Faculty Club / Technology & AI / 11 Online Teaching Tactics for Better Student Engagement

11 Online Teaching Tactics for Better Student Engagement

Course Hero gathered more than 120 college faculty to discuss their experiences with online teaching. These are some highlights from the event.

Course Hero gathered more than 120 college faculty to discuss their experiences with online teaching. These are some highlights from the event.

Picture it: A biology professor and an economics professor comparing efforts to redesign their curricula to teach the effects of COVID-19.

A nutrition professor and a business professor discussing ways to remotely cultivate an engaged faculty senate.

A geography professor and a nursing professor connecting to collaborate on research about student online learning outcomes.

On April 23, Course Hero held its first-ever virtual Faculty Club Assessment Forum, gathering more than 120 educators from across the country to share how they moved their courses online and prepared for final exam season.

What began as an experiment to increase interpersonal connection during what feels like a dangerously impersonal time blossomed into something much more: a rich, interdisciplinary conversation about specific teaching tactics, issues in education, and more.

After more than 30 focused breakout discussions, educators walked away with a wealth of actionable takeaways to support their approach to online assessment now and possibly in the future.

For those who weren’t in attendance, we wanted to share some of the most compelling highlights from the event. To connect with these instructors, we encourage you to click into their profiles to follow them and get notified of their activity.

 1. Leverage micro-assessments to monitor student progress

At the start of class, Kamal Dulai gives students a six-question iRAT (individual readiness assurance test) to test their understanding of course concepts. At the end of the lesson, students work in groups to complete a tRAT (team readiness assurance test) with 10 questions—the same six iRAT questions, plus four questions based on the lecture. Any bonus questions the students answer correctly can replace incorrect answers on their initial iRAT scores.

View Dr. Dulai’s profile for an iRAT example and the syllabus for his course.

2. Expedite feedback with audio recording

Many of us are accustomed to giving feedback directly in person or in writing, but associate professor at Eastern Kentucky University Marcia Pierce has started experimenting with a voiceover app to provide audio recordings of her feedback for students. This approach can save time and help students retain the information, all while maintaining a touch of personal connection. In the podcast era, this strategy must be a welcomed change for many students!

View Dr. Pierce’s profile for an example lab assignment, assessments, course syllabi, and more.

3. Use group managers to simplify collaboration

Communication with students in disparate locations and time zones can be challenging—especially when a class is designed to be collaborative. To disseminate feedback more effectively and expeditiously, Jason Bruck uses a group manager system to collect status updates from—and provide feedback to—one point of contact for each group.

View Dr. Bruck’s profile for examples of his course syllabi, group grading rubrics, assignments, and more.

4. Offer virtual field trips to simulate real-world experiences

Jennifer MacBeth, instructor at Florida Gulf Coast University, teaches a class that, before now, was focused on field trips and service learning.

Rather than restructure everything, she got creative and started offering “virtual field trips” using photos and videos (including a cool virtual walking sustainability audit of an urban environment).

View Professor MacBeth’s profile for example syllabi, class activities, and more.

 5. Scrap the syllabus and study the moment

As Winston Churchill said: “Never let a good crisis go to waste.”

Marieta Velikova, associate professor at Belmont University, recognized the uniqueness of the situation and decided to create a teaching moment that would allow her to engage students and make economics more relevant by connecting chapters to COVID-19.

Her goal was to equip students with an economics toolkit that would cultivate curiosity and help them better understand and navigate the economy, markets, public healthcare, and unemployment, as well as policy responses and different approaches to containing the global pandemic by governments across the world.

6. Turn students into informed citizens

With an uptick of scientific information (and misinformation) now circulating, associate professor at University of Wisconsin La Crosse,Megan Litster and her colleagues have also decided to reframe the rest of their non-majors biology course to help students synthesize the news.

Rather than learning broadly about viruses like they had in the past, students are now learning course concepts in the context of the pandemic, culminating in a final creative project in which students apply their learnings to their respective majors.

View Dr. Litster’s profile for an example of the assessment she gives.

7. Find opportunities outside of tests

We have heard a lot of questions from community members about how to manage assessments in this environment. Samar Abedrabbo, professor at Diablo Valley College, responded to student needs by moving the points she originally allotted to tests to other weekly assessments (including notes they take and critical thinking questions they answer based on the YouTube lectures and lab lessons she creates for them). With this approach, students are not only processing important class content, they are also practicing comprehensive note-taking. Her goal in this emergency environment is to get the students to deepen their understanding of the material rather than stress them with online tests.

8. Make lecture information digestible

To ensure that students are understanding the information presented in video lectures,Melba Horton provides fill-in-the-blank worksheets for students to complete while viewing each lesson.

View Dr. Horton’s profile for an example of her fill-in-the-blank worksheets, course syllabus, assignments, grading rubrics, lecture slides, and more.

9. Compartmentalize common mistakes

Stop us if you’ve heard this one: you are grading assignments and, as the same mistakes arise, you are writing nearly identical comments five, 10, 20 times over.

Matthew Lewis, assistant professor at Brigham Young University, Idaho, has discovered a better way. He created a log of common mistakes that allows him to quickly copy and paste frequent comments to streamline his feedback process.

10. Maintain personal connection with five-minute check-in videos

One topic that was discussed extensively during our Virtual Assessment Forum was the challenge of creating classroom community at a time when students likely need it most.

Samantha Giordano-Mooga, assistant professor at the University of Alabama, Birmingham, has had her students create one-to-five-minute check-in videos that they send to her and other students (with great enthusiasm).

 11. Become the content

To help make content stick with students (and to add an entertaining flair), Jennifer Robison creates videos that contextualize the material using fun and familiar analogies.

For example, if students were Klingons from Star Trek, how could a Romulan disease mutate to affect them?

View Dr. Robison’s profile for examples of her incredibly creative videos, lab assignments, assessments, and more.

Are you passionate about instruction? Do you want to share an approach you have developed?

We are looking for passionate college educators to keynote future digital events. Keynote speakers will walk the audience through a strategy they’ve had success with and share example materials on their Course Hero profiles that educators in the community can access for inspiration.

Click here to submit your name, and a representative from our events team will reach out to you.

If you have any questions or ideas, email educators@coursehero.com.

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