Improving Student Learning–and Confidence!–with Retrieval Practice

As we move past the middle of the semester, exams and other big-ticket assessment items are likely on the radar screen for our students. This means, of course, that test anxiety and other underminers are also on students’ mental radar screens, and they can cause unintended difficulties as the higher-stakes, more summative assignments begin to intensify. How many of our students, after doing poorly on an exam, have said something like “I thought I was ready for the test, but once you passed it out, I just got so nervous I couldn’t remember what I studied?” This type of anxiety, where nervousness interferes with cognition, is a real and constant problem for some of our students. For others, it is a more sporadic, but just as difficult, phenomenon. Either way, though, it’s worth thinking about ways in which we might be able to help students mitigate this anxiety and allow for their work to accurately show us what they’ve really learned.
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Using the Grading Schema Tool in Blackboard

In the joint college meeting last Thursday, there was a lengthy discussion of some of the implementation questions surrounding Grand View’s new plus-minus grading system that will go into effect this Fall. During the discussion, a couple folks had questions about how Blackboard’s gradebook could be tweaked to reflect the new plus-minus scales that we implement in our classes. As promised, here is a quick overview of how you can use the “Grading Schema” feature of Blackboard’s gradebook to create a custom scale for students to see the letter grade equivalents for their percentages that you enter in the gradebook columns. Continue reading “Using the Grading Schema Tool in Blackboard”

New in the CETL Library

Every so often, when the budget gods smile upon us, we get some new books for the CETL Teaching and Learning Library. We’ve had a few orders come in recently, so this week’s post highlights some of these new acquisitions, which will be available for checkout within the next few days (as soon  as they’re finished being entered into the library’s cataloging system).  Continue reading “New in the CETL Library”

Interpreting Student Ratings of Instruction

Last week, those who administered IDEA Student Ratings of Instruction in our Fall courses received that data in our campus mailboxes. If you’re anything like me, there’s always a mixture of anticipation and anxiety when opening the packet: I think I did well; they seemed to like the class; I hope no one flamed me, though. And of course, no matter how many times we’re told to not take things personally, there’s always that one comment we can’t seem to take any other way. In my case, it’s a good bet that even if all the comments except one sing the praises of the course and my instruction, I’m going to obssess about the one that didn’t. Because teaching is an endeavor that’s so tied up in our identity, it’s hard to react any other way, it seems. Continue reading “Interpreting Student Ratings of Instruction”

A Full Slate of CETL Programming for the Spring

Happy new year from the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning! We hope that everyone’s semester is off to an excellent start. In this week’s post, we want to update you on the numerous opportunities for pedagogical and professional development that CETL will be offering this semester. Tiffany Morlan, our Blackboard administrator and Instructional Technologist, will be offering a wide range of Blackboard and classroom technology sessions. Kevin Gannon, CETL Director, will be facilitating several workshops on a variety of topics relating to teaching and/or technology.  Continue reading “A Full Slate of CETL Programming for the Spring”

Making Midterm Grades Meaningful

With the Faculty Assembly’s passage of the new midterm grade reporting policy last week, we’ve gotten some questions about what this means for course design as well as how we might ensure the grades we report are meaningful and accurate reflections of our students’ progress. This week’s post will try to answer those questions, as well as provide some food for thought as you think about your spring courses. Since a short post can’t cover everything in depth, we invite you to come by the CETL if you’d like to dive deeper into any of this. 

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