Erika Romero

PhD Candidate and Education Blogger

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Why I Prefer Holistic Grading Over Rubric Grading

Grading, grading, grading. The worst part about teaching, in my opinion. There are so many ways to approach this constant semester task, though. And there is one approach in particular that I prefer: holistic grading. Now, holistic grading can be defined in plenty of different ways. In today’s post, I describe my version of this grading style and explain why I prefer it to using rubrics.

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Designing a Course Assessment to Get Student Feedback

Are you tired of relying on student evals as the only form of student feedback on your courses? Is that feedback even helpful at all? Personally, I prefer to ask my students course-specific questions at the end of the semester. That way, I gain insight into how my students feel about the required texts, assignments, and course tools I’ve chosen to use during a particular semester (among other information). In today’s post, I describe the seven elements I ask about when designing a course assessment. I highly recommend designing your own versions for your future courses.

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The Educational Power of Student Presentations

Every semester, I struggle with deciding how many (if any) student presentations my students should complete in my courses. As someone who doesn’t exactly thrive in public speaking situations, I know how anxiety-provoking class presentations can be. Still, I also believe there are so many benefits to student presentations that not including any in my course design would be a failing in my teaching style. In today’s post, I share a few presentation projects my students have completed over the years and why I think these student presentation activities are so powerful for student learning.

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Metacognitive Writing for Assessing Student Learning

As instructors, how can we know what students have learned from our classes? Student evals tell us how they feel about us and our classes, but not about what they learned. Some of us might have students reflect on the course at the end of the semester, but can students really remember small, important details from week 3 during week 16? To find out what students have gained from my writing course projects, I have them complete a metacognitive writing activity for each unit. At ISU, we refer to this activity as completing an “uptake genre.” In today’s post, I explain this concept in more detail and provide examples of uptake genres I’ve had students complete during different sections of my ENG 101 courses. If you want to know more about what your students have learned from your classes, consider adding an uptake genre or two to your course design.

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How to Teach Writing without the 5-Paragraph Essay

While teaching the five-paragraph essay might be necessary in high school English courses that seem to (unfortunately) run on standardized testing, college writing instructors could use a more realistic approach when teaching writing. Once outside the school setting, five paragraph essays aren’t exactly in high demand. At ISU, our (award-winning) writing program takes a rhetorical genre studies approach to teaching writing in order to better help prepare our students for their future writing responsibilities and interests.

Rather than focus our courses on writing essays and going through grammar drills, our students practice researching various rhetorical genres. While completing writing projects, they also work to articulate what they’ve learned about these genres, how they’ve learned this information, and how they can use these new skills and knowledge in situations outside the classroom. In today’s post, I describe how I teach writing using a theoretical framework that helps my students analyze the texts around them and their own writing experiences. 

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The BEST Assessment Tool to Use Midway through the Semester?

When checking for written student feedback on end-of-year evaluation opt-scans, I always hope I don’t receive a comment about a small, simple change I could have made that would have made a major difference for a student. At that point, nothing can be done. Of course, that student could have made this suggestion during any of the occasions that I ask students how they are doing with the class activities and if there is any concern they’d like to bring up. Still, as a student and an instructor, I know voluntarily deciding to critique an instructor to their face isn’t exactly an easy thing to do.

Fortunately, I’ve found a way to decrease this type of feedback on my student evals by completing a course assessment midway through the semester. I’ve mentioned this tool before when talking about my various assessment strategies, but today’s post is all about the “Midterm Chat.” This is my top tool for insuring that (a) my students get the most out of my class and (b) my evals are as positive as I can inspire them to be.

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