INSIDE IOWA STATE
September 28, 2001
Teachers offer tips on teaching
by Debra Gibson
Teach your brethren well.
Such was the directive Sept. 19 for the first faculty forum of the school
year, Teaching Tips from Exemplary ISU Faculty. Sponsored by the Center for
Teaching Excellence, the forum, attended by about 95 university teachers,
featured 13 faculty who offered, in three minutes or less, their most
effective instructional advice.
Amy Slagell, English, assigns group work on exams. I was looking for ways to
turn that energy for exams into a deeper learning experience, Slagell said.
The group work never involves more than 10 to 20 percent of an exam, and
students can choose to work independently. Questions are more complicated,
Slagell explained, resulting in deep learning essays.
- Implement daily outcomes. Steve Jungst, forestry, advised that such a
content checklist, handed out for each class period, keeps both himself and
his students more focused on what I want them to know. Jungst admitted that
it was very humbling when he first introduced the checklists to his classes,
as it resulted in eliminating about three days worth of lecture material he
no longer deemed pertinent for students.
- Modify coursework as necessary. Scott Chadwick, Greenlee School of
Journalism and Communication, shared how the Sept. 11 attacks in New York
City and Washington, D.C., resulted in wiping out the last half of the
syllabus for a graduate course he is teaching. Students now are conducting
empirical research pertinent to the events, with an eye on publishing the
results and making a formal presentation to the Greenlee faculty. Were
headed down a new path, Chadwick explained, and the kids have a real
ownership in the class.
- Use group work to increase student participation and collaboration. Some
instructors, like Sue Crull, human development and family studies, assign
group quizzes on Mondays (the deadest day of the week). Questions focus on
critical thinking and problem solving, Crull said, and rely on assigned
Ensuring all students contribute to the group is the challenge for Chalandra
Bryant, human development and family studies. Her groups must come up with a
name for themselves, and need to collaborate during classroom discussions to
answer questions as a group. I want them to come away from my classes
learning life lessons, not just spewing facts, Bryant said.
Neil Nakadate, English, encourages his students each semester to take a
chance. If students are not ready to take risks as learners, then we wont be
very successful teaching them, Nakadate said.
- Make good use of progress checks. Jan Thompson, forestry, uses a variety of
assessment techniques to keep students and herself abreast of their
learning. I want to help them organize their knowledge, Thompson said, and I
can use this information to adjust my instruction. As teachers, we try to
pull them toward where we are, rather than go where they are.
- Offer evaluation opportunities at midterm. Michael Martin, landscape
architecture, requests course evaluations from his students during the
semester. According to Martin, this process allows students an active role
in shaping the presentation or structure of the class. Students are asked to
provide three examples of positive feedback and three of constructive
- Role-play real-life situations. Loren Zachary, aerospace engineering and
engineering mechanics, transforms his students into working groups with
specific design-related assignments. Each group is allotted a 15-minute
session with Zachary, their boss, to convince him of their solution.
- Stress both responsibility and vulnerability. Connie Hargrave,
curriculum and instruction, begins each course with a win one for the Gipper speech, then
provides students with worksheets focusing on personal responsibility and
goal-setting for the course.
Ames, Iowa 50011, (515) 294-4111
Published by: University Relations,
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