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

I’ve been a part of Jenna Goldsmith’s Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC) Faculty Learning Community (FLC) this year (we call ourselves WAC-Y). I highly recommend getting involved in this FLC! Great discussions about pedagogy, the purpose and importance of writing in our classes, and our role in our students’ process of (self) discovery.

Today our session was about “Productive Uncertainty and Postpedagogical Practice.” As McIntyre (2018) writes, “Postpedagogy emphasizes experimentation and reflection as integral to composing processes, especially digital composing.” Aside from our awesome discussion about how “struggle” is part of the developmental writing process, “reflection” on that process is just as important. Do our students know how to “self-critique?” Do we give them the tools to evaluate their work as part of this reflective process? As Peter pointed out, “there is nothing as good as a good rubric.” Continue reading

Last week I posted on strategies we can use to improve online teaching evaluation return rates. This article, however, makes a very important point;

“The usual design of [teaching evaluations] gives students the opportunity [to] focus on the shortcomings of the course and the instructor, without any acknowledgement of their own role in the learning process.”

Reciprocal evaluation seeks to force students to make the connection between their learning and their own contributions to their learning process. I love this! The OSU-Cascades Learning Lab initiated an effort to engage students in our math and science courses in this thinking with the use of the Learning Strategies Inventory (attached). This particular inventory gets students thinking about the connection between their own study strategies and their course grade. (We will share the results from this effort at the end of the year). Continue reading

Starting about 20 years ago, universities began transitioning their teaching evaluations from paper to an online format (clearly OSU took MUCH longer to make the change)! While efficiency and the number of qualitative comments may have improved, response rates have taken a nose-dive. Hopefully you have taken the Deans’ recent suggestion to administer some type of written mid-term teaching evaluation in your classes. If not, then the advice in this post is even more important for you.

Let’s step back a second. Why are response rates so low? Is it because students believe their feedback doesn’t matter? Or are they “feedback-fatigued”? Why SHOULD students want to complete teaching evaluations?

Students should be completing teaching evals because (hint: share these reasons with your students):

  1. Doing so can help them understand how they learn best.
  2. The quality of instruction matters.
  3. They want to help those who follow them in the next class to have an even better experience. This works really well if you share what you have changed in your class as a result of student feedback. Continue reading