This week, instructors offer suggestions for giving students agency in their courses and connecting material to the outside world.
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“Why Is This Course Required?”
Since students must take required courses, which can impact their motivation, David Gooblar suggests giving them more choices within classes themselves. Gooblar, for example, assigns a paper in which students research a question of their choice. He has found they appreciate having agency in the course and often write high-quality papers. (Vitae)
Interview with Margaret Rubega
In this podcast, Derek Bruff interviews Margaret Rubega, an ornithology instructor, about her assignment to have students to share observations about birds they encounter in their daily lives on Twitter. Her aim is to encourage students to appreciate the relevance of the material they discuss in class. From hearing bird calls to discovering hidden nests, students find new ways of observing their world. (Leading Lines)
Trauma Can Interfere With Students’ Learning. Here’s Something Professors Can Do to Help.
Ricia Anne Chansky, a University of Puerto Rico professor, used Hurricane Maria as a teaching moment for her students. As part of “disaster pedagogy,” stemming from Chansky and her colleagues’ belief that students’ stories matter, she asked students to write about their survival experiences to encourage them to re-establish agency. The assignment was voluntary, but every student participated. (The Chronicle of Higher Education Teaching Newsletter)
What I Learned From Teaching
Recalling how inspiring many of his own instructors were over the years, Moamen Elmassry sought to improve his instruction after a disappointing first semester as a teaching assistant. He began attending online and in-person workshops and training programs, and after incorporating creative strategies into his classes, he found teaching to be a rewarding experience. (Science)
Aristotle’s Wrongful Death
As some higher ed professionals question the importance of college majors, Frank Bruni argues that nonvocational tracks, such as the humanities, have meaning and purpose: cultivating young minds, preparing civic-minded individuals, and helping students find their place in the world. (The New York Times)
Rutgers University-Newark: An Honors College That Honors Grit (The New York Times)