Five Elements that Need to be in Your Syllabus

Here is a bonus blog post: as we get ready to start the new semester, it is a good time to double-check that these five elements are in your syllabus.  These will help ensure students start strong in your course, with a clear understanding of what they will be learning, what will be expected of them, and what they can expect from you, including ways to find other resources for help.

1.  Are your course objectives or outcomes written in clear language that students can understand?  

Would a student reading your objectives (who may have no experience with the terms and ideas from this class) be able to read your objectives and state precisely what they are expected to learn?  This seems obvious, but it is difficult to design a map of how to get from point A to point B as a student when we don't know the location, description, or features (what the performance looks like) of point B.  Ideally the objective also gives some indication of what level of performance on that task will be ex…

Saturday Strategies: Low-Stakes Quizzing

As we finalize our syllabi for the start of the new semester, let’s talk about a quick strategy that can really change how you and your students view the learning experience in a course: consider using a low-stakes quizzing strategy.
Often times we use quizzes to ensure students are reading and understanding the basic content before we discuss it in the classroom or use it in online assignments.Perhaps you have students complete a quiz before attending a F2F course, or perhaps you have one each week for an online course.Quizzes provide very helpful feedback to the instructor—if we write the questions carefully, we can see exactly where students did or did not make the connections or missed important components of a topic.That information in turn allows us to adapt the learning materials, class discussion, or other activities to bridge that misunderstanding or confusion.
Something that I see faculty do less often is to allow students that same quiz to be an opportunity for student meta-c…

Getting to Know You

For this Thursday's open-topic blog, it seems appropriate to talk a little more about myself and my training (more than the brief blogger profile can include).

I've been teaching in higher education for ten years, and full-time at the University of Central Missouri for seven.  I am a tenured Associate Professor of History in the Department of History, Sociology, Anthropology, and Cross-Disciplinary Studies.  I teach undergraduate and graduate courses in the face-to-face, hybrid, and online formats, and on topics that include: U.S. nineteenth-century history, the Civil War and Reconstruction, American military history, and the history of flight.   I have also taught honors seminars and writing seminars for our history program majors.

My Ph.D. is in American history from Rice University, and I have also taken graduate coursework in instructional design as part of the Educational Technology Leadership program at the George Washington University.  I have over one hundred hours of …

Tuesday Tool: Remind

Today let's take a look at the Remind app and the website.  By creating a free account on the website or through the app, you can build custom groups and send targeted announcements or other information directly to your participants.  Let's explore how it works, and then a few ideas for how to utilize it in higher education.

How it Works

You begin by setting up your free account through the website, or visiting your Apple App Store or Google Play Store and downloading the Remind app.  You'll need to provide an email address, and you can choose to link it to your cell phone or to simply use the service with email (more on the cell phone connection in a moment).  Students or participants would register with the site the same way as part of the process of following your class/group (it is free for them too).

Once you sign up, you create a "class" to start building a group.  All you really need to do is create a name for the class, a…


The origins of this blog are twofold: a sense that faculty could use a research librarian for faculty development, someone that can help direct colleagues to recent scholarship and publications, highlight case studies, and share ideas for exploring a new teaching skill or strategy.  The second is to create an online workspace to support a face-to-face faculty working group I facilitate in the Kansas City area.

I plan to post blogs on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.  Tuesday Tools will be blogs that focus on sharing and testing out an ed tech app, website, or tool.  Saturday Strategies will discuss best practices, course design ideas, and project or assignment plans--strategies that can help change the dynamic of your classroom and increase engagement and learning. Thursday posts do not follow a specific theme but still broadly relate to instructional design and learning--they may be a review of a recent book or article, a case study, a post by a guest author, or a discussion of a …