Question Formulation Technique for Deeper Inquiry
Best Practices, Collaboration, Innovative Instruction

Using the Question Formulation Technique to Get Students to Dig Deeper

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We all want our students to ask “good” questions and to dig deeper but we also know that this isn’t a skill they often come by naturally.  When faced with a statement or a problem you may hear,

I don’t even know where to start… 
OK, but now tell me what to do…. 

The Question Formulation Technique, or QFT, can help students get past the “I don’t know” roadblock.

 

WHAT IS QTF?

According to the Right Question Institute, “The Question Formulation Technique (QFT), created by the Right Question Institute, helps all people create, work with, and use their own questions — building skills for lifelong learning, self-advocacy, and democratic action.”

Basically, it’s a questioning technique that removes hesitation and allows your students to dive right in to the questioning process.

The Benefits are many:

  • All students are heard.
  • There truly is no dumb question, all questions are recorded.
  • Encourages students to think of a question then work with the question later to improve it.
  • Encourages deeper thinking and questioning.
  • Gives a structured, guided way for students to participate and learn.

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If you are interested in talking to a faculty member that is using this in their CofC classroom, just let me know.

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THE PROCESS

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INSTRUCTOR:

  1. Create one or more focus statements (NOT questions).  Here’s an example, “The only way to motivate students if through grades.”
  2. Determine time limit for each Round (see below).
  3. Divide into groups of 3-4 people. – Identify one person as your note taker.   
  4. Give the students the rules for producing questions
  5. Ask as many questions as you can.
    • Do not stop to answer, judge, or discuss the questions.
    • Write down every question exactly as it is stated.
    • Change every statement into a question.

STUDENTS:

  1. Round 1: Produce Your Questions
    • Within a specified time (10 min), students in each group start saying questions (following the rules above).
    • Notetaker writes down every question as it’s said (if it’s a statement the notetaker must remind the team to state it as a question.)
    • You can use a notetaker strategy but you can also use Padlet or Google Docs to allow students to type in their own questions.  If you use this method, still have the students say the questions out loud.
  2. Round 2:  Improve Questions
    • Students work with the questions they produced. This step helps students do high level work with their questions and identify how different types of questions elicit
      different types of information and answers.
    • Questions can be open- or closed-ended: Closed-ended questions can be answered
      with yes, no, or with one word. Open-ended questions require an explanation and cannot be answered with yes, no, or with one word.
    • Categorize questions as closed or open-ended: Students find closed-ended questions and mark them with a “C”. Students find open-ended questions and mark them with an “O”.
    • Discuss the value of each type of question:
      • Students identify advantages & disadvantages of closed-ended questions.
      • Students identify advantages & disadvantages of open-ended questions.
      • Change questions from one type to another: Students change one closed-ended question to open-ended. Students change one open-ended question to closed-ended.
  3. Round 3: Prioritize Questions
    • Prioritization instructions should bring students back to teaching objectives and the plan for using student questions. This step helps students think convergently. The instructor should have select the number of questions they’d like the groups to settle on (example, top 5).
    • The students rank their questions, all of their questions, then select their top most important things they need to know.
  4. Round 4: Discuss Next Steps
    • How will questions be used? Next steps should align with priority instructions. For students, this further contextualizes how their questions will be used.
  5. Round 5: Reflection
    • Students should reflect: • What did you learn? • How can you use what you learned?
  •  

 

Steps of the Question Formulation Technique (QFT)

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Lumen5
Assessment, Innovative Instruction, instructional technology, Video

Lumen 5 – Great tool to recommend to your students for their video projects

I love video projects.  I think they are one of the best ways to get students to let loose their creativity and focus on delivering information in a succinct manner.  In addition, creating a video forces the students to plan and to spend more time with the material than writing a paper.  Lastly, communicating via video is a digital literacy skill that all students should have.  My favorite video projects require the students to deliver information in a short amount of time (1-4 min) as most people don’t want to watch a video much longer than that.  These projects can be public service announcements, commercials, video infographics, presentations, etc.

However, I know that many of you aren’t comfortable assigning a project like this because you don’t want to put the students in a position where they have to learn a complicated program to create these.  This is where Lumen5 comes in!

I wish I could remember which faculty member told me about this tool but I want to thank them.  Lumen5 is a semi-free video creation tool that is perfect for video projects or asynchronous presentations.

What’s the Cost?

Let’s get this out of the way first.  From what I can tell, it’s free, as long as you don’t need more than 3 videos a month.  If students are using this for a project then this probably won’t be an issue.
Screenshot of the pricing from the Lumen website

How Does It Work?

It’s so easy.

  1. Create a free login
  2. Click Create
  3. Choose how you want to create your video.  Either Start with a URL, a script, or your own material OR scroll down and use one of the templates
    screenshot of start page
    screenshot of the templates pageOR  Choose via the format you wantscreenshot of the Sizes page OR  Choose the theme you want
    screenshot of the theme page

Next, Start Creating!

Screenshot of the initial screen with the storyboard to the right and the tools to the left
Lumens5 provides free layouts, videos, images and music.  You can also change your layout and theme at any time.

In addition, you can upload your own videos or images and do voiceovers.

When finished, click Publish and your video will download to your computer.

 

I made a quick video from a blog post and couldn’t believe how easy it was!  I just added the blog post url and it did the rest.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8QzZfbZLEpY

 

Check out Lumen5 Today and Share it With Your Students!

 

Be prepared
Best Practices, Distance Ed, Innovative Instruction, Pedagogy

BE PREPARED FOR FALL! IT’S NOT JUST THE SCOUT’S MOTTO, IT SHOULD BE YOURS AS WELL

TLT is excited to share a couple of announcements with you that we hope will serve as resources as you continue to prepare your courses for the fall semester.

RESILIENT TEACHING SITE

As was shared with faculty in June (attached), the Resilient Teaching Task Force defined nine teaching approaches that you should consider for the fall semester. While there are nine definitions, you will find similarities between them. Choosing the one that suits you best will be determined by factors specific to you and your students. We hope this site will help you implement the approach that fits you best and provides resources for you to plan and prepare your courses and communicate with your students.

Please visit the Resilient Teaching site at, https://tlt.cofc.edu/resilient-teaching-and-learning/.

Note: As you will find plastered throughout the site, please have a plan in place in case one or more of your students has to quarantine, and also don’t forget that the last week of the semesters, and final exams, will be fully online.

 

FACULTY DEVELOPMENT OPPORTUNITIES

In addition to the new site, TLT will be offering a plethora of forums and development opportunities, centered around the resilient teaching approaches. These sessions will begin next week, Wednesday, July 29th and run through Friday, August 21st, with a handful of sessions being offered each day. The open forum sessions are meant for you and your colleagues to get together to ask questions and discuss different teaching approaches which we hope will spawn new ideas and inspiration. In addition, many more sessions will be offered to provide you with ideas, strategies, and tips and tricks, as well as supplemental technology tools to help you facilitate your courses. To view the sessions and to register, please visit, http://tlthd.eventbrite.com

blippar
Innovative Instruction

TECH TOOL: Augmenting and Customizing Your Textbooks!

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Customizing your Textbooks with AR!

Textbooks are awesome.  Almost everyone uses them.  But sometimes they don’t cover the material in the same way you are or they aren’t as clear, customized or interactive as we wish they were.  However, adding augmented reality, or AR, can take these static textbooks and give them all the customization and interactivity that you and your students need.

BLIPPBUILDER

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With the free BlippBuilder online, faculty, teachers, and students can create their own augmented reality experiences. It’s as easy as:
  1. Take a picture of a textbook page or other item.
  2. Use BlippBuilder to add interactive elements such as images, video or text.
  3. Publish it.
Any user with the Blippar app can then scan the item and access all of the interactive links.
 

Here are some examples:

  • Add a video lecture to a section of the textbook where students have difficulty understanding a concept.
  • Update an outdated section of a textbook with a more current or relevant example.
  • Create solution videos for difficult problems from the textbook that outlines how to solve the problems correctly.
  • Add explanation videos or audio files to poster sessions.
  • Create read-alongs for children’s books for your young students.
  • Add supplemental material to anything to further explain or enhance it.
Really you are only constrained by your own imagination.  

Check out this page on Blippar in the Classroom

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SEE IT IN ACTION

How to CREATE it

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How to VIEW it

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360ImageScreenshot
Innovative Instruction, instructional technology, Video

Tech Tool: 360º Cameras in Teaching

What is a 360º camera?

front and back view of a 360 cameraIt’s a video/still camera with two lenses that takes images of what is happening all around the camera.

How does a 360º camera work?

Most of these cameras have a fisheye lens on each side of the camera and these lenses can capture 180º in all directions (top, bottom, left, right).  So basically you end up with two 180º photos or videos that are then either stitched together in the camera or in external computer software that normally comes with the camera.  

What can you do with them in teaching?

There are myriad ways to use the products from these cameras in the classroom.  Any instance where begin submerged in a location or an event brings learning is perfect for 360º video.  These images/videos can be created by the instructors or the students.  It allows the students in the class to experience a location or event from in the room, so you can bring in all sorts of experiences.  James King-Thompson says,

By introducing a ‘sense of presence’ to learners, these interactions have the potential to develop greater empathy and deeper understanding. Roman Krznaric, in Habits of Highly Empathic People (2012), suggests the following can be developed as a result:

• Cultivating curiosity about strangers
• Challenging prejudices and discover commonalities
• Gaining direct experience of other people’s lives
• Developing an ambitious imagination

These cameras are perfect for filming cultural dances or events, performances, political rallies, historical locations, re-enactments, overseas travel.  Again, the instructor can create these or you can send it out with your students as part of an assignment.

How can my students take advantage of these 360º images/video?

The bummer is that your students will need some type of 360º viewer such as Google Cardboard or a more expensive viewer.  The good news is that the Library, as well as TLThd, are trying to purchase these viewers so you and your students can view the videos/images in the class.

How do I buy a 360º Camera?

At this point, I can’t really tell you which camera to buy because they vary so much.  I can tell you some things to look into.

  • Timer – you want a delay timer so that you can trigger the video or image and then get out of the way.
  • Be sure it can fit on any tripod.  If you want to take this “on the road” like hiking or biking, be sure your camera can fit on multiple mounts such as a head mount.
  • Resolution: at least 4K video resolution is required to appear HD in quality; images that are at least 15 megapixels.
  • Built in stabilization.

 

Teaching team-based learning in large classrooms. TLThd Faculty Focus
Collaboration, Innovative Instruction, Pedagogy

Using Team-Based Learning in a Large, Fixed Seating Classroom

Do you teach in a large, fixed-seating classroom and think you can’t do group work successfully? Well think again!

Team-based Learning, or TBL, is a teaching strategy that is an “evidence based collaborative learning … strategy designed around units of instruction, known as “modules,” that are taught in a three-step cycle: preparation, in-class readiness assurance testing, and application-focused exercise.” (1)  It shares many of the same structures you see in a flipped classroom, problem-based learning, and active learning but the process is what sets it apart from these other strategies.

Graphic depicting the three step process

The Process:

  1. Pre-class preparation designed to give the students the appropriate background and understanding of the concept
  2. In-class readiness assurance testing as an individual and then in their group. This ensures that the student not only did the pre-class prep but understands it as well. Competing the assessment as a group allows an additional opportunity for misunderstandings and knowledge gaps to be rectified prior to the group exercise
  3. In-class application focused exercise is designed to apply and extend the knowledge from the pre-class prep material. It’s normally case or problem-based and the team must arrive at consensus on the best solution. This then leads to a class discussion to explore the topic between groups.

While this strategy works in many different disciplines, it’s perfect for science, exercise science and public health classes.  The problem is these are usually some of our largest classes and faculty worry that they can’t successfully conduct this type of team work in a large, fixed seating classroom.  The folks at the Faculty Innovation Center at The University of Texas at Austin would disagree.  Watch this video on how they have been successful using TBL in large classrooms

Team-Based Learning from Faculty Innovation Center on Vimeo.

Want to know more about TBL?  Visit the resources below.

1 Team-based Learning Collaborative: http://www.teambasedlearning.org/definition/

2 Team-based learning in large enrollment classes by Jonathan D. Kibble, Christine Bellew, Abdo Asmar, and Lisa Barkley  03 OCT 2016 https://physiology.org/doi/full/10.1152/advan.00095.2016

Faculty Showcase, Innovative Instruction, instructional technology, Productivity

Episode 1 – Weather-proofing the Classroom: A Conversation with Professor Ricard Viñas-De-Puig

During the 2018 Fall Semester, the College of Charleston canceled five days worth of classes on account of hurricanes.  It would be nice to think this semester was a fluke, that experiencing two separate hurricanes in one semester is a once-every-fifty-years situation.  But scientists are telling us that climate change is bringing bigger storms more often.  As teachers, we need to think of how we can design a more resilient course structure, one whose tension, support, and anchorage can withstand the cancellations that university administrators need to make for our physical safety.

Recently, I spoke with Ricard Viñas-De-Puig, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Hispanic Studies.  He said that some of the skills that he learned in the Distance Education Readiness course were helpful for overcoming obstacles created by the weather cancellations.  Keep listening to hear what he had to say.

Team-based Learning: a quick guide to understanding
Assessment, Best Practices, Collaboration, Innovative Instruction, Pedagogy

Team-Based Learning Quick Guide

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What is Team-Based Learning?

“Team-Based Learning is an evidence-based collaborative learning teaching strategy designed around units of instruction, known as “modules,” that are taught in a three-step cycle: preparation, in-class readiness assurance testing, and application-focused exercise. A class typically includes one module.” 1

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Why incorporate Team-based Learning?

TBL covers all types of learning:

  • rote and concept learning tested by the individual assurance testing (iRAT)
  • collaborative learning when discussing and coming to consensus on the team readiness assurance test (gRAT/tRAT)
  • application and creative learning during the team case portion

In addition, it also encourages additional skills necessary to succeed in work/life today, such as:

  • problem-solving
  • teamwork
  • consensus
  • cooperation
  • leadership
  • listening skills
  • collaboration

 

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When should you incorporate Team-based Learning?

TBL is most successful when used on a consistent basis throughout the semester.  This is because the critical component to TBL is the ongoing, consistent team!  CIEL at Vancouver University states, “Groups are collections of individuals. Teams are groups who have developed a shared purpose and sense of collective responsibility. Groups evolve into teams when an instructor creates the proper conditions for effective collaboration.” 2  In order for these teams to gel and be successful they need to meet and work together on a regular basis otherwise, it’s just in class group work.

TBL can be used in any discipline so don’t shy away from the idea because you don’t immediately see how this will work for you.   A little web research will show you many case studies and problems that you can use to teach your concepts.  When choosing a case or problem remember, the teamwork is most effective “when used with assignments where students are asked to converge their diverse thinking in making a single, collective decision, much like a deliberative body.”2

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Creating the Teams

The teams are the most important part of TBL.  Here are a few rules to follow when making the groups:

  1. never use student-selected teams
  2. create diverse teams (balanced intellectual and personality resources)
  3. make the selection process transparent
  4. 5-7 students per team
  5. decide what criteria are important to the groups in your class, as well as detrimental.  Ex. had previous courses in the program.
  6. prioritize your criteria (good and bad)
  7. call out the first criteria and allow the students to self-determine if they meet the criteria or not

Learn more about creating your teams at Team Formation for TBL.

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The Process

Taught in modules (usually one per class) in three-step cycles: preparation, in-class readiness assurance testing, and application focused exercise.  

  • Student Preparation:
    • must be done before the class – watching, reading, completing a worksheet, etc.
    • some give a reading/watching guide of things to look for and vocab to know.
  • In-class Readiness Assessment Test (RAT):

Step 1:  Students complete an individual RAT (5-20 questions) and submit it (this is not on the if-at) a.k.a. iRAT
These questions are based on the reading(s) and shouldn’t be an easy yes/no answer.  They are multiple choice but should require some thought and application.

Step 2: Students get into their teams and take the same RAT together (uses if-at) a.k.a. tRAT or gRAT
All answers must be agreed upon by the entire team so if there is a discrepancy, the students have to try to convince the other students on the team until they come to a consensus.  This is the same test they took earlier as an individual.  

Team reads the question and discusses it.
They then scratch off the answer they agree upon on the If-At scratch-off.
If it is correct they see a star and get full points.
If it is incorrect they have to discuss again and give it another go.
They continue to scratch answers until they receive the correct one.  Their points decrease every time they incorrectly scratch.

Step 3: Teams are given the opportunity to appeal answers they got incorrect.  This is a formal process in writing where they state their Argument then provide Evidence with page numbers from the readings that back their argument.

Step 4: Professor conducts a clarifying lecture of what the students didn’t grasp, based on the RAT scores.

  • Application Exercise:
    • students are given a problem or challenge and they must come to a team consensus to choose the “best” solution.  These problems do not have one right answer.
    • the teams discuss their findings and solution with the class.

The application-based exercises are very case-based and should include the following:

  • Significant: demonstrates a concepts usefulness.
  • Specific choice: based on course concepts.  Ex which procedure is BEST to use and why.
  • Same problem: all teams receive the same problem.
  • Simultaneous report to the class in a discussion.

Scaffolding

  • Instructors can give a worksheet to the teams that teach them to think through a problem by walking them through the process, how to dissect a statement and make an argument.

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Student to Student feedback at midterm and final

This feedback is critical to the success of a long-term team so these evaluations are an important part of the process.  The feedback should be positive and constructive.  Here are some ideas for questions:

  • One thing they appreciate about this team member
  • One thing they request of this team member
  • Distribute points among the members
    • Look at Preparation, Contribution, Gatekeeping, Flexibility
  • Also, include what they appreciate/request about the instructor

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Sample Case Repositories

Public Health

Exercise Science

PEHD

 

COFC ONLY – Does this seem at all interesting?  If so, contact me and I’ll give you the IF-AT scratch-off cards to use in your class.  They include instructions and a test-maker!  This offer is first come, first serve so don’t wait!  Email benignim@cofc.edu using your CofC email to let me know you want them.

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Resources:

Team-Based Learning Collaborative

Team-Based Learning Video

Yale Center for Teaching and Learning: Team-based Learning

What is Team-Based Learning? from the Center for Innovation and Excellence in Learning

 

 

 

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Innovative Instruction, Pedagogy, TLTCon

The Path of Least Resistance Makes Both Men and Memories . . . Duller?

Effortful retrieval—bleh!  The terminology ages more like milk than wine.  Fortunately, it’s a concept with substance and one of the main learning strategies promoted in Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning. Most educators have fallen for gimmicks that claim to make learning easier.  I know I have. The authors of Make It Stick don’t buy it.  Two hundred and fifty pounds will always be difficult to press for most people, and for most people memorizing the essential two hundred and fifty verbs of any foreign language will always take a lot of effort.  The solution?  Effortful retrieval—”ET” from now on.  Recollection that takes a lot of umph.

We are quite familiar with ET’s relative, aka “dipstick tests.”  These are often prevalent in online courses.  Read, test, move on; read, test, move on.  It’s not the worst type of learning.  We could force ourselves to sit through fifty-minute lectures and then take a test once every six weeks. But the problem with dipstick testing is that we are compelling students to load and unload information.  Like the recycle bin. Knowledge retention is rarely a deliberately calculated objective.  We assume students will remember because—why?  The content is important to us, the professors?

The data, however, doesn’t support our assumption, which is an unfortunate predicament given the fact that knowledge retention is one of the basic steps in getting to the higher order thinking skills.  There’s a reason that Bloom’s Taxonomy keeps “Remembering” at level one, and it’s not because level one is least important. The level is foundational.  Foundational concepts are built upon brick by brick so that the edifice—the evidence of our ability to create with the knowledge we retain—changes our horizons.  Languages are especially vulnerable to the insufficiencies of dipstick tests; ET aims at retaining knowledge over an extended time period.

So, what is ET really?   ET inculcates obstacles for the sole purpose of challenging the student to put more effort into the remembering process with strategies like delayed testing, alternative scenarios, and different but appropriate terminology.

Think of a language course, though the leap to other disciplines is minimal.  Students often struggle to remember simple vocabulary words.  Add to this difficulty verb conjugations, singular/plural differences, gendered nouns, and the inflections to boot.  It’s a lot to remember.  If dipstick’s virtue is providing regular testing, ET enhances the regular testing strategies by forcing the student to relearn material multiple times.  A very simple strategy can be implemented with vocabulary quizzes in a secondary language class.  For Chapter 1, there’s an initial quiz on thirty vocabulary words.  When students get to Chapter 2, the instructor gives another vocabulary quiz but this time selects twenty words from Chapter 2 and ten from Chapter 1.  For the Chapter 3 quiz, fifteen words come from Chapter 3, eight from Chapter 2, and seven from Chapter 1.  You get the picture.  Of course, students are informed that they’ll be tested on previous vocabulary chapters, which is the point.  They’ll need to relearn previously studied chapters.

But that’s just one simple application of delayed testing.  Here’s a more creative ET strategy.  I remember when Asher, my older son, tried Boy Scouts for a year.  The camp leader told me that the students would learn all of the knots from memory.  Eventually, they would not only practice knot-tying indoors at camp meetings but also outside in the dark, which is the more likely scenario of when campers’ abilities would really be tested.  What sort of alterations would force the student to remember differently, to retrieve the necessary information within a different context, scenario, location?  That is the core set of questions ET attempts to answer.  “The greater the effort to retrieve learning, provided you succeed,” claims Roediger, “the more that learning is strengthened by retrieval.”  Make It Stick maintains that there’s no easy way to learn, but certainly a better way.

Maybe you can imagine a time before we Googled what we forgot.  Someone asks you to recall the name of an actor from a particular film—say, the lead role in The Shawshank Redemption.  You can remember his face, the way he climbs through the sewers of the prison, his triumphant emergence from the culvert and into freedom, and even Morgan Freeman’s great supporting role as Red.  But you can’t name the leading actor.  So, you go through the letters in the alphabet: A, no; B, huh-uh; C, nein; D, nyet—all the way to R.  Something about saying “R” sounds right, and so you attempt a couple of R-names until “Robbins” emerges from the rubble, and you’re good.  His first name is Tim.  Guess what.  You won’t so easily forget his name next time.

TLT's Summer Reading List
Best Practices, Innovative Instruction, Pedagogy, Teaching Advice

TLT’s Summertime Reading List

Summer is a great time to catch up on reading! When you take a break from your research, why not explore the scholarship of teaching and learning?

Here are my current favorite books related to pedagogy, student engagement, and how the brain works:Cheating Lessons Book Cover

Cheating Lessons by James Lang — a guide to tackling academic dishonesty at its roots. Lang analyzes the features of course design and classroom practice that create cheating opportunities, and empowers instructors to build more effective learning environments. In doing so, instructors are likely to discover numerous added benefits beyond reducing academic dishonesty.

Make it Stick by Peter Brown, Henry Roediger, and Mark McDaniel — Drawing on cognitive psychology, neuroscience, and other fields, Make It Stick offers techniques for becoming more productive learners, and cautions against study habits and teaching methods that are quite common but counterproductive.

The Spark of Learning: Energizing the College Classroom with the Science of Emotion by Sarah Rose Cavanagh — Cavanagh argues that if you want to capture your students’ attention, harness their working memory, bolster their long-term retention, and enhance their motivation, you should consider the emotional impact of your teaching style and course design. She provides a wide range of evidence as well as practical examples of successful classroom activities from a variety of disciplines.

The Spark of Learning Book CoverSmall Teaching: Everyday Lessons from the Science of Learning by James Lang — This book bridges the gap between research and practice by sharing how faculty can take incremental steps towards improving student learning and engagement. Lang provides simple, concrete, classroom-tested strategies that do not require a lot of preparation or class time but can make a big impact.

The New Education: How to Revolutionize the University to Prepare Students for a World in Flux by Cathy Davidson — Davidson argues that our current system of higher education hasn’t changed much since the early 20th century and is not suited to prepare students for our digital world and gig economy.  The book provides case studies of innovators from the Ivy League to community colleges who are striving to change how we educate young people.  Not all the ideas shared are new, but it’s an engaging read.

What are YOU reading this summer?  Please share!