Using Self-Assessment with Students

David Gooblar explains in this piece why he uses self-assessment at the end of the semester with his students.

There are many reasons to have students complete self-evaluations at semester’s end, but perhaps the best is that the exercise encourages metacognition. (…) metacognition is a significantly valuable tool at the end of a course, when there are so many opportunities for self-reflection. At that point, students have been working on the same subject for more than three months; before they move on to other courses, and other professors, give them time and space to reflect on what they’ve done, and how they’ve done it.

Gooblar offers several techniques to stir up this metacognition among students. Those techniques can be up-front about the end goals, but they can also be more subtle in approach.

How to Mind Map Effectively

In this video, Tony Buzan describes rules on how to build an effective mind map. With proper design by using branch words, colors, images and organized structures, he shows that this map can help students think about various concepts discussed in a course and how those concepts connect and interact with each other.


Active Learning Strategies

This week, we present you with a podcast episode! In this episode of Teach Better, Professor Lynn Regan shares active learning strategies she has used in her classes. She discusses how she structures group projects and some of the challenges of doing so.

Two of the biggest challenges are problem formulation and timing. Her solution is to talk for 20 minutes and then formulates questions that take groups to solve 15 minutes. Groups then present their problem solving processes and the class debriefs different methods and solutions before discussing the days’ takeaways. It is quite valuable to hear the reasoning behind her choices.

With Dr. Regan, hosts of the podcast discuss how to help students “do” things. They give examples of assigning specific tasks and roles in science and social science classes.

Review of The Heart of Higher Education by Parker J. Palmer & Arthur Zajonc

Earlier this month, the Faculty Commons hosted a book club session on The Heart of Higher Education: A Call to Renewal, Transforming the Academy through Collegial Conversations by Parker J. Palmer & Arthur Zajonc with Megan Scribner. The book tackles the controversial topic of the purpose of higher education. The authors ask specifically:

“How can higher education become a more multidimensional enterprise, one that draws on the full range of human capacities for knowing, teaching, and learning; that bridges the gaps between the disciplines; that forges stronger links between knowing the world and living creatively in it, in solitude and community?” (2)

The book answers those questions by taking a holistic approach to the student. The authors assert that a college education should go beyond teaching area-specific materials, and instead prepare students to become full-grown citizens, invested in society.

The authors encourage discussions and debates within academic communities to foster a more rounded understanding of students, one that considers that

“the relationships and experiences of our lives – and the lives of our students – are not dismissed as irrelevant or inconsequential but are fully granted their own standing as building blocks of reality; they are not secondary qualities or adaptive strategies but primary dimensions of our humanity.” (11)

Professors as mentors as well as teachers can have a great impact on adopting such a view. The book lists many examples where teachers started making changes within their classrooms to consider the students beyond academic standards. The annexes in particular offer a series of testimony and experience from professors and student life professional of the practical ways they have implemented a more integrative view of education, one that combines theory and practice.

Throughout the book, Palmer and Zajonc also list questions that professors can use to keep the discussion going about the role of college in students’ development, and the role professors and other supporting employees can have.

The book is available on amazon here, or at the library.