Teaching and Learning Technology 2009

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Using Evidence to Improve Teaching and Learning (with Technology): Asking the Right Questions

Presenter: Dr. Stephen C. Ehrmann -- Director, Flashlight Program, TLT Group

Too many options, too much information, too little time and too much risk: those are just some of the reasons why we take relatively little advantage of new technology to do new things.  Part of the risk is that we often teach with blindfolds more than half-covering our eyes: what are students thinking? What do they do on the course when they're away from the classroom? What advice might they give that would help improve an assignment or classroom activity, the next time the course is taught?

We will explore a few new options for getting inside students' heads, and what questions to ask, in order to improve teaching and learning in courses.  We'll consider surveys, video recording, and polling systems (including what you can do with cell phones – bring yours!)

Then we'll explore the kinds of questions most likely to produce feedback an instructor can use to improve a course, no matter how students answer that question.  Some of those questions would work in almost any course, while others ask about specific teaching/learning activities; for example, suppose that you're not happy with the number of students participating in online discussion; what questions might you ask students in order to figure out how to increase participation?  We'll pay particular attention to inquiries designed uncover ways to help all students in the course, not just the 'best' student or the 'average' student.

The University has access to some tools and resources you can use for this scholarship of teaching and learning, and to share what you've learned with colleagues. We'll look at a few of those. And we'll conclude by discussing whether any changes are needed in the ways the University supports faculty inquiry of this type.


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