Course frameworks and structures have been changing during the past few years, in large part as a result of the many new options technology makes possible. For example, flipped courses change where most of the content acquisition occurs. Rather than teachers presenting in class with students listening and taking notes, students interact with the content before they come to class using resources like instructional videos, podcasts, and written materials provided online.
Nothing works quite as well as a good question when it comes to getting the intellectual muscles moving. Given the daily demands of most academic positions, there’s not much time that can be devoted to reflection about teaching. But good questions are useful because they can be carried with us and thought about now and then, here and there. And they can be chatted about with colleagues, in person or online.
A “flipped exam” is how the authors describe this unique group exam activity. The students, all enrolled in a post-baccalaureate program at Wayne State University School of Medicine, had applied to the medical school and not been accepted, but showed promise. This 10-month program helps students from underrepresented backgrounds “improve their scientific knowledge, academic skills, and personal adjustment.” (p. 339) The flipped exam activity happened in a 20-class-session cardiopulmonary unit of a physiology course.
In almost a decade of teaching, I find myself lamenting that I still have to remind students to arrive on time, bring the proper materials, and pay attention to lectures. Despite admonitions and penalizing grades, students still use cellphones, do the bare minimum to pass an assignment, and struggle with constructive criticism.
For many years now, highlights from individual research studies that compare the effects of various active-learning strategies with lecture approaches have appeared in The Teaching Professor. Consistently, the results have favored active learning. But beyond a couple of small integrative analyses, what we’ve had so far is pretty much one study at a time. However, now we’ve got something significantly larger and more definitive.
“When we teach online, technology is a mediator between us and the students. Because of this intervention, the way in which we understand and experience the phenomenon of student engagement changes.” (p. 211) Claire Howell Major makes that observation in her new book, Teaching Online: A Guide to Theory, Research, and Practice.
Teaching ethics is important in every field. Often it is taught with case studies or simulations. Students read a scenario and then decide whether an ethical violation has occurred, or the material faces them with a decision that has ethical ramifications. How do students make these judgments?
Frequently, in our beginning accounting course, some of our students find a topic or procedure completely incomprehensible. Since these topics are discussed and illustrated in the textbook, our initial reaction was that these students simply weren’t doing the assigned reading. In some cases this was true, but not in all cases. After some reflection and analysis, it dawned on us that we were dealing with a “tappers and listeners” problem.