EDvice Exchange is the Center for the Advancement of Teaching‘s blog. It serves instructors in the Temple community and other institutions of higher education. This resource provides effective, research-based teaching practices for your consideration.

As I listened to Dr. Saundra McGuire’s keynote presentation on metacognition at Temple’s 15th Annual Faculty Conference on Teaching Excellence, a troubling thought occurred to me.  I made it through two decades of schooling as well as nearly a decade of teaching at the college level without ever hearing the word metacognition.  No one ever taught me to read actively or to monitor my own thinking.  Why do we keep this stuff a secret?  Teachers and students need to know “how to learn”.  Fortunately, McGuire has made it her “revolutionary mission to make all students expert learners.”

Nota Bene: This is a true classroom experience I had during my undergraduate student days. Please fasten your seatbelts as we prepare for take-off.  
Picture it: a 900-seat auditorium at a major research university. My first day of introductory physics. My friends and I entered the massive lecture hall and settled in. Suddenly, we heard (and felt) a very loud rumbling noise coming from stage left. In a flash, we caught a glimpse of a man seated on what looked like a rocket-shaped go-cart racing across the stage. Applause, and then a collective sigh of relief. Surely this was not the “weed out” course we were warned about. Surely this was a professor who had thought about how to make this course meaningful and motivating. Surely we were going to get lots of practice and support. Well, turns out we were surely wrong.  

Maintaining (or Increasing) Engagement in the Classroom

Maintaining student engagement in the classroom has long been a challenge in higher education; students dozing off or daydreaming is certainly not a new phenomenon. However, with the introduction of technology (e.g., smartphones, tablets) into everyday life, along with the plethora of content available (e.g., apps, websites), the potential is higher than ever for students to become distracted during class. Yet, some have offered that certain innovations, such as social media, can be used to increase student interaction and engagement.

In transitioning to teaching an online course for my first time four years ago, I was initially drawn by the promise of flexibility. Yes! I could work in my pajamas, from anywhere with internet access. I could work around my toddler’s schedule; teaching online afforded me the opportunity to balance work with parenting.

Where were you on September 11, 2001? Chances are very good that you have vivid memories of that day especially if you were in the United States. Why? Because we tend to remember emotional events. Although our memories of that day may not be completely accurate, it is unlikely that we will ever ‘forget’ where we were when we learned of the attacks because memory and emotion are inextricably linked.    

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