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Originally posted by Andrew S. Campbell, Ph.D.

Academics like you are rarely satisfied with the status quo, and that extends to the classroom. Thanks to modern advancements, a lecture course can be adjusted, and even transformed, with the goal of increasing student understanding and retention.

At Haverford College, Professor Joshua Schrier is innovating his classroom to emphasize problem solving, creating a more efficient and lively learning experience. Hear how he uses tools like Sapling Learning to facilitate this general chemistry course.

IITS Technology, Innovation & Pedagogy series: Joshua Schrier, Assistant Professor of Chemistry at Haverford College from Instructional technology on Vimeo.



Which techniques or resources do you use to engage your students? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Originally posted by Kelli Mayes-Denker.

Have you had a student stop by during office hours only to mention that they "just don’t get chapter 5"? For a student, this specific chapter may be especially daunting. In reality, there are probably a few distinct concepts the student is struggling with, thus causing problems throughout the entire chapter.

Being an economist, it is important to find a way to more efficiently utilize office hours and maximize student understanding. For instance, I started asking students to email me to schedule a meeting during office hours. This allows me to be more prepared for them and target their needs.

In my preparation for the meeting, I could look up the homework scores in Sapling Learning and click on the score in the grade book to see detail of the student's work. Many times, the reality was that we could focus our meeting on specific questions to address the problematic areas.

With Sapling Learning, I can get the overall homework score and view each attempt that the student made on each question. It became increasingly helpful to walk through several of these with individual students, asking them specifics to gauge understanding and further remedy their knowledge of the content.

The outcome is a more efficient use of my time during office hours with the ability to focus the student in areas of importance as opposed to a general high-level review. With the student present, we could address the content, improve understanding and then spend some time getting to understand their interests.

Once I know a bit more about the student, these interests can be incorporated into lectures, class discussions and projects to further engage the student in the overall economics subject material. This created a winning situation for both of us.

Viewing student attempts in Sapling Learning: do it yourself or email your Tech TA to learn how

1. Go to the grades icon on the main page, left side

2. The grader report will open with all student showing, then click on a student score

3. Now you will see one student’s assignment and each question in the assignment

4. Click on a quick number at the far left, this will allow you to see all attempts for that question

The example below shows Linus Pauling’s assignment. Question 2 is showing with each of his 5 attempts. Click the incorrect or correct tabs at the top of the question to view each attempt.

Originally posted by Kelli Mayes-Denker on August 11, 2014.

As an instructor who has taught a variety of economics classes, both principles and intermediate, I find that making the connection to real life application is key.

In daily life, economics surrounds us and can be found through the evening news or even during a shopping trip. For the principles student, these concepts need to be connected from the text to real life to inspire a search for economics examples outside of the classroom.

You can find relevant articles by searching the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, USA Today, The Economist, Time or Newsweek. Each of these can be another way to add the connection outside of the class that makes an impact for life.

For instance, in my classes using forums, articles and videos have been effective ways to make this connection while providing additional ways to engage students beyond the traditional lecture.

Forums for fun analysis, interactivity and connection

In Sapling Learning, forums can be created allowing students to comment on current events and apply analysis tools learned in class. My classes tend to be structured week by week allowing students to examine 1-2 chapters of content per week. Then one application of that content is analysis on the forums.

For instance in talking about supply and demand, the students might be given a current event article on a relevant hot topic such as Amazon, Tesla, Google, etc. The students can read this article as an example illustrating what they have just learned. Then it is their turn to go to the web and search for a relevant article related to supply and demand. They then post the link for others in the class to see and comment with a bit of analysis of why this is interesting and how it relates to that week's content.

Making forums part of your class: do-it-yourself or email your Tech TA

1. Find several current event articles and then determine which chapter of your text they would best align to illustrate the content for that week

2. Go into Sapling Learning and Turn Editing On (found on the top right side of the main page)

3. Find the week that the article aligns with and then click Add An Activity from the drop down under that week, then select Forum.

4. You will be directed in a new page to Add a New Forum Topic where you can name the forum with a title and enter the web link of the example article with instructions for students to find an article and do their own analysis.

5. Click Save and Continue and your forum will now show under the week you originally chose. Shown here in week 1 as Forum: Student Bio and Introduction and then in week 2 as Forum: Provide a Microeconomic Current Event.