The Myth of the Student Loan Crisis?

CSU’s College Scorecard seems to suggest that even as a low-cost institution, our student loan default rates are higher than some expensive, private schools. (Our default rate isn’t bad, but it’s interesting to compare with institutions who draw from more selective student populations.)

With that in mind, do you think this new piece from The Atlantic applies to financially stressed student bodies like ours? Is any debt at all manageable when a student doesn’t complete a degree?

“The Myth of the Student Loan Crisis”

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The slow pace of change in classroom teaching

Interesting new post from The Teaching Professor blog about the slow pace of most university professors in abandoning the strict lecture for more interactive classroom activities:

Unfortunately, if the motivation to change only comes from a colleague or an external threat, then teaching and learning will continue to improve at a very slow pace—and at the expense of more effective learning experiences for many students.

Here’s the full read: Improving Teaching One Class at a Time

February Virtual Faculty Roundtable

Greetings, all! Welcome to our new Faculty Center blog. I hope it will provide a nice forum for many issues facing faculty at CSU.

The calendar seems to fill up as fast as I can schedule Roundtable meetings, so I thought I’d try a “virtual” conversation this month. Our topic is prompted by a call from on high (the USG system office): in our statewide effort to help more students finish college, can faculty identify institutional and system-wide policies that hinder students’ progress? Let’s call it, When policies and progression collide.

When students run off the rails, could faculty have helped to avert the disaster? How so?

What kinds of tough calls do you find yourself making in the classroom or as an advisor?

What support could you use to face the challenges of keeping students moving productively toward graduation?

Thanks for giving this some thought. Looking forward to hearing your comments,

Susan Hrach, Director of the Faculty Center

Inquiry Based Learning, 2013

Faculty Center Fellow Cindy Ticknor led an enthusiastic CSU faculty group in 2011-12 as they explored Inquiry Based Learning and began experimenting with the principles in their own classes. This blog category is an opportunity for the IBL group to catch up with each other, and to widen the conversation to new faculty.

How are you using IBL these days, gang? 

For those new to IBL, a short guide: Inquiry Based Learning Defined

How important is your sense of humor in the classroom?

CSU eliminated “Instructor has a sense of humor” from student evaluations several years ago, but here’s an interesting post from Maryellen Weimer’s Faculty Focus blog. Weimer summarizes the study this way:

…[T]he researchers begin by suggesting that teachers use humor that fits comfortably with who they are and how they teach. They point out that humor is not a necessary ingredient of effective instruction and that few things are worse than people trying to be funny when they aren’t. They suggest if an instructor doesn’t use humor but would like to accrue its benefits in class, the instructor should use the humor of others—by sharing cartoons, comics, or video clips.

Second, they reiterate the findings that humor is related to positive perceptions of the instructor and the learning environment and advise again against the use of humor that is negative or hostile. “Teachers should utilize humor that laughs with students rather than at them.” (p. 136)

Finally, if the goal is to use humor to increase learning and retention of course material, then use the humor to illustrate a concept just taught. This way, the humor helps students remember the material, and material can’t be learned unless it is remembered. And one thing about humor and learning is well-supported by the research: Humor positively affects levels of attention and interest. It’s a way to keep students engaged and involved with the course material.

Read the full post here: Humor in the Classroom: 40 Years of Research

What do you think about the uses of humor? Has your sense of humor helped or hurt your effectiveness in the classroom?