Yale Center for Teaching and Learning

“Considering Teaching & Learning” Notes by Dr. Niemi

Welcome to Considering Teaching & Learning. This series of short reflections on the research of teaching and learning is published weekly during the academic year, sent to anyone in the Yale community who would like to subscribe.  Nancy Niemi, Ph.D., Director of Faculty Teaching Initiatives, invites you to join the e-mail list.

Contact Dr. Niemi via email Nancy.Niemi@yale.edu or phone 203.432.8644 with thoughts about the collection and/or to receive these notes in your inbox. 

The purpose of this email list, and challenging your thinking about learning
Informal and quick by design, midterm feedback can nonetheless have powerful and positive effects on one’s teaching and ultimately, on students’ learning.
Carol Dweck says colleges could improve their students' learning if they relentlessly encouraged them to think about their mental skills as malleable.
It can be frustrating for student and professor alike when the paper – essay, research paper, analysis – is reduced to a formulaic endeavor rather than a method to develop one’s thinking.
Not quite time for finals, but definitely after midterm, this period in academia has been referred to as the doldrums – students’ energy ebbs, and they, just like professors, begin to experience cognitive overload.
I think I speak for many of us when I say that this has been an intense couple of weeks on campus. Since initiating this communication, I had been waiting for what seemed an appropriate time to begin to discuss the intersections of teaching and diversity; that time has arrived.
There are things you can do now, whether you are preparing for a course, concluding a course, or just thinking about your teaching; picking one or two things to do differently may be all you can (and should) do. You may be surprised at the effect such changes will have in your work with students.
Helping students come to terms with reviewing a large body of knowledge is not easy. I am happy to offer a provocative study of what is for me a new review technique: 24/7 Lectures.
As teaching and learning becomes more public, and data more accessible, student evaluation data are subject to increased scrutiny in and out of the academy. And, even if as professors we manage to put their influence on our work in perspective, we have no way of knowing how others will interpret the data.
Grading and its twin, student assessment, are necessary and time-consuming parts of teaching and learning that are often conducted alone, without a lot of collegial discussion, even though such actions are integral to every discipline.
Despite its importance to our course success, most faculty members learn to write syllabi by mimicking what our colleagues before us have done. Using colleagues’ models or Googling examples (there are 1000s of them) helps, and perhaps surprisingly, there is also empirical study on what makes effective syllabi.
This week, I have the pleasure of discussing what may be my favorite part of any single lesson: the first five minutes. Not just 300 seconds of time, it is also an extraordinarily powerful teaching technique.
This week, I have the pleasure of discussing what may be my favorite part of any single lesson: the first five minutes. Not just 300 seconds of time, it is also an extraordinarily powerful teaching technique.
One of the most surprising assessments of my work as a professor was when a colleague from Biology, whom I did not know well, commented after a conversation we’d been having that he was happily surprised at my use of jargon-free language.