Creating undergraduate course materials to demonstrate best practices

The assignment to create materials for an undergraduate communications course gives you the opportunity to plan a course that you would like to teach (or that you already teach and would like to improve) and to demonstrate best practices for teaching and learning.

You are drawing from your own experience as teaching assistants and from our work this semester, including readings such as “McKeachie’s Teaching Tips,” “Who Gets to Graduate?” and “Rebooting the Academy.”

You are designing your course as if you were teaching it at UF during Fall Semester 2015. You are keeping the various UF calendar dates in mind and are following UF’s guidelines for syllabi. [For example, Ligia Cervera’s teaching presentation on working with students with learning disabilities was an excellent reminder of how important it is to include in your syllabus information on UF resources.]

An important component of the syllabus is the timeline. You list every class meeting and indicate the topic for each class (not just a chapter number), any assignments or quiz/test for that date, and any assigned readings.

[You’ve submitted a draft of the syllabus and we did a critique in class.]

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How to find faculty job announcements

by Julie Dodd

For graduate students, a strategic aspect of applying for faculty job positions can be reading job announcements several semesters before actually applying for faculty jobs.


The BEA jobs website is one of several sites that provide listing of faculty jobs. These sites are regularly updated and provide search options to assist you in finding relevant jobs for you.

By reading job announcements, you can get a better perspective of what faculty jobs include.

  • What is the job title — assistant professor, associate professor, visiting professor, lecturer, adjunct, etc. — and is the position tenure-track or not.
  • What academic degree is required — or preferred.
  • What classes will you be asked to teach.
  • What is the course load — meaning how many courses will you teach each semester.
  • Will you be expected to develop new courses.
  • Will you be expected to conduct research, and, if so, how will that be assessed.
  • Will you need to write grants.
  • What are the service expectations, including serving on committees.
  • Will you be an academic advisor for students.
  • Will you serve on thesis and dissertation committees.
  • Will you advise student media or student organizations.
  • Would you be expected to lead a study abroad group?

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Tips for motivating your students and yourself as a college teacher

by Ah Ram Lee
Ph.D. student, University of Florida

Ah Ram Lee

Ah Ram Lee

Motivation is one of the fundamental and critical basis in teaching. Most of the practical teaching tactics that encourage learning would not likely work without motivation. Lack of motivation can be lead to academic discipline problems. In other words, almost all the worries that teachers have can be resolved if students are motivated.

There are two types of motivation that we need to be aware of —  intrinsic motivation and extrinsic motivation.

Intrinsic motivation is closer to core value of learning, and extrinsic motivation is often related to more external factors.

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First class meeting: Setting personal goals for course; considering issues in higher ed

by Julie Dodd

The structure of school in most parts of the world provides the energizing opportunity of stopping, rethinking and restarting. In higher education, most colleges and universities are on either the semester or quarter system with students and teachers getting a new start at least two or three times a year.

Each of those new starts follows at least a week break. Some of the value of a break is actually taking a break from school tasks. However, the break also provides a time for reading, reflection and revising of course plans.

Tweet about Kent FuchsAs I begin a new semester of teaching Mass Communication Teaching (MMC6930), I am considering the blend of the ongoing issues of teaching and learning (i.e., motivation, critical thinking) and the issues of this moment in time that affect teaching.

In our first class meeting, the class and I will talk about their goals for themselves as teachers and what their hopes are for the course. Many of those issues are consistent from semester to semester as graduate students strive to be effective teaching assistants and prepare for the teaching component of a university teaching career.

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Use discussion to promote active learning in the classroom: Strategies and tips for college teachers

by Jungyun Won
Ph.D. student, University of Florida

Jungyun Won

Jungyun Won

Students do not learn as much by listening to teachers as they do by participating in discussions (Chickering & Gamson, 1987; Ericksen, 1984). Discussion is one of the best methods of fostering active learning and promoting learning in the classroom.

Discussion gives students the opportunity to express their opinions, share ideas, and exchange experiences orally.

The following are reasons why teachers need to use discussion techniques:

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Strategies for designing group projects

by Tianduo Zhang
Ph.D. student, University of Florida

Tianduo Zhang

Tianduo Zhang

Group projects can be an extremely helpful tool for instruction. Group projects allow students to work on complex projects, get work done faster, learn communication and collaboration, and become familiar with the real-world working environment that requires teamwork.

However, group projects don’t always work in the ideal way. Almost every student who has completed an undergraduate degree had something to say about group projects. The most common problems are: work schedule, miscommunication, unaccountable team members and unfairness in grading.

So here comes the question: Could we as instructors do something to prevent such problems from happening? The answer is: Absolutely yes!

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14 tips for multiple-choice test construction

by Jing “Taylor” Wen
Ph.D. student, University of Florida

Jing "Taylor" Wen

Jing “Taylor” Wen

Multiple-choice test is widely used in many undergraduate courses to evaluate students learning. Instructors like multiple-choice tests because such tests offer flexibility for assessing a diversity of content, allow for reliable assessment of scores, and are efficient in terms of time involved in grading. The key to taking advantage of these strengths, however, is constructing good multiple-choice items

On the other hand, poorly constructed items encourage guessing and fail to measure the test taker’s learning. We have to admit that not every multiple-choice test question is well constructed and effective in measuring what students have learned in class. The following are tips for instructors to create better multiple-choice test items and avoid the mistakes frequently seen in the ill-constructed tests.

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