceptions over objective reality. Textbooks may also be sources of stories; some books use stories to introduce or frame chapters, while others (such as Aronson s Social Animal) intersperse narratives throughout. Readers may want to consider books with inside stories. Such stories have been
122 TEACHING STRATEGIES 3.59 collected by Brannigan and Merrens (1995) in their Research Adventures series. Other recommendations for sources of stories include: A History of Geropsychology in Autobiography. (Birren & Schroots, (2000)) Case Studies in Abnormal Behavior (6th ed.) (Meyer, 2003) Classic Studies in Psychology (Schwartz, 1986). Disordered Personalities in Literature (Harwell, 1980) Forty Studies that Changed Psychology: Explorations into the History of Psychological Research (4th Ed.) (Hock, 2002) Pioneers of Psychology (3rd ed.) (Fancher, 1996) Portraits of Pioneers in Psychology (Kimble, Wertheimer, & White, 1991) The Story of Psychology (Hunt, 1993) Think about common experiences that your students have likely had stories about leaving home, dealing with roommates, handling relationships, and the like may be especially relevant to a college-age audience. The case study method, frequently used in business schools, is a popular means of introducing stories into the classroom. Cases typically set up a problem by giving background information about a situation (for example, the history of a company), and end with a current dilemma faced by an individual or organization. They are often designed to illustrate a particular point or demonstrate certain analytic procedures. Students are encouraged to generate possible solutions and consider the consequences of those solutions. This method encourages active learning, and in essence, puts students in the role of writing the ending to the story. A related method (which can be more or less narrative in form) is role-playing, where students actively create or take part in a mini-drama in the classroom. McKeachie (1999) gives the example of students taking the perspective of Freud or Skinner in responding to a treatment situation. Role-playing is another means of merging the power of stories with the benefits of active learning. Stories may also be integrated with technology. You may be able to locate computerbased or interactive stories that relate to your course content. (If you are programmingsavvy or have time on your hands, you may even be able to develop these kinds of applications.) Teaching Web sites can also be rich sources of stories. And you don t always have to be the storyteller; films and Web sites may also be effective means of delivering psychology s stories.
123 3.60 TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK > Link aspects of student s stories to theories or principles in the literature. TELLING STORIES IN CLASS The lecture itself may be structured as a narrative, or a story can simply be an illustration of a key point. Taking advantage of the natural drama of research stories can help the pacing and flow of your lectures. Imagine yourself as a storyteller, perhaps with your students gathered around a campfire. Rather than marching through the material, fact by fact, you can add storytelling flourishes. Let the suspense build pause for a moment before revealing the results of the study, to draw in students attention. Stories can also be a natural way to introduce humor into your lecture. One way to learn about how to tell a story is to listen to master storytellers at work. National Public Radio provides some wonderful examples: Garrison Keillor, for instance, enthralls thousands of people each week with his tales of Lake Wobegon. You may also know people in your own life relatives, friends, and colleagues who can spin a marvelous tale. Take note of how they involve their audience, and use those techniques as you develop your own style. Do they pause at key places? What information do they give early on to draw listeners in, and how do they maintain suspense? Do they bring characters to life with vivid descriptions or unique voices? Just as you develop your own style of teaching, so too can you develop your own style of storytelling that draws on role models, but fits your own personality. As with any example, a story should be a clear illustration of the principle you re trying to demonstrate. Because listeners have their own interpretations of the point of stories, it is your responsibility as an instructor to make the message of the story clear, and draw links between the story and the abstract principles it demonstrates. Beginning students, especially, may not be able to make these connections on their own, or they may remember peripheral aspects of the story rather than the main point. Students should be aware that classroom stories are part of the learning experience, not a tangent from it. Keep the story clean and to the point. Furthermore, if a story doesn t quite match the concept you are trying to demonstrate, you may be better off omitting it. At exam time, students who remember a story from class should not be misled by its conclusions. When is the best time to tell a story for it to have the maximum impact? Schank (1990) suggest that stories should come after surprises, or expectation failures. When individuals have recognized flaws in their existing models of the world, they are open to correcting those models. Individuals are especially open to learning when the expectation failure and story are relevant to their goals. For example, suppose you had just come back from teaching a particularly frustrating day of class, where students minds were TIP
124 TEACHING STRATEGIES 3.61 wandering and you couldn t seem to engage the class. If at that moment, your colleague told you about how she had transformed her classroom environment by starting each lecture with a story that presented a real-world problem or mystery, and working through it over the course of the class session, you might be especially open to learning from that tale. For your students, framing stories with relevant problems (succeeding at a job, getting along with roommates) may help make them more likely to be attended to and recalled. Along the same lines, stories can be told from different points of view. Think about perspective when you re designing your lecture. You could describe an experiment from the researcher s point of view, but you might instead begin by telling the story of what a participant in that study experienced instead, to draw students into the situation. Imagine, for example, being a participant in the Asch conformity studies, with rising levels of confusion and doubt as your fellow participants continue to give wrong answers to a line judgment task. Stories can encourage empathy, and putting themselves in participants shoes can sometimes help students understand the power of experimental situations. Varying the presentation of research to focus on a researcher versus a participant perspective can also help add spice to your lectures. In some types of courses, particularly smaller seminars, it may be appropriate to have students share stories from their own lives, and indeed, students may spontaneously do this even in larger courses. This is another form of active learning, and students may be even more attentive to a story told by their peers. An instructor s role might then be to link aspects of these narratives to theories or principles in the psychological literature. (Students may become frustrated with a course that appears to consist only of sharing individual experiences, without links to theory or research.) If individuals are likely to be sharing stories that may be sensitive for example, struggles with psychological disorders, experiences with stereotyping or prejudice, ground rules about respect for others, not discussing personal revelations outside the classroom, and the like should be established early. Can there be a downside to using stories in the classroom? One issue that psychology instructors sometimes face, especially in introductory and social psychology courses, is helping students to understand that personal experience isn t everything, and that psychological questions can be tested scientifically and evaluated with data. Your use of stories should be integrated with reference to empirical evidence, so that students do not come away with the impression that a single story, even an especially vivid and compelling one, should be understood as proof for a particular position. You may also want to solicit student feedback on your stories, especially if you are telling a particular story for the first time, or if you are new at introducing storytelling into your teaching. You might ask students to list stories that they found to be interesting and useful,
125 3.62 TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK and alternatively, note whether any stories seemed to wander or create confusion. At the end of class or after telling a story, you might take a minute or so to ask students to summarize the point of a story you told, to make sure that your message has been conveyed. Stories can serve another function that goes beyond the classroom. Shared narrative can be a force in creating community. Stories tie current students to traditions and people from the past. If an important event or discovery took place on your campus or in your town, let students know about it. Tell stories that embody the values of your discipline and your campus. Share your teaching stories with colleagues. And may you and your students live happily ever after. REFERENCES AND RECOMMENDED READING Aronson, E. (1995). The social animal (7th ed.). New York: W. H. Freeman. Birren, J. E., & Schroots, J. J. F. (Eds.). (2000). A history of geropsychology in autobiography. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. Brannigan, G.G., & Merrens, M.R. (1995). The social psychologists: Research adventures. New York: McGraw-Hill. Bruner, J. S. (1986). Actual minds, possible worlds. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Fancher, R. E. (1996). Pioneers of psychology (3rd ed.). New York: Norton. Green, M. C., & Brock, T. C. (2000). The role of transportation in the persuasiveness of public narratives. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 79, Green, M. C., Strange, J. J. & Brock, T. C. (Eds.) (2002). Narrative impact: Social and cognitive foundations. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum. Harwell, C. W. (1980). Disordered personalities in literature. New York: Longman. Hock, R. R. (2002). Forty studies that changed psychology: Explorations into the history of psychological research (4th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall. Hunt, M. (1993). The story of psychology. New York: Anchor Books. Kimble, G. A., Wertheimer, M., & White, C. L. (Eds.). (1991). Portraits of pioneeers in psychology. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum. McKeachie, W.J. (1999). Teaching tips (10th ed.). Lexington, MA: D.C. Heath & Company. Meyer, R. G. (2003). Case studies in abnormal behavior (6th ed.). Boston: Allyn and Bacon. Polichak, J.W., & Gerrig, R.J. (2002). Get up and win: Participatory responses to narrative. In Green, M. C., Strange, J. J. & Brock, T. C. (Eds.), Narrative impact: Social and cognitive foundations, (pp ). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum. Schank, R.C. (1990). Tell me a story. New York: Charles Scribner s Sons. Schank, R. C., & Abelson, R. P. (1995). Knowledge and memory: The real story. In R. S. Wyer, Jr. (Ed.), Advances in social cognition (Vol. VIII, pp. 1-85). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum. Schwartz, S. (1986). Classic studies in psychology. Mountain View, CA: Mayfield Publishing. Shaara, M. (1974). The Killer Angels. New York: Ballentine Books.
126 TEACHING STRATEGIES 3.63 LABORATORY TEACHING Tips for Running Laboratory Sessions In a number of disciplines, such as Science or Engineering, laboratories form an integral part of the instruction. Some courses are taught exclusively in laboratories, or, more commonly, laboratory sections are taught along with lecture or other types of instruction. For the smooth operation of laboratories, there are often several different people involved with the laboratory. Any particular laboratory may have one or more of the following: Professor or Instructor in charge of the course. This may be the person with overall responsibility for the course, delivering the lecture part of the course or, in some largeenrollment courses, may be a member of a team of instructors teaching the course. She or he has overall responsibility for the operation of the laboratory. Laboratory Steward or Technician. This person is normally responsible for the set-up and technical work associated with several laboratories in the department. Laboratory Demonstrator or TA. This person is one of the (usually several) people who have the most direct contact with students attending the laboratory. Normally, each laboratory section will have at least one demonstrator. The demonstrator may also be responsible for grading laboratory reports. In large-enrollment courses, such as first-year, each of these individuals will be involved with the course, with specific responsibilities, generally determined by the instructor in charge of the course. In some departments, there may be no lab steward. In smallenrollment labs, there may be no demonstrators, but the instructor will perform the demonstrating duties. In what follows, it is assumed that all three levels are involved with the laboratory instruction, even if the three roles are all embodied in the same person. THE INSTRUCTOR: Decides on the overall objectives for the laboratory, and the detailed objectives for individual experiments. Designs the experiments to meet these objectives. (These first two steps may be done once, then changed or added to, as the course develops or changes.) J.P. SVENNE Reprinted with permission from author When students understand the goals of the lab they won t feel they re completing a meaningless exercise.
127 3.64 TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK Ensures that the appropriate equipment and supplies are available, and orders whatever is needed within the available budget. Prepares any printed or videotaped material to be made available to the students at the start of every laboratory exercise. Ensures that the steward and demonstrators clearly understand their duties and supervises them doing their jobs. Organizes the schedule of laboratory experiments. Prepares a hand-out summarizing both policies on laboratory attendance (which may be tied to the course grade) and the rules for makeup labs, which should be provided to the students at the first lab session. Explains the overall objectives of the laboratory and the detailed objectives to students in the lecture sections or ensures that the demonstrator explains these to students. Ensures that the links between lecture material and laboratory work are clarified to students. Is familiar with, and familiarizes the students with, safety procedures, such as: Location of storeroom and the first aid kit. Location of safety showers and fire extinguishers. How to handle the equipment students will be using, and emphasizing the appropriate safety precautions. The instructor should take the time to demonstrate the use of equipment students are unfamiliar with. (In large-enrollment courses, this will most likely be done by the laboratory demonstrators, but the instructor should also know these procedures.) Grades the laboratory reports, or instructs the demonstrators on grading standards and expectations, and ensures consistency of grading among the several laboratory sections. THE LABORATORY STEWARD: Well in advance of the start of the laboratory session, ensures that all equipment and supplies are available and in good repair. In consultation with the instructor, prepares orders for any supplies and equipment needed. Ensures the availability and proper functioning of any safety equipment. For each laboratory period, sets up necessary equipment and supplies and prepares any materials, such as growth media, needed for an experiment. After the laboratory session, dismantles and removes all equipment and materials and clears up the laboratory room.
128 TEACHING STRATEGIES 3.65 THE LABORATORY DEMONSTRATOR: The demonstrator should be prepared to: Read the experiment before going to the lab and make arrangements to actually conduct the experiment. Perform the experiment in advance. By going through the lab, the demonstrator becomes familiar with stumbling blocks students may confront. Read and study the theory on which the experiment is based. This prepares the demonstrator for student questions. Remember that students lose respect for the course, the lab instructor, and themselves when their uncertainties aren t alleviated by a capable, confident, and prepared lab instructor. Check equipment and materials. If you re required to conduct a demonstration, confirm that you have all the necessary equipment and material before class begins. Familiarize yourself and students with safety procedures. Know where the storeroom and the first aid kit are located. Know where safety showers and fire extinguishers are located. Show students how to handle the equipment they ll be using, and emphasize the appropriate safety precautions. Take the time to demonstrate the use of equipment with which students are unfamiliar. Clarify objectives: Consider taking a few minutes at the beginning of the lab to establish connections between the current lab and the previous one. Remind students of the purpose or objectives of the lab. Explain in detail what students can expect to learn during the laboratory experience. Use the chalkboard, overheads, or handouts to give the students a clear overview of the lab exercise so they understand the goal of the lab demonstration. When students understand the goals of the lab they won t feel they re completing a meaningless exercise. (NOTE: This may be done already by the lab instructor, in written materials, or, in large multi-section courses, this may be done through a short video presentation played at the beginning of the laboratory exercise.) Explain reports and procedures Explain what sort of report is expected for each laboratory experiment and when it will be due. Inform students of the criteria used to evaluate lab reports. For lab reports, specifically show students how raw data should be handled, how calculations should be recorded, how graphs and diagrams should be inserted, and in what forms conclusions should be listed. (This may be done with a printed hand-out.)
129 3.66 TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK Make sure students understand the policy on attendance (which may be tied to their course grade), rules for makeup labs, and so on. CONDUCTING THE CLASS Circulate among your students while the lab is in progress and be available to give assistance and answer questions. Don t feel you have to wait for students to ask you a question. They may be hesitant. Ask a few strategic questions of your own to find out what your students do or do not understand. Be aware of the difference between intimidating students by hovering around them and circulating around in a friendly, helpful way. CONCLUDING THE CLASS Reconvene the class as a whole or, if that isn t possible, make sure you meet with each team working on the experiment to discuss results, answer questions, and hear student reactions to the lab. Review key points. Let the students tell you what happened. If their results are at odds with what you expected, encourage students to speculate about the plausibility of their findings. GEORGE SIEMENS Used with permission of author USING TECHNOLOGY Teaching with Technology The adoption of new approaches to teaching and learning can be stressful. The complexity of continually evolving software and hardware presents formidable challenges. How are educators to stay current in their own discipline and simultaneously alter the process of teaching? Fortunately, principles of effective instruction online are similar to classrooms. Chickering and Ehrmann (1996) suggest seven key good practice elements are required: 1. encourages contact between students and faculty 2. develops reciprocity and cooperation among students 3. encourages active learning 4. gives prompt feedback 5. emphasizes time on task 6. communicates high expectations 7. respects diverse talents and ways of learning
130 TEACHING STRATEGIES 3.67 While the above list can be augmented to include affordances inherent to technology (handling technology, integrating into teaching activities, or fostering dialogue with distributed learner group), they suffice as an introduction to the similarity of teaching well with technology and teaching well in a classroom. Technology presents a dual change challenge for educators: to learn the new tools to learn the new methodologies (and thereby affordances) of teaching with technology Additionally, technology extends the classroom using experts and resources outside of the university (many excellent video and audio files are available from authorities in their fields). Directing learners to listen to a video presentation (on YouTube: of the Stanford Prison Experiment is much more vivid and meaningful than reading an article alone. Technology can open doors closed by geographical distance or time. What traits and mindsets are required to successfully teach with technology? Spirit of experimentation... Willingness to engage learners in the creation of learning (co-creation of content) Tolerance of failure Spirit of inquiry In the same spirit as academics function in their discipline, teaching with technology requires a willingness to experiment. Through an ongoing cycle of personal research, theory and practice, educators are able to create an approach to technology that fits within the scope of their > TIP discipline, and the expectations of learners. Models of teaching with technology attempt to tease out the uniqueness of the online space and the utilization of progressive Using a variety of tactics to develop competence. Teaching with technology can be teaching approaches viewed as gradients within three broad categories: Augmented the use of technology to extend a physical classroom. like blogs, wikis and This may be as simple as incorporating web quests into student lectures provides work, or the use of an online discussion forum. The learners still meet regularly with faculty in classrooms. greater results than Blended technology partly replaces in-classroom learning. Part any single approach. of the course is face-to-face and part is online. For example, the instructor may initiate a course with a series of classroom lectures, with the rest of the course held online.
131 3.68 TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK Online technology entirely replaces face-to-face classroom teaching. For example, online video and audio may be used to replace traditional lectures IMPORTANT CONSIDERATIONS: Technology, while widely described as a tool to aid learning, is becoming a critical component in the lives of learners today. Beyond simply a tool, technology is beginning to shape the structure of education itself. But trends in technology are not the only factors influencing how teaching occurs today. The open source views of software have spilled over into all aspects of society business, music, movies, news media, and now education. Napster reflected how technology frees existing mindsets. Purchasing an album, for example, requires purchasing songs that the listener may not want. Out of ten tracks, the listener may only want two or three. Napster unbundled the packaging of industry and provided end users control. In a similar manner, the development of amateur or citizen journalism has resulted in a shift from experts filtering news, to amateurs expressing news from their own context. The rise of wikipedia as an information source reflects similar trends. Additionally, most online sites have now adopted what Tim Berners-Lee classified as the read/write web. Instead of consumers of resources, site visitors now contribute to and interact with content creators. A more recent inclusion in society trends is the prominence of do it yourself media. YouTube, blogs, wikis, podcasts, and other tools (we will explore these shortly) enable anyone to create content. Gutenberg enabled everyone to read. Today s web trends enable everyone to record, author, narrate, create. What does this mean to educators? The learners entering higher education have experienced a greater level of personal control and choice than any previous generation. They expect learning in a flexible, open, social, and multi-media manner (Oblinger, 2005). To what degree teaching should adjust to reflect the lived experiences and contexts of learners is, of course, a matter for each faculty to consider. In a broad sense, however, the changed nature of our learners, the rapid development of new information, and the increased technological focus of society creates an environment where educators must reflect on the validity of existing teaching practices. Technology serves the means to enlarge the walls of traditional lecture halls, but also to provide a context with which learners are currently comfortable. Educators may find using a variety of approaches to teaching blogs, wikis, and lectures provides results greater than any single approach.
132 TEACHING STRATEGIES 3.69 AUGMENTING CLASSROOMS: While teaching with technology can appear to be a formidable challenge, educators prepared to experiment can move into the process at a pace of personal comfort. An all or nothing mindset is not helpful. Small steps are often the best approach for both educators and learners. Augmenting traditional classrooms with technology is one such approach. Teaching tasks can broadly be defined in four areas: Content presentation the provision of key material relating to a particular course. Through lectures, video, readings, audio recordings, and more recently, simulations, learners are exposed to the key components of a course. Whether handled in a traditional presentation model (like a lecture) or with more recent approaches (which begin to blend content presentation with learning activities, such are problem based learning) Dialogue in a teaching context, involves direct learner to educator contact (learner to learner dialogue is classified as a learning activity). This dialogue is important to move learners toward higher order thinking ( basics/html/pedagogies/intellect/int1a.html), or what corporations are increasingly calling deep smarts a combination of experience and higher level understanding thinking skills. Bloom s taxonomy presents the following levels of cognition: knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. Learners, especially at graduate levels, are directed toward analysis, synthesis, and evaluation levels. Learning activities directly involve the learners in doing as individuals or as a group. The activities generally arise from the content within a course. The purpose of a learning activity is to assist learners in forming deeper understanding of subject matter. A biology lab, for example, involves the practical (and thereby, more meaningful) application of textbook theory. Assessment is often perceived as separate from the act of teaching. However, assessment can provide valuable additional learning. Through the use of formative assessment techniques, learners can self-assess their understanding, and instructors can evaluate their teaching approach. Technology affords the opportunity for instructors to move content acquisition activities, which learners can do on their own (such as read a text or list to audio lectures), online so class time can be spent on dialogue and learning activities. Online quizzes can improve the learner s ability to self-assess as well. Completion rates for advanced readings can be improved as well if learners are required to complete a short quiz in WebCT, for example, based on readings. These short quizzes may contribute to the overall course mark, and provide motivation for learners to read material in advance of class discussions.
133 3.70 TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK Classes can also be augmented through the use of online discussion forums, web quests, class listserv, blogs, and group-work in wikis. The primary intent of augmenting classroom instruction is to increase effectiveness of learning by providing contact with experts, diverse viewpoints, and dialogue. BLENDED LEARNING Definitions vary for blended learning. In our context, we will define it as learning which occurs partly in a classroom and partly online. In contrast with augmented learning where regular scheduled classes are held blended learning may include an initial face-to-face class, followed by several weeks of online classes, and a wrap up face-to-face class. Blended Teaching has a useful resource on research indications with this approach: Online classes may be synchronous (real time) or asynchronous (time delay). Synchronous tools include: Virtual class tools (like Adobe Connect or elluminate Live). These tools are integrated suites, enabling instructors to present content via PowerPoint with audio, application sharing, polling, shared whiteboard, joint web-browsing and other functionality. In many ways, these tools duplicate classrooms. Through an ongoing cycle of personal research, theory and practice, educators are able to create an approach to technology that fits within the scope of their discipline, and the expectations of learners. Chat or instant messaging. Chat can occur within a tool like WebCT, or in stand alone applications like MSN messenger or IRC. Voice over IP through the use of free tools like Skype, GoogleTalk, or ivocalize (which enables presentation via PowerPoint, but does not have the extended functionality of a virtual classroom tool) Asynchronous tools include: Discussion forums (in WebCT or online platforms) , commonly with listserv (like Mailman) or group-based lists like Yahoo or Google Groups Blogs or wikis for reflection or collaborative writing
134 TEACHING STRATEGIES 3.71 ONLINE LEARNING Courses delivered completely online may be offered through platforms like WebCT (for content presentation, discussion, and evaluation) or offered through a combination of blogs, s, podcasts, and group-based activities (for example, Yahoo Groups). A completely online course offers challenges not evident in augmented or blended models. A common concern expressed by learners in online courses is the sense of isolation from other learners and instructors. This challenge can readily be addressed through well-conceived design and active instruction. For example, if an online course is cohort based, or has a set start and end date (in contrast to open enrolment), activities can be utilized which allow learners to dialogue about course content. Each week can include a variety of content resources (readings from a text or online, podcast, online video), combined with personal reflection (comments to a discussion forum), group activity (web quests, collaborative writing in a wiki), and interaction with the instructor (synchronous chat or skype call or ). When the physical cues and processes are eliminated from a course, it become imperative that the instructor reviews course material and learning activities to ensure clear communication (consider having a colleague or student review the material or pilot the course before initial offering so potential challenges can be attended to in advance of delivery). In a face-to-face course, confusing sections of an assignment can be easily clarified by approaching an instructor after class. Online, small questions, combined with a sense of isolation, can rapidly develop into high level of learner frustration. Consider hosting virtual office hours on a weekly basis. Learners can enter a chat space (or if you have access to a virtual classroom, audio can be used) and ask questions and clarify concerns. Podcasts are also an effective means of adding audio to a course. Even a short weekly podcast reviewing the week s activities can provide a strong sense of connection to an instructor. While the online medium has many affordances (ability for learning to occur regardless of time and space, depth of conversation, time of reflection), it also has many lost affordances over physical classrooms. As previously discussed, sense of isolation, learner expectations and experience, and other factors are important for educators to consider in their design and delivery of online courses. Continual experimentation and reflection will produce a model that works well for the individual educator, learners, and subject matter.
135 3.72 TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK SPECTRUM OF TOOLS: TECHNOLOGY TOOLS Informal Blogs Wikis Podcasts Social Bookmarking * Learning Management System Social Networking Tools Collaborative Tools Formal LMS* Content Mangement Video & Audio Conferrencing CONTENT Learner-created Blogs Papers Essays Learner-co-created Discussion Content Wikis Annotation Co-create content & Resources with Instructor & Students Faculty-created Traditional Lecture Texts Readings APPROACHES Augmented Add , audio, blogs discussion Blended Part Face to Face Part online Online LMS* Synchronous Class Rooms Informal Tools * Learning Management System
136 TEACHING STRATEGIES 3.73 MOVE TO FACILITATION The educator faces a significant transition in teaching styles when moving online. Seymour Papert ( suggests two broad approaches to learning: instructing or having students actively involved in doing. While this view may be a bit narrow for the diverse disciplines found in higher education, it provides an important dichotomy between instructor and learner involvement. Effective learning online requires an instructor to focus less on lecturing and content presentation, and more on assisting learners in creating personal learning or knowledge networks. Through access to varied resources and experts, learners are guided to explore content and ideas, and engage actively in conversation with each other, the instructor, and often, members of the larger discipline. Learners actively forage for knowledge, instead of passively consuming knowledge dispensed by the instructor. The move to facilitation does not negate the value of lecture. Lectures, when appropriately used, are a valuable tool in the process of learning. But instead of being viewed as a primary tool, lectures are a tool in the toolbox of instructors. The nature of the particular learning task determines the best approach. For example, if basic content is being presented, a lecture may be an effective approach. If learners are being asked to evaluate and synthesize certain aspects of a discipline, conversation, discussion, and group learning may be the best option. Same tools in instructors learning tookit include: Lecture Course readings Web quests Group exploration Group presentations to the larger class Podcasts or video files available online Learner membership in online communities in a particular subject matter Learners contacting experts in the field via or interview (Skype, for example) Collaborative wikis with other educators Blogs as reflective journals Contribution to wikipedia to ensure accuracy Use of social book marking to connect with other disciplines and related concepts (the creation of a personal learning network or web)
137 3.74 TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK This list is simply a starting point. Educators can add, refine, and adjust the balance of instructor presentation with learner exploration in a manner that works best for a particular course. Enlarging the classroom to include online resources provides a richer, connected model of learning that often permits learners to stay connected to a community even after completing a course or program. OTHER TOOLS: The change pressures of technology and societal shifts (globalization, open source, open access, emerging nations) create a cycle of continual change. As the image below indicates, change pressures are generally felt most by those closest to the change. As the change grows in prominence (as we are currently seeing with new distributed, sociallybased software in contrast to centrally-controlled software a trend that is filtering into education as a whole) new methods are adopted to cope with the changed environment. These new methods, over a period of time, result in the creation of new spaces and structures of learning (a trend currently evident in the use of learning management systems, blogs, wikis, podcasts, and other tools in education). The structures and spaces generate new affordances, which then cycle into new change pressures. New or developing approaches to teaching with technology are discussed on the connected listserv and Learning Technology Centre s blog: REFERENCES: Oblinger, Diana Chickering and Ehrmann Higher Order Thinking, Retrieved on Nov, 2006 from html/pedagogies/ intellect/int1a.html) Papert, Seymour. (1980). Retrieved on Nov, 2006 from const_inst1.html
138 TEACHING STRATEGIES 3.75 Active Learning with PowerPoint THE POTENTIAL OF POWERPOINT There are many reasons why PowerPoint is becoming more widely used in college classrooms. Students frequently ask professors to prepare their lecture notes using PowerPoint, and as more and more classrooms become wired, it s easy to use presentation technologies in them. There are both positive and negative aspects to using PowerPoint in the classroom. First, the positives. PowerPoint is easy for professors to update, saving them time and energy. It s neat and clean, and it allows for portability of materials. Professors can take slides from one lecture, update them, include them in another lecture, and share them with colleagues or students. It also provides a platform for incorporating a variety of different kinds of multi-media file-types: images, video, audio and animations. There are also drawbacks to using PowerPoint as a teaching tool. PowerPoint, when used incorrectly, can encourage student (and teacher) passivity by discouraging interaction between them. Professors often overload slides with information, forcing them to move through the material too quickly while overwhelming students with details. This can sometimes discourage students and lead them to stop listening to the lecture altogether. So, we re left with the obvious: PowerPoint is only a tool. It will not, in and of itself, improve student learning. It s the way the professors use PowerPoint that can encourage student learning. By strategically employing it to create opportunities for active learning, lectures can capitalize on PowerPoint s strength as a presentation platform to engage students in the learning process. To that end, we re going to be talking about a variety of active learning strategies that you can use to help students learn more from your lectures. BILL ROZAITIS AND PAUL BAEPLER Used with permission of authors Center for Teaching and Learning, University of Minnesota, edu/ohr/teachlearn/ tutorials/powerpoint/ lecturing.html PREPARING TO USE POWERPOINT IN THE CLASSROOM You can use PowerPoint to improve students learning before you even get into the classroom. First, you should think carefully about what part of your lecture you want to make available for students either before or after class. Many faculty choose to do this and others choose not to for a variety of reasons. Some faculty are afraid that handing students copies of their presentations will discourage them from coming to class. And in some cases this might happen, particularly when the expectation is that the lecture itself provides no added benefit i.e., is simply a rehashing of what s on the PowerPoint slides. Students learning can be improved, however, by avoiding handouts that simply duplicate your in-class presentation and providing instead a skeletal outline of the lecture content or a list of the questions to be discussed in class. In the latter case, students will be compelled
139 3.76 TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK to come to the lecture because you and they will be filling in the information together during class. If the handout is made available prior to class, students will be able to preview the content of the session s lecture ahead of time so that they can come prepared for the way ideas relate both to one another and to things that they already know. You can also encourage student learning in handouts by leaving blank slides, slides that ask questions, or slides that ask students to fill in information at various points. For example, at certain points in a handout you may have students come up with a question of their own or respond to one that you provide. In this way, students are encouraged to engage the material at a high level as they prepare for your class or review afterwards. You ll likely have better attendance and notice that students come to class prepared to absorb and to discuss the information that you re presenting. In addition to providing (and provoking) questions, which can enliven your lectures, PowerPoint can actually improve note-taking abilities. This might seem counter-intuitive at first, because if you hand students a print out of your slideshow the material is already copied for them. It s important to remember, though, that in this case students will have accurate information. Students won t miscopy equation sets or misspell foreign names. You can also guide and focus students note-taking on what you consider to be higher order skills. Rather than becoming stenographers, feeling compelled to write down every word, students can be asked to note and work with information in an active way. They can synthesize material and spend less time reciting, in written form, the content of the lecture. THE BEGINNING OF A LECTURE Lectures have beginnings, middles, and ends. Each of these parts has different goals that you should try to meet. Let s start with the goals for the beginning of a lecture. First of all, you should try to gain students attention and motivate them to learn. PowerPoint can be used very effectively to this end. You can put up an image that relates to the day s concepts, you can play music, or have a short video clip to draw their attention or stimulate discussion. At this stage the point is simply to bring students into the sphere of your topic. Secondly, an important goal of the beginning of a lecture is to tell students what they will learn in the day s session. You state your objectives. Presentation technology allows you to easily enumerate your main points and what you expect students to gain from the session. Students learn be connecting what they know to new concepts, so this is extremely important. There are a variety of different strategies for getting students to stimulate their prior knowledge of a topic before you progress to new material.
140 TEACHING STRATEGIES 3.77 You can start with an opening question. Prepare a PowerPoint slide that simply says Opening Question, and then present your question. You can do a variety of things with this. You can have students write about the questions, or think quietly. You can do a think-pair-share activity in which students think for a few moments about the question, pair up with a partner to discuss the question briefly, and then come back to share their thoughts with the larger group. This also helps you assess students knowledge of the particular topic and might help you then shift the focus of your lecture to what students actually need. There are many different activities you can use in this manner. An example is brainstorming. Again, have students select a partner, show a slide that presents a question or statement, and ask students to think of as many things as they can that relate to this particular topic. They should write down their results, either as lists, concept maps, or in a narrative format. In this way, you re getting students to think about the material and you re getting them ready for what comes in the middle part of the lecture. THE MEAT OF THE LECTURE This mid-point of the lecture is where you present your content. This is also the point in which most faculty go roaring forward. One of your strategies for the middle point of the lecture should be to pause every twelve or fifteen minutes for students to process the information actively. Research has shown that people can t attend to lectures for longer than about twelve or fifteen minutes. If you lecture for longer than this students begin to lose focus and their minds will wander. It s in these lulls that you want to shake students from their oncoming stupor! This is when trying some kind of active learning technique would give you your greatest chance of success. Many instructors are reluctant to try active learning strategies during a lecture for a variety of reasons. Some don t think active learning strategies can work in large classes, but this in fact is not the case. Active learning strategies don t need to be difficult to manage or take a lot of time. They can be one or two-minute activities, done alone or in pairs, that break up a lecture at twelve or fifteen minute intervals. Some of the strategies that we are going to talk about can be adapted very nicely to this particular timeline. One of the advantages of PowerPoint is that you can build active learning strategies into your slideshow that remind you to stop and take a breath at various points during the lecture. If you don t have these activities built into your lecture, it s very easy to just keep moving forward. Let s talk about some of the strategies that you can use in the mid-point of a lecture. First, as we have already noted, you can use a think-share-pair strategy based on questions that you develop or that students themselves develop.
141 3.78 TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK An interesting strategy that you can use during the mid-point of a lecture is the stump your partner strategy. Ask students to turn to a neighbor and come up with a question that they feel is difficult. They should try to stump their partner. You can then collect some of these questions, either verbally or on 3x5 note card and re-purpose them in other lectures, in practice exams, or on a mid-term. This gives students a greater investment in the course content and what they produce. And it s also fun. You can also do a note check during the midpoint of a lecture. Again, introduce the activity on a PowerPoint slide. Ask students to turn to a partner and compare notes, focusing specifically on what the most important points of the preceding content are and what they are most confused about. You can collect this information verbally or on note cards and use it in a variety of ways. For further examples of active learning techniques you can use with PowerPoint see the section on active learning. WRAPPING IT UP The end of a lecture should be like the end of a good story. It should summarize the information, provide closure, and ask students to connect the information to themselves, their own values, and its application to the world. PowerPoint is only a tool. It s the way the professors use PowerPoint that can encourage student learning. You can achieve this in a variety of ways. First of all you can ask students what the muddiest point of the day was. Type out muddiest point? on a slide and ask students to write about this. You can then collect the information either verbally or on 3x5 inch note cards. You might also have a slide that asks students for any final questions. In this way, you encourage students to process the material and communicate with you about it. Finally you can ask students to answer two or three very brief questions. We call this a classroom assessment technique. In a sense what you are doing is asking students if they understood what you consider to be the most important parts of the day s material. You can collect this either verbally or in writing, and it will help you assess whether or not you ve met your teaching goals. If not, you can cover some of the material at the start of the next day s lecture or create assignments that will help students process it. In addition to assessing your students, you re really demonstrating to them that you genuinely care about their learning and that they are achieving what they set out to by enrolling in your course.
142 TEACHING STRATEGIES 3.79 Organizing and Managing Good Online Discussions: Some Tips SELECTING AN ONLINE DISCUSSION ACTIVITY Before selecting an online discussion activity, it is helpful to identify what you want the students to learn from this activity by creating some specific learning outcomes. An example is: Upon completion of this activity, students will be able to make a logical argument and support it with evidence. Once you have established the learning outcomes, decide what kind of evidence will show whether or not students have achieved those outcomes and how you might grade that evidence. Then, select the most appropriate activity to achieve the outcomes. Some activities that work well in online discussions are: Group discussions on a pre-determined topic, focusing on critical thinking Debates Learning groups Article and/or book reviews Ask an expert Tips on conducting each of these activities are listed below. ADAPTED FROM EFFECTIVE ONLINE COMMUNICATIONS WORKSHOPS GIVEN FOR UTS BY CHERYL MCLEAN INFORMATION OVERLOAD The activities should be integral and relevant to the course and relevant to the participants. Be particularly careful to balance the workload if the online discussion is being added to an existing course, otherwise participants may be overwhelmed, resulting in reduced participation in the online discussion. Regardless of the activity chosen, it is important to manage the amount of information with which students will be dealing. Discussions can quickly become a burden if there are too many messages to read. The suggestions below apply mostly to activities that involve group discussions. Other activities, such as book reviews, may require different parameters. Limit the number of participants in a group: Between 7 and 15 participants seems to work well. If there are fewer than 7, it is difficult to get good synergy going. More than 15 active participants can produce an overwhelming number of messages. > TIP Design some introductory activities that allow students to become comfortable with the technology before getting into the actual online activity.
143 3.80 TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK Set time limits: Two to three weeks works well for many activities. Two weeks are often needed to get into an in-depth discussion and after more than three weeks students may become bored. Set participation expectations: 3-5 messages per week is considered high participation; 2 messages per week is considered moderate. Limit length of student contributions: Usually words are sufficient. Overly long messages may be ignored by students. ENSURING YOUR STUDENTS ARE COMFORTABLE ONLINE It is surprising how often we still encounter students with limited computer skills. One way to level the playing field is to design some introductory activities that allow students to become comfortable with the technology before getting into the actual online activity. Some instructors have created online discussion areas called student lounge or coffee area. In this area, students might introduce themselves and reply to at least one other student s message. The instructor monitors the activity, watching for any students who are not participating. Technical problems can be addressed here before the main activity starts. Be sure to deal with technical difficulties as quickly as possible so that students do not become frustrated. Some instructors prepare printed handouts with detailed instructions on how to get into the online discussion; others provide a telephone number or address for technical help; some demonstrate how to access the system in class; and others create a frequently asked questions (FAQ) document that is either online or in print. Once the introductory activities are complete, the student lounge or coffee area often becomes a place for students to chat among themselves, leaving the other online activity areas for the planned activities. NETIQUETTE RULES Instructors should prepare at least a draft of the netiquette rules prior to the start of the online discussion. Some instructors ask students to contribute to these rules. Some sample rules are found at It is helpful to think about how you will handle breaches of the rules prior to the start of the online discussion. SOME TIPS FOR ACTIVITIES: Group discussions focusing on critical thinking Selecting a good question is key. The question should be thought provoking and ill-structured. Ill-structured questions do not have a correct or obvious answer. Be careful not to imply your preference. Once an answer is given that is perceived to be correct, the conversation is at an end.
144 TEACHING STRATEGIES 3.81 Three examples of questions that have worked well are: What is the future of marriage? Is a power struggle inevitable in a relationship? What is critical thinking? Select a method of evaluation. Grading on the basis of participation is easy and may be enough for what you are trying to achieve. One frequently used participation rate is a minimum of 5 messages of words in the time allowed. Grading for critical thinking is more difficult. Many instructors use criteria that are similar to those used for grading essays. You will also need to consider whether or not grammar and spelling are important. Moderating the online discussion Moderators can promote critical thinking by: using short questions to probe for elaboration and other perspectives; using leading questions, refocusing questions, and open-ended questions; and presenting conflicting opinions Moderators can model critical thinking by: summarizing or synthesizing discussions to prepare them for further discussion or simply to highlight the main points; weaving the threads of the discussion by making connections and identifying themes; and challenging his or her own entries. If the moderator switches sides in the argument, it demonstrates that he or she is serious about welcoming all viewpoints in class discussions. Students can perform a moderator role, acting, for example, as starters or wrappers. A starter might present the question and then state his or her particular point of view. A wrapper might summarize the main points of the discussion. Debates Consider using debates as a more formal alternative to discussions. Each team should have their own discussion area to prepare for the debate. Teams then come together in a new area for the debate itself. Some instructors have other class members judge the debate so that everyone is involved. Again, set specific time frames and parameters for the messages, including the length and the number of messages. Having clear debating rules is crucial.
145 3.82 TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK Learning Groups Each learning group has a specific, clearly defined topic, either assigned by the instructor or generated by the students. Students create their own knowledge about the topic through study and discussion. One or two students can be assigned to summarize the knowledge for sharing with the class. Book Reviews The instructor creates a book and/or article list and creates a format for reviewing the items. Students select items to review and post their reviews in the online discussion area. If you limit the number of reviews that can be done on each book, students are encouraged to post their reviews early. If you require each review to deal with a different aspect of the book or article than has been covered by another review, then students must read other students reviews. Students could also be encouraged to comment on points made by other students reviewing the same material. One student could be assigned to summarize the reviews. Ask an Expert It s often easier to persuade experts to participate online in your class from their homes than it is to persuade them to come to your classroom in person. Textbook authors are sometimes willing to participate in a brief online discussion, particularly if you are using his or her textbook in your class. To keep your expert coming back, limit the time to a few days. The topic area should be clearly defined. It may be helpful to divide students into groups to generate and select appropriate questions so that enough questions are asked. SUMMARY Online discussions are effective tools to engage students in the learning process. Students can improve their critical thinking skills through online discussions of ill-structured questions, hone their debating skills, seek advice from an expert in the field, share ideas and generate their own knowledge through learning groups, and develop article/book reviews for peer review. These are only a few ideas to help you get started!
146 ENHANCING STUDENT LEARNING 3.83 ENHANCING STUDENT LEARNING Motivating Students Few teachers would deny either that motivated students are easier to teach, or that the students who are interested in learning do, in fact, learn more. Anyone who has taught a required course can attest to the fact. So how do faculty members motivate their students? A DEFINITION Academic motivation comes from a combination of forces - which operate both inside and outside an individual s mind. Psychologists characterize academic motivation in terms of behaviors. For instance, motivation can be described as a combination of three behaviors: energy to act [effort]; decisions to act in light of a certain purpose(s) or goal(s) [choice], and; a continuation to act in a way that leads to completion of a learning task. The challenge is to encourage and take advantage of student behavior in ways that will harmonize with the acquisition of skills, knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs considered important by the teacher. BEVERLY CAMERON Adapted with permission from William E. Cashin, IDEA PAPER #1, Manhattan, KS Center for Faculty Evaluation and Development, Kansas State University SOME RESEARCH RESULTS Research indicates that: Academic motivation to learn is not fixed, but it does not change drastically in short periods of time. It may be that a semester is too short a time to change an individual s motivational pattern; Motivation should be thought of in optimal not maximal terms. Either too much or too little motivation may impede learning; Positively-motivated students (those who want to learn) have stronger and more positive self-images; Values and perceptions of time vary with the strength of motivation. More positivelymotivated students are aware of the past, present, and future when making decisions and deciding on future actions, while students who are not academically motivated tend to either hold on to, or try to avoid, certain aspects of their academic experience.
147 3.84 TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK Students who are not motivated to learn resist new information, tend to make snap decisions, use categorical reasoning (e.g., viewing things as strictly good or bad) rather than a relative evaluative continuum, and freeze their judgment even when new information suggests the wisdom of revising. These findings have implications for teachers. Motivation and commitment may be personal matters with each student, but teachers can try to eliminate barriers that block them. TEACHING BEHAVIORS THAT MOTIVATE A review of the research on academic motivation indicates that the following teacher behaviors motivate students and correlate highly with positive student motivation. The teacher: explained course material clearly and to the point changed teaching approaches to meet new situations summarized material in a manner which aided retention demonstrated the importance and significance of the subject matter made it clear how each topic fit into the overall course clearly stated the objectives of the course used humor in a way students appreciated found ways to help students answer their own questions introduced stimulating ideas about the subject was available to help students individually explained the reasons for criticisms of students academic performance These findings strongly suggest that it is not simply showmanship which motivates students (although if you do not have the students attention, they are much more difficult to teach), but it is the use of a variety of teaching approaches. SOME PRACTICAL SUGGESTIONS FOR MOTIVATING STUDENTS The following suggestions are based more on the personal experience (or experiences) of teachers than upon empirical data. They are offered as food for thought, not as a canons of good teaching that must be followed. Begin Where The Students Are Capitalize on the students existing interests. Find out what their majors are, why they are taking the course, and so on. Find out what the students weaknesses or difficulties are. For example, if the course has a prerequisite, give a diagnostic test early in the term so students will know what they still remember and what they must review.
148 ENHANCING STUDENT LEARNING 3.85 Establish The Relevance of the Course Material Relate the course to the students interests when possible. If students don t see the course as relevant (often the case with required courses), spend time to explain in detail why the course is required. Use examples of how the course may be useful in their majors, their general education, and careers. Discuss the ways you find the course interesting. Use questions, problems, case studies, etc. to demonstrate the relevance of course material and assignments. INVOLVE STUDENTS IN THE CHOICE OF WHAT WILL BE STUDIED, WHEN POSSIBLE Find out which topics are of most interest or value to the students (recognizing that they may not be the best judges). Include some optional or alternative units, readings, and so on. Use a variety of teaching and learning methods (e.g., lectures, discussions, and independent study). Praise what the student has done right; this tends to build self-confidence. A sense of inner satisfaction is often the greatest motivation. ARRANGE LEARNING TASKS AT LEVELS APPROPRIATE TO THE ABILITIES OF YOUR STUDENTS Do not make tasks too easy or too hard. At first it may be better to err on the side of too easy; success breeds success. Include a range of difficulty in your assignments, and even in your quizzes and exams, so that every student has a better chance to experience success as well as be challenged. Tests and grades during the course motivate to a greater extent when they are used to indicate what the students have learned, not just what they don t know. If motivation is too intense it creates anxiety and interferes with learning. While you have to set realistic standards, do it in a supportive rather than a threatening way. For example, if you find out that a student is far behind, don t say to the student, You re way behind, but rather, These are the things you need to learn. How may I help? REWARD STUDENTS Give students feedback on their work as soon as possible, e.g., return tests and papers quickly.
149 3.86 TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK Both positive and negative comments can stimulate learning, but positive comments seem to be more effective. Do not give only negative feedback. Praise what the student has done right; this tends to build self-confidence. A sense of inner satisfaction is often the greatest motivation. When giving negative feedback, make it clear you are commenting on a particular performance, not on the student as a person. Recognize sincere efforts even if the product is not the greatest. This does not suggest that students should receive grades for effort rather than learning, but praise should be given for effort as well as results. Since success motivates, encourage self-competition. Help students to focus on their continued improvement, not just on the final criteria for the course. Help students set realistic goals. Failure to attain unrealistic goals can become a source of continuing disappointment and frustration. USE THE DISCOVERY METHOD OF TEACHING Use the students curiosity. Pose questions. Encourage students to suggest solutions to a problem, to guess the results of an experiment, and to propose a theory to explain empirical results. Stress understanding as much as, or more than, memorization of facts. Understanding motivates students to ask further questions and learn more. Encourage student initiative by leaving gaps. If you use this method, draw attention to the gaps, and explain that you expect students to fill them. Don t direct your class excessively or you may get back blind conformance or defiance. Provide some direction and structure, however, or you may frustrate students. Help students evaluate their own progress. Encourage them to critique their own work, to analyze their own strengths and weaknesses, and to do their own research. This helps students learn how to learn as well as to perform well on an exam. USE TEACHER-STUDENT INTERACTIONS Keep the channels of communication open. Try to understand what students are saying, and check with them to be sure you are correct. Students feelings about their instructor can be a significant help or hindrance to learning. Although students need to learn how to learn from professors they dislike (just as adults have to work with people they dislike), fostering the students dislike is not a good strategy.
150 ENHANCING STUDENT LEARNING 3.87 Students need to be actively involved if there is to be learning. Take a variety of roles from active direction to reflective support. Provide a good model for the students to imitate be human! CONCLUSIONS Motivation is a significant variable in a student s readiness and willingness to learn Most students are curious and do have a sincere desire to know and understand. These assets can be capitalized on if the learning situation provides for successful accomplishments at a fairly consistent rate. Good teachers can do a great deal to create an atmosphere where learning will be more efficient by stimulating student commitment and intrinsic motivation. Teaching Effective Thinking Skills Many students approach tests for assignments with trepidation and uncertainty. They wonder if they should memorize definitions, formulae, and numbers from the readings or lectures. They wonder if they ll have to make calculations and show their work. Essentially, they wonder what the instructor expects from them. Usually, the instructor expects students to understand the material and be effective thinkers. But many students don t really understand what this means, and, as a result, their test and assignments scores are poor. Poor student performance can be frustrating to instructors, too. They find it difficult to understand why students don t do well on assignments and tests. For most instructors, teaching is more fun and rewarding when the students are getting it. Part of the solution is to explicitly teach students effective thinking skills and have instructors explicitly model effective thinking skills as they apply to the discipline. When students understand the skills that are expected of them and see the same skills used by the instructor, it s less likely they ll fail to understand and live up to the instructor s expectations on assignments and tests. The discussion that follows gives some suggestions for teaching students to become more effective thinkers. BEVERLY CAMERON Reprinted with permission of HBJ Holt-Rinehart, Inc. EFFECTING THINKING: WHAT IS IT? Thinking effectively isn t easy. It requires work, and it requires practice. Effective thinking involves more than taking notes during lectures and more than memorizing definitions and formulae. Effective thinking isn t regurgitating the lectures or readings. Effective thinking requires the application of knowledge and finding the best answer
151 3.88 TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK out of many possibilities. It requires analysis, synthesis, and evaluation of situations. Effective thinking is an active process, a process that requires the use of knowledge. Effective thinking isn t easy, but it is the goal most instructors have for their students. Effective thinking occurs when an individuals not only knows but is also able to interpret, understand and use words, concepts, and symbols to facilitate his or her own thought processes and judgments. 1 This requires the thinker to be actively involved. To interpret, understand, and use words, concepts, and symbols requires that a person not just passively absorb information. LEVELS OF THINKING Thinking can be divided into six levels of difficulty and two sections called lower-and higher-order thinking skills. 2 The lower-order thinking skills are knowledge, which involves recall and recognition and comprehension. Higher-order thinking skills are application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. A discussion of levels of thinking in class may sound unnecessarily academic, but if students have a basic understanding of what effective thinking involves, and what is expected from them, it will help them study, prepare for tests, and meet your expectations. Lower-Order Thinking Skills Knowledge requires recall or recognition of material or ideas, for example, repeating the text s definition of photosynthesis or the equation for calculating the area of a circle. Students don t have to understand the definition or equation; they just have to recall it. Bloom and his colleagues use the term knowledge to refer to the lowest level of thinking skills, but to avoid confusion with a broader meaning of the word knowledge, it is easier to refer to the knowledge thinking skill as recall and recognition. Comprehension, the next level of skill, requires the students to interpret meaning, translate a concept into their own words, and make inferences based on an understanding of the material. For example, the instructor might ask the students to give an explanation of a metaphor in their own words. Producing their own definition or explanation requires greater understanding than just repeating a memorized definition. Higher-Order Thinking Skills Higher-order thinking skills are more difficult to master than lower-order skills but are usually more useful and interesting. Application asks students to select and apply appropriate content knowledge when faced with a new situation. For instance, students might be given data and expected to determine the flow of water through a pipe over a given time period. Analysis required that information be broken down into its component parts and relationship between the parts detected. A student might be asked to examine a
152 ENHANCING STUDENT LEARNING 3.89 non-equilibrium market situation and predict its likely economic consequences. Analysis may require the use of formulae and data or a written or verbal description of a problem outcome. Synthesis requires integration and uses information from many sources. A student must sort through possible sources of information and use those that are most relevant. Synthesis allows room for creativity. Students might be asked for probable economic and social consequences of racial discrimination in a large metropolitan area. Evaluation asks for even more. It requires that the student make judgments about the value of an idea, solution or method. Students may be given the criteria on which to base their evaluation or they may have to construct their own criteria. An example would be asking a medical researcher to evaluate the overall effectiveness and consequences of prescribing a new drug to reduce or eliminate a patient s brain tumor. The use of higher-order thinking skills earns the highest grades in most courses. The use of application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation skills is required to ever-greater extents as students progress to upper level courses. Students will be asked to use higher-order effective thinking skills not only in university, but also by future employers. When graduates are hired as professionals, they are seldom asked to repeat definitions learned in university courses. Employers will expect knowledge, and that new employees can use knowledge effectively. University graduates will be presented with problems and expected to solve them. They ll be expected to be effective thinkers, and their ability to do so will reflect well or poorly on the programs and university from which they graduated. Improved thinking skills increase the likelihood that an individual will be given challenging assignments, interesting jobs, and promotions. Honing thinking skills in university has benefits for students well beyond good grades. AN EFFECTING THINKING PROCESS Effective thinking is often equated with problem solving. Both involve a process with a series of identifiable steps. Expert thinkers may appear to reach brilliant conclusions or solutions instantly, but this generally means they ve had so much practice that they go through the effective thinking process very quickly. The essential point, however, is that effective thinkers do follow a process, a process they ve learned and practiced many times. Expert thinkers may not be able to describe their thinking process, but researchers have identified steps effective thinkers follow knowingly or unknowingly. BASICALLY, THE STEPS INVOLVE: A. defining the situation B. stating the problem(s) and the exact goal(s) to be achieved
153 3.90 TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK C. generating ideas that could be used to reach the goal(s) and selecting the one(s) judged to be best D. defining the new situation that would result if selected idea(s) are implemented E. preparing a detailed plan to reach the goal based on the best idea(s) generated F. implementing the plan, and G. evaluating the success or failure of the implemented plan Notice that the thinker must be actively involved in the thinking process to follow these steps. The effective thinker must define, state, generate, select, prepare, implement, and evaluate. Effective thinkers must use that which they know. Steps in an Effective Thinking Process Experience shows that students become better thinkers when the process of effective thinking is made explicit to them, and when they see examples of this process. 3 To help you teach effective thinking skills, the explicit steps from Guided Design, one successful problem solving process, are listed below. The Guided Design steps 4 have been used by many students in a wide variety of disciplines and fields. These steps were first developed for engineering students, and research has shown that Guided Design helped raise student grade-point averages in all four years of their program. 5 The steps are tried and true! TWELVE GUIDED DESIGN STEPS: Define the Situation Who is involved? What happened? What is involved? When and where did it happen? Why did it happen? How serious are the TIP consequences? You don t have to answer all of these questions for each situation. Pick the ones that help you define the particular Be explicit about situation you face. telling students State the Problem and the Goal 1. Analysis: What might be the problem(s)? what you expect, This is the hardest step for most students. It s worth spending time and explicitly model on this step because it s very difficult for students to reach a good solution or conclusion if they don t understand what problem(s) an effective thinking they should be solving. It s also not much use to have a solution or process for them. conclusion without knowing the problem to which it is the solution or conclusion. Examine the why and how statements in the Define the Situation step to discover the problem(s). 2. Synthesis: What could be the goals you want to achieve? >
154 ENHANCING STUDENT LEARNING 3.91 This step requires creativity. Think of all the possible goals that could be generated in relation to the problem(s) in step 1. Devise a goal for each one of the possible problems you listed. 3. Evaluation: Out of all the possible goals in step 2, decide which one(s) you should achieve. This step requires you to specify musts, wants, constraints, and assumptions. Evaluate all the possible goals in step 2, and select the one(s) you think are best. Don t select too many goals in this step. Narrow the goals from step 2 down to the best one or two Generate Ideas for Meeting your Goal(s) in Step Analysis: What problems might be involved in meeting the goals(s) in step 3? Look carefully at all aspects of your goals(s) from step 3. What might cause problems in meeting the goals(s)? 5. Synthesis: What could be done to solve the goal problems in step 4? Again, this calls for creativity. Imagine what could be done to solve each one of the goal problems in step 4. Integrate and synthesize ideas to suggest possible solutions. 6. Evaluation: Of all the possible solutions to your goal problems in step 5, what should be done to solve those problems? This means that you must evaluate all the possible solutions in step 5 to find the best one(s). To do this, consider your goal(s) in step 3 again, specify conditional constraints, anticipate future consequences, and select the best combination of ideas. Then select the best solution, the one you think you should try. Define the New Situation The new situation includes both the old situation s list of who, what, when, where, why, and how, plus the solutions(s) you selected in step 6. Determine and include various costs and benefits of implementing your step 6 solution(s) in your description of the new situation. Prepare A Plan 7. Analysis: What might be a problem(s) with the new situation? Look at all parts of the new situation to determine what might cause, contribute to, or be a problem. 8. Synthesis: What could be part of a plan to solve the new situation problems identified in step 7? Use your imagination to determine possible options for solving the problems in step 7. Generate options that could solve each problem. Integrate your ideas to produce a synthesis of new plans.
155 3.92 TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK 9. Evaluation: Which of the possible plans in step 8 should be used to solve the new situation problems? Consider your goal(s) (step 3), selected solution(s) (step 6), constraints, assumptions, and any anticipated consequences in deciding which plan(s) from step 8 you should choose. Evaluate the possible plans and select the best. Take Action 10. Analysis: What might be a problem with the plan you have selected in step 9? Rehearse and visualize the plan from step 9. Separate it into its component parts to determine what might possibly be, contribute to, or cause a problem once the plan is implemented. 11. Synthesis: What could be, becomes reality as you implement the plan. Actually implement the plan you selected in step 9. As you do so, generate options for action that solve every problem that could occur. 12. Evaluation: What should be the next action once you see the results of the implemented plan? Compare the actual results of your plan with your goal(s) in step 3, the ideas you selected in step 6, and the plan you developed in step 9. Specify any constraints and assumptions you ve made, anticipate future consequences, evaluate the situation, and select the best future action. Notice the different levels of thinking skills required as the thinker progresses through these steps. The higher-order skills of analysis, synthesis, and evaluation are specifically required in each of the four sections of this problem solving process. A COMMENT ON THE 12 GUIDED DESIGN STEPS For some problems and situations, there is no way students can take action and implement their plan in section F. In this case, they may want to stop after step 9 or 10, knowing they ve generated a well-thought-out, plausible solution. Professionals don t always carry out the solutions they suggest. They generate possible solutions based on theory and logic. In other cases, it will be possible to implement a plan. Then steps 10, 11 and 12 will be useful. For instance, it may be the case that a plan calls for changing an estimate of an engineering measurement. Students might be able to put the new estimates into a formula or computer program and see the resulting changes. They may also be able to compare their work with that of professionals, for example, using existing data available to government policy makers or business managers and actual outcomes. Students will be able to assess the results or implications of solutions as they are actually implemented.
156 ENHANCING STUDENT LEARNING 3.93 IS ALL THIS NECESSARY? The 12 Guided Design steps may sound rigid or unnecessary; students have been thinking all their lives well enough to get into university. True enough, but the goal of this process is to make them expert thinkers, not just average ones. Becoming an expert thinker, like becoming an expert in any skill or field of endeavor, can sometimes seem a painstaking process. It takes time, there are many steps involved, and enthusiasm flags at times. Becoming an effective thinker can be likened to learning how to ride a bicycle. As people first learn, it helps if they put their feet and hands in specified places each time they get on the bicycle. After a while, this becomes second nature, and they become accomplished cyclists. Even though the hands and feet of the expert rider might be in the same places as those of the beginner, their placement by the expert is automatic. The expert rider does not have to think about such minor details. Becoming an effective thinker is much the same. If students start as novices, learning and practicing all the correct steps, they ll eventually become experts who don t need to consciously think each step out. Thinking is no longer a series of rigid steps, but a fluid process that flows naturally from defining the situation and determining the problem(s) to implementing a well-evaluated plan of action. 1 Dressel and Marcus, 1982, p Bloom, McKeachie, et al., 1986, p Wales, et al., Wales, 1979, pp WHAT NOW? Remember that effective thinking is a skill which develops with practice. Be explicit about telling students what you expect, and explicitly model an effective thinking process for them. This is how they learn to think like chemists, architects, nurses, anthropologists, and so on. When students know what effective thinking involves, when instructors are explicit about the thinking they go through in solving problems with course material, students find it easier to think > TIP effectively themselves. The 12 Guided Design steps are one way of explicitly teaching the skills of effective thinking, although instructors may have other methods. What is important is that students be given clear and explicit guidance in becoming effective thinkers. University courses, and life in general, provide a wealth of problems and situations that benefit from the work of effective thinkers. Effective thinking isn t easy, but most students find it fun once they gain some experience and skill. It s also more fun to teach students Effective thinking is often equated with problem solving. Both involve a process with a series of identifiable steps. who are becoming effective thinkers.
157 3.94 TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK BRANDY USICK Used with permission of author CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT Academic Integrity: The Responsibilities of an Instructor At the University of Manitoba, Student Advocacy assists students with academic issues, including academic dishonesty. Our approach emphasizes prevention of dishonesty and promotion of ethics, highlighted by our annual academic integrity week. Student Advocates are experts on student discipline, and your resource for questions about process and practices. This article outlines the responsibilities of instructors for student discipline. University community members agree that academic integrity is the cornerstone of academic work. What is not so clear are the specific duties of academic staff to uphold academic integrity. Although the university mission may be to instill academic integrity, the default strategy is to provide admonitions of dishonest behaviour. Unfortunately, reactive strategies may not be effective. In 1999, The Center for Academic Integrity (CAI) challenged academic communities to discuss academic integrity in positive terms. U of M (a member of CAI) defines academic integrity as five fundamental values: honesty, trust, fairness, respect, and responsibility. Academic integrity means active commitment to those values. Each institution should promote a culture in which all members students and faculty subscribe to the values. The classroom is an important place to discuss academic integrity. Here, instructors set expectations and model desired behaviour. DEFINITIONS U of M has an Academic Integrity policy, with two subsections ( Plagiarism and Cheating and Personation of Examinations ), in the General Academic Regulations and Requirements section of the Calendar. The U of M defines cheating on tests as: copying from another student or bringing unauthorized materials into the exam room (e.g., crib notes, pagers or cell phones)...and exam impersonation (University of Manitoba, 2004, p. 26). The U of M defines plagiarism as:...to take ideas or words of another person and pass them off as one s own... stealing something intangible... Plagiarism applies to...written...as well as orally...presented work...,whether quoted directly or paraphrased[, and to]... diagrams, statistical tables... and materials or information from Internet sources (University of Manitoba, 2004, p. 26). Two other forms of student plagiarism are: Duplicate submission, or an assignment...submitted for marks for one course which is then used for a different course assignment and Inappropriate collaboration, or working with other students... when...not permitted by the instructor (University of Manitoba, 2004, p. 27).
158 CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT 3.95 Plagiarism occurs on a spectrum. Low level plagiarism may be inadvertent technical and mechanical referencing mistakes. At the far end are extreme forms, such as the submission of an entire document written by another, whether peers or an internet paper mill (e.g. schoolsucks.com, or cheathouse.com). Plagiarism between these two extremes include: weaving/chunking of source material; sentence/paragraph alteration of source material; failure to include quotation marks or properly reference quotations or paraphrases; and fabricating sources/references. These forms are challenging, because it is difficult to decide whether the student intended to plagiarize or had poor referencing, writing, or paraphrasing skills. THREE RESPONSIBILITIES An instructor has responsibilities for prevention, detection and response. These are not discrete, but require thoughtful steps when creating curriculum, teaching, and interacting with students. Prevention The Responsibility of Academic Staff with Regard to Students policy requires each course syllabus to refer to academic integrity policy and state the degree of collaboration allowed on assignments. Some faculties require additional information, such as a definition of plagiarism and consequences. Check with your unit head for templates or required information. Some prevention strategies for teaching and evaluation are: Explain why referencing is important: the student s work contributes to a body of knowledge; citations demonstrate the development of the thesis statement and lend credibility to arguments. Provide a rubric that describes an excellent paper. Discuss the academic dishonesty policy at length in class, and on the course outline. Explain the consequences. Communicate clearly about collaboration. Aim for relevancy in assignments. Help students to create connections between course content, their interests, current events, and their program/discipline. Consider limiting sources; for example, require a number of traditional sources and restrict internet sources. Direct students to reliable, scholarly online sources. Tell students copies of sources may be requested. Encourage keeping a research log. Require a smaller sample of writing before a major paper, or break a large project into smaller pieces (e.g. annotated bibliography, outline etc). Keep copies of all submitted work. Indicate and review documentation style. Provide examples in course material. Use the web, the vehicle which students prefer to access information, to teach students about appropriate referencing. Consider: (Smith & Usick, 2005)
159 3.96 TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK Preventative strategies for exam cheating include: changing question sheets and tests, informing students in advance that tests are changed each year; avoiding recycling of questions; active invigilation; and reviewing before each exam the policy on authorized material (e.g. calculators, electronic translators etc). Consider the motivations that lead to decisions to plagiarize or cheat. Instructors who take shortcuts, by recycling assignments and tests, will encourage students to submit recycled submissions and test answers. If a student perceives the work or class to be irrelevant, s/he may believe shortcuts are justified. Students feel overwhelmed with pressure to obtain excellent grades; they perceive each grade as essential to a professional or academic goal. Tight scheduling of assignment or exam dates contributes to stress even for organized students. Technology (electronic or digital devices) may facilitate dishonest behaviour. The quality and timing of feedback on assignments shape a student s respect for the instructor and course. Unclear expectations lead to misunderstandings, particularly inappropriate collaboration. Cultural differences play a role in understanding academic integrity. Detection Plagiarism may be blatant: sections cut and pasted from a required course reading. Or a phrase or sentence may seem familiar but the original is not recalled. Consult your reference librarian. For more subtle cases, Low tech clues include: language more complex than usual or expected; paper doesn t quite fit the topic; poor sentence and paragraph transitions; cited materials are not in library; and referenced web sites are inactive (Bates & Fain, 2004). The web is a powerful tool for finding plagiarized sources. The phrase(s) suspected of being plagiarized can be searched within quotation marks on a search engine to track down the source. Become familiar with information on-line, and let students know you are web-savvy. Plagiarism detection software is another option. The U of M has not subscribed to a detection company such as Turnitin.com. Response Do something if you are suspicious. It is a mistake to not investigate without airtight evidence. If there are strong grounds, instructors should pursue the matter via the Student Discipline Bylaw. Students under investigation obtain information about their rights from the Bylaw. If the evidence is weak, the instructor should still talk to the student, to give notice and review expectations. See this as a strategy to prevent future transgressions. It is a mistake for you to assign a penalty. Instructors do not have the jurisdiction: the disciplinary outcome must be referred to the appropriate administrator,
160 CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT 3.97 normally the Department Head. For those instances which seem unintentional in which a remedial approach might be appropriate, instructors should consult with the Department Head. Suspicion/Discovery Validate/Gather Evidence (find original source) Prof meets student to communicate concern/allegation in a confidential meeting Plagiarism - Inform Student - Refer matter to Dept Head Plagiarism, but - Inform Student - Provide remedial opportunity - Refer to appropriate services - Consult/Inform Dept Head - Advisable to keep record Not Plagiarism (Inadvertent?, citation or technical errors. EAL) - Inform Student - No further action - No record Dept. Head communicates concern/allegation to the student via formal letter Outcome. Inform student of disciplinary outcome. Student can appeal. For further information, please contact Student Advocacy. REFERENCES Center for Academic Integrity. (1999, October). The Fundamental Values of Academic Integrity. [Brochure]. Durham, NC: Duke University. Bates, B & Fain, M. (2004, November 4) Cheating 101: Detecting Plagiarized Papers. Retrieved January 10, 2005 from Coastal Carolina University, Kimbel Library Web site: Smith, L. & Usick, B. (2005, February). Plagiarism Technology: A Primer on Prevention and Detection. UTS Newsletter,13(3). University of Manitoba. (2004). Undergraduate Calendar Winnipeg, MB: Author.
161 3.98 TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK NANCY CALLAGHAN Used with permission of author Incivilities in the Classroom Many professors love to teach, finding it challenging and also highly rewarding. However, there are times when teaching is not only difficult but also downright frustrating, particularly when dealing with uncivil or inappropriate student behaviour in the classroom. Incivilities in the classroom come in many forms. Some behaviours are mere annoyances while others are more serious since they interfere with the teaching or alter the dynamics of the class as a whole. Below is a short list of student behaviours that professors and TA s have encountered within their classrooms. Some may be familiar to you: Sleeping in class. Reading the newspaper or doing other coursework during your lectures. Cell phones ringing and students answering them. Monopolizing lecture time with questions and/or comments. Attempting to discredit your knowledge and/or authority. Making rude comments about your class and/or teaching style during your lectures. Directing vulgar comments toward you and/or other students. Most students at the University of Manitoba will not display any of the above rude, uncivil, or disruptive behaviours in the classroom. However, being prepared to deal with inappropriate behaviour is a worthwhile endeavour. When you think about implementing strategies to minimize uncivil student behaviour it is important to first consider what kinds of behaviours that, as the professor, you will or will not tolerate. Then you can tailor your classroom rules accordingly. As a means of establishing and maintaining the learning environment that you desire, it is then helpful to outline your expectations for classroom behaviour at the outset of every course and remain vigilant in its upkeep for its duration. Here are some practical tips successfully used by other professors, as reported in workshops over the years: Communicate classroom rules on the first day of class: Clearly state, both verbally and on the syllabus, your expectations for student conduct and the consequences that will follow if they are violated. Take a moment to discuss them with the class to ensure they are understood. Model the behaviour you expect from your students: Avoid double standards regarding your own behaviour as the professor versus their behaviour as students. This includes starting and stopping lectures on time, following the syllabus, handing back tests and assignments on time, etc. Students can become frustrated if they feel that their time or rights are being disrespected.
162 CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT 3.99 Be consistent and fair about what is and is not tolerated in class: Students can be very attuned to differential treatment so take care to ensure that rules of conduct are applied to everyone in an even manner. Learn students names: Reducing anonymity is one way of affecting behaviour. Provide feedback to students throughout the term to help reduce their anxiety about how they are doing. When assessing students participation and academic performance, try to use language that fosters a respectful and collaborative classroom and acknowledges student differences. If there has been a problem with a student or group of students try to re-engage them within the classroom. This may help to shift interactions from negative ones into positive and constructive ones. Positively reinforce student behaviours that are desirable rather than only addressing instances where negative behaviours are present. Develop a complaint-resolution process for the entire class to use. For example, you may be willing to review assigned grades, but not on the day in which the grade was returned. One complaint resolution policy may be that only after 24 hours have lapsed will you will review grades. And then, only if the student re-submits the original assignment along with a letter explaining why the grade merits your reconsideration. Always document events that are of concern to you for future reference. Include the time, date, place, names of witnesses if any, and a brief synopsis of what transpired and how the event ended. Record any warnings that were issued to the student should you need to invoke a consequence at a later date. Clearly stating rules and expectations and the corresponding consequences should they be breached is often enough to keep negative events from transpiring in the first place. However, if you have put your strategies in place and still encounter inappropriate behaviour from a student then additional actions may need to be taken. Once you have determined that a student s behaviour is problematic and warrants some measure of response you must also decide how and when to do so. Keep in mind that the time and place you choose to discuss matters with the student, and the approach that you take, can have a significant impact on whether you achieve the results you seek. Any response should target the behaviour that is of concern and not the student him/herself. The following are some tips for addressing student behaviour in a respectful and constructive way: Take some time, and a deep breath, before you say or do anything. If you are feeling angry or upset by the student s behaviour, a moment to collect yourself before
163 3.100 TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK responding can be helpful as you decide what to do. Emotions can impair your own good judgment and lead to over-reacting or worsening a situation. Remain calm and keep your statements simple, clear and direct. Identify and focus on the specific behaviour of concern. Avoid global statements (e.g., you always... or you never... ) about the student and his/her conduct during your course. Be clear about what modifications to the behaviour that you would like and discuss the consequences that will follow if the present behaviour persists. Whenever possible, try to problem solve with the student rather than just dictating your own terms. Attempt to see the problem from different angles, including the student s. If you are at the point of imposing a consequence be clear about why. Be prepared to outline some steps the student can take and/or provide the name of an appropriate person s/he can talk to if there is disagreement with your decision. Make an effort to speak to the student in a setting that you feel is safe but affords some privacy. Attempting to Clearly stating rules and expectations and the corresponding consequences should they be breached is often enough to keep negative events from transpiring in the first place. address someone s conduct when there is an audience can potentially encourage the person to become more challenging and intensify the situation. Trust your own instincts. If you sense that your interaction with the student is escalating, you can always end it and arrange to meet at another time or place. Always document what transpired for future reference. Include the time, date, who was present, what was said, and the outcome of the event or interaction. There are policies and support services to assist you if you are currently facing a difficult student situation, or if you have concerns that a situation could escalate. You may want to inform your Program Director, Department Head or Dean of the challenges you are experiencing, especially if there are indications that the problem may persist or require a higher level of intervention. You may also confidentially consult with someone from an office like Student Advocacy or Equity Services. These offices exist to also assist professors and administrators, and can provide you with the resources you need if you have an uncivil or disruptive student in your classroom.
164 CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT Plagiarism Technology: A Primer on Prevention and Detection The teaching and learning environment has been greatly influenced by technology. Virtually all aspects of knowledge delivery and acquisition have felt the impact of technology and for the most part the results, while largely positive, have raised issues and caused other adaptations. One area of concern at the University of Manitoba and other educational institutions is how technology and the internet may be contributing to an increase in academic dishonesty, in particular plagiarism. Generally the media reports that plagiarism is on the rise due to the unprecedented access to online information. However, empirical studies suggest that internet plagiarism is not rampant among undergraduate students 1. But this may change with the next generation of students 2. The Canadian Consortium 2002 Online Survey 3 provided information about the types of dubious academic student behaviours observed by faculty: submitting of work completed by someone else (50%), copying a few sentences without footnoting (55%), submitting of a paper downloaded for free from paper mill or website (22%), submitting of a paper purchased from paper mill or website (11%), copying from internet source without footnoting (5%). The proliferation of information and its ready availability via the internet is obvious to both faculty and students. There are billions of websites, electronic equivalents of Cole s Notes (e.g., on-line research assistants (e.g., and electronic paper mills that feature free essays (e.g., or custom written essays (e.g., In traditional classroom settings and in the online classroom, the essentials of promoting and preventing plagiarism are similar. It is important that the instructor take an active role in providing information to students about academic integrity and structuring the course and its evaluative components so that academic integrity is promoted. An important first consideration is that instructors model good referencing habits in all of their communications with students, including lecture notes and presentations in both traditional and electronic formats. There is an array of other prevention strategies that can be incorporated into good teaching practice. LYNN SMITH AND BRANDY USICK Used with permission of authors
165 3.102 TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK > Explain why referencing is an important aspect of academic writing. The student s work is his/her own contribution to a body of knowledge in a particular field and their citations demonstrate the development of his/her thesis statement. Citations serve to both credit another author s work and to give credibility to one s statements or arguments. Explain that plagiarism is the absence or inappropriate use of references, a behaviour that may result in serious academic consequences. Discuss the academic dishonesty policy at length and as per the R.O.A.S.S. policy include this information on the course outline. Aim for relevancy when developing assignments. Help students to create connections between course content and what s happening in the world, their program/discipline and student s own interests. Be clear when collaboration on assignments is permitted and when not permitted. Consider limiting sources, for example require a certain number of traditional sources and restrict internet related sources. Direct students to reliable and scholarly online sources. Indicate and review preferred documentation style. Provide examples of referencing style in course outline and in all material generated for the course. Provide a rubric or an information sheet that outlines elements of an excellent paper. This minimizes students anxiety about the evaluative process. Encourage students to create a research log and to keep copies of all sources used. Instructors who model good reference habits in lecture notes and presentations help to prevent plagiarism in students. TIP Require a smaller sample of written work before submission of larger paper or project. Better yet, break a large project into smaller pieces (e.g. annotated bibliography, outline etc). Keep copies of all submitted work. Using the web to teach students about appropriate referencing capitalizes on the vehicle by which students prefer to access information. A helpful and engaging Canadian tutorial to consider is In most cases, students will not be intentionally plagiarizing. However, if you suspect that an assignment has been plagiarized, you can use technology to assist with the investigation. Some clues that a paper may not be completely original are: language usage more complex than usual or expected, paper doesn t quite fit the assigned topic, poor sentence and paragraph transitions,
166 CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT printed text is grey/shaded not crisp or in a different font both which may be tell-tale signs of copy and paste plagiarism, cited materials not available in library, web sites referenced are inactive 4. When you meet with the student to discuss the allegation of plagiarism, as recommended in the Student Discipline By-Law, there may be some additional elements that contribute to the evidence. The student cannot summarize main points of paper or recall main source materials used. The student cannot provide sources upon request 5. For other cases you may find the need to use technology to assist you in the detection of plagiarism. A powerful way an instructor may curb plagiarism is to inform students s/he is aware of what is available online and have access to plagiarism detection tools such as: Web search engines (e.g., (metasearch), Plagiarism Detection Software (e.g., The University of Manitoba does not subscribe to plagiarism detection software but the use of Google and its recent academic counterpart Google Scholar may prove to be as effective and avoid the legal issues related to the services of companies such as Turnitin.com. Student Advocacy promotes an educational approach to deterring plagiarism and is dedicated to assisting instructors to prevent plagiarism. However, any concerns about plagiarism may necessitate two further steps: detection and appropriate response according to the Student Discipline Bylaw. Student Advocacy can assist instructors and administrators with any of these three responsibilities. 1 Kellog, A. P. Students plagiarize online less than many think, a new study finds. The Chronicle of Higher Education 48 no.23 (2002) : A44. 2 Scanlon, P. M. & Neumann, D. R. Internet plagiarism among college students. Journal of College Student Development 43 no.3 (2002) : Eleven Canadian universities and colleges, including the U of M participated. 4 Adapted from Fain, M. Cheating 101 : Paper Mills and You-- Detecting Plagiarized Papers Teaching Effectiveness Seminar Homepage. 5 March Web site. Available from edu/library/ plaguarz.html Accessed 31 March, 2000
167 3.104 TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK Tips to Help You Meet the Challenges of Teaching Large Classes HEATHER GILL-ROBINSON Used with permission of author CHALLENGES FOR THE STUDENT Personal risks Students often won t ask questions or participate in discussions they risk being identified as too smart or too stupid. Be aware of this and encourage students to participate in other ways: by , personal notes to the instructor, or group response activities Personal growth Large classes are often first year classes. Many students are already dealing with substantial personal lifestyle changes that accompany higher education; remember that students, like professors, have complex lives and sometimes a little understanding is necessary. CHALLENGES FOR THE TEACHER Environmental challenges Teaching Space Check out your teaching space before classes start this will help you to plan discussions and active learning activities with an awareness of the environment Plan your audio-visual needs, think about how you can move around the space to engage students while using technology, and be aware of who to contact when technical problems occur Cell phones, Palm Pilots, Text messaging Make clear to students on the first day of class what your policy is regarding cell phones and other electronic devices; be prepared to re-iterate the policy frequently Move around the classroom often students will be less tempted to text message or use similar electronic devices if they know that you will be moving throughout the room Making the class highly interactive gives students fewer opportunities to use electronic devices since they are fully involved in the class For tests and examinations, make clear that electronic devices are not permitted under any circumstances. Be certain that nothing other than the test paper and other permitted material are visible and/or accessible. You will have to watch carefully since it can be easy to transmit questions to someone outside of the room who can then provide the answers. Watch for hands not on the desk it usually takes both hands to write a
168 CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT test, but only one hand to text message, for example. Students who often pause for thought and then appear to have pulled the answer out of the air may have been inspired by an electronic source watch their hand movements. Communication challenges Lectures Look and sound confident: speaking in front of large groups can be intimidating, but if you project confidence and respect, your students will sense this. Again: Move around the room often Make eye contact with students. Use concrete examples when possible Use visual aids where possible, but try not to overwhelm students with too much sensory input at any one time Segment your lectures and use active learning to keep students engaged vary your style of delivery, throw out rhetorical questions and give students time to think about the answer, use a short video or sound clip, try a short pair- or group-based activity Develop your own teaching style: when you are comfortable with how you teach, your students will feel able to learn Interaction Be available to your students immediately before and after classes Greet students at least with a smile! Encourage students to communicate with you and participate in class via , during office hours, through notes to you, and suggestion boxes It may not be possible to learn everyone s name, but make the effort to learn names whenever you can I have developed the Student Choice Lecture. Students are encouraged to suggest topics, related to the course subject matter, in which they are interested, but which we may not have covered in class. All of the suggestions are put to the entire class for an anonymous vote and I prepare a special class on the chosen topic. Students then feel as if they had made a significant contribution to the class and their own learning. This has been successful in classes of all sizes.
169 3.106 TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK Active Learning challenges Questioning Offer questions that may have multiple or personal answers and give students enough time to think. If answers are quite personal, remember that answers do not always have to be shared in class in order for students to feel involved Ask educated guess questions. None of the students will know the specific answer, so everyone will feel as if they are on level footing. Have group response questions eg. Hands up if you think the answer is X. Now hands up if you think the answer is Y. This can be less risky for students than stating answers as an individual Encourage students to provide examples for things discussed in class. Students can often offer clear, relevant examples that are often useful for other students Avoid general questions such as, Is everything clear?, and be more specific. For example, ask at the end of class, Can anyone tell me one of the main ideas that we talked about today? Develop your own teaching style: when you are comfortable with how you teach, your students will feel able to learn. Group work Although it may take a little organization time to get the students into pairs or groups, it is worth investing the time for the peer interaction and idea sharing Set time limits for each task or discussion the students are more productive if they know there is a finite amount of time Walk around the room and observe the groups. Contribute comments and respond to ideas. Evaluation With large classes you will certainly have students with several different learning styles, so be sure to present information in several different ways in order to ensure you are reaching as many people as possible Test logistics may be complicated you may need to book a different room (to gain enough space to discourage copying,) or have multiple versions of the same test Even if you do not ordinarily have Teaching Assistants, arrange extra help for all test and exam settings you will need more than one pair of eyes to monitor large classes
170 CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT Always check photo I.D. Tell students to expect an I.D. check in advance so that they bring I.D. with them. Use examination attendance rolls for every test/exam or have students sign their answer sheets. Compare signatures to the photo I.D. Do not allow copies of the examination paper to leave the class if you plan to use any of the questions in the future Short-term feedback can be obtained from one-minute papers or by giving students sample exam questions. Ask students to identify the most important/least important thing learned in a specific class or unit. Provide chapter or unit review questions and get the students to contribute some of the review material. Classroom management challenges Attendance Give students a reason to come class be an enthusiastic, committed facilitator. Even in very large classes, students will attend if they are interested in what you are saying and feel included in the class. Decide how important attendance and participation is. Do you need to evaluate it as part of the course mark? Noise and talking Moving around the room discourages non-class related conversation. If you use Powerpoint, consider buying a remote for your laptop so that you can change slides from anywhere in the room Tell students at the beginning of term what your policy is on personal conversation during class. There may be times the discussion is relevant or important, but if it is constant or clearly not class-related, speak to the students individually following the class or immediately before the next class. With persistent talkers, I have asked them in class if there is a point that they need clarification of something I have said; but I prefer not to embarrass students and have found that a quiet word after class is much more effective. I have, on occasion, asked specific students not to sit together because they are disturbing others. THE MOST IMPORTANT POINTS: There are challenges with preparation, planning, hard work and commitment, teaching large classes can be a positive experience Don t be afraid to ask for help or try new things Be Yourself, Be interested and have fun!
171 3.108 TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK EILEEN M. HERTEIS Adapted with permission from Eileen M. Herteis, with additions by Beverly J. Cameron. > Discipline and Control in Large Classes Common discipline problems are exacerbated by large classes. For instance, lateness is made worse if the tardy student has to climb up ten stairs and disturb twenty students in order to sit down, and chattering is more disruptive when the instructor can hear the culprits but can t see them well enough to make eye contact. We all know that it s important to deal with disruptive incidents quickly, effectively, and constructively, but sometimes it s hard to know how to do this. At times more knowledge is all it takes to solve a problem. A chronically late student may have a class before yours on the other side of campus and the other professor always goes overtime. In this case you might ask others in the class to leave a few empty seats by the door for individuals who have to travel long distances between classes. The student who falls asleep in class regularly, or seems otherwise distracted, may be a single parent working part-time to pay for tuition. Here you might, suggest the student sit in the front of the room where it s easier to pay attention and less conducive to falling asleep. On the other hand, anonymity makes it easier for students in a large class to challenge the teacher s authority in subtle, or not so subtle, ways. If students are using the fact that you don t know them, then get to know them. This can usually be accomplished by asking them to stay after class to talk with you. Find out their names, and explain that their behavior is disrupting other students, the class, or you. When several students are involved you might suggest they take separated seats for future classes so they will be less tempted to talk to each other. This direct approach, which does not embarrass individuals in front of the class, but lets them know you are concerned about their behavior, often works well. Of course, occasional chatter or inattention is different from chronic disruptiveness. While the former may be dealt with quickly and effectively through eye contact, the use of humor (but not at the expense of an individual or individuals), or moving toward chattering students, the latter requires a more serious remedy. You may want to stop lecturing to deal with the problem. In these cases, it is important to focus on how the behavior affects your teaching and how the learning process of the rest of the class is hindered. TIP Maintain interest by making the subject matter relevant to students lives. MOTIVATION PROBLEMS IN LARGE CLASSES Many instructors see student motivation as a key to understanding, and preventing, disruptive behavior in large classes. Perhaps the disrupters feel that their backgrounds, educational and career goals, and previous experiences are not being recognized by the instructor. If so, they may become bored and dissatisfied, especially
172 CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT if the class is compulsory. This may result in disruptive behavior such as openly confronting a professor through excessive questioning (e.g., Isn t that too obvious? ) or other inappropriate behavior designed to challenge a professor s authority. One approach to a general lack of attention or motivation is to speak openly to the class (or certain individuals) in an effort to improve the students self-discipline and responsibility. Ask students how they would resolve the perceived problem, and be ready to implement some of their suggestions. The key here is the instructor s willingness to accommodate students ideas. Don t ask for suggestions if you don t intend to take any of them. Faculty members can improve students motivation and attentiveness by: varying the teaching methods (e.g., mixing lectures with five minute periods where the students solve problems related to the lecture material, having short discussions periods with the whole class on a topic of interest, asking students to talk about an idea with the person next to them and integrating their responses into the continuation of the lecture). giving unannounced quizzes to encourage students to review course material. There is no right or wrong method to deal with discipline and control problems in a class. Find a way that works best for you. trying to include more applications of the theory into lectures. Particularly effective is using examples that pertain to students lives and concerns. asking students for suggestions of topics they would like to see covered in class. There is no right or wrong method to deal with discipline and control problems in a class. Find a way that works best for you. However, as Robert Brooks says, Most discipline problems in the classroom are simple nuisances or distractions. There are a few instances when, during a full moon, a student loses his or her inhibitions and publicly challenges the instructor s authority. The way in which the instructor responds to these challenges in large measure determines how many and how serious subsequent ones will be.
173 3.110 TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK EDITED BY MICHELE MARINCOVICH Adapted with permission from Teaching At Stanford (1995) Dealing With Challenging Students Being thoughtful with your students can save you from many problems. If you phrase questions and criticism carefully, you will generally avoid defensive or hostile responses. If you are supportive, encouraging, and respectful of student ideas in class, then you may collect wrong answers, point out feeble arguments, or highlight weak points in a positive manner without discouraging your students. Rather than asking what is wrong with a written paragraph or a problem solution, ask how it could be improved. Instead of asking what the weak point of an argument is, ask how well it applies to, or uses, the material from the class. Rather than dismissing an idea immediately, ask the student to clarify using the class material. Don t, on the other hand, respond with good point when the idea was, in fact, poorly presented. Always show students the courtesy of attending to their answers when they offer an idea; don t write on the blackboard or scribble on a note pad while they are speaking. You are more likely to work smoothly with your students if you resolve any conflicting feelings you may have about your authority as a teacher. Students are confused by, and often alienated from, a teacher who alternatively acts as a friend or peer, then as a stern authority figure. You must also be careful about teasing or sarcastic humors since these are too easily misinterpreted. On the other hand, don t lose your sense of humor or the ability to laugh at your own mistakes. However careful you are, you may still run into students who present specific problems. A few recurrent types and ways to work with them are discussed below. THE GRADE GRUBBER You may find that some students will unrelentingly pursue you if you give them a lower grade than they expected. Many faculty and TAs complain that they have even had A s vigorously contested! There are ways to minimize such incidents. Make entirely clear from the beginning of the course exactly what you expect in papers or tests. If possible, hand out guidelines for a good essay or examples of a superior exam answer. When you do give a grade, note in some detail, weak or strong points of the work and suggestions for improving performance. With papers, you might give students the option of handing in an initial draft that you will not grade but will comment on. When students actually come to you to contest grades for term work, indicate that when you reconsider their paper, assignment, or problem-set mark, you retain the right to adjust their grade either up or down. If you are the TA, advise students that in the case of unresolved differences, the professor will make the final decision. (Be sure to discuss this with the professor beforehand!) When no resolution is possible, brief the student on which office to turn to (such as the department head, dean s office, or the Student
174 CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT Advocate) to pursue an appeal. Although grade grubbers may discourage you and appear to undermine the academic enterprise, remember that this generation of students is under pressures you may not have had as an undergraduate. Competition for graduate and professional schools is fierce. You will have more success with these students if you listen to, and respond to, their anxieties as well as their complaints. Remember, also, that it s possible that you have made a mistake in evaluating a student s work, and a re-evaluation might be justified. THE STUDENT WITH SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES Students often come with a variety of excuses on why they can t/didn t take a test or exam, why they need an extension for a paper or assignment, or why they haven t attended class, Research shows that about two-thirds of students admit to making at least one untrue excuse during university, but that untrue excuses are about as common as true ones. While it is likely better to err on the side of understanding and compassion, it is important not to be so gullible that a few students have quite different deadlines and course requirements than the majority of the class. Stating rules for missed tests and exams, late assignments and papers, and class attendance in the syllabus is probably the best way to limit problems from excuses. Suggestions for what to include in the course outline include: requiring notes from a physician in case of illness; allowing students to miss one assignment or test assuming there are many during the course- for whatever reason, but giving a second miss a zero no matter what the reason; deducting marks for each day a paper or assignment is late; requiring students to call you, or leave a message on your answering machine, on the due date if they miss a test or are/will be late with a paper and; not giving make-up tests but allowing one missed test, paper or assignment to be averaged with marks received on other course requirements. THE DISCOURAGED STUDENT Students can enter a course with great enthusiasm only to become very discouraged after the first test or assignment is returned. Others enter some required courses with great dread and fear of failure. The problem, especially for first year students, may be the transition to a new set of academic standards and expectations. Other courses, especially those with mathematical content in non-mathematical disciplines, have long-standing reputations for being impossible.
175 3.112 TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK You can talk to these discouraged and frightened students and suggest study methods, and you can encourage them to continue working, but hearing from a former student who survived the course often works best. Having former students come to your class can convince present students that their problems, perceptions, and worries are not unique. Former students can also give study and test preparation tips. Most of all, former students are living poof that individuals who may have done poorly on the first test or assignment, or who entered the course with dread, can pass with a reasonable grade. EDITED BY MICHELE MARINCOVICH Adapted with permission from Teaching At Stanford (1995) Resolving Conflicts With Students Sometimes serious conflicts do arise between teacher and student concerning charges of poor instruction, irregular or unfair grading, deviation from announced procedures about course requirements, or the use of nonacademic criteria in computing grades. Although you may assume such problems are rare, in fact they are not. In 1995/96 the Student Advocate reported over 500 formal appeals involving grades, disciplinary matters, registration complaints, and so on. Ideally, such problems should be averted by carefully formulating and announcing classroom policies, especially regarding grading. Once a problem does arise, however, you should first try to resolve it through discussion with the student. If you are a TA, involve the professor early on. Fortunately, most conflicts can be worked out cooperatively at this stage. Otherwise, formal or informal discussions or procedures at the departmental or faculty level may lead to a satisfactory resolution. Failing this, faculty and students often talk to the Student Advocate. Although the Advocate s job is to represent students grievances, she or he is willing to discuss situations with faculty who need advice on these matters. Conflicts arise when teachers are attracted to their students or vice-versa. To avoid such potential clashes and conflicts of interest, some departments explicitly forbid instructors to date students they are currently teaching or advising; other departments simply frown on it or assume such dating will not occur. The U of M has explicitly adopted a policy on sexual harassment and is committed to creating an atmosphere free of sexual harassment and all forms of sexual intimidation and exploitation. It is strongly advised that all faculties become familiar with both the Policy on Sexual Harassment and the Policy on Human Rights at the U of M. Both can be found in the General Calendar.
176 CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT 3.113
177 4 CHAPTER Assessing Learning
178 INTRODUCTION 4.1 Introduction Assessing students learning is one of the most challenging and sometimes the least pleasant aspects of teaching. It requires the teacher to measure the student s learning. It sounds simple to say that the teacher will teach, the student will learn and the teacher will assign value to how well the student learned the material. In reality, it is a much more complex process. Assessing Learning includes the following principles. ASSESSMENT SHOULD: Be based on attainable learning objectives Be planned at the beginning of the course Be transparent Promote learning Be focused on the learning, not the individual Be ongoing Measure the outcomes of the learning objectives Be appropriate for the level of learning that is required Introduction 4.1 Traditional Assessment 4.2 Be authentic Demonstrate learning Alternative Assessment 4.11 This chapter presents ideas on traditional forms of assessment like multiple choice tests but also challenges the teacher to explore alternative forms of assessment like portfolios. It also reviews the various forms of grading commonly used in education. Grading/Marking 4.38 Each department or faculty may have specific guidelines surrounding marks, assignments, grading practices, grading scales, norm or criterion referenced evaluation and communication of marks/grades to students. Ensure that you have checked your department and university policies to ensure that your expectations of students are congruent with the system wide policies.
179 4.2 TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK Traditional Assessment ADAPTED BY BEVERLY J. CAMERON With permission from (I). V.L. Clegg, and W.E. Cashin, Improving Multiple- Choice Tests, IDEA Paper # 16, Mahattan, KS Kansas State University Center for Faculty Evaluation and Development, and (2) N. Chism and. Associates, Teaching at The Ohio State University A Handbook, (1996). Columbus, OH The Ohio State University Center for Teaching Excellence. Writing Multiple Choice, True & False, Matching, Completion, Short Answer and Essay Exams The tendency in course examinations is to pose the question, How much do you remember of what has been covered? rather than, What can you do with what you have learned? 1 While both questions are important, examinations should reflect the goals the instructor has set for the course. When you sit down to write or select questions for a test or examination go back to the goals you set for the course. Do your goals call for students to recall definitions and recognize facts, to solve problems, or to do both? Do your goals require students to separate ideas into component parts, to combine ideas into a new product, to judge ideas with established standards, or all three? Your course goals should determine the kind of examination questions you use. The questions relating to course goals in the previous paragraph involve different levels of thinking and learning. 2 These levels can be described in a number of ways, one of which is illustrated below. 3 LEVELS OF THINKING AND LEARNING Knowledge simple recognition or recall of material or facts Comprehension restating or reorganizing material to show understanding Application problem solving or applying ideas in new situations Analysis separating ideas into component parts...and examining relationships Synthesis combining ideas into a statement or product new to the learner Evaluation making judgments by using self-produced criteria or established standards These six levels can be further divided into lower- and higher-order thinking skills. Lower-order skills involve knowledge and comprehension skills, while higher-order skills involve application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation skills. The difference between lower and higher order skills is that higher order skills require the active use of course material while lower-order skills do not. Knowing the thinking and learning expectations your course goals set for students helps determine the appropriate type of exam questions and provides a guide for how questions should be presented.
180 TRADITIONAL ASSESSMENT 4.3 PLANNING AND EVALUATING A TEST OR EXAM One way to ensure that an exam you re planning or have written is consistent with the course goals and covers the course content as intended, is to rate the questions by thinking level and content area. When this information is put in a grid form, a quick glance indicates if you achieved what you ve intended. For example, the grid below depicts an economics exam with 60 percent higher-order questions and 40 percent lower-order questions. Questions are evenly distributed between the three topics areas. If your course objectives involve a slightly greater emphasis on higher-order, rather than lower-order, thinking skills and equal emphasis on topics, this exam is likely a good evaluation instrument that most students will feel is fair. However, students who have only memorized facts, definitions, and concepts from lectures and the text may find this exam difficult. They may have memorized because they didn t understand the course objectives, or they may not know how to study for higher-order questions. (Teaching students to develop higher-order thinking skills is addressed in the Ensuring Learning section of this book.) On the other hand, students who are prepared to use the material and have also memorized some facts, definitions, and concepts will likely find that this exam meets their expectations. TOPIC COVERAGE Supply & Demand Price Elasticity Consumer Choice QUESTION NUMBERS Objectives LOWER-ORDER THINKING SKILLS Recall and recognition Restating and reorganizing HIGHER-ORDER THINKING SKILLS Application of formulae and theories Analysis of situations and arguments Synthesis of information Evaluation of conclusions
181 4.4 TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK TYPES OF TEST ITEMS Limited-Choice vs. Open-Ended Items The term limited-choice describes test questions that require students to choose one or more given alternatives (e.g., multiple choice, true/false, or matching columns). Open-ended refers to questions that require students to formulate their own answers (e.g. sentence completion, essay). Level of Learning Objective In principle, both limited-choice and open-ended items may be used to test a wide range of learning objectives. In practice, most instructors find it easier to construct limitedchoice items to test recall and comprehension skills, and to use open-ended items to test higher-level thinking skills, but other possibilities exist. For example, limited-choice items that require students to classify statements as fact or opinion go beyond rote learning, and focused essay questions can easily stay at the recall level 4. Content Coverage Since more limited-choice than open-ended items can be used in exams of the same time length, it is possible to sample more of the course content with limited-choice items. However, a small number of open-ended items that are broad in scope, and call for the inclusion of many specifics, can test subject matter comprehensively. Practice and Reward of Writing and Reading Skills Many instructors wish to cultivate students reading and writing skills. If you want students to hone their reading and writing skills, select test and examination items that will reward and encourage these skills. For example, limited-choice items give virtually no writing practice, while open-ended exams, particularly short-answer (e.g., one or more paragraphs) and essay questions, provide opportunities to improve writing. Openended exams, therefore, give students with good writing skills an advantage over those who do not have these skills, whereas limited-choice exams neither favor nor penalize students who write well. However, limited-choice exams do favor students who read well, since these students have the skills to recognize key words, spot logical qualifications and clues, and discriminate between close choices. Practice and Reward of Creativity and Divergent Thinking Depending on how the item is written, open-ended items, especially essay questions, provide far more opportunity for creative or divergent thinking than limited-choice items. An essay question calls for convergent thinking, such as reaching a correct or probable solution to a problem situation. Limited choice exams may fail to foster, or may actually penalize, creative or divergent thinking.
182 TRADITIONAL ASSESSMENT 4.5 Practice and Reward of Listening and Speaking Skills Listening and speaking skills, often emphasized in elementary and high schools, are usually not rewarded by limited-choice or open-ended items. However, these skills may be rewarded and encouraged on tests and examinations by asking students to respond to tape-recorded passages or passages read by the instructor. In addition, students should be asked to provide spoken responses to questions posed by the instructor. These responses may be given one-on-one to the teacher, to a small group of students and the instructor or to the entire class. Arrangements may also be made for students to tape-record their responses to questions or passages. Feedback to Teacher and Student Limited-choice exams allow faster feedback than open-ended exams. Open-ended exams, however, usually reveal more to the teacher about specific student strengths and weaknesses in processes such as comprehension and reasoning. These exams result in more communication between teacher and student if used properly. Reliability in Grading Open-ended exams are much harder to grade reliably (consistently) than limited-choice exams. To enhance reliability, a marker should compare exams to model answers, determine scales that help assign marks to predetermined components of the answer, and, if possible, use multiple graders to determine grades. 5 WRITING TEST ITEMS In the discussion of limited-choice items that follows, the term stem refers to the part of the item that asks the question. The terms responses, choices, and alternatives refer to the parts of the item that will answer the question. For example: Stem: The Industrial Revolution in England occurred between? Responses: A) 1650 and 1875 B) 1700 and 1800 C) 1750 and 1850 D) 1840 and 1900 MULTIPLE CHOICE ITEMS Multiple-choice items are considered to be among the most versatile of all item types. They can test factual recall (lower-order thinking skills), or understanding and the ability to apply learning (higherorder thinking skills). Multiple-choice items also provide an excellent basis for post-test discussion, especially if the discussion > TIP Both limited-choice and open-ended items may be used to test a wide range of learning objectives.
183 4.6 TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK addresses why responses were incorrect as well as why the responses were correct. Unfortunately, they are difficult and time consuming to construct well. (Some experienced item writers take half an hour or more to construct a multiple-choice question that requires higher-order thinking skills to answer correctly). In addition, items may appear too discriminating ( picky ) to students, especially when the alternatives are well-constructed and are open to misinterpretation by students who read more into questions than is there. Also, poorly constructed multiple-choice items may not adequately test the students ability to read, write, or reason well. There are four commonly used types of multiple choice items that ask students to pick the (a) one correct answer, (b) best answer (c) one answer that is not correct, (d) answer that completes an analogy. (e.g., salt is to pepper as white is to...) Suggestions for Constructing Multiple-choice Items Use the stem to present the problem or question as clearly as possible. Use direct questions, rather than incomplete statements, for the stem. Include as much of the item as possible in the stem so the alternatives will be brief. When you test for definitions, use the term to be defined in the stem rather than as a choice option. List alternatives on separate lines so that students will clearly distinguish each. Write alternatives in a similar format (e.g., all phrases, all sentences, etc.). Make sure all options offer plausible responses to the stem. Poor alternatives should not be included simply for the sake of offering more options. Check to see that all choices are grammatically consistent with the stem. Try to make all alternatives approximately the same length. Making the correct response consistently longer is a common error. Use misconceptions students have indicated in class, or errors commonly made by students, as the basis for incorrect alternatives. Use all of the above and none of the above sparingly since students often choose these alternatives on the basis of incomplete knowledge. Use capital letters (A,B,C,D,E) as response signs rather than lower case letters ( a gets confused with d and c with e if the type or duplication is poor or if students hand write their choices.) Try to write items with equal numbers of alternatives so that students need not continually adjust to a new pattern. Put the incomplete part of the sentence at the end, rather than the beginning, of the stem when using a statement rather than a direct question.
184 TRADITIONAL ASSESSMENT 4.7 Use negatively-stated items sparingly. When they are used, underline or visually emphasize the negative word. Make sure there is only one best or correct response to the stem. Use three to five alternatives. The more alternatives offered, the lower the probability of students guessing the correct answer. Offering more than five alternatives, however, results in confusion and usually poor alternatives. Randomly distribute correct responses among the alternative positions so that there are no discernible patterns to the answer sequence (e.g., ABBCABB CABBC, etc.), and make sure a nearly-equal portion of As, Bs, Cs, etc. are correct. Avoid using right minus wrong scoring. Students who know most, but not all, of an answer will be unduly penalized for making informed guesses. TRUE/FALSE ITEMS True/false items are relatively easy to prepare since each item comes directly from the content. They are often used to test lower-order thinking skills, but it is easy to adapt them for higher-order skills, especially problem solving (e.g., T or F If C = a + b(y-t), and a = 6, b = 0.7, Y=100, and T=20, C must = 44). True/false items offer the instructor the opportunity to write questions that cover more content than most other item types since students can only respond to so many questions in the time allowed. True/false items are easy to score accurately and quickly, but they may not give a true estimate of the students knowledge since chance guesses score 50 percent. They are very poor for diagnosing student strengths and weaknesses and are generally considered tricky by students. Since true/false questions tend to be either extremely easy or extremely difficult, they do not discriminate between students of varying ability. A variation on true/false items is to instruct students to correct the question if false. The correction forces students to use their knowledge to calculate, explain, or design a true statement. This adaptation makes it easier to write true/false items that test higher-order thinking skills. Suggestions for Constructing True/False Items Keep the language in the statement as simple and clear as possible. Use a relatively large number of items (e.g., 75 or more when the entire test is T/F). Avoid taking statements verbatim from the text. Be aware that extremely long or complicated statements will test reading skill rather than content knowledge.
185 4.8 TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK Require students to circle or underline a typed T or P rather than fill in a T or P next to the statement. This avoids having to interpret confusing handwriting. Avoid using negatives, especially double negatives, in your questions. Avoid ambiguous and tricky items. Make sure that statements used are entirely true or entirely false. Partially or marginally true or false statements cause unnecessary ambiguity. Use certain keywords sparingly since they tip students off to the correct answer. The words all, always, never, every, none, and only usually indicate a false statement, whereas the words generally, sometimes, usually, maybe, and often frequently indicate true statements. Use precise terms such as 50% of the time, rather than less precise terms, such as several, seldom, and frequently. Use more false than true items, but not by more than 15 percent. (False items tend to discriminate more than true items. This is especially true when you use true and correct-it-false items.) Your course goals should determine the kind of examination questions you use. MATCHING ITEMS Matching items are generally quite brief and uninvolved and are especially suitable for who, what, when, and where questions (usually requiring lower-order skills, e.g. On what date did Canada formally enter WWII?). They may also be used so that students discriminate among and apply concepts (higher-order skills are required). Matching items permit efficient use of space when there are a number of similar types of information to be tested. They are easy to score accurately and quickly. But matching items do not measure learning beyond the recognition of basic factual knowledge. They are usually poor for diagnosing, student strengths and weaknesses, are appropriate in only a limited number of situations, and are difficult to construct since parallel information is required. Suggestions for Constructing Matching Items Use only homogeneous material in a set of matching items (i.e. dates and places should not be used in the same set). Use more involved expressions in the stem, and keep the responses short and simple. Supply directions that clearly state the basis for the matching, indicate whether or not a response may be used more than once, and state where the answer should be placed.
186 TRADITIONAL ASSESSMENT 4.9 Make sure there are never multiple correct responses for one stem (although a response may be used as the correct answer to more than one stem). Avoid giving inadvertent grammatical clues to the correct answer. Arrange items in the response column in some logical order (e.g., alphabetical, numerical, chronological) so that students can find them easily. Avoid breaking a set of items (stems and responses) over two pages. Use no more than 15 items in one set. Provide more responses than stems to make process-of-elimination guessing less effective. Number each stem for ease in later discussion. Use capital letters for the response sign rather than lower case letters to avoid confusion with handwriting. COMPLETION ITEMS Completion items are especially useful in assessing mastery of factual information when a specific word or phrase is important to know (usually a lower-order thinking skill). Completion items preclude the kind of guessing that is possible on limited-choice items since they require a definite response rather than simple recognition of the correct answer. Because only a short answer is required, completion items enable a wide, though often shallow, sampling of content. Completion items, however, tend to test only rote, repetitive responses and may encourage a fragmented study style since memorization of bits and pieces results in higher scores. They are more difficult to score than forced-choice items, and scoring often must be done by the test writer since more than one answer may be considered correct. On the whole, completion items have little advantage over other item types unless the need for specific recall is essential. Suggestions for Writing Completion Items Use vocabulary and phrasing from the text or class presentation. Provide clear and concise cues about the expected response statement. Use original questions rather than quoting directly from the text. When possible, provide explicit directions concerning the amount of variation that you will accept in the answers. Give more credit for completions than for T/F or matching items. Avoid using a long quotation followed by multiple blanks the student must complete. Require students to supply only one word or phrase in each blank.
187 4.10 TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK Make scoring easier by having students write their responses on lines arranged in a column to the right of the items. Ask students to fill in only important terms or expressions. Avoid providing grammatical clues to the correct answer by using a/an, etc. instead of specific modifiers. ESSAY/SHORT ANSWER ITEMS The main advantages of essay and short answer items (e.g., answers that are usually one to three paragraphs long) are that they encourage students to strive toward understanding a concept as an integrated whole; permit students to demonstrate achievement of higher-order thinking skills, such as analyzing given conditions and critical thinking; allow expression of both breadth and depth of learning; and encourage originality, creativity, and divergent thinking. Essay items provide instructors with an opportunity to evaluate students and give detailed feedback rather than just provide a mark. Written items also offer students the opportunity to use their own judgment, writing styles, and vocabularies. Essay/short answer items are less time consuming to prepare than any other item type. Unless well-constructed, tests consisting solely of written items will examine only a limited amount of course content due to the time required for students to respond. Poorly written short answer questions may also encourage rigid or formulaic responses and, thus, may be ineffective in measuring higher-order thinking skills. In addition, essay items are not the most efficient means for assessing knowledge of basic facts (multiple-choice, true/false, and matching items are considered more efficient), and if not well-constructed, essay items will provide students with more opportunity for bluffing, rambling, and snowing than limited-choice items. Essay items favor students who possess good writing skills and neatness and are difficult for students who do not organize their thoughts well on paper or who misinterpret the main point of the question. A further disadvantage is that essay items are very difficult and time consuming to score and are potentially subject to bias and unreliable scoring. Suggestions for Constructing Essay and Short Answer Questions Use novel problems or material whenever possible, but only if they relate to class learning. Make essay questions comprehensive rather than focusing on small units of content. Provide clear directions indicating your expectations. Allow students an appropriate amount of time. (It is helpful to give students some guidelines on how much time to use on each question, as well as the desired length and format of their response, such as full sentences, phrases only, or outline.)
188 ALTERNATIVE ASSESSMENT 4.11 Inform students, before the exam, of the proportional value of each item in comparison to the total grade. Require students to demonstrate command of background information by asking them to provide supporting evidence for claims and assertions. Types of Essay Exams Several types of essay exam formats exist. Some of these are (1) No choice tests Students are given a question(s) that they must answer. (2) Choice of questions Students are given several questions and allowed to select the one(s) they want to answer. Test directions may read, Select two out of the following three questions. (3) Questions are known before the exam. Students may be given a list of questions and told that a certain number of them will appear on the exam. For example, out of a list of twelve questions the instructor picks five for the exam. Many instructors use this method because it encourages students to review a wide range of course material. (4) Take-home exams Students are given the exam question(s) to take away to answer in a fixed length of time, e.g., two days. The students are free to consult any sources they want during the set time period. 1 Dressel, 1976, p Cameron, Bloom, Chism, Ibid. Alternative Assessment Grading Class Participation In my experience, grading class participation is one of the most difficult aspects of student evaluation. Over the past few years I have spent a lot of time trying to figure out why I expect students to participate, how I want them to participate, how to communicate those expectations to them, and, finally, how to grade it. What follows is the system that I currently use. The system is in a state of continual improvement, and hence is never static. Nevertheless, it provides me with a set of guidelines for the answers to these tough questions. WHY DO I WANT STUDENTS TO PARTICIPATE IN CLASS DISCUSSIONS? I want students to participate so they can learn from each other. We know that active involvement in learning increases what is remembered, how well it is assimilated, and how the learning is used in new situations. In making statements to peers about their own thoughts on a class topic, students must articulate those thoughts and also submit them to (hopefully constructive) examination by others. In listening to their peers, students hear many different ways of interpreting and applying class material, and thus are able to MARTHA L. MAZNEVSKI Martha L. Maznevski/Teaching Resource Center, University of Virginia, Spring "Grading Class Participation" from Teaching Concerns has been copied with permission from the Teaching Resource Center, University of Virginia. Resale or further copying of this material is strictly prohibited.
189 4.12 TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK > integrate many examples of how to use the information. Especially in a course that stresses application of material, extensive participation in class discussions is an essential element of students learning. WHAT CLASS PARTICIPATION BEHAVIORS CONTRIBUTE TO OTHERS LEARNING? In organizational behavior and management classes, we teach that one of the best ways to evaluate performance on the job is to develop a set of behavioral indicators of good performance specific for a given job. Behavioral indicators can be evaluated much more objectively than, say, characteristics or traits (e.g., positive outlook, enthusiasm, commitment). Furthermore, they can be assessed at frequent intervals, unlike final output which can only be assessed irregularly. So, in part to practice what I preach, and in part to demonstrate to the students that I believe what I teach, I developed a set of behavioral indicators of good class participation. A perfect score ( 4 on a 4-point scale) is then assigned to the behaviors that are indicators of ideal participation, a score of 3 (equivalent to B ) is assigned to the behaviors I expect on average from most students in order for the class to meet its learning objectives. Scores of 2 and below are assigned to behavioral indicators of less participation. I depend on Bloom s taxonomy of learning objectives to provide guidelines for developing the criteria, since I can link them clearly with the learning objectives for the course. For example, the criteria for 4 always include synthesis and evaluation (Bloom s highest levels of learning objectives). Included below is the list of indicators I use for my current courses (which consist of about onethird cases, one-third involvement exercises, and one-third other types of sessions). It is critical that the expectations for participation, i.e., the list of behavioral indicators of good participation, match the goals and type of course. For example, in an accounting or math class, knowing facts from a case or reading may be irrelevant, and good completion of homework problems may become more important. TIP One of the best ways to evaluate performance is to develop a set of behavioural indicators of good performance. HOW CAN PARTICIPATION BE GRADED? Once the behavioral list is created, it provides a fairly simple mechanism for grading participation. First, it should be given to students at the beginning of the semester so they know which behaviors will be rewarded with high participation grades. At this time an additional advantage of the behavioral approach becomes apparent: even students who are wary of the subjective nature of grading participation are less anxious when presented with this relatively objective set of criteria. Second, at the end of each class the professor can sit down with a class list and give each person a rating on the 4-point scale
190 ALTERNATIVE ASSESSMENT 4.13 (this requires knowing students names quickly; in the past I ve taken photographs on the first day and referred to them frequently). After a couple of classes, this procedure becomes fairly easy. Of course, not every student will receive a rating every day, especially in a larger class. But it quickly becomes obvious if the professor is consistently missing a particular student or set of students, and early intervention in improving participation and learning is possible. If I haven t watched a specific student closely enough to rate him or her for three classes in a row, then I make a particular point of watching that student in the next class and cold calling him or her (in a supportive way) fairly early if no active contribution is volunteered. Interim feedback is important to students, and can be provided in various forms. About mid-way through the semester I provide feedback to each student in memo form, re-articulating the criteria and giving each student an interim grade on the 4-point scale. I also conduct conferences with students if they request them. Prior to the interim assessment, and at the beginning of any conference I conduct, I ask students to think about how they would rate themselves on these criteria. Low assessments by either myself or the student provide stimulus for discussion about improvement, and together we develop strategies to help the student overcome shyness or other difficulties. For example, I may agree that a particular student can start the next class by addressing a previously agreed-upon set of issues, so s/he has reduced ambiguity concerning when s/he will be participating and what the content will be. It is important that the students take the responsibility for their own behaviors, though. While I may promise to try to invite their participation more explicitly over the next few classes, I ensure they understand it is up to them to be prepared, respond to these invitations, and eventually contribute without the need to be explicitly invited. CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT I have used the basic approach outlined here with undergraduates, graduate, and MBA students (highly competitive and vocal), and in continuing education settings; and it has been refined extensively over the years. I am sure this is not the final version, but it does help with handling the sticky elements of evaluating class participation. EXPECTATIONS FOR CLASS PARTICIPATION (Information Given to the Students) Participation is graded on a scale from 0 (lowest) through 4 (highest), using the criteria below. The criteria focus on what you demonstrate and do not presume to guess at what you know but do not demonstrate. This is because what you offer to the class is what you and others learn from. I expect the average level of participation to satisfy the criteria for a 3.
191 4.14 TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK GRADE CRITERIA 0 Absent. 1 Present, not disruptive. Tries to respond when called on but does not offer much. Demonstrates very infrequent involvement in discussion. 2 Demonstrates adequate preparation: knows basic case or reading facts, but does not show evidence of trying to interpret or analyze them. Offers straightforward information (e.g., straight from the case or reading), without elaboration or very infrequently (perhaps once a class). Does not offer to contribute to discussion, but contributes to a moderate degree when called on. Demonstrates sporadic involvement. 3 Demonstrates good preparation: knows case or reading facts well, has thought through implications of them. Offers interpretations and analysis of case material (more than just facts) to class. Contributes well to discussion in an ongoing way: responds to other students points, thinks through own points, questions others in a constructive way, offers and supports suggestions that may be counter to the majority opinion. Demonstrates consistent ongoing involvement. 4 Demonstrates excellent preparation: has analyzed case exceptionally well, relating it to readings and other material (e.g., readings, course material, discussions, experiences, etc.). Offers analysis, synthesis, and evaluation of case material, e.g., puts together pieces of the discussion to develop new approaches that take the class further. Contributes in a very significant way to ongoing discussion: keeps analysis focused, responds very thoughtfully to other students comments, contributes to the cooperative argument-building, suggests alternative ways of approaching material and helps class analyze which approaches are appropriate, etc. Demonstrates ongoing very active involvement.
192 ALTERNATIVE ASSESSMENT 4.15 Peer Assessment and Peer Evaluation This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under grant number EEC Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation. DEFINITION A team is a small group of people with complementary skills who are committed to a common purpose, performance goals, and an approach for which they hold themselves mutually accountable. 1 Although student teams may not satisfy all the requirements of the definition, the degree to which they do often determines their effectiveness. INTRODUCTION One approach to grading team assignments is to give the same grade to every team member. However, giving every individual the same grade for a team assignment runs counter to the principle of individual accountability in cooperative learning. Further, it may reward and even encourage hitchhiking by some members of a team. However, determining individual grades for work products submitted by a team is a challenging task. One approach to obtain information that may be helpful in determining individual grades is peer assessment. To help faculty members in using peer assessment and/or peer evaluation in their classes, the following issues are addressed: WHAT IS IT? Peer assessment or peer evaluation can mean many things a means of raising the bar by exposing students to exceptionally good (or bad) solutions; peer grading of homework, quizzes, etc.; and an aid to improving team performance or determining individual effort and individual grades on team projects. For the purposes of the present discussion, peer assessment or peer evaluation is a process in which faculty members adjust individual grades for team assignments by using data collected by asking team members to evaluate each team member. Peer assessment or peer evaluation is not the same as peer grading. THE FOUNDATION COALITION Jeffrey Froyd / Foundation Coalition. Peer Assessment and Peer Evaluation < publications/brochures/ 2002peer_assessment. pdf> has been copied with permission from Jeffrey Froyd / Foundation Coalition. Resale or further copying of this material is strictly prohibited. This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under grant #EEC Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation. WHY MIGHT I USE TEAM ASSIGNMENTS? The reasons for offering team assignments include student, faculty, and learning issues. Learning Issues Teams come to faculty members with higher level questions, which implies that they have resolved the lower-level questions Research on social dependence supports the assertion that positive interdependent groups produce higher quality results
193 4.16 TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK Student Issues Allow students to gain experience working in a team (looks good on a résumé) Make students more comfortable with using Teams Faculty Issues Make faculty members in subsequent classes less skeptical of student abilities Grade fewer (50% to 25%) papers Have peers grade with careful guidance some of the above papers WHAT ARE THE GENERAL ISSUES TO CONSIDER IN USING PEER ASSESSMENT? Issue 1: Tell them early Announce rules and format on the first day. Many instructors hand out copies of the forms used for assessment and evaluation with (or as a part of) the syllabus. Issue 2: Give them practice Do assessment before (it counts) evaluation. Students usually have no experience with assessing or evaluating the work of peers (or often even their own work). Provide opportunities for them to assess other team members in situations in which their assessments do not affect project grades. Issue 3: Include feedback Allow improvement. Most students (given honest feedback from peers) will improve performance and are more willing to give honest feedback to peers as they gain experience with assessment. WHAT IS THE QUALITY OF THE EVALUATIONS OF TEAM MEMBERS OF EACH OTHER? Won t they give everyone the same grade or over-rate their own performance? Experience indicates that both of these outcomes occur frequently in the first or second cycle of assessment; however, faced with (often unanimous) contrary feedback from their teammates, most students come to a more consistent and reasonable assessment in subsequent cycles. Research also indicates that peer assessment data can be effectively used in assigning individual grades. 1, 2 One faculty member reported that the slacker students almost always report themselves as the weakest on the team... the difference is whether they contributed 95% (their report) or 50% 75% (the range assigned by their teammates). What are considerations for team grading? Many tools are available when grading team assignments: Signature blocks indicate who contributed to the assignment
194 ALTERNATIVE ASSESSMENT 4.17 Workload/Percent-effort tables allow grade adjustment and tracking of a team member s workload Peer assessments give students feedback and opportunities to improve performance before grading Peer evaluations provide peer ratings of each team member that may serve as a multiplier on the team grade or can determine the team grade Bonus points are given to other team members by each member Combinations of these tools are possible and sometimes desirable. As a general rule instructors may use signature blocks on individual assignments to either give the same grade or a zero. Use other methods to adjust semester or project average for individual performance. TOOLS: Peer Evaluations Assigning individual grades can be done by having students directly assign grades or by using student evaluations of performance to determine individual grades Direct Assignment: The faculty member determines the overall team grade, but the team makes adjustments to the team grade to determine individual grades Faculty Adjustment: Count peer evaluation as a multiplier on the team grade. Typically, each student on a team of four might receive between 70% and 110% of the team grade (depending on peer evaluation). Brown offers a quantitative algorithm. 3 Bonus Points Allow each student to assign a certain number of bonus points (usually 5) with the following restrictions: A student can give points to anyone (sometimes limited to members of his/her team but can be anyone in the class, i.e., the person who helped him/her the most) Students cannot keep any points for themselves Limit the maximum number of bonus points so that the effect on the overall score for each student is restricted Assignment Cover Sheets Faculty members may require that each assignment include cover sheets with either a signature block or a workload table. Both of these indicate the extent to which individual members of the team contributed to the assignment and can be used to determine appropriate individual grades from the team assignment.
195 4.18 TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK Signature Blocks Team members signing the signature block may receive the same grade, whereas those who do not (or are not allowed to) sign the cover sheet may receive no credit for the assignment. Here are some suggestions: Require a signature block on all team assignments. A signature means I did my share of the work, and I have a general understanding of the contents of the assignment Students can decline to sign, or teams can refuse to let a member or members sign Students who do not sign the cover sheet receive a grade of zero on the assignment Workload/Percent-effort Tables A workload table allows some members of the team to receive a greater (or lesser) share of the credit for the assignment. Some faculty members ask students to list percent effort for each individual, some ask for percent credit, and some ask students to divide the points for the assignment in the workload table. Here are some options: Use student-assigned grades or percentages to adjust grades, including the option of a zero for exceptional individual effort. Typically, students are asked to fill in a table on the cover sheet, assigning percentages to each member of their team or distributing available points Often instructors require additional documentation for exceptionally high- (or low-) workload assignments Peer Assessments If you use peer evaluations to provide data for adjusting individual grades, consider using peer assessments so students can practice evaluating team members. Let team members submit ratings of all team members to the faculty member. Then, the faculty member can review the team ratings and provide each student with feedback that can help them improve ratings of their peers. Peer assessments allow the students to gain experience with giving and receiving feedback and give them an opportunity to improve performance before it counts against their grades. Announce the practices you will use early in the semester, practice them during the semester, and use them to reinforce the importance of individual responsibility to the team. WHAT ARE EXAMPLES OF WHAT TEACHERS ARE DOING IN THE CLASSROOM? Faculty members have been using the FC assessment and evaluation methods. Here are helpful tips from four of them.
196 ALTERNATIVE ASSESSMENT 4.19 Example 1: Jim Morgan, Texas A&M University Dr. Morgan assigns individual grades based on team effort in a first-year engineering class of 100 students as described below. Use a signature block on all team assignments. A signature means: I did my share of the work, and I have a general understanding of the contents of the assignment. Students can decline to sign or teams can refuse to let members sign. All team members get the same grade on any single assignment, or, if a signature is missing from the assignment, those who do not sign get no credit Use peer assessment (including anonymous feedback) after each month to allow students to see themselves as others see them and to give an opportunity for improved performance Use peer evaluation to adjust semester-average team grades for individual students. The average grade on a team is the grade earned (and given) by the instructor Example 2: P. K. Imbrie, Purdue Dr. Imbrie utilizes an automated (Web-based) version of the method described in Example 1 for assigning individual grades based on team effort in first-year engineering classes of 180 to 475 students Before students do the peer evaluation that will affect the final grade, they are assigned multiple reflective exercises such as: How could you have improved your team s performance? Peer assessment or peer evaluation is a process in which faculty members adjust individual grades for team assignments by using data collected by asking team members to evaluate each team member. How could others on your team have improved your team s performance? Example 3: Terry Kohutek, Texas A&M University Dr. Kohutek assigns individual grades based on team effort in a first-year engineering class of 100 students as follows: Bonus points are distributed to each student at the end of the semester A student cannot keep any points Points must be distributed in integer amounts Points can be given to any student in the class (based on which student most improved his/her performance this semester) No student can receive more than 10 points Points are applied to the final course grade
197 4.20 TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK 1. Kaufman, D.B., Felder, R.M., and Fuller, H. (2000), Accounting for Individual Effort in Cooperative Learning Teams, Journal of Engineering Education, 89(2), Van Duzer, E., and McMartin, F. (1999), Building Better Teamwork Assessments: A Process for Improving the Validity and Sensitivity of Self/Peer Ratings, Proceedings, ASEE Conference. 3. Brown, R.W. (1995), Autorating: Getting Individual Marks from Team Marks and Enhancing Teamwork, Proceedings, FIE Conference. edu/~asufc/teaming info/teams.html /peer-eval.html nsuok.edu/~ legatski/ 4213Peer.htm k12.nm.us/manual/ eval/peer.html Example 4: Russ Pimmel, University of Alabama Dr. Pimmel uses the following process in a senior-level course that includes a month long team design project. The course includes several components (essential when using peer evaluation in determining grades): Some training in teams (at least 30 minutes discussing team roles, team dynamics, meeting strategies, and so on) Required weekly progress reports in which each team member individually answers three multiple-choice questions asking if he/she achieved the week s goals, spent adequate time, and worked together as a team. Possible answers translate roughly into yes, almost yes, and no. Students are also asked to indicate any particular problem and to identify any noncontributing individual Meetings with teams that are making no progress or having problems, including a noncontributing member. At the project s end, each team submits a report, and each student completes an individual quiz and an evaluation form asking him/her to distribute the effort among the team members on a percentage basis. Students rate each teammate against the rater s expectations for that student, taking into account talent, background, and personal situations. The rater is to be fair and honest, not only because it the right thing to do, but also because, when working as professionals, he/she will evaluate peers; this provides practice for this skill. Percentages given to each student are combined to get an effort score Scores are simply averaged, or a figure-skating process is used (the highest and the lowest scores are dropped before averaging). Inconsistent scores are resolved in various ways, based on the professor s personal knowledge of the students, by talking to them, or by giving everyone an equal-effort score. From the team report grade, the individual quiz grade, and effort scores, individual report grades and a team quiz grade are computed. The former is obtained by multiplying the team report grade by the individual effort scores and the latter by averaging the individual quiz grades using the effort scores as weighting factors
198 ALTERNATIVE ASSESSMENT 4.21 Performance Assessment WHY USE PERFORMANCE ASSESSMENT? Although facts and concepts are fundamental in any undergraduate course, knowledge of methods, procedures and analysis skills that provide context are equally important. Student growth in these latter facets prove somewhat difficult to evaluate, particularly with conventional multiple-choice examinations. Performance assessments, used in concert with more traditional forms of assessment, are designed to provide a more complete picture of student achievement. WHAT IS PERFORMANCE ASSESSMENTS? Performance assessments are designed to judge student abilities to USE specific knowledge and research skills. Most performance assessments require the student to manipulate equipment to solve a problem or make an analysis. Rich performance assessments reveal a variety of problem solving approaches, thus providing insight into a student s level of conceptual and procedural knowledge. TIMOTHY SLATER Timothy F Slater, Performance Assessment in Classroom Assessment Techniques (CATS). Field-Tested Learning Assessment Guide. National Institute for Science Education. /extra/download/cat/ perfass/perfass.pdf. Adapted with permission from Timothy F Slater. Resale or further copying of this material is strictly prohibited. WHAT IS INVOLVED? Instructor Preparation Time: Medium. Preparing Your Students: None. Class Time: minutes depending on complexity of task. Disciplines: Appropriate for laboratory-based sciences. Class Size: Small for direct applications, unlimited for embedded assessments using student-completed forms. Special Classroom/Technical Requirements: Varies according to task. > TIP Individual or Group Involvement: Both. Analyzing Results: Low. Things to Consider: Manipulative materials are often required as well as room monitors Rich performance assessments reveal a variety of problem solving approaches.
199 4.22 TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK DESCRIPTION Performance assessment strategies are composed of three distinct parts: a performance task; a format in which the student responds; and a predetermined scoring system. Tasks are assignments designed to assess a student s ability to manipulate equipment (laboratory equipment, computers, documents, etc.) for a given purpose. Students can either complete the task in front of a panel of judges or use a written response sheet. The student is then scored by comparing the performance against a set of written criteria. When used with students with highly varying abilities, performance tasks can take maximum advantage of judging student abilities by using tasks with multiple correct solutions. Students are graded on the process of problem solving using a rating scale based on explicit standards. Performance assessments have been validated by English faculty who conduct writing assessments, Olympic judges who score competition divers, jury panels who evaluate musical performances and K-12 science teachers (Shavelson, et al.). In these examples, individuals receive a score based on analyzing and evaluating various required components of a performance individually. This is known as ANALYTIC SCORING. FIGURE 1: SAMPLE AUTHENTIC TASKS: Is this water sample suitable for drinking? Remove these old, unlabeled chemicals from the lab. What is the approximate age of this fossil-bearing rock? How fast was the car moving before it crashed if it left 15 meter skid marks in front of this building? Performance assessment strategies are best utilized in concert with other forms of assessment. Similar to driver education or pilot certification, both factual knowledge and procedural knowledge are important components of a complete of education. ASSESSMENT PURPOSES The purpose of performance assessment is to evaluate the actual process of doing science or mathematics. Performance assessments examine students actual application of knowledge to solve problems. In some cases, the solution of the problem may imply the application of a specific procedure learned in class; in others, a combination of procedures; still in others it may require a thoughtful adaptation of students knowledge. The assessment of student s knowledge focuses on the performance and the result. LIMITATIONS Performance assessments are typically inappropriate for measuring student knowledge of facts.
200 ALTERNATIVE ASSESSMENT 4.23 TEACHING GOALS Develop ability to: apply systematic procedures authentically utilize resource texts, laboratory equipment, and computers. use scientific methodology apply and evaluate multiple approaches solve complex problems SUGGESTIONS FOR USE Diagnostic Purposes Performance assessments may be used for diagnostic purposes. What do students know about how to solve certain types of problems? Do they know how to control variables? How to use instruments? How to evaluate findings? Information provided at the beginning of the course may help decide where to start or what issues of the course need special attention. Instructional Purposes A good performance assessment often is indistinguishable from a learning activity, except for standardization and scoring. In this light, a performance task that simulates the authentic tasks of a scientists or mathematician may be used as either an instructional activity or an assessment activity. If the assessment task is used in such a way that the student would normally not know it is an assessment activity, it is called an embedded task. Monitoring Purposes The goal of a performance assessment is to judge the level of competency students have achieved in doing science and mathematics. Accordingly, performance assessment strategies are best used to monitor student process skills and problem solving approaches. The most effective performance assessments are authentic tasks that are open-ended with multiple-correct solution paths. Step-by-Step Instructions Carefully construct the learning goals for the instructional unit Decide if performance assessment supports student learning and assessment for these goals. Clearly define the knowledge and skills students need to apply or demonstrate in solving a problem. > TIP The most effective performance assessments are authentic tasks that are open-ended with multiple-correct solution paths.
201 4.24 TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK Determine the criteria (standards) against which students will be judged and define indicators of levels of competence. Inform students of your expectations that students have every opportunity to clearly demonstrate to that course learning objectives have been mastered. Design an authentic task that is somewhat undefined, complex, and has multiple entry and exit points. Determine which distinct components of the task need to be analyzed. Directly observe students or develop a structured student-answer sheet that allows you to evaluate various components of the task. Match student performance to criteria (standards) and determine which level most closely matches student performance. Provide student feedback in terms of levels of competence, not numerical scores. Figure 2: Holistic Scoring Example, The Telescope Task Your task is to set up and align the 8 telescope, find three different sky objects, and accurately describe some aspects of these objects that astronomers consider to be important. Level 3: Student completes all aspects of task quickly and efficiently and is able to answer questions about the equipment used and objects observed beyond what is obvious. The tasks are: align telescope mount with north celestial pole; align finder telescope with primary telescope; center on target object; select and focus appropriate eyepiece; provide information about the target beyond the literal descriptive level; and answer questions about the target correctly. Level 2: Student completes all aspects of task and provides descriptive information about the equipment and objects observed. Level 1: Student is not able to complete all aspects of task or is not able to sufficient provide information about the equipment used or objects observed. Level 0: No attempt or meaningful effort obvious.
202 ALTERNATIVE ASSESSMENT 4.25 FIGURE 3: ANALYTIC SCORING EXAMPLE, PHYSICS LABORATORY Performance Task Evaluation Sheet Performance Task Title: Date: Student Name: Total Score: Performance Goals: No Evidence 0 points Approaches Goals 1 point Meets Goals 2 points Exceeds Goals 3 points Method of Research: Identifies the information and steps needed to solve the problem Appropriate Use of Equipment and Apparatus: Demonstrates the correct application and cautious use of equipment and apparatus to meet this standard Accuracy and Precision: Demonstrates the ability to make accurate measurements to appropriate precision and to judge the reasonableness of the results Comprehension: Properly applies concepts and formulas related to phenomena Calculations: Properly uses mathematics and mathematical conversions (as needed) to solve the problem Laboratory Report: Communicates conclusions in a complete, clear, and organized way using illustrations Note: Adapted, with permission, from T.F. Slater and J.M. Ryan (1993). Laboratory performance assessment. The Physics Teacher, v. 31, no. 5, pages VARIATIONS Checklists for Highly Structured Tasks In science and mathematics, some tasks require systematic procedures that do not yield multiple entry points or exit points. In this case, a check list system can be appropriately used by an observer or a highly-structured student-answer sheet in which each aspect of the procedure and result is described in detail. Faculty have often found the highlystructured format useful when working with large-enrollment classes. Highly-structured assessment tasks provide students with step-by-step instructions to follow. In contrast,
203 4.26 TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK > less structured assessment tasks give students more opportunity to make judgments in determining the procedures needed to solve the problem. Collaborative Groups Performance assessment can be administered individually, in pairs, or collaborative groups. If it is administered in pairs or groups, students should write in their own answer/response sheet. It is important to keep in mind that when students solve the problem in pairs or groups, the goal and the composition of the group will affect the student s individual performance. In this context, it should be clear exactly what the purpose of the assessment is (e.g., how well students ability to interact and collaborate with others). Panel of Peers Similar to the professional lives of college and university faculty, peer assessment can plan an important role in improving student learning of both the assessed and the assessors. If criteria (standards) are clearly described to students with examples showing each level of competency, they are often able to judge the performance of peers effectively and reliably. Analysis It is important to have predetermined criteria to evaluate the students performance. Students should not be scored/graded against their peers, but based on the criteria predefined. Ideally, students should be provided with the criteria before the assessment. Accordingly, the grade book and student feedback reflects levels of competency, rather than comparative scores. It is always useful to try to find in students performance patterns of appropriate and inappropriate responses (e.g., most of students did not control variable X ). This helps focus on problems observed across many students during instruction. Student performance should be graded on pre-determined criteria. TIP Pros and Cons Performance assessments provide a way of observing the application of procedures. Performance assessments emphasize multiple correct answers and creative solutions. Performance assessments simulate the real-world tasks that scientists, mathematicians, engineers, and researchers encounter. Performance assessments allow faculty to measure overarching course goals of concept application. However: Performance assessments address fewer learning objectives than other forms of assessment.
204 ALTERNATIVE ASSESSMENT 4.27 Students who have been successful at memorizing initially find performance assessments intimidating. Development of clear criteria (standards) that indicate competency levels requires multiple iterations. THEORY AND RESEARCH The acknowledged weaknesses of conventional paper and pencil assessments have led to the recent development of alternative testing strategies. Already validated and used in many K-12 schools, one of the most widely used of these is called PERFORMANCE ASSESSMENT. The keystone of performance assessment is the use of a graded, authentic task. An AUTHENTIC task is one in which students are required to address problems grounded in real-life contexts. Such tasks are typically complex, somewhat ill-defined, engaging problems that require students to apply, synthesize, and evaluate various problem solving approaches (Shavelson, Baxter, and Pine, 1991; Wiggins, 1989). For example, a team of students could be assigned the task of conducting a cost/benefit feasibility study for a recycling program at a local business. Such tasks are clearly different in nature, form, and length from multiple-choice questions that can usually be responded to in a matter of seconds. Performance assessments use grading strategies that are commonly used in the performing arts, fine arts, and Olympic competitions. In the context of the science laboratory, students are graded on the performance of manipulating variables, using scientific apparatus, identifying hypotheses, making measurements and calculations, organizing and managing data, and the communication of results (Slater and Ryan, 1993). Graded laboratory performances go far beyond grading a final field report this strategy considers the processes that become the laboratory report as well. For example in geology, the manipulation of a Brunton compass to make strike and dip measurements can be a graded task as part of a larger group-mapping project. In the evaluation of a performance task, the process of performing the task is emphasized more than the final product itself. Studies that have looked closely at performance assessments find that, if the criteria is clear and that examples are available to show levels of competency, performance assessments are highly consistent across different evaluators (Kulm and Malcom, 1991; O Neil, 1992). Moreover, the clear indication of what is expected of students improves student performance. There are, however, some indications at the K-12 levels that students perform inconsistently from one performance task to the next (Shavelson, Baxter, & Pine, 1991). This suggests that student grades will be most reliably determined from a number of performance assessments in concert with other forms of assessment.
205 4.28 TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK REFERENCES Kulm, Gerald & Malcom, Shirley M. (1991) Science Assessment in the Service of Reform. American Association for the Advancement of Science, Washington, DC. Shavelson R.J., Baxter, G.P. & Pine J. (1991) Performance assessment in science. Applied Measurement in Education, 4(4): 347. Slater, T.F. & Ryan, J.M. (1993) Laboratory performance assessment. The Physics Teacher, 31(5): Tobias, S. & Raphael, J. (1995) In-class examinations in college science - new theory, new practice. Journal of College Science Teaching, 24(4): Wiggins, G. (1989) A true test: Toward a more authentic and equitable assessment. Phi Delta Kappan, 70(9): 703. Portfolios TIMOTHY SLATER Timothy F Slater, Portfolios in Classroom Assessment Techniques (CATS). Field-Tested Learning Assessment Guide. National Institute for Science Education. /extra/download/cat/ portfolios/portfolios.pdf. Adapted with permission from Timothy F Slater. Resale or further copying of this material is strictly prohibited. WHY USE PORTFOLIOS? Portfolio assessment strategies provide a structure for long-duration, in depth assignments. The use of portfolios transfers much of the responsibility of demonstrating mastery of concepts from the professor to the student. WHAT ARE PORTFOLIOS? Student portfolios are a collection of evidence, prepared by the student and evaluated by the faculty member, to demonstrate mastery, comprehension, application, and synthesis of a given set of concepts. To create a high quality portfolio, students must organize, synthesize, and clearly describe their achievements and effectively communicate what they have learned. WHAT IS INVOLVED? Instructor Preparation Time: Minimal, after the course learning objectives have been clearly identified. Can be high if multiple graders are to be trained (e.g., graduate teaching assistants) when used in large classes. Preparing Your Students: Clear expectations must be provided to students at the beginning of the course. Class Time: None. Disciplines: Appropriate for all. Class Size: Most applicable in small classes (n < 30); possible in large classes with pre-existing infrastructure and less open ended character of evidence allowed. Special Classroom/Technical Requirements: None. Individual or Group Involvement: Individual.
206 ALTERNATIVE ASSESSMENT 4.29 Analyzing Results: Intense and requires a scoring rubric. Other Things to Consider: Materials are presented in the natural language of the student and will vary widely within one class. DESCRIPTION Student portfolios are a collection of evidence, prepared by the student and evaluated by the faculty member, to demonstrate mastery, comprehension, application, and synthesis of a given set of concepts. Accordingly, portfolio assessment strategies substantially increase the rigor of an introductory science or mathematics course. For example, in a physics course, this might include quantitative analysis of a video showing motion. In a geology course, this might include an analysis of the impact of agriculture on the community s water quality using locally acquired data. Students must organize, synthesize, and clearly describe their achievements and effectively communicate what they have learned. The evidence can be presented in a three-ring binder, as a multimedia tour, or as a series of short papers. Student portfolios are a collection of evidence, prepared by the student and evaluated by the faculty member, to demonstrate mastery, comprehension, application, and synthesis of a given set of concepts. A unique aspect of a successful portfolio is that it also contains explicit statements of self reflection. Statements accompanying each item describe how the student went about mastering the material, why the presented piece of evidence demonstrates mastery, and why mastery of such material is relevant to contexts outside the classroom. Self-reflections make it clear to the reader the processes of integration that have occurred during the learning process. Often, this is achieved with an introductory letter to the reader or as a summary at the end of each section. Such reflections insure that the student has personally recognized the relevance and level of achievement acquired during creation and presentation of the portfolio. It is this selfreflection that makes a portfolio much more valuable than a folder of student-selected work. ASSESSMENT PURPOSES The overall goal of the preparation of a portfolio is for the learner to demonstrate and provide evidence that he or she has mastered a given set of learning objectives. More than just thick folders containing student work, portfolios are typically personalized, long-term representations of a student s own efforts and achievements. Whereas multiplechoice tests are designed to determine what the student doesn t know, portfolio assessments emphasize what the student does know.
207 4.30 TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK LIMITATIONS Portfolio assessments provide students and faculty with a direct view of how students organize knowledge into overarching concepts. As such, portfolios are inappropriate for measuring students levels of factual knowledge (i.e., recall knowledge) or for drill-andskill activities and accordingly should be used in concert with more conventional forms of assessment. Similarly, student work completed beyond the context of the classroom is occasionally subject to issues of academic dishonesty TEACHING GOALS Develop ability to communicate scientific conceptions accurately Develop ability to write effectively using graphics as support Develop ability to relate principle concepts to real-world applications Develop ability to cite sources and references appropriately Develop ability to synthesize and integrate information and ideas Develop ability to be reflective and effectively conduct self-assessment Develop ability to think creatively and critically SUGGESTIONS FOR USE Portfolios are most appropriate when students need to integrate a number of complex ideas, procedures, and relationships. Portfolios can more much of the responsibility of assessment from the instructor to the student if the learner is instructed to demonstrate and provide evidence that he or she has mastered a given set of learning objectives. The most useful portfolios are composed of student solutions to multifaceted tasks. Such tasks are typically complex, somewhat undefined, engaging problems that require students to apply, synthesize, and evaluate various problem solving approaches. STEP-BY-STEP INSTRUCTIONS Carefully construct and distribute overarching learning objectives for the course. Decide if a portfolio supports student learning and assessment for these objectives. Determine if the portfolio is primarily a learning activity or an assessment tool. Inform students of your expectations that students have the opportunity to clearly demonstrate to the professor that course learning objectives have been attained. Require that each piece of evidence must be clearly labeled as to which objective the evidence pertains. Require that each piece of evidence must be accompanied by a written paragraph of rationale and a separate written paragraph of self-reflection.
208 ALTERNATIVE ASSESSMENT 4.31 Emphasize to students that it is their responsibility to clearly demonstrate mastery of the learning objectives for this course. Score each item of evidence in the portfolio according to a scheme that has been distributed to the students when the portfolios are initially assigned. FIGURE 1: ILLUSTRATIVE COURSE LEARNING OBJECTIVES List of Course Learning Objectives for Introductory Environmental Geology 1. The size of the human population, and the causes for change in its size in various areas of the world. 2. The source, use, pollution and cleanup of the worlds water resources. 3. The origin and evolution of soils, and the way soils are affected by agriculture. 4. Current and alternative sources of food. 5. The origin, advantages and disadvantages of current sources of energy. 6. The origin, operation and potential for alternative sources of energy. 7. The causes of extinction and the processes which control the rate of extinction. 8. Factors which control the use of land by people. 9. The geologic processes which cause earthquakes, and the potential for predicting and preventing such events. 10. The origin, extraction and importance of ores. 11. The composition, management and recycle potential for solid & hazardous waste material. 12. The origin, evolution and productivity of coastal areas. 13. The impact of human activities on coastal areas. 14. The origin, effect and remediation of atmospheric pollution. 15. How humans affect the earth s environment. List of Course Learning Objectives for First Semester Algebra-based College Physics 1. Understand the nature of scientific knowledge and the various disciplines of science. 2. Appreciate the historical and practical uses of units and measures. 3. Convert numerical quantities from one system of units to another and within a given system. 4. Describe the various concepts and units used to describe motion. 5. Solve one-dimensional problems related to the acceleration of objects due to gravity.
209 4.32 TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK > 6. Diagram and describe quantitatively the motion of a projectile. 7. Appropriately apply vectors qualitatively to describe physical situations. 8. Use vectors to quantitatively solve problems relating to motion. 9. Create a free-body diagram to represent the total force on an object (including friction). 10. State and apply the laws of motion developed by Isaac Newton. 11. Solve problems related to static equilibrium and rotational equilibrium. 12. Apply the Law of Universal Gravitation to objects moving in circles. 13. Calculate the work done on an object and its relationship to energy. 14. Quantitatively and qualitatively describe systems in which energy is conserved. 15. Identify the various sources of energy and power. 16. Solve problems related to impulse and the Conservation of Momentum. 17. Apply principles of fluid dynamics to describe phenomena in nature. 18. Distinguish between heat and temperature. 19. Identify the ways that heat can be transferred between two points. 20. Explain the distinguishing characteristics of solids, liquids, and gases. 21. State the laws of thermodynamics and their importance to technology. 22. Solve problems relating to periodic (cyclical) motion. 23. Describe the properties of sound waves with respect to pitch, volume, and intensity. 24. Apply the Doppler Effect to physical situations quantitatively and qualitatively. TIP Use open-format portfolios to evaluate mastery of learning objectives. VARIATIONS Showcase Portfolios A showcase portfolio is a limited portfolio where a student is only allowed to present a few pieces of evidence to demonstrate mastery of learning objectives. Especially useful in a laboratory course, a showcase portfolio might ask a student to include items that represent: their best work; their most interesting work; their most improved work; their most disappointing work; and their favorite work.
210 ALTERNATIVE ASSESSMENT 4.33 Items could be homework assignments, examinations, laboratory reports, news clippings, or other creative works. An introductory letter that describes why each particular item was included and what it demonstrates makes this type of portfolio especially insightful to the instructor. Checklist Portfolios A checklist portfolio is composed of a predetermined number of items. Often, a course syllabus will have a predetermined number of assignments for students to complete. A checklist portfolio takes advantage of such a format and gives the students the choice of a number of different assignment selections to complete in the course of learning science. For example, instead of assigning exactly 12 sets of problems from the end of each text chapter, students could have the option of replacing several assignments with relevant magazine article reviews or laboratory reports that clearly demonstrate mastery of a given learning objective. Additionally, class quizzes and tests can become part of the portfolio if that is what is on the checklist of items to be included. A sample checklist might require a portfolio to have 10 correctly worked problem sets, two magazine article summaries, two laboratory reports, and two examinations in addition to self-reflection paragraphs where the student decides which objectives most closely fit which assignments. Open-Format Portfolios An open-format for a portfolio generally provides the most insightful view of a student s level of achievement. In an open-format portfolio, students are allowed to submit anything they wish to be considered as evidence for mastery of a given list of learning objectives. In addition to the traditional items like exams and assignments, students can include reports on museum visits, analysis of amusement park rides, imaginative homework problems, and other sources from the real world. Although these portfolios are more difficult for the student to create and for the instructor to score, many students report that they are very proud of the time spent on such a portfolio. Use in Large Enrollment Courses Portfolios can be used successfully in large courses provided there is an infrastructure for students and instructors to utilize. Most importantly, the format of each item in the portfolio needs to be in a similar format; the use of cover sheets, forms, and prescribed notebooks often helps. Second, students creativity must be sacrificed to some degree for the sake of uniformity. This can be accomplished by assigning student tasks that have fewer multiple-correct solutions. Finally, if graduate teaching assistants are used, each assistant should take responsibility for a particular series of learning goals, thus becoming an expert and seeing all student submissions. If announced to the students, this helps curtail academic dishonesty and variation in scoring.
211 4.34 TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK Analysis Because each portfolio is individualized, student assessment must be compiled by looking at the portfolio s contents relative to the course learning objectives. Each piece of evidence should be graded according to a predetermined scheme. The items can be scored discretely as a 0, 1, 2, or 3 based on the grader s judgment about the student s presentation as related to the stated learning goals. (A larger scale can be used, but the reliability of different faculty giving the student the same score decreases.) FIGURE 2: ILLUSTRATIVE GRADING CRITERIA FOR PORTFOLIOS Grading Criteria Each individual piece of evidence will be graded according to the following scale: Score 0: No evidence - the evidence is not present, it is not clearly labeled, or there is no rationale or self-reflection. Score 1: Weak evidence - the evidence is presented is inaccurate, implies misunderstandings, has insufficient rationale or insufficient self-reflection. Score 2: Adequate evidence - the evidence is presented accurately with no errors nor misunderstandings implied, but the information is dealt with at the literal definition level with no integration across concepts. Opinions presented are not sufficiently supported by referenced facts or facts are presented without clear relevance to opinions or positions. Score 3: Strong Evidence - the evidence is presented accurately and clearly indicates understanding by integration across concepts. Opinions and positions are clearly supported by referenced facts. GRADING RUBRIC The overall portfolio is scored as follows as an indication of the extent to which the portfolio indicates that the student has mastered the 15 course objectives listed elsewhere in the syllabus: Grade: Rubric: A Strong evidence in at least 12 objectives; adequate in other three B+ Strong evidence in at least 12 objectives; adequate in at least one other; B Strong evidence in 10 objectives; adequate in all others; C+ Strong evidence in 9 objectives; adequate in others; C Strong evidence in 9 objectives; adequate in at least one other; D+ Adequate evidence in 12 objectives; D Adequate evidence in 10 objectives; F Adequate evidence in less than 10 objectives;
212 ALTERNATIVE ASSESSMENT 4.35 SUBMISSION AND POSSESSION OF EVIDENCE: Submission of evidence for mastery of each objective is to be done during laboratory class meetings and the portfolios will be securely maintained in the laboratory. It is your responsibility to see that your portfolio is current and accurate. No late submissions will be accepted. Any submissions remotely suspected of plagiarism will receive a score of 0. Evidence scored as a 0 or a 1 is rather straightforward based on the criteria listed in figure 2. The most difficult judgment usually lies between awarding a score of 2 and a score of 3. In particular, a score of 2 is awarded if the student has addressed the learning objective correctly and clearly, but only at the literal-descriptive level; there is little explicit integration across concepts or indication of relevance to the student. A common characteristic of such evidence is that facts are not used to support an opinion or position. Furthermore, evidence that does not clearly identify relevance to the student s life or career path is also given a score of 2. To be awarded a score of 3, the evidence must clearly indicate that the student understands the objective in an integrated fashion. Such evidence provides the reader deep insight into the complexity of the student s comprehension. Viewing student portfolios from this perspective drastically changes the emphasis from collections of facts to encompassing concepts. Such a grading procedure also shifts responsibility for demonstrating competence from the instructor to the student. Effectively shifting this responsibility affects comments placed in the portfolio by the grader; comments are directed toward improving the next submission as well as indicating the inadequacies of the current evidence. PROS AND CONS Portfolios put the responsibility of demonstrating knowledge and integration across concepts on the students Portfolios provide a structure for long-duration assignments Portfolios encourage student creativity and allow for students to emphasize the aspects of a concept most relevant to them in meaningful ways Portfolios engender self-reflection and self-assessment However: Portfolios take longer to score than machine graded multiple-choice exams Portfolios involve student work outside of class Portfolios do not easily demonstrate students knowledge-recall abilities Students who have been successful at memorizing their way to an A initially find portfolios intimidating
213 4.36 TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK THEORY AND RESEARCH Today, it is generally recognized that the commonly used series of 60-minute examinations can only provide an instructor with a quick and limited view of the knowledge a student has actually achieved during a semester course (Slater, 1997). Conventional multiple-choice tests do not provide the instructor with enough information to ascertain why the student gave a particular response. Unfortunately, even student-supplied responses, in-class essays, and quantitative problem-oriented test items are severely limited in scope and complexity due to unavoidable time constraints. These deficiencies and others have previously been thoroughly described and documented (Berlack et al., 1992, p. 8). Portfolio assessment strategies, such as those used in fine arts such as photography, architecture, and writing, might hold the most promise for earth science instruction. In the introductory level science course, portfolios provide a forum for extended and complex learning activities and observations (Slater, 1994; Collins, 1992; 1993). For example, an introductory geology portfolio might contain maps drawn by the student, cross-sections, and interpretations from student observations. The student can also provide an indication pertaining to some of the difficulties encountered in obtaining information and justification for any assumptions employed. In such a procedure, much of the responsibility of both learning and assessment is transferred to the student. In terms of effectiveness, Slater (1997) reports how different types of portfolios in three separate classroom contexts were used to explore the effectiveness of portfolio assessment strategies. In each study, a two-group comparison strategy was used and the groups were compared on several measures. These included a common final examination and a pretest/posttest self-report survey. Additionally, each group that used portfolios completed open-ended surveys and participated in focus group interviews. Three classroom contexts were used: (1) college physics at an urban community college; (2) physical science for elementary education majors at medium-sized university; and (3) introductory environmental science for non-science majors in a large-enrollment lecture course ( n > 280) at a major university. For each study, one of two course sections was randomly selected to be assessed primarily by portfolios while the other was assessed traditionally using quizzes and tests. With the exception of the final examination, students who were primarily assessed using portfolios were not administered any of the quizzes or tests that the traditional students took. Student portfolios were evaluated at regular intervals throughout the semester using a holistic scoring rubric (described thoroughly by Rischbieter, Ryan, & Carpenter, 1993; Astwood & Slater, 1996; Kuhns, 1993). At the end of the semester course, all students took the same multiple-choice final examination with 24 to 50 items that were directly correlated to the course learning objectives.
214 ALTERNATIVE ASSESSMENT 4.37 In each study, the results were essentially identical. Students assessed by portfolios scored just as well on a traditional multiple-choice final examination as their traditionally assessed counterparts. However, an analysis of the qualitative data suggests that, from the students perspectives, there may be major advantages to the portfolio assessment strategy. All students completed open-ended surveys and representatives from each class using portfolios participated in focus group interviews. Overall the students reported that they liked this alternative procedure for assessment. Probably most important to the students, the portfolios significantly reduced the level of test anxiety (Slater, Samson, & Ryan, 1995). This reduction in student anxiety clearly shows up in the way that students attend to class discussions. Students suggest that they feel like they are being relieved of their traditional vigorous note taking duties so they are free to look at the holistic science of a given situation not just the formulas. They state that they enjoy class discussion more because of the atmosphere promoted by the assessment strategies employed. Students assessed by portfolios also report that they spend a lot of time going over the textbook or required readings to be sure that they comprehend the depths of each learning objective. Although it is unclear exactly how much time students devote to creating their portfolios, they do report that they contemplate the concepts outside of the classroom environment always looking for that neat thing to include in their portfolio. Students reported that they thought that would remember what they were learning much better and longer than they would the material for other classes they took. Students suggest that this is because they have internalized the material while working with it, thought about the principles, and applied concepts creatively and extensively over the duration of the course. REFERENCES Astwood, P.M. & Slater, T.F. (1996). Portfolio assessment in large-enrollment courses: effectiveness and management. Journal of Geological Education, 45(3). Berlak, H., Newmann, F.M., Adams, E., Archbald, D.A., Burgess, T., Raven, J., and Romberg, T.A. (1992) Toward a new science of educational testing and assessment: Albany, State University of New York Press. Collins, A. (1993) Performance-based assessment of biology teachers. Journal of College Science Teaching, 30(9): Collins, A. (1992) Portfolios for science education: Issues in purpose, structure, and authenticity. Science Education, 76(4): Guba, E.G. and Lincoln, Y.S. (1989). Fourth Generation Evaluation: Newbury Park, CA, Sage Publications, Inc., p Kuhs, T.M. (1994) Portfolio assessment: Making it work for the first time. The Mathematics Teacher, 87(5): Rischbieter, M.O., Ryan, J.M., & Carpenter, J.R. (1993). Use of microethnographic strategies to analyze some affective aspects of learning-cycle-based minicourses in paleontology for teachers. Journal of Geological Education, 41(3):
215 4.38 TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK Slater, T.F. (1994) Portfolio assessment strategies for introductory physics. The Physics Teacher, 32(6): Slater, T.F. (1997) The effectiveness of portfolio assessments in science. Journal of College Science Teaching, 26(5). Slater, T.F. & Astwood, P.M. (1995) Strategies for grading and using student assessment portfolios. Journal of Geological Education, 45(3): Slater, T.F., Ryan. J.M, & Samson, S.L. (1997). The impact and dynamics of portfolio assessment and traditional assessment in college physics. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 34(3). Tobias, S. & Raphael, J. (1995) In-class examinations in college science - new theory, new practice. Journal of College Science Teaching, 24(4): Wiggens, G. (1989, May) A true test: Toward more authentic and equitable assessment. Phi Delta Kappan, 70(9): Wolf. D. (1989) Portfolio assessment: Sampling student work. Educational Leadership, 46(7): Grading/Marking OHIO STATE TEACHING HANDBOOK Office of Faculty and TA Development / Ohio State University, Chapter 7 Testing and Grading: Assessing Student Performance, Teaching at The Ohio State University: A Handbook, pp Publications/Teaching Handbook/chap-7.pdf, adapted with permission from Office of Faculty and TA Development / Ohio State University. Resale or further copying of this material is strictly prohibited. Summative Feedback (Grading) At given intervals during a course and at the completion of a course, instructors often decide or are required to assign grades to students. Many instructors indicate that grading is the most difficult and anxiety-producing part of teaching. Although many construct systems designed to ensure fairness, grades are inevitably subject to value decisions and the relative framework within which knowledge is generated and assessed. Milton, Pollio, and Eison (1986) provide a frank discussion of the difficulties entailed in assigning grades. Despite their limitations, students, instructors, and prospective employers and educators tend to use grades to make decisions. McKeachie (1994) identifies some purposes for which grades are used by these interested groups: students want to be able to use grades to assist them in making decisions about possible majors and careers; instructors advising students use grades to judge whether their students have the motivation, skill, knowledge, and ability to do well in advanced courses; prospective employers and educators want to use grades to tell whether a student is qualified for employment or further education and how well the student will do in his or her future work. Many different types of summative evaluation may be effective depending on the design of specific course materials and goals. However, good grading methods are characterized by the following attributes.
216 GRADING/MARKING 4.39 VALIDITY It is of paramount importance that the method of evaluation employed be able to accurately measure the skill or knowledge that it seeks to measure, that it be valid. It is also important that evaluations exhibit what is known as face validity. Face validity means that elements of the evaluation appear to be related to stated course objectives. It is a common student complaint that they could not perceive the connection between the evaluation and course objectives. It is therefore necessary not only that the instructor be able to make a connection between the evaluation and the course, but that the student be able to do so as well. In addition to face validity; evaluations must have content validity; The format of an evaluation must conform closely to the course objectives that it seeks to evaluate. If a course objective states that students will be able to apply theories of practice to case studies, then an evaluation should provide them with appropriate cases to demonstrate this ability. Finally; effective methods of evaluation have certain predictive characteristics. A student who performs well on an evaluation concerning a certain skill might be expected to perform well on similar evaluations on related skills. Additionally, that student might be expected to score consistently when evaluated in the future. Evaluation methods should demonstrate face and content validity as well as reliability. RELIABILITY The concept of reliability is closely related to (and often confused with) validity. A reliable method of evaluation will produce similar results (within certain limitations) for the same student across time and circumstances. While it is understood that performances will vary, the goal is to eliminate as many sources of error as possible. Svinicki (n.d.) notes three major sources of error in reliably evaluating students: Poor communication of expectations. It is imperative that the student understand the question or the task assigned. Poor student performance can be the result of a failure to provide clear instructions. For example, assignments should always be written to avoid any verbal misunderstanding. The results of a failure to communicate are often a poor grade given to a student who may actually have mastered the subject matter. Lack of consistent criteria for judgment. Lack of consistent criteria for judgment exists where the basis for making the judgment is not clear. Where there are not consistent criteria, identical tasks can he evaluated differently by the same grader at a later date or by a different grader concurrently. However, if a specific set of criteria is established prior to the evaluation, error in this area can be diminished.
217 4.40 TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK Lack of sufficient information about performance. A third source of error in evaluating students occurs when the instructor does not have sufficient evidence of a student s performance. It is important that the information collected reflect this performance in a variety of formats. Clearly; using a single paper submitted at the end of the quarter to determine the entire course grade would violate this principle. CLEAR COMMUNICATION OF EVALUATION PLAN PRIOR TO PERFORMANCE Students often complain that the basis for their evaluation is unclear to them. Students ability to guess what topics will be presented as a part of their evaluation and in what form is hardly indicative of their mastery of course content. Additionally, questions employed for evaluative purposes should be of the same nature and scope as day-today class activities and assignments. This is not to say that the evaluation must be a regurgitation of classwork and readings but rather that it should be within the same general framework. Not-for-grade trial tests, given early in the quarter, can be useful tools both to alert the instructor as to the students abilities and to provide the students with an understanding of the method of evaluation that will be used. REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS As has been previously noted, the more student work available to the instructor, the more reliable the evaluation of student learning. However, consideration must be given to the Fact that students are also enrolled in several other courses that demand their time and attention. Instructors are also limited in the number and types of evaluations they can develop and administer in any individual course, while still grading and returning work in a reasonable time. Ideally, these constraints can be recognized and the best possible system of evaluation can he generated within these parameters. METHODS OF GRADING AND RELATIVE ADVANTAGES There are many methods of grading. They are all based on human judgment, although it is easy to forget this, especially when the method relies on numbers. Numeric methods are not necessarily more objective than those that rely on written comments or holistic approaches. Instructors find that thinking through their grading philosophy and purposes before developing a scheme is a very important step. Before selecting a grading method, it is also advisable to check if there are any relevant course or departmental policies. CALCULATING GRADES There are three basic types of grading systems: criterion-referenced or absolute systems, norm-referenced or relative systems, and hybrid (combination of criterion- and normreferenced) systems. Simply stated, norm-referenced systems (often referred to as grading on a curve ) evaluate students performance in relation to one another and rest
218 GRADING/MARKING 4.41 on the underlying assumption that relative levels of student ability do not vary much from quarter to quarter, and that student achievement is evenly distributed. When using norm-referenced systems, however, there is a danger that the instructor will inappropriately use the grading curve to compensate for poorly constructed tests. Criterion-referenced systems, on the other hand, apply an absolute scale against which individual student performances are measured. The setting up of such a grading scale ideally requires some knowledge of the levels of student ability likely to be present in the class. With the criterion-referenced system, it is theoretically possible for all students to receive an A or for everyone to fail the course. Hybrid systems, probably the most common grading schemes, contain aspects of both systems. A few examples of each system and their implications follow: NORM-REFERENCED SYSTEMS The Simple Curve In this system the instructor determines beforehand that a certain percentage of students will receive A s and a similar percentage will receive E s, The same holds for B s and D s. The remainder receive C s. Cut-offs are based on the number of students in the class and are figured by counting down the distribution of grades until that number is reached. Since this system involves nothing more sophisticated than counting and division, it is easy to use. However, when students know that only a fixed percentage of them can achieve A s, they often feel a sense of competition with each other. If you intend to do any sort of collaborative or cooperative group work, this form of grading can undermine your ability to get students to work together. The Normalized Curve This is a more complex system in which the actual score a student earns is converted into what is called a standard score based on the class average and the distribution of the scores. Then, using standard tables, the instructor converts these standard scores into percentiles based on a normal curve. The Office of the Registrar s Test Scanning and Scoring Services provides this information on all machine scored tests scanned by their office. The student s score is reported as being in the 90th percentile or the 50th, with some predetermined percentiles representing each of the letter grades. Percentile scores have some real advantages when it comes to comparing grades from a wide range of activities, but their computation and interpretation can be confusing. This method also has the same issues with competitiveness that the simple curve does. > TIP Grading systems: criterion-referenced or absolute systems, norm-referenced or relative systems, and hybrid (combination of criterion and normreferenced) systems.
219 4.42 TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK CRITERION REFERENCED SYSTEMS Percentage of Total Points Possible In this system, there are a fixed number of points available to be earned. Earning 90% (or some arbitrary percent) of those points will result in an A, while 80% will result in a B and so on. Students are evaluated against a preset criterion, hence the name, and not against their peers. It does not matter how many students reach a given level. Everyone can earn an A or an E. This avoids the issue of placing students in competition with each other, but requires that the instructor have a very clear idea of the level of achievement students are likely to reach in advance, so as to be able to set appropriate grade levels. Mastery, or Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory In this case, there is only one preset level of achievement, usually based on a set of specific objectives that must be passed. If these are passed, the student moves on; if not, the student must repeat the evaluation or fail the course. Sometimes the specific requirements for the assessment of mastery refer to a given percent of the total number of skills rather than to the achievement of all given skills. The mastery approach assigns a basic satisfactory/unsatisfactory grade to students based on their achievement of specified goals. In a mastery system, students are ordinarily allowed to take different amounts of time to accomplish a goal and to repeat tests or assignments without penalty until they achieve the desired outcome. The advantages of this system are that the grades are meaningfully tied to the performance level, that students may achieve goals faster when they know what they are, that the focus is on success rather than failure, that student performance anxiety may he lowered, and that the system supports cooperation and may raise morale. Disadvantages include its time consuming nature, the limit of freedom placed on teachers, and the possibility of strict prescription of means to achieve.mastery it may also discourage students from setting and meeting their own goals, and if used in a program where the whole faculty sets up performance criteria, it has the disadvantages inherent in committees. Contract System A contract system of grading involves the development of a written contract between the student and the instructor that specifies precisely what will be required to achieve any given grade. The course syllabus is a good place to communicate this possibility. Advantages of grading contracts include reducing anxieties since the student knows what is expected, minimizing the role of personal judgment In grading, and encouraging student-set goals. The disadvantages of this system are the potential for overemphasis on quantity, possible difficulty in measuring diverse student activity and that ambiguity may exist in qualitative distinctions between grades.
220 GRADING/MARKING 4.43 HYBRID (COMBINATION OF CRITERION AND NORM-REFERENCED SYSTEMS) Percent of Maximum Obtained This system uses a predetermined set of cut-off percentages for each grade as in a criterionreferenced system, but bases the actual grades on the highest score achieved by a student in the class. This latter characteristic makes the grades somewhat comparative as in a norm-referenced system. The class performance plays a role in determining what is needed for each grade, but the number of students who can earn each grade is not restricted as in the norm-referenced systems. Except on the broadest level the students are not in competition with one another. This system gives neither absolute nor relative performance information, but it is easy to compute and easy for students to understand. Gap System This could be labeled the interocular system since it involves laying out the score distribution and looking for gaps in the distribution. Sometimes, the distribution of student scores cluster in such a way that obvious breaks show where the cutoff scores for the various grades should be. One advantage of this system is that the instructor has a practical reason for setting the grade cut-offs where they are. The idea is to identify real differences in performance that will then be reflected in the grades. Under this system, A performance really appears to be different from B performance because the two groups of students have a gap separating them. All other systems are based on more or less arbitrary cut-offs, even though they may have a sound statistical basis. Like norm- referenced systems, the gap system gives us relative but not absolute performance information. It is also easy to compute and explain. Self-Evaluation Instructors can use student self-evaluation to determine part or all of the course grade. A variety of formats can be used. The significant difference in this form of grading is that the source of the evaluation is the student. Self-evaluation can be a learning experience for the student, one that encourages them to take responsibility for their own learning. When properly coached in how to do selfassessment, students are usually fair, objective, and demanding of themselves. However, this method can be taken less seriously as the novelty wears off and is subject to abuse if students are nor taught to be introspective, or if they are under extreme pressure for grades.
221 4.44 TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK DIETER J. SCHÖNWETTER Used with permission of author Reducing the Complexity and Subjectivity of Marking: The Successful Use of Rubrics Paul Dressel has humorously defined marking as an inadequate report of an inaccurate judgment by a biased and variable judge of the extent to which a student has attained an undefined level of mastery of an unknown portion of an indefinite amount of material. (Basic College Quarterly p. 6, 1957). Marking is probably one of the more regretted responsibilities of teaching, yet it is a required task. However, there are ways to move beyond the subjectivity of marking to a sense of fairness, equity and consistency as observed by students in the evaluation of their assignments. Probably one of the most effective tools is the marking rubric. In order to maximize the efficiency of this tool, rubrics will be defined, effective use of rubrics will be explored, and tips for creating rubrics will be highlighted. A list of valuable references from which this section was developed is included. RUBRIC DEFINED Rubrike finds its origins in Middle English, referring to the heading in red letters of part of a book and more recently, as an established rule, tradition, or custom (Webster s, 2003). For the teacher, the rubric is a scoring guide or scale consisting of a set of criteria that describe what expectations are being assessed/evaluated and descriptions of levels of quality used to evaluate students work or to guide students to desired performance levels. It is at best viewed as an authentic assessment tool...that seeks to evaluate a student's performance based on the sum of a full range of criteria rather than a single numerical score. PURPOSE OF A RUBRIC As an assessment tool, the well-developed rubric influences both the teacher and the student. For the teacher, it enhances the quality of direct instruction, increases the efficiency of marking, permits comprehensive grading, and reduces potential student allegations. Rubrics enhance the quality of direct instruction by implicitly articulating to students what makes a good final product and why. A rubric reduces repetitive work and provides the ease of transferring to numerous activities for almost any content area. Moreover, it increases the efficiency and consistency across multi-section courses, where teams of graders can align their marking efforts for common assignments. Designed with room for encouraging commentary, rubrics provide personalized feedback to students. Rubrics afford comprehensive grading by providing streamlined information on a student s strengths and challenges, as well as a focus on a particular set of skills being developed. Most importantly, rubrics help to reduce allegations from students about inconsistency in grading. For the grader, a well-designed rubric prompts the memory of the method and
222 GRADING/MARKING 4.45 rationale for the grade given and provides little room for deviations when students come to contest a grade. For students, rubrics improve their projects, increase learning, and impact the perception of fairness of marking. By providing students with explicit guidelines regarding expectations and marking criteria, students can prepare accordingly, are more motivated to pay close attention to specific requirements and in turn, take ownership of the projects, especially when involved in creating the rubric. Rubrics provide the scaffolding required to enhance the quality of work and increases students knowledge, which in turn impacts their learning. The rubric also becomes the model of what is expected for students. Most importantly, rubrics reduce the perceived subjective nature of marking, given that all students work is marked on the same criteria. TYPES OF RUBRICS Instructors tend to use one of two types of rubrics: holistic and analytic. As seen in Figure 1, holistic rubrics assess the student s work as a complete unit, whereas analytic rubrics, as seen in Figure 2, focus on details, breaking the performance outcome into smaller units, each receiving an evaluation. If detail is important and/or two or more graders are being utilized (i.e., large classes) than an analytical rubric is preferable. However, when the overall project outcome is more of interest, a holistic rubric is most appropriate. Figure 1. Research Writing Content Rubric HOLISTIC Value Characteristics 5 The topic and arguments are developed fully and organized well. The statements made are well supported by empirical literature using interesting language and sufficient detail. 4 Most parts of the topic mentioned in a score of 5 above are developed, organized, and well supported by empirical literature. A couple of aspects may need to be more fully or more interestingly developed. 3 Some aspects of the topic are developed and organized well, but not as much empirical support or organization is expressed as in a score of 4. 2 A few parts of the topic are slightly developed. Organization and empirical support need improvement. 1 Parts of the topic are addressed without attention to empirical support or organization.
223 4.46 TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK CREATING RUBRICS In order to create a rubric, the instructor decides what the purpose is for the assignment, generates the criteria and the levels of quality, assigns specific performance descriptors for each grading-by-assignment interaction (e.g., individual cells in a rubric), and weighting the rubric a five step process. Step One: The criteria to be evaluated need to be chosen, such as a list of what the student is to accomplish through the assignment. As seen in Figure 2, this should include the essential learning objectives/outcomes, evidence to be produced, measurable skills, and easily identifiable outcomes. Figure 2. Analytical Rubric Template Grading Criteria Beginning 1 (60-69%) Developing 2 (70-79%) Accomplished 3 (80-89%) Exemplary 4 (90-100%) Score Assignment Criteria Stated Objective or Performance Descriptor (performance weight) Description of identifiable performance characteristics reflecting a beginning level of performance. Description of identifiable performance characteristics reflecting development and movement toward mastery of performance. Description of identifiable performance characteristics reflecting mastery of performance. Description of identifiable performance characteristics reflecting the highest level of performance. (an example) Uses correct terminology (20 points) Is able to use common and familiar terms correctly. Is able to use common, familiar, and some newly acquired terms correctly. Is able to use common, familiar, and most newly acquired terminology correctly. Ability for the student to use common, familiar, and all newly acquired terminology correctly.
224 GRADING/MARKING 4.47 Step Two: The assignment criteria (e.g., the stated objective or performance) need to be organized in a logical and/or sequential order, from most important to least important. Prior to creating and filling the template grid, the evaluator needs to identify the specific elements of the assignment that requires to be completed. Critical at this stage is selecting criteria that best reflect the objective of the assignment. For example, an assignment of writing a research paper may yield a number of different criteria that will need to be organized from most important to least important. For a psychology course, content may be perceived as most important followed by organization, grammar, and citation. For a course in English, grammar, composition, organization, content and citation, may be a more appropriate ordering. Step Three: Step three involves inserting the criteria into the grid of the rubric. Here the evaluator assigns specific grading criteria for each main category. These can include criteria such as Limited, Some, Considerable, High Degree ; Poor, Average, Good, Excellent ; or Beginning, Developing, Accomplished, Exemplary. As seen in each cell in Figure 2, a performance descriptor needs to be chosen that best describe both the grading criteria and the assignment criteria. For the column under the Beginning grading criteria, this would include a description of the minimum expected from a student who will be receiving a passing (60-69%) grade. If criterion is uses correct terminology the minimum expected is that students will use the most common or familiar terms. This is a limited capacity, but clearly defines for the students what the level of quality is for a Level 1 performance. A performance descriptor would most likely include is able to use common and familiar terms correctly. For Level 2, or Beginning, a mediocre performance level is described by a student having clearly passed but is not the standard expected (70-79%). At this level, the criteria is uses correct terminology, and the student is expected to move one step beyond Level 1. Since level one indicates the student uses common or familiar terms, the next step is that he/she is using some of the newer terminology as well. This is a some capacity, but a definite and clear difference from Level 1. A performance descriptor might best be: is able to use common, familiar, and some newly acquired terms correctly. At Level 3 or Accomplished, the student has achieved the standard expectation performance level and reflects what the general population of students is capable of demonstrating (80-89%). At this level, students are expected to move one step beyond Level 2. Based on our example, students are using most or all of the newer terminology in their written and oral work. This is a accomplished capacity, but a definite and clear difference from Level 2. It is not perfect, but a standard level of expected competence. Here the performance descriptor is best described as: is able to use common, familiar, and most newly acquired terminology correctly.
225 4.48 TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK At Level 4 or Exemplary, the student s efforts are beyond the standard expectation performance level and one that identifies a student who has moved beyond what is taught in the classroom (90-100%). Again, the effort is one step beyond Level 3. Students may pick up more obscure words used in class but do not necessarily expect students to know and remember. They may use the words correctly in a new context, apply a global perspective, or apply the words to convey meaning about themselves. The most appropriate performance descriptor is the ability for the student to use common, familiar, and all newly acquired terminology correctly. Step Five The final stage in creating a rubric requires weighting or identifying certain performance outcomes as more important than others. In doing so, the instructor clearly indicates which components of a project are more important for a particular activity or assignment and assigns numeric weights accordingly. The weighting of a rubric can be modified to stress different aspects of an assignment over a period of time as different criteria are being taught. For instance, highlighting research literature in a paper might be stressed as most important in the beginning of the year. As the student progresses in a given class, the significance of citing works may become the next valued component as reflected in a revised rubric. THE VALUE OF STUDENT-GENERATED RUBRICS As part of experiencing project-based learning, students can either individually or in groups, be encouraged to create rubrics, but under the guidance of the instructor who provides the parameters (i.e., which performance outcomes to include). By having students invest significant amount of time, energy, and effort in the development of a rubric, students interest and motivation in the project are increased, which in turn, influences their performance. Moreover, engaging students in rubric development enables them to become more reflective learners, an experience and skill that will help them in many other areas of life. RUBRIC ADMINISTRATION For the rubric to have the most influence on students, it is wise to distribute it to students when explaining the assignment. Invite questions and provide any clarification. For modeling, present to your students exemplars of products at various levels of development. Evaluate students work with the rubric to determine whether they have mastered the content. Attach a copy of the rubric filled in with the student s scores to the graded work.
226 GRADING/MARKING 4.49 A rubric is also something that needs to be continuously evaluated to ensure that it is efficient in measuring what it is intended to measure, that it addresses any concerns raised by students, captures common errors made by students as a new criteria, and that any grey areas be further refined to ensure clarity of what is expected. Upfront effort, in the form of a well-developed rubric, pays dividends in grading by promoting perceptions of consistency, fairness, and equity among students; not only guiding the evaluation process, but also the teaching process; and provides additional learning for students. ADDITIONAL RESOURCES A page of resources for rubrics and assessment: A web page showing an example of evaluation criteria: RubiStar is a tool to help teachers design rubrics. Some of the categories include: oral presentations, multimedia, research projects, writing, science and math. You can use one of their templates or customize your own. This application will even make printable rubrics so there s no need to cut and paste. You can even save your customized rubric on the server and then re-design whenever necessary. Marking guidelines for the team web project in Selia Karsten s ecommerce class: Criteria for marking web reports: 1 ( utoronto.ca/~krobbins/rubrics.html, Nov 15, 2004). 2 ( teachervision.com/ index.html, February 15, 2005). 3 ( teachervision.com/ index.html, February 15, 2005; fanshawec.ca/ rubrics/, February 15, 2005). 4 ( teachervision.com/ index.html, February 15, 2005; fanshawec.ca/ rubrics/, February 15, 2005). WHERE TO GET MORE INFORMATION Allen, R.R. (1990). Teaching Assistant Strategies: An introduction to college teaching. Dubuque: Kendall/Hunt. Angelo, T. & Cross, P. (1993). Classroom assessment techniques: A handbook for college teachers. San Francisco: Jossey Bass. Erwin, T. D. (1991). Assessing student learning and development. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. > Lowman, J. (1987). Giving students feedback. In Weimer, M. (Ed.), Teaching Large Classes Well. New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 32, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. McKeachie, W.J. (1999). Teaching Tips: Strategies, Research and Theory for College & University Teachers. (10 ed.) (pp ). New York: Houghton Mifflin. McMillan, J.H. (1988). Assessing Students Learning. New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 34. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Prentice-Hall Canada. (1987). Making the Grade: Evaluating Student Progress. Scarborough: Prentice-Hall. Stevens, D., & Levi, A. J. (2004). Introduction to Rubrics: An Assessment Tool to Save Grading Time, Convey Effective Feedback and Promote Student Learning Walvoord, B.E. & Anderson, V.J. (1998). Effective grading: A tool for learning and assessment. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Rubrics promote perceptions of consistency, fairness and equity among students. TIP
227 5 CHAPTER Teachers
228 INTRODUCTION 5.1 Introduction What does it mean to be a teacher? We listened to University of Manitoba students who recommended teachers for awards of teaching excellence. This is what they said: AN EXCELLENT TEACHER IS ONE WHO: Is KNOWLEDGEABLE in their discipline Their knowledge is extensive and evolving Their research is current Their personal standards for knowledge and research are high They encourage debate, questioning, reflection They are challenged, not threatened by critical thought Is INSPIRATIONAL Passionate about their discipline, about learning and about life Stimulate creative and critical thought Share their learning through personal narratives Model the best attributes of their discipline Inspire students to be the best they can be Believes in the student Introduction 5.1 CREATES A CLIMATE FOR LEARNING by Reflecting on the Respecting students as learners and teachers Practice of Teachng Acknowledging student s prior learning and life experience 5.2 Treating the students as colleagues in learning Presenting material in an enthusiastic, energetic, humorous and innovative style Being transparent about their own learning Encouraging students to reflect on their learning ENGAGES the students by: Presenting challenging subject material Assisting, nudging, and/or pushing students gently and firmly into learning Engaging students in increasingly complex thinking Providing prompt, clear feedback that encourages independence and fosters learning Helping students to discover the answers CONNECTS with students by: Being respectful, helpful, supportive and encouraging to students Patiently listening to and validating the student s concerns Helping the student overcome his/her challenges and fear of failure Celebrating student successes with the student
229 5.2 TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK Reflecting on the Practice of Teaching HARRY MURRAY, EILEEN GILLESE, MADELINE LENNON, PAUL MERCER, AND MARILYN ROBINSON 1996, STLHE/SAPES Permission is hereby granted to copy this document by whatever means, provided that it is reproduced in its entirety, including the title page with credit to the authors, and including the copyright information and this notice. Ethical Principles in University Teaching The purpose of this document is to provide a set of basic ethical principles that define the professional responsibilities of university professors in their role as teachers. Ethical principles are conceptualized here as general guidelines, ideals, or expectations that need to be taken into account, along with other relevant conditions and circumstances, in the design and analysis of university teaching. The intent of this document is not to provide a list of ironclad rules, or a systematic code of conduct, along with prescribed penalties for infractions, that will automatically apply in all situations and govern all eventualities. Similarly, the intent is not to contradict the concept of academic freedom, but rather to describe ways in which academic freedom can be exercised in a responsible manner. Finally, the present document is intended only as a first approximation, or as food for thought, not necessarily as a final product that is ready for adoption in the absence of discussion and consideration of local needs. Ethical Principles in University Teaching was developed by the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, and is endorsed by the winners of the national 3M teaching award whose names appear on the cover page. The document was created by individuals actively involved in university teaching, and will be distributed to university professors across Canada with the support of 3M Canada. The Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (STLHE) believes that implementation of an ethical code similar to that described herein will be advantageous to university teachers (e.g., in removing ambiguity concerning teaching responsibilities); and will contribute significantly to improvement of teaching. For these reasons, STLHE recommends that the document be discussed thoroughly at Canadian universities, with input from professors, students, and administrators, and that universities consider adopting or implementing ethical principles of teaching similar to those described in this document. PRINCIPLE 1: CONTENT COMPETENCE A university teacher maintains a high level of subject matter knowledge and ensures that course content is current, accurate, representative, and appropriate to the position of the course within the student s program of studies.
230 REFLECTING ON THE PRACTICE OF TEACHING 5.3 This principle means that a teacher is responsible for maintaining (or acquiring) subject matter competence not only in areas of personal interest but in all areas relevant to course goals or objectives. Appropriateness of course content implies that what is actually taught in the course is consistent with stated course objectives and prepares students adequately for subsequent courses for which the present course is a prerequisite. Representativeness of course content implies that for topics involving difference of opinion or interpretation, representative points of view are acknowledged and placed in perspective. Achievement of content competence requires that the teacher take active steps to be up-to-date in content areas relevant to his or her courses; to be informed of the content of prerequisite courses and of courses for which the teacher s course is prerequisite; and to provide adequate representation of important topic areas and points of view. Specific examples of failure to fulfil the principle of content competence occur when an instructor teaches subjects for which she or he has an insufficient knowledge base, when an instructor misinterprets research evidence to support a theory or social policy favored by the instructor, or when an instructor responsible for a prerequisite survey course teaches only those topics in which the instructor has a personal interest. Ethical Principles are general guidelines, ideals or expectations. PRINCIPLE 2: PEDAGOGICAL COMPETENCE A pedagogically competent teacher communicates the objectives of the course to students, is aware of alternative instructional methods or strategies, and selects methods of instruction that, according to research evidence (including personal or self-reflective research), are effective in helping students to achieve the course objectives. This principle implies that, in addition to knowing the subject matter, a teacher has adequate pedagogical knowledge and skills, including communication of objectives, selection of effective instructional methods, providing opportunity for practice and feedback, and dealing with student diversity. If mastery of a certain skill (e.g., critical analysis, design of experiments) is part of the course objectives and will be considered in evaluation and grading of students, the teacher provides students with adequate opportunity to practice and receive feedback on that skill during the course. If learning styles differ significantly for different students or groups of students, the teacher is aware of these differences and, if feasible, varies her or his style of teaching accordingly.
231 5.4 TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK To maintain pedagogical competence, an instructor takes active steps to stay current regarding teaching strategies that will help students learn relevant knowledge and skills and will provide equal educational opportunity for diverse groups. This might involve reading general or discipline-specific educational literature, attending workshops and conferences, or experi-mentation with alternative methods of teaching a given course or a specific group of students. Specific examples of failure to fulfil the principle of pedagogical competence include using an instructional method or assessment method that is incongruent with the stated course objectives (e.g., using exams consisting solely of fact-memorization questions when the main objective of the course is to teach problem-solving skills); and failing to give students adequate opportunity to practice or learn skills that are included in the course objectives and will be tested on the final exam. PRINCIPLE 3: DEALING WITH SENSITIVE TOPICS Topics that students are likely to find sensitive or discomforting are dealt with in an open, honest, and positive way. Among other things, this principle means that the teacher acknowledges from the outset that a particular topic is sensitive, and explains why it is necessary to include it in the course syllabus. Also, the teacher identifies his or her own perspective on the issue and compares it to alternative approaches or interpretations, thereby providing students with an understanding of the complexity of the issue and the difficulty of achieving a single objective conclusion. Finally, in order to provide a safe and open environment for class discussion, the teacher invites all students to state their position on the issue, sets ground rules for discussion, is respectful of students even when it is necessary to disagree, and encourages students to be respectful of one another. As one example of a sensitive topic, analysis of certain poems written by John Donne can cause distress among students who perceive racial slurs embedded in the professor s interpretation, particularly if the latter is presented as the authoritative reading of the poem. As a result, some students may view the class as closed and exclusive rather than open and inclusive. A reasonable option is for the professor s analysis of the poem to be followed by an open class discussion of other possible interpretations and the pros and cons of each. Another example of a sensitive topic occurs when a film depicting scenes of child abuse is shown, without forewarning, in a developmental psychology class. Assuming that such a film has a valid pedagogical role, student distress and discomfort can be minimized by warning students in advance of the content of the film, explaining why it is included in the curriculum, and providing opportunities for students to discuss their reactions to the film.
232 REFLECTING ON THE PRACTICE OF TEACHING 5.5 PRINCIPLE 4: STUDENT DEVELOPMENT The overriding responsibility of the teacher is to contribute to the intellectual development of the student, at least in the context of the teacher s own area of expertise, and to avoid actions such as exploitation and discrimination that detract from student development. According to this principle, the teacher s most basic responsibility is to design instruction that facilitates learning and encourages autonomy and independent thinking in students, to treat students with respect and dignity, and to avoid actions that detract unjustifiably from student development. Failure to take responsibility for student development occurs when a teacher comes to class underprepared, fails to design effective instruction, coerces students to adopt a particular value or point of view, or fails to discuss alternative theoretical interpretations (see also Principles 1, 2, and 3). Less obvious examples of failure to take responsibility for student development can arise when teachers ignore the power differential between themselves and students and behave in ways that exploit or denigrate students. Such behaviors include sexual or racial discrimination; derogatory comments toward students; taking primary or sole authorship of a publication reporting research conceptualized, designed, and conducted by a student collaborator; failure to acknowledge academic or intellectual debts to students; and assigning research work to students that serves the ends of the teacher but is unrelated to the educational goals of the course. In some cases, the teacher s responsibility to contribute to student development can come into conflict with responsibilities to other agencies, such as the university, the academic discipline, or society as a whole. This can happen, for example, when a marginal student requests a letter of reference in support of advanced education, or when a student with learning disabilities requests accommodations that require modification of normal grading standards or graduation requirements. There are no hard and fast rules that govern situations such as these. The teacher must weigh all conflicting responsibilities, possibly consult with other individuals, and come to a reasoned decision. PRINCIPLE 5: DUAL RELATIONSHIPS WITH STUDENTS To avoid conflict of interest, a teacher does not enter into dual-role relationships with students that are likely to detract from student development or lead to actual or perceived favoritism on the part of the teacher. This principle means that it is the responsibility of the teacher to keep relationships with students focused on pedagogical goals and academic requirements. The most obvious example of a dual relationship that is likely to impair teacher objectivity and/or detract from student development is any form of sexual or close personal relationship with a current student. Other potentially problematic dual relationships include: accepting a teaching (or grading) role with respect to a member of one s immediate family, a close
233 5.6 TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK friend, or an individual who is also a client, patient, or business partner; excessive socializing with students outside of class, either individually or as a group; lending money to or borrowing money from students; giving gifts to or accepting gifts from students; and introducing a course requirement that students participate in a political movement advocated by the instructor. Even if the teacher believes that she or he is maintaining objectivity in situations such as these, the perception of favoritism on the part of other students is as educationally disastrous as actual favoritism or unfairness. If a teacher does become involved in a dual relationship with a student, despite efforts to the contrary, it is the responsibility of the teacher to notify his or her supervisor of the situation as soon as possible, so that alternative arrangements can be made for supervision or evaluation of the student. Although there are definite pedagogical benefits to establishing good rapport with students and interacting with students both inside and outside the classroom, there are also serious risks of exploitation, compromise of academic standards, and harm to student development. It is the responsibility of the teacher to prevent these risks from materializing into real or perceived conflicts Students are provided with prompt and accurate feedback on their performance, an explanation as to how their work was graded, and constructive suggestions as to how to improve their standing in the course. of interest. PRINCIPLE 6: CONFIDENTIALITY Student grades, attendance records, and private communications are treated as confidential materials, and are released only with student consent, or for legitimate academic purposes, or if there are reasonable grounds for believing that releasing such information will be beneficial to the student or will prevent harm to others. This principle suggests that students are entitled to the same level of confidentiality in their relationships with teachers as would exist in a lawyer-client or doctor-patient relationship. Violation of confidentiality in the teacher-student relationship can cause students to distrust teachers and to show decreased academic motivation. Whatever rules or policies are followed with respect to confidentiality of student records, these should be disclosed in full to students at the beginning of the academic term. It could be argued that in the absence of adequate grounds (i.e., student consent, legitimate purpose, or benefit to student) any of the following could be construed as a violation of confidentiality: providing student academic records to a potential employer, researcher, or private investigator; discussing a student s grades or academic problems with another faculty member; and using privately communicated student experiences as teaching or
234 REFLECTING ON THE PRACTICE OF TEACHING 5.7 research materials. Similarly, leaving graded student papers or exams in a pile outside one s office makes it possible for any student to determine any other student s grade and thus fails to protect the confidentiality of individual student grades. This problem can be avoided by having students pick up their papers individually during office hours, or by returning papers with no grade or identifying information or grade visible on the cover page. PRINCIPLE 7: RESPECT FOR COLLEAGUES A university teacher respects the dignity of her or his colleagues and works cooperatively with colleagues in the interest of fostering student development. This principle means that in interactions among colleagues with respect to teaching, the overriding concern is the development of students. Disagreements between colleagues relating to teaching are settled privately, if possible, with no harm to student development. If a teacher suspects that a colleague has shown incompetence or ethical violations in teaching, the teacher takes responsibility for investigating the matter thoroughly and consulting privately with the colleague before taking further action. A specific example of failure to show respect for colleagues occurs when a teacher makes unwarranted derogatory comments in the classroom about the competence of another teacher...for example, Professor A tells students that information provided to them last year by Professor B is of no use and will be replaced by information from Professor A in the course at hand. Other examples of failure to uphold this principle would be for a curriculum committee to refuse to require courses in other departments that compete with their own department for student enrolment; or for Professor X to refuse a student permission to take a course from Professor Y, who is disliked by Professor X, even though the course would be useful to the student. PRINCIPLE 8: VALID ASSESSMENT OF STUDENTS Given the importance of assessment of student performance in university teaching and in students lives and careers, instructors are responsible for taking adequate steps to ensure that assessment of students is valid, open, fair, and congruent with course objectives. This principle means that the teacher is aware of research (including personal or selfreflective research) on the advantages and disadvantages of alternative methods of assessment, and based on this knowledge, the teacher selects assessment techniques that are consistent with the objectives of the course and at the same time are as reliable and valid as possible. Furthermore, assessment procedures and grading standards are communicated clearly to students at the beginning of the course, and except in rare circumstances, there is no deviation from the announced procedures. Student exams, papers, and assignments are graded carefully and fairly through the use of a rational
235 5.8 TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK marking system that can be communicated to students. By means appropriate for the size of the class, students are provided with prompt and accurate feedback on their performance at regular intervals throughout the course, an explanation as to how their work was graded, and constructive suggestions as to how to improve their standing in the course. In a similar vein, teachers are fair and objective in writing letters of reference for students. One example of an ethically questionable assessment practice is to grade students on skills that were not part of the announced course objectives and/or were not allocated adequate practice opportunity during the course. If students are expected to demonstrate critical inquiry skills on the final exam, they should have been given the opportunity to develop critical inquiry skills during the course. Another violation of valid assessment occurs when faculty members teaching two different sections of the same course use drastically different assessment procedures or grading standards, such that the same level of student performance earns significantly different final grades in the two sections. PRINCIPLE 9: RESPECT FOR INSTITUTION In the interests of student development, a university teacher is aware of and respects the educational goals, policies, and standards of the institution in which he or she teaches. This principle implies that a teacher shares a collective responsibility to work for the good of the university as a whole, to uphold the educational goals and standards of the university, and to abide by university policies and regulations pertaining to the education of students. Specific examples of failure to uphold the principle of respect for institution include engaging in excessive work activity outside the university that conflicts with university teaching responsibilities; and being unaware of or ignoring valid university regulations on provision of course outlines, scheduling of exams, or academic misconduct. REFERENCES The authors are indebted to the following for ideas that were incorporated into the present document: American Psychological Association (1990). Ethical principles of psychologists.american Psychologist, 45, University of Calgary (1994). Code of Professional Ethics for Academic Staff. Matthews, J.R. (1991). The teaching of ethics and the ethics of teaching. Teaching of Psychology, 18,
236 REFLECTING ON THE PRACTICE OF TEACHING 5.9 Reflecting on Your Teaching Learning new techniques for teaching is like the fish that provides a meal for today; reflective practice is the net that provides the meal for the rest of one s life (Biggs 2003, p. 7). Enhancing learning for our students involves more that just understanding and being able to apply general learning and teaching principles or guidelines. Most importantly, it involves being able to make sense of what is going on in our classrooms, which means understanding our students and being able to respond appropriately to their needs and feedback. It also involves understanding ourselves as teachers, which means being aware of why we do what we do and the impact of this upon our students learning. We develop this awareness and understanding through engaging in an ongoing process of reflection. The following provides an introduction to the following aspects of reflection and reflective practice: the benefits of reflective practice the critical components of reflective practice a framework for reflection. JAN MCLEAN Used with permission of the author THE BENEFITS OF REFLECTIVE PRACTICE Reflection involves thinking about and critically analysing our experiences and actions, and those of our students, with the goal of improving our professional practice. It allows us to adapt general guidelines of learning and teaching to our particular contexts and disciplines, and to our own particular teaching strengths and preferences. It is a necessary component to becoming a scholarly teacher and a reflective practitioner (Schon 1983), engaged in continuous self-directed development and capable of making informed decisions about approaches to learning and teaching within particular disciplinary and academic contexts. Most importantly, reflection helps us to develop our own learning and teaching framework. Brookfield (1995) proposes that this framework: allows us to consciously develop our own repertoire of strategies and techniques to draw upon in our teaching, which are relevant to our particular context and discipline helps us take informed actions that can be justified and explained to others and that we can use to generate answers to teaching problems allows us to adjust and respond to issues and problems. For instance, rather than being devastated by a poor teaching evaluation, it allows us to investigate and understand
237 5.10 TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK what underlies these evaluations and to take appropriate action, which might be to adjust our teaching helps us to become aware of our underlying beliefs and assumptions about learning and teaching so we understand why we do what we do and what might need to change helps to promote a positive learning environment. Through reflection, our teaching becomes responsive to student feedback and needs, which can serve to build trust in students when they see their feedback is valued and taken seriously through changes to teaching helps us to locate our teaching in the broader institutional, social, and political context and to appreciate the many factors that influence student learning. In this way, reflection helps us to keep our perspectives and to avoid blaming ourselves for every problem that arises in our classrooms. THE CRITICAL COMPONENTS OF REFLECTIVE PRACTICE To be effective, reflection should be a continuous cycle in which experience and reflection on this experience are inextricably linked. This is demonstrated by a model proposed by Boud, Keogh, and Walker (1985) where reflection involves returning to the experience, attending to the feelings and re-evaluating the experience based on current knowledge and intent, and integrating this new knowledge into your conceptual framework (pp ). Concrete experience and reflective observation are also critical stages of the experiential learning cycle, a model developed by Kolb and Fry (1975). These models demonstrate the cyclic nature of reflective practice, and Biggs (2003) suggests that an effective way to formally encourage and direct reflective practice is as action research which is being systematic about changing your teaching and making sure the changes are in the right direction; that your students are now learning better than they used to (Biggs 2003, p. 7).
238 REFLECTING ON THE PRACTICE OF TEACHING 5.11 Another important element is that reflection is not just about the individual and, when used effectively, can enhance the development of communities of practice. When our reflection is cyclical, our practice can develop into a systematic inquiry that begins alone with personal reflection on our own learning and teaching experiences, but becomes collective when informed by our interactions with colleagues, students, and the theoretical literature. A FRAMEWORK FOR REFLECTION Brookfield (1995) emphasises that reflection goes beyond just describing what we do, to thinking about why we do things and to whether they have gone as intended, why we think they may have worked well, and how we might do them differently next time. To do this effectively, we somehow need to assume the perspective of an external observer to ourselves, which can be quite a difficult thing to do. He suggests that an effective way to move beyond the limitations of our own experiences and to reframe our teaching is by viewing our practice through lenses that reflect back to us a differently highlighted picture of who we are and what we do. Brookfield proposes the following four lenses: our autobiographies as learners our colleagues experiences and perceptions our students eyes the theoretical literature. Our autobiographies as learners We can draw great insights into how we teach by examining our own learning. Referring to our biographies puts us in the role of other, so we can stand back from our own experience and view it more objectively. The tools to help us do this include reflective logs or journals, diaries, concept mapping, and critical incident surveys. Our colleagues experiences and perceptions Hearing colleagues experiences allows us to check, reframe, and broaden our own theories of practice, and to consider new ideas, ways of doing things, and problemsolving approaches that we might not have thought of ourselves. It also makes us aware that we all share common problems and issues, which can be profoundly reassuring and can also suggest ways we can work together to overcome these challenges. Our students eyes Brookfield describes seeing ourselves through our students eyes as one of the most consistently surprising elements in any teacher s career. It allows us to check student understanding and find out whether they are hearing what we intended them to hear;
239 5.12 TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK it can also allow us to become aware of the diversity of meanings students interpret from our actions. Some methods for collecting this feedback include Critical Incident Questionnaires, student performance, informal feedback, and formal evaluations. The theoretical literature Theory can help us to understand our practice and experience by naming it in different ways. The theoretical literature can extend our understanding and appreciation of our own learning and teaching practice by offering interpretive frameworks. It can provide multiple perspectives on similar situations that seem challenging in different ways, and it can help us to maintain perspective by indicating that what we see as personal failings might arise from broader economic, social, and political processes. REFERENCES Biggs, J. 2003, Teaching for Quality Learning at University: What the Student Does, 2nd ed, SRHE & Open University Press, Berkshire. Brookfield, S. 1995, Becoming a Critically Reflective Teacher, Jossey-Bass, San Francisco. Boud, D., Cohen, R. & Walker, D. (eds) 1993, Using Experience for Learning, SRHE & Open University Press, Buckingham. Boud, D., Keogh, R. & Walker, D. 1985, Reflection: Turning Experience into Learning, Croom Helm, London. Kolb, D. 1984, Experiential Learning: Experience as the Source of Learning and Development, Prentice-Hall, New Jersey. Kolb, D. and Fry, R. 1975, Toward an applied theory of experiential learning, in C. Cooper (ed.) Theory of Group Processes, John Wiley and Sons Inc, New York. Schon, D. 1983, The Reflective Practitioner: How Professionals Think in Action, Temple Smith, London MARY BENBOW Used with permission of the author Developing a Statement of Teaching Philosophy Astatement of teaching philosophy is a central component of a teaching dossier and is often required in applications for academic positions. Faculty often view developing and writing their statements of teaching philosophy as onerous and perplexing. One of the reasons for this is that faculty are not clearly aware of their own guiding philosophy or are confused by the notion of a philosophy determining their everyday activities. Therefore, it is important that in developing a statement of teaching philosophy that faculty realize that the aim is to reveal an underlying philosophy rather than trying to create one. To accomplish this we therefore need to understand what a statement of teaching philosophy is for, some general guidelines of how it can structured and presented, but in particular how we can reflect upon our teaching and discover our own guiding philosophy. In developing a statement of teaching philosophy, however, there are also a few points to keep in mind:
240 REFLECTING ON THE PRACTICE OF TEACHING 5.13 A statement of teaching philosophy must distinctively and authentically convey the individuality of the author. The development and writing of a statement of teaching philosophy will require a few drafts and reviewing as with any other piece of writing. Similarly the final version must be impeccable in terms of spelling and grammar. Therefore, some time (but not a lot) will need to be devoted to this process as well as creativity and thought. The final statement should be only one to three pages in length, be written in plain language avoiding excessive jargon. However, it is important to keep in mind who will read the statement and for what purpose. As these statements become part of career decision-making procedures, it is important for statement authors to present their most authentic and best selves. THE ROLE OF THE STATEMENT OF TEACHING PHILOSOPHY A statement of teaching philosophy can either stand alone, often as part of a job application, or as an introduction to a teaching dossier. For the latter, the statement needs to refer to aspects of teaching revealed in the larger dossier document. In writing a statement of teaching philosophy an instructor may not only become aware of their own guiding principles but also of how they would like to develop as a teacher. Readers of a statement of teaching philosophy do so with a mental agenda regarding expected and desired qualities and writers obviously need to be aware of this. A statement of teaching philosophy is a useful way to indicate interests and strengths evidenced in a teaching dossier. In particular, however, a statement of teaching philosophy can indicate the scholarly and informed motivations for the many choices in teaching practice, and in doing so convey a deeper and authentic picture of the author. DEVELOPING A STATEMENT OF TEACHING PHILOSOPHY In academia, our scholarly development is strongly influenced by our experience of others work. Therefore, it is not surprising that faculty will feel at a loss in writing a statement of teaching philosophy if they have little or no prior experience of reading one. Therefore, as a first step, looking at relevant statements of teaching philosophy from colleagues and peers can be a useful way to develop a basic picture of what is expected. Peter Seldin s book The Teaching Portfolio and O Neil and Wright s Recording Teaching Accomplishment include some examples. Colleagues and peers may also be willing to share their own statements. However, in the absence of available models relevant to an author s specialty, > Each of us brings unique gifts and skills to teaching and consequently our own statement of teaching philosophy should be equally unique, professional, and compelling. TIP
241 5.14 TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK examples may be found online; a quick Google search entering key words (e.g. teaching/ philosophy/your discipline) can yield numerous examples. It is, of course, obvious that this can provide some ideas but the final statement must be entirely original save for perhaps a few carefully cited academic sources; it would be most unwise to cite another s statement of teaching philosophy. At its most basic, the development of a statement of teaching philosophy requires the author to reflect on a few basic questions that can produce an array of diverse and extensive answers. For example: Why do I teach? Why do I teach the way I do? What does teaching in my discipline mean to me? How do students learn? How have my past experiences brought me to where I am today? How do I see my teaching developing in the future? How do I view the relationship between teaching and research? In general, what are my teaching objectives? Do I have a mission? In our time-pressed lives it can be difficult to find time to reflect on questions such as these. A few strategies to develop ideas around these questions include: Brainstorm ideas with a colleague over coffee or lunch. Write these questions on a whiteboard or large piece of paper in an area of your office where it is visible. Jot down ideas as they come to you. Note down keywords or terms that are most meaningful for you, rather than immediately trying to write formal answers to these questions. Consider whether these questions could they be answered using an experience in your past, the influence of a mentor, or an important topic in your field? THE STRUCTURE OF A STATEMENT OF TEACHING PHILOSOPHY There are numerous ways to express the ideas that become apparent through such selfreflection, and most frequently the chosen form is that of formal written text. Under certain circumstances, an image, a piece of creative writing such as a poem, or a metaphor may be a useful and discipline-relevant tool. However, before employing such unusual formats, be sure that they are widely accepted forms of expression in your discipline. If in doubt, err on the side of caution. You may wish to introduce your statement of teaching philosophy with an introductory paragraph describing yourself and your career experience to date. This could include
242 REFLECTING ON THE PRACTICE OF TEACHING 5.15 your years of experience, field, type of courses taught, and so on. Organize the paragraphs that follow to focus on certain themes and conclude with future goals. Some writing suggestions include: Develop a list of key terms and ideas that you feel must be evident in your statement of teaching philosophy. Keep in mind who will be reading your statement of teaching philosophy. If possible, allow some time after writing before you review the final product. Even better, ask a valued colleague to read it through and give you their honest comments. Last but not least, keep in mind that each of us brings unique gifts and skills to teaching and consequently our own statement of teaching philosophy should be equally unique, professional, and compelling. REFERENCES Seldin, P., 1997, The Teaching Portfolio: A Practical Guide to Improve Performance and Promotion/Tenure Decisions. O Neil, C. and Wright, A., 1993, Recording Teaching Accomplishment: A Dalhousie Guide to the Teaching Dossier. Using Student Feedback: Mid-term Student Evaluations of Teaching Mid-term course evaluations are becoming more popular with faculty who are interested in improving their teaching and student learning. Mid-term evaluations may take the form of a formal questionnaire, an open-ended request for written comments, or an open discussion with the class. Questions might be as general as, What do you like about the class so far? or How can the class be improved? On the other hand, an instructor might be interested to learn how a specific assignment or segment of the syllabus was received. In this case, questions could focus on specific activities: Do you feel that the in-class writing assignments have improved your understanding of the material? or Are you receiving sufficient feedback on your assignments? If the teacher wishes to evaluate the success of a series of class sessions, an end-of-class minute-paper would be very useful. Students, in this case, are asked to comment on the most important point they learned in the class or to write any questions they still have about the topic. This relatively informal method of feedback not only helps the instructor learn whether a certain lesson has achieved its goals but also helps students review and articulate what they learned. The process of mid-term evaluation allows students to provide feedback on the teaching in a given course while there is still time for the instructor to react to their comments. MARK LAWALL Reprinted with permission of author
243 5.16 TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK A frequent comment from students is that they do not see any changes or results from the end-of-term process of instructor or course evaluation. Of course, not all changes suggested by students may be desirable or feasible. You might get conflicting suggestions. Even so, the process of a mid-term evaluation can open a useful dialogue between instructor and students. In the case of conflicting suggestions, follow-up discussion should address the instructor s reasons for adopting one or neither suggestion. Mid-term evaluations are most successful when used strictly for self-improvement and exploring areas of interest to the faculty member. Any criticism should be offered and taken constructively. There is an ever-present danger in this process that negative comments might create a hostile classroom atmosphere. For this reason, students should be assured that the intent of the exercise is the improvement of the class. This aim should be discussed with the students throughout the process. In order to insure this constructive atmosphere, the following conditions are advisable: Teachers should only initiate a process of mid-term evaluation on a voluntary basis. The format and content of the mid-term evaluation should remain the decision of the individual instructor. Mid-term evaluations should be viewed as collaborative research with students working with the instructor to improve the course. The results of the exercise should not be used for unintended purposes such as consideration for promotion or tenure. Mid-term evaluations should be viewed as collaborative research with students working with the instructor to improve the course. This collaborative venture can become quite difficult to implement in faculties using multiple instructors or team-taught courses. If an instructor only teaches one class period, how can there be a mid-term evaluation? One approach in such cases is to use the mid-term evaluation to learn how the individual instructors are serving the overall objectives of the course and how the students perceive their learning in the course as a whole. Feedback midway through such a course might remind the remaining instructors that they should, for example, remember to clarify how their unit fits into the curriculum. This might not be a problem for the remaining instructors, but if this was a problem in the first half of the course, students will appreciate its resolution in the second half. Perhaps the greatest fear associated with this, or any method of teaching evaluation, is that mid-term evaluations mean even more paper-work for faculty and even more time away from teaching-time for students to complete questionnaires. An advantage of this method, however is that the instructor has complete control over the amount and nature
244 REFLECTING ON THE PRACTICE OF TEACHING 5.17 of the resulting feedback. A long questionnaire is not mandatory; a single, open-ended question, seeking a short response, may satisfy the instructor s interests. The instructor also determines the amount of time spent discussing and administering the evaluation. Whatever amount of time spent will be regained by the resulting increase in student interest in their own learning process and by the refinement of teaching methods to maximize student learning. Indeed, Overall and Marsh s (1979) study of a multi-section computer programming course found that students in sections using mid-term evaluations performed better on common final examinations, rated their instructors higher on end-ofterm evaluations, and developed a greater interest in the course content, as compared with their peers in other sections. Using the Student Evaluation of Educational Quality (SEEQ) The Student Evaluation of Educational Quality (SEEQ) was developed by Herbert Marsh in the late 1970s. It has been extensively analyzed, has a high degree of reliability (r = ), correlates well with a wide range of measures of learning outcome, and correlates well with instructors self ratings. The SEEQ is one of many student evaluation tools and was adopted by the University of Manitoba in 1996 after considerable investigation and discussion. The vast majority of institutions of higher education utilize student evaluations and they are widely viewed as important tools of accountability. Faculty commonly express concerns regarding the value of the SEEQ as an evaluation of their teaching. But, evaluation results of teaching tend to show significant similarities regardless of the tool used. Some of the concerns reflect certain trends whilst others, although often raised, are without foundation. For example: elective courses generally receive higher ratings than required courses, majors tend to receive more favourable ratings than minors, students who have a prior interest in subject matter also tend to give higher ratings. there are differences between disciplines. the relationship between research productivity and teacher ratings is either positive or nil, and student ratings are positively correlated with those of alumni. MARY BENBOW Used with permission of author
245 5.18 TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK It is important for faculty to recognize that student evaluations are required for each course with six or more students (except where exempt with Senate approval), but it is far more important for them to utilize the available data in an appropriate manner and to use it to make changes where relevant. Outlined below are suggestions to use the SEEQ more effectively and how to generate, analyze, present and use the SEEQ data. A DESCRIPTION OF THE SEEQ The SEEQ survey sheet has a total of 41 questions with spaces for an additional 27 responses to questions provided in an additional handout. Additional questions can be developed by the instructor to gain specific feedback on particular topics of interest that the standard SEEQ questions may not cover. A database of potential supplementary questions can be found at the University of Curtin website. The standard SEEQ questions are grouped into Factors that indicate areas of interest, such as learning, enthusiasm, organization, and individual rapport. Question 1-29 are formative questions that can be useful to provide direction for teaching development. Questions are the summative questions that provide a general indication of the overall experience of the course and an assessment of the instructor. There are also eight questions (questions 33-41) that can yield useful information about the students including their views on the pace of the course and workload, and also additional characteristics such as their year of study. Space is also provided on the survey sheet for students to add their own written comments. In reviewing SEEQ data, it is important that all of the questions are examined to give an accurate picture of the evaluation. ADMINISTRATION OF THE SEEQ Some units are exempt from using the SEEQ but have also developed their own evaluation tools that are more suited to their distinctive teaching conditions. In addition, some units distribute their own evaluation tool in addition to the SEEQ. In both cases, as the SEEQ is Senate-mandated, permission is required to use these alternate evaluation approaches. Toward the end of a course, the SEEQ is distributed to students in class following uniform procedures and without the instructor present. Additional questions may also be provided, and the survey sheets are collected and sealed. These are computer scanned and the raw results produced in table form. Copies of the summary sheet are kept by each unit, and copies are stored in the University of Manitoba Libraries and the University of Manitoba Students Union (UMSU). Students, indeed anyone, can view all the SEEQ summaries by requesting the data at either a library or at the UMSU office.
246 REFLECTING ON THE PRACTICE OF TEACHING 5.19 USING THE SEEQ DATA The SEEQ is one of a number of potential sources of information regarding teaching quality and success. Instructors may wish to have a colleague or peer consultant observe their teaching and provide feedback. Instructors may also undertake their own research, in the form of the scholarship of teaching and learning, as a means to objectively measure the impact of their teaching practices. Student evaluations however are regularly obtained and so have the added benefit of providing consistent feedback that can effectively track changes over time and indicate quality on a wide variety of topics. The SEEQ summary statistics indicate the number and percentage of responses to each option for each question. A quick overview can indicate the dominant response to each question, and can also show outliers in the data. An overview of the student and course characteristics data can also help in revealing the nature of the students and their experience. In the case of an outlier, instructors can sort through the survey sheets returned to them to identify the outlier respondent and then examine their other responses to identify concerns. For example, if there is one student who indicates dissatisfaction regarding learning, it may be because they are a more advanced student than the rest of the class (indicated by year in program). Written comments can also be very useful in that they provide not only an indication of student satisfaction but also offer insightful suggestions for changes in the future. Obviously supplementary questions can also provide valuable information on specific topics of concern to the instructor. Evaluation data is diagnostic and not prescriptive; our aim therefore is not to change teaching to improve scores, but to use the data to develop areas of concern. Prior to looking at the SEEQ data it is most beneficial for instructors to make a copy of a blank survey sheet and assess their own course and teaching practices. The data from the self-evaluation can be compared to the student SEEQ data. The comparison can indicate strengths and weaknesses of which an instructor was aware, or unaware, as well as perhaps temper their response to student feedback. Instructors can systematically review their evaluation, identify potential areas of development, and then evaluate teaching practices to institute in the future. PRESENTING SEEQ DATA Data from student evaluations are important components in annual reviews and for tenure and promotion. In addition, often job advertisements specify interest in teaching success which can be addressed by evaluation data. At The University of Manitoba, Senate-mandated guidelines preclude the manipulation and further statistical analysis of the SEEQ data by administrators, in order to prevent the production of misleading
247 5.20 TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK league tables. However, individual instructors are allowed to create averages of their own data that can be presented in table form; this can usefully track changes in responses from year to year. This provides a useful summary, especially in teaching dossiers, for promotion and tenure decisions where SEEQ data may have been collected for many years. However, it is also important to include copies of the original summary report. Although instructors find the students written comments to be very informative, such written statements are considered to be anonymous so must not be included in documents used for making employment and career decisions such as tenure. MAKING CHANGE IN TEACHING PRACTICE The primary purpose of collecting student evaluation data is to improve teaching and learning. Once an instructor can review student responses, it is also important to consider what changes to their teaching they may wish to implement in the future. It is however extremely important to keep in mind that such evaluation data is diagnostic and not prescriptive; our aim therefore is not to change teaching to improve scores, but to use the data to develop areas of concern. The evaluation may reveal a few areas of practice that may benefit from change. However, it can also be useful to seek advice from a colleague or unit head. In looking at the SEEQ data there are often a number of areas that might indicate a need for change so it is important to consider which are the most important to the instructor and their discipline. Once a number of areas for improved have been identified, the instructor needs to decide where and how to make changes. Written comments may clarify concerns and provide suggestions. Tips to Improve Academic Teaching, available from University Teaching Services, provides tips for each SEEQ factor and provides a useful beginning. Instructors may wish to take a relevant workshop, undertake some self-directed research on the teaching, or request advice from a colleague. A number of potential choices may become apparent and instructor may wish to chose one, or perhaps try a number to examine their effect. Finally, it is most effective to monitor the impact of the implemented changes by using a mid-term evaluation, monitoring SEEQ data in following years, or by asking a colleague or peer consultant to observe class practice.
248 REFLECTING ON THE PRACTICE OF TEACHING 5.21 Peer Review of Teaching: A Multi-Faceted Approach to Improving Student Learning There has been much debate on the degree to which academy values teaching as compared to research by faculty members. One way to determine the value of an activity is to look at how the activity is evaluated. The sine qua non in the evaluation of scholarly research is peer review. As scholars, we present our research findings to our peers at conferences and publish in peer- reviewed journals. Peer review is the way we evaluate the quality of our research. Consider how teaching is evaluated. Often, student evaluations are the only measure taken to assess the quality of teaching. While student evaluations are an important part of teaching assessment (Marsh 1987; McKeachie et al. 1991), there are certain aspects of teaching that should be evaluated by peers. As Hutchings (1996a) states (emphasis in original): If teaching were to be seen as scholarly, intellectual work, it would not be enough to evaluate teaching simply by looking at student ratings. Teaching, like research, should be peer reviewed. Indeed, until teaching is peer reviewed, it will never be truly valued. Besides the need for peer review as a validating agent of effective teaching, peer review is also essential in the improvement of teaching. In the booming, buzzing confusion of the classroom, it is hard for the instructor, who is deeply involved in the process, to take it all in. The help of a peer in seeing ourselves teach from the outside is imperative when trying to improve teaching (Shulman 1993). When I started this study, my view of peer review of teaching was very one-dimensional. For me, peer review of teaching meant having another faculty member sit in on my class and critique it. As my research unfolded, I discovered there is much more to peer review. In fact, using several methods in combination can result in a synergistic whole greater than the individual methods themselves. This study, then, outlines several methods that have been successfully used in the peer review of teaching. MATTHEW W. ROBERTS Used with permission of The Teaching Excellence Center at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville PEER REVIEW OF TEACHING: ELEMENTS OF SUCCESS Before discussing the methods used for peer review of teaching, it is important to determine the attributes of a successful peer review program. As Hutchings (1996b) states, the three main goals of peer review should be: 1. Intellectual rigor, 2. Appropriateness to the discipline, and 3. Improvement of teaching.
249 5.22 TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK > As the last of these goals states, peer review should not just be about evaluating teaching but should improve student learning. In addition, it is important that peer review be a process that is owned by the faculty. As Hutchings (1996a) states (emphasis in the original), On most campuses, the evaluation of teaching is something that happens to faculty; they are objects, not agents, of the process. Time is also an important consideration. Faculty are very busy and reluctant to commit to excessively time-consuming projects. In many of the peer review projects I studied, the time commitment was surprisingly small. It was typically on the order of a half hour per week or less. METHODS OF PEER REVIEW OF TEACHING Having established the elements of a successful program and that peer review of teaching is important, below is a discussion on various techniques that can be used. Reciprocal Visits and Observations Visiting the classroom was initially what I thought of as peer review of teaching. In my study, I not only realized that there were other helpful methods but that classroom visitation can be more involved than I had initially envisioned. A successful classroom visitation program will provide many of the following elements (Hutchings 1996a): Multiple visits occur throughout the semester. A previsit meeting is held to discuss expectations and aspects of instruction that should be watched for. The visitation is discussed afterward. TIP Attributes of a peer review program include: 1. Intellectual rigor 2. Appropriateness to the discipline 3. Improvement of teaching Student interviews are conducted to gain further insight into the classroom experience. More information on effective student interviews can be found in Morehead and Shedd (1980). Students are informed of the process and what to expect. Observations are based on a systematic teaching model, and observers are trained on how to evaluate teaching based on the model (Millis and Kaplan 1995). A good fit is found between the purposes of the observation and the observers. For example, if assessing the content of instruction is important, then someone current in the field should be chosen. Or, if a teaching method is to be assessed, the observer should have expertise in working with and evaluating the method. An important consideration of using classroom visitation is the lack of anonymity for observers. Because of this, it is difficult to elicit the frank assessment that is needed for a summative evaluation of
250 REFLECTING ON THE PRACTICE OF TEACHING 5.23 teaching (French-Lazovik 1975). In addition, class visitation is typically more effective when used in conjunction with other methods, such as student interviews (as mentioned above). An alternative to student interviews is the Small Group Instructional Diagnosis (White 1991). In this method, the class is broken into small groups of 4-6 students. In their groups, the students discuss and come up with answers for questions such as What helps you learn in this class? and What improvements would you like, and how would you suggest they be made? After the group discussion, the class is brought together, and the groups report their answers. Further discussion ensues to distill the answers to the most important issues, which are then reported to the instructor. Teaching Circles A teaching circle is a small group of faculty that meet to improve teaching and learning. A successful teaching circle will (Hutchings 1996a): Have a clear purpose with goals, expectations, and ground rules; Focus on specifics such as student groups or curriculum (teaching circles that entail general discussion of teaching are usually not as effective); and Disseminate results through the publishing of minutes, the creation of a brochure, publication of a scholarly paper, etc. Teaching circles are often formed that focus on a specialized topic like large classes or first-year students. One teaching circle included students who were able to provide valuable insight. Another used the Internet to conduct the meetings online. The organizer of a teaching circle that included faculty from the mathematics department noted, Mathematicians are allergic to anything with a touch-feely quality, and so the teaching circle had to be more rigorous in nature (Hutchings 1996a). I would imagine the same would hold true for engineering professors. Accordingly, if I am ever involved in setting up a teaching circle, I will ensure that the structure does not become too touch-feely. In reading about teaching circles, one catalyst for success was mentioned repeatedly: providing refreshments! Teaching Portfolios Teaching portfolios are an effective way to document teaching excellence. A peer review of the portfolio further helps to improve teaching. Some advantages of teaching portfolios as a peer review technique are (Hutchings 1996a): They give faculty more control over assessment, If teaching were to be seen as scholarly, intellectual work, it would not be enough to evaluate teaching simply by looking at student ratings. Teaching, like research, should be peer reviewed.
251 5.24 TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK They complement student ratings, and They provide a way to share teaching technique with others. While teaching portfolios have been used for some time, a course portfolio may be more helpful in some situations. Focusing on a specific course helps to get a better grasp on the content offered and leads to improved teaching. For teaching or course portfolios, there are several guidelines for success: The purpose of the portfolio (if it is required) should be clear. That is, the faculty should know what is at stake based on evaluation of the portfolio. Faculty should be encouraged to be selective in the material included and avoid including material just in case. This will ease the burden on those who evaluate the portfolio and increase the likelihood the evaluators will actually read the portfolio. Various kinds of evidence (quantitative and qualitative) should be included from various sources (colleagues, former students, etc.). The portfolio should include reflective commentary to indicate to reviewers what to look for. The portfolio can be thought of like a research paper complete with a thesis with relevant evidence (Hutchings 1996a). The portfolio should set goals and show how they are achieved. Team Teaching Working with a colleague in the teaching of a class is a good way to assess and improve teaching. Team teaching has been raised to new levels with the advent of coordinated studies. In coordinated studies, students take a block of classes rather than registering for individual classes. This coordination of classes allows the instructors to better mesh the content of the separate courses and improve student learning. The professors of the coordinated classes can meet to discuss specific students. Such a system involves much planning and institutional support. Collaborative Inquiry As Austin and Baldwin (1991) state, The image of the solitary scholar working alone in a library carrel or laboratory is no more than a fond memory or historical artifact. Just as collaboration has become ubiquitous in scholarly research, it is important for educational goals as well. Collaboration can help to assess whether a desired instructional goal is being met. It is especially important to use collaboration when the desired assessment falls outside the expertise of the instructor. Collaborative inquiry is also desirable to show that teaching methods are effective. One instructor who had seen a dramatic improvement in student performance was told by colleagues that his results were interesting, but they desired more proof that the students were actually better than before, not
252 REFLECTING ON THE PRACTICE OF TEACHING 5.25 simply that they liked the new teaching method better (Hutchings 1996a). In response, he designed a study using collaborative inquiry and found that his new method did indeed appear to improve student performance. In my naïveté, I initially decided that I would study the best practices of peer review of teaching. I had decided to find the best program and hoped to emulate such a program. In doing the research for this study, I realized that there is no best practice for the peer review of teaching. There are many successful methods that can be employed depending on the goals of the instructor and the type of information desired. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I am greatly appreciative of funding from the Teaching Excellence Center at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville to conduct this study. REFERENCES Austin, A. E. and Baldwin, R. G. (1991). Faculty collaboration: Enhancing the quality of scholarship and teaching. ASHE-ERIC Higher Education Report 7, The George Washington University School of Education and Human Development, Washington, DC. French-Lazovik, G. (1975). Evaluation of college teaching: Guidelines for summative and formative procedures, Association of American Colleges, Washington, DC. Hutchings, P. (1996a). Making teaching community property: A menu for peer collaboration and peer review, American Association for Higher Education, Washington, DC. Hutchings, P. (1996b). The peer collaboration and review of teaching. Occasional Paper # 33, American Council of Learned Societies. Marsh, H. W. (1987). Students evaluation of university teachings: Research findings, methodological issues, and directions for future research, Pergamon, Elmsford, NY. McKeachie, W. J., Lin, Y.-G., Daugherty, M., Moffett, M. M., Neigler, C., Nork, J., Walz, M., and Baldwin, R. (1991). Using student ratings and consultation to improve instruction. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 6(1), Millis, B. J. and Kaplan, B. B. (1995). Enhancing teaching through peer classroom observations. Improving College Teaching, P. Seldin, ed., Boston, MA, Anker Publishing, Morehead, J.W. and Shedd, P. J. (1980). Student interviews: A vital role in the scholarship of teaching. Innovative Higher Education, 50, Shulman, L. S. (1993). Teaching as community property: Putting an end to pedagogical solitude. Change, 25(6), 6 7. White, K. E. (1991). Mid-course adjustments: Using small group instructional diagnosis to improve teaching and learning. Washington Center News, 6(1),
253 5.26 TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK Developing Your Teaching Dossier MARY BENBOW Used with permission of author WHAT IS A TEACHING DOSSIER? Ateaching dossier consists of two major components: the first part describes and explains your teaching activities; the second part consists of a collection of teaching materials and evidence to support your written statements. A teaching dossier is, therefore, a comprehensive record of teaching activities including teaching responsibilities, goals, philosophy, and evidence of teaching innovations and effectiveness. A teaching dossier is often required in applications for university positions, for tenure and promotion, and for annual activity reports. When preparing a teaching dossier it is important to bear in mind the following issues: Every teacher is different, and so every teaching dossier will be different. The most daunting requirement of a teaching dossier is the development of the statement of teaching philosophy. Remember that even if you are not aware of your teaching philosophy, it forms an integral part of your teaching activities. Even if you have not yet verbalized your philosophy, it is already there! Develop a system of filing and record-keeping that eases the collection of teaching materials, evaluations, and evidence. Teaching dossiers require only a representative sampling of evidence. Select pieces of evidence from your records that effectively convey your teaching innovations, students work, and course materials. THE PURPOSE OF A TEACHING DOSSIER There are three main purposes for which a faculty member would develop a teaching dossier (Seldin, 1997): Reflective: To assemble sufficient information to allow each faculty member to reflect on his/her teaching. Formative: To present information which accurately reflects teaching activities and accomplishments as a basis for making decisions about further developing one s teaching. Administrative: To present information required to apply for academic posts, tenure, promotion, annual reviews, and awards. Note: Although you may develop your teaching dossier for one specific purpose (for example, tenure), that does not preclude you from using it to reflect upon, and as a consequence, to improve upon your teaching.
254 REFLECTING ON THE PRACTICE OF TEACHING 5.27 THE STEPS IN PRODUCING A TEACHING DOSSIER The following steps identify the stages in the development of a teaching dossier (O Neil and Wright, 1993). Each step requires that faculty are aware of their teaching priorities and practices. However, during the development of a teaching dossier, additional or alternate priorities and practices can reveal themselves. Therefore, the development of a teaching dossier is often a tentative process as you return to prior stages in order to include additional ideas. The following stages are common in this dynamic process: Clarify teaching responsibilities Describe your approach to teaching Select items to include and prepare statements on each Decide on order of items Update regularly GUIDELINES FOR TEACHING DOSSIERS The dominant purpose of your teaching dossier (reflective, formative, or administrative) will give you some direction in the nature of its content. Make sure that you understand what materials your teaching dossier needs to include, and what aspects of your teaching need to be described. This is especially important for dossiers developed for tenure and promotion. Make sure you have copies of Departmental, Faculty, and University Guidelines for annual reviews, tenure, and promotion, as well as the relevant parts of the Collective Agreement. A teaching dossier is a comprehensive record of teaching activities including teaching responsibilities, goals, philosophy, and evidence of teaching innovations and effectiveness. Teaching Responsibilities You need to identify your teaching responsibilities in order to explain what, and how much, you teach. The reader of your teaching dossier may be unfamiliar with your area of expertise, faculty, or institution, and in addition, you may have experienced changes in your career or teaching load. Therefore, you need to identify, for example, additional administrative responsibilities, maternity or paternity leave, course remissions, and additional teaching responsibilities. It is also useful to show how your responsibilities compare to those of your colleagues. This information can reveal a great deal about your teaching priorities and how they change. Keep this data on a year-by-year basis and consider what it means.
255 5.28 TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK Writing Your Statement of Teaching Philosophy Your teaching philosophy encompasses the principles that direct your teaching style and activities. It explains why you teach the way you do, and so acts as a foundation for evidence of your teaching activities and accomplishments. The statement of teaching philosophy is usually one to three pages in length and describes, in general terms, why you teach the way you do. It is also a useful way to introduce a teaching dossier, because it establishes the context of the information and materials that follow. Although the principles and ideas that it contains are familiar to you and guide your everyday activities, the development of a statement of teaching philosophy can be a daunting prospect and is often viewed as a difficult task. The approach outlined in this handbook (see Developing a Statement of Teaching Philosophy ) will provide you with a number of ideas on which to draw, as you build your statement of teaching philosophy. Evidence of Teaching Activities and Accomplishments The other major component of a teaching dossier is the evidence of your teaching activities and accomplishments. This evidence, which can encompass a broad range of materials, demonstrates how you put your teaching philosophy into practice. This is also the point at which many teachers find they have a huge amount of material, and as a consequence, some teaching dossiers become extremely large. Therefore, it is important to remember that, regardless of the purpose of your teaching dossier, it is not intended to be a complete repository of all your teaching materials. Keep complete copies of your teaching materials in your filing cabinet and select only representative evidence for your teaching dossier. Selecting Items to Include in Your Teaching Dossier It is especially important to note that for tenure and promotion, committee members may expect to see certain pieces of evidence. It is important to identify these and ensure that they are well-represented in your teaching dossier. Students evaluations List of courses List of materials and how they are used Participation in workshops Observations from colleagues Attempts at innovations (and the results) Letters from students Curriculum development (including new courses you proposed) Supervision of honours, masters, and doctoral students Tests, exercises, etc., and examples of students work
256 REFLECTING ON THE PRACTICE OF TEACHING 5.29 Other Materials Included in Teaching Dossiers There is a broad range of other materials that can also be included in your teaching dossier, and although the list presented here is fairly extensive, there are probably many ideas that it does not cover. It is important to include materials that reflect your teaching, and those materials may include sources that are not covered here. Record of changes made in teaching, and results Statement of teaching plans and goals for the future Evidence to illustrate your teaching methods (such as discussion groups, critical thinking, technologies, fieldwork, and students projects) Personal evaluation of teaching Research concerning teaching Awards and recognition of teaching Information about student interaction, advising, and availability Service to committees focused upon teaching Funding for teaching-related projects How non-print materials are used in class (computer software, movies) Tests and exercises, as a reflection of your academic rigor Students performance on standardized tests (pre- and post-course) Invitations to present papers on teaching your discipline (or presentations to outside agencies) Role in faculty development, such as mentoring new faculty or facilitating UTS workshops A videotape of your teaching Deciding on the Order of Your Teaching Dossier Components The order of the materials in your teaching dossier determines the emphasis. If you want to demonstrate improvements in teaching, show these first; if you want to demonstrate teaching innovations, show these first. Although it is important to remember that your teaching dossier does not present every piece of evidence that you have to describe your teaching, often they still can be confusing to examine. A table of contents can be useful in developing the order of the dossier, and in guiding the readers through your teaching materials. An overview at the beginning of your dossier can add emphasis, as well as be incorporated in a covering letter for a job application, or as a section of your curriculum vitae. Teaching dossiers can be further clarified by grouping evidence together, to reflect some aspects of your teaching philosophy, responsibilities, or criteria.
257 5.30 TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA: A HANDBOOK Describing Your Teaching Materials In describing your teaching materials, you are highlighting their relevancy, their importance, and how they demonstrate your teaching priorities and skills. For faculty applying for tenure and promotion, these descriptions can point the committee in the right direction. In other words, rather than presenting a mass of disconnected course outlines, evaluations, letters, and lists, you can provide a meaningful structure, first by developing an order in which to present these materials, and second by writing a statement to describe and explain them. It is important, that in writing these statements, to be clear on which pieces of evidence you are discussing and where a reader can find them in your teaching dossier. You may wish to refer to each section specifically and deal with your evidence in the order in which it is presented. Presentation of Your Teaching Dossier Ring binders probably offer the most effective way of storing teaching dossiers and their associated materials. They also ease the problems of regular updates and allow the reader to easily move between different parts of the dossier. The order of the materials in your teaching dossier determines the emphasis. Dividers also allow you to organize your supporting material. Updating a Teaching Dossier Once you have developed your teaching dossier, it is fairly easy to keep it up-to-date. When you first develop your teaching dossier, it is important that you decide upon a structure for your dossier that is meaningful and relevant to you. In this way, you need only to consider adding and updating evidence of teaching activities (such as course outlines, new exercises, and teaching evaluations) and revising your written statements to reflect these changes. However, over the long term, you may find that your teaching has changed considerably. In particular, you may find that your teaching philosophy has altered, and needs to be rewritten. FURTHER RESOURCES ON TEACHING DOSSIERS Seldin, P The teaching portfolio: A practical guide to improved performance and promotion/ tenure decisions. O Neil, C., & Wright, A Recording teaching accomplishment: A Dalhousie guide to the teaching dossier.
258 REFLECTING ON THE PRACTICE OF TEACHING 5.31
259 6 CHAPTER Resources at the University of Manitoba
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