(from Faculty focus) How do students think about assignments? A lot never get past the idea that they’re basically unpleasant things faculty make them do. What does interest a lot of students is finding out what the teacher wants in the assignment, not so much what the assignments asks but more seeking insight as to what the teacher “likes.” Discover that and there’s a better chance of a good grade, or so the thinking goes. Unfortunately, very few students look at an assignment and think, now there’s an interesting learning opportunity. And how do faculty think about assignments? With multiple courses and lots of other work besides, with each new assignment developed there’s a tendency to first consider the amount of grading that will come with it. Assignments are what students ride on their way to learning. Our responsibility is to provide good vehicle maintenance and recognition when it’s time for a trade-in.
Creating Engaging Assignments
(from Stanford University - Tomorrow's Professor's Postings) For many years, teachers have focused on the importance of engaging students deeply in their work since we know that effort and motivation are central to learning. Here are three case studies of course assignments that led to significant engagement by students: student choice, high-stakes assignments (e.g., presenting for an external audience), and using drama as a teaching tool. Similar assignments could be incorporated, with appropriate adaptations, in many other contexts.
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