This is the final issue of the Teaching Professor newsletter that will be edited and prepared for publishing by longtime Magna editor Rob Kelly. It’s been a long run. Rob is a fine editor, easy to work with, careful, constructive in his criticism, and wise in his insights. I have enjoyed working with him, wish him the very best, and offer my sincerest thanks for a job well done.
Current thinking about the role of feedback in learning is changing. Several important articles that we’ve highlighted in previous issues have proposed less focus on teacher-provided feedback and more consideration of the role that can be played by peer- and self-assessment activities. As noted in this literature and confirmed by what teachers are seeing in their classrooms, many students are not using teacher-provided feedback to improve their work.
Whatever philosophical and empirical issues college teachers may have with the Rate My Professor (RMP) website, there is no denying that the site in now a huge repository of information on college teachers. The website reports that it contains 15 million ratings for 1.4 million professors at 7,000 schools.
“Enabling interaction in a large class seems an insurmountable task.” That’s the observation of a group of faculty members in the math and physics department at the University of Queensland. It’s a feeling shared by many faculty committed to active learning who face classes enrolling 200 students or more. How can you get and keep students engaged in these large, often required courses that build knowledge foundations in our disciplines?
It was a syllabus used in a small, upper-division political science seminar, which explains the name and the question of interest to the teacher of the course. “Can giving students more power over course content enhance their understanding of democratic authority and process?”
Occasionally I read old issues of the newsletter, usually looking for something I vaguely remember. Sometimes I find it and other times I don’t, but pretty much always I stumble across something that I’ve completely forgotten that I wish I’d remembered. Case in point...
Calls to ban laptops in college classrooms are based on accumulating research showing their negative effects not only on users but also on students sitting nearby. Survey research documents that students believe they can simultaneously pay attention to what is happening in the classroom while surfing the Web, checking emails, and visiting social media sites, but cognitive neuroscience says otherwise. Most of the negative press appears to stem from the use of laptops in large lecture halls and in classrooms where Internet-connected laptops are serving no pedagogical function.