2019 Year of Reflective Teaching - January 2019

2019 Year of Reflective Teaching - January 2019

By: Kem Saichaie, Ph.D., Associate Director, Learning and Teaching Support

Happy New Year! 

Many people see this time of year as a time to rejuvenate different dimensions of their lives and commit to a host of resolutions. The confluence of a new year and a new academic term is an opportunity to reflect on teaching and consider ways to do things differently in the classroom. However, experience tells us that there are barriers to this process. Think about the following goals: 

    •    Goal 1: I'd like to spend less time grading assignments.

    •    Goal 2: I'd like to motivate students to simply show up for class.

Let's reframe these goals using a strengths-based approach to rejuvenate the thought process. Here are some strategies to support this approach with examples to support each goal.

Goal 1: I’d like to make grading assignments more efficient.

Instructors like to optimize their time and effort, so honing instructional practices to be efficient is an ongoing process. Research suggests that using a rubric to grade student work will improve the efficiency of the process and the quality and consistency of the feedback (Anglin et al., 2006; 2008).

Developing or revisiting a rubric is a good way to start. The AAC&U VALUE rubrics provide a breakdown of key rubric components to attend to during the process of designing or revising the tool. A well-articulated rubric will help streamline grading assignments.

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Rubrics can be integrated into Canvas. The Academic Technology Services team can help you customize the rubric for your course needs.  

Goal 2: I’d like to provide a classroom environment that motivates students to learn.

Motivation is influenced by the type of classroom environment that is set up by the instructor.  For motivation to be at its highest, Ambrose et al. (2010) found that students need to: value the goals of the class (e.g., see the relevance in their lives); have clear expectations (e.g., see the how the course components relate to each other); and have a supportive environment (e.g., find the instructor approachable and experience a sense of belonging).

Instructors can foster a classroom environment that motivates students to learn. Here are a few examples taken from CEE’s Just-In-Time Teaching resources.

Express your enthusiasm for the course and course content.

  • Adopting a personable and engaging classroom manner can help pique student interest in coursework and help students to meet learning objectives (Allen, Witt, & Wheeless, 2006). 

Assess prior knowledge and get a sense of students’ interest in the course subject matter.

  • Consider conducting a diagnostic assessment (e.g., a short quiz or in-class writing exam) at the beginning of the term to gauge your students’ prior knowledge, experience, and interest in the subject. Give your students time to ask questions and/or clarify your expectations. You might begin by clarifying your expectations and discussing how the course was designed for student success, or use the Frequently Asked Questions format to present misconceptions about the material that you will help them dispel. 

Promote a sense of belonging. 

  • Natalia Caporale (Department of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior) will lead a session on the topic of promoting a sense of belonging in STEM Classrooms on February 7th from 10:15-11:30AM. More details and registration.

As you set out on a new year of teaching, what is one goal that you have? By capturing these goals in writing, you begin a process that is more likely to persist beyond the first few days of the year. Let CEE support your reflection with a free reflective journal so that you can capture your insights about your teaching.

If you would like a reflective journal, complete the following form and we will send you one via campus mail.

Request a Journal


Allen, M., Witt, P. L., & Wheeless, L. R. (2006). The role of teacher immediacy as a motivational factor in student learning: Using meta-analysis to test a causal model. Communication Education, 55(1), 21– 31. Retrieved from http://doi.org/10.1080/03634520500343368

Ambrose, S. A., Bridges, M. W., DiPietro, M., Lovett, M. C., Norman, M. K., & Mayer, R. E. (2010). How learning works: Seven research-based principles for smart teaching. San Francisco, CA: Jossey- Bass.

Anglin, K., Anglin, L., Kaliski, J.,& Schumann, P. (2006). Improving the efficiency and effectiveness of grading using a rubric-based electronic grading platform. Global Education Journal, 3, 65–78.

Anglin, L., Anglin, K., Schumann, P. L., & Kaliski, J. A. (2008). Improving the Efficiency and Effectiveness of Grading Through the Use of Computer‐Assisted Grading Rubrics. Decision Sciences Journal of Innovative Education, 6(1), 51-73.


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