CIPs Teaching Tips – Fall 2012 #9 “Why should I care?”

The most recent Tomorrow’s Professor Blog post discusses how to challenge your students AND get them motivated to learn.  You can read the complete post here: Below are some of the types of tips mentioned in the post that many instructors here already do. As always, we can learn a lot from each other. These methods are not only anecdotally successful, there is research behind them as well.

Show your students how the goals of your course and the assignments you ask them to complete make sense. First be sure students are clear about what you want them to do. Make it seem doable. Then connect the assignment to the goals of the course. Finally connect those goals to your students’ lives and future careers.  Do this in a way that makes sense to your students, not just to you or your colleagues.

If possible, have students set goals for themselves or their small group. This isn’t always possible to do for an entire course but can be applied to a particular assignment. An example would be to let students choose two out of three objectives to demonstrate with their project. They figure out how to accomplish this (within whatever guidelines you set). Make sure they run their draft or idea by you for approval so there are no unhappy surprises.  [You can apply this to form as well: if students are required to write a three-page paper to communicate X, why not let them write an epic poem, short story, or news report to do the same thing. If citing sources is an integral and needed component, have them do footnotes. They are still required to write, but they can choose the form their writing takes.]

Further connect the goals of the course to their applicable value. Why should students care about your course? Maybe they don’t realize the difference this type of knowledge or these skills can make in the world. Don’t assume that they do. Facilitate exploratory discussions to help students discover the benefits of course concepts and skills to themselves and to others in the world. Solving real problems, using case studies, and doing service learning are just a few ways that can help to reinforce this value recognition.

Raise the stakes. If students produce work that will be seen or judged by external audiences it can raise their engagement and challenge them to do better work. Displaying the work in the college community or online, showing the work to an advisory board or group of professionals, or creating a compilation publication can all affect student effort. Make sure students know from the start that their work will be seen by others.

With a little effort on your part, incorporating some of these ideas into your instructional design could make the following statement true: Transparent Connections + >Perceived Value = > Student Engagement and Quality of Work.

here’s to valuing what we do,


Cinse Bonino, Director

Located on the second floor of the Miller Information Commons (the library) across from the printer – MIC 205

Contact Director Cinse Bonino for a one-on-one CIP instructional design session:

Email: or Phone: 802 651 5965 Skype: cinse.cip


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