Experiential learning – Crucial for college students inside & outside the classroom

Karsten Burgstahler
Master’s student, University of Florida

Kartsen Burgstahler

Kartsen Burgstahler

You’ve probably heard one of your students say (or you remember yourself as a student saying) “When am I EVER going to use this in real life?”

Part of your job as a teacher is to get students to think critically, but you don’t want them to learn just for class and then not be able to transfer that knowledge when they need it out in the field.

That’s why experiential learning is so important.

You give students a chance to work with real world problems – and, in some instances, actually work  – and see how what they’re learning now will benefit them in their careers.

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12 strategies for maximizing cultural diversity in the classroom

by Toluwani C. Oloke
Ph.D Student, University of Florida

Toluwani C. Oloke

Toluwani C. Oloke

Here are 12 tips for teachers to help them improve course design and instruction to recognize and promote cultural diversity in the classroom.

  1. Appreciate the diversity; understand the diversity as a quality of wealth of perspectives and differences in terms of: language, personalities and learning styles.
  2. Consider students’ cultures and language skills when developing learning objectives and instructional activities — technology use and familiarity, perceptions of personal space, and individual vs group projects.
  3. Facilitate conducive learning and classroom environment that promotes sense of belonging, mutual respect and value for others’ opinions.
  4. Incorporate multiple assessment and teaching styles to engage all students in ways that are culturally, cognitively and linguistically responsive and appropriate. individually.
  5. Monitor student progress individually when possible, even when they are working in groups.
  6. Build a relationship with students.
  7. Culturally contextualized illustrations in class do not always help. Use neutral non-stereotype illustrations that all students can understand or easily learn.
  8. Make class participatory.
  9. Use simulations.
  10. Let students explore their strengths and understanding in multiple ways.
  11. Hold all students to high expectations.
  12. Eliminate stereotype biases and myths about students; instead, know your students as individuals.

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4 questions teachers should ask themselves to improve their students’ motivation

by Barbara Myslik
Ph.D. student, University of Florida

Barbara Myslik

Barbara Myslik

Motivating students to can be one of the most challenging tasks a teacher faces, but it can also be one of the most exciting. There are several factors important to consider when thinking of ways to achieve that goal.

Here are four questions teachers should ask themselves as they consider how to motivate their students.

Question #1: Is the student intrinsically or extrinsically motivated? (Motivation type)

Students who learn for their own satisfaction, and are motivated by internal factors, more then by external rewards, respond well to tasks that are both challenging and give them sense of personal control. For an intrinsically motivated student sense of control over the task is fun and rewarding, so it is important to let them create as much of their learning experience as possible.

Students motivated by external rewards respond well when the subject is made applicable to them. It is important to praise their accomplishments, as positive feedback motivates them to work harder. Also, introducing an element of friendly competition can work really well for an extrinsically motivated student.
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Tips for teaching college students with different learning styles

by Sining Kong
Ph.D. student, University of Florida

Sining Kong

Sining Kong

Learning style can be described as a set of factors, behaviors, and attitudes that facilitate learning for an individual in a given situation. It influences how students learn, how teachers teach and how the two interact with each other. The idea of learning styles usually refers to a preferred way of learning. It implied that each individual has a natural inclination toward learning, and if that preference can be identified, both teaching and learning experiences can be more effective.

Teachers can use VARK questionnaire http://vark-learn.com/the-vark-questionnaire/ to know students’ learning styles. According to VARK inventory, there are four types of learning styles: 

* Visual learners prefer to use pictures, images, diagrams, colors, and mind maps.
* Aural/Auditory learners prefer using sound, rhythms, music, recordings, clever rhymes, and so on.
* Reading and writing learners enjoy reading and taking notes, turn diagram and charts into words.
* Physical (Bodily-Kinesthetic) learners prefer to use their body to assist in their learning, such as drawing diagrams, using physical objects, or role playing.

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5 tips for writing blog posts on teaching topics

by Julie Dodd

Every teacher can use some advice about teaching — whether you’re new to teaching, you are new to teaching at the college level, or you are an experienced college teacher.

You may need insights on an issue you’ve never experienced in your teaching, or you may be looking for tips on how to improve some aspect of your teaching.

One great source of potential help is available by doing a Google search on the topic. You’ll find research articles, university teaching centers, and blog posts.

You are joining the education blogosphere by publishing a blog post about the topic of your teaching presentation. For many of you, this is the first time you’ve written a blog post. So here are five tips for writing a post that will be helpful for others and that will bring readers to your post.

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11 steps for rubric development

by Bruce Getz
Ph.D. student, University of Florida

Bruce Getz

Bruce Getz

The first time I heard the word “rubric” I was in my first faculty meeting as a first-year teacher, and I had no idea the meaning of the term.

It took several weeks to work up the courage to ask more experienced teachers what a rubric was.  As a new teacher, unfamiliar with assessment practices, I had no idea the design and implementation of rubrics would play an integral part in my professional development and experience as an educator.

I have distilled the lessons I learned throughout my teaching career into the following approach to rubric development.

Before I outline the process of rubric development, it is important to understand the role of the individual teacher in rubric design.  Of the many assessment tools available to us rubrics may be the most versatile.  Rubrics allow individual educators an opportunity to create a custom-grading tool, which aligns directly to the course, lesson, and learning objective they are teaching.

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Developing an undergraduate course provides opportunity to develop skills in instructional design

by Julie Dodd

The major assignment in Mass Communication Teaching (MMC 6930) is to develop an undergraduate communications course — creating a syllabus, lesson plans, instructional materials, and an assessment tool.

Creating, modifying and updating courses is an important part of university teaching. So this assignment helps you develop instructional design abilities.

The first step is determining what course to develop.

Should you select to develop your materials for an already existing course or a new course?

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Motivating college students — recognizing learning styles and role of intrinsic & extrinsic motivation

by Jung Won Chun
Ph.D. student, university of Florida


Jung Won Chun

Motivating students is not easy but is one of the most fundamental and important issue in teaching. If students lose their motivation to learn and engage with you as a teacher, they not only aren’t gaining as much as they could from your class but they could become academic discipline problems.

So, the key question is: “How can we motivate students?”

To answer this question, we need to understand different types of motivations. Here are two types of motivation:

Extrinsic motivation

  • Goal-driven: “I need a B to get into law school.”
  • Rewards: “I can earn extra credit if I do well on today’s quiz.”
  • Pressure to perform: “If I flunk this course, I will lose my scholarship.
  • Competition: “I should do a better performance to win the first prize in this project.”
  • Achievement: “I want to earn A for this course.”

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5 tips for preparing your faculty job application materials

by Julie Dodd

The last assignment for Mass Communication Teaching (MMC 6930) is to develop an online teaching portfolio.

Most of the students in the course typically are at least a year away from being on the job market, but the process of preparing job application materials helps them be more prepared to enter the job market — both by having materials developed and by realizing now what they should be working on to be more competitive when they do apply for faculty jobs.

Dr. Karen Kelsky has a helpful website with faculty job advice — “The Quick and Relatively Painless Guide to Your Academic Job Search” (2014)

Here are five tips for finalizing your job application materials:

 Tip #1 – Embed your name on your documents – Any documents posted online, such as your PPT slides or syllabus, should include your name as a header/footer. That’s not a requirement for our assignment but advice for “best practices.” That helps you get credit for your work when it may be used by others – such as someone who might use your PPT slides in their own teaching.

Tip #2 – Name your digital files – In naming files, include your name and use all lower case and no spaces.
NO: Teaching Philosophy.pdf
YES: garcia_teaching_philosophy.pdf

Tip #3 – Be consistent with font and type size – When preparing documents, we sometimes copy/paste materials from different files. But you don’t want your final document to look like it was copy/pasted. So when you’ve completed the document, select all and then set the font and point size.

Tip #4 – Carefully proofread your work – Be sure to proofread your work. The impact of a well-written cover letter or vitae is diminished by grammatical or spelling errors. Read your writing aloud. Have a trusted colleague or friend read your work.

Tip #5 – Test digital files and links – Be sure you have tested links in digital files and have made sure your digital files open. (If you are creating your vitae in InDesign, for example, you should save the file as a PDF to make it easier for those receiving the file to open it.)

Academic dishonesty in college classes — Pro-active and reactive efforts for teachers

by Julie Dodd

uf_conductAcademic dishonesty.

Every college instructor is concerned about that issue.

We want to evaluate each of our students on his/her own work. We want students developing standards of ethical behavior to carry forward into their professional and personal lives.

What can we do to promote academic honesty? And what can we do if we discover academic dishonesty?

Strategy #1 – Determine what your educational institution has in place to help you as an instructor.

At the University of Florida, the Dean of Students Office provides that support.

UF students are required to sign the Student Honor Code that lists and explains a range of inappropriate academic behavior, including plagiarism and unauthorized collaboration.

UF has an established process for addressing honor code violations. The guidelines are very clear that the instructor must contact the Dean of Students Office to report any academic dishonesty issue. The Dean of Students Office provides a form for reporting violations and has a Student Hearing Committee and review process for a student who has more than one violation.
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