Effective teachers, engaged learners

Annual Teaching Effectiveness Institute to create classroom excitement

Photo of an apple on a teacher's deskNorthern Illinois University’s 2014 Teaching Effectiveness Institute, scheduled Thursday, Jan. 9, and Friday, Jan. 10, will tackle some of the most fundamental questions that educators and their schools face.

  • What works best in the classroom with respect to human motivation and learning?
  • What can instructors do to facilitate learning when they encounter students who seem uninterested and even apathetic toward course content and assignments?
  • What if class time could be used for problem solving, discussion, experimentation and other active learning activities that engage students more?

Sponsored by the Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center, the workshops are for NIU faculty, instructors and SPS and Civil Service teaching staff only.

The registration deadline for both days is Friday, Dec. 13. Registration is available online at each session’s respective webpage.

Registered participants will receive workshop materials and a certificate of participation. Plan to attend the entire day. Those who register and then are unable to attend should cancel by Monday, Jan. 6, at j.mp/facdevprograms so that those on the waiting list can be given the opportunity to attend or program costs can be reduced.

Day One, held in the Regency Room of the Holmes Student Center, features Todd Zakrajsek, associate professor in the School of Medicine and the Department of Family Medicine at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Todd Zakrajsek

Todd Zakrajsek

Zakrajsek will speak in the morning session on “Critical Challenges in Teaching and Learning and How to Best Address those Challenges.”

He will provide evidence about how students learn, methods to get students more involved in the content and relevant applications from pedagogical research that can help teachers to overcome common challenges everyone faces in the classroom.

During the afternoon session, Zakrajsek will cover “Creating Excitement in the Classroom: Teaching for More Engaged Learning.”

Part of the responsibility for learning belongs to students, Zakrajsek believes, but faculty can find new ways to motivate, inspire and maybe even cajole students to learn. He will explore how instructors can make classroom learning – perhaps one of the most artificial learning settings – a more meaningful experience for students.

Day Two begins with “Incorporating Active Learning by Flipping the Classroom” in the Regency Room.

An upside-down photo of children raising their hands in a classroom.Gaining popularity in college classrooms, the “Flipping the Classroom” method replaces in-class lectures with videos, tutorials or simulations that students view, interact with and complete on their own before coming to class.

Then, during class time, students are actively engaged with each other in solving problems, discussing, applying theory, collaborating in teams, innovating and more. It is possible to flip an entire course or just a single lesson, so flipping the classroom can be a small project or a full transformation depending on course or curricular needs.

The institute concludes in the afternoon with “Beyond the Textbook: Using Open Educational Resources,” held in Room 100 of Altgeld Hall.

Open Educational Resources (OER) are free resources that can supplement teaching and learning needs and can include lesson plans, learning modules, videos, “interactives” and more that are easily searchable by subject matter, education level or media format.

Using the computer workstations, participants will find and evaluate at least one open educational resource related to their individual course content and discuss ways for integrating it into their courses. Participants also will discuss how to share their educational resources with a wider community of educators in their fields.

For more information on the 2014 Teaching Effectiveness Institute, call (815) 753-0595 or email facdev@niu.edu.

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