Winter 2019 Newsletter

Faculty and students join forces, sharing their knowledge of teaching

faculty discuss teaching concepts in classroomTop right, l-r: Faculty members Lori Astheimer, Erik CHeries, Tammy Rahhal, Luke Remage-Healey, and Lisa Sanders.
Bottom left: Richard Halgin shares his techniques for engaging students in large lectures.

PBS holds “Okteacherfest”

The month of October was filled with great opportunities for us to learn from one another. Through seminars and “open classroom” days, the department’s supportive community of educators came together to learn what practices are enhancing student success.

Many faculty members opened their classrooms to others, sharing their craft with fellow professors, graduate students, and staff. From large lectures to small discussion-based classes, each learning environment offered the chance to observe unique skills and share different teaching styles.

Some Highlights from Okteacherfest:

Technologies Used in Large Lectures

  • iClickers (real-time audience response devices) collect student responses to multiple-choice questions during lectures. Using iClickers, students can test their knowledge and view class results immediately. This data also allows instructors to assess student understanding in real time, allowing repetition or enhancement of course concepts to meet student need.
  • Self-selected discussion groups within Moodle, our online course management system, group students into smaller units—improving how they work together outside of the classroom. These discussion groups can make a large lecture seem much smaller and more intimate.
  • Echo360 lecture capture software records video, audio, and the presenter’s computer screen. Lectures are automatically uploaded to Moodle, giving students and instructors the chance to review material at a later time.

Teaching Methods Used in Mid-Sized Classes and Small Seminars

  • Encourage students to think critically and scientifically by introducing concepts that open up debate.
  • Create opportunities for students to practice speaking and presenting.
  • Allow students to practice their writing skills through various assignments and offer constructive feedback. Short in-class writing assignments can further instill lesson concepts, followed by review and discussion.

portraits of professors teaching in large lecturesClockwise from top left: Faculty members Rebecca Spencer, Luke Remage-Healey, Tammy Rahhal, and Lisa Sanders.

Good General Teaching Practices

  • Use a conversational approach to connect with students, bringing class material to life with personal stories and case studies. Try a 20-minute energy shift by changing topics or starting an interactive exercise.
  • Establish good relationships with students by keeping open communication, outlining expectations, and showing concern for challenges they face.
  • Define your identity as a teacher through reflecting on the best personal qualities you have experienced in others, identifying your own strengths, and choosing teaching techniques that work best for you.

At the end of Okteacherfest, host instructors and observers reunited to shared their experiences; reactions were overwhelmingly positive. Hosts felt valued and grateful for their guests’ desire to learn, and observers appreciated their new perspectives on teaching. Everyone felt encouraged to try new strategies, perhaps even to  step outside of their comfort zone in the classroom!