Kansas State University


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EDCI 943: Observation #1 – Spring 2018

Principles of College Teaching -EDCI 943

Observation #1 – Spring 2018

Here you and your partner can post your interview questions and the observed instructor’s responses to these questions. Please refrain from listing the instructor’s name in your post. We will discuss your observation and interview experiences during class.

6 thoughts on “EDCI 943: Observation #1 – Spring 2018
  1. General questions:
    1. How long have you been teaching the observed course?
    The instructor was teaching this specific course for about 20 years and 18 years at K-STATE.
    2. Are there any pre-requisite skills for this course?
    The course was required for some math skills and students need to familiar with some finance terms. There are online sources support the students.
    3. How many students are there in this course? How many International students?
    Usually 80-130 students. Most of them are white students and international students are less than 10%.
    Questions about “Diversity”
    1. How do you understand “diversity” in your course/classroom?
    There are different types of diversity, for this financial class, one type of diversity is the method diversity (use different teaching methods), another is age diversity (students’ background knowledge and experience may have a big difference in understanding the context).
    2. How do you embrace the diversity in your classroom?
    In this class, the students’ backgrounds are similar: most of them come from KS, 20-22 years old, white, etc.
    Questions about “Language concern” & “Learning Disability”
    1. How do you make some changes or have some additional materials to help international students/learning disability students?
    [For International Students]
    Students have already had foundations of Finance to support them understand the basic content in this class. Thus, most international students don’t have trouble in following the lectures or instruction. Also, students have some handouts to help them better understanding the course which could help all students to make self-evaluation about the course content.
    [For learning disability]
    Math skills are the most involved ability in this Finance course. As the professor said, some students may have problems in math. In order to help them overcome this, they provide the online resource like math tool to help those students who are week in math
    2. What strategies or tips you use when you find your students are mostly tired that day? (Like in the exam weeks)
    Usually, the professor will instruct the main content at the beginning the semester or after exams. In this way, students could have better attention to know the key content. Also, for those days (the students are mostly tired), the professor said he will consider the coverage of content. He will put the most important and useful information in the first 15 minutes of the class. In that situation, students are well-prepared to learn new knowledge even though they are tired in those days.
    Questions about “Engagement”
    1. How do you help students engage during the class and what ways you will do to help?
    The instructor will ask students questions during the class to help students keep the focus on the class
    2. How do you assess students if they were fully engaged during the class?
    The instructor will assess by asking students questions and check their response to the questions and problems during the class.
    3. If students lose focus during class, what ways you think is the most proper way (stop teaching, speak louder, say the names) to help them back their attention to class?
    The instructor will ask the certain students questions to help them back to the class. Also, the instructor mentioned that his first 15 min of the class always covered important knowledge/things to the students.

  2. Observation #1 – Marilea Blissett – Sarif Patwary

    • The instructor arrived about ten (10) minutes prior to the start of class. He was observed to verbally begin interacting with clients in a social way right up to the start time of the class.
    • The instructor began the class on time. There were twenty-three (23) students in attendance along with one (1) TA.
    • It was interesting to hear from the students this class had no required textbook. Apparently, all readings are provided by the instructor as needed.
    • The instructor opened with general comments and a pop quiz.
    • Specific to the quiz, the instructor – as often as possible – went to each student to get the quiz from them, called many by name, and stated, “Thank you” as well.
    • The instructor used a power point (PP) slide show throughout the lecture. Each slide was noted to have the same look, same color, same layout, and to be fairly simple in nature (title of slide with bullet points underneath). Underlining was noted to be used throughout the PP as a way to stress or create a focus. There was one (1) graph in the PP explaining study results in a visual way.
    • Throughout the class, the instructor spoke loud enough for all to hear no matter position within the seating arrangement. Additionally, the instructor moved consistently at the front of the room from side to side. He also would make his way routinely over to the podium in order to advance the PP.
    • He was noted to write, on two (2) different occasions, vocabulary words on the dry erase board in order to ensure clear communication regarding terminology not yet reviewed. Side note which was interesting, the instructor admitted openly they had not previously reviewed these terms in the semester. In addition to the visual word written on the board, he repeated the definition three (3) times on both occasions. It was also interesting to note, later in the lecture, he would refer back to these terms.
    • He was noted to give pauses in his lecturing in order for students to write notes.
    • Through questioning and throughout the lecture at certain moments, the instructor gave opportunities to challenge current thinking patterns regarding the topic of the class. This was often evidenced by expanding learning through questioning post an example or case study presented in support of a targeted concept.
    • A couple of different times, the instructor was noted to offer resources should a student choose to research a concept, study, etc. further.
    • He was also noted to give examples throughout class, and each time would bring the example back to the topic for a “take away.”
    • There was one (1) student that left during class even walking at the front of the class where the instructor was lecturing from, and the instructor was not fazed nor did the pattern or pace of his lecture change.
    • The instructor did reference his teaching philosophy (TP) specifically during class. This was neat to hear. It was in reference to a clarification. “I expect you to know the names [of people] I present but not the references.”
    • From the moment the instructor walked into the classroom, he had a very normal, interactive, relational experience with the entire class. He was noted to use himself in examples, along with the students, to explain or think through concepts studied during the lecture. He even used humor as exampled by his statement (acting from the student’s thought perspective), “He gave us a test on Monday, a pop quiz on Wednesday, so screw him.”
    • From our class learning, it was interesting to note two (2) specific things.
    o First, only 2 students took notes on computers. The other 21 students in attendance took handwritten notes (interesting in view of our learning thus far regarding brain activity during learning).
    o Second, the class scenario used (where even the instructor included himself) provided an experiential opportunity for the students (interesting in view of our learning regarding deeper learning levels when information is processed in multiple ways).
    • Prior to the dismissal of class, the instructor announced what would be occurring/reviewed in class on Friday.
    • The brief interview results:
    o How long have you taught this class? Since 2005
    o How has the class plan/syllabus stayed same/changed? Originally, the instructor started with six (6) topics to be reviewed. Currently, he reviews just three (3) and has adopted a “deeper versus broader” concept.
    o Has your teaching philosophy changed? It has become very focused on two (2) major pillars. First, the students have a choice to learn (engage in opportunities provided). Second, all students start off with zero (0) points and have opportunities to accumulate points throughout the semester. Within these pillars, the students have natural benefits/consequences to choices they make. He stated, “I have to be excited and they’ll come along for the ride.”
    o What are your SLOs? No attendance policy. Lots of assignments/rigorous work. Accountability through the little things (like him calling them by name). Increasing critical thinking skills. Overall goal – better respect for the field/topics at hand.
    o How do you accomplish those? Construct lectures with “take-aways” and priming students for the day’s learning
    o How do you assess them? Pop quizzes (application/knowledge) and missions (do)
    o How do you get students engaged? On the very first day of each class the instructor teaches, he has all the students stand up and do a “first day affirmation.” This day he has them repeat statements including, but not limited to, “I am in charge of my own learning” and “I am capable of learning about ____.” On the second day of each class, he repeats something similar calling it the “I choose to…” day. This day, he has them stand and repeat statement such as, “I am choosing to participate in this class,” and “I will choose how much effort I put into my learning and education.”
    o Do you have any advice for future instructors? Expose yourself to as many different teaching styles as possible and pick and choose what works for you. Be you versus trying to be like some other instructor. Have enough confidence to “do you and be genuine.” Each semester is a fresh start; avoid overhauling completely, just tweak.

  3. Notes from Interview that Hilary, Bornell, and Catherine participated in:
    – How has your teaching philosophy changed through the years?
    ○ Been teaching since ’93; started teaching Bible as lit in .09
    ○ ’93-’96
    § Was dismayed with student writing quality – both teacher and student were frustrated
    § Thought about what he wanted and taught to that step by step during his courses
    § Scaffolded their learning of the writing process
    ○ ’99-’03/04
    § Struggle with teach non-majors in lit classes
    § Realized had to ‘bring it’ each and every day with a well-developed class plan that was substantial and would get students involved
    § Structured classes to get students to participate
    ○ ’08
    § Started taking on classes that were difficult
    – How do you prepare?
    ○ he over prepares
    ○ typically divides the class into 3 segments and tries to make the middle one more engaging and interactive since that is when it is hardest to get and hold the attention of undergraduate students
    ○ he mixes up the strategies he uses to get their attention so that they do not expect the same thing and can avoid getting into a rut

    – How do you choose the assignments you give?
    ○ he thinks of the texts taught in the course and what the best way is to teach them – “texts tell me how to teach”
    ○ he also thinks about if there is anything new he wants to try
    ○ he also thinks about what has and has not worked in the past and how to improve those assignments, if they need it

    – How do you deal with difficult students?
    ○ deliberately structure the class so that those who would dominate the discussion are unable to do so
    ○ assert command of the class in calm, quiet way such that students will not challenge you (e.g., standing straight, dressing professionally, etc.)
    ○ in extreme cases, he pulls people into his office to meet one-on-one to explain what he wants and why in a kind and clear way

    – How do you avoid grade groveling?
    ○ be transparent in grading policy from the beginning
    ○ use rubrics
    allow students to revise their papers

  4. Interview questions for Dr. Rhodes
    1.How long have you been teaching the observed course?
    5 years (every semester). Lecture is 5 days a week. In fall, add in Physiological Adaptations 3 days a week.
    2.How has the course plan (e.g., lesson plans, activities, syllabus etc.,) changed/remained the same since you began teaching the course?
    Changed: Went from solely Power point, to slides that are drawn out while she lectures. She also received a grant to write an e-text and dropped the large expensive textbook.
    Same: The lab stayed the same, because lab teachers weren’t open to change, so lecture and lab were fractured. Dr. Rhodes has found that students aren’t oppositional to change, but colleagues, faculty and staff hate change.
    3.What are the student learning outcomes for the course? How do you accomplish these outcomes during class? How do you assess these outcomes? She doesn’t like students learning outcomes, and doesn’t think they’re beneficial. She thinks right now, it’s just a trend. In the Biology dept. she has been on 10 search committees and the have never asked for one.
    4.How do you get students engaged/interested in the class?
    She’s doing the same exact thing, but students act differently every semester. Drawing is her best way. She has good attendance, because student’s need to get the drawing from lecture, because she won’t post it.
    5.Any advice/best practices for future instructors?
    Develop thick skin, don’t take things personally. You need to teach in a way that works for you!
    6. What are your thoughts on TEVALs? Are they helpful? How to handle a bad review?
    Tevals are not beneficial, because of the wide range of class size and contents, the questions do not apply to all classes. A lot of students aren’t mature enough to make legitimate comments. For example, if they are angry about the class, some make comments about personal appearance. Also, there are no rewards for good Tevals or penalties for bad ones, so they seem to be futile.

  5. Group members: Audrey Opoku-Acheampong & Abdullah Alrashed

    Interview responses:
    1. How long have you been teaching the observed course?

    Since 2004; he used to be at University of Arkansas. He’s the Director of Undergrad Studies and teaches approximately 225 students in this course.

    2. How has the course changed since you began teaching it?

    Biggest change was in 2008 when a few things were incorporated into the course. Apart from that, the course content has been pretty much the same.

    3. How do you get students engaged/interested in the class?

    Each week, he randomly selects 12 students through random.org, to interact with during class for 3 classes in a row. He refers to them as “Big 12”; he first poses questions to this group before asking the rest of the class. He also conducts surveys at the end of each week to get feedback/suggestions on how to improve the course.

    4. How do you assess students’ learning?

    Conducts 3 midterms (each makes up 16% of final grade) and 1 final comprehensive exam (accounts for 25% of final grade). Gives bonus questions at the end of class for students to solve it in groups. There are 6 online quizzes and 6 unannounced (impromptu) quizzes that constitute 25% of final grade. He also conducts surveys at the end of each week to get feedback/suggestions on how to improve the course.

    5. How do you help students who are having difficulties in understanding the course?

    He works with them to resolve the problem, using a problem-solving approach. He tries to be very approachable. For example, before the beginning of the course, he gives students an opportunity to meet with him for about 6 minutes. He gives extra credit for that. He has student-assisting tutors in his class to also help students in difficulty. He allows some students to keep their exams scripts after exam so that they can re-take it before he posts grades. This helps them to improve upon themselves. He also emphasizes key information (i.e. information they are expected to know in this course) during class.

    6. Any advice/best practices for future instructors?

    Try something new to take you out of your comfort zone. For him, he attends Teaching Conferences regularly and comes to implement new ideas in his class (e.g. Econ selfies). Surround yourself with people and do not get stuck in your routine!

  6. Observation #1
    *Wrote class objectives on board and referenced them during class.
    *Did not use PowerPoint, wrote all notes on wipe off board. Effective use of board notes to organize lecture.
    *Used many real-life examples during lecture.
    *Students were engaged during the class lecture. Randomly called on students and had them work with a partner to complete an in-class handout.

    Interview questions:

    How long have you been a college professor? 5 years

    What is your teaching philosophy? To help students communicate, problem solve and work in teams.

    What is your class structure like? Attendance and class participation are required. To sample attendance, as well as assess the progress of the class, class activities are given at random during class periods. Online readiness assessment tests (RATs) will be assigned on Tuesdays and must be complete by the beginning of class on Thursday to receive credit. The RAT is a part of each homework assignment.

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