Reflect on your teaching and your students' learning.
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Facilitate Student Simulation-Based Learning Experiences Virtually During COVID-19
Kaila Vento, Arizona State University Kathy Dixon, Arizona State University Simulation-based learning experiences (SBLEs) assist emerging health professional students (e.g., nursing, dentistry, psychotherapy, dietetics) in exercising communication skills and pertinent knowledge (Al-Elq, 2010). Verbal and non-verbal communication is essential to effectively provide health services, leading to strong bonds with patients in achieving health goals. SBLEs increase students' clinical and interpersonal skills in a safe learning environment, contributing to successful occupation performances (Al-Elq, 2010). Unfortunately, given the recent COVID-19 pandemic, many educators cannot hold in-person SBLEs. Traditional classroom learning has given way to online instruction or directly impacted by social distancing (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2020). Furthermore, in-person SBLEs require protective face coverings, hindering student's abilities to discern facial expressions when role-playing. Whether teaching a traditional SBLE or virtual laboratory, educators face challenges assessing student's hands-on learning. A Solution: Zoom Technology-based SBLEs, delivered through platforms such as Zoom, can be a resourceful tool for health professional educators in helping students prepare for patient interactions. Originally designed to connect professionals from across the globe, Zoom has increased its popularity within classrooms and clinical settings (Sutterlin, 2018; Waldman, Waldman, Waldman, & Abuabara 2020). With a click of a link, Zoom allows real-time virtual connection between students and educators in discussing course materials or clinicians and patients in providing health services. Aside from live-feed, SBLEs may benefit from Zoom features, including audio-video recording and transcription services. These features enable students and educators to reevaluate language used, range and pitch of voice tone, body interactions, and health advice offered after role-playing scenarios. Minimal materials and expenses are required to operate Zoom, making this an economical SBLE option for educators. The additional benefits of remote access and ease of scheduling place less burden on students and educators' commute time, particularly for those living long distances from campus (Sayem, Taylor, McClanachan, & Mumtahina, 2017). Furthermore, telehealth successfully provides health services and may be the future norm (Wijesooriya, Mishra, Brand, & Rubin, 2020). Hear Our Student's Views of Zoom SBLEs Our students rated SBLEs delivered through zoom positively. The application features (i.e., audio, video, and transcription) were of good quality for them to use when conducting self-evaluations. Twenty-four of our undergraduate dietetic students participated in Zoom SBLEs, role-playing as dietitians and patients to develop relevant communication and counseling skills needed to be competitive candidates for dietetic internships. All students stated Zoom was easy to navigate, a convenient method to conduct simulations, and improved their verbal skills. Eighty-eight percent and 92% believed their non-verbal (e.g., body language) and observational (e.g., listening) skills benefitted from the Zoom SBLEs, respectively. One-hundred percent of students reported a preference for having the educator present for the Zoom simulated-counseling sessions. Student's stated "yes" for Zoom features having audible sound, video visibility, and correct transcription as 100%, 100%, and 96%, respectively. Ninety-six percent of students rated the overall quality of Zoom simulations as excellent and good and recommended Zoom for future Nutrition Counseling courses. Things To Consider • Introduce a Zoom tutorial. Three-fourths of students stated an introductory tutorial of Zoom would be beneficial before conducting Zoom SBLEs. • Be present during student's Zoom SBLEs. All students favored having the educator facilitating the Zoom simulated-counseling sessions and providing immediate feedback. • Zoom is solely for educational purposes. Zoom is not Health Insurance Portability and Accountability (HIPAA) compliant. Real clinician-patient SBLEs must use Zoom for Healthcare platform to ensure patient protection. Conclusions Reduced enrollment of in-person courses, minimal student-to-student interaction, and movements towards telehealth merits using technology-based SBLEs. Zoom is a viable SBLE tool for educators that allows real-time role-playing scenarios and enhanced features for subsequent student learning outcome assessments. Acknowledgments Thank you to our students who contributed to providing Zoom simulation-based learning feedback. Arizona State University IRB STUDY00011859. Discussion Questions 1. How have your students responded to virtual teaching methods? 2. What concerns do you have in using technology-based SBLEs? 3. Have you been part of a technology-based SBLE as a student or educator prior? Please share your experience. References Al-Elq, A. H. (2010). Simulation-based medical teaching and learning. Journal of Family & Community Medicine, 17(1), 35–40. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2020, May 30). Considerations for Institutions of Higher education. Sayem, A. S. M., Taylor, B., McClanachan, M., & Mumtahina, U. (2017). Effective use of zoom technology and instructional videos to improve engagement and success of distance students in engineering. In 28th Annual Conference of the Australasian Association for Engineering Education (AAEE 2017) (p. 926). Australasian Association for Engineering Education. Sutterlin, J. (2018). Learning is Social with Zoom Video Conferencing in your Classroom. eLearn, 2018(12). Waldman, S. D., Waldman, C. W., Waldman, R. A., & Abuabara, J. O. (2020). How to use technology and telehealth to enhance the interprofessional community of practice. Building a Patient-Centered Interprofessional Education Program,113-119. IGI Global. Wijesooriya, N. R., Mishra, V., Brand, P. L., & Rubin, B. K. (2020). COVID-19 and telehealth, education, and research adaptations. Paediatric Respiratory Reviews.
Using Open Education Resources to Enhance Student Engagement
Erin Wedehase Wake Technical Community College On social media, a former student posted a picture of himself on his first day of fall 2020 classes. Instead of sharing an image of an excited student reuniting with friends and trekking through campus, he posted a selfie of himself at his computer staring groggily off into the distance. Due to COVID-19, many students find themselves in the perhaps unfamiliar world of virtual learning, a world that bears the stigma of being lonely and disengaging. Even if they can take seated courses, their minds might be drifting to concerns about their health or financial stability. With those situations in mind, faculty need to do everything possible to ensure that our courses captivate student interest. One way to make classes more engaging is to incorporate Open Education Resources (OER) into coursework. Why OER? According to the OER Commons (n.d), “Open Educational Resources (OER) are teaching and learning materials that you may freely use and reuse at no cost, and without needing to ask permission.” These resources come in the form of articles, textbooks, learning activities, and visual media. They often fall under a Creative Commons license that specifies how the resources may be shared. Since the early 2000s, schools and governments alike have fostered initiatives promoting the adoption of OER to lower textbook expenses for students (Bazeley et al., 2019). On a broader level, faculty and administrators have advocated for OER to democratize education. Although these are wonderful advantages of OER, these resources can also make courses more engaging. Ways to Use OER for Student Engagement In my writing classes, it can be challenging to engage students with content they deem “boring,” such as grammar and citation styles. To counter this disengagement, I asked my students to assume the educator’s role. Their task was to peruse different OER textbooks for composition classes, evaluate the textbooks, select appropriate content on writing topics they felt were needed, and teach the content to their fellow students by writing a how-to guide. To assist, I gave them a list of recommended OER textbooks and suggested topics pertaining to writing mechanics. To encourage students to find quality content, I tell them that I will compile their resources into a help guide for future students. Once I asked the class to become responsible for finding their readings, I noticed students were decidedly more engaged in ostensibly “boring” content. To gauge the project’s increase in student engagement, I considered interaction on three levels described by Eudice et al. (2016): • Interaction with the peers and instructor; • Interaction with their “future selves”; • Interaction with course content (p. 56). Asking students to teach chapters on writing mechanics from OER achieved all three levels of engagement. First, the project enabled student-to-student interaction through shared lessons and helped me see which writing conventions they found especially challenging based on their topic selection. Secondly, the task helped students interact with their “future selves” (Eodice et al., 2016, p. 56), encouraging them to become self-directed learners who can overcome future writing roadblocks through educational resources they can locate themselves. According to Lane (2016), this opportunity for “informal learning by learners” is one of the great benefits of OER (p. 43). Finally, the project facilitated engagement with course content. Students who did not seem to be doing the readings before were now summarizing chapters on writing mechanics and reporting a better understanding of course content. Requiring students to review OER on composition decidedly led to better engagement with their peers, me, and course content. The assignment also has additional benefits for instructors. For one thing, having students find their course content reduces planning time. The process requires some flexibility due to not knowing what students will uncover, but it can lead to less complaining if students end up not liking the material they select. Additionally, asking students to review OER offers faculty who hesitate to forgo physical textbooks an opportunity to dip their toes into the open resource waters. With student reviews of material, faculty can utilize OER with more confidence, knowing that the readings come “pre- approved” by students. Suggested OER Projects • Ask students to create an extra help guide from OER to supplement course content, review for an exam, or assist future students; • Ask students to review an OER textbook for the course to reinforce lesson material; • Ask students to select lesson material from OER; • Ask students to use OER to write an additional chapter for the course’s existing textbook, noting information and concepts the original textbook may have neglected; • Ask students to find visuals marked as open resources to represent a course concept. Tips and Tricks • Equip students with some guidelines and context for success. I spent time explaining what OER are and how the licensing works when we discussed how to avoid plagiarism in my classes. I allowed them to select their topics, but still offered a list of possible topics for consideration if they were stuck. Finally, I gave students sites that listed useful OER, such as this collection of OER for composition from San Bernardino Valley College. Guiding students to these collections did not take a lot of work since many libraries and universities already offer OER lists for specific fields. • If you are not comfortable with OER, consider offering the assignment as extra credit for a few semesters until you see how students react. • Remember that some students might lack the technological resources to access OER. As Lane (2016) reminds us, freedom from paid content is not truly free if students do not have the means to access the material (p. 44). Consider creating an alternative assignment if students cannot utilize online resources. No doubt, the semester ahead will bring many new challenges, but with that newness comes the chance to experiment with different assignments and resources to prevent future iterations of that first-day-zombie-selfie my former student posted. With massive amounts of OER already in existence, the labor cost for utilizing these resources is quite small, but the potential for increased engagement and student success is excellent. Discussion Questions 1) Describe one hesitation you have with respect to using OERs? What do you find exciting about the availability of OERs? 2) In addition to the examples given in this article, explain how an OER may be used to increase student engagement. 3) What OERs are available in your field to help students become more self- directed learners? References Bazeley, J., Haynes, C., Myers, C. S., & Resnis, E. (2019). Avoiding the “axe”: Advancing affordable and open education resources at a midsize university. Journal of Librarianship and Scholarly Communication, 7, 1-19. Eodice, M., Geller, A., & Lerner, N. (2016). Engagement and the meaningful writing project. In The meaningful writing project: Learning, teaching and writing in higher education (pp. 55 – 80). University Press of Colorado, Lane, A. (2016). Emancipation through open education: Rhetoric or reality? In P. Blessinger & T. Bliss (Eds.), Open education: International perspectives in higher education (pp. 31 – 50). Open Book. OER Commons. (n.d.) Open education resources support equity and flexibility. OER Commons, resources San Bernardino Valley College. (n.d.). OER – English/composition.
Inara Scott Oregon State University As we enter Fall 2020, “inclusive teaching, " has become more than just a hot topic—it’s an essential part of course design and pedagogy. However, even as educators desire to become more inclusive, many find themselves unsure how to get started. This short article provides a place to begin, a structure to work within, and the confidence to address this challenging issue. First, a definition. If you spend time online, you'll find many different ways to describe inclusive pedagogy. Some focus on an internal goal, often described as creating classrooms where all students feel supported, respected, and engaged. Others look externally, to addressing systemic issues of social justice and inequality. My approach is to think of inclusive teaching as a mindset that we bring to our pedagogy and our classrooms. This mindset reminds us that our job is to educate all of our students, which requires consciously considering whether all of our students have access to our content, our community, and our services. Next, it is important to consider why we are undertaking this work. I situate my answer to this question within the extensive literature surrounding unconscious bias, and the more recent movement toward becoming an antiracist (Kendi, 2019). As an antiracist educator, I acknowledge that years of racist policies and laws have shaped our classrooms, colleges, and society at large. For me, being antiracist means recognizing this history and actively seeking to make change. It also means identifying my unconscious biases in areas of race, gender, language, and ethnicity. For example, research tells me that unconsciously, I am more likely to respond to students in online classes who have names that suggest students are white and male (Baker et al., 2018). I am also likely to perceive non-native English speakers as less competent and intelligent (Nelson et al., 2012). The goal of identifying biases like these isn't to say I am a bad person, nor that I intend to discriminate. But research suggests my unconscious may work against me. Therefore, it is incumbent upon me, and all of us, to create structures that surface unconscious biases and deliberately look for ways to foster more inclusive cultures. There are other answers to the question of why we pursue inclusive teaching. Your why may be situated in a desire to advocate for people with disabilities. You may be in a position of privilege and desire to be an ally for marginalized individuals and communities. Please know that your why is just as valid as mine. I offer you my why because I believe it is an essential part of constructing an inclusive pedagogy. Because we are research-based educators, we often look to the research to give us the answers. How do we create a more inclusive classroom? I break the literature down into three primary buckets and offer take-aways from each: 1. In the first bucket, I include research related to Universal Design for Learning (UDL). 2. In the second, I include theories of cultural competency. 3. In the third, I include a wide variety of research centered around the general concept of inclusive teaching and inclusive pedagogy. Each of these areas provides significant and unique insight into how we create more inclusive classroom spaces. Particularly relevant for UDL is the question of access. UDL encourages us as educators to assume we will have diverse learners and plan accordingly by providing them with multiple means of demonstrating mastery and numerous ways of engaging with and accessing content (Rose et al., 2006). The second bucket, culturally relevant pedagogy (also known as culturally competent or culturally responsive pedagogy), refers to teaching practices that recognize students' inherent value of diverse cultural and ethnic heritages and explicitly draw on those perspectives in the classroom (Ladson-Billings, 1995). In the third bucket, we find a wide variety of studies that have considered both the benefits of inclusion and related methods of improving student outcomes (e.g., Reyes et al., 2012). Here again, it is difficult to summarize the literature in a few sentences, but I would suggest that we can draw two significant conclusions: 1. Students learn more when they feel included, welcomed, and treated part of the classroom community. 2. Students achieve higher academic outcomes when there are positive student-teacher relationships and a sense that an instructor cares about them. With this background in mind, I offer educators the following model and pathway for creating more inclusive classrooms. This model aims to identify the primary points of impact where research has identified positive strategies for improving student outcomes and making classrooms more inclusive. This model is deliberately non-sequential. Instructors should not feel that they must move through a specific process to become "inclusive." Remember, inclusive teaching is not an end-goal—it is a mindset. This work is ongoing; there is always an opportunity to engage more deeply with the process and create positive change. In this model, you see that personal reflection becomes the living background of the inclusive classroom. To engage in this process, ask yourself why you do the work you do, your goals, and how your background and history may inform the person you bring into the classroom. Consider how your background may differ from your students, and where you may overlap. Reflect on power differentials that may exist on various levels between you and your students, and how those may impact student learning. Are there places you can cede control and foster co-creation of knowledge? Concerning the teacher-content node, be mindful that much of the content in the form of textbooks, case studies, and popular media may not reflect diverse students' experiences or histories. Consider where you can add more diverse voices, student perspectives, and cultural backgrounds to your content. Consider also where the material you teach may reinforce inequitable social structures—can you intentionally address these social structures and consider social justice issues in your curriculum? About the teacher-structure node, keep in mind that community, engagement, and caring matters. Can you improve the sense of community among your students? Are there ways to make your lessons more active and engaging across a variety of modalities and styles? Have you considered issues of access and created opportunities for multiple means of assessment, engagement, and representation in your content? Finally, concerning the teacher-student node, reflect on your relationships with your students. Even in a large lecture class, can you create more opportunities to get to know your students? Have you communicated your interest in their success? How could you demonstrate your caring and where you can interact positively and directly? There is no entirely inclusive educator, nor is there a single path to becoming more inclusive. I encourage all educators to consider where they can engage with this vital process. Your students will be better off for it, and I submit that you will be as well. Discussion Questions There are many definitions of inclusive teaching—how would you define it? What resonates with you, and what will guide your practice? There are many reasons why educators strive to become more inclusive. What is your why? Why are you reading this blog? What drives you in this work? Consider the questions included above with the description of the model. Where do you see an opportunity to make your classroom more inclusive? Write down three concrete changes you could make to your class and how you would implement them. References Baker, R., Dee, T., Evans, B., John, J. (2018). Bias in Online Classes: Evidence from a Field Experiment. Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research (SIEPR). Retrieved from Kendi, I. (2019). How to be an Antiracist. (Random House: New York.) Ladson-Billings, G. (1995). Toward a Theory of Culturally Relevant Pedgagoy. American Educational Research Journal, 32(3), 465-491. Nelson, Jr., L. R., Signorella, M. L., and Botti, K. G. (2016). Accent, Gender, and Perceived Competence. Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences, 38(2), 166–185. Reyes, M. R., Brackett, M. A., Rivers, S. E., White, M., Salovey, P. (2012). Classroom Emotional Climate, Student Engagement, and Academic Achievement. Journal of Educational Psychology, 104(3), 700-712. Rose, D. H., Harbour, W. S., Johnson, C. S., Daley, S. G., Abarbanell, L. (2006). Universal Designs for learning in postsecondary education: reflections on principles and their application. Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability, 19 (2), 135-151.
A Quickstart Guide to Planning and Recording Audio Lectures
Nathan Pritts Ashford University I am a remote full-time faculty member for an online university. That means I don't commute to work, which may be why I didn't get into podcasts earlier. Still, there was no denying the popularity of podcasts. So, I began thinking about different ways to use podcasts to help students learn course content and decided to record my lectures. I figured I'd just flip my mic on and start talking. What I learned through a month of research, preparation, and recording showed me that recording audio lectures isn't exactly straightforward. Following are the steps suggested to bring your podcast project to completion. Plan the Project Start by taking stock of the technology you will be using. I run a Mac, so GarageBand was a recording and editing option. My iPhone and computer both have a VoiceMemo function, and I have an external mic on hand. As you plan your project, remember the internet is full of advice on what technology to use to make podcasts. Once you've determined the technology you will use, it's time to establish the project's more theoretical aspects. Think about the scope of your project. Are you planning to record basic audio tracks for your text lectures? Or do you want to create a larger umbrella – a space that might encompass full lecture materials and shorter sound bites? All the options had me dazed and confused, but I got a real sense of what could be done by narrowing down the possibilities. I planned to record five lectures, but with the option to include additions down the line. When I decided it was time to start recording my main lectures and other quick-hit micro-lectures, I spent a few days thinking about what I wanted to gain from that process – both for my students and for myself. I imagined what the finished product would sound like, how it would function, and where it would live. I wanted to create something that would work for the future – not just a ragged collection of audio but also something that would feel like a comprehensive initiative, a full-court press. Plan the Recording Whether you're planning on reading a pre-written lecture, narrating along to PowerPoint slides, or riffing extempore, it's important to make a speaking notes outline. Doing so will help you to manage pauses, create some aural counterpoints, and modulate your voice. On top of that, you might give some thought to all manner of accompaniment: music and sounds, a well-placed bird chirp, or jarring Wilhelm scream. There are dozens of template suggestions online, and listening to a few episodes of your favorite podcast can give you a sense of potential underlying structures. Here's what I include for each of my audio lectures: • Bright Beat – An opening sound of some type to establish a baseline volume and let the listener know you've started! • Teaser – Encapsulate what's to come or ask some provocative questions! • Intro Music - A catchy upbeat melody that sets the tone. Many free options exist. • Welcome – A standard bumper bite to put in all recordings. I identify myself and the course! • Opening Call To Action – Another standard bite for use in multiple recordings. It's a way to direct students to other lectures and additional support! • Content – The actual lecture! • Closing Call To Action – Tell your listener what next step to take. Perhaps say, "Now that you've listened through this week's lecture, click into your classroom and scroll through the text version to boost your mastery of these concepts." • Outro Music - Same as the Intro but decrease volume as it plays. Can start by having it play very softly during Closing Call to Action and then increase volume when Call to Action ends and play a few seconds to end recording. Planning the recording ensures that you don't ramble, and provides key anchors for the learning! After planning, I found it is helpful to practice. I figured I was ready to start recording with my script completed but stumbled over my voice almost immediately. A combination of direct reading and flying off the cuff led to a complicated mishmash that confused concepts and lost the meaning. I had a plan, yes, but still needed to do a read through to get comfortable with what I was about to do. For me, that meant adjusting my plan to include writing out my lecture in a Word document so I could add spaces to remind myself to slow down for emphasis, and used bold font and sizing to indicate verbal inflections. I also realized that recording the entire lecture in one sitting was fatiguing, and led to less than stellar results. So, I recorded the Teaser, the Welcome, and the Opening and Closing Calls as separate files. It was essential to break my lecture into individual recordings. There were natural section or paragraph breaks, so it wasn't too hard to figure out where these would occur. Mistakes were inevitable. I'd trip over a word or find myself rushing through a delicate point. I learned that the best way to deal with errors was to pause and then keep going, trusting the editing process. Editing Editing tools are typically intuitive and easy to learn. GarageBand visualizes the different audio tracks and allows you to manipulate them in a variety of ways easily. Though I recorded most of my audio track using VoiceMemo, I dropped them all into GarageBand for sequencing and editing. Then, I had to listen to myself. Again and again. Over and over. It was sort of mortifying. After a while, it became fun! Decisions like timing and pacing, and clipping and trimming audio segments to make them fit better. I sequenced the tracks to get the desired flow. I included incidental music and different sound loops to function as transitions throughout the lecture. It helped me decide what sounds I wanted once I knew why I wanted the sounds. For example, as I moved from between the template stages, I knew I wanted a pause and some music to carry that transition. At different times in the lecture, I wanted some sounds to counterpoint and emphasize the content I was elaborating. GarageBand has a library of loops that are easy to drop into your recording. There are entire libraries online of free music for use in podcasts and audio recordings of this type. That's a Wrap! When all was said and done (then said again and redone!), I had five audio files on my computer. Now was the time to post them for students. Initially, I thought I'd place the audio files directly into the online classroom with my text lectures. Unfortunately, my LMS didn't support any kind of download option. I built out a Multimedia Lounge page, but I ran into the same problem when I went to upload an audio file. So, I went to Plan C. I already had a Vimeo page dedicated to video course materials, so I built a SoundCloud page to house my audio files. You can skin your page with a particular URL, and each audio file will get one as well. So rather than having to keep track of what versions of files I'd uploaded into the classroom or anywhere else, I could expand and iterate all I wanted on SoundCloud knowing that my links would still work. Once I had those links, I could drop them into the classroom, add them to my Tumblr Multimedia Lounge, and share widely! There's a real benefit to embedding your voice throughout your class. Still, I think there's a more profound benefit – for student learning and for the way your teaching can be impacted – in taking the time to create a more thorough umbrella, an enhancement you can track and keep track of. Click here to listen to examples by the author. Discussion Questions: 1. What is your favorite podcast? What elements do you like best about your chosen podcast? 2. After reading this piece, what aspects of creating a podcast do you think you would find most challenging? What parts would be most interesting or exciting? 3. How might students contribute to making podcasts for your course in content creation, recording, and editing? Resources: Ace Your Audio/Video Auditions! Some Tips and Techniques. Eastman School of Music, University of Rochester. Retrieved August 26, 2020. Audio Recording Tips. University of Idaho. Retrieved August 26, 2020. Chernova, Marta (Jan. 2, 2019). 5 Steps to Creating the Ultimate Lecture Recording Studio. Epiphan Systems, Inc. Retrieved August 25, 2020. Hew, K. F., & Cheung, W. S. (2013). Audio-based versus text-based asynchronous online discussion: Two case studies. Instructional Science, 41(2), 365-380. Oliveira Neto, Jose & Huang, Wenhao & Melli, Nádia. (2015). Online learning: Audio or text? Educational Technology Research and Development. 63. 555-573. Online Course in a Box. University of Illinois CITL. Retrieved August 25, 2020. Tips for Pre-recorded Lectures. Cornell University. Retrieved August 25, 2020. recorded%20lectures_2.pdf Tips for Recording Audio. Bethel University. Retrieved August 26, 2020. Wise, A. F., Speer, J., Marbouti, F., & Hsiao, Y. (2013). Broadening the notion of participation in online discussions: Examining patterns in learners' online listening behaviors. Instructional Science, 41(2), 323-343.
Spencer Benson Education Innovations International Consulting Being a mentor is one of the most important and rewarding aspects of working in higher education. Mentoring is different from advising and coaching, although the three share commonalities and a focus on helping students develop professionally. Consider advising as assisting students in making choices, which classes to take, what schools to apply to, what career or job pathway to pursue, etc. Coaching involves one-on-one interactions often focused on helping students develop or excel at a specific skill or task. Mentoring includes both but goes further by establishing a dynamic inter-personal connection that supports career success for both parties. A recent National Academies report (2019) defines mentorship as: “Mentorship is a professional working alliance in which individuals work together over time to support the personal and professional growth, development, and success of the relative partners through the provision of career and psychosocial support.” Effective mentoring involves career guidance, skill development, sponsorship, being a role model, psychosocial and emotional support, trust, and an evolving on-going relationship that helps the mentee develop their own professional identity and pathway for success. It is not molding mentees into one’s own image. Good mentorship increases the likelihood that all students, especially students from underrepresented groups (URG), will continue their academic journey and develop a successful career that contributes to the discipline and society at large. When individuals from URG become mentors, this increases mentor diversity and reduces the shortage of URG mentors. Being an effective mentor, like scholarly teaching, takes time and a commitment to improving mentoring ability through training, conversations, and reflection. Like teaching, often, it is assumed that a Ph.D. equips one to be a mentor. Like beginning teachers, mentors often replicate the mentorship they experienced as a mentee. Since most faculty have had no mentorship training, this perpetuates a cycle of the “the blind leading the blind” and, in some cases, perpetuates poor or inadequate mentoring. A recent report by the National Academies of Science “The Science of Effective Mentoring in Science, Technology, Engineering, Medicine, and Mathematics (STEMM)” 2019 underscores the need for faculty to participate in mentorship training. There are many different types of mentorship arrangements. We generally think of mentor-mentee arrangements as a dyad often governed by program rules or traditions with expected goals and outcomes. In these formal mentor-mentee arrangements, the mentor manages the process, including supervisory and/or evaluative roles. Such formal arrangements are often less effective and can fail to result in a working alliance in which mentor and mentee work together to support both partners' personal and professional growth, development, and success (see definition above). In contrast, informal mentoring arrangements often occur by chance or networking, evolve spontaneously, and generally lack evaluative or supervisory functions. In addition to guidance and advising, informal mentors often address psychosocial issues and needs, include deep listening, network support, and non-judgmental feedback. Informal mentor-mentee relationships are managed by both the mentor and mentee. They often develop into connections and friendships that last for many years. In practice, both formal and informal mentorships share many properties and can evolve into the other. Mentoring requires thoughtful verbal and non-verbal interpersonal communication, and mutual understanding that builds trust and comfort. Effective interpersonal communication involves; providing information and advice, asking questions, careful listening, a caring attitude, an open mind, sensitivity to cultural differences, trust, and a genuine desire to help solve problems (I-TECH Clinical Mentoring Toolkit. 2008). While every mentoring relationship is unique there is a general pattern of development, initiation, followed by cultivation and trust-building, separation (due to the mentee transitioning to her/his next career stage) and re-definition wherein the relationship takes on a different structure often one of more equal standing, e.g., graduates students who become professors and in some cases even one’s supervisor. In addition to traditional dyadic mentor-mentee arrangements, other common arrangements include triads, e.g., where a mentee has two mentors who work jointly, a mentor who mentors a senior student who co-mentors a beginning student, or two mentees with the same mentor who mentor each other (peer or near-peer mentoring). All mentees need to cultivate a network of mentors, both formal and informal, to meet their needs. A single exceptional, well-trained, experienced mentor in rare cases may be adequate; however, this arrangement still lacks the advantages of a network of mentors with different backgrounds, social identities, and perspectives. It is human nature to seek out individuals who are like us. Still, long-standing disparities make mentee-mentor similarity alignments nearly impossible for many groups. In addition to the easily identifiable similarities and differences such as; gender, race, religion, social-economic status, unseen social identities, and unconscious biases can affect mentor-mentor relationships. Often through dialogue, unrecognized similarities and common interests can be uncovered, which can facilitate a deeper mentor-mentee alliance. As the percentage of URG increases, the importance of being aware of the role that similarities and differences play in mentorship becomes increasingly important. Effective inclusive mentoring plays a critical role in the recruitment and retention of URG. It provides a pipeline that addresses the need for mentors with diverse backgrounds. Mentoring students from URG has many advantages including a better understanding of URG students’ challenges and problems. All of the components that make up quality mentoring are important; however, mentee support and facilitating networking is especially relevant. As students strive to develop a professional identity, they often experience self-doubt, including imposter syndrome. Mentor guidance, support, and feedback help mentees see themselves as members of a professional group. It builds self-esteem, confidence, and trust. Small things such as making time to be at events were the mentee is presenting or being honored are especially important. Mentors have a responsibility to help their mentees build a professional network. To develop a professional network, mentors can include mentees in conferences and social events. Introduce mentees to colleagues and senior members within the discipline. Open doors for advancement and provide connections to possible future jobs. Ensure mentees are included rather than excluded - even if they are shy and unsure of themselves. Mentoring is more than being a role model. But modeling expert mentoring will support your mentee and serve to build and perpetuate quality mentoring across generations. Poor or weak mentoring only teach mentees what not to do. Inadequate mentoring fails to instill a legacy of high-quality inclusive mentors who pass it forward to the next generation. Three useful resources for help and further information are Guide to Training and Mentoring, National Institutes of Health, Office of Intermural Programs, Center for the Improvement of Mentoring Experiences in Research (CIMER), and National Mentoring Resource Center, (NMRC). Discussion Questions: Describe a mentoring experience do you most remember, was it positive or negative, and why? What advice would you give to students on how to create the most effective mentee-mentor relationships? Describe a problematic mentoring situation, as a mentor or a mentee, how you handled it, or what you might have done differently. References Cited National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. The Science of Effective Mentorship in STEMM. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. I-TECH Clinical Mentoring Toolkit. 2008, Building a Relationship with a Mentee, University of Washington, Guide to Training and Mentoring, National Institutes of Health, Office of Intermural Programs 2020, Center for the Improvement of Mentoring Experiences in Research (CIMER) University of Wisconsin, Madison, National Mentoring Resource Center, (NMRC),
The Challenge of Choices When Teaching During COVID-19
Linda C. Hodges University of Maryland, Baltimore County I am a face-to-face educator. I say that without shame or apology. In my salad days of teaching undergraduates, I used the learning management system to provide students with materials, resources, and lecture slides and to allow communication through email, announcements, and discussion groups. But my heart and soul were in the physical classroom—engaging students in interactive lectures and active learning through group work, role play, and debate. All the serious choices I made were grounded in that reality. In my current teaching as an educational developer, I feel the loss of face-to-face physical community keenly, and I emphasize with other instructors struggling with choices in the new normal. The Importance and Challenge of Choice Choice is central to the human psyche. James Zull describes the neurological basis for the primordial human need for control and how choice is one key way we exercise that control (2002). We know that choice is a motivator in human actions—one we often exploit to engage our students. Now, however, our choice to teach face-to-face has been taken away, perhaps for some time to come. Instead, we are awash in a sea of tools--drowning in the cognitive overload of unfamiliar choices. For faculty accustomed to face-to-face teaching, the transition has been existential—how do we capture the spirit of the communal experience in a seemingly soulless platform? Even for faculty accustomed to authentic online instruction, teaching during COVID-19 poses new challenges in replacing proctoring options and experiential opportunities. The beast of remote instruction is neither fish nor fowl—it isn't face-to-face instruction, but it sure isn't online learning either. In this crisis, it isn't that we have no choice; it is that we are facing an overwhelming number of choices—whether to be synchronous vs. asynchronous, use this videoconferencing tool vs. that, or even how long a video recording should be. Too many choices can be as discouraging as too few, especially for those who want to make the "best" choice— "maximizers" in the parlance of decision-making psychology. Economists and psychologists have noted that when it comes to decision making, people tend to fall into two camps—maximizers and satisficers. Noble prize winner Herb Simon in his theory of Bounded Rationality (1982) coined the term satisficers to capture the combination of satisfy and suffice—when good enough will do. Over and over during the first days of remote instruction, faculty developers and instructional designers urged faculty to do less and be happy. But for some of us, that is hard. Maximizers want to explore all options and make the choice that reaps the maximum benefit in the midst of all we have available. The bad news is that when faced with too many choices, maximizers typically experience "buyer's remorse," i.e., the feeling that their choice was not optimal (Schwartz, 2004). Any sense of satisfaction from a well-informed decision may be unattainable—after all, given all the other choices we could have made, how do we know we picked the best one? How do we generate any feelings of meaningful choice and satisfaction as newbies to online learning (in this case, still really remote instruction) as we go forward? Luckily, we can reframe our choices, so they are less focused on “how”—a seemingly endless list of options—to “what” and “why.” Going back to some basics can help us navigate the uncharted sea of remote instruction. Making Meaningful Choices When facing too many choices, it is essential to focus on those choices that are core to what we do as teachers. What do we want to accomplish in our course? What do we want students to take away? Do we want them to master concepts, read critically, interpret data, be creative, evaluate, and embrace new ideas? Although we may feel constrained in accomplishing these goals in an online world, web-based tools cannot only provide worthy substitutes for face-to-face activities but also open up new possibilities for engaging students in their learning. The online environment can shine a spotlight on places where we are selling our expectations short. For example, the challenge of maintaining integrity in online testing can illuminate situations in which we ask students to memorize and regurgitate information, rather than apply it to a meaningful context. Such "recitation" questions make it easy for online students to look up information using any source they have at hand. Although lockdown browsers and monitors exist, these devices can somehow seem Orwellian in their obvious "Big Brother is watching you" message. Although we closely watch our students during face-to-face exams, online methods for doing that are disembodied and can thus seem more draconian. Creating authentic, not-easily-plagiarizable assessments requires us to focus on what we really want students to be able to do. Classic backward course design (Wiggins & McTighe, 1998) reminds us to make our means serve our ends, i.e., decide on the primary goals of the course and make everything else we do subject to those imperatives. Thoughtfully reflecting on what we want students to be able to do in our discipline can help us refine our content and assessments and create a more coherent course (Nilson & Goodson, 2017). If we want students to think critically, then assessments and course activities need to engage students in thoughtfully evaluating ideas and information. Asking our students to analyze real case studies, for example, is not only more useful and meaningful for them but also less easy for them to accomplish by lifting from online sources. These course-planning choices then naturally feed into other questions about teaching online. For example, should class components be synchronous or asynchronous? Although we make decisions about this all the time in face-to-face classes as we assign homework or flip content, this choice seems fraught in remote instruction. In actuality, as is often the case, the answer most often is "both." Which of our goals can be achieved better synchronously (with the caveat to record for accessibility) and which asynchronously? For example, during synchronous activities, students can connect with each other, build community, and serve course goals such as: 1. Recognizing diverse perspectives 2. Learning to discuss across difference 3. Developing problem-solving processes Asynchronous activities allow all of the above but without time constraints, serving course goals such as: 1. Refining ideas and making new meaning as new concepts build upon earlier ones 2. Reflecting on personal growth or transformation in thinking 3. Generating authentic, collaborative projects Thus, choices such as the timing of instruction, as well as the tools we use for delivering it, are secondary to the goals we have for our students' learning. Final Thoughts Even given this back-to-basics approach, we can still feel that the number of tools to choose from presents us with a staggering number of choices. Word of advice from satisficers to maximizers—use the tools supported by the institution's instructional technology team. Often these folks know what tools work best within the institution's learning management system and with typical student devices. The instructional technology team may have just 1-2 recommendations for the best choices of platforms that allow us to accomplish what we're striving for with our students in our context. And, in the end, there really isn't one best choice of tool. Assuming we engage in thoughtful planning, as long as the approach serves our students' goals and fits within our students' constraints, it's all good. Discussion Questions 1. What course goals have you found easily achievable using online options? Which ones not so much? How have you addressed those challenges? 2. What have you learned about your own needs as an educator by moving to remote instruction? 3. What new tools will you continue to use in your face-to-face classes, and why? References Nilson, L. B., & Goodson, L. A. (2017). Online teaching at its best: Merging instructional design with teaching and learning research. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. Schwartz, B. (2004). The paradox of choice: Why more is less. New York: Ecco. Simon, H. A. (1982). Models of bounded rationality. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Wiggins, G., & McTighe, J. (1998). What is backward design. Understanding by design, 1, 7-19. Zull, J. E. (2002). The art of changing the brain: Enriching teaching by exploring the biology of learning. Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing.
Make Online Teaching Work for You! Small Strategies for Immediate Implementation
Megan Fixen Minot State University During the COVID-19 Pandemic, we had to quickly understand how to use online platforms to reach students and achieve educational goals as effectively as possible. With remote emergency teaching behind us, there is now the time to develop effective online learning experiences for the Fall Semester. Whether you teach hybrid courses or online courses, it is essential to intentionally design your course with student learning in mind. It is also helpful to develop courses that are interesting to students, as student satisfaction is the key to success in online learning (Rios, Elliott, & Mandernach, 2018). Also, keep in mind that it is challenging for most faculty to create a course that delivers course content, rigor, creates an experience, and provides a personal touch (Wilson, 2018). If you are struggling a bit, you are certainly not alone. Below are several strategies for making a smooth transition into an online environment. Organize Course Content in the LMS Trying to navigate a confusing online course is frustrating. Students cannot concentrate on learning if the work they are assigned to complete is difficult to find. Course design should be easy to navigate and user friendly (Rios, Elliott, & Mandernach, 2018). Tips for Success Provide students with an overview of the course at the start of the semester. Organize the course content into modules and create a different folder for each week of the course. On Monday of each week, a new folder opens with all the work for that week (lecture, PowerPoint, discussion, quizzes, etc.) contained in the folder. Set the course up so that each folder that opens on Monday is due Sunday at midnight (except for major assignments). By organizing work into folders that run from Monday to Sunday, students can look in one location to find all content for a given week. Additionally, students know that work is always due on Sunday at midnight. Students do not have to remember multiple due dates for submitting work. For major assignments, provide due dates and details about how to complete these more significant assignments. Make sure students know where to find resources and assistance (such as the writing center), along with adequate time to complete the work. For substantial assignments, it is helpful to set due dates for components of the project (such as the first draft of a paper) in the online learning platform to help students stay on track. Include an Online Discussion Forum In an online environment, it is important to ensure that a social presence exists. Students enjoy the opportunity to make connections and discuss issues with their classmates as much as they would in a face-to-face environment. Akcaoglu and Lee (2016) indicate that students feel a higher level of social presence when using discussion forums. The online discussion forum allows for valuable peer to peer interactions. Additionally, a productive discussion thread provides an opportunity for new questions to develop. Tips for Success It is typically helpful for the instructor to participate in the forum to answer clarifying questions and to nudge the conversation if the discussion falls off. An instructor would not assign a discussion topic in an on-campus classroom and then walk out of the room, and the online environment is no different. Instructors can facilitate the conversation and bring new information to the forum as needed. It is also helpful to provide instructions for discussion forum requirements. Students should know the minimum word count required for each post and whether references are required. Sometimes the specific information is outlined only for the initial post with vague requirements for the follow-up post. It is helpful to include details for both initial and follow up posts. Offer Varied Approaches to Learning Student learning preferences are varied. Offering multiple formats of materials can assist the learning process and follows the Universal Design of Learning recommendations (CAST, 2018). Houston (2018) recommends alternative flexible learning techniques to meet the needs of online learners. Tips for Success Students benefit from multiple representations of information. Instructors can post pre-recorded lectures, announcements, YouTube videos, typed lectures, and activities in the online forum. Providing various methods to learn course material allow students to choose the option that works best for their learning preference. Some students learn best by working individually, and some thrive in a small group. Instructors can provide a mix of assignments, including some that are individual and others as a group. Students may also enjoy the opportunity to choose if they would like to work individually or as a group. Be Engaged It is particularly important in online courses to make sure that students are engaged. According to Rios, Elliott, and Mandernach (2018), students who are involved in the online classroom are more satisfied and more motivated to learn, and the interaction between a student and instructor increases the ability of a student to connect in a personal manner with course content (Jackson, 2019). Tips for Success Effective interaction and communication are essential in creating engaged students. Demonstrate support for both student engagement and communication through online office hours. Set a time to be in a virtual room where students can login and discuss issues they may have. Being available via email certain times of the day to provide immediate responses can also provide interaction. Additionally, offering flexibility for meeting times and arranging a one-on-one virtual meeting, if requested, are other ways to increase engagement. Conclusion The transition to online instruction is a new experience for many instructors. Keep in mind successful online instructors strive to engage students and provide interaction through a visible presence in the online classroom (Stetter, 2018). Implementation of the methods suggested in this article can help instructors achieve a successful transition to online instruction and increase student learning and satisfaction. Discussion Questions 1. What did you find most challenging the first time you taught an emergency remote (or online) course? How did you address this challenge? 2. How do you balance facilitating online discussions using minimal entries versus staying out of the conversation to let it develop among your students? In what way do you typically moderate online discussions? 3. In what way do you most frequently engage online students? How might you modify your engaged learning strategies to be even more inclusive in the future? References Akcaoglu, M., & Lee, E. (2016). Increasing Social Presence in Online Learning through Small Group Discussions. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 17(3). CAST (2018). Universal Design for Learning Guidelines version 2.2. Retrieved from Houston, L. (2018). Efficient Strategies for Integrating Universal Design for Learning in the Online Classroom. Journal of Educators Online, 15(3), n3. Retrieved from Jackson, S. H. (2019). Student Questions: A Path to Engagement and Social Presence in the Online Classroom. Journal of Educators Online, 16(1), n1. Retrieved from Rios, T., Elliott, M., & Mandernach, B. J. (2018). Efficient instructional strategies for maximizing online student satisfaction. Journal of Educators Online, 15(3), n3. Retrieved from Stetter, M. (2018). Best Practices in Asynchronous Online Instruction. In E. Langran & J. Borup (Eds.), Proceedings of Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education International Conference (pp. 245-247). Washington, D.C., United States: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE). Retrieved May 11, 2020 from Wilson, S. D. (2018). Leading edge online classroom education: Incorporating best practices beyond technology. American Journal of Business Education (AJBE), 11(3), 41-48. Retrieved from
Alternatives to the Traditional Exam as Measures of Student Learning Outcomes
Lucinda L. Parmer Southeastern Oklahoma State University With the COVID-19 outbreak, instructors across the country scrambled in the middle of the spring semester to move from face-to-face instruction to remote emergency teaching. Over the summer, many faculty have time to rethink their assessment strategies, including exams, as we prepare for the Fall. With the reconceptualization of how we all teach, now more than ever, is the time for instructors to consider alternative exam formats (for implementation inside and outside the classroom). Using multiple-choice questions for course exams or quizzes that are pre-created from a textbook publisher’s test bank of questions is a common assessment method for testing students over content learned. The main appeal of using test banks is that they are automatically graded for an instructor when integrated into any learning management system (LMS) such as with Blackboard or Canvas. Unfortunately, test bank multiple choice questions may not work well for an unproctored at home online exam, in addition to the shortfalls of multiple-choice items as an assessment strategy. It is time for us to all seriously rethink this strategy, particularly with so many students now taking online and at-home exams. Project-Based Assignments and Student Learning Outcomes So what is the solution you might ask? Information regarding alternative and innovative exam formats are readily accessible with just a quick google search, but also within the educational literature. For example, Worcester Polytechnic Institute explains the benefits to student learning when instructors forgo the traditional multiple-choice or true/false exam format. Literature supporting faculty use of employing alternative exam formats includes, for example, project-based learning (PBL). PBL requires students to work on a semester-long project highlighting the main ideas and concepts of the course’s learning objectives. Using a scaffolding technique, students submit parts of the project throughout the semester with a final draft due at the end of the term. Utilizing alternative and innovative testing formats such as PBL enhances student learning as they develop skills such as higher critical thinking, problem-solving, teamwork, communication, and leadership skills. Plus, there are even long-term benefits, such as stronger initiative-taking, responsibility, character, and the ability to understand different points of view. I am using project-based learning in all of my courses currently. I put a disclaimer in my syllabus, explaining that I was forgoing multiple-choice exams and quizzes and that the student activities would all be project-based both individually and in a team. I then designed an overall individual Course Project where students submit their analysis weekly and build upon it each week. The additional assignments for my courses include digitally-based lab assignments fully integrated into my university’s LMS and other paper projects and group projects. The point is to be creative! Additional Alternative and Innovative Exam Formats Examples of other alternative and innovative exam formats are available on several university websites, such as the University of Minnesota, University of California – Berkley, and at Lakehead University: Open Book Exams: allows students to use the designated course textbook/e-book, or supplementary resources, such as the Internet, while taking their exams. With open-book exams, it is important to ask higher-order cognitive thinking questions rather than factual lower-level questions. Crib Sheets: will enable students the ability to use resources such as class handouts and personal class notes while taking an exam. Take-Home Exams: offer the instructor an opportunity to create more challenging problems for students to complete at home outside of the classroom, whereas such complex assignments are not possible to finish during a single traditional classroom session. Collaborative Testing: allows students to work in teams to teach each other, debate, and draw a final consensus of answers. Student Portfolios: these are creative projects where students can work on the entire class term, highlighting the main ideas and topics the students have learned throughout the course. These portfolios can be digitally-based, an oral presentation with visuals, or in a paper report format. Performance Tests: requires the student to create something tangible that reinforces what the student has learned in the course. Examples of performance tests can include science/lab activities,” Shark Tank” night as commonly used in business courses, and art/drama courses to include plays and performances. Retake Policies: allows the student to retake an exam to earn a higher grade. The test could be the same or any variation of the first exam the student took. Summaries are a great tool that allows students to either verbally in presentation style, in a written report, or even digitally (i.e., website) summarize their main learning points throughout the term. Small-Stakes Quizzes and Tests: instead of having “high-stakes” midterms and final exams, instructors can have smaller-stake quizzes and tests throughout the course. Briefing Reports: students can create a memorandum of sorts identifying, for example, a case study’s problem and alternative solutions. Presentations: students can analyze chapter questions and then create their analysis in a presentation such as with Google Slides or Microsoft PowerPoint. Reflective Papers: students write a paper reflecting on their learnings from the course. They are required to align course learning theories and outcomes to their overall reflections. Student-Proposed Projects: students can either create their course project or choose from a list of projects. The list could, for example, be a paper, presentation, website, blog, audio/video recording, or podcast. The course project would need to analyze the key topics, concepts, and learning objectives of each chapter, or the course at large. Experiential-Learning Activities: this type of activity consists of students “learning by doing,” and having hands-on personal experiences, such as internships (paid or unpaid), job shadowing assignments, student consulting assignments, for example, designing a local entrepreneur’s company website. Having students reflect on their experiences is essential. Poster Sessions (can be virtual or face-to-face): students can create research posters using templates . Students may either submit their completed poster as a file attachment in an LMS for digital courses, present in class for face-to-face or hybrid classes, or record the presentation with the poster and upload as an audio/video file in a digital course LMS. Fact Sheets: students can create a fact sheet on a particular chapter(s) or on the entire course. The fact sheet should contain pertinent information that the student can attribute to being true regarding the course subject, topics, theories, and/or concepts. Gamification and Game-Based Learning: gamification is the process of applying game mechanics (i.e., points, levels, badges, money) to student learning; for example, stock market games, Kahoot!, and Capsim. Service-Learning: combines learning goals and community service in ways that can enhance both student growth and the common good. For example, student activities partnered with Goodwill, Habitat for Humanity or a local Food Bank. Conclusion Hopefully, this blog inspires you to forgo standardized multiple-choice exams when developing options for measuring learning outcomes for your courses. Yes, I know, developing exams from test banks is very tempting. Who wants to rework the wheel?! However, multiple-choice exams have serious limitations in terms of testing for higher-order thinking. The alternatives to the traditional exam are justified in the literature. Implementing options requires more preparation and planning than developing a test. But by implementing alternative assignments, student learning is both enriched and enhanced as students demonstrate skills such as higher critical thinking, problem-solving, teamwork, communication, and leadership skills. Discussion Questions 1. Which alternative and innovative exam formats have you used in your courses, and why? Does your department support alternative and innovative exam formats? If not, how might you be able to change this in your department? 2. Which example provided in this blog of alternative and innovative exam formats would you consider incorporating into a future course? Why do you think this particular format would work best in one of your future classes? 3. What additional alternative and innovative exam formats were not addressed? References Alternatives to traditional Testing. (n.d.). Retrieved May 14, 2020, from Bandy, J. (n.d.). What is service learning or community engagement? Retrieved from Vanderbilt University Center for Teaching website: Center for educational innovation. Advance your teaching. Engage your learners. (n.d.). Retrieved from University of Minnesota website: Dubec, R. (2018, November 13). Thirteen alternatives to traditional Testing. Retrieved May 15, 2020, from Free research poster PowerPoint templates. (n.d.). Retrieved May 15, 2020, from [Transforming higher education through project-based learning]. (n.d.). Retrieved from Chronicle of Higher Education - Worcester Polytechnic Institute website: What is the experiential learning cycle? (n.d.). Retrieved June 1, 2017, from Growth Engineering website:
Todd Zakrajsek University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Video game players understand that failure is both informative and a fundamental part of learning. As a means to master skills in a video game, it is common practice for a novice player to take high-risk actions to discover how the game works. Exploring options and consequences is one way to learn about the complexities of a game as a strategy to advance within the game. Newbies may run an avatar off a cliff, jump to a high point, run into a dark cave, or intentionally engage in behavior that knowingly would result in an undesired outcome, in the short run. The gamer understands the risk of failure is high but yields valuable information that will contribute to future success, as the game advances. I have heard it often: "students need to learn that failure is an important part of education." I am not sure it is the students who need to learn this. No, students know that failure is an essential part of learning. Instead, I argue that to expand education, it is we, as faculty, need to make the learning environment safe for student failure. In higher education, we have long known of the value of failure. About 100 years ago, John Dewey said, "Failure is instructive. The person who really thinks learns quite as much from his failures as from his successes." At present, there is ample research in the area of "productive failure" (e.g., Loibl & Leuders, 2019). In addition to productive failure, educators often speak of the value of failing forward, growth-minded failure, and even desirable difficulties (Bjork & Bjork, 2011). Henry, et al. (2019) developed an elaborate model to help frame the research with respect to how students in STEM respond to failure. The benefit of failing is also notable in pop culture. Actor Will Smith emphatically states in his online video that "Failure is a massive part of being successful." With such an emphasis on failure, why is it that so many students seem resistant to failure in educational settings? Perhaps resistance to failure is less related to risk-taking as it is a more a function of how education is structured. If faculty desire students to be more comfortable with failure, then we need to change the way we teach to lower the stakes in risk-taking. In this blog, I will address three areas, to get the conversation rolling: (1) rethinking how we respond to success and failure; (2) the discussions we frame in our courses, and (3) determining course grades. Responses to Successes and Failures It is an essential response in many situations. When you formulate a guess, and it turns out you are correct, it feels good. You get a burst of energy and are motivated to move forward. When you are wrong, it has a different feeling. You note who noticed you were wrong and the implications on the perception of your skills and abilities. Being right shows how good you are, and being wrong carries the possibilities of exposing your weaknesses. This same emotional response happens time and again, across the lifespan. From the time we are very young, we hear encouragement such as, "WOW, that is correct! Look how smart you are," and feedback such as "I am afraid that is wrong. Go ahead, don't be nervous, and give it another try." Consider how you feel about giving feedback when a student offers a response in class and is incorrect. Are you intrigued by the incorrect response and start to think about the thinking process that brought the student to that point, or do you see the incorrect response as a deficit on the part of the student? Exams come back with red lines across incorrect answers and often a score showing a minus at the top of a test, focusing the attention on the impact of incorrect responses. Overall, we are a society that values success over failure. If we suggest to students that it is valuable to fail and learn from their failures, then we should rethink how we respond to failures at this fundamental level. From a growth-minded perspective, we could see failure as an attempt at something advanced and a way to move forward, much like a person working just at the edge of their zone of proximal development, as it were. This shift requires us to think quickly about why an incorrect response may have happened, and what can be gleaned from the situation. Once we, as faculty, really embrace the power of failure and the value of using the experience to learn more than students would have learned from success, we will then begin to change the foundation that supports students when they fail. Framing Discussions in our Courses In setting the question for course discussions, there is an essential distinction between framing a discussion question for which you expect a "correct" answer and framing a discussion question for which you expect a response that is not correct, but rather informative. An example, the use of a simple call-and-respond question is a technique that asks a direct question for which there is an anticipated correct answer. I have asked in my psychology courses, "What year was psychology founded as a science?" "What school of thought did Watson found?" and "Can someone tell me why the behaviorists were so opposed to 'thinking' in their formulation of how psychology should be studied?" Such questions have a correct answer, for which students are rewarded by showing how much they have learned. Try a different way of framing discussion questions as a prompt that offers multiple correct answers to demonstrate complex learning. When I teach the history of psychology, discussion questions center on asking why significant individuals were criticized or told they were wrong yet persevered in advancing the field. One such discussion question, for example, "Margaret Floy Washburn was told that as a woman, it would be impossible for her to get a psychology degree, which she did. What challenges and failures might she have experienced in her educational career, and why do you think she was successful where others had failed?" The subsequent discussion focuses on rich details outlining challenges, strategies to overcome obstacles, and the impact on the discipline. Determining Course Grades If we are to convince students that learning comes from failure, then we need to create a system that rewards productive failures and failing forward. Look specifically at the process used to determine grade assignment to determine if students really can be encouraged to fail. Consider the following situations: What happens if a student attempt at a paper is overly ambitious and the student fails to complete the assignment as intended? What happens if a student tries a new study technique and does poorly on the first exam. Is it possible to recover and earn a high grade in the course? What happens if one of the student groups attempts a challenging final project and fails? Can they still receive a good grade on the project? To encourage risk-taking that may result in failure, there have to be ways for the students to fail without causing significant harm to their grade. For faculty to say, "you learned a valuable lesson", when a group project fails that costs the students their grade in the course, the real lesson was that they should have stayed with the safe route. Alternatively, could students demonstrate what was learned from failing? Could students explain what went wrong with the project, identify where errors were made, what was learned, and how it would be attempted next time? Such a reflective exercise of working through the failure and lessons it provided may well be very informative and deserving of a high letter grade. Conclusion Learning from failure is an essential part of education and should be encouraged. It should be supported by the way we talk about success and failure, how we frame challenges, and how we grade outcomes. If we build into our courses ways for students to fail in a productive manner, they will respond the same way they do with video games. They will take chances to learn more. They may fail, and if they do, the learning experience should allow students to learn from their attempts. And if students take a risk and succeed, so be it. Maybe in the future, they will stretch further and learn even more by failing forward. Discussion Questions 1. Select an experience outside of higher education and observe responses to success and failure. This could be observing a parent child interaction, the major characters in a movie, or a person exchange with another person. Note how success and failure are framed and rewarded or scrutinized. 2. In what ways does it appear that higher education is biased toward success, rather than built to support failing forward? 3. Explain one way in which you could adapt your course to encourage students to take chances that will likely result in failure. How would your grading system be designed so that these failures do not harm the grade students receive for their learning? References Bjork, E. L., & Bjork, R. A. (2011). Making things hard on yourself, but in a good way: Creating desirable difficulties to enhance learning. In M. A. Gernsbacher, R. W. Pew, L. M. Hough, & J. R. Pomerantz (Eds.), Psychology and the real world: Essays illustrating fundamental contributions to society (pp. 56-64). New York: Worth Publishers. GoalCast. (January 24, 2018). This is Why Will Smith Wants You to Fail Before You Succeed. [Video] YouTube. Henry, M.A., Shorter, S., Charkoudian, L., Heemstra, J.M., & Corwin, L.A. (2019). FAIL is not a four-letter word: A theoretical framework for exploring undergraduate students’ approaches to academic challenges and responses to failure in STEM learning. CBE-Life Sciences Education, 18(1), 1 – 17. Stoller, A. (2013). Educating from failure: Dewey's aesthetics and the case for failure in educational theory. The Journal of Aesthetic Education, 47 (1), 22 – 35. Loibl, K. & Leuders, T. (2019). How to make failure productive: Fostering learning from errors through elaboration prompts. Learning and Instruction, Vol 62, 1-10.
Making Social Media Work: Tips and Tricks for Bringing Social Media into your Course
Kirsty Gaither A.T. Still University Many instructors are understandably wary of bringing social media into the classroom. Not only can social media distract students from the task at hand, but when working in a public, often anonymized forum, there is no way to control all interactions. Yet with the right approach, social media can offer a structured and engaging way for students to interact with course content. It provides the potential to teach students essential skills, including how to distribute information for different audiences. Using social media, students also learn how to engage with academic material outside of the classroom, thereby promoting lifelong learning. Here is my list of tips and tricks for bringing social media into your course: ● Go with what you know ● Apply the literature across platforms ● Explain the benefits ● Provide structured social time Go with what you know It is easier to regulate and troubleshoot social media that you are already familiar with, especially since there are so many social apps out there. Trying to keep up with the latest social media phase is exhausting and, frankly, unrealistic. While social media is prevalent in today's world, that doesn't mean that your students will understand how to use social media in the way you intend effectively. Take, for example, a faculty member I work with who has assigned Blogs as a critical component of her class for the last decade. In recent years she has had to teach students how to write a blog, for even though they are familiar with the online format, they have never formally written anything like it. Teaching students how to effectively use social media, however, has far-reaching implications. Working with them to apply critical thinking to capture the perfect tweet to sum up an issue has the potential to impact the way they use Twitter in the future for personal or professional activities. Apply the literature across platforms Although each platform is unique, social media, on the whole, share more commonalities than differences. While you can group social media into different categories (networking, media sharing, shopping, etc…), their social nature standardizes certain elements. Many offer some version of commenting, which can facilitate student discussions or content creation. All offer public interaction, by which students have the opportunity to interact with a broader audience. And most support a range of mixed media, which opens instructional possibilities to sharing images, video recaps, or linked resources. You can take an article like "A study of the use of Twitter by students for lecture engagement and discussion" and apply the methodologies to any platform that offers threaded public commenting (Tiernan 2014). Admittedly some methodologies may need to be adjusted. When implementing discussions, Twitter displays comments in real-time, whereas interactive commenting on Pinterest boards may be better suited for asynchronous discussions. Explain the benefits Ensuring students understand that their social media assignments teach them skills that extend beyond the classroom is a great way to promote lifelong learning. Using social media offers an additional opportunity to instruct students on the difference between public and private, information security, and internet best practices, as well as to introduce them to scholarly communities of practice. By participating in public discussions or forums, students have the opportunity to interact with colleagues and potential employers. On a less lofty note, the skills students acquire can serve them more immediately in their continued use of the platform and reinforce the value of their assignment. For example, Pinterest is an excellent tool for creating group or individual sets of flashcards. Since the captions and notes are not displayed on the board-view, students can quiz themselves and check their answers by clicking on the pinned image in question. These self or group created flashcards not only make for a useful class assignment, but students can continue to use this study tool in your course, or apply it to their other classes. Provide structured social time Setting your students up for success is an integral part of bringing social media into the classroom. Thankfully, regardless of whether you believe strongly on the topic of phones' place in the classroom, social media can be adjusted to either be a synchronous in-class activity or an asynchronous homework assignment. Regardless, making sure your students have clear instructions and demonstrating how to engage with an online audience and platform effectively helps to make this activity less distracting and less daunting. In lieu of overly-vague generalities, let me share two of my favorite examples of structured uses of social media that come from Twitter. @MedEdChat is a Twitter account that runs themed discussions every Thursday at 9 pm EST. They introduce the theme of the week ahead of time, and ensure that a moderator is available during the time of the live "chat." This structured format also allows MedEd Chat to create a formal transcript which they save and distribute. Having students enter into this kind of externally-moderated chat not only provides structure but impresses upon them the significance of acting professionally in a recorded and public forum. Another favorite of mine is the tweet version of a "one-minute paper. "In the traditional model, students are given approximately a minute to answer a question that emphasizes self-assessment, recall, and succinct self-expression on a half sheet of paper (Angelo and Cross 1993). Given the short character limit on Twitter, it lends itself perfectly to this technique. I recommend that students take about five minutes to develop the perfect tweet, however, due to the higher-stakes of posting their response on a publically accessible and non-anonymous forum. Rather than having their phones out during the entire process, students are kept on track by having a clearly defined brainstorming time, and then one minute with their phone to post their response. Final Considerations There are, of course, other considerations that go into choosing which platform is right for you. It is important to consider what your goals and objectives are for the planned activity. If participation is required, you may want to look into how difficult it will be to obtain a copy of the learning record, or any learning analytics you may need. Some apps like SnapChat do not archive or keep a record of posts, which makes it difficult to assess student learning or engagement. It is also essential to think about student access to technology. If your students are not required to have a tablet, and there is no iPad initiative, asking them to use their personal phones can result in embarrassment or inequity. I have heard students complain about having to download an app for class or remember yet another username and password. I have also seen students attempt to use phones with cracked or inoperable screens, struggling to complete even a basic web search. Ultimately the successful implementation of social media into your class will be influenced by your content, goals, personal experience, and broader objectives. Discussion Which social media options are you most comfortable using? How might that social media help to address one challenge in your course? Describe a twitter version of the "one-minute paper" that might be assigned in one of your courses. What advantages would this format have for you as compared to a paper and pencil one-minute paper? How might you explain the benefits to your students? References Angelo, Thomas and K. Patricia Cross. 1993 "Minute Paper" Classroom Assessment Techniques: a Handbook for College Teachers,2nd edition p.148-153 Delello Julie and Rochell McWhorter. 2014. "Creating virtual communities of practice with the visual social media platform Pinterest." International Journal of Social Media and Interactive Learning Environments. Kassens-Noor, Eva. 2012. "Twitter as a teaching practice to enhance active and informal learning in higher education: The case of sustainable tweets." Active Learning in Higher Education. Tiernan, Peter. 2014. "A study of the use of Twitter by students for lecture engagement and discussion." Education and Information Technologies.https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10639-012-9246-4 Veletsianos, G. 2011. "Higher education scholars' participation and practices on Twitter." Journal of Computer Assisted Learning.
Fostering Online Student Success in the Face of COVID-19
Rory O’Neill Schmitt University of Southern California How can I help my students be successful? Amidst the turmoil of the COVID-19 pandemic, faculty and administrators remain dedicated to supporting students’ academic and professional goals. As we move from emergency remote teaching to more well-designed online learning experiences, we need to be agile. To create effective online learning experiences, it is important to develop growth-minded students. Why Growth Mindset? Why Now? How can we be successful teaching our classes online? One answer is to teach and demonstrate growth mindset as a means to ignite student achievement. Carol Dweck’s growth mindset theory is built on the principle that qualities and talents are not fixed; rather, these skills can grow through dedication and hard work. When students utilize a growth mindset, they apply more effort and time and therefore, they accomplish more. A few years ago, in a Scholarly Teacher blog, Gaier (2015) explained his research of students’ dispositions for learning that are associated with growth mindset. His team identified qualities of academically successful students, including “active engagement, curiosity, joy, intentional effort, learn from failure, persevere, and seek help.” Gaier encouraged instructors to incorporate these dispositions into their course design and content. More recently, in a Scholarly Teacher blog, Zakrajsek and Smith (2020) encouraged instructors to use growth mindset as a tool to reframe thoughts about mandates to complete face-to-face courses online. How Can We Teach Growth Mindset Online? For the past decade, as a faculty and an administrator, I’ve learned, witnessed, demonstrated, and have been inspired by growth mindset. In this blog, I’ll share three strategies for developing growth-minded students in online learning environments: Set the stage: Create psychological safety; Play the part: Demonstrate growth mindset through personal narratives on failure, success, and resilience; Inspire the players: Highlight student examples and offer opportunities for growth. Set the Stage: Create Psychological Safety Which classes still remain the most poignant and impactful in your mind? Characteristics of successful classes may include: respectful, courteous, and compassionate dialogue; a feeling of co-creative community; a commitment to learning and growth through authentic inquiry. In the time of uncertainty of COVID-19, students experience heightened anxiety and fears. How can we support them in remaining calm, staying safe, and continuing to focus on their academic goals? The first step is our active role in creating psychological safety. Some ways faculty can create psychological safety are: Hold weekly classes online through video conferencing (e.g. Zoom or WebEx). Encourage all students to turn on their cameras and audio so they can be seen and heard. The power of witnessing is truly transformative. Structure and routine can also plant feelings of normalcy and security. At the start of class, lead a brief check-in with students to see how they are doing. Encourage students to share their challenges, as well as their methods of coping. Students can learn growth mindset when they hear their classmates sharing how they persist in the face of struggle. Learning from their peers can inspire courage and build self-efficacy. Co-create ground rules with your students that are aligned with their values. Some classes may value confidentiality of their classroom discussions and advocate for The Vegas Rule (What’s done in Vegas stays in Vegas!). Lastly, invite all voices into the room. Articulate to students: “There is no right or wrong answer.” Everyone’s voice is valuable in our conversation. Listen carefully to what your students are sharing, validate their points, and when relevant, weave their examples into your lecture. “All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players…” - Shakespeare, As You Like It Play the Part: Demonstrate Resilience Students look to their professors for leadership right now. Faculty can foster growth mindset in their students through narrative and inquiry. Some ways include: Use personal narratives: Admit mistakes, describe learnings, and demonstrate resilience. Use a conversational tone in your class when sharing a story. Allow yourself to be vulnerable when telling the class about your experience in order to build trust and deepen connections in an online learning setting. Based on your level of comfort, share how you developed a new skill or found a new hobby (My personal example is struggling to learn to play the cello). Inspire a love of learning and resilience, as these are essential characteristics for future success. Invite application and problem-solving skills: In the context of a story of struggle and challenge, ask students: “What would you do?” Invite them to think of ways they might problem-solve and persist. (In a synchronous format, engage a live class discussion; in an asynchronous format, create a dialogue in a discussion board.) Student discussions provide an opportunity to develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Perhaps, while giving and receiving encouragement, students may even identify their strengths and discover some inspiration. Inspire the Players: Emphasize Effort and Provide Opportunities for Growth We’ve set the stage, and we’ve demonstrated examples. The next step is critical: Empower your students to demonstrate and develop a growth mindset: Remind students that talent alone doesn’t create success. Emphasize effort. Angela Duckworth shared that psychologists and educators have identified a major predicative factor in academic success is the concept of grit or persistence amidst struggle. To stay relevant, make connections to popular culture. Consider posting an announcement in Blackboard with a videos of celebrities discussing how they became successful, like this one of Will Smith or this one of John Legend. When students feel motivated and positive, they can become inspired and excited about learning. In a discussion board, ask students to share examples of when they witnessed their family or peers using growth mindset to accomplish a goal. Inquire how their familial examples inspired them to pursue their current academic dreams. Remind them that you will take this conversation into the synchronous session. Encourage self-reflection and discussion. Offer a 1-minute writing opportunity in the synchronous class. Invite students to write about how they accomplished an academic or professional goal. If possible, split students into small groups for discussion (Zoom offers the break out room feature). Final Thoughts The faculty-student relationship a key feature in helping students to become academically successful through sustained effort and supportive and compassionate dialogue. Through demonstrating growth mindset in an online learning experience, students can become willing to learn new material, sustain a focused effort, and gain deeper understandings of the topics at hand. Discussion Questions 1. Reflect on a time when you accomplished a personal, professional, or academic goal. In what ways did you use growth mindset to accomplish your objective? 2. How can you use your personal narrative to inspire growth-minded students? 3. What do you anticipate might be the most challenging in our current pandemic climate? How might you use a growth mindset to bravely overcome these challenges? References Dr. Dweck’s research into growth mindset changed education forever. Mindset Works. Duckworth, A. (2013). Grit: The power of passion and perseverance. TED Talks Education. Dweck, C. (2006). Mindset: The new psychology of success. New York: Ballantine Books. Gaier, S. (July 19, 2015). A Mindset for Learning: The Dispositions of Academically Successful Students. Scholarly Teacher, “John Legend: Success through Effort.” Khan Academy, “Will Smith Mindset” posted by BMBohrmann. Youtube, Zakrajsek, T. & Smith, K. (March 12, 2020). Completing a Face to Face Course Online Following a Campus Mandate. Scholarly Teacher, Join the community by subscribing below to leave a comment about this post.
Jessica Kruger University at Buffalo Teaching is part knowledge and part heart. I’ve always been told that sometimes I put a bit too much heart into it, which I don’t believe can ever be the case. Building connections with students is an essential part of teaching. These connections are often built upon a foundation of trust, the trust that you will guide students through academic challenges, or the trust they can tell you when things are challenging, knowing you will be flexible. As an educator, I take pride in the fact that students often turn to me when they are facing challenges or adversity. Sometimes it’s just listening, other times is providing resources, and encouraging them that “this too shall pass.” Throughout this dramatic shift, we are all facing, it can be easy to just keep pushing on, grading papers, creating modules, sending reminder emails, and just trying to stay afloat. But in times of crisis, sometimes these connections we have built and foster over the years are crucial to student success and health. In many best practices for distance learning, you will read about how students must be able to connect with you; personally, I created a Google voice phone number for students to call and a text messaging service through the Remind app. Over the past week, I’ve fielded questions about using discussion boards, how to format a reference, and questions about grades, the regular communication with students. Yet, there has been a shift in some of these questions from the typical content and course-related questions to the real-life challenge’s students are facing. From “Can I have extra time to turn in a paper?” to “I lost a family member, and it’s tough to mourn alone, do you have any resources to help me?” I’m thankful my students feel comfortable with me enough to share some of these challenges, and I typically feel well equipped to answer many of them by sending them university resources that have moved help online. I’ve heard of other faculty having students diagnosed with COVID-19. As a public health professor, I know the probability of this happening to one of my students. I’ve thought about how to respond to students' worries and even changed my signature line from the traditional “Best” to “Be well.” Today, I got the phone call from a student that shook me to my very core. A quite nervous voice came over the phone from an otherwise not quiet or timid student. I had known this student was having some health issues, as I had reached out to all my advisees about a week ago to just check-in. They said, “You have always given me good advice, what should I do…” This was not an ask for academic advice, career choices, or project assistance, but the choice of when to seek medical care. We talked and I followed to CDC and local guidelines on the next steps if someone believes they have COVID and are experiencing severe symptoms. But that moment when a student’s voice cracks and says, “I’m afraid to die” is something I could never prepare for. As tears flowed down my face, I tried to hold it together to reduce the student's worry. * The connections we build are more robust than the subject matter we teach or the flexibility we create in our courses. They are essential for students personal and professional growth and even more critical in these challenging times.Teaching is more than knowledge. Now more than ever it takes heart, bravery, and compassion. Make it a point to regularly, check-in with your students, check-in with your colleagues, and check-in with yourself. * As an update, at the time of this post the aforementioned student has made a full recovery. Discussion Questions How can you work to make connections with your students? In what ways can you check-in with students during this challenge? How have you practiced self-care during this time? For Further Reading CDC Coronavirus Disease 2019
US Department of Health and Human Services Henry, K. Supporting Students Experiencing Remote Teaching and Learning. Scholarly Teacher. April 9, 2020.
Schwartz., H. Authentic Teaching and Connected Learning in the Age of COVID-19. Scholarly Teacher. April 2, 2020.