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November 2006 Did you know that...

MacArthur Foundation quests for secrets to digital learning? The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation said it would donate $50 million for projects that will help understand “the impact of the widespread use of digital media on our youth and how they learn.” The Foundation announced that the research will test the theory that digital youth are different because they use digital tools to “assimilate knowledge, play, communicate, and create social networks” in new and different ways. For more details, check the current issue of Campus Technology:

November 1 November 8 November 9 November 14 November 15

Advanced Registration by phone or email is required for all events. Phone: 461-1563 FAX: 460-6884 email:

3 pm - 5 pm 1 pm - 3 pm 3 pm - 5 pm 10 am -12 pm 3 pm - 5 pm

Power Point with a Bang Assessment & Evaluation Assessment & Evaluation Turnitin-Antiplagairism tool Turnitin-Antiplagairism tool

Rm 123 Rm 181 Rm 181 Rm 123 Rm 123

Zakharova Zakharova Zakharova Zakharova Zakharova

The November Issue of The Teaching Professor includes these topics:     

What College Professors Can Learn from K-12 Educators Course Portfolios: The Next Generation Reminders for Improving Classroom Discussion Developing an Alternate Assessment Exercise for an Introductory Chemistry Course Office Hours in a Different Format

Visit the web site of the Program for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning (PETAL) for the full schedule of Fall 2006 events, teaching tips and links to web resources

Petal Fall 2006 Events

Free Webinar

“How to Decrease Time to Proficiency with Blended Learning” with Bill Bruck, Ph.D., co-founder of Q2Learning. November 1, Wednesday, at 12 pm-1 pm. Do you wonder how to ensure that all students are able to absorb and retain content over a short period of time? Then this free online seminar that blends Eastern philisophy, Western psychology, and modern technology is for you.

To register, go to

Common Myths about Grades in College Lynn F. Jacobs and Jeremy S. Hyman reviewed some most common myths about college grades in their book “Professors’ Guide to Getting Good Grades in College.” If midterms bring you any surprises, it may be a good idea to review your grading system and dispel some of the myths with your students. MYTH #1: “It’s Bad to Be a Grade-Grubber”

Grades, as Jacobs and Hyman put it, are the “currency of college”. Just as pro athletes want to achieve good stats, so too should students aim to do their best.

MYTH #2: “Why Try to Get Good Grades? All I Need is That Piece of Paper?” Employers and grad schools are increasingly looking closely at the achievements of potential students, not just proof that they have done the bare minimum to graduate.

MYTH #3: “College? This is Going to Be a Cakewalk”

Jacobs and Hyman here make a compelling case that is based on some straightforward math: “Most of the students who go on from high school to college are in the top percentage of their high school class.” Simple logic tells you that not everybody can be in the top percentage of a college class, so some portion of students will slide down the grading scale.

MYTH #4: “E is for Effort”

Unlike at middle school or high school, students do not get “a reward” in college simply for turning in all homework, attending and participating in classes, and otherwise making one’s presence known. Efforts to meet all course requirements are expected.

MYTH #5: “A is for Attendance”

However valuable attendance may be, it’s simply not the case that attendance will net you a good grade in a college course. Just as some bosses say, “I don’t care how you do it, just get it done well,” some professors only care about the end product.

MYTH #6: “If Only I Kiss Up Enough...”

Many professors grade tests and submissions blindly, so the student should assume that the work product submitted will form the grade, period.

MYTH #7: “Grades are 100 Percent Subjective...”

Grading is “a system, not just an opinion.” Professors judge their students’ work against certain standards and most make those standards quite explicit.

MYTH #8: “I’ll Never Get Good Grades. I’m Just Not a Good Student”

When some students get consumed by doubts and fears, it is important to tell them: “The fact that you have been admitted to college shows that the college also believes that you can do well.”

Teaching Tips from the winner of twelve teaching awards - Rolf E. Hummel of the University of Florida tells how he does it...                

MYTH #9: “The Professor Could Care Less What Grade I Get”

“A bad grade is a sign that the professor has not succeeded in teaching that student…So clearly, professors want their students to do well, not only for the sake of the students but, as Jacobs and Hyman admit, “for the sake of their own egos.”

MYTH #10: “The Professor Will Tell Me All I Need to Know to Get an A”

This one is a bit of a head-scratcher, since “some professors strongly believe that part of the learning experience is for students to figure out for themselves how to get good grades.” In a way, it is good training for the vicissitudes of life. Some things are hard to explain, some bosses are hard to figure, sometimes these universal truths are discovered in the context of a college course and what may be a frustrating short-term issue turns into a valuable, life-long lesson.

I prepare at least one hour per period for classes which I have given before, and about 5-7 hours for each new class. I arrive in the classroom at the right time or even a few minutes earlier to have a chance to chat with my students... I start with a one or two minute review of the previous lecture. I write as much as possible on an old fashioned blackboard and high light important parts with colored chalk, and/or put a box around im- portant equations. I start at the upper, left-hand corner....and do not erase anything during the entire hour. I attempt to write large and legibly enough so that (it) can be read from the last row. During the last three minutes...I repeat briefly what was discussed that day by showing with a pointer the relevant graphs or equations ...and mention how they were arrived at. I attempt not to block the blackboard with my body so that virtually everybody can see what is written on the board. When drawing a graph I carefully label the axes by saying what they represent and describe a curve while drawing it. If there is more than one curve in a given graph, I distinguish them with different colors and write on each curve what parameteres they represent. I encourage questions during class and answer them in a respectful manner. If I do not know the answer I admit so, and promise to answer it next time. I try to speak loudly and distinctly and aim my voice toward the last student row. I address my students by looking at them during the lecture, keeping eye contact. If I see some students drift away, I change the pace. I take a class picture during one of the first lectures and ask the students to write the names next to their image. I am not a friend of projected transparencies because they are frequent- ly removed before the students are capable of fully comprehending what they want to teach, except when putting the respective informa- tion on the board would require too much time or when the students have the same graph in their text book and I need to point out certain details on the image. Before an exam, I hand out tests from previous years, whose answers we discuss in the class immediately before the upcoming midterm or final. I allow my students to prepare a one-page, hand-written, personal “crib sheet” on which they may write all the equations and graphs they consider important. They have to turn in this sheet along with their tests. This promotes academic honesty and gives those students some confidence who are now well prepared for the exam, and they feel confident that they can turn to their sheet when need arises. Needless to say, my tests do not allow mere regurgitation of crammed information, but usually require some thinking. Most of all, I consider my students to be my friends. I am kind to them and am available most of the time for questions and for airing concerns. My door is virtually always open. I teach all classes myself, I write the tests and grade them myself and use teaching assistants only for looking over the homework, which I assign (because one can only learn by “doing” and not so much by just listening).

Adapted from the University of Florida “Pedagogator,” Vol. 3, Issue 13, July/ Aug. 2005.

November 2006 Did you know that..  

Advanced Registration by phone or email is required for all events. Phone: 461-1563 FAX: 460-6884 email: “How to Decreas...