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

It’s the last week of classes and perhaps you have started to reflect on how things went this term. Whether you’re a new or a seasoned instructor, there is always room for improvement. Early in my teaching career I wish I would have asked more questions of those who had already made the same mistakes I had made and had learned how to do things better. Instead, I stumbled along, figuring things out the hard way. My list of fumbles is loooooong. I was reminded about my mis-steps as I read this morning, two articles from The Teaching Professor where both a newbie and an old timer reflected on their teaching careers. I thought I would share their learnings; perhaps you will relate as I did to what they had to say:

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Increasingly, accreditation agencies are advocating for deeper levels of mastery by our students that include cognition, application, and evaluation, as well as an ability to communicate in various ways.

I was struck by an article I was reading recently that reminded me of an assignment from graduate school. In essence, each student was to present a summary of a research article related to a chronic disease that was assigned. As I read the article related to exercise for people with type I diabetes, there were so many things that I had to look up (in a book…with pages), that I decided to integrate a lesson for the class on type I diabetes into my presentation. It went well because my preparation meant that I really understood what I was talking about. It went so well, in fact, that if I had to choose a moment in my education that cemented my plans to become a professor, that was it.

My recent read suggested that instead of having student groups give “presentations,” have them present an actual class lesson. For me, I truly learn it when I have to teach it, and I’m assuming that is true for our students as well. The beauty of structuring an assignment as a class lesson is that students can incorporate their prior professional and life experiences and their own creativity into the lesson. They can demonstrate to us how they learn best through how they teach their peers, and they can practice teamwork in an authentic environment.

The structure of the presentation will need to be clear and directive with support from the instructor since most students have probably not taught content before. It might look something like this:

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