Using Video to Enhance Instruction

If you’re teaching an online class, you’ve probably used video in your courses to provide instruction or tutorials–or perhaps both–to your students. But video tools can be useful in a variety of teaching contexts, from face-to-face to blended to fully online courses. Imagine, for example, you want to show your students how to use a particular piece of software. You could demonstrate it in class using the projector and the smart board, but what if your students forget what you did and didn’t take very good notes to refer to later? (I know, it’s a wildy implausible scenario, but bear with me.) Continue reading “Using Video to Enhance Instruction”

Learning from Failure

This is the week where we report low midterm grades, and for many of our students, the prospect of failure becomes something a bit more urgent and real. This dilemma presents a series of choices for our students, and we hope that they are able to choose wisely in order to remedy whatever problems contributed to that low midterm grade. But how can we ensure that this is what really happens–that our students take the appropriate lessons from failure and use them to become more successful? After all, we know that fear of failure often leads students to make choices we’d rather not see: cheating, for example, or seeing learning as merely strategic instead of something deeper. Continue reading “Learning from Failure”

Student Motivation and Learning

As we near midterm season, and the wildly-fluctuating attendance patterns that go with it, student motivation becomes more and more of a salient issue for us—in particular, how our students’ motivation levels ebb and flow throughout a given semester, and ways in which we might successfully improve motivation for our students in and out of class. Continue reading “Student Motivation and Learning”

Flipping Out for the Flipped Classroom

One of the biggest obstacles to deeper learning in our classrooms is the fact that, in a traditional face-to-face semester course, we only get about two and a half hours of contact time with our students per week. That’s not very much time at all. So how can we balance covering important course content with the types of (usually fairly time-consuming) in-class activities that promote active, engaged learning? Something has to give, right?  Continue reading “Flipping Out for the Flipped Classroom”

Getting to Know Elmo

Not an exact reproduction of our classroom technology

I am willing to bet that there are more than a few of us (and I am certainly in this group much of the time) whose only interaction with the Elmo document camera in our classrooms is when we move it out of the way on the instructor’s table. All too often, I think of this device as essentially a glorified overhead projector: useful if I need to show a paper document, but otherwise it just gets in the way.  Continue reading “Getting to Know Elmo”

Using Rubrics to Save Time and Improve Feedback

Welcome to the first Teaching Tips post of the Spring semester! We hope everyone’s semester is off to a great start. Beginning with this post, CETL’s Teaching Tips will be updated on Mondays (a departure from our previous practice of Friday updates), so watch this space and your email to begin your week with some fresh teaching and learning conversation.


In several recent conversations I’ve had with faculty, the interrelated issues of grading and workload have come up. It’s a perennial question in the teaching profession: How do I give good feedback to my students and still have time to do…well…anything else? We know that prompt feedback is one of the integral principles of effective undergraduate teaching, and no one likes to make student wait for their grades and our comments. That’s all fine and well in the abstract, but when we’re staring at several sections’ worth of exams or a stack of essays, “prompt” becomes more like a cruel joke than a realistic goal. There are some papers that have so many issues it feels like we’re be writing more words in our comments than our students did in the original assignment. There are times we feel like we’re acting more like copyeditors than teachers. The sheer volume of grading can feel overwhelming. (It never stops!) And hanging over it all is the reality that we end up writing either the same or very similar comments on a majority of the work we’re assessing.  Is there a better way? Continue reading “Using Rubrics to Save Time and Improve Feedback”