Friday, January 30, 2015

D2L Tip: Entering the same grade for multiple students

My classes often include a collection of low-stakes assignments each worth a handful of points. At first, I was hesitant to add more “things” to grade, but D2L actually makes it rather easy to enter grades/points quickly when many students receive the same grade.  Here are the steps:

In the Grades tool, click on the arrow next to the grade item and select Grade All from the drop-down menu.

On the Grade Item screen, check the boxes next to the names of the students who will receive the same grade.

Click on the Grade link (circled in blue below), and the Grade Selected window will open; type the grade into the box and click the blue Save button to enter the grade for the selected students.

The grade you just entered will now show up on the main Grade Item page for the selected students.  Don’t forget to click Save on the main Grade Item page to save the grades before moving on!

You will be asked to confirm the changes and then my favorite message, “Saved successfully,” pops up, letting me know that I can cross that item off my To Do list and move on to the next.  

Tip contributed by Laura Middlesworth

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Dr. Sean Ford on Self-Discovery

There is perhaps no more depressing of a phrase in the English language than "learning from your mistakes." Invariably, one only encounters this expression when they are on the ground openly sobbing - due to falling after a failed unicycle attempt - and some well-intentioned, yet horribly unsympathetic person tries to bandage up their gaping wound with the fact that they "learned" when all they really need is some gauze and a double-scoop ice cream cone. Nevertheless, the "mistake" has taught valuable lessons throughout the years and is wildly regarded as the guru of educational practices.  Dr. Sean Ford, Department of English, employs this teacher and shares how he gets his students to discover and learn from their own mistakes:

One thing I started doing is assigning low-risk writings with three components that encourage students to give initial impressions or response to a literary work. They then go back and look at the work more closely, describing and analyzing it, and then they interrogate how their impressions have changed. Some things they’ll have right, many things will be modified significantly, and some things they have to reject as completely off. It is more meaningful that they discover it themselves, with emphasis on the process of discovery, than to merely be told they have missed the mark.

Interviewed by: Jon Pumper

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Faculty Projects – The Ever Ubiquitous Deadline

Professor: Patti See

Department:  Student Success Center: Developmental Education Courses

Name of Group: Successful Teaching Practices: Group Work

For those in the world who shudder, cringe, or tip over the nearest office printer upon hearing the word “deadline,” the rather morbid etymology of this everyday phrase may come as little surprise: originating from the American Civil War, a “dead line” was a literal line that prisoners of war were not allowed to cross, under penalty of death. This bleak association with the phrase carries well into the academic world, where every semester students (and faculty alike) struggle, sweat, and figuratively (or literally) bleed in order to meet the mountains of deadlines piled up on their respective desks.

But the contemporary deadline is not a form of purposeless torture: deadlines can be used to one’s advantage as a constructive form of organization, a way to stay on task. They can also become less intimidating if they are coupled with deadlines along the way: in this manner, an enormous project ceases to become one huge undertaking and instead a series of smaller, more manageable steps. An idea gathered from CETL’s group entitled “Successful Teaching Practices: Group Work,” Patti See, from the Student Success Center, anticipates this addition in her semester long documentary project:

"If I Knew Then What I Know Now: Advice for Next Semester’s GEN 201 Students” is a group final project to create a documentary of students’ experiences as they regain good standing.  They are to work in groups of three to five and include pictures, video, voice narration, music, etc. to create a video.  They also are to write a one page reflection on this project, explaining the group dynamics, members’ roles, what they’d do differently, and what they learned.

This past semester I realized that simply because students wrote down their plans they didn’t necessarily follow through. A number of students said that they didn’t actually START filming until the beginning of finals week (our final was on a Friday). This spring I intend to have two deadlines: one at midterm in which I ask students to turn in a short version of their advice documentary, and one during the final exam in which they turn in the completed one.  This also allows students to map their progress throughout the term, since the main goal of the course is to keep the students on track to regaining good standing. Students in GEN 201 really struggle with deadlines, and, as one of my Fall 2014 students pointed out, if I require them to get something done half way through the term, the final project is not as stressful."

She ends by briefly advocating the CETL group process:

"Though I had done group projects in my classes for years, I was able to tweak this semester-long project with much of the information learned in the CETL group.  At the end of the fall term, I also asked my students after they completed their projects what would have made this process work more smoothly.  They had excellent advice, which also supported what I’d learned in the CETL group."

Write up by Jon Pumper