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Teaching

Lecture. In-class activities. Groups. Projects. Case Studies. Workshops. Presentations. Slides. 1-1 conferences. Reflection. Discussion. Video. High tech. Low tech. All the things you do with your students to bring about the bottom line: student learning.

What is it?

A case study is a real-world scenario that has been recorded or invented to serve a teaching and learning purpose, e.g., to investigate or apply course concepts. According to Cox (2009, p. 6), "A simple case study consists of a scenario (the context), a statement of the issues (the focus of the case), the task (the open problem) and any resources needed for the task." Case studies can range in length from a paragraph to dozens of pages and supporting materials.

Why should you do it?

Case studies "bridge the gap between theory and practice and between the academy and the workplace" (as cited by Carnegie Mellon, n.d.). Depending on your goals, case studies can engage students in a wide variety of active learning and/or problem based learning tasks, such as small group discussion, role play, quantitative reasoning, analysis, writing, critical thinking, or student presentations. You may also use case studies as part of the assessment process.

How do you do it?

Process

1. Find or create a case

  • Find: Using a search engine or one of the databases listed below, search for a case that relates to a learning outcome from your class.
  • Create: Consider referring to a set of guiding questions and/or case writing guidelines before you begin (see resources below by Chrisman, Cox, and Vanderbilt).

2. Facilitate learning with the case

  • Identify what you want students to be able to do after their interaction with the case.
  • Provide individuals or small groups with specific learning tasks related to the case.
  • Facilitate in-class or online discussions to maintain focus on specific questions or aspects of the case.
  • Ask students to create a concept map to diagram relationships among the key issues, case characters, or potential decisions based on the central problem; a timeline to list case events chronologically; and/or a document or student presentation to propose solutions with support from the case, related materials you provide or additional research.

3. Review the case study experience

  • Using as many student-generated ideas as possible, pull everything together to make sure that students see what you wanted them to get out of the experience. Be sure to acknowledge when they reach your goals.
Applications/Examples
  • Jigsaw (in-class, online, or both): To facilitate a jigsaw discussion activity around a case study, break the class into groups and assign roles (e.g., different stakeholder perspectives in the real-world scenario) or responsibilities (e.g., become an expert on one of four supporting materials from the case study). First, students work with peers who have the same role or responsibility to determine together what to share with their groups—e.g., what perspective their role would have about the case study scenario or what information from the supporting materials pertains to solving a problem in the case. Then, students return to their groups and engage in discussions or debates based on your goals for using the case study.

Want more information?

Peers @ SCU: If you're doing this, let us know!

Shelby McIntyre, Marketing (Academic)
Al Bruno, Marketing (Academic)
Sandy Piderit, Management (Academic)
Larry Nelson, Philosophy

Resources @ SCU

Santa Clara University - Markkula Center for Applied Ethics. (n.d.). Ethics Cases.

  • Provides ethics cases in a number of disciplines
Resources for Tips & Tricks

Case study strategies

Carnegie Mellon. (n.d.). Case Studies

  • Provides six steps for you to lead a case-based discussion.

Vanderbilt University. (n.d.). Case Studies

  • Lists questions to consider when creating your own case.

Case study databases and sources

MERLOT (Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching)

  • search for "case study" then refine your search by discipline

National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science

Stanford Graduate School of Business Case Studies

Resources for Deeper Learning

Chrisman, J.J. (n.d.). Writing a Publishable Case: Some Guidelines. Boston: World Association for Case Method Research and Application. 

  • Shares details on creating a case focus, data, and organization; and outlines a case writing style.

The Higher Education Academy. Learning and Teaching Guides: Case Studies for Active Learning 

References

Carnegie Mellon. (n.d.). Case Studies.

Cox, S. (2009, April). Case Studies for Active Learning. Learning and Teaching Guides. Higher Education Academy Network for Hospitality, Leisure, Sport and Tourism. 

Vanderbilt University. (n.d.). Case Studies

Interested in getting your hands DRTy with us? Add to this page, create a new page or suggest new topics here! We thank Kevin Kelly at San Francisco State for this page.

What is it?

Collaborative assignments and projects are group learning experiences with specific goals or end-products that students achieve or create together to master one or more learning outcomes. In Collaborative Learning Techniques: A Handbook for College Faculty, Barkley, Cross, and Major (2004) outlined a number of assignment and project ideas including case studies, structured problem solving (also see problem-based learning), group investigations, peer editing and collaborative writing.

Why should you do it?

The Association of American Colleges and Universities (n.d., para. 7) describes collaborative assignments and projects as a "high impact practice":

Collaborative learning combines two key goals: learning to work and solve problems in the company of others, and sharpening one's own understanding by listening seriously to the insights of others, especially those with different backgrounds and life experiences. Approaches range from study groups within a course, to team-based assignments and writing, to cooperative projects and research.

Based on a review of related research, Barbara Davis concluded that "students who work in groups develop an increased ability to solve problems and evidence greater understanding of the material" (as cited by Stanford University, 1999).

How do you do it?

Process

While there are many benefits, it is important to note that success requires more than just creating the groups. Oakley et al. (2004, p. 21) recommended forming the teams yourself, establishing policies and expectations, asking teams to evaluate their own progress, using peer ratings to adjust team grades, assessing student attitudes about collaborative projects, and being open to making changes to the process, if necessary. Duke University (n.d.) suggested getting students to interact, providing space for collaboration, making student work visible, holding individuals accountable, and fostering competition.

1. Prepare

  • Identify learning outcomes that a collaborative assignment or project would help students achieve.
  • Determine how you want to form the groups. For bigger assignments or projects, letting students form their own teams may result in inequalities and inefficiencies. Distribute high-performing and low-performing students evenly, when appropriate.
  • Determine if you want to use and/or assign specific roles for group members. Duke University (n.d.) listed these potential group roles: facilitator, recorder, spokesperson, timekeeper, reality checker, devil's advocate, and spy.
  • Create  to evaluate individual contributions, the group's end product and/or other aspects of the collaborative process (also see ). Make sure participation is a large enough percentage of the grade to discourage social loafing. You may want to include a peer assessment component to let the groups
  • Set up  (or Google Drive) as collaboration spaces for students to do their work—drafts, final versions or both. Set up discussion forums for students to communicate with their teammates.

2. Engage

  • Use the plus-delta exercise to ask students to evaluate their progress periodically.
Applications/Examples
  • Jigsaw group project (in-class, online, or both): To facilitate a jigsaw collaborative project activity, break the class into groups and assign roles or responsibilities (e.g., complete a specific part of the project). First, students work with peers who have the same role or responsibility to determine together how they want to accomplish their assigned task(s). Note: there can be variation amongst the groups—i.e., they may have the same roles, but each group may represent a different organization, country, time period, etc. Then, students return to their groups and put their respective portions of the project together.
  • Group stakeholder map exercise (in-class, online or both): Individually or in small groups, assign students different roles from a case or scenario (e.g., Civil War roles might include slaves, slave owners, abolitionists, government officials and soldiers from Northern and Southern armies, etc.). In response to a prompt (e.g., "How would you define the goals of your stakeholder group after X happened?"), have students write ideas from their stakeholder perspectives, using Post-it notepads and markers. While they do this, draw a concept map on the board with the prompt in the middle and bubbles for each role you assigned. Then ask them to bring their individual Post-its to the whiteboard and place them around the bubble for their role. As a group, you can use whiteboard markers to show connections between ideas. You can use an online tool, such as CMap, to conduct the same collaborative exercise outside the classroom.

Want more information?

Peers @ SCU: If you're doing this, let us know!

Elizabeth Day (Liberal Studies) uses public deliberation and deliberation learning as a collaborative learning method. Her assignment and rubric are included here. 

Pedro Hernandez-Ramos (Education) created this handout for online discussions, but useful for in-class discussions, too.

Matthew Bell (Psychology) provides a structured approach to in-class groups.

Juan Montermoso (Marketing) plans for a "1st day of class" activity to set the tone for the rest of the term.

Laura Ellingson (Women's and Gender Studies) provides strategies for out-of-class group assignments.

Kathryn Bruchmann, Psychology
Elizabeth Day, Liberal Studies
William Stover, Political Science
Steve Levy, Management (Academic)
Sandy Piderit, Management (Academic)
Al Bruno, Marketing (Academic)
Sharmila Lodhia, Women's and Gender Studies
Claudia McIsaac, English
Yujie Ge, Modern Languages and Literatures
Patti Simone, Psychology

Resources for Tips & Tricks

Cornell University. (n.d.). Collaborative Learning: Group Work

  • Provides strategies for designing group work assignments, managing group work, and evaluating group work.

Duke University. (n.d.). Groups & Team-Based Learning. Teaching Strategies. 

  • Provides ideas for group formation and a great description of different possible group roles.

Yost, W. (2011). Before You Assign Another Group Project…Six Keys to Creating Effective Group Assignments. CSUN Teaching Strategies

  • Identifies the reasons why students have negative experiences with group work and provides six tips to creating effective group assignments.
  • Provides sample forms for peer review, student reports, collaborative learning, group project worksheets and more.
Resources for Deeper Learning

Carnegie Mellon. (n.d.). Using Group Projects Effectively

Oakley, B.; Felder, R.M.; Brent, R. & Elhajj, I. (2004). Turning Student Groups into Effective Teams.Journal of Student Centered Learning, 2(1), 9-34. 

  • Gives strategies for designing and managing team assignments, including forming teams and using peer ratings to adjust team grades.
References

Association of American Colleges and Universities. (n.d.). High-Impact Educational Practices

Barkley, E.F.; Cross, P.K.; and Major, C.H. (2004). Collaborative Learning Techniques: A Handbook for College Faculty. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Carnegie Mellon. (n.d.). Using Group Projects Effectively

Duke University. (n.d.). Groups & Team-Based Learning. Teaching Strategies. 

Stanford University. (1999, Winter). Cooperative Learning: Students Working in Small Groups.Speaking of Teaching, 10(2). 

Interested in getting your hands DRTy with us? Add to this page, create a new page or suggest new topics here! We thank Kevin Kelly at San Francisco State for this page.

What is it?

concept map is a diagram or graphic organizer designed to show how different concepts are related (also see visualization). Concept maps are also called mind maps or idea maps. Concepts can be represented by free floating words, words enclosed in bubbles or boxes, icons or other symbols. Relationships can be represented by lines (with or without arrows) that connect the concepts. You can use other factors, such as location on the diagram or font size to show importance of concepts, or proximity to show the strength of relationships. Note: While color can be used, it should not be the primary means to convey information to accommodate students who may be partially or completely color blind.

Why should you do it?

Since concept maps are designed to show connections, there are a number of benefits you and your students get by using concept maps:

  • connect new information to previous concepts from your course or background knowledge students are expected to have when they begin your class
  • provide a simplified or well-organized view of complex information
  • review concepts from a lecture or unit by representing the information in a different way (also see Universal Design for Learning)
  • ask students to make concept maps to show as a formative evaluation strategy
  • encourage creative thinking
  • use as a memory strategy
  • support global learning preferences

How do you do it?

Process

Concept maps can be made individually or collaboratively, so you can create them in advance, model mapping as part of your lecture, ask students to make them in small group discussion to support learning, or assign them a fill-in-the-blank map to complete in class or as homework.

If you have not made a concept map before, you can open a blank text document and put them side-by-side. In the text document, create an outline of the information you want to put in the map, then recreate it graphically using a concept map tool. Software applications like Inspiration allow you to toggle between outline and map formats, so you can start by creating an outline, then toggle to the map version to modify it as you wish.

Applications/Examples
  • Graphic representation of learning outcomes(in-class, online or both): On the whiteboard or on a computer with a projector create a concept map that shows the learning outcomes for your class, along with the different ways students will show they have reached them—i.e., related assessment strategies. If you want to provide this as a resource, you can use Microsoft SmartArt or concept mapping software to create the graphic representation of your learning outcomes.
  • Concept map lecture (in-class, online, or both): Use a screencast or the online presentation tool, Prezi, to lecture from a concept map. When it is time to record or give your lecture, start by showing the entire map and zoom to different parts to discuss them individually. Zoom out to the whole map again to re-establish how each part connects to the whole.
  • Group stakeholder map exercise (in-class, online or both): Individually or in small groups, assign students different roles from a case or scenario (e.g., Civil War roles might include slaves, slave owners, abolitionists, government officials and soldiers from Northern and Southern armies, etc.). In response to a prompt (e.g., "How would you define the goals of your stakeholder group after X happened?"), have students write ideas from their stakeholder perspectives, using Post-it notepads and markers. While they do this, draw a concept map on the board with the prompt in the middle and bubbles for each role you assigned. Then ask them to bring their individual Post-its to the whiteboard and place them around the bubble for their role. As a group, you can use whiteboard markers to show connections between ideas. You can use an online tool, such as CMap, to conduct the same collaborative exercise outside the classroom.

Want more information?

Peers @ SCU: If you're doing this, let us know!

Pedro Hernandez-Ramos, Education
McLean, Margaret R. (2011, Spring). Ethics in Health Professions. [syllabus].

  • Asks students to construct a concept map as part of a collaborative group project.
Resources for Tips & Tricks

Carnegie Mellon University. (n.d.). Using concept maps

  • Suggests a concept map exercise to use with students – background knowledge probe, homework assignment, etc.

TeachThought. (2013, May 2). 25 Top Concept-Mapping Tools for Visual Learning

  • Lists 25 tools—primarily mobile apps—for making concept maps.

Concept Mapping Tools

  • Bubbl.us - online tool allows you to create up to 3 maps for free
  • CMap - free downloadable tool for creating and sharing maps – site contains research publications and white papers
  • Gliffy - online tool
  • Inspiration - both web-based and downloadable mapping software – free trial with subscription for online version, purchase for downloadable version
Resources for Deeper Learning

Zellik, M. (n.d.). Classroom Assessment Techniques: Concept Mapping

  • Provides an overview, strategies and instructions for using concept maps; pros and cons, links, and analysis.
Interested in getting your hands DRTY with us? Add to this page, create a new page or suggest new topics here! We thank Kevin Kelly at San Francisco State for this page

What is it?

The term "wiki" comes from wiki-wiki, which is Hawaiian for quick. True to their name, wikis in the online environment are collaborative webpages that can be created or edited quickly and easily by anyone. Many wiki tools, such as Google Sites, PBWiki, and Wikispaces, are free to use. Permission settings allow you to make your students' work public for the world to see or private for your class alone.

Since wikis are primarily for collaboration, you and your students can use them to collect information or co-create documents as an entire class or in small groups. As a class, you can produce items like class notes, lists, glossaries, scripts, storyboards, annotated links, process outlines, or timelines. Small groups can use wikis to co-create documents for project work or team research reports. Individuals can use wikis, too, such as for journals, but a blog tool may be better suited for that type of work. Outside your class, you might even use wikis to collaborate with peers on research projects or manuscripts for publication.

Why should you do it?

Seton Hall University (n.d., para. 3) identified several benefits for using course wikis, such as promoting non-linear thinking, creating a permanent resource that lasts after the class ends, engaging students early and often, promoting information and technology literacy, and making students accountable for their work. Vanderbilt University (n.d., para. 12) provided strong additional reasons—i.e., encouraging students to engage in higher-level thinking (e.g., creating and evaluating) and promoting "cooperation between students, active learning, prompt feedback from peers, time on task, the articulation of high expectations, and support for diverse talents." Wikis are both powerful and user-friendly, which helps when students' technology skills vary. As an online tool, wikis allow the whole class or small groups to work on projects outside of class, on their own time.

How do you do it?

Process

1. Prepare

  • Identify a collaborative activity that helps students achieve one or more learning outcomes for your class.
  • Find or create a simple "how-to" guide for creating and editing wiki pages, or ask Media Services or a tech-savvy student to make a screencast. While wikis are easy to use, it's possible for some students may get confused, preventing them from contributing, or inadvertently change the page formatting, preventing others from contributing.
  • Consider making a template for student groups to fill in, such as headings for required sections of a research document or question prompts to guide student entries. Based on the template, you can create pages for each group to get them started.
  • Create a rubric to evaluate student contributions.

2. Engage

  • As a class, generate guidelines for collaborative authoring in wikis:
    • Be sure to discuss with students that their contributions may be edited by their peers. Emphasize creating the best work possible while respecting each person's contributions. Some students may suggest a "do not delete" rule, opting to use comments to suggest changes or having peers propose an alternative phrase or paragraph for side-by-side comparison and discussion.
    • In some small groups, students may choose to create entries in different text colors to make it easier to see each contribution. Text color should not be the only way to differentiate between students, as it does not accommodate students who have vision impairments, but it fosters creativity. Let students know that they should include their name or unique initials in parentheses after each list entry.
    • Decide as a class (or tell the class) whether or not their work will be public or private.
    • Start with a simple exercise, such as an icebreaker or creating a list as a class. Having a low-stakes project to get used to the wiki environment will help students prepare for larger, more sophisticated projects.
    • Use the wiki's history tab to review each student's contributions. Wiki tools allow you to see the changes between each version and who made those changes. This means you can see who added to each document and how much they shared.
Applications/Examples
  • Real-world repository (online): Identify a wiki tool and create a wiki for your class. Create a home page with instructions for students (be sure to type "Do not edit this page" in a large font) and links to wiki pages for each key concept you will cover together. Ask students to post links to articles and real-world examples of each concept, along with a brief description of how it relates to the concept, citations for any sources, and their name. Use a rubric to assess how well students describe the connections.

Want more information?

Peers @ SCU: If you're doing this, let us know!

Christina Ri, Communication
Lisa Fullam, Moral Theology, Jesuit School of Theology
Bill Dohar, Religious Studies
Michelle Burnham, English
Robert Michalski, English
Gary Neustadter, Law

Other resources

Ashton, W. (2012, June 29). Using group wikis online. [CUNY Academic Commons blog post]. 

Jones, J. B. (2009, September 8). Wikis (part 2): In the classroom. [ProfHacker blog post]. The Chronicle of Higher Education. 

Resources for Tips & Tricks

Schwartz, M. (2011). Social Media and Web 2.0 in the Classroom

  • Describes collaborative authoring assignments using wikis, along with key considerations and example wiki projects.

Seton Hall University. (n.d.). Wikis

  • While focused on the Blackboard LMS wiki, this resource provides good tips for wiki success (scroll to end of page).

Vanderbilt University. (n.d.). Wikis.

  • Provides an overview, course wiki examples, and links to tools and related articles.
Resources for Deeper Learning

Deters, F.; Cuthrell, K.; & Stapleton, J. (2010). Why Wikis? Student Perceptions of Using Wikis in Online Coursework.Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 6(1).

  • Investigates graduate student perceptions of using wikis in K-12 classrooms, but Table 7 provides a good list of questions to ask yourself when getting started with wikis.

University of Regina. (2011). Wikis

  • Shares an overview, educational uses, examples, and links to research articles and other useful sites.
References

Seton Hall University. (n.d.). Wikis.  

Vanderbilt University. (n.d.). Wikis

Interested in getting your hands DRTy with us? Add to this page, create a new page or suggest new topics here! We thank Kevin Kelly at San Francisco State for this page.

What is it?

Electronic portfolios (ePortfolios) are digital collections created by students over time that make their classroom or co-curricular learning visible. Samples of students' work can represent their knowledge, skills, talents, and experiences captured through a wide variety of formats, including text, multimedia presentations, video, or sound. These artifacts provide a record of accomplishments, offer deeper insights into students' learning experiences, and can be tailored for various purposes or audiences. In most cases, the students' artifacts are accompanied by reflective statements that draw connections among prior learning, what they have learned recently, internship or workplace activities, their personal goals and more.

Students may have multiple ePortfolios or ePortfolio pages—i.e., they have different stories to tell to a wide range of stakeholders, such as peers, teachers, counselors, family members, and prospective employers. They can combine their work in unique ways for each context, and write different reflections that "light up the runway" for each stakeholder to consider what is relevant or important.

Why should you do it?

According to the Catalyst for Learning project led by La Guardia Community College, "ePortfolio practice has the capacity to support greater student success and meaningful outcomes assessment, while simultaneously helping students engage more deeply and take ownership of their learning" (http://c2l.mcnrc.org/evidence/). Campuses participating in the project found that ePortfolio initiatives advance student success; support reflection, social pedagogy, and deep learning; and catalyze learning-centered institutional change. Virginia Tech listed opportunities for students to perform self-assessment, monitor their learning over time, and make connections between their work and real-world applications as additional benefits (https://atel.tlos.vt.edu/learning/). Miller and Morgaine (2009) concluded that ePortfolios can also build personal and academic identities and assist in planning academic pathways.

How do you do it?

Process

1. Prepare

  • Identify signature assignments from your class that demonstrate achievement of course-level and/or program-level learning outcomes.
  • Find or create rubrics to evaluate both the students' work and reflections (also see evaluating student reflections).
  • Ask students to get familiar with Digication or whatever tool you (or they) select to build their e-portfolios

2. Engage

  • Let students know which assignments you recommend for their ePortfolio or that they will choose for themselves the work that best represents achievement of specific learning outcomes.
  • Use student self-assessment and peer review activities to give students additional feedback opportunities before submitting a final version of an assignment or project.
  • Ask students to write reflections related to the work they place in their ePortfolio.
    • These reflections are meant to show that students understand why they did the work, how it relates to program-level outcomes, their own academic goals, or even their life goals (e.g., "I want to be a nurse.").
    • These reflections may also be about the process—e.g., what they would do to revise each assignment, how they have grown over the revision process, or how they felt about peer review or instructor feedback
  • Decide if you'll want students to publicly share their e-portfolios, whether with their peers or other external audiences

Applications/Examples
  • Finding an audience: Write a letter to the editor or a government official (Example assignment from SF State Metro Academies): "Writing a letter can be a powerful advocacy tool. Students construct understanding of an issue of their choice by researching the various arguments for/against it. They also see how graphs and visual components are used in supporting arguments and create one for their letter. Their authentic audience is either a newspaper editor (and potentially readers of that newspaper) or a government official. In both cases, the student presents this assignment as part of his/her ePortfolio at the end of the semester to a group of student peers and faculty members. As part of the assignment, they are required to submit their letter to its respective audience. Metro assigns this project as part of its Health and Social Policy class, a class taken by students in their sophomore year." The assignment spans several weeks and includes peer review and reflection. Find more details at http://sfsu.mcnrc.org/soc-practice/

Want more information?

Peers @ SCU: If you're doing this, let us know!

Noel Radley (English) uses ePortfolios to support engaged, reflective learning. The Learning Record provides a case study of ePortfolio use.

Lotta Kratz (Communication) uses ePortfolios in her Communication courses.

Pedro Hernandez-Ramos (Education) uses ePortfolios both at the course level and as the instructor in a course designed to help Masters students create an ePortfolio as a culminating requirement.

Rob Michalski, English
Deborah Ross, Ministerial Formation, Jesuit School of Theology
Michael Whalen, Communication
Leslie Gray, Environmental Studies and Sciences
Brett Solomon, Liberal Studies

Resources @ SCU

SCU ePortfolio site: http://www.scu.edu/eportfolio/

Resources for Tips & Tricks

San Francisco State University. (n.d.). ePortfolio site.

  • Shares a video that incorporates student and faculty perspectives about the value of ePortfolios for teaching and learning.
  • Provides resources for individual students and faculty, and entire departments getting started with ePortfolios.
  • Resources for faculty include a gallery of student examples, presentations to introduce ePortfolios to students in your classes, as well as strategies for creating ePortfolio assignments, facilitating reflection, and evaluating ePortfolio work.
  • Resources for departments include guiding questions and strategies for mapping ePortfolio artifacts to program-level outcomes.
Resources for Deeper Learning

Catalyst for Learning. (n.d.). ePortfolio Resources and Research

  • Shares research about ePortfolio influence on retention and student success; practices in professional development, reflective pedagogy and social pedagogy; campus stories about outcomes assessment, scaling up and technology adoption; and other resources.

Miller, R. & Morgaine, W. (2009, Winter). The Benefits of E-portfolios for Students and Faculty in Their Own Words. Peer Review, 11(1). 

Examples of ePortfolio Projects on other Campuses
References

Miller, R. & Morgaine, W. (2009, Winter). The Benefits of E-portfolios for Students and Faculty in Their Own Words. Peer Review, 11(1). 

Interested in getting your hands DRTy with us? Add to this page, create a new page or suggest new topics here! We thank Kevin Kelly at San Francisco State for this page.

What is it?

Facebook is a social media platform used for networking. Over 1 billion profiles have been created since the site began in 2004. Here are some basic facts:

  • Facebook profiles: Individuals create profiles to share information about themselves (profile info, status updates, photo albums, etc.) with the audience of their choice (private, friends only, the general public).
  • Facebook pages: Business, organizations, or courses create pages to share information with the public and/or a specific community. Anyone who subscribes to a page by clicking the "like" button will get updates in their personal News Feed.
  • Facebook groups: Individuals create groups as a place for people to connect around a common goal or interest, such as your course, a departmental program, a discipline, or a campus organization. Groups may be public, require approval, or by invitation only.
  • People without profiles may review public pages, groups or individual profiles; or search and read public profile comments. Users with Facebook profiles may update their own status, follow other profiles by submitting a "friend" request, categorize their friends, join groups that allow new members, or share significant posts with a community that may not follow the original author's profile.

As it can be accessed from laptops and mobile devices, Facebook can be used for learning purposes inside or outside the classroom (as described below).

Why should you do it?

Facebook provides avenues for social engagement that may not be possible for students who attend classes, work part-time or full-time, and take care of families and other responsibilities. To that end, Nisha Malhotra (2013, para. 10) stated that Facebook groups for her class "helped achieve what face-to-face, three-hours a week interaction could not." As evidence, she shared that "participation and discussion rates were higher than ever, and more problem solving, and other requests were made for help with the course." Looking at other reasons to use social media, Kelly Walsh (2012) cited studies that "concluded that social engagement can benefit retention efforts." OnlineCollege.org (2011) cites fifty reasons to use Facebook, including teaching students 21st Century skills, reducing the distraction of social media by using it instructionally, providing avenues for collaboration inside and outside the classroom, facilitating group projects, increasing student interactions with faculty, polling, speeding up feedback, and more.

How do you do it?

Process

1. Prepare

Before you start using Facebook in your course, consider these preparations:

  • Create a Facebook page and/or group for your course. You may have your own profile, but creating a page and/or group for your course provides flexibility and allows you to use your own profile for more than your course(s).
  • Create a "civility" policy in your syllabus that applies equally to face-to-face and online environments. It should stress a commitment to respectful exchanges of ideas and outline expectations for student behavior.
  • Discuss with your students how you will use Facebook before each activity. For each activity, define the goals, provide clear instructions, and remind students to be respectful.

2. Engage your students

  • Facebook for polling: Use the Facebook Questions feature to create an online poll for your students.
  • Facebook for study groups: Use Facebook groups to create a space for students to work together outside the classroom.
  • Facebook for engaging the outside world: Ask students to find Facebook pages or groups or to engage people who are experts on a topic you are studying as a class. They can bring those results back to their small group or the entire class by posting to the group.

The Education Foundation (2013) suggested these additional activities

  • Create a timeline (see Applications below)
  • Create a space for homework or revision resources
  • Run debates on topical or hot issues in the media
  • Foster peer tutoring and support
  • Use for students to share ideas for research projects

Note: Since not all students may have a laptop or mobile device, be ready to modify your in-class activities so that students can submit comments through a Facebook notetaker for the class or each small group, or asynchronously as part of a homework assignment or online class.

Applications/Examples
  • Facebook timeline (in-class, online or both): Use the Facebook timeline feature to construct a timeline related to one or more course topics (e.g., dates of discovery, unfolding current events). You can do this in class with student participation, or make it an online activity that students help complete.
  • Facebook for critical thinking (in-class, online or both): Facebook users can spread rumors as quickly as emerging and important news stories. Ask students to find Facebook pages, groups or profile posts related to a course topic. Their assignment is to corroborate or refute claims made and shared on Facebook by conducting external research.
  • All questions answered (in-class, online, or both): Break students in groups of four or more, with roles of moderator (facilitator), recorder (notetaker), timekeeper, and observer (feedback). Using your Facebook group space, each student must share one or more unique questions that he/she has not been able to answer regarding a reading assignment or materials for an upcoming test. To get credit, the entire group must answer every question and follow-up question.

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Facebook page for Santa Clara University

Facebook page for TEDxSanta Clara University

Resources for Tips & Tricks

Burt, R. (2011, May 11). The Why and How of Using Facebook for Educators—No Need to Be Friends at All![blog post]. 

  • Considers rationale for using Facebook and gives clear instructions for simple Facebook tasks like creating groups.

Malhotra, N. (2013, June 10). Experimenting with Facebook in the College Classroom. Faculty Focus

  • Outlines through a case story why a Facebook group may be better than a Facebook page for your class.

Miah, A. (2012, December 30). "The A-to-Z of Social Media for Academia." [blog post].

Online College (2010, October 20). 100 Ways You Should Be Using Facebook in Your Classroom

  • Provides 100 quick strategies for using Facebook, such as class projects, facilitating communication, sharing resources, or creating groups.

Walsh, K. (2012, August 15). 5 Fun Ways to Use Facebook in Your Lesson Plans and Teaching. Emerging Ed Tech

  • Shares five easy ways to use Facebook in your class.
Resources for Deeper Learning

Joosten, T. (2012). Social Media for Educators: Strategies and Best Practices. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Rasmussen Neal, Diane (Editor) (2012). Social Media for Academics: A Practical Guide. Chandos Publishing, Oxford UK

The Education Foundation. (2013). Facebook Guide for Educators: A Tool for Teaching and Learning. London: Author. 

Teacher's Guide to Facebook

References

Malhotra, N. (2013, June 10). Experimenting with Facebook in the College Classroom. Faculty Focus

OnlineCollege.org. (2011, July 18). 50 Reasons to Invite Facebook into Your Classroom

Walsh, K. (2012, October 28). Can Social Media Play a Role in Improving Retention in Higher Education? Research Says It Can. Emerging Ed Tech.

 

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What is it?

There are times when one or more students come to class unprepared—specifically, they did not complete the reading assignment. If you have experienced this, you are not alone. It is a common challenge for higher education instructors. Numerous factors can play a role in this phenomenon, such as time, money, motivation, comprehension and even literacy itself. Regardless of the reasons, student learning suffers setbacks each time it happens. Getting students to read class materials requires that you take a more active role in the process.

Why should you do it?

It is time to put the "read" back into "student readiness." Helping students become aware of how reading impacts their learning is an aspect of metacognition.

How do you do it?

Process

1. Analyze your readings

  • Limit the required pages to those that support a specific learning outcome.
  • Choose reading sources that combine text with graphics, or provide your own graphics to supplement the text.
  • Consider creating a reader over selecting a textbook if it will provide the information necessary to reach the learning outcomes. Readers can offer multiple perspectives on course topics, as well as a lower price point.

2. Know your students

Students enter our classrooms at all stages of readiness. You may have English Language Learners and students with poorly developed reading skills alongside students who read optional textbooks for fun. John Bean (1996, pp. 134-137) lists common sources of difficulty, such as challenges with vocabulary, syntax, the structure of an argument, context, or the reading process.

  • Remember the expert-novice paradigm. What you find easy to understand, students may find difficult.
  • Provide levels of reading—required material that all students will have a chance to comprehend, along with optional readings for advanced study.

3. Prepare your students

Linda Nilson from Clemson University has written and conducted online workshops about motivating students to do the reading. In her article for the National Education Association she offered these three tips: sell students on the reading, teach reading strategies, and hold students accountable (Nilson, 2007). Here are some ways to follow her suggestions:

  • Let students know how the reading relates to the learning outcomes.
  • Provide a checklist of reading strategies or ask your students to use the Metacognitive Awareness of Reading Strategies Inventory to check their own practices (also see link to article with MARSI instrument, below).
  • Provide a list of questions students should consider when reading a dense passage of text.
  • Create pre-class quizzes (Bruff, 2010) or in-class quizzes (Nilson, 2007) to hold students accountable.

4. Engage your students

  • Reinforce their importance by referring to the readings during class sessions—in your lecture, before a class activity, or both. Give previews of upcoming readings as well.
Applications/Examples
  • Reading Strategies Self-Assessment(in-class, online or both): Ask your students to use the Metacognitive Awareness of Reading Strategies Inventory to assess their own reading practices (also see link to article with MARSI instrument, below).
  • Social reading (online): Use an online collaborative reading tool, such as Vyew, or an iPad reading app like Subtext. Encourage students to use comment features to ask each other questions about challenging text. Areas highlighted often show the students and you what is considered important. Areas with multiple questions show you what may need discussion or explanation in the next class meeting. With apps like Subtext, you can also insert additional visuals in advance to help students with comprehension.
  • Reading journal (in-class, online, or both): Ask students to keep a reading journal over the term, using the Plan-Do-Review cycle. First, they should create a brief plan before starting a reading assignment. Provide some simple examplars, like "My purpose for reading this chapter is ___. I will take notes or draw a concept map outlining the key elements. I will try to restate the ideas in my own words." Next, they should perform the reading and think about what they are doing, taking notes if they wish. Last, they should write a quick report of what they did, noting how well it worked or did not work, why they think it worked or did not work, and what they would do differently next time.

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Resources for Tips & Tricks

Bruff, D. (2010, March 25). Getting Students to Do the Reading: Pre-Class Quizzes on WordPress. [ProfHacker blog post]. Retrieved from The Chronicle of Higher Education

  • Prescribes pre-class quizzes to help you think about how technology can help ensure that your students do the reading.

Hobson, E.H. (2004). Getting Students to Read: Fourteen Tips. (IDEA Center Paper #40). Manhattan, KS: The IDEA Center. 

  • Outlines the challenge and common causes. Lists 14 tips teachers can follow.
Resources for Deeper Learning

Faculty Focus. (2010 July). 11 Strategies for Getting Students to Read What's Assigned. (Special Report). Madison, WI: Magna Publications, Inc. 

  • Compiles 11 one-page articles sharing different educators' perspectives on how to get students to read.

Mokhtari, K. & Reichard, C.A. (2002). Students' Metacognitive Awareness of Reading Strategies. Journal of Educational Psychology, 94(2), 249-259. 

  • Provides an instrument for student self-assessment, called the Metacognitive Awareness of Reading Strategies Inventory (MARSI), and outlines how it can be used and scored.

Weir, R. (2009, November 13). They Don't Read! Inside Higher Ed. 

  • Offers a response and some context to faculty complaints about students not doing the reading.
References

Bean, J.C. (1996). Engaging Ideas: The Professor's Guide to Integrating Writing, Critical Thinking, and Active Learning in the Classroom. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Nilson, L.B. (2007). Getting Students to Do the Readings. [blog post]. Retrieved from National Education Association

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What is it?

A Google jockey is someone assigned to perform Internet searches related to a lecture or classroom discussion. These results can be shared verbally, sent to the instructor via chat or Twitter, or displayed publicly for the whole class to see. Searches may be as simple as looking up a word or phrase. Other searches may include, but are not limited to, finding images, websites or articles related to concepts you mention in lecture; visiting websites you discuss; checking facts; pulling up additional information based on class brainstorming; or seeking answers to simple questions from students while you continue with the lecture or class activity.

You may also assign this as a role within classroom activities, such as small group discussions, provided enough students have laptops or tablets so that each group can have a Google jockey. In online class meetings, the Google jockey can share links via the chat pod or window.

Why should you do it?

Applying this strategy allows you to engage students in a new way and provides alternate resources related to the topic of discussion (also see Universal Design for Learning). It makes the lecture experience more dynamic, as the Google jockey helps to augment the lecture and answer questions that arise without taking too much class time. It also provides a venue to use technology in the classroom that is focused on the learning, instead of being a distraction. It models real-time problem solving for the class.

How do you do it?

Process

1. Prepare

  • Identify lectures or classroom activities that would benefit from having additional information generated dynamically during class.
  • Decide if you want to have a second projector and screen in your classroom, so you can display your lecture presentation on one screen and the Google jockey can use the other to display search results. Make sure that the text size for the Google jockey's browser display is made large enough to be seen from the back of the room.
  • If it is not feasible or too confusing to use two displays, then have the student post the links of the best results on Twitter along with specific hashtags (e.g., #SCU-CTW1 #GoogleJockey). Then keep a browser window open during your presentation and jump to the links at appropriate times. Again, make sure the browser window text size is large enough to read from far away. Having the results on Twitter allows students to review them later.
  • The Google jockey should be prepared ahead of time—i.e., he/she should have finished any readings and even reviewed the presentation slides in advance, so he/she may start thinking about potential sites to visit based on the content. This can be a rotating responsibility for which you can give participation credit.

2. Engage

  • Allow the Google jockey to perform independent searches while you lecture, based on your slides.
  • Also provide time for discussion or Q&A sessions that would benefit from Google jockey or student-generated visuals during the exchange.
  • Ask the Google jockey to create a new tab for each search result and bookmark specific search results that you for dissemination after class.
Applications/Examples
  • Class notes via Google jockey (in-class, online or both): Create a Google doc for a lecture or small group activity. Ask one student with a laptop or tablet to be the notetaker—i.e., use the Google doc to take notes as you present. Ask a second student with a laptop or tablet to be the Google jockey—i.e., search for and post links to relevant images, resources or websites related to lecture topics. To be equitable, check out two laptops or tablets from Media Services, so students are not required to own a device to perform these tasks.
  • Google jockey showdown(in-class, online or both): Identify class topics that can be seen from multiple perspectives. Break the class into small groups and assign them one of the roles or perspectives. (Note: more than one group can have the same role or perspective.) Give the groups three minutes to find resources to support their argument and as a group decide which one is the strongest. Then have each group share its top resource and discuss as a class—e.g., reliability, validity, bias, strength of support, etc.

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Resources for Tips & Tricks

Bruff, D. (2011, April 27). You May Now Use Your Electronic Devices – Google Jockeys and Information Literacy

  • Shares advice about how to combine Google jockeying and information literacy feedback, such as discussing the quality of the search results as they are shared or providing suggestions about sites to visit.

Educause Learning Initiative. (2006, May). 7 Things You Should Know About Google Jockeying.

  • Provides an overview of Google jockeying—what it is and how it can be used in the classroom—as well as a classroom scenario.
Resources for Deeper Learning

Weimer, M. (2012, June 5). A Google Jockey Helps Get Students Engaged. Faculty Focus. 

  • Describes a paper outlining how a Google jockey supported a chemistry class, and advises letting the students search without too many prompts to avoid having to find a "right" answer.
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What is it?

Mini-lectures—brief, focused content presentations around five to fifteen minutes in length—are part of a strategy to facilitate more active learning. In other words, less talking and more doing. One of the most common active learning strategies is the enhanced lecture, "a series of short mini-lectures punctuated by specific active learning events designed to meet the class objectives" (UNC Charlotte, n.d.). If you are flipping your class, you can record the mini-lectures and ask students to review them before face-to-face class meetings.

Why should you do it?

By adopting an active learning strategy such as a flipped classroom or enhanced lectures, you provide different pathways for students to engage with the class concepts (also see Universal Design for Learning). It can also increase students' understanding, interest in the material, collaboration, and attitudes toward learning, as Thaman et al. (2013) found in their study on using the enhanced lecture format.

How do you do it?

Process

1. Prepare

  • Decide what function you want mini-lectures to serve, such as:
    • "to preview 'coming attractions' in the text, to restate and/or emphasize ideas, to introduce application exercises, to introduce theories not covered but related to those in the text, and to summarize and/or synthesize ideas" (Graham, 1997, p. 7)
    • to introduce problems or case studies (also see problem-based learning and case studies)
  • Decide when students will review mini-lectures—before class (flipping) or during class (enhanced lecture).
  • Find or create mini-lectures. Boiling down longer lectures may be difficult at first. Choose small topics from within longer lectures and create focused mini-lectures. If you record the mini-lectures as a screencast, you may want to augment PowerPoint or Keynote slides by visiting applicable websites and/or using specific software applications that students will be asked to use.
  • Prepare activities to intersperse with mini-lectures to help students reach specific learning outcomes, such as polling activities (with or without clickers),small group discussions, writing to learn activities, and/or classroom assessment techniques (e.g., one-minute paper).

2. Engage

  • "[E]xplain to students that class time will be spent on activities designed to grapple with the most difficult concepts" (Walker et al., 2008). By explaining your active learning strategy and the value of mini-lectures combined with activities, students will be more receptive and successful.
Applications/Examples
  • Enhanced lecture activity - Think-Pair-Share, or Think-Pair-Tweet (in-class): Think - Students prepare a response to a question, problem, unsolved equation, or prompt provided at the end of a mini-lecture. Ask them to tweet their answers along with a unique hashtag for your class (e.g., #SCU-ENVS148). Pair - Tell students turn to a neighbor and discuss their responses (e.g., why did they answer the way they did, compare how they solved the equation). Share (Tweet) – ask students to enter new responses via Twitter, again with the hashtag. Collect the student responses using Twitter search or social dashboard like Tweetdeck. Display the list of responses using the classroom projector. Review the responses out loud. Solicit some of the pairs to give reports on what they decided together if you want to discuss why a large percentage of students entered an incorrect response. When you begin your next mini-lecture, use the students' responses to make a transition to the next topic.
  • Focused Listing Activity (in-class, online, or both): This activity can take as few as five to seven minutes to complete, following a mini-lecture during a class meeting. Ask students to take no more than two minutes to list five to seven points that the video or media demonstrates in relation to a specific topic. For example, "Based on the two videos we reviewed, list five to seven similarities between the American Revolution and the recent Arab Spring revolutionary demonstrations and protests." Then ask students to take only two minutes to find three items in common with a neighbor. Then ask students to take only one minute to turn to another neighbor and find one item in common from the shorter lists. Take a couple minutes to see what the final items were and ask how many people had each reported response. This will help you filter what students got from the exercise of reviewing the media. You can also ask students to share items from their lists that were not mentioned to find outliers. Last, you can ask how many students had items you would have put on your list, so they know what you thought was important. When you begin your next mini-lecture, use the students' responses to make a transition to the next topic.

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Other practitioners

Western Kentucky University: Carol Graham (1997, p. 7) listed some of the ways she uses mini-lectures: "to preview 'coming attractions' in the text, to restate and/or emphasize ideas, to introduce application exercises, to introduce theories not covered but related to those in the text, and to summarize and/or synthesize ideas."

Resources for Tips & Tricks

UNC Charlotte. (n.d.). Enhancing the Effectiveness of Lectures

  • Shares strategies for improving lectures and augmenting mini-lectures with in-class activities.
Resources for Deeper Learning

Walker, J.D.; Cotner, S.H.; Baepler, P.M.; & Decker, M.D. (2008, Winter). A Delicate Balance: Integrating Active Learning into a Large Lecture Course. CBE Life Sciences Education, 7(4), 361-367. 

  • Offers guidance on adopting a strategy that splits time evenly between mini-lectures and classroom activities.
References

Graham, C.R. (1997). Mini-lectures…and some suggested uses. In Food for Thought: Active Lecturing (p. 7). Bowling Green, KY: Western Kentucky University - Faculty Center for Excellence in Teaching. 

Thaman, R.; Dhillon, S.; Saggar, S.; Gupta, M.; & Kaur, H. (2013). Promoting Active Learning in Respiratory Physiology – Positive Student Perception and Improved Outcomes. National Journal of Physiology, Pharmacy & Pharmacology, 3(1), 27-34. 

UNC Charlotte. (n.d.). Enhancing the Effectiveness of Lectures

Walker, J.D.; Cotner, S.H.; Baepler, P.M.; & Decker, M.D. (2008, Winter). A Delicate Balance: Integrating Active Learning into a Large Lecture Course. CBE Life Sciences Education, 7(4), 361-367. 

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What is it?

A common lecture activity involves asking questions periodically to gauge students' understanding and check their attention levels. Polling the whole class—asking questions where everyone participates—changes the typical classroom dynamic—asking questions where only a select few students answer or have a chance to answer. Polling can be done with or without technology, such as:

  • asking students to raise hands as you restate each answer option
  • providing students with different colored index cards at the beginning of the term that they hold up to answer questions during each class session
  • requiring students to use either a classroom response system "clicker" (e.g., i>Clicker) or a web-based service (e.g., Poll Everywhere).

Why should you do it?

Whether you use technology or technology-free strategies, requiring an answer from everyone, each time you ask a question, keeps the entire class involved. In short, polling activities turn lectures into active learning experiences. Using peer instruction practices made possible through polling strategies, Lasry, Mazur and Watkins (2008, p. 1066) found that "students with less background knowledge gain as much as students with more background knowledge in traditional instruction." Derek Bruff from Vanderbilt provides several reasons why you should use clickers or, we can infer, polling strategies in general: help to keep students' attention, promote class discussions and small-group problem solving, encourage participation, create a safe environment for all students to engage, check for student comprehension, and more. While other strategies might become difficult to achieve as class sizes get larger, polling allows you to engage students regardless of the number of students.

How do you do it?

Process

Identify in advance questions that you will use to check student understanding during your lecture and activities you want to facilitate based on lecture concepts. While you can conduct on-the-fly polling activities, even if you use technology, it is a good idea to plan ahead and allot time for each activity. Engaging students after every ten or fifteen minutes of lecture is a good lecture-to-activity ratio. Whenever possible, align the activity with learning outcomes for the class or class session. Facilitate the activities in class and record the results, so you can analyze them later. You can make adjustments to your lectures based on what students demonstrate they learn and retain over time.

Using technology for polling has pros and cons:

Pros

  • You can store student responses over the entire term, import them into the learning management system gradebook, and in some cases even use them for assessment purposes. If you do not use technology for polling, make a note of the actual count (small class size) or a rough count (large class size) of the responses for each question on your laptop, smart phone, or a piece of paper.
  • You can collect some demographic information at the beginning of the term (e.g. gender, class level) and use that to cross-tabulate responses (i.e., data slicing) at any time afterward. Also consider collecting demographic responses that are relevant to a particular lecture (e.g., views on a popular topic). Then you can pull up a cross-section of student responses, such as "Let's see how men and women in the class responded compared to men and women in a national survey," or "We can see the international students think quite differently about this than U.S. citizens who are the third generation or greater, with first and second generation citizens in the middle."

Cons

  • It is important to note that not every student has a mobile device. Therefore, if you want to use a mobile app, you may need to check with your students to make sure they all have a device. Otherwise, you should alter the activities to allow pairs to submit responses or require all students to procure clickers for your class.
  • Of course, students are acutely aware of being asked to buy something for class—whether it is a textbook or a clicker—and then only using it for attendance or not being asked to use it for weeks at a time. So, if you require clickers, be sure to make this a regular part of the classroom experience!
Applications/Examples
  • Think-Pair-Share (in-class): Think - Students prepare a response to a question, problem, unsolved equation, or prompt. Ask them to share their answers by raising hands or index cards, or entering a response using clickers or mobile devices. Pair - Tell students turn to a neighbor and discuss their responses (e.g., why did they answer the way they did, compare how they solved the equation). Share – ask students to enter new responses via clickers or other polling strategy. Solicit some of the pairs to give reports on what they decided together if you want to discuss why a large percentage of students entered an incorrect response.
  • Stimulate discussion (in-class, online or both): If you use clickers, or online polling tools for real-time online class meetings, students can answer questions honestly without making their peers aware of personal beliefs or choices. For example, in an election year some instructors might ask questions related to issues that will appear on local, state or federal ballots.

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Marco Bravo, Associate Professor in the Department of Education, uses Poll Everywhere to activate or assess students' prior knowledge, or to ask an engaging question as a discussion starter.

John Ifcher, Assistant Professor of Economics at the Leavey School of Business, uses a student response system (clickers) to promote student engagement and deepen students' learning.

Communicating with a Click

Resources @ SCU

Classroom Response System - Clickers

Resources for Tips and Tricks

Use Poll Everywhere for a free web based tool that allows students to respond to polls using their smartphones or email

Resources for Deeper Learning

Bruff, D. (n.d.). Classroom Response Systems ("Clickers")

  • Outlines several types of questions and activities, as well as challenges encountered when using clickers as an active learning strategy
References

Lasry, N.; Mazur, E.; & Watkins, J. (2008, November). Peer instruction: Harvard to the two-year college.American Journal of Physics, 76(11), 1066 -1069.

 

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What is it?

Through problem-based learning, students collaboratively study and try to solve complex, real-world challenges that build on prior learning and/or relate to the context of your course material. The problem is introduced before students have learned all of the relevant information (Queen's University, n.d.). Depending on its scope, one problem can be the basis for a course module or unit, an entire class, or even an interdisciplinary minor or major.

Drawing from a number of resources (Gallow, n.d.; Learning-Theories, n.d.; Samford University, n.d.; Stanford University, 2001; Queen's University, n.d.), problem-based learning characteristics can be summarized in the following way:

  • Problems are messy, open-ended, ill-structured, complex, real-world, context-specific, challenges that have no "right" answer and stimulate learning.
  • Learning is student-centered.
  • Students are active, self-directed, collaborative, and reflective investigators who investigate and solve problems with support from the teacher.
  • Teachers are facilitators who guide the learning process; use prompts, reflective activities and peer review to engage students; and assess student performance.
  • Assessment is authentic and performance-based.
    • Authentic: real, genuine, true and accurate.
    • Performance based: based on a student's knowledge, skills, and abilities.

Why should you do it?

  • Motivation: Since the problems are embedded in a meaningful context, this learning strategy increases student engagement and motivation, and can lead to deeper learning.
  • Critical thinking: The problems are also open-ended, which require students to use critical and/or creative thinking skills.
  • Application: The problems require students to put what they have learned into practice.
  • Collaboration: Successful problem-solving will require teamwork and multiple perspectives.

How do you do it?

Process

1. Prepare

2. Engage

  • As noted above, introduce the problem before students have encountered some of the relevant information required to solve it. This will encourage students to find information on their own and seek ways to apply what is learned in your class.
  • Provide a framework like the three phase problem-solving process by Ron Purser(n.d.):
  1. What do we already know?
  2. What do we need to know?
  3. What should we do?
  • Provide class time and/or online environments for students to collaborate.
  • Facilitate a debrief session once the problem-based learning activity has ended.
Applications/Examples

Powell, L.A. (n.d.). Implementing problem-based learning. University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

  • Provides a "real-life example of an in-class problem case: how to work through an exercise on the first day"

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Elizabeth Day (Liberal Studies) uses public deliberation and deliberation learning as a problem based learning method. Her Framing Issues and Rubric are included here.

Tao Li (OMIS) uses an online simulation, "Littlefield Technologies," to help students understand a company's complex assembly processes.

Resources for Tips & Tricks

Purser, R. (n.d.). Problem-Based Learning

  • Provides a description of the Problem-Based Learning (PBL) process for a student audience, with three phases. This page could be used as a guide or template for describing PBL to your students.

University of Delaware – Institute for Transforming Undergraduate Education. (n.d.). Problem-Based Learning Clearinghouse

  • Collection of peer-reviewed problems with teaching notes and supplemental materials. Free to educators with academic affiliations. Requires a username and password, but this service is free after you register.
Resources for Deeper Learning

Gallow, D. (n.d.). Problem-Based Learning (PBL) Faculty Institute. University of California, Irvine. Retrieved from

  • Defines problem-based learning, and provides examples and related links.

Samford University (n.d.). Problem Based Learning.

  • Outlines the problem-based learning process thoroughly, including roles and responsibilities, curriculum mapping, and problem design.
  • Provides links to related articles, course portfolio guidelines and PBL course evaluation tools.

University of Delaware – Institute for Transforming Undergraduate Education. (n.d.). Problem-Based Learning

  • Shares a variety of resources, including sample syllabi, evaluations forms, sample problems, and links to books and articles.
  • Note: This service is free after you register for a username and password.
References

Gallow, D. (n.d.). Problem-Based Learning (PBL) Faculty Institute. University of California, Irvine. 

Learning Theories. (n.d.). Problem-Based Learning (PBL)

Queen's University. (n.d.). Problem-Based Learning

Samford University (n.d.). Problem Based Learning

Stanford University. (2001, Winter). Problem-Based Learning. Speaking of Teaching, 11(1). 

 

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What is it?

Small group discussions are just one subset of active learning strategies that can be used in the classroom, online, or both (e.g., if you want to start discussions in class and continue them online). They can take place in any sized class, even in large lecture halls or Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs). Typically, small groups range from two to four students in size but can be as large as eight, and discussions can vary from under five minutes to an entire class meeting. Group size and discussion duration change depending on your goals for the activity and the time available. Small group discussions are most effective when closely aligned with one or more learning outcomes.

Why should you do it?

Lack of engagement and motivation are some of the biggest factors related to students dropping a class or leaving higher education altogether. Active learning strategies, and specifically small group discussions, allow students to begin using and better retain what they have learned through in-class lectures, flipped class recordings, or online work. Barkley, Cross and Major (2004, pp. 16-20) shared research that students can learn more effectively from peers than from teachers. Small group discussions may also improve students' problem solving abilities. Compared to whole-class discussions, Pollock, Hamann, and Wilson (2011, p. 57) found that small group discussions a) were "more conducive to critical thinking and higher-order learning," b) fostered more participation and more equal participation for students of different backgrounds, and c) generated higher student reviews regarding engagement.

How do you do it?

Process

1. Plan the activity

Like all active learning strategies, you should take time to plan small group discussions in the context of your class—i.e., traditional lecture, flipped classroom or online—and what objective you want students to achieve—e.g., general objective, like demonstrate critical thinking or collaborative test preparation; or specific objective, like list real-world applications or solve a problem. If you want to scaffold the process, you can create physical or digital worksheets for the students to complete.

2. Discuss process and expectations with students

You can improve the chances that students will reach your goals if you briefly outline why the activity is important, what you expect them to do, and how the process will work (e.g., amount of time, roles, responsibilities, any deliverables the groups must produce). If you are doing this online, you can write up and/or record yourself giving a brief set of instructions.

3. Break students into groups

  • Random: In-class, have students count off from one to four until all students have a number. Online, use group functionality in Camino to create random groups of a specific size.
  • Calculated: You may decide to group stronger students with students who may be struggling. In this case, you can use test results to help form the groups.
  • Student choice: You can allow students to form their own groups.

4. Conduct the small group discussions

See Applications/Examples below for discussion format ideas.

5. Discuss the results with the students

It is a good idea to pull everything together after the discussions, if only to make sure the students reached the goals that you set for them. This can be as simple as providing feedback as each group gives a report (e.g., its top three conclusions, questions that remain after discussion) or as complex as synthesizing the small groups' work products, adding critical details the groups missed, or sharing relevance to your discipline or students' futures in the workforce. If your face-to-face class has the discussions online, this final discussion also reinforces that you are paying attention to what happens online and connects the activity back to the in-class experience. You can also ask the students to write a reflection, tying what they have learned during the discussion to the learning outcomes, lecture, their career or life goals, etc.

6. Evaluate the discussion

If you want to make sure that the small groups accomplished your goals, you can require a work product for which everyone in the group will get the same grade or a grade for their contributions. You can also ask students to perform simple peer evaluations, such as listing which contributions (and by whom) were most helpful and least helpful; allotting percentages for participation and answering if everyone had a chance to participate; or stating what they liked and what they would change about the activity as a whole (plus/delta exercise).

Applications/Examples
  • Think-Pair-Share (in-class): Think - Students write a response to a question, problem, unsolved equation, or prompt. You may also ask them to enter a response using student response devices (clickers). Pair - Then students turn to a neighbor and discuss their responses. Share – solicit some of the pairs to give reports on what they decided together and/or ask students to enter new responses via clickers.
  • All questions answered (in-class, online, or both): Break students in groups of four or more, with roles of moderator (facilitator), recorder (notetaker/scribe), timekeeper, and observer (feedback). Each student must share one or more unique questions that he/she has not been able to answer regarding a reading assignment or materials for an upcoming test. To get credit, the entire group must answer every question and follow-up question.
  • Jigsaw (in-class, online, or both): To facilitate a jigsaw discussion activity, break the class into groups and assign roles (e.g., different stakeholder perspectives in a real-world scenario from your discipline) or responsibilities (e.g., become an expert on one of four textbook chapters). First, students work with peers who have the same role or responsibility to determine together what to share with their groups—e.g., what perspective their role would have about the given scenario or what is important from the textbook chapter. Then, students return to their groups and either engage in discussions or debates based on the real-world scenario or take turns teaching their assigned material to the other students.
  • Group answers, or classroom pub quiz
  • See more examples under Resources for Tips & Tricks

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Sara Garcia (Education) engages her students in a formal Learning Through Discussion (LTD) process, and recommends the following video that describes the practice.

Jim Bennett (Religious Studies) uses discussions to promote student engagement.

Alex Zecevic (Electrical Engineering) relies on discussions as an effective teaching tool.

Resources for Tips & Tricks

Tarleton State University – Faculty Innovation in Teaching – Small Group Discussion Protocols

  • Lists 20 small group discussion activities, with online equivalent for each strategy

UC Berkeley - Teaching Guide for Graduate Student Instructors - Teaching Discussion Sections – Group Work.

  • Provides guidelines for designing group work and 9 group discussion strategies.

University of Missouri Extension - A Plan for Small Group Discussion

  • Offers a good description of generic small group roles—leader, recorder, observer.
Resources for Deeper Learning

Nevada Adult Education. (2009). Small Group Teaching – Key Theories and Methods

  • Contains literature review regarding small group discussions, factors influencing success, teaching methods, and strategies for managing difficult groups or students.
References

Barkley, E.F.; Cross, K.P.; & Major, C.H. (2004). Collaborative Learning Techniques: A Handbook for College Faculty. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Pollock, P.H.; Hamann, K. & Wilson, B.M. (2011). Learning Through Discussion: Comparing the Benefits of Small-Group and Large-Class Settings. Journal of Political Science Education, 7(1), 48-64.


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What is it?

Student video projects ask students (individually or in a group) to create and share videos as student-generated contentcollaborative assignments, a method to assess student achievement of learning outcomes, and more. The content of the videos themselves can be almost anything—e.g., student presentations, theater monologues, speaking a foreign language, interviews, reflections, commentaries, digital storytelling, or creative expression. On the technical side, videos can be made using combinations of images, text, audio, video clips and other media.

Why should you do it?

  • Engage students and foster creativity: Asking students to create videos will increase motivation and allow them to express themselves in ways that might be difficult through writing or other formats (also see fostering creativity).
  • Different assessment pathways: Giving students an option to create and submit videos provides multiple pathways to show what they have learned (also see Universal Design for Learning).
  • Meet students where they are: In 2013, YouTube users uploaded an average of 100 hours of new videoevery minute (Russell, 2013). Further, "YouTube statistics show that university-aged students upload the most video content of any demographic" (Bentley, n.d.).

How do you do it?

Process

1. Prepare

  • Identify a project or assignment where it would be acceptable or even desirable for students to create videos.
  • Find or create a rubric to evaluate the student video projects.
  • Dartmouth University (n.d.) listed a number of ways to prepare for student video projects, including:
    • Define the assignment clearly (e.g., length)
    • Set milestones and consider providing students with a project checklist.
    • Be clear about workload.
    • Consider students' needs for training and ongoing support.
    • Help students avoid over-focusing on the video project.

2. Engage

  • Let students know that they do not need sophisticated equipment to capture, edit or share video content. They can do any of the following:
    • record their voice and their actions on their computer to create screencasts
    • create video montages using images and voice recordings
    • use laptop or computer cameras, smartphones or tablets to capture video
    • use apps to record their voice with 3D avatars (e.g., Tellagami)
    • use free software to edit videos (see Richard Byrne's list of free video creation resources. NOTE: Some of these resources and tools also offer collections of video clips, music libraries, effects libraries, and more.
Applications/Examples
  • Real-world application video project: Whether you turn your class into a "hyperlocal" news agency, a forum for social commentary, or just a collection of real-world examples of course concepts, a video project gives students a variety of ways to find or share a context meaningful to them. Ask students to create a video that shows real-world applications of specific course concepts. If you want them to think critically, ask them to present examples that include more than one perspective. Set a maximum length, such as three or five minutes.

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Elizabeth Day has her students create an Civic Disposition using iMovie to demonstrate their content mastery over a given topic and uses the following imovie to assess these projects.

Patti Simone, Psychology
Elizabeth Day, Liberal Studies
Sandy Piderit, Management (Academic)
Steve Levy, Management (Academic)
Yujie Ge, Modern Languages and Literatures
Tom Blackburn, Chemistry and Biochemistry
Amy Eriksson, Communication
David Popalisky, Theater and Dance
Brett Solomon, Liberal Studies
Pedro Hernandez-Ramos, Education

Sustainability at SCU - Student-produced videos about sustainability

Other practitioners

Boise State University – Spanish Program Reflection Videos: Student Showcase 

Ralph Welsh at Clemson University: "What is Public Health?" Student Videos

San Francisco State University – Documentary for Health and Social Justice (interdisciplinary course)

  • Shares "a series of 15-minute documentary films that address the impact of HIV on women and explore how five communities across the nation are making a difference."
Resources for Tips & Tricks

Bentley, M. (n.d.). 3 Classroom Video Projects for Student Content Creators. MediaCore. 

  • Shares three examples of student video projects.

Dartmouth University. (n.d.). Media Projects at Dartmouth

  • Shares teacher preparation tips, such as define the assignment, plan ahead, set milestones and more.
  • Links to student video project assignments in multiple disciplines
  • Provides sample video project assessment rubrics
  • 10 Ideas for Classroom Video Projects
  • Shares 10 simple video project activity ideas.
Resources for Deeper Learning

Greene, H. & Crespi, C. (2012). The Value of Student Created Videos in the College Classroom: An Exploratory Study in Marketing and Accounting. International Journal of Arts & Sciences, 5(1), 273-283. 

  • Shares benefits and challenges related to using student video projects.

MERLOT. (n.d.). Nurturing Student Creativity with Video Projects. ELIXR.

  • Provides six case stories describing how student video projects were used in different disciplines (cinema, anthropology, critical writing, law, urban studies).

O'Neill, T. & Calabrese-Barton, A. (2004) Uncovering student ownership in science learning: the making of a student created mini-documentary. A paper presented at the American Education of Research Association. 

  • Outlines a specific video project for sixth-grade students that could be used as a framework for university students.
References

Bentley, M. (n.d.). 3 Classroom Video Projects for Student Content Creators

Dartmouth University. (n.d.). Media Projects at Dartmouth

Russell, J. (2013, May 19). YouTube reveals users now upload more than 100 hours of video per minute, as the site turns eight. [blog post].

 

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What is it?

"Student-generated content is an educational strategy which represents a significant shift from students as content consumers to students as content producers, and result in products of lasting value to students individually, other students, and/or the larger community and society" (Mock, 2010). Students can create the content individually or collaboratively, and share it in almost any format—such as wiki pages or Wikipedia entries, blog entries, online student presentations, infographics, screencasts, student video projects, or podcasts.

Why should you do it?

Student-generated content strategies offer a number of benefits, including but not limited to:

  • Increased meaning: Asking students to generate content provides a vehicle for students to embed their own meaningful contexts in the learning process.
  • Increased engagement: As students share their work publicly, they often put in more effort, knowing others will see it. Incorporating a peer review component can amplify the effectiveness of the engagement.
  • Increased voice: Students become part of the larger conversation around a topic when they create products of lasting value for a specific discipline or community.
  • Increased proficiency: Student-generated content can help students improve skills like writing, critical thinking, research, information literacy, collaboration, or communication (Wikipedia Education Program (WEP), n.d., p. 3).
  • Increased awareness: Now that students have created their own content, you can discuss concepts like plagiarism in a different light, by asking students how they would feel if someone took credit for their work. It also provides an authentic opportunity to discuss citation protocols, such as APA Citation Format by Purdue's Online Writing Lab or How to Attribute Creative Commons Photos by Foter.

How do you do it?

Process

1. Prepare

  • Identify your goals for using student-generated content, such as developing one or more proficiencies (see above section, Why should you do it?).
  • Identify content areas in your class where students can generate unique content (or context).
  • Identify the audience scope—i.e., how big will the community be that can review the students' work?
  • To reduce student anxiety about posting their work publicly, you may try a smaller activity within a password protected space, such as a wiki in the learning management system Camino, before using more public environments (Wheeler, Yeomans, & Wheeler, 2008, p. 994).

2. Engage

  • Refer to student-generated content whenever it adds to a lecture or classroom activity.
  • Use a peer review assignment for students to review each others' drafts as part of the process.
Applications/Examples
  • Student-generated content through blog posts (in-class, online or both):
    • Prepare: Depending on the skills you want students to demonstrate, you can ask students to create individual or collaborative blog entries. You should select a platform (e.g., Wordpress) and consider starting a blog for your class, so students are posting in the same place. Otherwise, it will be difficult for you to find and keep track of each student's work!
    • Engage: Discuss with students the common concerns about the quality of blog content. Set minimum expectations for individual students or small groups, such as a number of references to support each argument.
  • Student-generated content through Wikipedia entries (in-class, online or both):
    • Prepare: Depending on the skills you want students to demonstrate, you can ask students to edit, translate or add illustrations to an existing article, or write a new one. If you need help, you can contact a Wikipedia Ambassador, who "will help you work out the details of your Wikipedia assignment and provide support for students as they contribute to Wikipedia for the first time" (WEP, p. 4). (For an example, see Deva Ramanan's assignment for students at UC Irvine, under Other practitioners, below.)
    • Engage: Discuss with students the common concerns about the quality of Wikipedia content. Set minimum expectations for individual students or small groups, such as "3 sections, 3 figures and 8 references must be added to the existing article" (WEP, p. 15) or "find an article that could use an illustration that would explain graphically what was written in words" (WEP, p. 12).
Lists of example Wikipedia assignments

Each list shares student-generated Wikipedia content assignments around the world. Each entry provides assignment details and/or links to more information.

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Marco Bravo, Associate Professor in the Department of Education, has students create digital books using iBooks author app or the free Bookeman app. Click here for Marco's assignment and rubric and click here for an example of student work.

Katy Bruchmann, Psychology
Katie Heintz, Communication

Other practitioners

Ramanan, D. (n.d.). Assignment: Writing a good Wikipedia article

  • Wikipedia assignment instructions from a Computer Science instructor at UC Irvine.
Resources for Tips & Tricks

Scriber, Amy, Learning Through Discussion (LTD) Video for Santa Clara University

  • This video is a useful resource for faculty to share with students to guide them in their efforts to lead discussions.

Clark, C. (2014, August 6). Assigning students a TED-style talk

  • Outlines a fun student presentation strategy based on the TED Talk framework.

LaMartina, D. (2012, June 29). 5 Tips for Adding Student-Generated Content to Your Curriculum. Edcetera. 

  • Provides insight into benefits and potential problems when integrating student-generated content into your class.

Perkins, T. (2014, February 14). Student-generated classroom content. [blog post]. HASTAC. 

  • Gives insights into how and why the author incorporates student-generated content into classes.

Sample, M. (2012, July 3). A Better Blogging Assignment. [ProfHacker blog post]. The Chronicle of Higher Education

  • Outlines blog assignment structures, rhythms and roles.
Resources for Deeper Learning

Johnson, L.; Adams Becker, S.; Estrada, V.; & Freeman, A. (2014). NMC Horizon Report: 2014 Higher Education Edition. Austin, TX: The New Media Consortium. 

  • Includes a powerful section called "Shift from Students as Consumers to Students as Creators" with links to numerous examples.

Mock, J. (2010, May 18). Strategies for Designing and Supporting Student-Generated Content. [online presentation]. 

Sener, J. (2007). In Search of Student-Generated Content in Online Education. E-mentor, 4(21). 

Weimer, M. (2013, August 2). Using a Blog to Enhance Student Participation. Faculty Focus. 

  • Covers use of blogs as a vehicle for students to create knowledge, as well as for purposes other than student-generated content
References

Mock, J. (2010, May 18). Strategies for Designing and Supporting Student-Generated Content. [online presentation]. 

Wheeler, S.; Yeomans, P. & Wheeler, D. (2008). The good, the bad and the wiki: Evaluating student-generated content for collaborative learning. British Journal of Educational Technology, 39(6), 987-995.

Wikipedia Education Program (WEP). (n.d.). Case Studies: How professors are teaching with Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. 

 

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What is it?

Twitter is a social media platform used for microblogging—a form of blogging or public journaling that involves posting extremely short messages. Here are some basic facts:

  • Twitter messages, called "tweets," may not exceed 140 text characters (including spaces)
  • Twitter account usernames are preceded by the at sign (@). People without accounts may only search and read tweets. Users with Twitter accounts may search, read, and post tweets, as well as subscribe to ("follow") other users' microblog feeds.
  • Users may retweet significant posts to share them with a community that may not follow the original author's account.
  • Twitter searches are improved by the use of "hashtags"—helpful keywords or "tags" preceded by the hash symbol (#).Shorter is better, as hashtags count toward the 140-character limit for each message (e.g., #SCU-Phil4A is shorter than #Ethics&Gender).

As it can be accessed from laptops and mobile devices, Twitter can be used for learning purposes in the classroom (as described below).

Why should you do it?

Tanya Joosten (2012, p. 72) listed several benefits of social media like Twitter for feedback, dialogue and cooperation, including "1. Provides an opportunity for active learning in large lectures, 2. Enhances students' participation and engagement in class, [and] 3. Provides frequent, low-stakes feedback on student learning."

How do you do it?

Process

1. Prepare

Before you start using Twitter in your course, consider these preparations:

  • Create a Twitter account for your course, such as @OceansL&L or @SustainMktg. You may have your own account, but creating a new one for your course provides flexibility and allows you to use your own account for more than your course(s).
  • Create a "civility" policy in your syllabus that applies equally to face-to-face and online environments. It should stress a commitment to respectful exchanges of ideas and outline expectations for student behavior.
  • Discuss with your students how you will use Twitter before each activity. For each activity, define the goals, provide clear instructions and any required hashtags, and remind students to be respectful.

2. Engage your students

For each of these engagement strategies, remember to provide students with a unique hashtag for your class.

  • Twitter for student-generated questions: Ask students to post their questions about a class reading (Bruff, 2011).
  • Twitter for backchanneling: A backchannel is " …a line of communication created by people in an audience to connect with others inside or outside the room, with or without the knowledge of the speaker at the front of the room. Usually facilitated by Internet technologies, it is spontaneous, self-directed, and limited in time to the duration of a live event" (as cited by Bruff, n.d.). You can encourage backchanneling while you lecture, such as telling students to tweet their questions or comments as soon as they arise. Other students may answer the questions before you do. You may also assign a few students to share resources related to each topic you discuss (also see Google jockey).
  • Twitter for polling: Instead of asking students to raise their hands or use clickers, ask students to Tweet responses to prompts (see Think-Pair-Tweet application, below). Students can use Twitter's "favorite" functionality to vote on the best responses.
  • Twitter for small group discussion: Ask students to tweet questions, comments, or revelations that occur to them during the small group time. You may review them as a class or just inform the groups that they should use it as a form of collaborative notetaking.
  • Twitter for engaging the outside world: Ask students to follow or even use Twitter to engage people who are experts on a topic you are studying as a class. They can bring those results back to their small group or the entire class by retweeting .

Note: Since not all students may have a laptop or mobile device, be ready to modify your activities so that students can submit tweets through a Twitter scribe for the class or each small group, or asynchronously as part of a homework assignment or online class.

Applications/Examples
  • Think-Pair-Share, or Think-Pair-Tweet (in-class): Think - Students prepare a response to a question, problem, unsolved equation, or prompt. Ask them to tweet their answers along with a unique hashtag for your class (e.g., #SCU-ENVS148). Pair - Tell students turn to a neighbor and discuss their responses (e.g., why did they answer the way they did, compare how they solved the equation). Share (Tweet) – ask students to enter new responses via Twitter, again with the hashtag. Collect the student responses using Twitter search or social dashboard like Tweetdeck. Display the list of responses using the classroom projector. Review the responses out loud. Solicit some of the pairs to give reports on what they decided together if you want to discuss why a large percentage of students entered an incorrect response.
  • One-minute Tweets (in-class): At the end of a mini-lecture or class activity, ask students to tweet an answer to a prompt designed to show they understand the main point or can apply what they learned. To make it easy for you to list them all in one place, tell students they must include a specific hashtag with your course name (e.g., #SCU-ACTG11 or#SCU-Law376F). To make it easy to determine which question they have answered, tell them to use a hashtag to describe what they have entered (e.g., #meaningful, #clearest, #challenging). On your computer connected to the projector, pull up Twitter and display the results as they are entered. If not all students have a smart phone, ask students to form pairs or groups of three, where each pair or group has at least one smart phone, tablet or laptop, as well as a Twitter account. Prepare to revisit the items marked with hashtags like #unclear and #challenging, either right then and there, at the next class meeting, or online in between class meetings.

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Santa Clara University (@SantaClaraUniv) on Twitter

Resources for Tips & Tricks

Bruff, D. (2011, December 23). Structured Twitter Assignments. [blog post].  

  • Shares ideas for Twitter assignments, ranging from students submitting questions on course readings before class to students answering questions in 140 characters.

Bruff, D. (2010, January 21). Backchannel in Education – Nine Uses. [blog post]. 

  • Shares nine examples for using backchanneling (all or most of which may be done through Twitter) in the classroom, drawing from higher education instructors around the US: notetaking, sharing resources, commenting, amplifying, asking questions, helping one another, offering suggestions, building community, and opening the classroom.

Miah, A. (2012, December 30). "The A-to-Z of Social Media for Academia." [blog post].

Resources for Deeper Learning

Joosten, T. (2012). Social Media for Educators: Strategies and Best Practices. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Rasmussen Neal, Diane (Editor) (2012). Social Media for Academics: A Practical Guide. Chandos Publishing, Oxford UK

References

Bruff, D. (n.d.). Backchannel. [blog post]. 

Joosten, T. (2012). Social Media for Educators: Strategies and Best Practices. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

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What is it?

Visualization involves using design to depict data or complex information. Cave paintings are considered some of the earliest recorded uses of visualization to convey information, and humans have been doing it ever since then. Simple visualization strategies include using tables, charts, Venn diagrams, or concept maps. In some cases, the visualization may involve overlaying information on a metaphorical image, such as a bridge, tree, or funnel. Strategies that may require technology to create include infographics, Gantt charts, or social network cluster diagrams. 

Why should you do it?

A number of learning theories suggest visualization helps students (Chen, 2004). Consolidating or chunking information in any form allows students to retain the ideas more easily (information processing theory). Our brains use separate systems to store language and images (dual-coding theory), so visualization strategies give students another avenue to learn a concept. Perception principles, such as Gestalt design principles, provide clues regarding how to create visualizations that maximize learning.

Viewing data as an image also promotes alternate ways of analyzing or thinking about a problem. You can engage the entire class in creating or analyzing visualizations, as one large group, in several small groups, or individually. You can create and analyze visualizations anywhere—using a whiteboard or projector in the classroom, or online tools.

How do you do it?

Process

1. Identify difficult or complex concepts

2. Find or create visualizations

Lecture strategies

  • Use a table to compare characteristics of two or more people, places or things
  • Display bar or pie charts when you are discussing data on a spreadsheet in front of the class.
  • Create a flow chart to depict a process.

3. Engage students visually

  • Ask students to analyze the visualizations or create their own
Applications/Examples
  • Group stakeholder map (in-class, online or both): Individually or in small groups, assign students different roles from a case or scenario (e.g., Civil War roles might include slaves, slave owners, abolitionists, government officials and soldiers from Northern and Southern armies, etc.). In response to a prompt (e.g., "How would you define the goals of your stakeholder group after X happened?"), have students write ideas from their stakeholder perspectives, using Post-it notepads and markers. While they do this, draw a concept map on the board with the prompt in the middle and bubbles for each role you assigned. Then ask them to bring their individual Post-its to the whiteboard and place them around the bubble for their role. As a group, you can use whiteboard markers to show connections between ideas. You can use an online tool, such as CMap, to conduct the same collaborative exercise outside the classroom.

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Resources for Tips & Tricks

Visual-Literacy.org. (n.d.). A periodic table of visualization methods

  • Practicing what they preach! This periodic table is a visual representation, listing dozens of visualization strategies along with examples of each, type of thinking encouraged (convergent, divergent) and use for learning (process or structure; detail, overview, or both).
Resources for Deeper Learning

Little, D.; Felten, P.; & Berry, C. (2010). Liberal Education in a Visual World. Liberal Education, 96(2), 44-49.

Lohr, L. (2003). Creating graphics for learning and performance: Lessons in visual literacy.

Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

References

Chen, E.H.L. (2004, Fall). A Review of Learning Theories from Visual Literacy. Journal of Educational Computing, Design and Online Learning, 5, 1-8. 

 

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What is it?

"Generally, writing-to-learn activities are short, impromptu or otherwise informal writing tasks that help students think through key concepts or ideas presented in a course" (Colorado State University, n.d., para. 1). The use of writing as a means to encourage thinking is emphasized over more formal aspects of writing assignments, like grammar, organizational structure, or supporting ideas with cited sources.

Why should you do it?

Compared to traditional writing assignments, writing-to-learn activities are more about the process than the product, allowing students "to voice and explore questions," and to "see writing as a tool…to help them think about new material" (Penn State Learning, n.d., para. 2).

How do you do it?

Process

1. Prepare

  • Identify key concepts or ideas from your course for which writing-to-learn activities would help students think through them.
  • Select an activity that is appropriate for the type of thinking you want students to complete (see Writing-to-Learn activities, listed below). These activities are meant to be conducted quickly—some in as few as five minutes.

2. Engage

  • Discuss the writing-to-learn activity with your students. Be clear about the amount of time they should spend on it and how the end product should look. Let them know the differences from formal writing assignments—i.e., "Don't focus on grammar or structure. Just get your ideas down."
Applications/Examples
  • Annotations with Diigo(online): First, create a class group with Diigo, a free social bookmarking service. Tell students to create a free account and join the class group. Identify a number of online articles that relate to a course topic or ask students to find articles independently, using a set of criteria. Ask students to then answer specific questions using Diigo comments, by commenting on the whole page, highlighting specific content and adding comments with a floating sticky note to the page.
Writing-to-Learn activities

Three sources in particular (Colorado State University, n.d.; The Ohio State University, n.d.; & University of Richmond, n.d.) have aggregated, summarized and described over 50 different writing-to-learn activities (listed below). Those without direct links have been summarized or described in the downloadable booklet, Writing to Learn: Critical Thinking Activities for Any Classroom.[1]

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Rob Michalski (English) and Michael Lasley (English) use annotation apps and iPads in their Critical Thinking and Writing classes to promote enhanced student learning.

Katy Bruchmann, Psychology
Amy Eriksson, Communication
Brett Solomon, Liberal Studies
Claudia McIsaac, English
Sharmila Lodhia, Women's and Gender Studies

Resources @ SCU

HUB Writing Center

Resources for Tips & Tricks

Jackson State University. (n.d.). Writing to Learn Using the iPad

  • Shares how to conduct writing-to-learn activities using iPads.

University of Richmond – Writing Center. (n.d.). Write-to-Learn Activities.

  • Provides a brief overview and links to descriptions of 12 different writing-to-learn activities.
Resources for Deeper Learning

Bean, John C. (2011). Engaging Ideas: The Professor's Guide to Integrating Writing, Critical Thinking, and Active Learning into the Classroom. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Colorado State University. (n.d.). What is Writing to Learn? The Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC) Clearinghouse

  • Provides an extensive definition, links to descriptions of almost 20 example activities, alternatives, teacher support, and related websites.

The Ohio State University. (2012, October). Writing to Learn: Critical Thinking Activities for Any Classroom. (Writing Across the Curriculum Resource). 

  • Provides a comprehensive overview of writing to learn practices.
  • Contains 36 writing to learn assignment ideas.
References

Colorado State University. (n.d.). What is Writing to Learn? The Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC) Clearinghouse. Retrieved from

The Ohio State University. (2012, October). Writing to Learn: Critical Thinking Activities for Any Classroom. (Writing Across the Curriculum Resource). 

Penn State Learning. (n.d.). Writing-to-Learn Activities vs. Traditional Writing Assignments

  • Outlines the key differences between writing to learn activities and traditional writing assignments.

University of Richmond – Writing Center. (n.d.). Write-to-Learn Activities.


 

 Interested in getting your hands DRTy with us? Add to this page, create a new page or suggest new topics here! We thank Kevin Kelly at San Francisco State for this page.