Hints, tips, suggestions, pointers and prompts from faculty for faculty...
Small writings stimulate discussion
I use small writing assignments to stimulate class discussion. Students get a few minutes to think about a question I present (example: "Is it better to punish medical malpractice through criminal prosecution or through civil litigation? Why?") and then have to write their answers on a sheet of paper (using only complete sentences!).
I encourage students not only to summarize their personal opinion, but also to justify it based on the class readings. I collect the studentsą answers to take attendance and to gather information on student weaknesses that should be addressed.
The following class discussion usually benefits from better student involvement and more thoughtful contributions. Also, regular use of this type of assignment provides an incentive for students to do the readings before class.
—Andreas Broscheid, Political Science and Public Administration e-mail
Write with your students
When you have students write informally in class (to focus, to pose questions, to review, to preview – whatever), write with them, and share your writing.
This sounds very simple – and it is – but it allows you to model several things:
Reacting to a lecture or reading
Sometimes when class energy starts to wane, often during the last 15 minutes of class time, I stop what I am doing and ask students to get a piece of paper and quickly write a paragraph in which they respond to the lecture or assigned reading.
I give them about four mintues to do this, then we spend another 10 minutes discussing their reaction paragraphs. This is good way for me to gauge the effectiveness of the lecture, and to generate a healthy discussion about our immediate topic.
I collect the paragraphs and read through them myself. Students like doing this as it gives them a moment to consolidate the issues we are tackling, and empowers them to have 'ownership' over these ideas.
—Leslie Hossfeld, Sociology, Social Work and Criminal Justice e-mail
Taking notes during a speech
This in-class Broadcast Journalism role-playing exercise is serious throughout, but turns out to be quite a bit of fun in the end.
I prepare a brief handout listing a dozen key moments in civil rights history in the United States from 1896. Before class, I select a student and ask her to play the role in class of Coretta Scott King. I give her a copy of the handout.
As class opens, I lead about ten minutes of explanation and discussion of how a reporter takes notes during a speech. I ask students to get out their reporter's notebooks, but I do not pass out the handout.
Working from the handout, the student playing Mrs. King delivers a brief speech on the history of civil rights in the United States. Students consider themselves to be an audience in a large auditorium and cannot ask questions, and Mrs. King does not repeat anything. After the speech, she is not available for clarifications or fills.
I then open a discussion by asking the students to review their handwritten notes and recover one fact each from the speech. This exercise tests their ability to produce substantive writing quickly and then retrieve information from it.
Next, I pose questions:
Writing a proposal to write a paper
A proposal is another way to ease students into written communication for a class.
At mid-semester in my Intro course, I ask students to write a mini-paper – a three-page research report – on an approved topic. The purpose of the paper would be to inform readers on a political, social, cultural, or economic issue, or an historical event, or a process.
Here's what I ask each student to do:
Updated: Sunday, August 20, 2006
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