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My idea of a great class is one in which the students ask questions, engage in discussion, challenge, argue with each other, and in which I use their insights, conversations to direct the learning. An ideal class for me may have some lecture, but I get very frustrated when I do not have the student input that helps me determine where students need to be guided in their understanding.
The student engagement needs to be substantial; it's not enough that they talk, they need to talk intelligently about the subject at hand, which necessitates sufficient preparation for the class. My problem is that fewer and fewer students are 1) doing the assigned readings or 2) doing the assigned readings in a way that is reflective.
Course preparation assignments are one way to increase the worthwhile prep students are doing and increase the learning dynamic in the classroom. The nice thing about CPA's is that you can have the students do the preparation fully online or not, whichever suits your style. Ultimately, the CPA's organize student effort into a pattern they can come to expect and rely on: Read - Think - Write - Discuss.
*David Yamane, "Course Preparation Assignments: A Strategy for Creating Discussion-Based Courses," Teaching Sociology 34, July, 2006,236-248.
For more information about the Center for Teaching Excellence, please contact:
Becky Kasper, Ph.D., Director
301 Feinberg Library, Plattsburgh, NY 12901
Phone: (518) 564-3043
Fax: (518) 564-5100