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Faculty Tips

Faculty Tips

I would like to add a tip to the Faculty Tips page

When I advise students about which major they might consider, I always give them a self-reflective assignment first.  They are to interview three people who know them well and ask them two questions:
  1. What do I do well?
  2. What do you see as a challenge for me? 

These two simple questions tell volumes to someone who is at the "seeking" stage in their college and life quests.  Before they interview their close associates, it's a good idea for the students to answer the questions about themselves.

Included in each class period is the reminder for extraverts to give the introverts in class a chance to think before they respond quickly (as they inevitably do by nature of being extroverts).   This has been a welcomed strategy by both groups.  Handled correctly, none feel pigeon-holed into a category.

When I think about giving good service to students, one of the first things that come to mind is that I should work diligently to return student work with my feedback (including the grade, if it's a graded assignment) as soon as possible.  Most times, that means returning the work the class period after it's turned in to me.  Of course, to be able to do this I need to look ahead when I prepare the schedules for each of my courses so that I'm not too overloaded at any one point.

I'm convinced that student learning is enhanced when they receive prompt feedback; they are able to make adjustments more effectively and efficiently.  Their mistakes, misconceptions, or weaknesses in critical thinking actually become fodder for deeper learning.  If the feedback lag is too long, the feedback my be meaningless to students and they may have to struggle to "unlearn" some elements or skills that are already beginning to galvanize.  Beyond that, many students seem to view prompt feedback as an indication that I care about their learning.

I find that if I schedule a one-on-one meeting with my graduate students early in the term, I am much better able to serve them and their learning styles.  In those meetings, I ask a few questions to “get things going” like:

Tell me your story… what were the significant events in your life that had a real impact on you and shaped who you are?

How can I best help you learn?  

At the end of the term, what would you like to know and be able to do differently?