It’s about that time in the term where group projects are hitting the collective radar. For some students, nothing stimulates fear and anxiety like the prospect of having to work with people they do not know or facing the chance of losing complete control over a piece of their grade. For faculty, the fear of group dysfunction may be preventing us from using group projects at all. A recent Teaching Professor article provides some excellent strategies to consider.

In a study by Pauli et al. (2008), the authors describe the experiences of students in groups using the Negative Group Work Experiences (NGWE) questionnaire. They report commonalities among a large sample of psychology students in the following four areas: lack of group commitment, task disorganization, storming, and group fractionation. Below are some ideas for dealing with these common issues our students face when working in groups: Continue reading

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s infamous “I Have a Dream” speech, in addition to its poignant message, also serves as an effective recipe for what constitutes a great speech. If he would have begun his speech with something like, “Today I would like to outline for you a five-point plan to end racism in the United States,” as if he was presenting a Powerpoint with learning outcomes, I doubt this speech would have gone down in history as a defining moment in the American Civil Rights Movement.

Like all good orators, Dr. King began this speech with a statement that absolutely grabbed his listeners’ attention. He began,

“I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.” Continue reading

We have a special guest blogger this week…Jenna Goldsmith, our mighty OSU-Cascades Writing Instructor and all-around good person, tells us about the important things…with many resources we can all use to make our students (and maybe even ourselves) better writers!

As a writing instructor, much of my work takes place beyond the four walls of the classroom. With only 10 weeks to help my students understand their new identity as college writers, I spend a fair amount of time thinking about efficiency: How can I provide my students with resources they can use on their own time?; What will students actually read and use when it comes time for them to write?; How can I equip students with writing tools that transfer beyond the writing classroom?; How can I empower faculty colleagues to seek out knowledge of writing pedagogies in their discipline? Continue reading

Welcome back to a new term! As we get our collective feet back under us and find our rhythm, I would like to challenge each of us to think about new ways in which we can ensure our students are learning.

In our New Faculty Learning Community, we are reading the book, What the Best College Teachers Do, by Ken Bain. If you haven’t read this book, I highly encourage you to do so (our library has at least one copy in the Teaching Excellence stack). The second chapter is about how our teaching should change the way students think. Bain describes a study done in the 80’s by Halloun and Hestenes that sought to determine whether their teaching actually changed students’ long held beliefs about motion in a physics class. The results were astonishing; even the high-performing students continued to think about motion like Aristotle rather than like Newton. In essence, they interpreted what they learned about motion through the framework that they brought to the first day of class. The authors wrote, “students held firm to mistaken beliefs even when confronted with phenomena that contradicted those beliefs.” Continue reading