This post is about data. Not the data you might collect in a study, but important data to help you make decisions about teaching. (exciting, I know)

A surprising component of our brains is the ability to filter and synthesize massive amounts of data at every waking moment. In order to do this we set most of this work to “auto-complete” and magically get our answers to questions. It’s like driving somewhere and realizing your brain has already mapped it all out and gone on autopilot. Like a little black box between your ears.

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One reason I was attracted to academia was the variability in schedule; Keeping busy by ever-changing topics, revolving classes throughout the year, and guiding students through novel information.

All of this results in an occupied mind (and I need A LOT of “channels” to occupy my mind).

What ceases to amaze me is the deluge of information and activity that accompanies each term. In the ancient past (last term) the busy builds to a crescendo and we long for the sweet release of the inter-term break… Just to be shot out of the cannon into the next.

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Cheating is Natural

How’s that for a sensationalist title?

This post is spurred on by a trend resulting from remote teaching. Students and faculty that are not familiar with remote teaching can fall into some common issues not seen with face-to-face instruction. Many of these issues are salient in our student’s (lack of) understanding material, and we have taken great pains to facilitate learning on their terms.

Yes, you can make an argument for a change in academic rigor, but being flexible can mean the difference between a graduate and a dropout.

But this isn’t my primary point. Incidence rates of academic misconduct have been on the rise. But before we leap to conclusion about the crumbling moral infrastructure of society, I’d like to point some things out.

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When developing a new course there are many different components that we must piece together, from writing lectures and filming videos to conjuring homework assignments and debugging exam questions. Self-check exercises are an important tool for student retention that can be easily overlooked in the tedious process of new course development.

Benefits for Students

The benefits of self-check opportunities for students are numerous. These exercises can be given in small quantities in a low pressure environment. This makes it easier for students to initially engage with new material as opposed to, for example, procrastinating an ominous heavily-weighted homework assignment.

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Dear Friends,

So much depends upon November.  The deepening chill, the afternoon darkness stretching into long nights, the scent of pumpkin spice wafting (over everything, especially if you find yourself in a Trader Joe’s), the sight of rain-flattened, brightly colored leaves on asphalt, the cornucopias and turkeys (or Tofurkies), the promise-threat of family, and the chance to celebrate that uniquely North American holiday—Thanksgiving.

One of the most important takeaways from my experience talking about Thanksgiving in the classroom from a Native Studies perspective is the importance of talking about Thanksgiving.  You don’t have to be a humanities instructor to initiate a conversation with your students about this most American of holidays.  Even in a math or chemistry classroom, you have to do deal with the scheduling disruptions of Thanksgiving week.  Why not also use this as time to reach out engage your students in a conversation about the significance of T-day?  And you don’t have to do it without resources.

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