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Designing Creative Assignments Introduction to College Teaching II October 31, 2007 Colleen B. Kennedy (French) & Lara Pudwell (Math)

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Presentation on theme: "Designing Creative Assignments Introduction to College Teaching II October 31, 2007 Colleen B. Kennedy (French) & Lara Pudwell (Math)"— Presentation transcript:

1 Designing Creative Assignments Introduction to College Teaching II October 31, 2007 Colleen B. Kennedy (French) & Lara Pudwell (Math)

2 Building a creative classroom Engage students in their learning Focus assessment & assignments on course goals Multiply the voices of authority – Invite guest speakers to class – Give assignments that help students teach each other

3 Introductory discussion TOPIC #1: – What is the most engaging assignment you’ve completed as a student? – Why was it an effective assignment? TOPIC #2: – What is the most creative assignment you’ve developed as a teacher/TA? – Was it effective? – How was it received by the students?

4 Creating effective assignments When designing assignments for a course, consider: – Frequency – Length – Clarity of task(s) given – Weight in final grade – Class size Do you have time to provide sufficient support for all students? – Purpose of assignment in context of syllabus Does it foreshadow? Review? Both?

5 Creating effective assignments Questions to ask yourself: – What goals of the course are met by completing this assignment? – How will this assignment be connected to future evaluations (tests, quizzes, etc.)? – What criteria will determine the grade? – What skills will students demonstrate or develop by completing this assignment? – What methods should they use in their research?

6 Assignment Scope Bloom’s taxonomy (in Jacobs & Chase, Ch. 2) lists 6 cognitive levels: – Knowledge (recall) – Comprehension (explain) – Application (transfer) – Analysis (separate) – Synthesis (combine) – Evaluation (judge) Defining your target

7 Assignment Scope (continued) Consider drawing from multiple parts of Bloom’s taxonomy. Consider the level of your class. – Introductory classes may require traditional assignments that reinforce basic knowledge & comprehension – Upper-level classes may include in-depth analysis, synthesis, and evaluation of material Creative assignments at all levels can also help engage students.

8 Advantages of creative assignments Creative assignments can engage students’ multiple intelligences, enhancing their understanding of the subject. New approaches to standard material can help prevent plagiarism. Effective use of creativity in the classroom and in assignments can enhance your teaching portfolio!

9 Multiple Intelligence Theory Developed in 1983 by Howard Gardner (photo) According to Gardner: – Intelligences can be strengthened or weakened over time, and can work either independently or together. – All people possess all nine intelligences in different amounts – Assignments that address students’ multiple intelligences can enhance the classroom experience. Source: http://www.thirteen.org/edonline/concept2class/mi/index.html

10 Gardner’s Nine Intelligences 1. Verbal-Linguistic Intelligence 2. Mathematical-Logical Intelligence 3. Musical Intelligence 4. Visual-Spatial Intelligence 5. Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence 6. Interpersonal Intelligence 7. Intrapersonal Intelligence 8. Naturalist Intelligence 9. Existential Intelligence

11 Applying Multiple Intelligence theory Students who understand their own balance of multiple intelligences can: – Better manage their own learning – Learn to value their individual strengths Instructors who apply M.I. theory can: – Provide more opportunities for students to cultivate their talents and improve their weaknesses – Engage students with course material in ways that make sense to them Source: http://www.thirteen.org/edonline/concept2class/mi/index.html

12 In brief: The plagiarism problem As many as 70% of students on any given college campus admit to some form of cheating 77% of students believe that Internet plagiarism is not a very serious issue University-wide honor codes can help, but instructors can also take action to deter cheaters Source: http://www.academicintegrity.org

13 Preventing plagiarism with creativity Source: http://www2.truman.edu/~karenmc/preventplagiarism.htm Suggested assignments: Locate and read articles cited in a research paper, asking students to identify how each source relates to the new argument Introduce students to websites such as http://www.plagiarismchecker.com http://www.plagiarismchecker.com Have students give a multimedia presentation Assign essays on opposing sides of the same issue, then have an in-class debate Choose an event and trace its coverage in various media (TV news, newspapers, magazines, journals, blogs, etc.)

14 Preventing plagiarism with creativity Source: http://www2.truman.edu/~karenmc/preventplagiarism.htm More assignment ideas: Assign an imaginary interview: students compose possible questions for a prominent figure (historical, political, literary, scientific, philosophical, etc.) and propose logical answers in that person’s voice based on their research Choose a single relevant topic, then have students compare its presentation in a scholarly article, a magazine article, a newspaper article, and a website Have students research a possible career related to the course subject and write a report to present to the class

15 Creative classroom interaction Use classroom interaction to complement assignments Creative readings or reenactments Demonstrations to complement explanations Debates In-class small group work – Role playing – Case studies (proposing one or more solutions to a hypothetical problem)

16 Can computational assignments be creative? Absolutely! Example: Use the computer to generate individualized assignments for each student – The computer can also generate the answer key! – Formulate the problems in terms of a story that gives students an interesting context (real-life application is a plus!)

17 Can research papers be creative? Research papers may be unavoidable in your discipline. Creativity can be applied to one or more stages of a research paper. Consider: – your administrative role – the topic(s) you assign – required research documentation – additional requirements

18 Assigning creative research papers Source: http://www2.truman.edu/~karenmc/preventplagiarism.htm Administrative: Assign the paper as a process with weekly or biweekly due dates for different components. Assign multiple short papers Peer review multiple drafts Keep a writing portfolio for each student Require students to submit their topics around midterm (do not allow last-minute changes) Include a section on the final exam where students discuss the main ideas of their research papers

19 Assigning creative research papers Source: http://www2.truman.edu/~karenmc/preventplagiarism.htm Topic ideas: Write about issues affecting the campus or the local community. Provide a set list of highly specific topics (must be changed each semester). Ask students to write about current events. Require detailed comparison of two viewpoints or documents on the same issue. Have students write an editorial or opinion piece (could be set in historical context).

20 Assigning creative research papers Source: http://www2.truman.edu/~karenmc/preventplagiarism.htm Research documentation: Have students annotate their bibliography/works cited Require photocopies of references with relevant sections clearly marked Require a research log (all search engines, journal indexes, databases, librarians, and reference works) Have students submit an outline before or with their final draft Set up a library class session immediately after assigning the project; have a reference librarian discuss how to find and use sources for their topics

21 Following up research projects Source: http://www2.truman.edu/~karenmc/preventplagiarism.htm Consider these additional requirements: A one-on-one conference with each student after the paper is submitted An oral presentation where students answer questions and/or defend their positions Group discussions and/or peer critique of the project A brief in-class essay about their project written the day of submission.

22 More assignment ideas Role Play / Reenactment Polling Interviews Speaking assignments – Recorded or live – Small groups or one-on- one Computer assignments Oral Presentations Build a Model In-Class Writing Create a newsletter Journal Writing Public Exhibit Writing letters

23 Evaluating your assignments Did the students accomplish the goals you outlined for the assignment? Could you divide the assignment into smaller segments or expand it further? Were your grading criteria easy for you to apply and easy for the students to interpret? Ask colleagues for advice Ask students for feedback (index card survey)

24 Your Mission: STEP ONE: Analyze the effectiveness of the major assignment(s) given in a syllabus that you have taught. Consider Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences and Bloom’s six cognitive levels. How many different intelligences and/or cognitive levels are engaged when completing the assignment? Is the assignment at risk for easy plagiarism? STEP TWO: Revise this assignment to make it more engaging and less susceptible to plagiarism. Consider altering the topic, format, research requirements, or any other aspect of the project. If possible, include new project phases or other criteria that would expand the range of Gardner’s intelligences and Bloom’s cognitive levels needed to effectively complete the assignment.


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