Reflect on your teaching and your students' learning.
I'm a title. Click here to edit me.
The Perils of Interactive Learning
Christopher Richmann Baylor University I began a recent class on the history of Christianity with a brief writing exercise meant to help students retrieve basic information. I asked them to name and provide key details about information presented in online videos assigned as pre-class preparation. As I set the timer on my iPhone for two minutes and walked the room, I saw a few students feverishly and confidently write multiple words and phrases. More students wrote one or two words. Many students wrote nothing, attempting their best impression of a student-in-thought as I walked by. Of course, I was disappointed. The activity was a simple, straightforward exercise. It was, in the language of Bloom’s taxonomy, remembering, which is a lower-order cognitive task. But as disappointed as I was, I was not surprised, as research shows that most students don’t complete preparation assignments simply because they are assigned (Burchfield & Sappington, 2000). I also knew from looking at the data on our learning management system just before class that less than one-third of the students had watched the videos. I supposed not watching the videos was understandable, as it was only the second day of class, and I had not belabored my expectations on day one. Although I stuck with the writing exercise through the course to reinforce the need to come to class prepared, students did not benefit from it nearly as much as they would have had they watched the videos. What I had stumbled into is but one example of the possible perils of interactive learning. There are many good reasons to use interactive methods (which comes in many forms: discussion, problem-solving, writing exercises, debate, re-presentation of material in a new form, gaming, etc.). Through the last three decades of education research, a consensus has emerged that including interactive learning with lecturing results in more positive outcomes of helping students understand the material and a range of critical thinking skills than lectures alone. Classes with interactive learning are also as effective in helping students remember basic information as lectures alone (Freeman et al., 2014). Relatedly, including interactive learning is also positively related to students’ attitudes and motivation to learn. And yet, as my recent experience showed, interactive learning comes with certain potential perils that instructors must keep in mind. First, interactive learning does not work automatically. Student retention and comprehension of information will likely not improve simply by incorporating interactive learning techniques. To capitalize on the potentials of interactive learning, instructors should understand some of its theoretical groundings. Because interactive learning methods rely on prior knowledge, such tactics could waste time if students do not come to class prepared. Because correcting misconceptions and connecting new information to prior knowledge are vital to understanding, publicly polling students will not improve learning if they don’t discuss their reasoning before seeing the correct answer. Likewise, think-pair-share will be ineffective if instructors do not allow students enough time to think about a question (Andrews et al., 2011). Second, many students may resist interactive learning due to unfamiliarity with the methods, the greater effort expected of students, and the impression that peer interaction results in “the blind leading the blind.” Some research suggests that, in general, males, less experienced students, and more experienced students in larger classes prefer lecture to interactive learning (Owens et al., 2017; Messineo et al., 2007). In addition, many students feel they learn more through lectures, even when experimental conditions show that these students have learned more with interactive methods (Deslauriers et al., 2019). This deceptive “cognitive fluency” effect is especially pronounced when instructors deliver particularly smooth lectures, essentially deluding students into thinking they know something well merely because it sounds so clear and easy to understand when it is presented. These effects are compounded by the facts that novice learners are poor judges of their learning and that learners generally feel they learn less when learning is difficult (primarily because the feeling of mastery eludes them), when—within reason—the opposite is the case (Brown et al., 2014). Negative attitudes toward interactive learning may affect students’ attitudes, participation, evaluation of the course, and grades and learning. Finally, a focus on interactive learning may lead to neglect of lectures. In the rush of excitement to integrate evidence-based interactive learning, some instructors have stopped lecturing altogether. But this is throwing out the baby with the bathwater. The lecture should not be pitted against interactive learning; instructors should appreciate the strengths and weaknesses of each. Although lecturing tends to be less effective for higher-order thinking, lectures can be effective for learning objectives related to memorizing terms, definitions, and concepts—particularly for novice learners (Bligh, 2000; Harrington & Zakrajsek, 2017). In some cases, lectures are the best way to provide necessary organization for material or display how an expert in the discipline solves problems. Through storytelling, drama, and relatable anecdotes, good lecturers also tap into the emotional dimensions of learning that interactive methods may miss (Cavanagh, 2015). These perils are not reasons to forgo interactive methods; the potential benefits for student learning are too great. To increase student preparation, create additional motivations for students—reading quizzes at the beginning of class, reflections turned in as they walk into class, participation points (it’s best to make these things low-stakes). To mitigate student resistance to interactive learning, instructors should be transparent with students, explaining that pedagogical decisions are based on helping students learn (Felder, 2001). Caution students that “feelings of learning” and learning are not the same and that some difficulties are desirable in the learning process. To avoid losing the benefits of lecture in a rush to explore interactive pedagogies, plan brief lectures that thoughtfully incorporate interactive elements, providing foundational knowledge that piques students’ interest. Finally, instructors should give themselves time to become adept at interactive methods and seek advice from (or observe the teaching of) instructors who use these methods effectively. Often, it takes a semester or two to become comfortable with a new teaching technique. Don’t be too quick to discard a teaching method just because it failed once or doesn’t feel natural. Discussion Questions: 1. What interactive learning methods have you used that did not go well? What do you think impeded success? 2. How might you be able to intersperse your lectures with brief interactive learning? 3. In what ways might you be contributing to student’s misleading “feelings of learning”? References: Andrews, T., Leonard, M., Colgrove, C., Kalinowski, S. (2011). Active learning not associated with student learning in a random sample of college biology courses. CBE Life Sciences Education, 10(4), 394–405. Bligh, D. A. (2000). What’s the use of lectures? San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Brown, P. C., Roediger III, H. L., & McDaniel, M. A. (2014). Make it stick: The science of successful learning. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press. Burchfield, C., & Sappington, J. (2000). Compliance with Required Reading Assignments. Teaching of Psychology, 27(1), 58–60. Cavanagh, S. (2016). The spark of learning: energizing the college classroom with the science of emotion. Morgantown, West Virginia: West Virginia University Press. Deslauriers, L., Mccarty, L., Miller, K., Callaghan, K., & Kestin, G. (2019). Measuring actual learning versus feeling of learning in response to being actively engaged in the classroom. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 116(39), 19251–19257. Felder, R. (2001). Hang in there: Dealing with student resistance to learner-centered teaching. Chemical Engineering Education, 43(2), 131-132. Freeman, S., Eddy, S.L., McDonough, M., Smith, M.K., Okoroafor, N., Jordt, H., & Wenderoth, M.P. (2014). Active learning increases student performance in Science, Engineering, and Mathematics. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 111(23), 8410-8415. Harrington, C., & Zakrajsek, T. (2017). Dynamic lecturing: research-based strategies to enhance lecture effectiveness. Sterling, Virginia: Stylus. Messineo, M., Gaither, G., Bott, J., & Ritchey, K. (2007). Inexperienced versus experienced students’ expectations for active learning in large classes. College Teaching, 55(3), 125-133. Owens, D.C., Sadler, T.D., Barlow, A.T. et al. (2017). Student Motivation from and Resistance to Active Learning Rooted in Essential Science Practices. Research in Science Education, 50, 253-277.
As the end of the year comes to a close, we take this opportunity to be grateful, for our sponsors, contributors, authors, staff, and community of scholars - dedicated educators who truly are committed to improving student learning, professional development, and transformation. Catch up on posts you may have missed with these most read posts of the year. Continue to the bottom for links to each post! 10. Supporting Students Experiencing Remote Teaching and Learning 9. On Becoming a More Inclusive Educator 8. The Challenge of Choices When Teaching During COVID-19 7. Make Online Teaching Work for You! Small Strategies for Immediate Implementation 6. Fostering Online Student Success 5. Purposefully Incorporating Technology into the Classroom Using the SAMR Model 4. Alternatives to the Traditional Exam as Measures of Student Learning Outcomes 3. Strategies for Structuring Teaching from Home: Planning Your Way to an Effective Day 2. Authentic Teaching and Connected Learning in the Age of COVID-19 1.Completing a Face-To-Face Course Online Following A Campus Mandate
Recast Student Reflection with Letters to Future Students
Alexandra Babino, Texas A & M University - Commerce Jacqueline Riley, Texas A & M University - Commerce What type of reflection on the part of educators and students leads to deeper learning and under what circumstances? For both educators and students, the place of reflection in transformational change has been simultaneously an unquestioned constant and site of critique (Beauchamp, 2015). Generally, the onus of responsibility for reflection is on the individual, whether it be the individual educator or individual student, instead of a collective, organizational pursuit (Reynolds & Vince, 2017). However, engaging in reflection with others, especially with those who have shared the experience, can reinforce or extend learning in the same experience (Hartog, 2017). Thus, while typically engaged as an individual pursuit, reflection leading to transformational learning can be a social process that aides all those involved. In our teaching, we have found one strategy that has allowed us to minimize the emergence of the same challenges year after year: current students' writing advice to future students. We have seen that by giving our current students time to provide guidance to future incoming students, we not only learn how our students are experiencing our classes, but our students also take the opportunity to reflect personally on significant learning and develop a sense of empowerment as they can give a seasoned perspective to future students. We've even noticed how this activity encourages students to reflect on how their decisions during the class impacted their learning and success within the course. In turn, the advice provided by previous students serves as a guide to future students as they navigate the expectations for the course. Creating Structure Indeed, we could keep the question open-ended and ask, "What advice would you give to incoming students who will take this class?" Yet, we have found it more advantageous to request that their advice be more pointed and directed in regard to specific topics. For example, in a recent class, Author 1 (Babino) was interested in what advice her current students would give to future students regarding working with herself and specific strategies students employed for success in the course on particular assignments. Afterward, you can also consider the direction you'd like to lead your students. Are there particular policies that students have struggled with understanding and applying? Are there specific assignments that have proven to be more challenging? We've found students benefit from added attention to the attendance policy; for online classes, we've seen students benefit from clarification around managing the course load and late work policies. Writing Guiding Questions After having a general idea in what direction we'd like to take our students, we draft the questions. An example of some prompts we wrote for a recent class include: What general advice would you give students who are taking this class next semester? Which assignments were the most challenging, and why? What can future students do to be successful on these assignments? If you could go back and do something different this semester, what would it be? Why? Students' responses to questions about course design and content provide us with useful information. Explaining the Advice-Giving After we've written our questions, we share them with our students. Although we prefer to solicit our students' opinions electronically through an online survey (i.e., Survey Monkey, Google forms, Qualtrics), you can just as well type the questions on a Word document. Begin with sharing your purpose for the activity. You might want to mention that you're interested in receiving feedback yourself, as well as providing them with an opportunity to pay it forward to future students. Be sure to explain that you will be sharing what they write with your future classes. Then, allow students approximately 5 minutes to answer the questions before collecting their responses. Reviewing and Considering Once you've collected the advice, it is important to read them carefully and consider the responses. Are there pieces of advice that you may not want to share but serve as important feedback to you? For instance, one-semester Author 1 had a student say that future students didn't need the book. Although she understood the notion of wanting to save a fellow student the cost of the book, it made her wonder why the student felt that way. It was an excellent opportunity for her to reflect on how to interweave the book even more into coursework and explain the importance of reading to future students. After considering the useful advice: Evaluate if there are themes or groups of like-advice. Summarize the tips under the categories identified. There could be one category for studying tips, communicating with the instructor, or certain assignments. Organize students' advice into like-groups. Furthermore, consider versions of the same type of advice given many times as both good feedback to you and as a tool to highlight the importance of this advice to future students. You could say something to the effect of, "the advice given most often by previous students was to…." Sharing the Advice Last but not least, share advice from previous students as it relates to your new class. We usually like to start a new semester by sharing some general advice from past students regarding policies. Then, as we work through the semester, we'll share quotes of what students said related to the assignments with tips to tackle them. Why it Works Allowing your current class to advise future classes serves three purposes: It's a reflection tool for your current students and yourself. It empowers your current students. It provides added punctuation to your future classes as you share previous students' tips. Overall, it is a set of pedagogical practices that allow future students and yourself to work more efficiently while allowing your current students to reflect differently. Discussion Questions for your consideration 1. What additional learning can occur for current students as a result of writing letters to future students? 2. What additional learning can occur for current professors as a result of writing letters to future students? 3. How might the insights gained from this practice inform future pedagogical practices for professors? References Beauchamp, C. (2015). Reflection in teacher education: issues emerging from a review of current literature. Reflective Practice, 16(1), 123-141. Hartog, M. (2017). Educating the reflective educator: a social perspective. In M. Reynolds and R. Vince (Eds.). Organizing reflection (pp. 170-185). London, UK: Routledge. Reynolds, M., & Vince, R. (2017). An introduction in M. Reynolds and R. Vince (Eds.). Organizing reflection (pp. 1-14). London, UK: Routledge.
One Educator's Rationale for Student Self-Assessments
Laura Ross Maryville University Grades can create a sense of paranoia about learning and widen the power dynamic between professors and students (Cranton, 2016; Supiano, 2019). Grades can take lower-performing students and strip away confidence and willingness to engage. Grades can deemphasize and devalue creativity and convince a perfectly capable student to plagiarize for a grade (Supiano, 2019). Grades can cause students to feel anxious about their performance and create a competitive culture (Palmer, 2019; Supiano, 2019). So, why grade? Many educators maintain grading creates a consistent way for us to evaluate and communicate student success. Like all other assessments, grades are largely subjective (Bourke, 2018; Palmer, 2019). They frequently assess behaviors and student learning, and they are likely to offer a narrow window into a student's college performance by a professor who is unfamiliar with the student's previous work. (Bourke, 2018). I hear you all the way in the back: "But, there is no good alternative." "I have to submit final grades and wouldn't have support from my department to do something radical like students grading themselves." "I must prepare my students for the certification process, which includes testing. The world isn't ungraded, so my classroom practices should not be." Actually, self-assessing and reflecting are practical tools that promote student success in college and as future professionals (Bourke, 2019). What students will not see in their future career is, you guessed it: Grades (Palmer, 2019; Supiano, 2019). Students are often unable to explain why they are completing a particular assignment or why they got a specific grade (Bourke, 2019). They are often unclear about what they can do to improve upon their grades and are often uninvolved in decisions about the process (Bourke). No educator joins the teaching ranks to strip students of their confidence, leaving behind empty vessels ready to accept imparted knowledge. In stark contrast, we set out to inspire learning and guide our students toward success. The learning theory principles identify teacher-directed techniques, such as grade-based assignments, as helpful for those who have no prior experiences to associate with a topic, which generally applies to children (Knowles et al. 2015). Still, other research suggests grades are punitive for all learners (Supiano, 2019). Adults learners prefer learning through association, combining new information with known information. Adult learners benefit from driving their learning where possible, which is not in opposition to expertise professors provide in refining students' understanding of content and concepts (Knowles et al.). But, if grades impede creativity and decrease student responsibility for learning, there must be another option for assessing student learning and communicating the value of learning in our learning environments (Bourke, 2019; Supiano). I have seen an improvement in the quality of student learning with a self-assessment model (also known as co-assessment, collaborative assessment, partial un-grading). "[S]elf-assessment incorporates assessment activities that require students to examine and understand their learning" (Bourke, 2018, p. 828). Student self-assessments address learning barriers by encouraging intrinsic motivation and space for critical reflection, which can reveal an understanding of what learning took place and can pave the way for understanding the value of learning (Bourke, 2018; Cranton, 2016; Kearney, 2019). Below is the self-assessment rubric used in my freshman seminar course, a first-year experience, university orientation course. In this particular course, students are guided through themed activities intended to better prepare them for college life while simultaneously exposing them to the values of the institution: The students completed this, or a slightly modified self-assessment, every three weeks. One-on-one conferences to discuss their self-assessments would follow. Self-assessments and conferences attributed to 50% of the final grade and their answers on the self-assessments informed their grades for reflections and participation. Students were free to suggest grade adjustments for the more traditionally graded assignments, as each graded item was discussed during conferences. After detailed conversations about their perception of learning, students who were dissatisfied with their grade either came to understand the rationale or reached a consensus. If you are unable to meet with your students, consider implementing peer review. For the self-assessment method to be successful, students must understand that they are generating a grade based on their understanding of their learning and progress, and not that they are guessing what grade you believe they have earned (Deely, 2014). What do you want students to do, learn, and understand the impact of collaborations and assignments? The self-assessment categories can be adjusted to complement course topics, objectives, disciplinary or program goals, teaching style, or even an institution's core values. Students can contribute to the self-assessment categories by studying the syllabus and voting on what they think is essential. Self-assessments can be added to the end of book chapters or course units so students can assess their understanding of the material. Your students can self-assess their exam performance and study habits to understand better the purpose and learning that comes from retrieval practice (Palmer, 2019). The options to personalize the self-assessments to your students, discipline, teaching, and institution are vast. Self-assessments included goal setting. Research shows forward-thinking, future-driven self-assessments successfully helped students think beyond teacher expectations and letter grades (Bourke, 2018). Initially, when setting goals, many of my students outlined their goals as "getting good grades." I would ask, "Why not change it to 'commitment to learning?" It was amazing to have such a mature discussion with first-year students about the difference between learning and grades and watch as they changed their goals to "commitment to learning" by our next meeting. The self-assessments and conferences allowed students to observe and reflect upon their growth throughout the semester. For most of my students, the self-assessments contributed to deeper and more mature learning about how one is responsible for their education. In earnest, the self-assessments did not change the average student letter grades from the previous semester. I will take that to mean that self-assessments are not likely to be responsible for grade inflation. But, the student evaluations of my teaching and the course did improve. Overall, students better understood the course objectives and felt a more positive connection to me as an instructor. According to their final reflections, they left the semester understanding more about the value of what they learned than students in previous semesters who did not use the co-assessment approach. The final reflections also revealed that students were aware of the soft skills they gained, including practice in leadership and communication, commonly difficult concepts for students to capture in action. Based on the majority of student evaluations and end of course reflections in my Freshman Seminar course last semester, students were able to understand the following: why they were learning, what they had learned, the rationale for grades received, and how to be engaged in their learning improve upon their grades in the future. With the added perk of less time spent grading student assignments, I encourage the inclusion of student self-assessments. Discussion Questions 1. What would the self-assessment questions be for your course? 2. How could one adapt the self-assessments or co-assessments into an online environment? 3. Is there a case to be made educators to use this style of reflection regularly as it relates to our own teaching practice? References Bourke, R. (2018). Self-assessment to incite learning in higher education: developing ontological awareness. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 43(5), 827-839. Cranton, P. (2016). Understanding and promoting transformative learning. Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing. Deely, S. J. (2014). Summative co-assessment: A deep learning approach to enhancing employability skills and attributes. Active Learning in Higher Education, 15(1), 39-51. Retrieved from Kearney, Sean, Transforming the first-year experience through self and peer assessment, Journal of University Teaching & Learning Practice, 16(5), 2019. Available at: Knowles, M. S. Holton, H.F.III, & Swanson, R.A. (2015). The adult learner. New York, NY: Routledge. Palmer, C. (2019). College teaching at its best. Rowman, MD: Rowman & Littlefield. Student Self-Assessment. (2019) Stanford teaching commons. Stanford University. Retrieved from Supiano, B. (2019, July 19). Grades can hinder learning. What should professors use instead? Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved from
What Improv Taught Me About Failure: As A Teacher And Academic
Katharine Hubbard Sam Houston State University There are no mistakes, only unexpected outcomes: This big idea was taught to me during a free improv class was what I needed to hear as a doctoral student about to embark on my dissertation. I was hooked and have been doing improv ever since. Improv, or improvisational theater, is where a group of people gets together with no preparation and spontaneously performs short-form (3-5 minutes) games or long-form (10+ minutes) scenes (Seham 2001). The most unexpected outcome from learning improv was how it impacted my views on failure for myself and my students. There are numerous ways to feel like you are failing in academics—research results that do not fit the hypothesis, a student failing your class, harsh teaching evaluations, journal rejections, or a new thing you tried in class that didn't work. The list goes on and on. In improv, the only way to "fail" is to overthink and not have fun, which reframed what failure was on a grand scale and made me start looking at academia through the same lens. What I learned about failure through improv comes back to those same two core concepts: have fun and stop overthinking. Teachers know that failure is a powerful learning tool (Bjork, Soderstrom & Little 2015), but no one wants to feel like a failure. As an emotional response, failure is a feeling experienced as "feeling a lack of accomplishment of an aim or purpose." Aim and purpose will differ from person to person based on institution requirements, family obligations, and personal interests. Generally speaking, academics face the core aims of research, teaching, and service. Improv games and scenes also have an aim and purpose. The "rules" of an improv game or scene is the structure you're aiming for, while the objective is to have fun. If you are not overthinking the "rules," there will be unexpected outcomes (i.e., mistakes), which often create a delightful moment of joy for everyone. In improv, there are no mistakes, and there is an infinite number of perfect possibilities. But allowing for an endless number of perfect possibilities means letting go of what you expected to happen and accepting the last gift given; the last thing should drive the next thing. Doing so allows the purpose to become "have fun" while still focusing on the scene's aim. In academia, when we let go of what we expected from the classroom on a given day or the results we expected from a study, we can let what happened to drive the next choice. It is easy to overthink and over-prepare, which is not the best use of time. As adults, we attribute fun to children's play and consider it something we give up in adulthood. A very recent linguistic shift took place where the word "adult" became a verb and is also common as a gerund. "Adulting," the gerund version of "adult," is the word used by Millennials and iGen for all of the non-fun expectations that come with adulthood and being responsible (Johnson 2017). Another important issue in academia is the work-life balance, which is related to fun. Work-life balance is finding the joy and fun in our lives to balance out the stress we experience from research, teaching, and service demands. All my improv teachers have said, "Make the fun choice." This advice is a lesson I use in all areas of my life. Is it fun? Yes, keep doing it. Am I not having fun? Time to change. It proves extremely helpful when it comes to teaching. Students are more engaged when the professor is having fun with the materials (Keller, Hoy, Goetz, & Frenzel, 2016), and teaching is more enjoyable when we are having fun ourselves. Even though research is a difficult process, there are moments of fun in it—results that turned out as planned or the moment when you realize you're enjoying what you're working on. If you are not finding joy in your research, find the fun again by making a correction. In improv, it is easy for things to get out of hand. If you are not paying attention, it is easy to call someone the wrong name or walk through the invisible table your scene partner just created. These moments are hilarious to the audience but embarrassing to those in the scene, while a well-played course correction can be delightful to all. No one wants a student to point out a typo in a slide or correct us when we mispronounce a word; it's embarrassing. One form of a course correction is to acknowledge what happened immediately. "Proof that no one is perfect" or "attention to detail is not my strong point" are two ways of addressing what just happened. Another course correction faced in academia is the choice of staying on a path that isn't working or changing direction. To know you need a course correction means listening to what is going on with your classroom and yourself. Are you or your students bored? Does it seem like you are struggling in your research or classroom? A course correction is usually more work, but it brings the fun back to teaching and research. When you are having fun, it feels less like work (Bakke 2010). In the improv classroom they say, "This is the place to practice and see what works." This is the attitude I now bring to my classroom. Students are there to learn a skill and practice it. I tell my students, "It's okay to fail here in this room. You are learning something new, and if you don't get it the first time, that's okay. You get feedback and get to try again. You fail here, so you don't have to fail in the real world at your first job." I remove the fear of failure so they can try new things and exercise creative problem-solving. It does not always work the way I expected, but I am frequently surprised and delighted by what my students come up with. The classroom is low-stakes practice for real life, but too often our students view it as a high-stakes endeavor. Another lesson from improv is, "Don't give fear a place to live." Fear takes up space in our cognitive processes, and if fear is living in our students' minds, it is hard to fit the important information there. Improv changed how I viewed failure by making me rethink what it means to fail. First, I remind myself that there are no mistakes, only unexpected outcomes. Second, have fun and stop overthinking. Third, the last thing drives the next thing and course-correct when needed. Fourth, our classrooms are low-stakes practice for high-stakes real-world endeavors. Lastly, we all have goals we need to aim for to get tenure or promotion, but maybe the purpose of those goals should be to have fun. Note: Special thanks to The Institution Theater in Austin, Texas, and Beta Theater in Houston. Discussion Questions 1. What parts of teaching or research lack fun for you? What parts are fun? 2. For one aspect that is not fun, what might you do to course correct to add fun into your teaching or research? 3. Do you view the classroom as high stakes or low stakes? Why? References: Bakke, D. W. (2010). Joy at work: A revolutionary approach to fun on the job. PVG. Bjork, E. L., Soderstrom, N. C., & Little, J. L. (2015). Can multiple-choice testing induce desirable difficulties? Evidence from the laboratory and the classroom. The American journal of psychology, 128(2), 229-239. Johnson, A. (2017). Adulting is hard: Anxiety and insecurity in the millennial generation’s coming of age process. Wellesley College Digital Reposittory retreived October 20, 2020 Keller, M. M., Hoy, A. W., Goetz, T., & Frenzel, A. C. (2016). Teacher enthusiasm: Reviewing and redefining a complex construct. Educational Psychology Review, 28(4), 743-769. Seham, A. E. (2001). Whose improv is it anyway? Beyond Second City. Univ. Press of Mississippi.
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