Efficacy and research

Part Two: Can We Teach our Students How to Teach Themselves Critical Thinking?

Before the start of term this fall, I sat through two days of professional development with colleagues from a variety of disciplines. When the facilitator asked us what we wanted our students to be able to do after leaving our classes, one phrase that came up again and again was critical thinking—we want our students to leave our classes with stronger critical thinking skills than they came in with. The facilitator pushed back, asking us what we meant by that and what it looked like in our classrooms. There was a collective pause in the room. Lots of Read More…


Part One: Why the Humanities Matters in Higher Education

Elizabeth Martin is an Instructional Specialist in the Writing Studies Department at Montclair State University in New Jersey and a staff writer for American Mircoreviews & Interviews. She received her M.F.A. from William Paterson University. Her journalism has appeared in Parsippany Life, Neighbor News and The Suburban Trends. Her creative writing has been published by Neworld Review, Hot Metal Bridge and Menacing Hedge, among others. She’s the recipient of two New Jersey Press Association awards. Currently, she’s at work on a collection of essays. Near the start of every fall semester, I cancel classes for a week to have Read More…


Expand the Way Students Think and Learn for National Arts and Humanities Month

“The study of humanities has allowed me to expand the way I think. To think differently, and to always see other peoples’ lives through their perspectives. To be able to think critically and not be spoon fed information – [and] actually thinking about the information I am absorbing.” –Francisco Rubio Fernandez, a Freshman at Santa Monica College, on the true value of Humanities coursework. As October nears and National Arts and Humanities Month begins, now’s the time to discover the importance of a humanities education, and share the objectives on which Humanities is built upon, including:

    Teach students how to
Read More…


Strategy Two: Emphasize the Relevance Logic for Students

In the second of this two-part series, Lori Watson, Ph.D., professor of philosophy and chair of the Department of Philosophy at University of San Diego, provides insight into “A Concise Introduction to Logic, 13th Edition” by Patrick J. Hurley, co-authored by Watson. As you use this text in your course, utilize Watson’s best practices in your own classroom. Students really enjoy Chapter Three on fallacies. Again, I find an effective teaching method is to get them excited about applying what they’re learning in class to material they come across outside class. An effective assignment here is to ask Read More…


Strategy One: Emphasize the Relevance Logic for Students

In the first of this two-part series, Lori Watson, Ph.D., professor of philosophy and chair of the Department of Philosophy at University of San Diego, provides insight into “A Concise Introduction to Logic, 13th Edition” by Patrick J. Hurley, co-authored by Watson. As you begin using this text in your course, utilize Watson’s best practices in your own classroom.

Arguments are Everywhere!

When teaching Chapter One, I find it really helps to have students look for arguments in the news media or blogs that they frequent—an assignment asking them to locate an argument on a topic they’re interested Read More…


Helping Students Write Chemistry into Their Daily Lives

In most disciplines, the ability to write is necessary in order to send notifications about new findings or research. For undergraduate Chemistry students, the ability to clearly express yourself is needed when authoring a laboratory report, answering a short response exam question, etc. For this reason and because I want my General Chemistry students to see that Chemistry is a part of their daily life—not just stuff in a textbook—I require a writing assignment with two sections of 300 students. The assignment is submitted to Turnitin to discourage plagiarism. I do allow students to see their originality report and Read More…


Real-World Economic Analysis Through Writing

As Economics professors, we often stress the importance of certain types of kinesthetic learning. We tell students that they need to work problems—draw the graphs, do the math, etc.—in order to learn the material. Yet despite being well aware of the importance of learning by doing, we often overlook the value of making our students write. In the honors sections of my Principles classes, I have an assignment in which I ask students to explain a current event to me using economic principles or economics analysis. Their analysis can either explain why recent events occurred or predict what will happen in the future. I resist the urge to place limitations on what topic Read More…


Writing for Student-Turned-Employee Success

I teach a Business Communications course that is housed in the Business College at Ball State University. Although writing is considered vital throughout our curriculum, Business Communications is the core course where we polish students’ business writing skills. This sophomore-level course is designed to prepare students with the writing foundations for their upper-division courses—and for future business careers. A major focus of the course is our Employment Communications unit. The employment project I use includes three parts: An internship: students select one and report on how it relates to their career goals.
A résumé: students write one according to the internship Read More…


How My Students Turn Investigative Writing into a Work of Art

Art history can be intimidating for students new to the discipline of studying artworks for their historical and stylistic context. Each semester, I begin class with handouts that include definitions of art, art history and the methodologies used by art historians including examples of formal, stylistic and contextual, iconographical and critical theory analyses. I introduce the language of art history that includes the basic elements and principles of art. I also provide students with a list of questions as preparation for discussing artworks and for writing a three-page museum paper based on an artwork of their choosing. I ask Read More…


Prepping Students for the Workforce—One Career Project at a Time

In preparing students for the 21st century, we must revisit our curriculum and ask a very important question: “Am I preparing students to compete in a global society, equipping them with the skills requested by prospective employers?” Julie Bort, in her article, 3 Skills College Grads Still Need to Learn to Impress Hiring Managers, posits a survey conducted by compensation software company PayScale. The survey included 64,000 hiring managers and about 14,000 college grads. Interestingly, 44% of the managers pointed out that writing proficiency is a skill in which recent college graduates were deficient. This Read More…