Large Courses

Electronic Whiteboard Alternatives in Large Lecture Halls

by Diana Leung, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry The Large Classroom Challenge Since chemistry is a visual subject, where structures must be drawn out, problems worked through, and equations presented, the use of handwritten notes is critical. During my time in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at The University of Alabama, I have taught

Speed ∝ Quality ∝ Cost – Can Any Ed-Tech Idea Avoid the Iron Triangle?

by Nathan Loewen, Department of Religious Studies Learning might be the wicked problem in higher education. It’s inescapable. So when a headline like “Can Artificial Intelligence Make Grading Fairer and Faster?” is published in a leading ed-tech publication, people notice. The article was about a platform called Gradescope, whose tagline is “Grade Faster. Teach better.”

Scan and Deliver! Personalized Feedback in Large Classes

by Marco Bonizzoni and Diana Leung, Department of Chemistry Organic chemistry is a surprisingly visual discipline. Molecules, the fundamental entities of chemistry, exist as 3D objects whose shapes often profoundly influence their properties, so students must learn the visual language of the discipline, which attempts to convey the nature of these three-dimensional objects through two-dimensional drawings.

This Professor Likes CATs (classroom assessment techniques)

by Nathan Loewen, Department of Religious Studies I am going to write about measuring teaching effectiveness. There is a lot of buzz about metrics in higher education media, but not until the mind-meld app is released for iOS will teachers know what their students are thinking. One of the challenges of teaching a large-enrollment course is to

Students’ Opinions Instruction are In! Now What?

by Nathan Loewen, Department of Religious Studies Sometimes there is a considerable difference between a professor’s evaluation of a course and those of the students. The divergence can work in either direction. Perhaps a “terrible” experience for the professor was “absolutely brilliant” for the students. Let’s be honest, however: the opposite situation is difficult news.

Visual Thinking in Organic Chemistry

Instructor: Marco Bonizzoni Course: Organic Chemistry (CH 231 & 232) Audience: Undergraduates Organic chemistry is the study of the properties and behavior of chemicals containing carbon as the key element. These compounds are both the basis of all life on earth (we are all made of organic compounds) and a large focus of the chemical

Something’s in the Way: Struggling Students in Large Courses

by Nathan Loewen, Department of Religious Studies Since it is almost Thanksgiving, many students will be leaving UA for home, where they will inevitably be asked, “So, how are things going?” Here is a short story about a student who dropped by my office this term: Last week, a distraught student stopped by my office

Lurkers, Surfers, and Free-riders: Is Under-Participation a Problem?

by Nathan Loewen, Department of Religious Studies The group project regularly begets under-participation. No student situation in college teaching better illustrates the free-rider phenomenon. Perhaps Homer Simpson demonstrates the free-rider phenomenon best. Individuals who receive collective benefits without contributing are common in group work. One or more students in a group project can easily slack off while only one student fulfills the

How to Get Away with Murder, or How to Kill Student Participation

by Nathan Loewen, Department of Religious Studies There is a television show on ABC where a professor takes five students under the wing. The teacher is charismatic, unconventional and named Professor Keating. The plot quickly differs from that of the earlier Professor John Keating in Dead Poets Society, except for one thing: both of them get away with murder.

Can Multiple Choice Tests Promote Learning?

In “Multiple Choices,” a post on the blog Practicum: Critical Theory, Religion, and Pedagogy, Russell McCutcheon ponders how multiple choice tests facilitate learning in large introductory courses: But what about the multiple choice tests? Well, like that definition assignment . . . it’s more about how they study for it and how they come to