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Teaching Tips

Tips from the student perspective:

The tips below are from:

Bell, Jim and Maureen Schuler. "Ideas On Teaching and Learning From HCC’s Social Sciences and Education Faculty." Fall 2008

1. Make the class sessions so interesting and relevant students want to be in class to increase class attendance.

2. Provide Answer Keys with a very good answer, a good answer, and a poor answer with comments
from the instructor to help communicate expectations to the students.

3. Provide written and specific objectives for each chapter, homework assignment, class.

Tips from the educator perspective:

The Learning Style Inventory will help you discover the way your students learn the best.

The tips below are from:

Angelo, Thomas and Patricia Cross. Classroom Assessment Techniques. 1993

1. One-Sentence Summary

2. Reading Rating Sheets

To Assess Skills in Synthesis:

One-Sentence Summary

Description:

This simple technique challenges students to answer the questions "Who does what to whom, when, where, how, and why?" (represented by the letters WDWWWWHW) about a given topic, and then to synthesize those answers into a single informative, grammatical, and long summary sentence.

Purpose:

The One-Sentence Summary enables teachers to find out how concisely, completely, and creatively students can summarize a large amount of information on a given topic. As the name indicates this technique requires students to summarize the information within the grammatical constraints of a single sentence. This response format has advantages for the teacher and the students. It allows faculty to scan and compare responses quickly and easily. The One-Sentence Summary also gives students practice in using a technique for "chunking" information - condensing it into smaller, interrelated bits that are more easily processed and recalled.

Step by Step Procedure:

1. Select an important topic or work that your students have recently studied in your course and that you expect them to learn to summarize.

2. Working as quickly as you can, answer the questions "Who Did/Does What to Whom, When, Where, How, and Why?" in relation to that topic. Note how long this first step takes you.

3. Next turn your answers into a grammatical sentence that follows WDWWWWHW pattern. Note how long this second step takes you.

4. Allow your students up to twice as much time as it took you to carry out the task and give them clear directions on the One-Sentence Summary technique before you announce the topic to be summarized.

Example from Immunology (Biology/Medicine):

Most of the students in this course, taught by a biology professor, plan to pursue graduate education in medical fields. Therefore, the instructor stresses the importance of understanding the heart of the concepts and recognizing their applications. After an initial lecture and reading assignment on AIDS, the professor gave students five minutes to write a One-Sentence Summary explaining how HIV infects and affects the immune system. She stipulated only that the HIV virus had to be the subject of the summary sentence. In other words, the answer to the "who" question in this case was HIV. At the end of five minutes, almost no one in the large class was finished; so she allowed five more minutes and then collected the responses.

In the quality and completeness, the ranges was rather wide. Students had the most difficulty answering the "how" and "why" prompts. To provide feedback, she selected three of the well-written summaries and read them to the class, pointing out that each writer had answered the questions in different ways. After taking a few questions on the issues raised by the summary, she reviewed the HIV infection process again, this time in more detail and using much more specific terminology.

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To Assess Learner Reactions to Course Material:

Reader Rating Sheets

Description:

Reading Rating Sheets are short, simple, assessment forms that students fill out in response to their assigned course readings.

Purpose:

The purpose of Reading Rating Sheets is to provide faculty with feedback on students' evaluations of their course readings. Faculty use this CAT to find out how interesting, motivating, clear and useful their assigned readings are from the students' point of view. This information can help teachers adjust the way they teach those texts in the short run and rethink the selection of course readings over the longer term.

Step by Step Procedure:

1. Determine why you want students to rate the course readings. To make decisions about which readings to include in future syllabi? To focus student attention on specific aspects of the texts? Your reason for using the technique should inform your choice of questions.

2. Write a few questions, no more than four or five. Provide most of them with "yes/no" or multiple-choice responses, followed up with one or two short-answer questions to prompt reasons and explanations.

3. Make sure to include a question that assesses how thoroughly students have read the material being rated.

4. Try answering these questions yourself after reviewing the assigned reading, and then revise as necessary.

5. Create the simplest Reading Response Sheet form possible. Ask students to complete it out of class, as soon as they finish a reading, or at the beginning of the next class.

Example from Philosophy of the Person (Philosophy):

The philosophy professor teaching this introductory general education course held one large lecture each week and then broke the class into three groups for weekly section meetings. All the students were assigned supplementary readings. The instructor required students to fill out Reading Rating Sheets on the supplementary readings and compared the responses each week.

Largely in response to student feedback, the philosophy professor selected the supplementary readings that students had rated as most selected the supplementary readings that students rated as most helpful and clear and used them for all sections the following semester. One of the unintended benefits of using this CAT was that more students seemed to come to section better prepared for the discussions. When she asked them why they were better prepared, several students said that the Reading Rating Sheets, and her feedback on them to the class, encouraged them to do the class reading more often and more carefully.

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Teaching and Learning Center

Contact Information

Pat Spradlin
Director, TLC 
Associate Professor, English and Humanities

teachinglearningcenter@shawnee.edu
(740) 351-3739

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