Do We Use Email, or Does Email Use Us?

Email. It was supposed to save us time–a quick email instead of “snail mail” will be SO MUCH FASTER–but has instead taken more of that precious commodity than we could have ever anticipated. That’s the paradox of technology: sometimes innovations that were intended to be time-savers end up being time-suckers instead. Email is the perfect example of this. It’s not just easy, it’s too easy. Have a textbook for sale? Send an email. Don’t feel like walking down the hall to engage in actual human conversation? Send an email. Want to rant and rave, but find it hard to gather an audience? Send an email! Before you know it, our Outlook inboxes are groaning under the weight of everyone’s electronic id in message form. And that’s not even counting all of the messages generated by a reply-all message chain where everyone is telling everyone else to stop using reply-all. Continue reading “Do We Use Email, or Does Email Use Us?”

Early Interventions to Improve Student Success

This week, those of us who teach 100-level and below courses, as well as courses that data shows students can struggle in, will receive an email with a link to fill out student progress reports through our new SSC software. In many respects, they’re similar to the early alert system we used before this year, but these new progress reports are intended to target the student populations we know tend to run into early academic struggles, and enable us to more efficiently intervene and course-correct with them. As we begin the third week of the semester, identifying and working to address academic problems in our classes can pay significant dividends for the rest of the semester. It seems obvious: the earlier the intervention, the more likely our students are to turn things around. Continue reading “Early Interventions to Improve Student Success”

Learning Strategies, Not Styles

One of the most confusing and frustrating episodes in my entire teaching career came with an attempt to do what I thought was a “best practice” for enhancing my students’ learning. I was teaching Strategies for Academic Success, a course designed to help at-risk first-year students develop a strong foundation for their college careers. The textbook I adopted for the course had an entire unit on “learning styles,” and it asked students to complete something which was new to me at the time–the “VARK Inventory.” From this assessment, students would be able to find out what their “learning style” was: Visual, Aural, Reading/Writing, or Kinesthetic. Some students, the instructor’s guide told me, would be “multimodal”; that is, share two or (rarely) three styles. But, it said, a student’s strongest learning style should dictate the way they went about their academic business–what study strategies to adopt, what in-class methods they should use to retain material, on and on. I assumed this would be an excellent tool to get my students thinking about themselves as learners, that they would see that learning is multifaceted, and that they could take ownership of discerning what was most effective for them. Continue reading “Learning Strategies, Not Styles”

Aaaannnd….WE’RE OFF

Welcome, or welcome back, to another academic year at Grand View! The CETL staff is excited about the coming semester! (We’ll be even more excited when we make it through the week without any Blackboard issues *crosses fingers*.) As usual, faculty return to a campus where much has occurred in the months since we saw our graduates stride across the stage at Hy-Vee Hall. Continue reading “Aaaannnd….WE’RE OFF”

A Strong Finish to the Semester

I don’t know about you, but the end of the spring semester seems to be even more draining than was the case in the fall. Maybe it’s the weather finally turning nice (I began to suspect we’d never see the sun again). Maybe it’s the accumulated weight of the whole academic year, as opposed to just August through December. But whatever it is, I tend to reach the last week of spring classes feeling just about brain-dead and with most of my energy reserves long past depleted. In fact, I find the last week of classes in the spring to be my most difficult time as a teacher. Continue reading “A Strong Finish to the Semester”

Throwback Post: Working with IDEA

At the end of last week, you should have received your packets of the IDEA Student Ratings of Instruction. These are some of the tools that Grand View uses to evaluate both courses and instruction, and it’s important for faculty to use them effectively. In that spirit, this week’s post is a survey of IDEA best practices, which we originally published last spring. For those who’ve encountered this post before, we hope it is a useful reminder of some of the ways which IDEA can be used effectively. For those for whom this is new information, we hope you find it useful. As always, please feel free to contact Kevin Gannon if you have any questions about IDEA administration. Continue reading “Throwback Post: Working with IDEA”