The end of the semester is a good time to reflect on teaching success and challenges from the past 15 weeks. What worked? What needs to be modified? Was there an assignment that really resonated with students? Review this End-of-the-Semester Reflection from the Teachers Point of View to help guide your reflection.
The final few weeks of the semester can be stressful for students as they work hard to complete end of semester projects and prepare for final exams. Referring students to the five videos in the How to Get the Most Out of Studying Video Series can help students learn how to maximize their studying efforts. The third video, Cognitive Principles for Optimizing Learning, can be particularly helpful as it describes the difference between shallow learning and deep learning strategies. Showing them how to connect these study strategies with the content in your course can help them be successful on the final exam.
With thoughts of Spring Break still fresh in their minds, and the activities of VEISHEA on the horizon, it can be challenging to keep students motivated and focused on your course. One way to re-engage them is to mix up your teaching approach. The section titled Task 2.2b: Exploring Teaching Strategies on this course design website gives a number of strategies with examples of how you can implement them in your course. Maybe including one or two of these strategies in the next few weeks will be just what students need to re-engage.
If you haven’t already done a mid-semester evaluation for your course, now is a great time to do one. Getting formative feedback from students on how the course is going from their perspective is valuable, and getting feedback now can help guide how you proceed for the rest of the semester. The Plus/Delta feedback tool (sometimes called Plus/Change) is meant to identify what is going well and what needs to be changed. It is a quick and easy tool that is typically used at the end of a class period to gather information.
The ISU Writing and Media Center is a fantastic resource for both faculty and students. For faculty who incorporate writing in their courses, the Writing and Media center website is a central location to find information helpful to student writers such as: an overview of the writing process, common grammar errors and how to do citations. The center also provides helpful resources on oral, visual and electronic communication. Students can work with peer mentors at the center to get a range of assistance on class assignments. If you are looking for ways to enhance the communication based assignments in your course, consider attending the workshop February 28, 12:10-1:00 titled: Frantic Student, Busy Instructor: How to Incorporate Writing into Your Classroom in Time-Conscious Ways.
Tech Tip: SafeAssign
SafeAssign is a free plagiarism detection tool that integrates with your Blackboard Learn course. It allows you and students to check work against a comprehensive index of documents available through the Internet. For more information visit the CELT eLearning website.
As ISU undergraduate enrollment has increased, so too have the number of undergraduate international students. These students bring a unique perspective and set of needs to their college experience. The 2011 report What International Students Think about U.S. Higher Education provides a useful starting point to learn about international student perspectives in general. At Iowa State Chinese-speaking students comprise the largest single group of international undergraduates. A Teaching and Learning circle will explore how Chinese undergraduates prepare to attend college in America, what the undergraduate experience is like for these students, and what are some best practices for teaching Chinese students at ISU. The Teaching and Learning Circle meets weekly February 13-March 13. For more information and to register visit the CELT website.
The term learning styles describes how learners gather, organize, interpret and develop conclusions about information they are learning. Although each person has their own unique learning style, there are some broad categories with specific characteristics. Learning Styles & Preferences provides useful background information and may help you think of ways to engage your students this semester.
Tech Tip: New! My Library in Blackboard
ISU Library tools are now available within Blackboard! You can now search the Library’s collections, use Research Guides, access Course Reserves, IM/Chat with a librarian, and more while in Blackboard. Also includes Off Campus login information. Visit the My Library tab to try it out. The ISU Library and CELT will continue to develop this site. Watch for new developments!
A few years ago, Tomorrow’s Professor published a list of 101 Things You Can Do the First Three Weeks of Class.
Although the list is extensive, it is a quick read and there are lots of useful reminders and suggestions to help get your semester off to a great start. Consider incorporating some of these ideas the first few weeks of class.
Tech Tip: Blackboard Learn Support
Blackboard Learn may play an important role in your teaching this semester. CELT’s eLearning website offers quick access to many important Blackboard resources. Additionally, CELT provides a variety of topical Blackboard workshops throughout the semester.