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Dr. Heather Addy

Submitted by admin on Tue, 2008/02/05 - 2:52pm.

Teaching Awards

Great teachers involve their students meaningfully in the course. How do you engage your students?

In my large introductory biology classes, I ask students to write a brief autobiography, outlining their background, career goals, as well as topics of interest or concern. This information lets me know which topics they see as being difficult—I can then devote more lecture time to these—and I also get ideas for topics of general interest that I can integrate into lectures. Having this input helps students feel more involved in the course, and relating course material to their day-to-day lives emphasizes the relevance of what they are learning. I try to arrive early for class so that I have time to talk informally with students—especially those in the back rows—and learn names.

I also ask students many questions during class, including sample exam questions that they can work on together, giving them an opportunity to interact with each other. “One-minute papers” are another effective way to get students engaged during class: students write answers to the questions, “What was the most important point in today’s class?” and “What point is still unclear?” and hand in their answers as they leave the class. This technique gets them thinking about the lecture, and lets me know what topics need to be revisited.