Student projects: 3 tips to improve directions and grading criteria

by Julie Dodd

In Mass Communication Teaching, the students are developing materials for an undergraduate communications course. Those materials include:

  • Course proposal – Updating the proposal that you wrote at the beginning of this project.
  • Syllabus – This is the version of the syllabus that you would provide your students. Be sure to follow UF’s guidelines and our discussion of best practices for the content. The syllabus should include a timeline of each class meeting, with the topic for that class, any readings or other homework, due dates for major assignments, and dates for exams.
  • Class-by-class listing – For each class meeting, you need a brief explanation: objectives for the class and class activities (i.e., you presenting, minute paper, pair/share activity, small group work, student presentations, case study analysis, etc.). I would expect to see a variety of appropriate teaching and learning approaches.
  • Sample lesson plan – For the equivalent of two hours of instruction, develop a lesson plan. The plan should include all needed materials — readings, case studies, presentation slides, and your presentation notes for yourself. This should be a class where you are guiding the instruction and not a class with guest speakers or student presentations.
  • Assessment tool – This should be a major evaluation for the course — a major project or a major exam. For the major project, include the directions (with timeline that indicates small-stakes grades) and the grading rubric. For an exam, include the exam and the grading criteria (which could be an answer key and rubric for essay answers).

The class recently submitted the draft of their assessment tools. They could either develop an exam and answer key or a major project with grading rubric. Based on the courses they are developing, they all decided to create a project and rubric.

Here’s feedback that I provided on the project and rubric. Some of these suggestions might be useful as you are evaluating your teaching materials:

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Creating undergraduate course materials to demonstrate best practices

by Julie Dodd

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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