Today’s post is about a topic that we love to hate: Academic Integrity. It’s our job as faculty to ensure the fidelity of our assessments. We plan our classes and prepare our students to the best of our ability, but some students still choose to take the low road. Klein et al (2006) reported that 86% of a 268-student cross disciplinary sample reported they had cheated. Why? Harris (1989) reported that it has to do with students’ values and often times, the classroom environment. In classes that were less personalized and where students were less engaged, cheating was higher than when the opposite was true (Pulvers, 1999).

As our campus Academic Integrity Officer, I have adjudicated all kinds of academic dishonesty cases. It’s heart-breaking to hear from a student that they felt like they had no other option. Crunched for time as a result of poor planning or too many competing responsibilities, otherwise rational students sometimes do irrational things. Continue reading

My post today is about a cool article I read on a low-stakes type of writing assignment that I think could be wildly helpful to my students. Julie Empric calls this assignment, “Afterthoughts.” In short, Afterthoughts eliminate the brain dump that often occurs at precisely the time when students exit the classroom. Instead, students are asked to interact with the material in ways they may not have previously. I think this technique, described below, is very much in line with the Cognitively Active (deep learning) study approaches that I presented last week.

In short, the Afterthoughts assignment has students write about what happened in the class session. From this template, the Afterthought should:

  1. follow-up on an important point covered in class,
  2. raise questions about what was discussed in class,
  3. link ideas presented in several different class sessions,
  4. correct, adjust, or extend an Afterthought someone else presented in class, or
  5. connect course content with something on TV, a film, the Internet, in a book, with content from another course, or with something the student experienced. Continue reading

Going into Week 3, many of you are probably starting to talk with your students about your first upcoming exam. You may soon be explaining which content is most important, how your exam will be structured, or maybe even how much time you expect that they devote to studying for the exam. These are all important in helping students prepare, but are we assuming (maybe incorrectly) that our students already know HOW to study effectively?

As this article explains, most students probably plan to re-read their notes and their text, working homework problems, or using an old exam that you may have provided. Maybe what they really need is a STRATEGY or Game Plan for studying. Continue reading

I was talking with a colleague last week about the importance of providing our students with TIMELY FEEDBACK on their assignments, quizzes and exams. They asked me, “what percentage of faculty do you think return student work within a week or two?” We chatted about this and clearly I thought the percentage was MUCH higher than they did. In talking with students about this, I discovered that it is indeed the case that timely feedback is not as common as it should be. In some cases, students don’t get the results of exam 1 until very late in the term. What?! I guess this one deserves some discussion.

My Jan. 22, 2019 post was about STRATEGIES FOR QUALITY FEEDBACK, but it doesn’t address the timing of that feedback. We all want our students to learn and I think most of us think that we’re using a developmental approach during our classes where foundational material precedes application. But how do we expect students to learn from their mistakes and fill in the gaps if we don’t guide them through that process early and often? Even if this isn’t an area of struggle for you… Continue reading

I was talking with one of our writing tutors about how difficult it is sometimes for our students (and tutors!) to decipher “what professors want” on writing assignments. Sometimes the writing prompt is too general or vague and sometimes the prompt is so detailed that it leaves students paralyzed that they might mis-step outside of the parameters provided by the instructor.

This got me thinking about my own prompts for writing assignments. I think they’re brilliant of course, but I wonder if I am expecting my students to read my mind or if I am being so prescriptive that I eliminate a student’s ability to think and write creatively. I have spent many weekends grading writing assignments with my chin on the floor, so I’ve clearly got room for improvement in this department.

Have you ever just asked your students to “write a paper on…”? The attached article talks about striking the Goldilocks balance between ambiguity and a pre-flight style checklist of paper requirements. Continue reading