For Those Who Teach

Figuring It Out Once Again

We’re in another academic year that’s got us navigating uncharted waters. Most of us are back on campus and in the classroom. What’s happening at our institutions varies widely: mandates for testing, masks, vaccines—all three, some, or none. To what extent the policies are being

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Knowing What Students Don’t Know

It’s easy to get focused on how much students don’t know. We all have stories—such as my student who, when I said “paradigms,” heard “pair of dimes”—that we laughingly share with colleagues. Much more serious is the absence of all sorts of essential information and

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Awakening to All Aspects of Teaching

Originally, I added a few lines from a prose poem at the end of the compilation of reader responses to our queries about the questions teachers ask students. I wasn’t sure; the content fit, but it was poetry. My excellent editor called it a “swerve,”

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Letter Grades, Percentage Scores, or Points

The importance of grades to students is difficult to overstate. The teacher arrives in the classroom with a set of exams and papers, and feel the tension start to rise. Eyes dart nervously from the stack to the teacher—will she pass them back now or

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Looking Harder at Active Learning Strategies

I recently reviewed an active learning workshop, and that’s gotten me wondering about active learning strategies and where we are in our thinking about them. We do know the answers to two questions. First, active learning strategies work—not all the time or uniformly but regularly.

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Exploring How Practice Affects Performance

“Practice makes perfect!”

Although the perfection part remains elusive, we’ve all experienced how practice improves performance. But why? What changes during practice? And why do those changes result in better performance? Those questions matter to teachers and students. As teachers we regularly advocate that students

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Shaping a Course: Three Considerations

Course planning for the coming academic year is either underway or about to start. It offers a chance to look at how learning experiences—exams, assignments, and activities—are sequenced in a course and what they add up to collectively. Assembling learning experiences so that they effectively

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Should Students Change Answers on Exams?

Should students change their answers on multiple choice questions? Believe it or not, that question has been explored empirically rather at length. Is it an important enough query to merit quantitative analysis? In and of itself, maybe not, but I wonder whether it isn’t related

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A Better Understanding of Failure

Paul Feigenbaum’s article (2021) on failure changed how I think about it. I’ve written a lot about failure—advocating for it and what it contributes to learning—and Feigenbaum agrees: failure plays a powerful role in learning. He calls it “generative failure” and describes it as an

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Deeper Thinking about Engagement

Student engagement—Could it be the most common phrase in the teaching-learning domains of higher education? It’s has to be in the running—essential for learning with unquestioned importance and dutifully intoned by everyone. I was intrigued by a recent account (Spiker, 2020) of a teacher’s exploration

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The Teaching Professor Conference 2024

June 7-9, 2024 • New Orleans

Connect with Fellow Educators at The Teaching Professor Conference!