Teaching and Learning Tip #45: Starting with Inspiration

January 29, 2019

What are you doing as an educator that no one else knows about?

We believe it's a fundamental responsibility of the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) to help share your work as an educator. The CTL would like to highlight your inspiring "story" in 2019. We are excited to launch our "Inspiring Stories" series that you will find through Teaching and Learning Tips and other CTL resources/events. Let us know what you are doing and we will help share your work.

For example, Rafael Cuevas Uribe (Fisheries) shared his story about restructuring his ichthyology course around cumulative quizzing after participating in a CTL reading group focused on the book "Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning." Cumulative quizzing is based on dividing the course up into multiple quizzes rather than having specific high stakes tests. Like the course, the quizzes were cumulative and questions are similar to those that would be on exams. For example, instead of having a mid-term and a final exam, the course may be built on nine quizzes that have cumulative scoring structures. This change is putting the testing effect into practice: regular "practice at retrieving new knowledge or skill from memory is a potent tool for learning and durable retention" (Brown, Roediger, & McDaniel, 2014, p.43). Rafael put this insight to practice in the labs for his ichthyology (study of fishes) class and saw an increase in the average grade for Lab Exams. "Conclusion: Cumulative quizzes worked for my class." Does this solve all of the challenges associated with student success and performance in the class? No, but it is an example of what we as educators do regularly: make real time and informed adjustments to our course and teaching to help students learn.

Our purpose here is to highlight the breadth of what educators are doing about which others may have no idea. We find Rafael's story inspiring because it exemplifies an instructor taking an evidence-informed approach to his teaching to see if it makes a positive difference.

Help us tell your story so we can collectively inspire others.

Inspiring Resources to Start Your Semester