Teaching Strategies for James Madison College Faculty


The main topics on this page were selected for this James Madison College site because they are teaching methods commonly used in JMC courses or are under consideration for future teaching.  Under each main topic (Freshman Seminars, Teaching Writing, etc.) are annotated and evaluated links to websites offering ideas, examples, and resources for the use of that teaching strategy.  Links are also provided for syllabus and course design.

Freshman Seminars

Freshman seminars are often writing intensive, encourage critical thinking, are discussion-based rather than lecture-based, are structured around writing workshops, and focus on collaborative and active learning.  Here are descriptions of several seminars with useful material online for faculty. 
Freshman Inquiry Writing Seminars, FIQWS (City College of New York).
Information and resources for teaching FIQWS that may prove useful to faculty teaching freshman seminars at other institutions as well.
Teaching the First-Year Seminar (Dartmouth College Institute for Writing & Rhetoric).
Guidelines for faculty, strategies for conducting writing workshops, methods for diagnosing and responding to student writing.

Stanford University Introductory Seminars.
See this site for descriptions of several different types of seminars.

Freshman Seminar Program Faculty Toolkit (University of California, Davis).
Ideas for grading, for content and format of a seminar, course evaluation forms, and sample course descriptions.

Freshman Seminars at Michigan State University.


Interdisciplinary Teaching and Learning

"Interdisciplinary Teaching and Learning," Deborah DeZure (Eastern Michigan University; now at Michigan State University). From Essays on Teaching Excellence: Toward the Best in the Academy, 1999, a publication of the Professional and Organizational Development Network in Higher Education. This article defines interdisciplinary learning, presents a rationale for its use, and describes curricular approaches that promote it.   http://fod.msu.edu/sites/default/files/teaching_excellence.pdf
Association for Integrative Studies (AIS).

This comprehensive site on interdisciplinary teaching and learning includes guidelines for this approach to education; articles and AIS newsletters; the online journal, Issues in Integrative Studies; and selected interdisciplinary syllabi.
Top Ten Suggestions for Interdisciplinary Teaching (San Francisco State University Center for Teaching and Faculty Development).
Useful suggestions for faculty engaged in interdisciplinary teaching.
Interdisciplinary Approaches to Teaching (SERC Pedagogic Service Project).
The What, Why, and How of interdisciplinary teaching, plus examples of interdisciplinary teaching in a variety of disciplines.
IMPACT: The Journal of the Center for Interdisciplinary Teaching and Learning (College of General Studies, Boston University).
Peer-reviewed, bi-annual online journal that publishes essays about theory, practice, and assessment in interdisciplinary education.

Managing Difficult Discussions/ Teaching Controversial Issues

Creating Discussion Guidelines (University of California Berkeley, Teaching Guide for Graduate Student Instructors).
Several ways to involve students in writing class discussion ground rules.
 “Managing Hot Moments in the Classroom,” Lee Warren (Harvard University, Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning).
Strategies for turning “hot moments” in the classroom into learning opportunities for students.
Inclusive Practices for Managing Controversial Issues (Flinders University, Adelaide, AU, Teaching for Learning Website).

This site presents specific strategies for teaching controversial issues in order to enable students to become critically reflective thinkers.
See also on this website

Simulations and Gaming

PAXsims:  Simulations; Conflict, Peacebuilding and Development; Training and Education (editors Rex Brynen, McGill University and Gary Milante, WorldBank).
The PaxSims site “is devoted to the development and effective use of simulation-based learning concerning issues of conflict, peacebuilding, and development in fragile and conflict-affected states.” Contains examples and discussions of simulations/games on these issues, archives, links to journals and periodicals, and web resources. A rich site.
See https://paxsims.wordpress.com/research-bibliography/ for a bibliography of articles and websites with further ideas and examples of simulations in these areas.
The following three articles by Carolyn M Shaw describe and evaluate simulations and role playing in the International Relations classroom:
Designing and Using Simulations and Role-Play Exercises,” Carolyn M. Shaw (The International Studies Encyclopedia, ed., Robert A. Denemark, 2010).
An extensive article covering background, definitions, benefits, assessments, and example simulations in such areas as U.S. foreign policy making processes. Bibliography of related articles and websites.
Using Role-Play Scenarios in the IR Classroom:  An Examination of Exercises on Peacekeeping Operations and Foreign Policy Decision Making,” Carolyn M. Shaw, Wichita State University (from International Studies Perspectives No. 5, 2004).
This paper describes and examines the value of two role-play exercises in an introduction to international relations course.  Full text of both exercises plus assessments.
Simulating Negotiations in a Three-Way Civil War,” Carolyn M. Shaw, Wichita State University (from Journal of Political Science Education, No. 2, 2006).
Full description of a role play scenario plus analysis of its value.
The following sites focus on Teaching Conflict Resolution and Negotiation Strategies:
Tools and Support for Conflict Studies Instructors (Wayne State University with a FIPSE grant).
Numerous links to materials for teaching conflict management and negotiation.  Includes sample syllabi collections; course development guidelines; role plays, simulations, case studies, and multimedia tools. 
Campus Conflict Resolution Resources (Wayne State University with a FIPSE grant).
Portal to a virtual campus providing multiple resources for conflict management in higher education.
The CNCR Swap Meet Sourcebook: 35 Exercises for Teaching Conflict Management, Lin Inlow, Editor.
Thirty-five college educators present exercises they use to teach conflict management.
Associations and Journals with Resources for Simulations and Gaming in International Relations and Related Areas
Active Learning in International Affairs, ALIAS, (a section of the International Studies Association, ISA).
A guest login permits access to a Web Archive with lesson plans, class activities, syllabi, assignments, and web links of interest to international affairs educators. 
American Political Science Association Conference Papers.
This site contains archived conference papers from the APSA Teaching and Learning conferences.  Papers posted include simulations and role-play exercises.
International Studies Perspectives.
Articles on pedagogy include simulations and role-play exercises. Archived abstracts available.  Subscription or fee required for full articles.
Simulations/Gaming in History Classes
Gaming the Past:  Historical Simulation Games in the Classroom (Jeremiah McCall).
This repository of simulations for teaching history offers links to classroom simulations, computer games, sim design, theory, and practice. Despite its intent for high school history classes, the site offers ideas for history educators at any level.
Here’s another list of simulation resources for teaching history.  Skim down through the initial paragraphs to find sections with numerous links for higher education history classes.
Columbia American History Online.
Fifteen classroom simulations on American History range from Bacon’s Rebellion to Vietnam.  Also check out this site’s Interactive Learning Tools and E-Seminars.
The Great War in the Classroom,” Laura Cruz, Western Carolina University. Academic Exchange Quarterly, Vol. 8, No. 1, Spring 2004. 
The author describes a successful WWI simulation game she designed for Western Civilization II. http://www.rapidintellect.com/AEQweb/mo2491sep.htm
Simulations/Gaming in Teaching Sociology
Simulation and Gaming and the Teaching of Sociology, 6th edition, American Sociological Association, 1997. 

This site provides an annotated bibliography compiled by Richard L. Dukes, Colorado University, of mainly non-Internet-based materials related to using simulations and gaming in sociology. Includes books, articles, periodicals, directories, Internet sites, and centers. Click on “Findings” for a detailed list of suggestions for running simulations/games in the classroom.
Simulations for Teaching Political Science
The American Political Science Association Site for Simulations for Teaching Political Science.
Links to a dozen sites with either information or actual online experiences of simulations in the area of political science.  Some sites are inactive. 
General Resources for Using Simulations/Games/ Role Playing in the Higher Education Classroom
Suggestions for Running Simulations/Games in the Classroom (from Simulation and Gaming and the Teaching of Sociology).
Some more general suggestions for best practices in using simulations/gaming/role playing in higher education classrooms.
Simulations and Gaming for Experiential Learning (University of Tennessee, Knoxville Teaching and Learning Center).
Provides links to numerous sites with information on using simulations and games in higher education.
Teaching with Simulations (The SERC Portal for Educators).
The What, Why, and How of using simulations in teaching. Includes examples, mainly from introductory and upper level Economics courses.
How to Do Simulation Games (Simon Usherwood, University of Surrey, with support from the UK Higher Education Academy).
A work in progress on using simulations, especially in political and social science classrooms.  Presently offers how tos and examples of four simulations in Politics.
Simulation Technologies in Higher Education: Uses, Trends, and Implications,” David A. Damassa and Toby D. Sitko  (Educause Center for Applied Research, Research Bulletin 3, 2010).
This report sites the factors contributing to increased use of simulation technologies in higher education and argues that these are “valuable tools for effective competency-based education.” Describes numerous simulation technologies and their uses.
North American Simulation and Gaming Association.
A network of professionals dedicated to using games and simulations to improve learning. Offers a list of 15 reasons to use games to teach, a discussion forum, a newsletter with archives back to 1998, and an annual conference.
And for your own professional growth, look at some of the offerings on simulations and gaming at ICONS:
International Communication & Negotiation Simulations (ICONS Project) at the University of Maryland, College Park.
Role-play simulations for online and face-to-face use in education, training, research, and the study of public policy.

Teaching Writing

Writing is a way for students to develop and use their critical thinking skills as well as to demonstrate learning. The links below provide ways that writing can be used both informally and formally throughout the college curriculum and include specific methods for handling all aspects of the writing process from assignment-making to responding and grading. The final link for faculty is a mega-site that brings together the writing research and scholarship of recent decades and its application in writing programs on campuses throughout the U.S. The last two links on this page provide online writing resources for students.

For Faculty

An Introduction to Writing Across the Curriculum, compiled by Kate Kiefer (Colorado State University).
This site provides an inclusive guide for those who want to better understand the principles and practices of writing across the entire academic community. Includes links to other writing resources for students and faculty.

Integrating Writing into Your Course (University of Wisconsin-Madison).
Contains detailed information on such practical topics as designing effective writing assignments; conferencing with students; responding, evaluating, grading; and using student peer review. Includes a link to WAC materials by discipline.

Writing for Learning—Not Just for Demonstrating Learning,” Peter Elbow (University of Massachusetts, Amherst).
A primary figure in the WAC movement, Peter Elbow describes several methods using writing as a tool for learning plus a range of techniques for responding to these writings and grading them.

Improving Student Writing,” David W. Smit, Kansas State University. (IDEA Paper No. 25, September 1991.) Adobe Acrobat/PDF.
This paper argues that in order to improve student writing, all college teachers must teach writing more often and more effectively. Discusses ways to promote writing with informal writing to learn activities, including examples of these, and effective methods for teaching formal writing using a wide variety of writing forms.
Strategies to Improve Student Writing” by David Smit, Kansas State University (IDEA Paper #48, 2010).
Maintains that students do not write well enough to meet faculty expectations because they write very little in school.  Presents methods for having students “write rhetorically” and stresses the need for writing across the curriculum.
Responding to Student Writing,” Speaking of Teaching, Stanford University Newsletter on Teaching, Vol. 3, No. 3, Spring 1992. Adobe Acrobat/PDF.
Specific methods for commenting effectively on student papers.
Pedagogical Theory and Practice: Responding to Student Writing,” compiled by Phyllis Frus. (University of Michigan, Sweetland Writing Center, March 1999, Vol. 2, No. 3). Adobe Acrobat/PDF.

Based on recent research and theory on writing instruction, this publication describes effective methods for commenting on student papers. Concludes with a list of recommended web sites for further information on responding to student writing.

Writing Across the Curriculum at George Mason University. An informative site with many practical ideas for all aspects of teaching with writing. Includes resources and practices for teaching with writing in all curricular areas, links to writing guides for numerous disciplines, advice and materials for preventing or dealing with plagiarism, and links to a wide variety of WAC resources online.

Teaching Writing as a Liberal Art: Ideas That Made the Difference,” Toby Fulwiler (University of Vermont). Adobe Acrobat/PDF.
A pioneer of WAC programs, Fulwiler discusses15 ideas about teaching writing that have significantly influenced writing instruction over the past few decades.

Teaching Writing Across the Curriculum, Third Edition,” by Art Young.
This entire book by a well-respected leader in the field of writing across the curriculum is available online in PDF format. Offers a comprehensive guide to faculty who teach a “writing-intensive” course in their discipline or who decide to include student writing in their courses. Also a resource for English Departments and Writing Programs.

WAC Clearinghouse (Colorado State University).
A comprehensive mega-site drawing together scholarship and resources for all aspects of Writing Across the Curriculum. Contains links to online articles in 5 journals and 4 book series plus multiple online resources for faculty in all disciplines. Includes the full text of several influential WAC books as Adobe Acrobat/PDF files and links to a variety of successful WAC programs in colleges, universities, and community colleges throughout the U.S.

Also see The Purdue University OWL described below for additional information on teaching writing.

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Assessing Writing

Principles and Practices in Electronic Portfolios:  A CCCC Position Statement, November 2007.
This CCCC position paper, presents principles and best practices in the use of e-portfolios for writing instruction.

Assessing Writing.
A refereed international journal on all aspects of assessing written language.  Subscription required. Sample issue free online.

Written Communication VALUE Rubric

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For Students

The Purdue University Online Writing Lab (OWL).
Comprehensive writing resources for faculty and students.  See suggested resources for Non-Purdue Instructors and Students for links organized around The Writing Process, Rhetoric and Logic, Essay Genres, Style and Language, and Citation. Also offers information and a vidcast overview of Writing Across the Curriculum.

Writing in College: A Short Guide to College Writing,” Joseph M. Williams and Lawrence McEnerney (University of Chicago).
This is a concise guide for students to help them write more effectively in college.

Students may also find useful “Grammar Resources on the Web” from the University of Chicago Writing Program.

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Michigan State University Resources

Writing Center

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Undergraduate Research



Faculty collaboration with undergraduate students on research, scholarship, and creative activities has proven valuable both for students and the faculty members they work with. The faculty resources listed below provide support, guidance, information, and examples for developing undergraduate research projects and programs in all disciplines. Following this, three websites for students offer an impressive tutorial for engaging in undergraduate research, an undergraduate journal, and funding opportunities. The final section of this webpage offers links to undergraduate research conferences nationally and in Michigan.

For Faculty

Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR).
This council is dedicated to promoting undergraduate student-faculty collaborative research, scholarship, and creative activities in the sciences, math, psychology, and social sciences. Members include faculty, directors of undergraduate research, and administrators. Affinity Groups focus on special topics such as Arts/Humanities issues and Environmental Science issues. Provides a listserv, publications, a quarterly journal, and links to relevant resources.

The Reinvention Center at Colorado State University.
The Reinvention Center is a national organization established in 2000 to work for the improvement of undergraduate education at research universities. Their web site provides a number of resources for those interested in promoting research opportunities for undergraduate students.

Peer Review, Vol. 8, No. 1, Winter 2006 (a publication of the Association of American Colleges and Universities).
This issue focuses on undergraduate research. A hard copy of the entire issue can be ordered. The following four articles are available online:

"Undergraduate Research Experiences: Synergies between Scholarship and Teaching," Tim Elgren and Nancy Hensel.
Describes the benefits of undergraduate research to both student researcher and faculty member: students’ growth as researchers, contributions to the faculty member’s own scholarly work, and new contributions to the field.

"Community-Based Research as Scientific and Civic Pedagogy," Elizabeth Paul.
Of special interest to those in the Social Sciences, this article promotes research projects in partnership with community organizations.

"Creative Activity and Undergraduate Research across the Disciplines," Lori Bettison-Varga.
Describes the “transformative experience” of Wooster College’s independent research project for all undergraduates.

"Undergraduate Research as the Next Great Faculty Divide," Mitchell Malachowski.
Discusses the new faculty divide as one between faculty who engage students in their research projects and those who don’t.

Arts and Humanities Scholars (Undergraduate Research Program, University of Delaware).
Contains samples of undergraduate student research proposals and excerpts from the faculty letter of support. Samples are from art, English, foreign language, history, music, and philosophy. Also links to a student handbook describing the Arts and Humanities Scholars Undergraduate Research Program.

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For Students

Web Guide to Research for Undergraduates (WebGURU), funded by the National Science Foundation Division of Undergraduate Education’s Educational Materials Development Program.
An extensive and well-organized student guide, with information and links to electronic resources for undergraduate students participating in research in science, technology, engineering, and/or math. Includes a wide array of material ranging from the technical aspects of undergraduate research to such issues as research integrity, intellectual property, mentoring, and scholarships/fellowships. Has case studies, a discussion forum, and much more to enhance student success as undergraduate researchers.

The Journal of Young Investigators: An Undergraduate, Peer-Reviewed Science Journal.
Founded in 1997, this online journal edited and run by undergraduates offers a publishing opportunity for undergraduate researchers in the sciences. Articles are organized in three areas: Physical Sciences and Mathematics, Biological and Biomedical Sciences, and Basic Engineering Sciences.

Reinvention:  A Journal of Undergraduate Research (Oxford Brookes University and the University of Warwick).
An online, peer-reviewed journal launched with the September 2007 issue, dedicated to publishing undergraduate student research worldwide.  

Research Experiences for Undergraduates, REU Program, (National Science Foundation).
The REU Program supports undergraduate research in any of the areas of research funded by the National Science Foundation. This site provides access to funding opportunities and deadlines, plus guidelines for preparing a proposal and managing an award.

Undergraduate Research Conferences:
National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR)
Supports undergraduate research, scholarship, and creative activities in all fields of study. Sponsors an annual conference with published proceedings.  NCUR has no homepage but conference proceedings are published by U. of North Carolina at Asheville.

Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR) Posters on the Hill.
Sixty competitively selected undergraduate student researchers and their advisors display their research posters at the U.S. Capitol and visit with members of Congress to convey the importance of undergraduate research. An annual event.

Meeting of Minds (MOM).
Since 1993, this annual conference in Michigan, a collaborative effort from University of Michigan-Flint, University of Michigan-Dearborn, and Oakland University, permits undergraduate students to present their research and creative activities in presentations, posters, performances, and demonstrations. The meeting site rotates among the three schools on an annual basis.

University Undergraduate Research and Arts Forum (UURAF)at Michigan State University.
A spring conference that provides Michigan State undergraduate students with an opportunity to showcase their scholarship and creative activity.

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Michigan State University Resources

For Students and Faculty
University Undergraduate Research and Arts Forum
The University Undergraduate Research and Arts Forum provides an opportunity for undergraduate researchers to present their work in the form of a poster or oral presentation, or to showcase their creations. Undergraduates from all MSU colleges who are engaged in original work are encouraged to participate.

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Useful Sites for Course and Syllabus Design

Couse Design/Assignment Design.
Syllabus Design
Understanding by Design by Wiggins and McTighe: A Summary

A summary of the "backwards design" model for instructional development, a curriculum design approach that begins with the desired end results and works backwards through the curriculum design process to achieve them.
The College Curriculum Renewal Project (Georgetown University).

Profiles of curricular revision in many disciplines to serve as models for a variety of curriculum development approaches. Includes an example of "backwards design" in Sociology & Anthropology. Other web pages on this site describe the CCRP at Georgetown University.

Links to Resources for Other Teaching Methods

Best Practices for Teaching in Higher Education.
Research-based practices,  including examples.
Cooperative/Collaborative/Team Learning.
A page of resources for best practice teaching in this area, including a VALUE rubric for assessing team-based learning.
Capstone Courses.
Links to several resources for designing and assessing capstone courses.
Flipped Classroom.
Definition and materials, including a YouTube  podcast by the pioneers of this “flipped classroom” design for teaching.
Lectures and Large Classes.
Materials for designing and delivering lectures.


For additional resources, see the JMC site with online materials for each of the four specific areas within JMC:  Comparative Cultures and PoliticsInternational RelationsPolitical Theory and Constitutional DemocracySocial Relations and Policy