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. 

Continue reading “Making Midterm Grades Meaningful”

Preparing to Teach Online

As we stumble move closer to the end of the semester, it’s already time to begin thinking about the Spring term. That might seem like overkill, considering it’s crunch time right now and difficult to think about the next semester while we’re still neck-deep in finishing the current one. That’s both the blessing and curse of teaching in higher education: we get a new start every semester–but we have to prepare for that start as well. This is particularly true for those of us scheduled to teach an online course this coming spring; not only is there the regular course prep work to do, but if it’s your first (or one of your first) go-around with online teaching, there’s an additional level of preparatory labor necessary to create the foundation for a successful online course. Continue reading “Preparing to Teach Online”

Why Won’t They Read the F***ing Book?

Yesterday, I was walking down the hall near my office in Rasmussen, behind a group of five or so students who were discussing their lower-than-expected grades on an exam they’d just gotten back. “It was all from the reading!” one of them exclaimed; “I didn’t do the reading! I just studied my notes!” You will all be pleased to know that I resisted the temptation to say something like “You were tested over actual course material?! YOU POOR DELICATE FLOWERS.” But I rolled my eyes like a CHAMPION behind them. Continue reading “Why Won’t They Read the F***ing Book?”

Surprise! It’s October!

SurprisedCatIs it just me, or is the semester going by really fast? (Note: I have posed this rhetorical question at the five-week mark of every semester in my teaching career.) As we stagger make our way toward midterms, our classes are finding their rhythms–their patterns and identity–as we and our students become more familiar with one another and with the work at hand. In many cases, this is a really positive development; students have gelled with one another, discussions have become less stilted and more open and honest, and we’re finally able to remember everyone’s name. But in some instances, the rhythm isn’t established yet. Or the class has taken on less-than-ideal characteristics–students are sullen, or belligerent, or just plain flat. If you’re in that spot (and, honestly, who among us hasn’t been?), the good news is there’s still time to turn things around. In some cases, the answer to our problems is to relax the reins a little bit, especially if discussion is the main area in which our class is struggling. It may seem counter-intuitive, but letting go may be the answer to regaining pedagogical balance. Have we over-planned? Are we creating structures that stifle students rather than empower them? Do they have room to try (and maybe even fail) to accomplish the course goals? In this thoughtful essay, Chris Friend explores what it means to “let go,” listen to our students, and let them wander rather than channel them into specific places. Sometimes the way to regain control is to give it up. Continue reading “Surprise! It’s October!”