Teaching in Stereo: Strategies for Class Participation
Nov. 1 @ 1PM ET
A year of teaching on Zoom showed faculty that having students participate using their voices isn’t the only meaningful kind of participation. How can we take a more inclusive, accessible approach to class participation in our classrooms, whether they’re virtual or in person? In this workshop, we’ll consider principles and practices to turn our classes into learning communities where students can learn from and with each other.
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How WE Achieve: Using Goal Setting and Reflection Surveys to Create Closer Connections with Students Nov. 7 @ 12PM ET
In this webinar, Dr. Mollie Anderson will share how she uses the Goal Setting and Reflection Surveys in Achieve. These surveys not only boost student metacognitive and study skills, they also provide instructors deep insight into student demographics and needs--in their own words. Mollie describes how she uses this data to empathize with her students, tailor her teaching to suit the unique makeup of each class, and even intervene with individual students when they need her help the most. You'll come away from this webinar with ideas for how you can use Goal Setting and Reflection surveys in your own class to create closer connections with students than ever.
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It really is a tale as old as time – a room full of students staring blankly at an instructor who has just posed a question to them. Some students are even nodding off in the back of the classroom. It’s not necessarily a story of disinterested students but it might be one of disengaged students.
If you’ve ever struggled to keep your students engaged, you’re not alone. Engaging students has always been a pain point for educators. Whether you’re trying to engage college students during lectures or get high school students to participate in small group activities (or anything in between), you’ve likely come up against some hurdles.
An engaged student is one who is curious about, interested in, and attentive to what they’re learning. Engaged students feel a positive emotional connection to their learning experience. Without engagement, students might end up detached or focused entirely on memorization. Does that sound familiar?
Sometimes engagement comes easily. A student might be so deeply interested in a subject that they’re on the edge of their seats during every class. It's more often the case that educators have to help foster a positive connection between students' lives and what they’re learning.
Supporting student engagement is possible if you know what barriers stand in the way and what strategies and activities to incorporate to drive engagement. As an educator, you can take the driver’s seat with a few simple considerations and steps.
What stands in the way of student engagement?
There are countless barriers to student engagement but a few stand out as exceedingly common. Often, students who want to engage in classes actively lack the confidence to speak up. Many students struggle to see how concepts and topics related to their own lives. Some students even feel so disconnected from their instructors and peers that they don’t realize an opportunity to engage with them.
Beyond those common barriers to student engagement, one of these factors could be why you’ve noticed low engagement among your students:
Life outside of the classroom is distracting your students. Like all of us, students have lives outside of their (school)work. The stress they experience isn’t always about making good grades and getting to class on time. Home life, finances, extracurricular activities, friends, and social and political events can create stress that makes it difficult to focus in class.
Your lectures cater to one learning style, and it’s not theirs. Whether you’ve been teaching for decades or are just getting started this term, it’s easy to fall into a rhythm. You have so much content to cover in such a short amount of time and routine can help. It’s important, however, to keep different learning styles in mind when mapping out your course design.
Students don't know how to ask for help. For a lot of college students, office hours can be an intimidating, if not totally foreign concept. When students don’t know that they can connect with their instructors they can begin to feel isolated. They may even distance themselves from the course slowly over time without realizing it.
Mistakes aren’t encouraged. Nothing zaps confidence more than the fear of being wrong. If in-classroom engagement feels too high stakes for students, they may be so fearful of providing the wrong answer or working through a problem incorrectly that they miss out on the opportunity to engage.
Students don’t know where they stand in a course. A lack of clarity into their progress in the course can impact their engagement. Maybe you have an incredibly shy student who answered a question in class one time. For that student, that one act of engagement might have felt monumental but to you, it may seem that they're not engaged enough.
Expectations aren’t clear. If students don’t know that they’re expected to actively participate in class, they may seem disengaged even when they aren’t. Every student has had a different experience throughout their academic careers and may not intuitively know what to do in the classroom.
Instructor barriers to engaging students
Low student engagement is a compounding problem for educators. Every barrier to engagement that students face creates a challenge that instructors need to solve. At the same time, educators face their own challenges to improving student engagement, namely time constraints with such hefty workloads and analysis paralysis brought on by the sheer number of resources, advice, and tools available.
With a good action plan and well-designed, research-backed tools, small changes to a course can greatly improve engagement. Yes, there are 101 things you can do to improve student engagement, but you don’t have to do them all and you don’t have to do them alone.
Breaking through student engagement barriers
You don’t have to wait until halfway through the semester – when students are nodding off in class or skipping altogether – to start thinking about engagement. An effective student engagement strategy starts on day one of class and doesn’t stop when students leave the classroom. Here are five ideas to help you break through the barriers throughout the term:
Break the ice with your students . Allot some time for students to get to know you and their classmates on the first day.
Provide an informal meeting place . Encourage your students to share questions, comments, and ideas with one another through a discussion board in your LMS or via a class social media page. This doesn’t have to be for a grade.
Clearly and repeatedly share information about how students can communicate with you . This includes sharing your office hours schedule and setting realistic expectations on your response time to emails.
Don’t ignore what’s happening outside of the classroom . Many of the stressors that distract students during class can become teachable moments. If you find that your students seem concerned by current events, consider how you can incorporate them into lectures, assignments, and group discussions.
Make it okay to make mistakes . Whether it’s fostering supportive class discussions wherein students feel comfortable being wrong or providing more low-stakes assessments, give students opportunities to make mistakes without fear.
Active learning is arguably the foundation of student engagement. We define active learning and outline an extensive list of strategies that you can use before, during, and after class in our Educator’s Guide to Student Engagement. As a quick overview, active learning is when students learn by doing because their instructor involved them in the lesson directly. This is opposed to passive learning where students learn by receiving information that is presented to them by an instructor.
At some point or another, everyone has to learn by doing. You can read every book in the world about knitting but until you actually pick up the needles and yarn, you won’t be able to apply that knowledge. Bringing active learning strategies into your classroom gives students the opportunity to acquire knowledge and apply it in the same space. In this article, we’ll recommend a few sample activities all of which are based on active learning principles.
3 sample activities for better student engagement
Metacognition-focused activities allow students to reflect on and realize how they learn best. Knowing whether they’re strong visual, auditory, read/write, or kinesthetic (VARK) learners can be a helpful tool for engaging students and helping them build personalized study plans.
You can turn any small group activity into a metacognitive one with a few simple steps. Ask students to think about whether they are visual, auditory, read/write, or kinesthetic learners (or have them take the VARK Questionaire if you have time). Then, instead of allowing students to choose their own groups, group students by their preferred learning styles and have them complete the activity. Ask them to reflect at the end of the activity on what it was like to work with other learners like them. Then, divide students into groups with mixed learning styles to complete another activity. Ask them to reflect on what they gained from working with students who learn differently.
Read the Metacognition for Digital Learning whitepaper for more information and ideas.
Gamify Your Classroom Experience
Everyone loves a good game and there’s no reason you can’t bring the benefits of games into your courses. Here's how you can play Who Wants to Be a Millionaire with your students, no matter the subject you teach.
Using a free website like superteachertools.us/millionaire and an in-class engagement tool like iClicker, you create a modified version of this popular game Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. Keep everyone involved by having one contestant submit their final answer on the SuperTeacherTools site, while the rest of the class weighs in via iClicker. For each question, the contestant can review the results of the iClicker classroom poll and answer using that information or venture a guess on their own.
For more ways to engage your students by turning class time into game time, check out this resource, Playing to Learn: Hosting Online Games with iClicker .
Case studies can be the basis of great active learning activities. They can easily foster collaboration among students and help contextualize course content.
One activity you can try with your students using a case study is to investigate a mystery. Who doesn’t love a good mystery story? While your students probably won’t walk away with definitive answers to questions that leading experts in your field haven’t solved, this exercise can engage your students by getting them to think outside the box. Here’s an example borrowed from a biology educator:
Did Joseph Merrick have Proteus syndrome? Joseph Merrick also called the Elephant Man, died in 1890. He was known and exhibited as a “freak” for his deformities. Joseph was a patient at London Hospital. Many now believe that he had a rare condition known as Proteus syndrome. This is an example of a case study that can be used to teach the scientific method or cell signaling. Provide students with a description of Joseph Merrick and his life. Walk them through how to determine whether or not he had Proteus syndrome. Finally, provide guidance to help keep them on track.
You can watch the recording of a webinar we hosted that is full of tips for incorporating case studies into STEM courses.
6 steps to creating your own engaging activities
Active learning activities aren’t just an opportunity to play a game or get your students talking, they should always tie back to the course material and help students better understand topics and concepts. Once you know which aspects of the course content you want to create an engaging activity for, try these steps to get started.
Reflect on how you became interested in a new topic or issue . How was the information presented to you? How did you engage with it? Can you try something similar with your students?
Co-create the course with your students . Poll your students to find out how they’d like to learn and what kind of activities they’d be likely to participate in.
Try and try again . Once you’ve tested the activity, you’ll have a strong sense of what worked well for you and what you’d like to do differently moving forward. Always let your students know when you’re trying something new so they know to be patient and attentive.
Create a routine . Once you’ve got a handle on the activities you’ll incorporate in your course, make it a part of your routine. It’ll help students know to focus and be prepared for any break in the lecture for an activity.
Keep them accountable . Using a system like iClicker that allows you to track responses will help you know who is participating and who isn’t.
Remember to follow through and follow up . Give yourself and your students time to discuss activities. Highlight correct answers and explain why other responses were incorrect.
Student engagement is a bit like a puzzle. Addressing the specific barriers you and your students face is one piece of the puzzle. Having the best resources and tools that allow all of your students to participate equally is another piece. With the right puzzle pieces, you can pull together an engaging course for your students.
If you’re interested in learning more about student engagement solutions at Macmillan, click here to schedule a demo .
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Digital Tools in the Post-Covid Age: Using "Read and Practice" to Foster Mental and Emotional Health Among College Students Oct. 13 @ 11AM ET
In this webinar, Dr. Vaughn Scribner explains how Read and Practice helped him to empathize with students and help them with their mental well-being during Covid, and how he plans on integrating these findings in the post-Covid landscape.
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At Macmillan Learning, we strive to create products that foster connections between professors and their students. Learning happens at the human-to-human level, and our tools foster those connections and relationships. In this video, hear from Susan Winslow, CEO at Macmillan Learning, the director of Product, Jason Walker, and the executive director of Product, Ryan Moore, on the importance of creating connections.
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Reconsidering the Value of Education Dec. 12 @ 12PM ET
College enrollments have declined steadily in recent years with hundreds of thousands of prospective students choosing not to pursue a degree. Students have to weigh the cost of college against the value they’ll take away from it. We all have a role to play in helping students realize the greatest possible value from their investment in their education. Join the Macmillan Learning team and a panel of experts for a conversation about what an education offers students, the decisions they have to weigh, and how we can work to provide value to every student.
What You’ll Take Away:
An overview of the state of college enrollments
An understanding of the role that instructors can play in making courses feel worthwhile for students
Ideas for making courses feel more relevant for students
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Addressing and Preventing Bias in Educational Technology Nov. 17 @ 1PM
Join the Macmillan Learning team and a panel of experts for a discussion about how to avoid bias in educational technology. What you’ll take away: E xamples and impact of bias in educational technology; Tips for identifying equitably developed content and technology; T eaching tips for using technology to improve equity outcomes in your courses.
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Emphasizing Academic Integrity in Every Classroom Oct. 19 @ 12PM ET
New tools have created countless ways for students to cheat – and growing academic and socio-economic pressures have created more reasons for them to do so. some they might not even realize are dishonest. Join the Macmillan Learning team and a panel of experts for a conversation about mitigating cheating by fostering strong academic integrity in students. What you'll take away: An overview of the state of academic integrity today; An understanding of the value of focus on promoting integrity over monitoring and punishing cheating; and Knowledge of strategies that can be used to emphasize the importance of academic integrity with students.
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Promoting Critical Thinking Through Active Learning Sept. 29 @ 2PM ET
Research has consistently shown that active learning strategies require students to use and even develop higher-order thinking skills. Bringing active learning into the classroom can have many benefits, including the ability to help students build and reinforce critical thinking skills. Join the Macmillan Learning team and a panel of active learning experts for a conversation about using active learning strategies to help students analyze information and creatively solve problems.
What You’ll Take Away: An understanding of how active learning differs from passive learning; an overview of the cognitive skills that active learning can help students develop and practice; ideas for active learning strategies that you can use in your courses that can help support the development of long-term critical thinking skills.
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How to use iClicker and Tech Tools to Build Connection with Students and Keep your Sanity Sept. 12 @ 12PM ET
Let’s be real: it’s a stressful time to teach. It’s also a stressful time to learn. Connection is more important than ever. Learn how to re-invigorate your class with a few simple tech tools and practices.
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It's almost time to bring your students back to campus! Achieve makes it easy to create a welcoming, interactive classroom. This webinar is for Achieve users, old and new, who want to know what's new with Achieve and get a tour of features like Goal Setting and Reflection Surveys and iClicker integration. We’ll also discuss ways you can use these resources in your classroom, whether it’s a traditional brick-and-mortar classroom or a hybrid approach.
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It's almost time to bring your students back to campus! iClicker makes it easy to create a welcoming, interactive classroom. This webinar is for iClicker users, old and new, who want to know what's new with iClicker and get a tour of features like Focus Mode and Anonymous questions. We’ll also discuss ways you can use iClicker in your classroom, whether it’s a traditional brick-and-mortar classroom or a hybrid approach.
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The Student Login insights card is one of several insights in Achieve that can help you understand more about your students.
For instance, the Student Login insight card can help identify patterns of student engagement with the Achieve platform (e.g., help you identify students who are not entering into the Achieve platform in the first place).
After reviewing the Student Login insight card, if you find that some students may be disengaged or minimally engaged with the Achieve platform, these students may need additional support to appropriately seek help . Appropriate “help seeking” behaviors are important strategies that can help improve students’ learning.
“We must regularly ask, not only ‘What are you learning?’ but ‘How are you learning?’” (Weimer, 2012)
As you’ve probably noticed from firsthand experience, not all students seek help in the same way. For instance, some students seek help in order to learn (e.g., ask for hints but seek to solve the problem on their own) while others tend to seek help in order to obtain a correct or ready-made answer (1, 3, 4) .
Students who tend to be more concerned about performance may avoid seeking help or seek help in non-adaptive ways. In comparison, students who are focused on mastering concepts and self-improvement tend to seek help in more instrumental or adaptive ways and are less threatened by seeking help (4, 5, 6) .
If you’re interested in encouraging more adaptive help-seeking behaviors in your students, consider the following:
Encourage students to intentionally use feedback that is given to them. For instance, you could ask students to go back and try to re-solve a problem that they initially got incorrect then determine if and to what extent they need further assistance (7) .
Help students tolerate uncertainty. This can help students normalize occurrences of “not knowing” and help transition such occurrences into desirable intellectual challenges (8) .
Promote learning and adaptive help seeking behaviors by providing students with explanations rather than direct answers (7) .
Help students be metacognitive about their learning. Students who have stronger metacognitive skills seek help more effectively or adaptively (9) .
Ensure you are clear and explicit with students about what skills or knowledge are needed to perform a given task, successfully complete an assignment, etc. You may ask yourself “What is the task that I want my students to do?” and “What do students need to know to do it?” (4) .
Help-seeking can be associated with personal “costs” for some students. Be aware of this and try to establish classroom norms for help-seeking behaviors (e.g., rules or procedures by which students can obtain help like asking peers or interrupting lecture to ask a question) Consider leveraging technology to reduce “costs” of seeking help (4) .
Build a learning environment where students have permission to identify confusions (11)
Keep in mind, help-seeking usually requires some degree of social skills that students may need help to master. For instance, prosocial skills can be beneficial for help-seeking. But students may need some guidance in the skill of asking questions (10, 12) . Your students can use the following steps to help them ask questions:
Become aware that you need to ask a question or get help.
Decide what you would like to know more about.
Decide who to ask- someone who has the best information.
Think about different ways or words you could use to ask the question.
Decide on the right time and setting to ask the question.
Ask the question.
Weimer, M. (2012,). Deep learning vs. surface learning: Getting students to understand the difference. Retrieved from: https://www.lander.edu/sites/lander/files/Documents/About/Offices_Departments/academic-affairs/whiteboards/whiteboard-12dec.pdf .
Huet N., Motak, L., & Sakdavong, J. (2016). Motivation to seek help and help efficiency in students who failed in an initial task. Computers in Human Behavior, 63, 584-593.
Newman, R.S. (2002). How self-regulated learners cope with academic difficulty: the role of adaptive help-seeking. Theory into practice, 41, 132-138.
Karabenick, S. A., & Berger, J. (2013). Help seeking as a self-regulated learning strategy. In H. Bembenutty, T. J. Cleary, & A. Kitsantas (Eds.), Applications of self-regulated learning across diverse disciplines: A tribute to Barry J. Zimmerman (pp. 237-261).
Karabenick, S. A. (1998). Strategic help seeking: Implications for learning and teaching. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Karabenick, S. A. (2003). Seeking help in large college classes: A person centered approach. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 28, 37-58.
Webb, N. M., & Palincsar, A. S. (1996). Group processes in the classroom. In D. C. Berliner & R. C. Calfee (Eds.), Handbook of educational psychology (pp. 841-873). Simon & Schuster Macmillan.
McCaslin, M., & Good, T. L. (1996). The informal curriculum. In D.C. Berliner & R.C. Calfee (Eds.), Handbook of educational psychology (pp. 622- 670). Simon & Schuster Macmillan.
Tobias, S., & Everson, H. T. (2002). Knowing what you know and what you don't: Further research on metacognitive knowledge monitoring (College Board Rep. No. 2002-03). College Board.
Goldstein, A. P., & McGinnis, E. (1997). Skillstreaming the adolescent: New strategies and perspectives for teaching prosocial skills. (Revised ed.). Research Press.
Tanner, K. D. (2012). Promoting student metacognition. CBE - Life Sciences Education, 11, 113-120.
Gall, S. N. (1981). Help-seeking: An Understudied Problem-Solving Skill in Children. Developmental Review, 1 (3), 224-246.
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Goal-setting and Reflection Surveys in Achieve include questions related to metacognition and self-regulated learning.
Metacognition represents an awareness of one’s own knowledge. When students practice metacognition, they are able to monitor and control their thinking processes (1 ). Being metacognitive can help students self-regulate their own learning more effectively (e.g., setting goals, regulating behavior).
Students may actually need stronger engagement skills, such as self-regulation, to learn effectively in today’s computer-based environments ( 2). Thus, instructors may need to provide assistance or “scaffolds” to help students regulate their own learning (3).
Fortunately, metacognitive skills and self-regulation behaviors can be taught (4). If you’re interested in supporting your students’ metacognition and self-regulated learning processes, consider asking students to complete the Goal-setting and Reflection Surveys in Achieve .
In addition, the following supports or scaffolds can be used to help students engage in self-regulated learning (5):
Provide students with guiding questions
Encourage student study habits using “plan ahead” prompts
Help students reflect using “look back” prompts
Teach students to use tools like concept maps or templates to help structure information as they are studying or learning
Provide students with higher-order questions and content-related goals
You can also consider encouraging students to ask themselves the following questions in order to prompt more metacognitive thinking (6).
While students are planning how they’ll approach a learning task, they can ask themselves:
What am I supposed to learn? What prior knowledge will help me with this task? What should I do first? What should I look for in this reading? How much time do I have to complete this?
As students are monitoring their understanding or performance, they can ask themselves:
How am I doing? Am I on the right track? How should I proceed? What information is important to remember? Should I move in a different direction? What can I do if I do not understand?
When students complete a learning task, they can ask themselves:
How well did I do? What did I learn? Did I get the results I expected? What could I have done differently? Can I apply this way of thinking to other problems or situations? Do I need to go back through the task to fill in any gaps in understanding?
Meichenbaum, D. (1985). Teaching thinking: A cognitive-behavioral perspective. In S. F., Chipman, J. W. Segal, & R. Glaser (Eds.), Thinking and learning skills, Vol. 2: Research and open questions. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Winters, F., Greene, J., & Costich, C. (2008). Self-regulation of learning within computer-based learning environments: A critical analysis. Educational Psychology Review, 20 , 429-444.
Azevedo, R., & Hadwin, A. F. (2005). Scaffolding self-regulated learning and metacognition – Implications for the design of computer-based scaffolds. Instructional Science, 33, 367-379.
Halpern, D. F. (1996). Thought and knowledge: An introduction to critical thinking. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Devolder, A., van Braak, J., & Tondeur, J. (2012). Supporting self-regulated learning in computer-based learning environments: Systematic review of effects of scaffolding in the domain of science education. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 28, 557-573.
U.S. Department of Education, Office of Vocational and Adult Education. (2011). Just Write! Guide . Scanlon.
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How can you leverage the Time-on-Activity data provided in two of our most used insight cards on the Achieve Dashboard to help students better self-regulate their time?
Time plus energy equals learning. There is no substitute for time on task. -Chickering & Gamson (1987)
“Time on task” metrics typically try to capture the amount of time students spend attending to or actively engaging in course-related or learning-related tasks (2; 3).
Research suggests that time on task is positively related to student learning in computer-based environments (4; 5; 6). But students may need support to learn good time management skills or habits (1; 7; 8).
Educators can leverage technology to help students better self-regulate their time. For example, instructors can use Achieve insights to review student time on task and then intervene by sharing resources or study suggestions, encouraging students to spend additional time, etc. as they deem appropriate. Goal Setting and Reflection Surveys in Achieve can also help students set goals and reflect on their time spent doing on-task behaviors like studying for class.
Beyond amount of time spent, the quality of time spent also influences academic performance (9). To help students engage in quality time-on-task behaviors, instructors may consider the following (10; 11):
➢ Thoroughly explain the demands of the task (e.g., assignments, homeworks, projects). Students often struggle to appropriately assess the demands of the task at hand (7).
➢ Provide rubrics, criteria, or examples and model desired skills, where appropriate. This gives students an idea of what it looks like to have mastered given knowledge or skills.
➢ Scaffold or guide students through more demanding learning outcomes or goals. Students may need assistance, and improvement-oriented guidance, as they practice using new knowledge or skills.
➢ When they’re ready, give students opportunities for independent practice . Engaged time-on-task is imperative during this time when students are working on tasks without assistance from instructors or peers.
1.Chickering, A. W. & Gamson, Z. F. (1987). Seven principles for good practice in undergraduate education. AAHE Bulletin, 3-7.
Carroll, J. B. (1963). A model of school learning. Teachers College Record, 64 , 723-733. 3. Prater, M. A. (1992). Increasing time-on-task in the classroom: Suggestions for improving the amount of time learners spend in on-task behaviors. Intervention in School and Clinic, 28 (1), 22-27.
Cho, M. H., & Shen, D. (2013). Self-regulation in online learning. Distance Education, 34 (3), 290-301.
Krause, U.-M., Stark, R., & Mandl, H. (2009). The effects of cooperative learning and feedback on e-learning in statistics. Learning and Instruction, 19 (2), 158-170.
Wellman, G. S., & Marcinkiewicz, H. (2004). Online learning and time-on-task: Impact of proctored vs. un-proctored testing. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 8, 93-104.
Ambrose, S., Bridges, M. W., DiPietro, M., Lovett, M. C., & M. K. Norman, (2010). How learning works: 7 research-based principles for smart teaching . John Wiley & Sons. 8. Pascarella, E. T. & Terenzini, P. T. (2005). How college affects students: A third decade of research, Volume 2 . Jossey-Bass.
Romero, M. & Barberà, E. (2011). Quality of e-learners’ time and learning performance beyond quantitative time-on-task. International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 12 (5), 125-137.
Marzano, R. J. (2007). The art and science of teaching: A comprehensive framework for effective education. ASCD.
Popham, W. J. (2009). Instruction that measures up: Successful teaching in the age of accountability. ASCD.
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