The Faculty Peer Visits Program provides UNC-CH faculty members with an opportunity to see peers representing a variety of disciplines implementing interactive methods in a live classroom setting. Whether you are an instructor who has been using interactive methods for years or are trying to get ready to teach your first large class, you are likely to benefit from the visits by getting new ideas for effective practice and reflecting on your own practice.
Go with an open mind. Most of the faculty members who have agreed to share their classrooms with peers have been using interactive methods for several years in ways that work for them. You may leave a class visit with very different ideas about how you would use and implement a particular activity or technique in your own course.
Go with a friend. In an ideal world, you would meet with the instructor teaching the class before and after the visit to discuss the course, your experience, and your questions. Due to busy schedules these conversations may not be possible. As an alternative we encourage you to invite a colleague to visit the class with you. This shared experience will provide you with a richer opportunity to discuss your observations. CFE staff members who are familiar with these courses will also follow up with you.
Go with a visitation form. We suggest you print out one or both of the peer visitation forms designed to help make you more aware of instructional decisions during your visit. You can use them to familiarize yourself with interactive methods or to take notes. Note: Visits undertaken as part of this program have no bearing on the tenure and promotion of participating instructors.
Go down after class and say “Hello”. If you have time, and the line of students waiting to talk to the instructor is not too long, take a minute to introduce yourself. All of the participants appreciate meeting other faculty members who are interested, and you may also have an opportunity to follow up with a question or two.
Principles of Biology, BIOL 101
Enrollment: 330 students; typically first years
Instructional methods: Informal group work in a think-pair-share format, classroom response system (Learning Catalytics), problem solving, whole class discussions, undergraduate peer learning assistants.
Course teaching philosophy: “I use a variety of methods to hold students accountable for their learning. I think of myself as a facilitator that sets up learning activities for a student, giving many opportunities to make mistakes and learn from their mistakes. I believe in frequent assessments with feedback through homework and in-class activities and online quizzes. By the time a student sits for an exam, his/her thinking will have gone from foundational content/vocabulary to determining how concepts connect to each other.”
Organic Chemistry 2, Introduction to Organic Chemistry 2, CHEM 262
Enrollment: 225 students
Instructionalmethods: Informal group work in a think-pair-share format (peer instruction), classroom response system (Turning Technologies or i-clicker), problem solving, class discussions, undergraduate class mentors.
Courseteachingphilosophy: “I think of myself as a facilitator that sets up learning opportunities for students to connect concepts and deepen their understanding of information they have already gained. I give opportunities for students to explore their understanding in the context of low-stakes in class quizzes and activities and online quizzes. Students can assimilate basic information on their own, but often need the “expert” to help them connect simpler concepts and grasp more challenging concepts. Opening class time for more problem solving and peer discussion allows students to see how their peers and the “expert” would approach more challenging concepts.”
Instructional methods: Individual quiz, small group problem solving and discussion, classroom response system (Poll Everywhere)
Course description: “The purpose of this course is to introduce you to a new way of looking at the world. The course focuses on core economic concepts and provides opportunities to practice using them in contexts like you will encounter throughout your lives. It also introduces you to some basic models that economists use to make sense of what they observe around them. We will also explore how economists analyze the impact of different policies within the context of these models and determine whether the policy will have the intended, or an unintended, outcome. Foremost, the goal of the course is to help you think like an economist in ways that will help you make better decisions.”
Instructional methods: Informal group work in a think-pair-share format, classroom response system (PollEverywhere), problem solving, whole class discussions,
undergraduate peer learning assistants.
Learning Goals: Students will work in small groups to identify a research topic of interest to them and plan, conduct, write-up and present the results of this project. Students will practice all of the elements of research, such as submitting a mock IRB form and collecting informed consent. When data collection is complete, students use different statistical procedures and apply them to the data. Students iterate around experimental design, statistic al methods, and writing and presenting their work.
Teaching Rationale: “I use these methods to maximize student learning and enjoyment of the material. I want all students to have ample practice with some of the more challenging aspects of the course, see their peers as resources, and have hands-on opportunities to conduct research that is of interest to them. My students will draw upon this material in future coursework and possibly graduate school, and I want them to feel prepared and confident that they can understand the material and produce high quality work with the right preparation and study strategies. Ultimately, I would like them to realize that they are in control of their learning and I am simply there to facilitate by providing resources, timely feedback to challenging prompts, and giving them authentic opportunities to think and act like a researcher.”
Enrollment: 20 students; often freshmen and sophomores take the course to fulfill the General Education requirement
Instructionalmethods: Pair and group work, interviews, role play, surveys, games, songs, film clips, debates.
Course Description: This is the first of two elementary Italian courses, ideal for someone with no prior knowledge of the language. This semester you will learn the basic skills of speaking, reading and understanding Italian. By the end of this course, you will be able to talk about student life, your interests, your family, shopping, and Italian. By the end of this course, you will be able to talk about student life, your interests, your family, shopping, and technology, with reference to both present and past experiences. You will develop a rich vocabulary, including phrases to use when studying or traveling in Italy. You will learn a lot about life in Italy, including the cultures of food, sports, education, and family. You will complete Chapters 1-4 of Sentieri, which you will continue to use in Ital 102 and Ital 203. The goal by the end of the course is to understand the logic of the language and to have simple conversations in Italian relating to basic themes of everyday life.
Enrollment: 150 in lecture, 50 in studio; students majoring in the life sciences, 50% juniors, 25% each seniors and sophomores
Instructionalmethods: All methods are based on extensive physics education research (a literature that goes back over 40 years) that shows them to be more effective than traditional lecturing.In the (50-min) lecture section the instructor briefly reviews concepts from the textbook reading assignment students have completed beforehand (they also complete a small on-line assignment) and then uses classroom response and peer instruction for students to answer conceptual questions and solve (relatively simple) quantitative problems. In the (110-min) studio section the students work in small groups on structured tutorial activities, experiments, and simulations while the instructor circulates and offers assistance as needed. There are two modules per week, each module consisting of a lecture followed by a studio. A follow-up homework assignment (“end-of-chapter problems”) finishes the weekly cycle.
CourseDescription: To gain a fundamental understanding of matter and its interactions; to be able to apply that fundamental understanding to analyze biological systems and processes; and to enhance skills in quantitative analysis of physical systems and phenomena.
Instructionalmethods: Before class, students watch a 10 minute video and complete a 2 to 3 question assignment on the basics of the day’s topic. During class, the instructor alternates brief periods of lecture with time for student to work problems or discuss concept questions with peers. Students submit answers to concept questions and some of the easier computational problems using PollEverywhere. Undergraduate Learning Assistants and graduate TA’s circulate to help. A skeleton of lecture notes is posted before class, filled in during class using Mirroring 360 and an iPad, and posted on Sakai after class.
Rationale: Alternating periods of lecture with time for problem solving keeps students engaged and helps them learn in real time, rather than at home later. PollEverywhere motivates students to participate and gives the instructor feedback on student misunderstandings, that can then be addressed. Undergraduate Learning Assistants help reduce the amount of time students are stuck before they get help. Pre-class videos and pre-class assignments allow students to master the basics on their own, freeing up time in class for problem solving and discussion of concepts. Using skeleton notes allows more material to be covered, since less time is spent drawing graphs and writing down the problems, but it still keeps students actively engaged in anticipating answers and filling in details. Using an iPad and Mirroring 360 allows notes to be easily projected, with good color contrast, and then easily posted after class.
Instructional methods: Traditional lecture; pair and share/individual reflection activities; group discussion assignments/activities (often case study based); aesthetics and technology of Greenlaw 101 to elicit teacher-student and student-student interaction
Teaching Philosophy/Rationale: My first objective is to make each student feel comfortable participating in group dialogue. This is accomplished by first starting with pair and small group discussions about case study scenarios driven by course content. These discussions help students to build relationships and receive feedback on their critical thinking ideas. These discussions then progress into individual students providing a summary of these discussions to the class. Through continued use of these techniques over time, interpersonal relationships among students, oral communication skills and knowledge and critical thinking related to course content develop. I also aim to develop written communication in my courses via writing assignments which emphasize critical thinking as the content objective. Group writing assignments give students additional opportunities to develop working relationships, share ideas, and interact cohesively to create a polished final product. These group experiences are applicable to a variety of professional goals and are meant to encourage students to tackle questions they may encounter as young professionals.
Course description: This is an introduction to sport & exercise psychology concepts. This is a popular elective for Exercise and Science students in all of our tracks (general track, sport administration, fitness professional, athletic training). It will become a required course for the general track beginning fall 2016. Students will: 1. Develop an understanding of how psychological factors influence involvement and performance in sport and physical activity settings. 2. Develop on understanding of how participation in sport and physical activity may impact the psychological and outcomes of those who chose to participate. 3. Acquire skills and knowledge about sport psychology theory and research that you can apply as a participant, coach, teacher, athletic trainer, sport administrator, or parent within relevant sport and physical activity settings. 4. Develop the ability to think critically about issues in sport and physical activity.
Instructionalmethods: Prior to class students view instructor-prepared lecture videos and take an online quiz to prepare for in class activities including small group problem sets and discussions as well as individual quiz assessments using Poll Everywhere.
Rationale: After years of using a traditional lecture format I started to realize that for most students all I was doing during class was getting the material out to them; there was very little time for a critical look at concepts and applying them towards solving problems. I wanted to use my limited time to have a more profound impact on student learning by building a higher level of understanding of concepts. I was inspired to remodel my classroom structure based on the interactions I had with students during exam review sessions. Since the students had engaged in the material beforehand on their own with homework and study guides we could have in depth discussions that addressed the particular aspects of concepts that gave them trouble. With the flipped classroom structure I am much more of a facilitator that provides students with applied problem sets that specifically address the most difficult concepts and clears up common misconceptions.
CourseDescription: This is a general introduction to Earth systems that explores the environmental processes that transform matter and energy as well as how humans impact the way these systems work. The course satisfies the science w/ lab general education requirement and is required for our BA in environmental studies and minor in environmental studies/sciences. Therefore, the course is a mix of freshman through sophomores as well as science and non-science majors.
Intermediate Theory: Price and Distribution, Econ 410
Instructional methods: Lecture, informal group work, classroom response system (Turning Technologies), problem solving
Rationale: Economics is a discipline that many find difficult to grasp. My role is to break down the material in a clear and structured way while emphasizing how it relates to the “big picture.” I teach each concept intuitively, graphically and mathematically to appeal to different learning styles. Furthermore, I believe that true understanding comes through active learning and support this by incorporating practice problems and clicker questions into lectures that promote discussion and illustrate the application of the material.
Enrollment: 35 students; non-majors and majors of any undergraduate rank
Instructional methods: Hybrid lessons featuring lecture + discussion (co-produced by professor and students); students also present group-produced educational
performing arts lessons and group-produced experiential education lessons.
Course teaching philosophy/rationale: Hybrid lessons co-delivered by professor and student encourage the students to move from the role of passive listener to active processor of learning content that is then orally delivered to the class. The assignments calling for students to group-produce performative and experiential lessons compel students to engage in project management, the adaptation of learning materials, creative processes, collaboration, and public presentation.
MWF 1:25 – 2:15, Greenlaw 301
Rhetoric and Composition, ENGL 105
Enrollment: 19 students; generally made up of first-year and transfer students.
Instructional methods: Group workshops, mini-lectures, and student speeches
Course teaching philosophy/rationale: This class is taught as a workshop. In a workshop, time traditionally devoted to absorbing professorial lectures is instead spent learning, developing and practicing a skill set both individually, and as a member of a “peer review group.” The philosophical basis of this style is twofold: first, writers learn to write and speak by writing and speaking; second, group work helps assure that students will treat writing as a process.
Instructional methods: Before class students are expected to read a chapter (or portion of a chapter) and complete a short on-line assignment. In lecture section we review concepts from the reading and use think-pair-share strategies to answer conceptual questions or solve longer quantitative problems. In the associated studio section, students work in small groups to practice problem solving techniques, perform short experiments, work on simulations or think through guided demonstrations while the instructors circulates and offers assistance as needed. The combination of lecture and studio together constitutes a module of the course and there are 2 modules per week. A follow-up online homework assignment finishes each module.
Instructional methods: The course is divided into modules. Each module consists of pre-class assignment (reading and videos) with a quiz, a 50-minute interactive lecture, a 110-min studio session in which students work in small groups on experimental investigations and cooperative group problem-solving, and a homework assignment. There are two modules per week. Clickers are used in the lecture for student response to instructor questions.
Learning Goals: The course covers foundational concepts of classical mechanics and special relativity as well as measurement techniques and the handling of quantitative data. Conceptual understanding and problem-solving skills are both emphasized.
Rationale: These methods rest on a sound foundation of physics education research and their use has been demonstrated (at UNC and elsewhere) to result in improved learning gains over traditional lecture-based courses.
Are you open to having other faculty members visit one of your classes? Please contact Kelly Hogan, Director of Instructional Innovation for the College of Arts and Sciences, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested.