In collaboration with Dr. Zsuzsanna Zabo at Marist College, Dr. Plopper has developed a workshop for increasing teaching effectiveness for university-level educators. The workshop is targeted primarily to faculty, postdoctoral fellows and graduate students with little or no formal background in the field of education but with an interest in improving their teaching skills. It focuses specifically on defining rigorous Learning Outcomes that reflect higher order thinking, and coupling these with clear assessment instruments to accurately measure teaching effectiveness. Those interested in hosting a workshop or discussing this further can contact Dr. Plopper by email.
Part 1 of the workshop focuses on defining formal Learning Outcomes for whatever scope of teaching is appropriate, ranging from portions of a single class period and/or entire class periods to entire courses, core curricula, and program-level curriculum development. Emphasis is placed on targeting higher order thinking skills, as defined by Bloom's Taxonomy.
How do we know that our students are learning what we expect? Can we prove this to someone who wasn't present during the lesson(s)? Put simply, test scores alone are no longer considered sufficient evidence of effective teaching. Rigorous answers to these questions are becomming increasingly important when colleges and universities undergo accreditation reviews. Yet, a common misconception among many college-level educators is that formal assessment is labor-intensive, distracting, and ultimately detrimental to their teaching effectiveness. In Part 2 of the workshop we discuss the differences between formative assessment and summative assessment, then develop assessments matched to the Learning Outcomes from Part 1. An important feature of this portion of the workshop is to help educators design assessment methods that meet the standards of accreditation agencies while simultaneously improving the classroom experience for both students and instructors.
In Part 3, Dr. Plopper demonstrates a means of building Learning Outcomes and Assessments in upper division biology courses that requires little or no additional time commitment by the instructor. Dr. Szabo's analysis of the resulting data demonstrate statistically rigorous increases in critical thinking resulting from this approach. We then discuss how this method can be adapted to suit different scales, disciplines, and teachihng styles.