Strategies for assisting students with disabilities — providing accommodations in college classes

by Kéran Billaud
Ph.D. student, University of Florida

Kéran Billaud

Kéran Billaud

Disabilities can affect physical movement, visual-spatial perception, sensitivity, concentration, and social interaction. Each one of these can make a lecture or lab more difficult than they need to be for a student who has disabilities.

Colleges and universities are required to provide accommodations for students with disabilities to create an equal learning environment for each student.

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Using Canvas tools to improve college classes

by Bobby Winsler
Ph.D student, University of Florida

Bobby WinslerCourse management systems (CMS) such as Canvas can be critical in elevating any college course, be it online or in person, to its optimal effectiveness. Canvas offers features such as quizzes, module creation, speedgrading, and grouping. Though the software includes many other options, those four features tend to be the most often used in the program.

Quizzes

The quiz tool is essential to studying student performance. Quizzes can be graded or used more as a survey tool for student feedback. The real beauty, however, is in the analytics. Not only can students see their grades and correct answers on completion, but the professor can also see which questions were missed and with what regularity. Professors can easily rewrite questions and resubmit the quiz. Questions can be varied by computer, and Canvas tracks how long a student stays on a question, which can help cut down on academic dishonesty of sharing or looking up answers.

For more information on Canvas’ quizzes, follow this link: http://guides.instructure.com/s/2204/m/4152/l/76769-what-do-quiz-results-look-like-in-canvas

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Teaching online: Strategies and tips for college instructors

by Ernest Rice
Ph.D. student, University of Florida

Ernest Rice

Ernest Rice

If you haven’t taught an online course yet, you probably will be sometime soon.

In 2012, the US Department of Education estimated that 6.7 million students were enrolled in online classes in the US, while the number of online classes as well as online only degrees is growing constantly.

Online education began as distance learning, which is a way of educating students who are not in the physical presence of the instructor.

Distance education as we know it began in England in the 1840s when Sir Isaac Pitman started promoting correspondence courses on shorthand in newspaper advertisements as well as through door to door sales.  In the 1920s and 30s several schools experimented with distance learning using radio where students listened to lectures and mailed-in assignments. In the 40s U.S. military troops were shown training films and movies, and in the 50s and 60s television was used to do the same thing.

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Teaching to support the diversity of the 21st Century college classroom

by Gabriel Stephen
Ph.D. student, University of Florida

Gabriel Stephen

Gabriel Stephen

Think for a moment about your cultural identity, think about the icons and seminal events that molded your generation: the iPhone frenzy, the September 11 terrorist attacks, Muhammad Ali lighting the Olympic torch in Atlanta.

Now consider the traditions or rituals that you grew up with that still resonate with you today: Thanksgiving dinner, the National Anthem before sports contests, the Nathan’s Hotdog Eating Contest on Independence Day.

What do you think about those examples? How did your perspectives compare? The truth of the matter is that even within certain nationalities, ethnicities, and cultures there are fundamental differences in experience – this is diversity.

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Discipline problems in college classrooms: Strategies on how to avoid or address

by Robert H. Wells
Ph.D. student, University of Florida

Robert H. Wells

Robert H. Wells

Discipline is a concern for all college instructors at some point in their career. Having an idea of some common discipline problems, as well as possible solutions to them, will help mitigate the problems when they occur as well as help instructors reduce the anxiety they may have about disciplining students.

Four common types of discipline problems are: academic dishonesty, attendance, distracting behavior and aggression.

This post will focus on the latter three, as academic dishonesty is discussed in a separate blog post. At the University of Florida, academic dishonesty must be taken seriously and reported to Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution, a part of the Office of the Dean of Students.

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Providing Remediation: How College Professors Can Help All Students Succeed

by Earlesha Butler
Ph.D student, University of Florida

Earlesha Butler

Earlesha Butler

Offering remediation, or academic assistance, to students is nothing new for state and private universities. Because some states have cut or reduced funding for student remediation, students who’d typically enroll in fundamental classes to enhance their academic skills are now in courses with peers who may be advanced.

Federal statistics show that 19 to 26 percent of all college freshmen require help to overcome remedial needs, according to the Education Commission of the States – an organization that follows policy updates.

The reasons students may require more academic help vary. For example, students may have scored below average on national exams like the ACT or SAT. Or, students may need additional academic assistance because they’re first-generation college students, which mean no one in their immediate family is a college graduate. These students tend to have no one in their families to rely on for help and they may loose motivation or quit school altogether, due to lack of support. Lastly, life disruptions happen and college students fall behind in their schoolwork. So college professors have to be ready to provide help as needed.

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Experiential education enhances active learning for college students

by Baobao Song
Ph.D. student, University of Florida

Tell me and I forget, teach me and I remember, involve me and I will learn.
                                        — Benjamin Franklin

Baobao Song

Baobao Song

Experiential education is a major approach to create immersive experience for students and encourage active learning in higher education. According to Association for Experiential Education (AEE), experiential learning is “a philosophy and methodology in which educators purposefully engage with students in direct experience and focused reflection in order to increase knowledge, develop skills, and clarify values.” The definition has two implications for instructors:

  1. Grasp knowledge through direct experience: Use ill-defined, complex, real-world situations, problems, or actions to the extend possible.
  2. Transform knowledge through focused reflection: Offer feedback to students and encourage self-evaluation and retrospection.

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