Teaching & Learning

Academic Integrity

Michigan State University defines academic integrity as “honest and responsible scholarship” (n.d.). Students are expected to submit their own original work, while giving credit to outside ideas and sources where applicable. Honesty, trust, fairness, respect, and responsibility are the five fundamental values that one must commit to in order to practice academic integrity (Center for Academic Integrity, 1999). These are all positive traits for an individual to possess both in and out of the classroom setting. An educational community needs to adhere to what integrity requires and encourage all students and staff to do the same. These values need to be supported by appropriate policies and procedures. All educational institutions should have versions of their own academic honesty policies accessible to students and staff. However, how many of them have actually read them? Out of those who have read them, how many actually understand what it all means? Continue reading

Fostering Classroom Discussion

Classroom discussions are a critical instructional strategy that many faculty employ.  But is it effective?  Research has found that student engagement is the key to their academic success (Kuh et al., 2005, as cited in Howard, J., 2015, p. 4). Students learn more when they are involved in their own education and able to think about and apply what they are learning. Fostering classroom discussion is exactly what is suggests. How can instructors encourage and facilitate student participation and engagement within the classroom? How can educators allow the students to take control of their learning through collaboration with other students? How can professors make all of this possible in the classroom? Continue reading

Active Learning

Active learning is an instructional approach that introduces activities into the classroom that engage students in the learning process. In short, active learning involves students in doing meaningful learning activities and thinking about what they are doing (Bonwell 1991). The classroom shifts from a teacher-centric approach to a student-centric approach, where students are transformed from the passive listener into the active learner. This approach provides opportunities for students to meaningfully talk and listen, read and write, and reflect on discussion. Active learning places less emphasis on the transmission of information and greater emphasis on the development of students’ higher order thinking skills. Active learning fosters student involvement by keeping students mentally, and often physically, engaged in the learning process by requiring them to do meaningful activities and think about what they are doing. Continue reading

Formative Assessment

According to Black and William (1998b), assessment is defined as all activities undertaken by students and teachers in order to get information that can be used diagnostically to alter teaching and learning (as cited in Boston, 2002). Throughout the course of a year or semester, teachers have a variety of opportunities to assess how their students are learning and then use that information to make positive changes in their instruction. There are two types of assessment commonly used by educators to receive feedback; formative and summative. Anderson (2005) defines formative as “an assessment which is used for improvement (individual or program) rather than for making final decisions or accountability” and its role is to provide information that can be used for immediate modifications for teaching and learning within the program. Continue reading

Teaching with a Growth Mindset

Students often are taught to believe that their talents or abilities are fixed, and that they possess certain areas to which they have a natural capacity and others where they may not. Students who believe this can become discouraged when they confront challenges or when they do not perform well. They believe they will always be a failure in that specific area due to their limited ability. However, when students are taught that these same abilities are not fixed, they become motivated to better themselves while exerting more effort to succeed. Teaching students in this way is the idea of a growth mindset, where individuals believe their ability and talents can improve over time with hard work and effort. By fostering a growth mindset, students are taught to embrace challenges with open arms, and failure is viewed a learning experience. Effort is used as a tool to gain knowledge (Blazer, 2011). Encouraging students to try hard, along with letting them know they have what it takes to improve and develop in their academics helps them to believe in themselves and succeed in the classroom. Continue reading

Online Teaching

Online teaching is an exciting, yet potentially intimidating, growing trend in higher education. In the early to mid-1990s, colleges and universities began to experiment with teaching online courses, but it did not take off until just before the new millennium. Online education consists of a course where the majority of the content is delivered online, by using the internet as means of delivery. Instructors can reach students all around the world, as long as they have access to the internet. Students are able to log in almost anywhere, and complete work any time of day. Online courses have no set meeting times or locations, which adds flexibility for the professors and students to accommodate other life responsibilities. Continue reading

Syllabus Design

The syllabus. It’s the document that every student eagerly awaits at the start of every semester, which ends up causing overwhelming stress about the papers, projects, exams, and readings that lie ahead. It is the first impression new students have of the professor and the course into which they are about to begin.  The syllabus can often be a lot to take in on the first day of class especially when students’ brains are still on winter or summer break. A well-designed syllabus can help ease the confusion or anxiety students have when starting a new class. Strong syllabi clearly communicate the essential information needed on the first day, without detailed descriptions of every single assignment or project throughout the semester. Continue reading



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