Redefining Student Expectations to Foster Good Discussions

In the first part of this post, we looked at some of the findings in Jay Howard’s Discussion in the College Classroom that spoke to some of the barriers to meaningful student engagment in class discussions. In particular, what Howard calls “civil attention” plays a large role in students’ resistance to participation; so long as they are able to look like they’re paying attention without putting in more effort than that, students will likely take the opportunity to remain passive. As a result, if we try to start a discussion, we encounter long periods of silence, if not a sullen resistance to our efforts. “Civil attention,” according to Howard, is the product of how students see the class experience as a passive and “unfocused” environment, as opposed to a “focused” situation where contributions from everyone are the expected norm. The key question, then, is how we can get our students to treat class as a focused environment, and see engaged discussion as the norm, not some unpleasant exception. Continue reading “Redefining Student Expectations to Foster Good Discussions”

Seven Principles, part six: Communicating High Expectations

This week’s stop on our tour of Chickering and Gamson’s Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education is the penultimate item on their list: good practice in undergraduate education communicates high expectations. This seems like a no-brainer; after all, don’t we want to challenge our students to do their best? It turns out, though, that it’s often more complicated than that. Setting expectations can occur in many ways, including some things which we might not even be aware we’re doing. And given the importance of expectations for student success, we should be as mindful as we can about how we communicate to students our expectations of them. Continue reading “Seven Principles, part six: Communicating High Expectations”

Synchronous Online Meeting Expectations

zoom meeting imageIn continuing the theme of “nudges” from Friday’s Teaching Tip, here is a “nudge” to help you clarify your synchronous online meeting expectations.

As a part of the digital age, we are more and more engaged in virtual classrooms and meetings as well as webinars.  With new environments come new expectations (not to mention additional learning curves).  I was recently a part of the virtual networking meeting that suggested there should be clarity in your expectations for online meetings.  I couldn’t agree more!  Here is an example of a statement aimed at participants to be included in your expectations: “If you drop from the meeting I expect you to email me immediately, let me know the situation, and try connecting again.”  As a leader of a meeting, it is also important to have expectations should you unexpectedly disconnect.  “If I, the leader, drop from the meeting, please remain a part of the meeting for 10 minutes.  If I do not return by that time, please check your email for further instructions.”  In addition, with a little tweaking, these clear expectations could be integrated into many sections of your syllabus and leave less to the world of the unknown.