Individuals never stop learning. Students should leave the classroom with an interest in at least something that was discussed each day, whether it is on a micro or macro scale compared to the concepts and topics being covered. While I can’t make the students do anything (believe me on this point – I’ve taught high school students), I can increase their intrinsic motivation to participate in my courses (e.g., through the use of scaffolded assignments to increase their self-confidence in tackling open-ended problems) and encourage their growth as learners.
I encourage collaboration in my class by creating team-based assignments that combines the technical content of the course with skill development through presentations as well as technical reports. This focus on written, visual, and oral communication skills typically frightens students; it is my intention that through practice with presenting, my students will overcome the “fear of the unknown”, therefore becoming more comfortable with explaining their ideas to people both in and out of a classroom.
The drive for continuous learning includes me as well. As an instructor, I work at my side of the classroom to stay informed about new educational practices, technologies, and advances in my own field of study. I read current education articles in both research and practice to keep myself informed about changes I could incorporate into my classroom to be an effective instructor, such as encouraging student critiques of my own practices.
One example of my use of technology in the classroom is the development of an ePortfolio curriculum that can be scoped for multiple academic levels. ePortfolios (such as the one you are perusing now) incorporate many different types of media (audio, video, pictures, graphics, document files, etc.) as artifacts, necessitating that both my students and I myself learn how to develop and manipulate these resources. These different media types afford multiple avenues for self-expression and self-reflection; both of these help the “reader”, as well as the creator, understand not only the final product, but the process that goes into a well-crafted report, presentation, or college graduate.
My beliefs about grading are very different for undergraduate and graduate courses. Undergraduates still need more structure in terms of the feedback that they receive on their coursework, and graded work can be a highly effective means of giving that feedback. For graduate work, I liken grades to Whose Line Is It Anyways…”where everything’s made up and the points don’t matter” or Chris Hardwick assigning points in @Midnight. It’s not that the points don’t matter, but that the development of graduate students as future academic peers cannot be easily parsed into a rubric or seven-point grading scale.