Teaching Strategy Resource Shelf

Boredom Busters – When Students Say the Reading is Boring

Published Date:March 30, 2016

Boredom Busters – When Students Say the Reading is Boring. For many students in classes, the struggle to comprehend a challenging text often results in disengagement, not increased effort. Academic reading can trigger an understandable defense mechanism in students; they can avoid the discomfort of some difficult tasks by calling the work “boring.” This is a special kind of boredom. Unlike the boredom we associate with repetitive or simplistic tasks – think assembly line work here – academic boredom results from cognitive overload rather than lack of stimulation. The brain has too much to deal with, rather than too little, and so it shuts down, says, “Thank you, but I’ve already had my fill today,” and defends the student against further stress by allowing him or her to “tune out” for the class. Academic boredom, or what composition scholar Charles Bazerman calls pseudo-boredom, is thus a type of guard dog against feelings of confusion and insecurity. This article describes some ways to help students understand difficult texts.

Published Date: March 30, 2016


Five Types of Quizzes That Deepen Engagement with Course Content

Published Date:March 30, 2016

Five Types of Quizzes That Deepen Engagement with Course Content. Have you thought about ways in which to maximize the benefit of quizzes?  Have you used quizzes that rely on low-level questions where the right answer is a memorized detail or a quizzing strategy where the primary motivation is punitive, such as to force students to keep up with the reading. That kind of quizzing doesn’t motivate reading for the right reasons and it doesn’t promote deep, lasting learning. There are innovative ways faculty are using quizzes, and these practices rest on different premises. This article describes ways for students to learn content deeper.

Published Date: March 30, 2016


Five Ways to Improve Exam Review Sessions

Published Date:March 9, 2016

Five Ways to Improve Exam Review Sessions. Here are two frequently asked questions about exam review sessions: (1) Is it worth devoting class time to review, and (2) How do you get students, rather than the teacher, doing the reviewing? Instead of answering those questions directly, a more helpful response might be a set of activities that can make exam review sessions more effective.

Published Date: March 9, 2016


Writing Good Multiple Choice Test Questions

Published Date:March 9, 2016

Writing Good Multiple Choice Test Questions. Multiple choice test questions, also known as items, can be an effective and efficient way to assess learning outcomes. Multiple choice test items have several potential advantages: versatility, reliability, and validity. The key to taking advantage of these strengths, however, is construction of good multiple choice items. This article describes ways in which you can improve your multiple choice items.

Published Date: March 9, 2016


Classroom Assessment Techniques (CATs)

Published Date:February 22, 2016

Classroom Assessment Techniques (CATs). Want to get timely information about how well and what your students are learning? Classroom Assessment Techniques (CATs) are generally simple, non-graded, anonymous, in-class activities designed to give you and your students useful feedback on the teaching-learning process as it is happening. An additional benefit of using CATs is that they also serve as active learning strategies. The standard references on CATs is Classroom Assessment Techniques: A Handbook for College Teachers, 2nd edition, by Thomas A. Angelo and K. Patricia Cross (Jossey-Bass, 1993). This article from Vanderbilt Center for Teaching provides several examples and how to implement CATs in your classes.

Published Date: February 22, 2016


Now is the time to do an Informal Early Feedback (IEF)

Published Date:February 22, 2016

Now is the time to do an Informal Early Feedback (IEF). Student evaluations of teaching are an important part of the feedback that instructors receive. This feedback can be especially helpful when it is collected during the semester. Our students can tell us if we are clear, accessible, respectful or timely. They may also be able to tell us if the activities we give them are well aligned with the ways we evaluate their learning. Responding to students’ comments by discussing them in class, and making changes as appropriate, can lead to increased motivation, better learning, and possibly improved end-of-semester student ratings. Here are the directions and example IEFs. If you would like assistance in developing your own IEF or interpreting the results, email did@illinois.edu

Published Date: February 22, 2016