Faculty across disciplines, from neuroscience to art history, are searching for new ways to incorporate contemplative practices into their teaching. Contemplative practices help students develop a deeper understanding of the material through various methods including meditation, deep listening, and mindfulness, just to name a few. Many values and skills are gained through these practices, and the benefits extend well beyond the classroom. Learn more about the many benefits of contemplative practices.
The second principle in Chickering and Gamson’s Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education (1987) is to encourage active learning and student cooperation. Recent research has found that these principles apply to online courses as well. The Association of American Colleges and Universities’ High Impact Educational Practices such as collaborative learning and service learning can improve student retention and engagement.
Since students are accustomed to working independently in online classes (aside from using discussion boards), here are ways to implement effective collaborative learning strategies in your online course:
Group projects: Students get the opportunity to collaborate, help each other, and practice effective communication skills and time management, which are also important career skills.
Peer review of assignments: Have your students swap assignments to review and provide feedback. The reviewers learn from the process, and the person who is being reviewed has the opportunity to improve his or her work before it is graded.
Student-to-student interviews: Students can interview each other for a class introduction. Or they can ask each other about their baseline knowledge of a topic, what they have learned from an assigned reading, or their opinions about a current event.
Online study groups: Learners can choose their online study group partners or you can assign them. An effective group task is to ask students to create sample test questions.
Student engagement: Invite your class to volunteer, attend a seminar, participate in service learning events, or hear a relevant speaker on campus. Interacting with students outside of class is a great way to improve engagement.
Online meetings: These may be optional or required. Survey your students to determine their availability for the online meetings, which may typically be in the evenings. You can use this time to review challenging course material, present short lectures, discuss student projects or hold Q&A sessions.
What techniques do you use to foster collaboration in online courses? Let us know in the comments below.
In this first part of our Student Voices series, we asked students for their views on the current state of the classroom and where they'd like to see improvements. One important message that comes across clearly is that as new technologies enter the classroom, the focus should remain on creating efficiencies. Learn more in this Slideshare.
While the challenge remains to get students to understand the importance of acquiring any course materials, more and more students are opting for eTextbooks when given the choice. Obviously, cost is a leading factor in that decision process, but there are other factors at play as well. We explore some of these reasons below.