Reply To: New Year’s Teaching Resolutions

#2139

My end-of-semester surveys from this fall turned up three specific areas for improvement:
1. Find a way to teach MLA citations in a more interesting way
2. Better pair students for peer review sessions
3. Provide specific questions or feedback instructions for our research topic roundtable

To address the first target area, I polled my students to see which of the following activities they would prefer:
• A group “scavenger hunt” using the anthology and Purdue OWL to learn citation rules
• A sample paper to correct for MLA and then discuss with the group
• An activity in which students are given a list of resources that they have to locate and cite
• An assignment in which each student is given an MLA rule they have to research and present to the class

All four received positive responses, with perhaps a slight preference for the first two. I’m still mulling these options over, but I’m excited by the potential to more actively engage students in learning MLA.

To address the second target area, I posed my question to Stephen Brookfield and received a response on ACUE’s blog. Thanks to Dr. Brookfield for his insight!

I’ve now started to think about how to address the third target area. To provide some background, I assign a research project to my students that includes a proposal, an annotated bibliography, and a 6-8-page paper. Students can write about any controversial issue of choice, but the topics are honed with a class roundtable discussion in which students are expected to each present a possible research question for exploration and to provide their classmates with feedback on their research ideas. This is where I’d like some input from the ACUE community. What are the best techniques for facilitating an effective roundtable discussion of research topics? What types of questions would evoke the most productive responses from students, and how can I ensure all students contribute in a meaningful way?