20 Minute Mentor Videos

For each of the topics below, you’ll find a recorded program, 3-8 pages of supplemental materials, a copy of the PowerPoint presentation, and a complete transcript.  The videos and written materials are on StormFront, so you may be asked to enter your username and password.

Course Design, Syllabi, and the First Day of Class

How Can I Clarify Fuzzy Learning Goals?
Linda Suskie discusses a variety of ways to clarify learning goals that may be vague or unclear. In this 20 minute program, you will learn the impact of fuzzy learning goals on students’ ability to learn; how to clarify goals that are vague or unclear; and how to use rubrics, describe successful behaviors or ask “Why?” to help clarifying fuzzy learning goals.

Learner-Centered Teaching — Where Should I Start?
Maryellen Weimer shares three strategies that demonstrate how learner-centered approaches can benefit teachers and students. During this 20 minute program, you will learn concrete activities for implementing learner-centered teaching; low-risk activities that provide you with a starting point in adopting the learner-centered teaching approach; and activities for students who tend to be more dependent than independent as learners.

How Do I Discuss Academic Integrity During the First Class?
Gary Pavela, J.D., of the University of Maryland, explores the recommended option of prevention for dealing with the thorny problem of academic dishonesty and provides targeted solutions to use as each semester begins. At the conclusion of this professional development program, you will understand why reusing your old exams is a big mistake, have effective strategies for discouraging cheating on assignments, know the 20-60-20 Theory of cheating, and appreciate the benefits of classroom honor codes.

How Can I Capture Students’ Interest in the First 5 Minutes?
Teaching and learning depend on building and sustaining student interest and strong course openings get it all started. The key is making sure the first thing you say in class is exciting. Alice Cassidy, Ph.D. calls this an “enthusiasm statement,” and she’ll show you how to generate your own by describing how you first got drawn into the course’s subject matter, introducing students to the hottest controversies in your field, helping students explore cutting edge ideas of leading scholars, and telling students about the most important things they will learn in your class.

Should I Encourage Experiential Learning During Class? How?
In this concise and comprehensive video seminar, presenter Barbara Jacoby, Ph.D., faculty associate for leadership and community service learning at the University of Maryland, reviews the definition of experiential learning, the benefits of experiential education in the classroom, and guidelines for critical reflection. You’ll discover classroom-ready active learning techniques such as problem-based learning, role playing, collaborative learning discovery learning, artistic creation, and collective inquiry.

Is Your Syllabus Sending the Wrong Message?
Find out how you can use your syllabus to create interest and inspire learning in your courses in from Maryellen Weimer, Ph.D., award-winning educator and editor of The Teaching Professor newsletter. After completing this program, you’ll be able to articulate a proactive, student-focused role for classroom policies in the syllabus, identify three key concerns about the function of classroom policies in your syllabus describe alternative approaches to classroom policy design and incorporate effective classroom policy design in your next syllabus.

Feedback and Grading

How Can I Use Voice Feedback to Improve Student Learning?
Research shows that students value and are far more likely to incorporate voice feedback in completing their assignments than written feedback. What’s more, research indicates that students learn more effectively and retain more of what they learn through voice feedback. In addition, teachers both save time and significantly improve student outcomes by using voice feedback. In this Magna 20 Minute Mentor, John Orlando, Ph.D., explains the benefits of using voice feedback and walks you through the process of how to incorporate this approach into your teaching.

How Should I Respond to Wrong (or Not Very Good) Student Answers?
Maryellen Weimer introduces 13 possible strategies and responses that faculty members can use when a student has provided an answer that is wrong or not very good. By participating in this program, you will be challenged to think about exchanges that you have had with your students and how they responded, and then about other approaches that you could have used in these situations to obtain better results; introduced to 13 specific strategies to help encourage interaction with your students; and able to identify strategies that you are currently using and then to consider additional strategies to help expand your repertoire.

What Can I Learn From Student Ratings?
Ike Shibley will show you how to read student ratings so you can use students’ comments to help you, or another teacher, improve and grow. As a participant, you will learn how to understand how to prepare yourself for student ratings, reflecting on what you thought went well and where improvements could be made; create a list of areas in which you performed well and a list of areas where you can improve; and take advantage of existing campus resources to improve your teaching skills.

What Are My Rubric Results Telling Me?
Linda Suskie, an internationally recognized expert on assessment, walks you through the key essentials of interpreting and summarizing rubric results so you can better understand how to use this important tool to improve your teaching. At the conclusion of this program, you will be able to: summarize rubric results into a meaningful chart, present results in a short and simple way, and share the story that the results are telling.

How Can I Use Frequent Student Feedback to Improve My Courses?
Mary Clement, Ed.D., shares the five times in the semester when getting student feedback is valuable and provides practical ways to obtain that information. During this information-packed session, you’ll learn how to: select optimal times to solicit student feedback, develop easy-to-use instruments for student feedback, ascertain the quality of student feedback, use student feedback to generate collegial discussions about teaching, and make course improvements based on student feedback.

What Is the Best Way to Grade Participation?
While emphasizing there is no single way to assess student participation, presenter Maryellen Weimer, Ph.D., delivers a concise and comprehensive overview of what not to do, activities worth doing, how to do them, and how to evaluate your own process. After completing this program, you’ll be able to describe and avoid common pitfalls associated with grading student participation, identify positive and negative criteria you will use to evaluate student participation, develop strategies for implementing your assessment plan, use appropriate techniques to keep all students involved with and aware of your participation assessment plan, and develop and implement feedback strategies to help students improve their participation.

How Can I Make My Exams More About Learning. Less about Grades?
Making exams better suit your learning goals requires student participation at every step of the process. Maryellen Weimer, Ph.D., widely published author, scholar, editor of The Teaching Professor, and award-winning educator, shares real-world, tested guidelines for integrating student input, including having students—as individuals, groups, and a class—think about what will be on an exam, assigning preparation of review materials as a group project for students, using development of test questions as a student assignment, and making students responsible for correcting exams.

Service Learning

Can Service-Learning Work in My Discipline?
In this video, you’ll learn how to think creatively about service-learning, and how you can make it a part of your students’ educational experience. Led by Barbara Jacoby, Ph.D., Faculty Associate for Leadership and Community Service-Learning, University of Maryland, College Park., we show you what service-learning can add to your courses and provide concrete implementation strategies.’

How Do I Get Started with Service-Learning?
If you’re looking for guidance in integrating service-learning into a new course or an existing one, you’ll find it in this video. At the end of this video, you’ll know the benefits of service-learning, how you can develop a service-learning course syllabus, how to combine the service experience with academic content, and how to manage the operational details. You learn from by Barbara Jacoby, Ph.D., Faculty Associate for Leadership and Community Service-Learning, University of Maryland, College Park.

Student Engagement and Student Learning

How Can I Promote Deep, Lasting Student Learning?
Linda Suskie shares research-supported strategies that have proven effective in promoting deep, lasting student learning. During this 20 minute program, you will learn 17 research-supported strategies for maximizing the effectiveness of student learning; real-life examples of how courses can be designed to incorporate these proven strategies; and how to identify learning strategies or areas that you can improve on in your teaching.

How Can I Promote Deep Learning Through Critical Reflection?
Dr. Barbara Jacoby explains why critical reflection is so important and how one can incorporate exercises and activities in your syllabi to promote it. She also will give ideas on assessing and grading students on their critical reflection. In her words, “From time to time, every faculty member looks out across a classroom or lecture hall and wonders: “Is any of this sinking in?” We all know that mere passive absorption of information is a poor way of learning. Students should be receiving information, reflecting on it, questioning it, testing it, applying it … really understanding it. Learning deeply, in other words.” Watch this 20 Minute Mentor video and learn some of her techniques!

How Do I Get More Students to Participate in Class?
Although getting more students to participate is challenging, the good news is that it can be done, and it doesn’t have to involve such tactics as “cold calling” on students or resorting to a points system. In this program, Maryellen Weimer describes 18 strategies that work. During this 20 minute program, you will learn how to better encourage students who rarely participate to speak more often; provide other participation opportunities, such as brief written exercises or small group discussion, to help generate contributions; move beyond seeing reluctant participators as a problem; limit the participation of students who speak too often; and find something positive to say about a first-time contribution.

How Do I Get Students to Read Their Assignments Before Class?
Maryellen Weimer describes several strategies that you can use to help students learn the value of reading. She demonstrates what to say and do in your classroom to increase the level of student preparation before class. During this 20 minute program, you will learn how to motivate students constructively to come to class prepared; create and adopt consequences for students who come to class unprepared; convey to students the value of having read the assigned text; and communicate to students that they are responsible for reading the assigned material.

How Can I Use Informal Writing as Part of a Low-stakes Grading Strategy?
Informal writing assignments can be part of your strategy of frequent, low-stakes (FLS) grading. This approach incorporates many informal, low-pressure writing assignments that keep students engaged in the course materials and continually improving. In this Magna 20 Minute Mentor program, find out how informal writing assignments can create a dialogue between the students and instructor, boost student confidence, and increase student motivation. At the conclusion of this program by Scott Warnock, Ph.D., associate professor of English and director of the Writing Center and Writing Across the Curriculum at Drexel University, you will understand how writing helps students learn, know how to use informal writing as part of FLS grading strategy, and be familiar with available technologies and rubrics to grade/assess informal writing

How Can I Use Discussion to Facilitate Learning?
Jay Howard, a widely published author and dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Butler University, reveals classroom norms that inhibit discussion. After completing this program, you’ll be able to recognize when classroom norms limit student engagement and participation, access new pedagogical tools to engage students in classroom discussion, and implement new teaching strategies to increase the quality and focus of classroom discussion.

How Can I Create Effective Mini-Lectures?
With its balanced blend of theory and practice, Christy Price, Ed.D., an award-winning educator from Dalton State College, shows you the whys and hows of developing an effective presentation. You’ll learn techniques to facilitate student memory processing through lecture notes, the optimal time length for a mini-lecture, design elements you should and shouldn’t use in classroom presentations, the key ingredients of a Zen presentation, practices great communicators use to connect with audiences, and content and stylistic guidelines to make sure your mini-lectures are engaging students.

Teaching with Technology

How Can Document Sharing Tools Help Students Collaborate?
The online document sharing tools can be very helpful in the process of student collaboration/group work. This seminar presented by Dr. John Orlando shows the capabilities of the different vehicles and you’ll learn the best document sharing tool to use for various types of projects. You’ll not only learn how to set up group projects using document sharing systems, but also how to track students’ contributions and participation in the group projects.

How Do I Create Engaging Threaded Discussion Questions?
A properly crafted question can engage students’ interest, foster ideas and contributions from other students, and in little time at all help transform what may have been an uninspired or “flat” classroom into a hotbed of learning in which the ideas and comments of one student are quickly built on by another. During this 20 minute program, you will learn the difference between good and bad discussion questions; why questions written for a test or essay do not work in an online environment; how to tease out a good question from different subject matter; and key do’s and don’ts to consider in writing good online discussion questions.

In Blended Courses, What Should Students Do Online?
A 2009 meta-analysis of Department of Education data found that blended courses, mixing online learning and classroom instruction, resulted in better student performance than either delivery format independently. For university instructors interested in exploring blended learning, deciding which course elements to teach face-to-face and which to address through online technology can be a major stumbling block. Learn a framework for making those essential educational judgment calls in this 20 Minute Mentor program, presented by Tim Wilson, Ph.D., assistant professor at The University of Western Ontario, and Ike Shibley, Ph.D., associate professor of chemistry at Penn State Berks. This fast and focused professional development session will help you make the most of the opportunities presented by blended learning.

What Is Blended Learning?
Blended learning, which combines face-to-face classroom instruction with supervised online activities, is one of the hottest topics in higher education today. Find out in this Magna 20 Minute Mentor program how you can fuse the best of traditional techniques and cutting-edge online technology. This session is conducted by experienced and engaging professors—Ike Shibley, Ph.D., associate professor of chemistry at Penn State Berks, and Timothy Wilson. Ph.D., assistant professor at The University of Western Ontario—and explores the basics of blended course design.

What Three Things Could I Do to Improve My Blended Course?
Teaching a great blended course involves much more than divvying up content between face-to-face instruction and online technology. Effective blended course design requires faculty to reconsider their role in learning. It calls for rethinking your approach to students, teaching, technology, and your colleagues. In this video, you’ll also learn new ways to think about organizing knowledge, make the most of technology, and work with your colleagues. Ike Shibley, Ph.D., associate professor of chemistry at Penn State Berks, and Timothy Wilson, Ph.D., assistant professor at The University of Western Ontario, concentrate on three core considerations for improving blended learning design: think about all phases of learning, deliberately seek out technology, and collaborate.

I’m Teaching Online Next Term: What Do I Have to Know?
If you’re teaching your first online class next semester, and you’re completely confident you know exactly what to do … then you’re probably the first. If, on the other hand, you have more questions than answers at this point, this Magna 20 Minute Mentor program is tailor-made for you. Larry Ragan, Ph.D., Director of Faculty Development for Penn State’s World Campus, provides a framework to help you succeed in the online classroom.

Writing and Critical Thinking

How Can I Help Students Develop Critical Thinking Skills?
Debi Moon and Rob Jenkins will review activities that promote active learning and reinforce critical thinking skills. A meaningful education is measured not by the facts a student accumulates, but by what he or she is able to do with those facts. Developing critical thinking skills is the real business of higher education – teaching students to analyze and dissect every idea, ruminate about it, and arrive at thoughtful, informed opinions. Fill your classes with experiences including case studies, role play, brainstorming and journals plus more!

How Do I Give Feedback that Improves Student Writing?
Maryellen Weimer shares her seven novel feedback techniques that will motivate your students and drive real improvement in their writing. You’ll learn how to gain student “buy-in” to the feedback process, how to separate feedback from grading for better results, how to use benchmarking and “gateway” techniques to streamline the feedback process, and how to make feedback for “actionable” for students.

How Can I Use Informal Writing as Part of a Low-stakes Grading Strategy?
Informal writing assignments can be part of your strategy of frequent, low-stakes (FLS) grading. This approach incorporates many informal, low-pressure writing assignments that keep students engaged in the course materials and continually improving. In this Magna 20 Minute Mentor program, find out how informal writing assignments can create a dialogue between the students and instructor, boost student confidence, and increase student motivation. At the conclusion of this program by Scott Warnock, Ph.D., associate professor of English and director of the Writing Center and Writing Across the Curriculum at Drexel University, you will understand how writing helps students learn, know how to use informal writing as part of FLS grading strategy, and be familiar with available technologies and rubrics to grade/assess informal writing

Other Issues

How Can I Make the Activities in My Course More Inclusive?
Presenter Beth Harrison, Ph.D., director of the Office of Learning Resources at the University of Dayton, will share practices known to improve accessibility for students with disabilities.  After participating in this session, you’ll be able to identify and appraise your assumptions about how students should engage in a course, formulate appropriate ways to discuss accommodations with a student who has disabilities, and demonstrate practical techniques to remove barriers to learning.

How Should I Handle Pushy Parents?
Parents worry. Some are concerned about their children’s relationships, academic stand, or living arrangements. And some parents bring their concerns to bear when speaking with faculty members…sometimes at the top of their lungs. So what should you do? In this video, Brian Van Brunt, Ed.D., suggests that you see this type of situation as a “teachable moment” for the parent and recommends applying your skills as a teacher to create a better result. The program also includes supplemental materials that feature “How to” guidelines and a rubric that shows both poor and better responses to common questions from parents.

What Can I Do About Feeling Tired, Stressed, and Burned Out?
Boundaries, Burnout and Balance – ahhh, it’s such a fine line we all walk. Learn how to distinguish normal stress and burnout with the help of Dr. Brian Van Brunt. He will be presenting five core concepts to create a life in balance. Small baby steps now can help you overcome some bad habits and will change your life (and the life of those around you) for the better!

What Should I Do When a Student Challenges My Authority?
When a student crosses the line, it can not only throw you, but derail the focus of the class. Classroom veteran Dr. Ike Shibley addresses those challenges, why they happen, how to assess their seriousness, and most importantly, how to respond. You can’t know in advance when a student will challenge your authority … but you can prepare in advance. Learn the right way to respond.

What Do I Do If I Suspect a Student Has Asperger’s Disorder?
Working successfully with Asperger’s students requires an understanding of their behavior and knowledge of how to communicate with them. Brian Van Brunt, Ed.D., offers you recommendations for helping these students to succeed. At the conclusion of this program, you will know how to: use conversation techniques that emphasize short, focused messages in speaking to Asperger’s students to build better relationships and to foster increased success socially and academically, build a positive classroom environment with open communication to help students better interact with Asperger’s students, and have an understanding of which campus resources to involve in working with Asperger’s students.

How Do I Stay Calm When Students Push My Buttons?
Students aren’t always perfect. Sometimes they can be downright rude, arrogant, and insulting. Would you like to learn how to set limits so you can maintain a levelheaded, gracious approach even in the most irritating and insulting circumstances? Brian Van Brunt, Ed.D., a counselor and an experienced higher education instructor, shares an approach so you, as an instructor, can keep your cool when your students are clambering on your last nerve.