Helping Women Achieve in Academic Science

Going along with the 20% change rule, a couple PersonsOfScience who are CottrellScholars had some good things to say, so I am reposting them here. In case you are not aware, the Cottrell Scholars are a group of research faculty who take teaching very seriously. Their ideas and actions on good teaching practices are informed by education research literature. They know what they are talking about, but they don’t try to make you feel bad about what you don’t know yourself. Much like any good teacher, they are truly interested in educating people… about good teaching practices.

Andrew Feig says:

One of my favorite quick fixes is Just-In-Time Teaching. This is a method wherein you give a short assignment to the students typically due about 15 or 30 minutes prior to class. The assignment can be a warmup exercise based on the readings, it can recap something from the prior class or it can assess if students remember a foundational skill relevant to the topic of the day. The idea is to get the students engaged in the material prior to setting foot in class. You then browse the answers quickly immediately prior to starting class so that you can start the class with a comment based on how the class performed. If they did well, complement them and move on. If they could not do something that you expected them to be able to do (such as the foundational question or one that identifies a common misconception), then you had better stop and address the issue before moving onward with the new material. To make it work, you must be consistent and do it for every class and you must spend a minute or two at the start of class addressing the problem they did. It also helps to award a trivial number of points for completion. Grade on completion not correctness here. Remember, the goal is to judge if they can do an exercise and you don’t want them circumventing the challenge and copying from one another.

Many resources are available on line to learn more about JITT including:

Sarah Keller says:

Here’s a quick one: Assign a homework problem requiring students to write an “exam question” that would be appropriate for a future students taking the final in the same class, along with the answer key. Students get a nice review of the course material while they are hunting for ideas. As a bonus they discover (and are usually surprised to find out) that writing a decent exam question is hard; they become more appreciative of good exams with interesting problems.

Some compiled hints are at: S.L. Keller and A.L. Smith, Advice for New Faculty Teaching Undergraduate Science J. Chem. Educ., 83, 401-406, 2006.

Thanks for the great ideas Cottrell Scholars!

Comments on: "Small Changes for Big Impacts in Teaching" (3)

  1. […] other people (write grants, see post), teach courses (perhaps some that you never took yourself, see post), work on service for the department and college (post), and take on larger and larger service […]

  2. […] The end of classes is here or near – depending on your school. That means that course evaluations will be filled out, perhaps online or perhaps with paper and tiny pencils.  Although this may be coming too late for this term, the end of the semester/quarter is a good time to reflect upon how the course went, and maybe some of these things can be altered for next semester/quarter. Perhaps these are some of the 20% changes you can make for next time, as I have posted about in previous posts (here and here). […]

  3. […] make incremental changes to your teaching to be more effective and get better evaluations (here, here, here, here). But, you cannot implement changes if you do not get to teach the course […]

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