The Journal on Excellence in College Teaching
The Journal on Excellence in College Teaching

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Journal on Excellence in College Teaching, Volume 20, Number 3 (2009)

Articles in this issue:

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PDF fileEvidence-Based Teaching and Learning: A Message From the Editors

Wentzell, G. W., Richlin, L., & Cox, M. D.

Some 20 years after the Carnegie Foundation brought the scholarship of teaching to prominence, the debate over its definition continues. Ironically, many academics who pride themselves on their disciplinary research do not look at their teaching from the same scholarly viewpoint. But to dismiss teaching scholarship is to lose the opportunity to gather and learn from evidence about "what works." Scholarly teaching engages instructors as part of a community of teacher-scholars dedicated to improving learning for the benefit of students, teachers, and higher education as a whole.

PDF fileEfficacy and Anxiety: An Examination of Writing Attitudes in a First-Year Seminar

Goodman, S. B., & Cirka, C C.

The authors investigated changes in self-efficacy in writing and writing apprehension in a sample of first-year college students in an interdisciplinary writing-intensive course taught by faculty from varied disciplines at a liberal arts college. Results showed that self-efficacy in writing significantly increased while writing apprehension decreased significantly from the beginning to the end of the semester. In addition, writing apprehension partially mediated the effect of self-efficacy in writing on performance, as measured by course grades. These findings highlight the importance of looking beyond students' ability and instructor course design to the role of self-efficacy and apprehensionunderstanding students' writing performance.

PDF fileWhose Classroom Is It, Anyway? Improvisation as a Teaching Tool

Berk, R. A., & Trieber, R. H.

Improvisational techniques derived from the experiences in improvisational theatre can be adapted for the college classroom to leverage the characteristics of the Net Generation, their multiple intelligences and learning styles, and the variety of collaborative learning activities already in place in a learner-centered environment. When improvisation is reformatted as small-group collaborative learning exercises, it can be a powerful teaching tool to promote deep learning. The authors describe the key features of improvisation along with four generic, easy to execute exercises applied to real course content: "One Word at a Time/One Sentence at a Time," "Speech Tag," "Freeze Tag," and "Gibberish Expert Interview." An evaluation scale to measure the effectiveness of classroom applications is also included.

PDF fileClassroom Examination Practices in a Postsecondary Setting

Wininger, S. R., & Kuhlenschmidt, S.

The literature on college examination practices is relatively sparse, which is surprising given their importance for student learning and motivation. The authors investigated the examination practices of 215 faculty at a comprehensive university in order to identify which practices are normative and to examine relationships among key variables. Information was gathered about instructor characteristics (training, time spent on classroom assessment), course characteristics (course level, size of course), teaching practices (use of learning objectives, item development, exam reviews, post exam practices), and assessment characteristics (level of exam items, item formats). Inferential statistics for faculty were run using demographics such as years of teaching experience, gender, rank, and academic disciplines as the independent variables. Implications of the results, limitations of the study, and directions for future research are discussed.

PDF fileWho Am I? The Influence of Teacher Beliefs on Instructional Technology Incorporation

Lucas, S. B., & Wright, V. H.

The authors explored the barriers to faculty members' incorporation of technology into their classrooms. Faculty members' beliefs toward teaching were examined to determine whether their intrinsic beliefs or extrinsic resources are the main influences on the level and extent of their instructional technology incorporation. The authors speculate that the more influential barriers inhibiting incorporation are intrinsic, and that beliefs about teaching must be examined, discussed, and possibly changed before addressing extrinsic barriers effectively.

PDF fileCase-Based Instruction Using Asynchronous Online Discussions: A Synthesis

Pena-Shaff, J. B., & Altman, W. S.

The authors describe the implementation of a teaching strategy combining case-based instruction (CBI) and asynchronous online discussions in two large educational psychology classes. Based on previous use of case studies and on recommendations developed through previous research on asynchronous online discussions, they predicted that students would perceive online CBI discussions to promote learning and transfer of theoretical principles to classroom applications. A post-course survey revealed that most students did find this instructional method useful. Significant correlations were found between students' levels of participation and their perceptions of learning. Recommendations for optimal implementation of this combined method are discussed.

PDF fileWho Writes the Past? Student Perceptions of Wikipedia Knowledge and Credibility in a World History Classroom

Calkins, S., & Kelley, M. R.

The authors describe an inquiry-based learning project that required students in a first-year world history course to reflect on and analyze critically the nature of the knowledge found in Wikipedia--the free, open-content, rapidly evolving, internet encyclopedia. Using a rubric, the authors explored students' perceptions of the collaborative and community nature of Wikipedia as well as Wikipedia's accuracy, reputability, ease, and accessibility. Furthermore, they examined students' reflections on issues of plagiarism, responsibility, and whether Wikipedia qualifies as a scholarly source. Student perceptions were closely related to their level of intellectual and ethical development as defined by Perry (1970, 1998).

PDF fileThe Ripple Effect: Lessons From a Research and Teaching Faculty Learning Community

Hershberger, A., Spence, M., Cesarini, P., Mara, A., Jorissen, K. T., Albrecht, D., Gordon, J. J., & Lin, C.

Building upon a related 2005 panel presentation at the 25th annual Lilly Conference on College Teaching, Miami University, Oxford, Ohio, the authors, several tenure-track assistant professors and tenured associate professors who have participated in a Research and Teaching Faculty Learning Community at Bowling Green State University, share their experiences implementing innovative teaching strategies that they received support for as part of their learning community experience. Each pedagogical approach addressed the participants' perceived inefficiencies in teaching preparation during the "publish or perish" period of their careers. Perhaps the most inspiring and shared concept is what the authors call the "ripple effect": identifying ways to teach more efficiently not only strengthened their research agendas, but also led to more effective teaching.

Editorial Staff, Editorial Board, and Reviewers for this issue:


Milton D. Cox, Miami University

Executive Editor:

Laurie Richlin, Claremont Graduate University

Managing Editor:

Gregg W. Wentzell, Miami University

Editorial Board:

David Baume, Independent Consultant, Milton Keynes (UK)

Angela Brew, University of Sydney (AU)

Marianne Cotugno, Miami University

Douglas Eder, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (Emeritus)

Sheryl Hansen, Ohio Learning Network

Patricia Mabrouk, Northeastern University

Barbara Mossberg, California State University Monterey Bay

Torgny Roxå, Lund University (Sweden)

Mary Deane Sorcinelli, University of Massachusetts

Scott Simkins, North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University

Reviewers for This Issue:

Jeanne Ballantine, Wright State University

Stephen Bernhardt, University of Delaware

Laura Border, University of Colorado Boulder

Suzanne Burgoyne, University of Missouri

Carlos Cortés, University of California, Riverside

Terry Doyle, Ferris State University

Diane Gillespie, University of Washington, Bothell

Alan Kalish, The Ohio State University

Beverly Knauper, University of Cincinnati Raymond Walters College

Joseph Lowman, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Robert McMorris, State University of New York at Albany

Betty Oliver, Southern Polytechnic State University

Susan Radius, Towson University

Donna Sewell, Valdosta State University

Stella Smith, Georgia Gwinnett College

Victor Stanionis, Iona College

Beverley Taylor, Miami University

Sharon Valente, Ashland University

Norman Vaughan, Mount Royal College