Guest Blogger ~ Dr. April Talent
Whether you’re teaching an Honors Section of a course, working with an Honors Student one-on-one through an Honors Contract, or just thinking about how to keep your Honors Students motivated in a regular class, studio, or lab, there are a variety of resources available with ideas for faculty on boosting learning outcomes for Honors Students.
This short article from the University Honors Program at Kansas University describes moving learning outcomes up to the highest level of Bloom’s Taxonomy in which learning goals are aimed at synthesis, evaluation, integration, and creation. These higher levels of critical thinking are key to inspiring Honors Students in their studies. They create modes of learning that challenge motivated students in creative ways that go beyond just doing more.
This paper (access provided through Hunter Library), written by faculty in The Netherlands, looks at instructional factors and how those strategies challenged their high-ability students. In their conclusions, they affirm that the combination of student autonomy, complexity, and teacher expectations come together to be effective in keeping these students motivated and challenged and ultimately improving outcomes. These factors further underscore the value of establishing learning outcomes for Honors Students that are at the highest levels of critical thinking in terms of course learning goals.
The Center for Teaching at Vanderbilt has a useful summary of Bloom’s Taxonomy on their website. This is a quick resource that summarizes the action verbs that are aligned with the different processes of learning, e.g. planning, producing, generating, checking, critiquing, attributing, organizing, and differentiating, corresponding to critical thinking at the highest levels of Analysis, Evaluation, and Creation.
References and Resources
Armstrong, P. (n.d.) Bloom’s taxonomy. Vanderbilt University Center for Teaching. https://cft.vanderbilt.edu/guides-sub-pages/blooms-taxonomy/
Scager, K., Akkerman, S. F., Pilot, A., & Wubbels, T. (2013). How to persuade honors students to go the extra mile: creating a challenging learning environment. High Ability Studies, 24(2), 115–134. https://doi-org.proxy195.nclive.org/10.1080/13598139.2013.841092
Teaching honors students. (n.d.). The University of Kansas Honors Program. Retrieved January 23, 2020, from https://honors.ku.edu/teaching-honors-courses
Thinking about new ways of engaging students in Honors Contract projects this semester? Listen in on a panel discussion in which faculty members from a variety of different departments and disciplines talk with Honors students about what makes a great honors project. Students and faculty members share ideas about what works and doesn’t work, and they discuss ideas for projects and directions that motivate students. The students and faculty also discuss aims, objectives, and expectations for Honors projects in lower level as compared to higher level courses. Practical aspects of initiating and developing the project are also discussed in terms of best practices. Faculty and students discuss their ideas of what an ideal honors project looks like and what the key elements and outcomes of that project involve. The panel wraps up as students and faculty give examples and talk about the mentoring that happens throughout the semester in guiding an honors project to success.
Watch the video here: https://youtu.be/qoXplYu1x8k
We hope that you will enjoy this student-faculty conversation and get some good ideas and inspiration as we start the semester. Many thanks to our student and faculty participants! Special thanks to Colin Townsend from The Honors College for moderating the panel.
Amethyst Hall, senior, majoring in Computer Information Systems
Rylan Paye, junior, majoring in Mechanical Engineering
Anna Haggy, senior, majoring in Environmental Health and Political Science
Eli Hatley, senior, majoring in Emergency Medical Care
Robert Adams, School of Engineering and Technology
Kelly Tracy, School of Teaching and Learning
Jeanne Dulworth, Department of Social Work
Rob Ferguson, Department of History
Colin Wasamund, Stage and Screen
Lori Oxford, Department of Modern Languages
Reminder that Honors Contracts are due no later than the fourth Friday of the semester. This semester that will be Friday, February 7. Remember to access Honors Contracts in MyWCU. (see image)
Need help with Honors Contracts? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 227-7383.
A summer 2018 volume of New Directions for Teaching and Learning focuses on student engagement. Ten chapters worth!
One interesting chapter, Students Engaged in Learning, is worth a close read. (the link to the full article can be found at the bottom of this post). The authors, Emad Ismail and James Groccia, provide a compelling structure for the chapter.
The article is presented in this fashion—research findings related to engagement in the cognitive domain, followed by research on engagement in the psychomotor domain, and finally, of research literature pertaining to engagement in the affective domain. Several meta-analyses are cited. Rather than delve deeply into any single research article, I thought it might be more interesting to talk about the research he cites as part of each section (after all, you can read the full article yourself). The remainder of this post presents a short summary of the research he cites related to cognitive engagement:
Title:Teaching More by Lecturing Less
Findings Snippet: “The results we present here indicate that even a moderate shift toward more interactive and cooperative learning in class can result in significantly higher student learning gains than achieved using a standard lecture format.”
Authors: Knight and Wood
Title:Cooperative and Active Learning in Undergraduate Biological Laboratories at FIU– Implications to TA Teaching and Training
Findings Snippet: Teaching assistants underwent a 2-day training workshop to implement cooperative learning and active learning techniques for Biology courses, and the results were very positive. Responses from instructors indicate “an increase in the cognitive level of the material communicated, learned, and assessed”, in addition to “an increase in their [students’] ability to devise and practice scientific experimentation.”|
Authors: Penwell, Elsawa, and Pitzer
Title: Interactive-Engagement vs. Traditional Methods: A Six-Thousand-Student Survey of Mechanics Test Data for Introductory Physics Courses
Findings Snippet: “The conceptual and problem-solving test results strongly suggest that the classroom use of interactive-engagement methods can increase mechanics-course effectiveness well beyond that obtained in traditional practice.”
Title: Can Students Learn from Lecture Demonstrations?
Findings Snippet: “Students who had a chance to predict an outcome of a demonstration prior to seeing the demonstration achieved a significantly higher success rate of 25% to 35%.”
Authors: Milner-Bolton, Kotlicki, Rieger
Title:Keeping it Short and Sweet: Brief, Ungraded Writing Assignments Facilitate Learning
Findings Snippet: “These results suggest that in-class writing and discussion improved performance on factual and conceptual multiple-choice exam questions, beyond any gain from time for in-class thinking and discussion.”
Authors: Drabick, Weisberg, Paul, and Bubier
Discipline: Physical Chemistry
Title:“I Believe I Will Go Out of This Class Actually Knowing Something”: Cooperative Learning Activities in Physical Chemistry
Findings Snippet: “We found that cooperative learning activities move students away from rote learning strategies and toward more meaningful strategies which allowed them to integrate concepts over the entire semester.”
Authors: Towns, Grant
Discipline: Human Resource Management
Title:The Immediate Feedback Assessment Technique (IF-AT): An Innovative Teaching Technique for Human Resource Management Students
Findings Snippet: “…through the use of Team Based Learning and the incorporation of the IF-AT students’ skills in the areas of communication, overall learning, cognitive and interpersonal skills through the use of teams or groups of students was enhanced. Authors: Blackman, Michaelsen, Knight, and Fink
Title:Evaluating an Active Learning Approach to Teaching Introductory Statistics: A classroom workbook approach
Findings Snippet: “The activity based curriculum evaluated here produced significant positive changes in students’ attitudes toward statistics. Specifically, after experiencing the workbook curriculum students liked statistics more and were more confident in their ability to perform and understand statistics.”
Authors: Carlson and Winquist
Title:Effects of Small-Group Learning on Undergraduates in Science, Mathematics, Engineering, and Technology: A Meta-Analysis
Findings Snippet: “The meta-analysis demonstrates that various forms of small-group learning are effective in promoting greater academic achievement, more favorable attitudes towards learning, and increased persistence….”
Authors: Springer, Stanne, and Donovan
Title:Active Learning Increases Student Performance In Science, Engineering, And Mathematics
Findings Snippet: A meta-analysis of 225 studies discovers that (on average, based on effect size) student performance on exams and concept inventories increased by .47 SDs when faculty utilized active learning strategies and methods (n=158 studies).
Authors: Freeman et al.
Discipline: Human Physiology
Title: The Effect of Active Learning on Student Characteristics in a Human Physiology Course for Nonmajors
Findings Snippet: “Students in a treatment group [taught using a continuum-based, actdive-learning model] acquired significantly more content knowledge and were significantly more efficacious than students in the control groups [taught using traditional didactic lecture methods].”
William Buskist, a co-editor in this volume, presents in a most familiar way the issue of student engagement that many of us are struggling with:
Are there universal principles of instilling student engagement that apply across students, disciplines, and institutional settings, and if so, what are they? Do these principles similarly or differentially affect the domains of doing, feeling, and thinking? Once students become engaged, what are the most effective methods of keeping them engaged throughout the remainder of their college careers in terms of doing, feeling, and thinking?
Thankfully, the research provided in this chapter illustrates that yes, universal principles do exist.
The full article is available here.
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