By writing Teaching Reflections, members of the College community become the voice of the Center of Teaching and Learning. Our biweekly installments reflect on teaching philosophy, the scholarship of teaching and learning, pedagogical techniques, and helpful resources. We strive to engage and inform. Many thanks to all Albion College teachers who have shared their thinking and practice in a Teaching Reflection!
Ron Mourad, Religious Studies
I have been teaching Intro to Christian Thought for 17 years, and in that time, I’ve developed grading habits that I thought were working pretty well. I usually give fairly detailed notes on paper drafts and final papers, but pretty limited (and almost entirely critical) feedback on essay exams. I want students to persist in their studies, however, and, according to this week’s ACUE course module, giving more specific and more positive feedback helps them do that.
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Helping Students Persist in Their Studies
I encouraged students to persist in their studies by showing them Ted Talks such as “Grit” and "The Power of Believing that You Can Improve". My intention was to guide students to value hard work and perseverance instead of natural smartness.
Fang Wang, Communication Studies
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Giving an Effective Lecture
Vanessa McCaffrey, Chemistry
For the ACUE course module on “Giving an Effective Lecture,” I chose to try a couple of recommended techniques: “begin with an effective opening” and “pause for student feedback.” I decided to work on these two because we just had an exam in one of my classes. I thought it would be a good time to think of an opening that would get students excited about the new material. And even though I always stop frequently for student feedback, I decided to try a few new ways of getting students to ask questions.
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New Year's Resolutions
Jocelyn McWhirter, Religious Studies
I'm starting the new semester by turning over a new leaf! Over the break, I reviewed all that I've learned from the ACUE course. Now it's time for me to articulate the techniques that I want to work on this semester.
Motivate my students by acknowledging progress and praising effort.
Point out how their learning is preparing them for their careers.
Use a rubric to assess class participation.
At the end of each class, review the topic and assignment for the next class.
Start with an engagement trigger and end with a summary exercise.
Limit my talking during class discussions.
As I review this list, I'm noticing that the techniques I've singled out all empower students in some way. They articulate clear standards, engage students in active learning, provide a road map, and/or let them steer. I'm not sure what this says about my autocratic habits! But now that I've listed my resolutions and reflected on them, I'm even more motivated to keep them.