August 26, 2012

Teaching Tip #1

With fall semester well underway, many of us are serving hundreds of students more than we did last fall or the fall before that. With State and Federal education budget cuts, the numbers may only increase.  As a result, we find ourselves with very little time to grade essays, create strategic yet quality assignments, and complete all of the administrative tasks that were once relegated to student interns and administrative staff.  There are ways, however, to work "smarter not harder."

Teaching Tip #1:

If you grade it, they will do it.  Gone are the days when students read articles for enrichment or turn in paperwork simply because you ask them to do so.  Our students are now a part of a "dollars and cents" society that always asks, "what's in it for me?" There are simple ways to show our students what's in it for them.  I have found that students will perform for points and percentages, no matter how infinitesimal.  As instructors, we can use this quality to our advantage.  Include administrative paperwork, reading quizzes, even assignment instructions into some all-encompassing category like "Class Participation" or "To-Do Lists." You may only give them 5 percentage points for returning their syllabus signature page or consulting some instructional website.  However, 99% of your students will submit assignments they otherwise would not have simply because they can see the value added for themselves.

I spent the past couple of years resisting this mindset that all of our students seem to have, but recently, I decided to conform to their will.  It's a quid pro quo relationship.  My students get their "points," and I get them to read outside texts and submit paperwork on time.  And maybe in the meantime, they'll learn something from their outside reading, or at the very least, they'll learn to honor deadlines.

Stay tuned for Teaching Tip #2...