Lyons, Orchestrating More Effective Classroom Discussions (TOTW #28)

This is a post from the “Tip of the Week” series by Richard Lyons which is no longer available, although it is archived on Internet Archive’s Way Back Machine. Below this is a link to the full original tip at Internet Archive. 

Orchestrating More Effective Classroom Discussions

While many instructors inherently realize the potential value of classroom discussions, they often fail to orchestrate them in a way that students’ minds are effectively engaged in course learning objectives. Just to refresh our approach to this critical tool, classroom discussions potentially enable students to:

  • Apply information delivered through instructor-directed methodologies such as lecture, video presentation, and guest speakers
  • Evaluate the validity of their previously held beliefs
  • Analyze the perspectives of their increasingly diverse classmates
  • Synthesize concepts learning in other environments
  • Evaluate the evidence and logic of others against their own beliefs.
  • Obtain feedback from their professor and peers for their insights.
  • Gain motivation for further study of issues brought into the discussion. Continue reading

Faculty Focus: The Flipped Classroom: Tips for Integrating Moments of Reflection

Faculty Focus Logo

Barbi Honeycutt and Sarah Egan Warren have a post over at the Faculty Focus blog about tips for integrating reflection into the Flipped Classroom.  Starting with the question “How do we create the reflective space in the flipped learning environment?”, they provide three strategies for doing so:

  1. Think, Write, Share. Similar to the popular “Think, Pair, Share” strategy many of us use in our classes, this strategy adds more time for individual work and reflection. Ask students to think about a question or problem first. After a few minutes, give students time to write, map, or draw their ideas. Then allow time for sharing in pairs, small groups, or among the whole class.
  2. Writing Prompts. Begin class with a writing prompt based on the higher levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy. Give students a chunk of time to create a draft, interpret a finding, analyze these two author’s points of view, etc. before class begins. Alternatively, if you assigned the writing prompt for homework, then allow students time in the beginning of class to re-read it and make edits before sharing.
  3. SWOT Analysis. Give each student a piece of paper (or access to a laptop or other technological tool). Ask students to conduct a SWOT analysis based on the some part of the content. A SWOT analysis is a method for identifying and analyzing the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. You could assign students one piece of the analysis if you have limited time.

– See more at: See more at:

Full post here.

Lyons, The High-Tech, High-Touch Paradox (TOTW #27)

This is a post from the “Tip of the Week” series by Richard Lyons which is no longer available, although it is archived on Internet Archive’s Way Back Machine. Below this is a link to the full original tip at Internet Archive. 

The High-Tech, High-Touch Paradox

In recent years, an interesting paradox has taken root in our society. Simply stated, as technology is infused into every aspect of our lives, the hungrier most of us are becoming for richer interpersonal experiences. This paradox is especially evident in higher education, where our entering students are increasingly equipped with greater technology than interpersonal skills, and where increasing amounts of instruction are delivered using technology, i.e. “distance” or “distributed learning.”


Following are some proven ways you might orchestrate an interpersonally richer atmosphere in which your students are more likely to fulfill their full potential:


  • Inside your classroom, regularly listen as much as you speak, not only to sensitize yourself to the deeper needs of students, but also to model a critical behavior for them to emulate.
  • Remember perception is paramount – so it is more important how you are heard than how your words are spoken. Regularly test your words with colleagues outside of class against the “filters” fostered by a person’s gender, race, sexual preference, political philosophy, etc.
  • Speak highly of prominent figures in your field whenever possible, and when you can’t, be judicious and objective in how you choose to criticize.
  • In front of the class, ensure your feedback to students is praiseworthy or objectively constructive. All criticism should be in private, and concluded with encouragement to improve performance. In the long run, no professor ever “won” an argument with a student.
  • Be especially careful about interpreting college or department policies, unless you have thoroughly researched the issue or have first-hand, directly applicable experience. An especially good answer is to say, “let me check with the appropriate person, and have them get back to you via email. Is it OK that I share your email address?”
  • Become sensitive to the special attachment students develop to their professors, which they often hide until the “worst” of times, and maintain professionalism. While you should keep regular “office hours,” take measures to assure that you and the student are not completely isolated.

The full post is available at the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine.

Full Post.

Ditch the Clickers (Echo 360)

Lyons: Bringing Your Course To An Effective Conclusion (TOTW #14)

This is a post from the “Tip of the Week” series by Richard Lyons which is no longer available, although it is archived on Internet Archive’s Way Back Machine. Below this is a link to the full original tip at Internet Archive.

Bringing Your Course To An Effective Conclusion

As the term enters its last few weeks, it is common for some students to demonstrate signs of fatigue and a loss of momentum. Telltale signs might include:

  • Arriving late to class, often in a flustered state;
  • Missing one or more classes when their previous attendance was exemplary;
  • Failing to meet due dates for assignments;
  • Being under-prepared for in-class assignments;
  • Submitting assignments that don’t meet their previous standards, and/or yours;
  • A decline in mental engagement and participation in classroom discussions;
  • A decline in spontaneity and/or sense of humor.

The full post is available at the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine.

Lyons: Using Small Group Learning Effectively (TOTW #9)

This is a post from the “Tip of the Week” series by Richard Lyons which is no longer available, although it is archived on Internet Archive’s Way Back Machine.  

Using Small Group Learning Effectively 

One of more effective student-centered learning methodologies being employed by successful professors today is small group learning. While there are nuances of difference between “cooperative learning,” “collaborative learning,” “peer learning,” and “small group learning,” many treat the terms synonymously. The advantages of small group learning include:

  • The more active engagement of each student’s mind, fostered by interdependence and other group processes.
  • Empowerment of each student to pursue learning perceived as personally relevant, thus engendering personal responsibility.
  • Development of interpersonal skills that lead to increased civility.
  • Development of solutions to problems that integrate more perspectives, and the groundedness that flows from group processing.
  • Provides the professor with the opportunity to spend more time with students having difficulty in mastering course concepts.

In using small group learning, the instructor must:

  • Plan in advance the issues of group size and composition, arrangement of the learning environment, and materials on which activity will focus. Effective learning requires a well-developed case study, carefully-chosen video clip, or other learning material, and clear activity guidelines and evaluation criteria.
  • Monitor group processing closely to ensure understanding of learning goals, clarify issues, and full participation by all group members. While summarizing and orchestrating reflection and analysis, the instructor must be careful not to provide solutions.
  • Lead debriefing activity to foster connection to and increased understanding of learning goals.

Employing small group methods does not remove the professor from the learning process – it merely changes the role from “sage on the stage” to proactive facilitator. After initial adjustment to this student-centered strategy, most professors report an increased appreciation of students’ problem-solving abilities, and increased opportunity to dedicate additional time to students having the greatest difficult understanding and applying course concepts.

McCarthy, “Designing Online Course Assignments for Student Engagement: Strategies and Best Practices”

Andrew T. McCarthy. “Designing Online Course Assignments for Student Engagement: Strategies and Best Practices.”  Currents In Teaching and Learning, vol. 40, no. 2 (Spring 2012), 31-41.

Abstract: Increasingly, faculty members are tasked with designing online courses in their disciplines, which often requires new skills and considerations. This article pro- poses a process for the development of a new course to meet evolving require- ments of curriculum goal mapping, intellectual skills development, and student engagement. While these seem to be diverse considerations, an approach will be proposed that reveals a very realistic integration of these three elements into a cohesive and assessable course format.

The article is available here:

Or, here: designing_online_course_assignments_for_student_engagement-strategies_and_best_practices

The Importance of Active Learning, with Ricky Griffin

Cengage Learning management author Ricky Griffin discusses the importance of making the classroom an active learning environment to promote student engagement and true learning. He notes that it’s important for students to learn through practicing putting concepts into action in addition to reading about concepts.

2013 Course Technology Conference: Engaging Your Students Using Inverted Instruction

course technology logo

Inverted Instruction, Reverse Teaching, and Flipped Classrooms are terms used to describe a powerful form of blended learning that is growing in popularity. Inverted Instruction leverages the power of the Internet to free you up from in-class lectures and lets you spend more time interacting with your students. During this session, which took place at the 2013 Course Technology Conference, Jeff Butterfield discusses how to turn your class upside-down, make it more fun for you to teach, and significantly improve your students’ learning.

Student Engagement: Making the Learning Experience Sticky

The third session from the Engage 2013 conference, presented by Cengage Learning with SXSWedu, is a panel discussion featuring speakers Kenneth C. Green, Christy Price, and Carey Roberts.

Session Description: The intellectual roots of the current conversation about student engagement can be traced to the 1984 Involvement in Learning report of the US Department of Education’s Study on the Conditions of Excellence in Post-secondary Education. The Involvement report challenged faculty and institutions to recognize and to leverage the importance of student “involvement” and motivation in the post-secondary experience. Over the past 26 years, the concept of student involvement has morphed into efforts to foster student engagement: campuses and curricular content providers now strive to develop and provide learning experiences and course materials that are “sticky” — that draw students in and reinforce their motivation to learn. The panel session will highlight initiatives that have successfully fostered student engagement, with particular attention to millennial learners.

About the Presenters:

  • Kenneth C. Green is the founding director of The Campus Computing Project, the largest continuing study of the role of eLearning, and information technology in American higher education.
  • A professor of psychology at Dalton State College, Christy Price has been teaching at the collegiate level for 20 years. She is a nationally recognized authority on innovative teaching techniques to engage millennial learners.
  • Carey M. Roberts is Professor of History at Arkansas Tech University, where he also serves as Coordinator of University Assessment. He works with a wide-range of programs and course delivery systems at his institution and consults on accreditation and assessment matters with colleges and universities across the country.