Tool for Ranking Criteria

If you’ve taught report writing, you may have found it difficult to explain how to weigh the importance of one solution criterion against another.  Filippo A. Salustri, a professor of mechanical engineering at Ryerson, has devised a straightforward pairwise comparison problem-solving method that you could introduce to your students. Thanks to Richard McMaster for drawing my attention to this tool.

You may also want to look at Professor Salustri’s engineering design site.  His uncompromising policy on grade bumping requests, entitled “don’t bother begging for marks,” is eye-opening.

Meaningful Participation Marks


© Sandra Rosenberg 2017

Assignment #1:  Participation – Your Most Important First Impression

Students are often unsure about how to decide if they will do well in a course.  Chances are they have consulted anyone with any knowledge of the course and, importantly, the professor; so it is imperative to be both clear and up front about how the class will run.

The first day is critical, with students assessing how much they like an instructor, and, increasingly, if they will “have fun”.  It is the second of these two that worries me enough to ensure “what you see is what you get” in the first assignment, which is typically given before the drop date.

I have found that spelling out clearly exactly how a grade is achieved, with a generalized rubric if possible, helps students know both how to do their best, and why the grade is justified.  Complaints are reduced in direct proportion to how clearly the numbers add up.

Here is one version of my participation grade for a skills-based introductory level communication course: Participation


Impromptu Exercise for Speech Class

Thomas Hawk

© Sandra Rosenberg 2017

Impromptu speaking is something our texting students will increasingly lose the ability to master.  When asked a simple question by a colleague face-to-face, eyes drop and incomplete phrases emerge.

This skill is increasingly important for both job interviews and networking in a live situation.  A fun assignment, or even just a new ice breaker for the first day, “One Minute at the Dollar Store” has proven successful in both an introductory communication course, and an advanced professional presentation course (where more is demanded from participants).

Any collection of objects will do.  The Dollar Store is used since the assignment originated for a Retail course when this new retailer emerged; but the increasing success of the store and its familiarity for students allows it to be a convenient source of objects.  Instructors can even request students bring in an object of their own, without telling them why.

If used as an ice breaker, some object on hand, or even a photo on a phone, can serve as inspiration for self-introduction on the first day.  The important part is the shape of the presentation, as outlined in the assignment.


Learning Myths Quiz


© Kevin Leung 2017

As instructors, we’ve probably heard many tips on teaching and studying throughout our careers.  How many of these prescriptions actually hold up in the research? You might be wondering: Should we tailor teaching to different learning styles? What’s the best way for students to review materials for an exam? Do left-brained and right-brained people learn differently?

Extensive psychology research has shed light on these questions.  Take this short quiz yourself (below) to see if you still subscribe to any learning myths!