Grazing - a personal blog from Steve Ehrmann

Steve Ehrmann is an author, speaker, and consultant.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Propagating Teaching Improvement by making it More Rewarding for Faculty and the Institution

For teaching techniques that are needed institution-wide, seek opportunities where those techniques can be incorporated in programs that can earn the institution, the department and the individual faculty some extra money (e.g., summer courses, new degree programs)  (Sharing revenue with faculty isn't automatic, but, to provide incentives for widespread teaching improvement, it's essential.)

For example, at almost every university and college, it's important to find ways to encourage students to invest more time and effort in assignments outside class.  Today's full-time students spend only about half the amount of time on assignments they did thirty years ago, and about half the time that faculty think students need to spend, according to Arum and Roska in Academically Adrift.

One of several mutually reinforcing ways to do that is by quizzing students online in ways that require them to reason about what they've been assigned to learn. These online quizzes and assignments can both (a) provide instructors with advance notice about students' readiness for class, (b) enable instructors to prompt students about what else they need to do to prepare for class, (c) enable instructors to call on students by name when they get to class, and (d) encourage students to be (even) more ready for the next class meeting.  If there is faculty-staff agreement about the power and flexibility of this use of online preparation of students (and instructors) for upcoming classes, then it makes sense to strongly encourage any new revenue-generating courses and degree programs to include that practice. Once faculty try out the technique in that new degree program or summer course, they may well begin using the approach in their other courses as well.  As these pioneering faculty use the technique, other faculty may follow suit. And the more often students see it in classes, the more likely they will be to accept it as a normal feature of studying.

Make sense? or not?

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