Universal Design for Learning in Action
Many of our faculty on campus employ excellent teaching strategies. Students respond to these engaging and effective teachers and tell us how these teachers foster their learning.
"If you’re going to ask students to show up, you’ve got to make it worth their while to be there," says Jeff Goodman, a senior lecturer in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at Appalachian State University. "What happens in the classroom has to matter," he continued, "it can’t just be information."
Goodman said there are a variety of different ways to help students learn something abstract, and he often starts by building things up from a real physical experience that all students in the class can share. To learn about the physics of sound, for example, he has students hang oven racks from their fingers, put their fingers in their ears, and strum the racks with a variety of objects. So Goodman creates events and situations in the classroom so students will have a shared, memorable experience that can be used as a springboard into more abstract concepts. "I think of myself as an enthusiasm engineer," he said, "and my job is to connect students with content. The content is already out there, and I have to help them care about it."
Motivation was the theme of a three-hour workshop on using research-based strategies to enhance instruction, and it motivated 65 faculty members at Appalachian State University to attend. They gave high marks to the session “Learning Matters: Applying Research-Based Strategies to Motivate Students” conducted by Dr. Brett D. Jones, a professor in the Department of Learning Sciences at Virginia Tech.
The focus of Jones’ presentation was the MUSIC Model of Academic Motivation. In 2009 Jones drew from decades of motivation theory and research to develop his comprehensive approach, which helps instructors better understand how current motivation theories and research can be applied to instruction
Maybe it’s a little bit easier to teach geology when the Appalachian Mountains are in your community, but that doesn’t mean Crystal Wilson doesn’t work hard to help her students learn the material. A lecturer in the geology department at Appalachian State for the past eight years, Wilson understands the importance of helping students make connections between her lectures and the world around them.
“Ms. Wilson goes out of her way to tie what she teaches into what students can see in and around Boone, in North Carolina or the world,” one student wrote. “She then discusses how the things that students are learning can affect their lives now and in the future.” Her students have noticed. “I think Ms. Wilson is a phenomenal teacher! Showing how the subject matter is important in day-to-day living takes preparation, planning, and commitment,” one student wrote.