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One of my favorite things about being in academics is that we have two “new years.” The beginning of the academic year and the beginning of the calendar year provide two opportunities to make resolutions, set intentions, start over, try again, or start anew. This month, as you are thinking about your own 2019 resolutions to establish an exercise routine, eat healthier, or write more regularly, I encourage you to consider a pedagogical intention.

Perhaps you want to have a more engaging first day of class. Lang (2019) offers some great, practical suggestions.

Perhaps you’d like to energize your class discussions. Gooblar (2018) provides some excellent advice.

Maybe, if you have procrastinated like me, you might want to revamp your approach to your syllabi. If so, check out Gannon (2018).

And the list of potential pedagogical intentions goes on…

Me? In addition to attending yoga class, I intend to (try to) make learning more meaningful for my XCOR 1011 students. What’s your pedagogical intention?

The Center for the Advancement of Teaching and Faculty Development is delighted to welcome Ms. Carla Simmons to our team! Carla is a native New Orleanian and Xavier University of Louisiana alumna, graduating with a degree in psychology. With an interest in serving the community, Carla is pursuing a Master's in Public Administration at the University of New Orleans and served in the Junior League of New Orleans from 2016-2018. Carla is an avid Jazz Fest attendee, reads almost any book she gets her hands on, and loves to practice yoga. Carla will provide administrative support for the Center and we are delighted to have her on board. In the new year, we encourage XULA faculty to stop by and introduce themselves.

The Center for the Advancement of Teaching has been part of Xavier's culture for 20 years. Therefore we have selected sustainability as the theme for our 20th anniversary year – teaching sustainability in our disciplines, providing offerings to sustain faculty in their professional development, and engaging in sustainable practices of our own – all to promote Xavier's mission of creating a more just and humane society.

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In line with our sustainability theme, we are no longer serving bottled water. With the support of Academic Affairs, we've installed a bottle-filling station on the fifth floor of the library. Please remember to bring your water bottle when you come to CAT!

A student solves a mathematics equation at the Mfantsipim Boys School in Cape Coast

More and more professors are using midterm student evaluations, experts say, and more and more colleges are strongly urging their faculty to collect student feedback midway through their courses. (Medina, 2011, Chronicle of Higher Education).

Can you believe midterms are upon us? It's that time of the fall semester that brings tons of grading, Halloween decorations, and of course, midcourse reviews. Midcourse reviews provide feedback that can potentially assist you in fine-tuning your course while it is still underway.  Sometimes called a formative evaluation, the midcourse review is an optional and informal supplement to the end-of-semester summative evaluations.  Interest in these reviews is driven by a desire to see what’s working well in your class and what could be improved to aid student learning.  The advantage of doing these at mid-term is that you are able to make adjustments to your course this semester.

In a midcourse review, a facilitator will ask your students in groups to discuss three questions:

  1. What is working well in the class (i.e., what is helping you learn)?
  2. What is not working well (i.e., what is hindering your learning)?
  3. What suggestions do you have for improvement?

By the end of the 20 minutes, we will have a composite list of student reactions to these issues.  Then, at a mutually convenient time, the facilitator meets with you to confidentially discuss what the students said.  In general you will get an accurate “barometer reading” on how the class is going.

Still on the fence?  Check out this article in the Chronicle of Higher Education.

If you are interested in scheduling a midcourse review, get in touch now.

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Exam

As the Director of the Center for the Advancement of Teaching, I get asked about cheating a lot. Instead of focusing on student characteristics related to cheating, I typically encourage faculty (including myself) to look for ways to discourage academic dishonesty through the learning environments we establish.

Dr. James Lang, who writes a regular column for the Chronicle of Higher Education, did a thought-provoking three part series on this topic. In Part 2 he focuses on how our assessments can encourage or discourage cheating. He writes:

Why should I bother to redesign my courses to include more frequent, low-stakes assessments, which will require more time and effort on my part, just to reduce the already small numbers of students who may be cheating in my courses? The short answer: You shouldn't redesign your courses just to reduce cheating. You should redesign them in order to increase learning.

Want to know more? Read his post on Cheating Lessons, Part 2.  If you are dealing with this issues, I  encourage you to check out Part 1 and Part 3 as well.

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You likely begin each workday by checking your professional e-mail account. The paper you assigned in your senior seminar course is due today, and you are expecting to receive some e-mails from students regarding this assignment. You relax into your desk chair with a cup of coffee and begin reading the new messages in your inbox...

Sound familiar?

A new article from the Association for Psychological Science presents some interesting data on student e-mails and offers suggestions for maintaining your sanity as they pile up.

There has been some heated discussion in the Chronicle of Higher Education about the future of the college lecture.  Is it a thing of the past in the internet age?  See what students have to say.  Whatever your opinion of the views being expressed, this article has been getting a lot of attention.