Why Does Group Work Suck?

As educators, we know that group work has important and tangible benefits for our students. Seemingly every employer survey out there says students who can work as part of a team are attractive candidates for open jobs. We know that group projects help our students develop important academic skills: learning how to break large projects into their component parts, experience working collaboratively, and practice in effectively communicating, for example. Teaching and Learning research also shows that group work can lead to increased retention of course content, as well as overall academic success in college. Continue reading “Why Does Group Work Suck?”

Guest Post: Emotional Intelligence and Teaching

This week’s post is from the Social Work Department’s Myke Selha. Please note the professional development opportunities referenced at the end of this post, and consider participating in either one (or both!)

Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is one of those concepts, like The Theory of Relativity and Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, that are more complex than just a literal reading of the name. Some people equate EQ with empathy. While empathy is certainly a skill of EQ, it is only one tool in the toolbox. Continue reading “Guest Post: Emotional Intelligence and Teaching”

Supporting Trans and Gender-nonconforming Members of Our Campus Community

In the last two decades or so, the ways in which we understand, describe, and live out gender roles and identities in higher education have become more sophisticated and multifaceted. This is due to not only the increased visibility and advocacy of students, faculty, and staff who do not identify within the traditional gender binary, but also to the ways in which trans and nonbinary people in general have helped educate their institutional colleagues about the complexities of gender identity and expression. Continue reading “Supporting Trans and Gender-nonconforming Members of Our Campus Community”

Belonging and Bandwidth

One of the most significant factors behind the academic struggles of students from marginalized groups or who are economically insecure is a phenomenon researchers call “belonging uncertainty.” If scarcity is something that prevents students from drawing upon their full cognitive bandwidth for academic tasks, Cia Verschelden writes, then we ought to view “a lack of belonging” as “another kind of scarcity,” in the same category as factors like financial precarity.1

Continue reading “Belonging and Bandwidth”

Tools for Teaching: Social Annotation

[This year, the CETL blog will feature occasional “Tools for Teaching” posts, where we’ll look at a particular digital teaching and learning tool.]

This week’s Tools for Teaching entry is actually about several different tools, but one particular technique they can be used for: social annotation. Social annotation takes the usually-solitary act of reading and allows students to do it in community with one another.  By using digital tools to highlight, comment, or otherwise annotate a text, students “do the reading,” but do so in conversation with their peers. The results can be powerful: studies have found social annotation practices increased reading comprehension and motivation to do reading assignments, for example. More recent research, which has been written up preliminarily, has also found social annotation tools and practices help build not only better learning, but an increased sense of belonging and community as well. Continue reading “Tools for Teaching: Social Annotation”

Making the First Day Count

As another academic year begins, we’ll all be in situations over the next few days that prove the truth of the old adage, “you never get a second chance to make a first impression.” As Sarah Rose Cavanagh points out, our students will quickly form impressions of both us and our courses—as unfair as that might sound—and those impressions can prove remarkably durable, perhaps even overshadowing much of what we do throughout the rest of the semester. Even if we aren’t teaching in a traditional classroom or course environment, even if our interactions with students involve office visits or the like, those first impressions are crucial. How can we best let students know they belong here, and that we are here to help them become successful? Continue reading “Making the First Day Count”