Monday, February 25, 2013

Ask the Students...Share with Others

A great strategy one of our adjunct instructors has been using in his classes with great success is asking his students:
  • What do you like about the class?
  • What works well for you specifically to be successful in this class?
  • What strategies have you found for doing well in my class?
  • How can I be a better teacher?
Then, taking that feedback and implementing it into his teaching strategies and sharing it with other students he has been able to help his students be more successful overall.

Here is an example announcement he shared in a class at the beginning of the quarter to help students "see" how to be successful in his class by "seeing" it from the experiences of others: 

>> Hi everybody!!
>> Each quarter I send out this list of suggestions that students have e-mailed me over the years describing their strategies for doing well in my classes. I hope you find it helpful!!!!!!!!!!!
>> NOTE: A special thanks to all those students who have sent in their suggestions in the past.
>> Please find their suggestions below:
>> ___________________________________________________________________________
>> This class was to me difficult at first as I have never had much interest in this field of study etc, but one needs to be open to learning.
>> Other than the quiz's, which I do less than stellar on, what works the best for me to take each assignment and discussion board in pieces.
>> If I try and tackle the big picture for the week it can be a little overwhelming. It helps to break it down and focus on one thing at a time and in the end it all comes together.
>> I am sure because I am a little older than most of the students that makes a difference also, as I work a little harder to figure out how I can bring myself up to the challenge and respectfully complete my assignments each week.
>> The teacher providing feedback also allows us to be more successful in the class.
>> __________________________________________________________________________
>> Every week I print out the unit content for the week. Then I highlight everything that I need to do and then once I complete each task I cross it off.
>> __________________________________________________________________________
>> In this course it is important to provide an in depth analysis of the assignments/discussions.
>> Even if you think you are not on the right track, or stray from the topic- your effort is noticed! Especially when the assignment requests your opinion, your opinion can never be wrong.
>> Pay attention to the instructor's feedback, it provides you with great advice on how to improve your performance.
>> Use the skills you have developed in English composition. (Always use Spell-check!)
>> And last of all, effective time management. This is a skill that will get you through all of your courses.
>> If you are like me and procrastinate, there is still hope yet! Figure out what works for you and stick to it.
And the suggestion list continued with many more tips...the length of tips is truly impressive as it shows just how much feedback this instructor requests and receives, which I think is reflective of his connection to his students.  As we've heard many times, a strong sense of instructor-student connection positively impacts student success and student retention rates!  Give students a voice, and you'll grow as an instructor!

I encourage you to give this strategy a try for yourself and let me know how it goes!

Heather Thomton-Stockman
Online Instructional Specialist

Monday, February 11, 2013

Polls...What role can they play in your class?

This week I'd like to share with you a great teaching strategy that Jan Tucker uses in her classes and that was mentioned briefly in Friday's Main In-Service session, that is using Student Polls in your classes.  Polls are a great way to interact with your students and to gauge their understanding of concepts or expectations in your course.

Jan has been trying out Flisti, a free online polling site, in her classes and has found it especially beneficial in her discussions and announcements.  For example, in a matter of a few short seconds Jan created and embedded a poll during Unit 1 that stated:  "I have read and understand the class expectations --- Yes or No."  What a fantastic way to get immediate feedback from your students on something like this!

As I mentioned, Jan has been using Flisti, which allows you to create quick, free polls without signing up.  Our presenters on Friday also mentioned polls and one they mentioned was allows multi-modal polling, including via text, and is free for a single user with up to 40 responders. 

Particularly since we are mid-quarter, I encourage you to take this opportunity to check in with your students through a poll to see how they are doing.  Give it a try and let me know how it goes!

Heather Thomton-Stockman
Online Instructional Specialist

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Plagiarism Help

We are getting to the point in the quarter where research papers and projects are getting underway.  Regardless of whether you teach a 100-, a 400-, or even a graduate level course, students can benefit from guidance and assistance in avoiding plagiarism.  There are many resources available to us as instructors to help our students navigate proper citation.  In addition to the great resources found at our online library, Stephanie Heald-Fisher, our Online Graduate Program Chair, shares with us a resource called  This site guides students on:
  • What plagiarism is;
  • How to cite sources; and
  • Where to find citation and plagiarism resources.
Another tool for our students in avoiding plagiarism.  

If you have any questions please let me know.

Heather Thomton-Stockman
Online Instructional Specialist