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I try to keep these blog entries short. how am I doing?
From a previous blog, I shared the mantra “it’s not about what the faculty knows; it’s about what the students learn” and an effective teacher will always take the opportunity to check in with the students to determine how they are doing, through every means possible. exams are only one avenue to evaluate effective teaching.
what if you ask the class a question and nobody answers?
I will write a future blog on the subject of querying the class as a part of lecture style. In some cultures, such as Asian cultures, it is not polite to ask a question of the teacher, and also impolite to blurt something out without a period of silence first. There are ways to engage the class that will overcome this, and here is one.
Also known as a variant of Nominal Group Process
here is a little exercise I do when there are ten minutes of unfilled time. for example, we once hosted a guest speaker who was ten minutes late due to parking issues, or the time we needed to call to IT to send tech support who would address some computer issue. (hate it when that happens.. I always check out the tech stuff as far in advance as possible)
The nominal group technique is particularly useful:
- When some group members are much more vocal than others.
- When some group members think better in silence.
- When there is concern about some members not participating.
- When the group does not easily generate quantities of ideas.
- When all or some group members are new to the team.
- When the issue is controversial or there is heated conflict.
- When there is a power-imbalance between facilitator and participants or participants: the structure of the NGT session can balance these out.
hand out 3 x 5 index cards, or scrap pieces of paper.
students write “Dear Abby……..” in upper left hand corner.
then “…..what I want to know is___________________” and pass the cards forward. they are told to write whatever they like – maybe something bothering them, some question about the class schedule or calendar, or any random thing. (one time the prompt was “name a person in the class who you wish to publicly thank for something they did that was nice” but not everyone took that seriously).
a really good one is “the question I was afraid to ask was _________________”
you can also use this to ask a survey question to see if everyone “got it” – such as “….. what is my comfort level with using this skill in clinical?” – the trick is to supply an open-ended prompt.
when they are collected, each statement is read out loud and an off-the-cuff response in given. As the reader, if somebody writes something inappropriate, you can skip it. You can make the responses as factual, or humorous as you wish.
One variation of this is to ask everyone to get out their cell phone and to text their question directly to the faculty cellphone. not quite as anonymous.
Nowadays there is technology such as i-clickers that serves to poll the class, and some teachers use it to guide such activities as learning how to read an NCLEX exam question.
hope this gives you a tool you can use.