Thursday, August 16, 2007

10 Easy Ways to Engage Students

In a College Teaching article, Tara Gray and Laura Madson provide the following 10 tips for engaging students.


1. Maintain sustained eye contact.

2. Ask before you tell.
This is closely related to the Socratic Method, which I discuss in this post: Any Questions.

3. Create a structure for note taking.
I call this Guided Notes and mention it in this post: Have Topic Will Travel.

4. Let the readings share your lectern.
This might be possible if you can convince an instructor to assign a reading before the classes’ library workshop. I don’t think it is possible with open workshops.


5. Use the pause procedure.
Pause so that students can compare and discuss notes for 2 minutes.

6. Assign one-minute papers.
This is a popular assessment method in library workshops. Here is a great handout on one-minute papers:

7. Try think-pair-share.
I have had success with this method. Read more about it

Hold Students Accountable Daily

8. Quiz daily.
Many libraries use pre- and/or post-quizzes for assessment purposes.

9. Use clickers or colored cards.
This upcoming semester, I plan to try out Numina II SRS ( It is a free, web-based student response system.

10. Call on a student every 2-3 minutes.

Gray, Tara and Laura Madson. “Ten Easy Ways to Engage Your Students.” College Teaching 25.2 (2007): 83-87.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Teach Like An Expert

In a LOEX Quarterly 2-part series, Eric Frierson applies 6 principles of the effects of expertise on instruction to library instruction. These 6 principles were taken from How People Learn.

  1. Experts notice features and meaningful patterns of information that are not noticed by novices,” so teach information in chunks.
  2. Experts have acquired a great deal of content knowledge that is organized in ways that reflect a deep understanding of their subject matter,” so help students see the ‘big picture.’
  3. Experts' knowledge cannot be reduced to sets of isolated facts or propositions but, instead, reflects contexts of applicability: that is, the knowledge is ‘conditionalized’ on a set of circumstances,” so help students understand how and when to use the information learned.
  4. Experts are able to flexibly retrieve important aspects of their knowledge with little attentional effort,” so make each step clear.
  5. Though experts know their disciplines thoroughly, this does not guarantee that they are able to teach others,” so study pedagogy.
  6. “Experts have varying levels of flexibility in their approach to new situations” so teach students to be flexible as they apply the information learned in different situations.

In summary of part I, Frierson states:

“Think of ways to chunk instruction into pieces that fit together to form a whole, providing students with organizing ideas to help them recall strategies associated with one another. Describe how each chunk fits together to explain the big picture of library research, and then find a way to say that to students. Finally, think about how and when students will be using these tools. Tailor the instruction to frame the tools in those ‘how’s and ‘when’s.”


John D. Bransford, Ann L. Brown, and Rodney R. Cocking, eds. “How Experts Differ from Novices.” How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School. Washington DC: National Academy Press, 1999.

Eric Frierson. “Instructional Design with Expertise in Mind (Part 1)” LOEX Quarterly, Winter 2007: 4-5+

Eric Frierson. “Instructional Design with Expertise in Mind (Part 2)” LOEX Quarterly, Spring 2007: 4-5+