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Midweek Mentor Blog

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Making Online Groups More Effective

By Emily Keener

November 03, 2016

Group work is messy, especially in the online classroom where project details need to be impeccable and students need to be self-motivated. Yet, each semester, brave SIUE faculty design collaborative projects across a variety of disciplines, including music, engineering, instructional technology, and mathematics. What is it about group projects that makes them worth the effort?

One huge benefit of collaboration is that it gives students an opportunity to hone those essential "soft" skills that ...

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Creating An Inclusive Classroom

By Jessica Harris and Bryan Jack

October 26, 2016

During the 2015-2016 academic year various groups at SIUE took part in conversations around issues of diversity on our campus. At smaller meetings between students and senior level administrators, as well during campus-wide conferences sponsored by the Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion, members of our community expressed particular concern about ongoing challenges to inclusion in the classroom. Discomfort and fear—students and faculty not having the language or tools to broac...

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Think Small: Explore Microlearning

By Wayne Nelson & Tori Reany

October 05, 2016

In today’s fast-paced world, students are exposed to many competing demands on their time and attention. Even when sitting in classrooms, their concentration wanders. Outside of the classroom, they are inundated with information coming from a variety of sources. In order to combat as well as exploit these characteristics, many people are designing and implementing microlearning approaches to create an alternative learning environment.

Microlearning comes in various forms, but typically in...

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Mindset Matters

By Lynn Bartels

September 23, 2016

What are Fixed vs. Growth Mindsets?

Have you ever been frustrated by a student who told you “I’m just not good at that?”  For example, students may say “I’m not a math person.” This kind of thinking about one’s abilities is called a fixed mindset and it can cripple the learning process (Dweck, 2006).  With a fixed mindset, students believe that performance is determined mainly by innate and unchangeable characteristics.  Students with a f...

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Preventing Cheating

By Matthew Schmitz

September 08, 2016

A question instructional designers are often asked by faculty members is “How can I prevent cheating?” There are a number of long, drawn-out answers but the truth can be found in this simple statement: Reducing opportunities for cheating involves more work – both for faculty members and for their students. However, the increased workload will ideally lead to more rewarding teaching and learning experiences.

There are many reasons why students might cheat, including lack of pre...

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First Day of Class Activities

By Lynn Bartels

August 15, 2016

First Day of Class Activities

There is a lot of pressure to get your class off to a good start on the first day. You may have heard that students’ impressions of you during the first few minutes on the first day are highly correlated with their course evaluations at the end of the semester (Ambady & Rosenthal, 1993).  The three main things I try to accomplish on the first day of class include:  getting to know the students, distributing the syllabus, and creating expectations.


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Online experiential learning: Engaging students through real and virtual activities

By Wayne A. Nelson, Ed. D.

June 02, 2016

Online experiential learning: Engaging students through real and virtual activities

Wayne A. Nelson, Ed. D.
University Fellow for Online Learning and
Coordinator of Excellence in Undergraduate Education

Experiential learning happens when students are engaged in direct experiences and focused reflections within real-world settings and contexts. Also known as learning through action, learning by doing, or learning through discovery, experiential learning can be an important pedagogical tool in...

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Grading Time-Savers

By Lynn Bartels

April 20, 2016

Grading Time-Savers

As we approach the end of the semester, I feel like a grading machine.  I have stacks of research papers, theses, and project reports to grade and I’ll have final exams coming in soon too.  Grading is hard and sometimes mind-numbing work.  Here are a few grading tips to give students the feedback they need without taking up so much of your most scarce resource-time. 


Not everyone is a fan of rubrics, but a good rubric can save you a lot...

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Blog on Assessment: Strategies, Best Practices, and Alternate Forms


March 17, 2016

Let's Talk About Assessment

Assessments are a foundational component of the teaching and learning processes. One of the goals of education is to increase knowledge and assessments allow instructors to gauge the success of learning resources and activities or determine if students require additional assistance. However, although they are an integral part of education, assessments are sometimes viewed in a less than positive light by both students and faculty; students have reported experiencin...

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Communicating with Culturally Diverse Learners

By Mary Konya Weishaar and Phil Weishaar

February 23, 2016

Communicating with Culturally Diverse Learners

Mary Konya Weishaar (Executive Director of International Affairs) and

Phil Weishaar (Associate Professor of Special Education)

International Landscape - SIUE (fall, 2015):

  • 3% of students are international
  • International students come from 51 countries (highest numbers from Nigeria, China, India, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey)
  • More international students are graduate (267) than undergraduate (150)
  • Most international students study in the School ...

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Disrupting the Discussion Board

By Jonathan Coons

February 10, 2016

Powerful things are often complicated and, in an instructor’s arsenal, the discussion board can be a powerful tool. That doesn’t mean that a discussion board should be difficult to utilize for anyone. However, novel application can increase the quality of learning when learning is being facilitated by technology. As an instructor, disruption may require a bit more time on the drawing board.

Building a Novel Experience

Imagine being in traditional classroom with 20 or more peers....

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Discussion Board Prompts

By Lynn Bartels

January 27, 2016

Discussion Board Prompts


Next week’s Midweek Mentor video is Beyond the Discussion Board:  How Can I Engage Online Students. Discussion boards are frequently used in online or technology-enhanced courses.  Before we discuss alternatives to discussion boards, let’s think about what works in an online discussion.  Here are some ideas for discussion boards prompts. 

1.  Interview Someone in the Field

In this assignment, I ask students to interview s...

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Writing Tips for the New Year

By Sharon James McGee

January 13, 2016

As academics, we often think of the “new year” as the beginning of the academic year, but January is also a good time to start new, productive habits. I find that many faculty, particularly at a teaching-first institution like SIUE, find it difficult to sustain their writing during the semester. After all, having a classroom full of faces staring at you is motivation to prep for class and fielding constant questions about “when will our papers be graded?” encourages us to...

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