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Part Five: Major in Humanities—Build on Creativity Skills

For National Arts and Humanities month, I’ve discussed some of the benefits of a major in the humanities and how to actualize these benefits in our classrooms. Writing, reading, critical thinking and digital literacy are just a few of the myriad of skills a humanities major can offer to students to prepare them for future careers and be to engaged citizens. According to Erik Brynjolfsson, director of MIT’s Initiative on the Digital Economy, in-demand skills in a world of increasing automation may actually be skills best achieved with a humanities education. In an interview with NPR he Read More…


Part Four: Bring Digital Humanities to Your Classroom

Digital humanities—a phrase that’s been floating around academic blogs, conferences and publications for at least the last decade, if not longer. But incorporating digital into our classrooms to benefit our students can be tricky. Technology at times fails to work during key moments of a class—or the new digital platform that promises better learning outcomes just leads to frustration and confusion for instructors and students. However, as many of our study fields date back to before the advent of the printing press, we’re uniquely positioned to show our students the value of technologies while likewise modeling when a Read More…


Part Three: Teach Your Humanities Students to Communicate through Reading and Writing

Among the skills many college graduates are seen to lack when they enter the workforce after graduation, writing proficiency tops the list. As a First-Year writing instructor, teaching critical reading and writing is, of course, my main objective. Yet this instruction shouldn’t end for students after they’ve completed their foundational writing courses. Instructors at all levels, and in all disciplines, should reinforce and build upon this—particularly in the humanities as developing strong writers and thoughtful readers are where we can shine. Here are some quick activities you can incorporate into your courses now to help your students: Build Read More…


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…


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…


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…