10 12, 2014

Gateway Course Redesign with Peer Instruction

Peer Instruction ProcessGateway courses are foundational, high-enrollment courses that typically have higher rates of D, F, and W (withdrawal) grades, such as calculus, physics, and required engineering courses like statics, solids, and dynamics.  Here at Embry-Riddle, some refer to them as “killer” courses or “the gauntlet.”  There are several evidence-based teaching strategies that can be used to reduce DFW rates and increase learning, retention, and student motivation, without sacrificing academic standards.  One of these strategies which has become widely adopted across numerous other universities is Peer Instruction.  Below is a short video introduction to Peer Instruction, along with resources and tips for implementing it in various gateway courses.


21 11, 2014

Best Practices with Student Evaluations of Teaching

surveyToward the end of each semester, students fill out a survey evaluating your teaching and your course.  There are sometimes difficulties, controversies, and myths and misconceptions revolving around this practice, but there are also a lot of good tips and suggestions for more effectively conducting and interpreting these surveys. […]

20 11, 2014

The Power of Multimodal Syllabi

I could make an argument that the most important text that we ask students to read in our courses is the syllabus. It provides directions for the class, an introduction to important content, my policies for a course, and other important messages about who I am as a teacher and what my expectations are for students.

standard syllabus imageAs we’re winding down the Fall semester at ERAU, some faculty may be beginning to think about developing their spring syllabi. One way to think about a syllabus, however, is that it’s a technical document that must be usable in order to be successful for students in a course. Students may refer to this document dozens (hopefully) of times over the course of the semester. It’s important, then, that the document be as usable as any other reference document.

We can apply technical and visual communication strategies to our design of syllabi to improve its usability. To the left is an example of a standard syllabus:

This syllabus already utilizes some visual principles, such as chunking (which helps decrease cognitive load), visual cues such as bold and all-caps. And even the use of color can highlight important aspects of the syllabus.

But in the multimodal syllabus below, the strategies have been fully utilized to create a usable, engaging syllabus that students will easily be able to filter through to find important information.

multimodal syllabus imageIn the digital age, we don’t have to concern ourselves with a print syllabus that uses 10 point font to save copy budgets. Instead, we can have a multimodal syllabus that spans 10 pages or more, but does so in a way that engages students, provides them with visual cues to find important information, and represents an […]

12 11, 2014

Incorporating Games & Simulations into any Discipline

GEARS LabIncorporating games or simulations into your course can help increase student engagement and learning, creativity, and fun. Below are several examples of games, simulations, and modeling tools in various disciplines, as well summaries of research and pedagogical tips on the use of games and simulations in education.


4 11, 2014

Designing Active Learning Classrooms

active learning classroomActive Learning Classrooms (also known as Active Learning Spaces or Learning Studios) are classrooms or other physical spaces designed with active learning in mind.  In particular they are student-centered rather than instructor-centered.  Students often sit in groups instead of rows to support collaborative learning, and some classrooms even have movable tables or desks.  Students also sometimes have their own computers or tablets, and there may be multiple displays around the classroom, since students are not facing in one direction.  Researchers have found that active learning classrooms have positive influences on student learning and engagement.  Below are videos, examples, research studies, and assessment instruments related to active learning spaces. […]

29 10, 2014

Teaching with Classroom Response Systems

Poll EverywhereClassroom Response Systems are tools that allow you to poll students with questions during class and get instant feedback.  There is strong research evidence for their positive impact on student learning and engagement.  Below are some resources and tips on effectively using classroom response systems in your own classroom. […]

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