Tag: education

Can We Improve Grading by Collaborating with Students?

What is wrong with grades?

Instructors and students have different ideas about what grades are supposed to measure: Should they be about how much students have learned? How much work they have completed? How well they have mastered the subject? (Arguably, they measure none of these well.) Grades can perpetuate bias, inequalities, and injustice, reduce student motivation and willingness to challenge themselves, and add enormous administrative burdens. No wonder many students and faculty dislike grades!

However, grades are not going away as a tool for evaluation, sorting, and gatekeeping by institutions and employers, and as a measure of success by students. But there is literature on how to adapt the grading process to avoid the drawbacks above, and improve student motivation and engagement, as well as instructor satisfaction. They go by names such as curving, ungrading, contract grading, and specifications grading.

In 2022, I experimented with

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Engaging Students in Research | Faculty Focus

Students’ experiences in higher education goes far beyond the curriculum in their programs. Beyond the classroom walls there are extra-curricular and social activities and numerous other opportunities to gain unique skills and experiences. One such opportunity is for students to become involved in research. This could be in the form of a paid research assistantship (RA), volunteering in a research lab, or by completing an independent project (out of general interest or as a thesis requirement). An additional opportunity to involve students in research could be by embedding it directly into the curriculum via course-based research. The types of research-related opportunities available to students will differ based on the type of institution (interested readers may refer to our previous article, “Writing Your First Grant,” (Cappon & Kennette, 2022) for tips to secure some funding). There may be more opportunities at a research-focused university than a community college or a school

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Disability as a Valuable Form of Diversity, Not a Deficit – Faculty Focus

Typically, educational professionals focus on how to help students better access what is considered ‘typical’ learning (Ong-Dean, 2005). This is considered ‘deficit thinking,’ or thinking that defines a diagnosis by its challenges, in order to treat, fix, or minimize specific features of a student’s disability. This kind of approach to education is challenging for autistic students. This article will explore how educators can move away from this kind of pathological approach to better help autistic students succeed academically.

Positionality statement

While I bring a dynamic perspective to this article due to my professional experiences (former special educator and special education administrator; current assistant professor of Disability Studies and Special Education) and personal identity markers (white, disabled, cisgender female), it should be noted that I am not autistic and therefore am presenting this from a biased, non-autistic lens. I acknowledge that I may reference ‘experts’ that autistic individuals

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Why Won’t They Ask Us for Help?

This article first appeared in the Teaching Professor on March 29, 2016. © Magna Publications. All rights reserved. 

After teaching statistics classes for more than 25 years and seeing so many students struggling to be successful, I became increasingly frustrated by the fact that no matter how much I believed myself to be approachable, available, and willing to help students outside of class, very few took advantage of the opportunity. I began to wonder not only what barriers existed between me and my students but also how to investigate those barriers and seek solutions.

Students are often reluctant to seek academic help from their instructors, despite the fact that many of them could benefit from the help. Teachers are being encouraged to develop supportive relationships with students, and most are willing to do so. In the case of students seeking help, what we need is clear information about those teacher

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Three Ways to Prime Students for Learning

Are there parts of your course you wish could be taught more effectively?
Would you like to prepare students for learning material with which they tend to struggle?
Do you want to help students transition effectively from one learning activity to another?

Priming your students will provide solutions to these questions. Read on for three useful ways to improve student learning.


Priming is a strategy that introduces a new topic to students in a way that facilitates their academic learning because they know what they can expect. Priming prepares students for upcoming information or a learning activity before they receive the information or participate in the activity in a course. Priming exposes students to new material in a way that influences their learning behavior later, without them necessarily being aware.

According to cognitive psychology, priming is a process in which we use a mental framework (or schema) to organize

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Improvising Great Classroom Discussion | Faculty Focus

This article first appeared in the Teaching Professor on May 18, 2017. © Magna Publications. All rights reserved. 

I was watching a video of several of my students teaching this week. I had to be away for a conference, and they were scheduled to teach that day anyway, so I asked our Center for Teaching Excellence to record it. I would evaluate them later. Although most of the students in the class are planning to be English teachers, it’s not an education class. For that reason, I planned to pay closer attention to the content and preparation than to their actual pedagogy.

However, as I watched the video, I kept noticing places where discussion would be on the verge of beginning, only to see it die almost immediately. The students were prepared, and they were often asking the types of questions we want them to ask. Why did the discussion

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What Employees Want By Generation

What Employees Want By Generation – e-Learning Infographics

What Employees Want By Generation

What Employees Want By Generation — Infographic

Baby Boomers 1946-1964

Best Work Traits:

  • Optimistic
  • Enjoy mentoring
  • Best Work Ethic

Gen X 1965-1979

Best Work Traits:

  • Independent
  • Innovative
  • Strong communicators

Millennials 1980-1995

Best Work Traits:

  • Tech-savvy
  • Collaborative
  • Focused on the greater food

Gen-Z Born After 1996

Best Work Traits:

  • Digitally Fluent
  • Practical
  • Flourish in diverse workforces

What do they want from work? You can learn more about what employees want in terms of culture and the leadership response to it in our latest, revealing Future of Work report, out now.




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Priceless Gift Exchanges between Faculty and Students

This article first appeared in the Teaching Professor on December 13, 2017. © Magna Publications. All rights reserved. 

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Teachers and students can give each other priceless gifts. “Professor Jones changed my life!” The comment is usually followed by the story of a teacher in love with content, students, and learning. How many times have I told the story of my advisor who was the first person to suggest I could be a college professor? We love to hear and tell these stories because they are remarkable and inspiring. A student and a teacher connect during one small segment of the student’s life, yet through that tiny window of time can blow a gust strong enough to change the direction of that life.

And students gift us with stories that bear witness to life-changing encounters with teachers. I recently read Fred Heppner’s description of the three teachers who changed his life.

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Five Things to Do During the Grumpy Time of the Semester

If you have taught before, then you are familiar with the grumpy time of the semester. This is when the semester starts to feel long. It is usually about two-thirds to three-quarters of the way through the semester when we (and our students) start to feel a little grumpier. We believe there is value in acknowledging this eventuality, naming it, and then proactively and intentionally devising plans for what to do when we get into the grumpy time of the semester. Generally speaking, we advocate for the infusion of empathy (one’s ability to take on the cognitive and emotional perspective of others; e.g., Elliot et al., 2011) into all parts of our courses (see Saucier et al., 2022 for a discussion of the empathetic course design perspective). This ranges from our syllabi to our course structures and policies, to our assignments and assessments. We work hard to proactively and intentionally

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Appreciating Our Colleagues | Faculty Focus

This article first appeared in Maryellen Weimer’s blog in November 2009. © Magna Publications. All rights reserved.

I appreciate what my colleagues do for me.

I have colleagues who indulge my need to blow off steam. Some student behavior is nothing short of outrageous, some department policies are nothing short of senseless, some department heads are nothing other than shortsighted, and some colleagues never experience a shortage of pessimism. My best colleagues know when I need to rant; they listen and then gently encourage me to move on.

I have colleagues who help me understand when I don’t. I talk and they ask questions. I’ve learned to appreciate those colleagues who have more questions than answers—the ones who ask the questions I haven’t thought of, which often lead me to answers I haven’t considered.

I have colleagues who help me put things in perspective. Like many (dare I say all?)

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