Teaching Strategy Resource Shelf

Thresholds Are Troublesome

Published Date:May 21, 2015

Thresholds Are Troublesome. Few new ideas in the ongoing inquiry into effective teaching and learning have generated as much productive discussion as the idea of "threshold concepts" and its older sister, "troublesome knowledge."  Another name might be bottlenecks. Threshold concepts are “portals” or gateways to transformative educational development (Meyer & Land, 2003; Trafford, 2008), and “going through” this portal leads to significant and important outcomes for the student. To promote deeper learning, faculty should identify key threshold concepts in their disciplines and assist their students in mastering those concepts.

Published Date: May 21, 2015


Why Are You Teaching That?

Published Date:May 21, 2015

Why Are You Teaching That? My undergraduate experience wasn't as bad as that, but it left a lot to be desired. If you look through everything you're teaching and consider how useful it might ever be to the students, you'll certainly find some "need-to-know" material-things all graduates in your field should know and instructors in subsequent courses will assume they know. You'll also find material that makes you wonder "Why am I teaching this stuff?" If you're like most of us and have more jammed into your course than you can comfortably cover, consider cutting down on some of that superfluous material. Here are some candidates for cutting: It is adapted from Felder, R.M. (2014). "Why are you teaching that?" Chemical Engineering Education, 48(3), 131-132

Published Date: May 21, 2015


Assigning Course Grades

Published Date:May 7, 2015

Assigning Course Grades. We come to that time of the semester when we must do the difficult task of assigning the final course grades. What do we do with “borderline” grades? Should effort be considered? What about bonus points? Here are some strategies to consider when determining the final grade.

Published Date: May 7, 2015


Should Effort Count? Students Certainly Think So

Published Date:May 7, 2015

Should Effort Count? Students Certainly Think So. In a recent study, a group of 120 undergraduates were asked what percentage of a grade should be based on performance and what percentage on effort. The students said that 61% of the grade should be based on performance and 39% on effort. Historically, grades have been thought of as measures of performance. Is effort a viable dimension of a course grade? Should you get credit for trying if you don’t succeed or just barely succeed? This article raises a number of thought-provoking questions.

Published Date: May 7, 2015


Alternatives to the Traditional Final Exam

Published Date:April 23, 2015

Alternatives to the Traditional Final Exam. As you prepare your students for the final exam, keep in mind the following: research has shown that students vary the way they study depending on how they think they will be tested. For example, if students think they will be tested on details, they'll spend their time memorizing. If they know the test will ask them to apply theories and concepts to unique problems and situations, they'll practice this skill. This means that preparing for the final exam can be a powerful learning experience if we give students the information they need to study effectively. Providing sample questions is an excellent way to do this. The challenge is to create a final test which reflects what we most want students to learn. If you're interested in some alternatives to the traditional final exam, consider the following alternatives.

Published Date: April 23, 2015


Final Exams: Fair or Unfair?

Published Date:April 23, 2015

Final Exams: Fair or Unfair? A common complaint from students is that final exams do not always test the kinds of knowledge that is asked for in homework or quizzes or presented in lectures. Whether this perception is accurate or not, it's still an excellent starting point for talking about what you are testing when you give a final exam. The worst final exams can seem unfocused, determined to test everything, or random things. The best final exams are learning moments. If you presented a set of learning goals and objectives to your students on your syllabus, you're way ahead of the game, because that means you've thought through what is important to you for a particular class. The very simplest procedure then is to develop an exam that will demonstrate whether students have achieved these objectives.

Published Date: April 23, 2015