Tag Archive: quizzes

Excellence in Teaching


Excellence in teaching requires us to ENGAGE students in the learning process.  It also requires a lifelong pursuit of knowledge, a pursuit that deepens the knowledge we can share, as well as deepening our knowledge about approaches for helping students learn.

There was a time when PowerPoints were engaging because they were “bright and shiny” compared to overheads; however, the phrase “death by PowerPoint” is common in our vernacular these days for a reason. I remember when I was an undergraduate student and “dyed in the wool” lecturing professors would bring in their notes that had yellowed over the years. Back then, I used to wish they would at least put some Liquid Paper around the edges to make the notes look new; this was before computers when a fresh set of notes could be printed with the click of a button. PowerPoints don’t yellow, but if sound effects occur when text appears on the screen, that’s a hint of yellowing. If slides are still being read to students in class, that may be a technique that is yellowing if overused.

When I taught a graduate voice disorders class last fall, I experimented with a flipped classroom model. Students read assignments and slides before class. Clinical cases were presented in class and in the voice lab and therapy techniques were practiced. The students helped me find my balance by requesting I review highlights from slides they had access to on a course management system, Moodle in this case. After 25 years of teaching, this felt like one of the best classes I have taught. Students were engaged more deeply with the material and feedback was positive.

Since teaching that class, I’ve been reading a book loaned to me by the Chairperson of Expeditionary Studies entitled, Make It Stick by Brown, Roediger, and McDaniel (2014) that details better ways to help students retain material over longer periods of time. There are approaches to learning I would change the next time I teach based on information in this book. For example, I would place exercises on Moodle that required more retrieval of course content and I would increase quizzes and formative assessments in class. A few key points from the authors include:

“Practice at retrieving new knowledge or skills from memory is a potent tool for learning and durable retention”

“Effortful retrieval makes for stronger learning and retention.”

“After an initial test, delaying subsequent retrieval practice is more potent for reinforcing retention than immediate practice, because delayed retrieval requires more effort.”

“Repeated retrieval not only makes memories more durable but produces knowledge that can be retrieved more readily, in more varied settings, and applied to a wider variety of problems.”

Life-long learning by instructors and a willingness to try new approaches to engage students while teaching are crucial to achieving our highest shared value of Excellence in Teaching. It’s no coincidence that someone from Expeditionary Studies loaned me a book on learning so I could explore new territory for supporting students’ success. I am grateful to be in a community with colleagues who embrace this ongoing work.

Ask a few colleagues to share their most engaging teaching techniques with you this week. I suspect it will be an enlightening conversation.

Bonus: “Trying to come up with an answer rather than having it presented to you, or trying to solve a problem before being shown the solution, leads to better learning and longer retention of the correct answer or solution, even when your attempted response is wrong, so long as corrective feedback is provided” (Brown, Roediger, and McDaniel, p. 101)

EHHS Shared Values Highlighted
• Excellence in Teaching
• Lifelong learning



Brown, P., Roediger, H., & McDaniel (2014). Make it stick. Cambridge, MA: The Belkbap Press of the Harvard University Press.

Image (n.d.) Retrieved on February 12, 2017 from: http://www.newspakistan.tv/high-fructose-diet-harms-brain-genes-study/

The Cost of Class Time

Lecture Cost

Have you ever thought about per hour rates students are paying to sit in your classes?  To compute this for a typical undergraduate student, you have to take 45 contact hours for a three-credit course x 5 classes per semester = 225 hours x 2 semesters = 450 total hours divided into the tuition rate; graduate would be 360 hours based on 12 credits per semester.  Using this formula, cost per hour of class time based on current tuition rates would be:

SUNY Plattsburgh In-state Out-of-state
Undergraduate $14.38 $36.26
Graduate $30.19 $61.69

Of course, the cost formula is not really this simple, but it makes a point about the monetary value of instruction time for students; payment for exceptional advisement and mentoring during office hours also can be considered.  For most classes, hundreds of dollars are on the table, so to speak, when a professor walks into the room.  Do students realize how much money is wasted when they skip a class?  Do professors think about how much money is being paid for a class if it is cancelled?  What if full payment of a professor’s salary was determined by ratings of teaching excellence?

From our Shared Values:

Excellence in Teaching

  • Clear expectations
  • Model passion and professionalism
  • Timely feedback
  • Effective assessment tools
  • Engage students
  • Recognize and respond to students’ needs

We strive to uphold our shared value of Excellence in Teaching, as stated above, with passion.  Bringing deep value to teaching has been an ongoing quest for me.  This is motivated in part by the responsibility students in the School of Education, Health, and Human Services will have for making a positive difference in the lives of those they will serve.  With this in mind, I share something I read last week entitled, Five Types of Quizzes That Deepen Engagement with Course Content, by Dr. Maryellen Weimer, that can bring additional value to the classroom.  She presents five approaches:

  • Mix up the structure
  • Collaborative quizzing
  • Quizzing with resources
  • Quizzing after questioning
  • Online quizzes completed before class

Take a few minutes to read about these techniques (click here) and try one you have not used before.  Once you do, let me know about the outcome.  There are many ways we can bring value to the classroom.  Let’s make sure the value students receive far exceeds the “dollars placed on the table” at the beginning of each class because not only are we touching their lives, we are indirectly touching the lives they will touch in the future.

Bonus: “The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically.  Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.”  Martin Luther King, Jr.

Image (February 23, 2015).  Retrieved April 3, 2016 from: http://pbrnews.com/recommendations-for-raising-tuition-effectively/

Weimer, M. (2016, March, 30) Five Types of Quizzes That Deepen Engagement with Course Content.  [Web Log Post].  Retrieved from https://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/teaching-professor-blog/five-types-of-quizzes-deepen-engagement-course-content/

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