discussion tips

How to Make Introductions in Your Online Classroom

College students today have a whole new realm of get to know you activities to master — those directed specifically at an online classroom. There are many ways to break the ice and make introductions, some more effective than others. Read on for some how to tips to help you make the online classroom experience positive.

How to make introductions

Maybe you professor has offered specific instructions about how you and your fellow college students should get to know one another. But if they haven’t, what are some things you should consider before you make introductions? First, consider the setting. What you Read More…


How To Orchestrate Productive Classroom Discussions

Guest Contributor: Sherri Singer, Department Head for Social & Behavioral Sciences at Alamance Community College The long pause: we’ve all experienced waiting an eternity in our classrooms hoping for just one student to respond to our questions. Articles and advice from tenured faculty flow about  the value of the long pause. If we wait long enough, they will respond. And sometimes they do, with a disappointing answer, leaving you hanging in the middle of a failing classroom discussion.  Or  we sometimes get one student responds who, and responds and responds.  Classroom interaction and discussion is a balancing act that can perplex even Read More…


Elements of the “Best College Class,” According to Students

What are the elements of the “best college class”? Surely, each student might give a different answer to that question, depending on their own preferences, as well as their chosen fields of study. But, more than likely, you could observe some trends in their answers.

Through our recent “Today’s Student” project (conducted with the Work Institute), we set out to learn more about students’ college experiences, exploring how they define their “best” and “worst” classes. Indeed, we did notice some commonalities among their responses. In the white paper “The Not-So-Powerful PowerPoint®: Students Weigh the ‘Best’ Classes against the ‘Worst,'” we share the findings.

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How to Address Three Top Teaching Challenges

If you’ve been teaching for any length of time, you know that every school term has its successes… as well as its challenges.

We recently polled our Engaging Minds audience about their top teaching challenges this semester. Three of their responses rose to the top; below, we’ve shared some tips that can help you overcome these particular challenges and feel more effective and efficient this term.

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Successful Strategies for Creating Online Discussion Prompts

Close your eyes, and picture the most engaging discussion you’ve ever had in a classroom. What characterized that discussion? Was it the participants’ passion and enthusiasm for a particular topic? Was it their energized, but respectful, debate around differing perspectives on a challenging subject? Did they have an open, honest conversation that tied their personal experiences to the broader political, economic, or social issues at hand? Quite possibly, you pictured a combination of all these elements, taking place in one dynamic conversation. Now, consider: how might you transfer those same elements into an online setting? If your course includes an online discussion component, you may asking yourself that very question. What Read More…


How to Have Energizing Online Discussions in Your Course

If you teach an online course, or if your course has an online component or LMS, you probably make extensive use of the discussion board. Online discussions can be a great way for students to connect, collaborate, and share their ideas with their fellow students. Unfortunately, student discussions often become monologues, rather than the lively conversations that you’d hope for them to be. Want to gather some fresh ideas for sparking energizing online discussions? Then watch “Reenergizing Online Discussions.” This presentation, recorded during our recent “Wired and Inspired!: The Intelligent Use of Technology in Higher Education” online workshop, offers specific Read More…


How to Improve Student Engagement in the Classroom

Keeping students actively engaged in the classroom can seem like an uphill battle, so Cengage Learning asked thousands of college students and instructors what most encourages student engagement. Fortunately, the most popular responses consist of simple activities and tips to keep in mind. We asked instructors to tell us the specific activities and strategies that get their students most engaged with class. We also asked students to write and tell us what makes classes most interesting. You may be surprised where students and instructors agree!

College student engagement improves with…

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Discussing Reading Assignments in Class

Think back to your last in-class discussion of the course’s assigned readings. Did students respond readily to your questions and demonstrate familiarity with and interest in the material? Or, did you have to expend a great deal of energy to get the conversational ball rolling? If the latter, you might be looking for some ideas that will spark increased student engagement around the process of discussing reading assignments. In their book  McKeachie’s Teaching Tipsauthors Marilla Svinicki and Wilbert J. McKeachie share several ideas that can help prompt classroom discussion of reading assignments and build engagement around the topics you hope to address through them. Read More…


Ideas for Building In-Class Participation

In a recent poll on the Engaging Minds blog, we asked readers which posed the bigger challenge: getting to know your students, or getting students to participate in class. Of the 98 respondents, 86% stated that getting students to participate proved more challenging. Given this response, we thought we’d investigate some ideas for building in-class participation.

Do you have suggestions to share? Offer them in the comments!

 

Why might students avoid in-class participation?

In McKeachie’s Teaching Tipsauthors Marilla Svinicki and Wilbert J. McKeachie present five potential reasons that students may be reluctant to participate in class discussions:  Read More…


Facilitating Discussions that Inspire Deeper Thinking

Class discussions certainly create a setting that inspires deeper learning and fosters students’ ability to think more critically and strategically. But how can you work to ensure that this actually happens? Step one: encourage students to build and use the skills that help them understand how they can learn from the discussions that take place in your course. In McKeachie’s Teaching Tips, Fourteenth Edition, Marilla Svinicki and Wilbert J. McKeachie present seven skills that students can adopt to get the most from class discussions and, in the process, become more critical thinkers. We’ve summarized their points below. 1. Knowing how and why Read More…