As someone who has spent the last two weeks trying to figure out how I would retain quality and meaningful experiences in a very hands-on lab class, I thought I would share a few thoughts about how to take on Spring term 2020.

  1. Our students are looking to us for leadership. The best message that we can send is that we’re all in this together, we’ve got their back, we’re all trying to figure it out, and everything won’t be perfect but we promise to do the very best job that we can.
  2. Keep the lines of communication open with your students. Make sure now more than ever, that you are available to help them. This includes frequent Canvas Announcements and making sure your email address and phone number are easy to find. I have a Module in Canvas that displays my Zoom office hours link and contact info.
  3. Focus on the long-term goals of your class. More than ever, keep “the end in mind” in every lecture, assignment, and assessment. Involve your students by explaining your long-term goals, what you’re changing and why what you are focusing on is so important…and this applies very much to the next one…
  4. Remember that LESS IS MORE. Depth over breadth could not be more important than it is now. Less reading, less content, and more focus on connections, reflection, and application will keep your students engaged and progressing in your class.
  5. Give yourself a break and stay humble. This situation is far from ideal, we have not had an entire summer to plan for this, and most of us have never taught this way before. You may have an assignment that fails, technology may fall apart, and students may get frustrated. Prepare to be flexible. Be kind and gracious to yourself and to your students. We’re in this together and growth, while difficult, is always a good thing.

Your Dean’s Team is here for you and Corvallis ( has stepped up their efforts to support you and our students. Reach out and lean on us and each other. We will come through this stronger and more united than ever!

I had the opportunity this summer to attend my very first conference focused solely on teaching. My usual conferences are immersive experiences in the science of the physiology of exercise, but this one was completely different. If you haven’t ever attended a Lilly Teaching Conference, I highly recommend it.

One of the sessions I attended was entitled, “Focus Your Lecture with the One-Sentence Lesson Plan,” led by Norman Eng, a professor at The City College in New York. His premise was that most faculty focus on WHAT they will lecture on rather than on what they want their students to KNOW and be able to DO as a result of what they have learned. The former approach is very content driven and focused on teaching, while the latter approach is focused on learning.

The problem is that students forget most about WHAT we teach. Meyers & Jones (1993) reported that students who took a Psychology 101 class knew only 8% more than students who didn’t take the class. They reasoned that cognitive overload, and a focus on content was getting in the way of real learning.

Eng encourages instructors to ask themselves a simple question, which forms the basis for the one-sentence lesson plan: Continue reading

I want to make good on my promise from May 6th to share more information from the Hybrid Workshop we hosted this term. Specifically, the topic of content mapping, or “backward course design” is one that at best, may completely revolutionize your course, and at worst, may validate what you’re already doing well.

Think of the components of your course like wheels on a car. If they’re not all pointing in the same direction, the car, like your course, will shake wildly and the passengers (your students) will wonder what on earth is going on. Similarly, if we don’t align our learning activities with our learning outcomes, students will question the purpose of the assignments and you may end up wasting valuable time assessing something that isn’t important to the course.

To avoid this misalignment and keep your course tracking, use this template, which guides you to: Continue reading

Last week I wrote about some of the online resources that students sometimes use to cheat or otherwise “assist” themselves in university classes, without your permission. I heard from a few of you who lamented, along with me, that these resources even exist. Our best course of action as educators is to use “cheat proof” best practices in the design of our courses and assignments to keep our students accountable.

Here are 10 tips to get you started:

  1. It starts with your syllabus. Including the Student Conduct Expectations link is required, but consider taking it a step further. Spell out what is allowed and not allowed in your class, and discuss this on DAY 1. Some of our faculty include statements such as: “Use of online resources or prior students’ work that provide answers to homework or exam questions is cheating and will result in an F in the course.” Can’t get much clearer than that. Continue reading

I spent most of Friday at an Academic Integrity Symposium in Corvallis and what I learned was eye-opening, if not depressing. I posted about this topic once already but the number of academic misconduct cases I’m seeing is definitely on the rise and I learned a little bit about why that might be. I also learned about (more) strategies that we as instructors can use to discourage or prevent cheating and plagiarism in our classes. This is a big topic, so I will break this up into two posts.

There is no question that this generation of students has grown up in a culture where they have witnessed powerful, influential people “cheat” with little to no consequence. There are many companies who market opportunities to cheat directly to students, not to mention the fact that this generation of students has ALWAYS used the internet to “find” an answer to a question…just ask Google. In some countries, it is perfectly acceptable to not cite your online sources, because you are the one who “did the research” to locate them. It’s no wonder that America’s universities are experiencing erosion in academic conduct.

Here are some online cheating resources that I’m sure our students know about, and we should to: Continue reading