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November 2016

News & Updates

In-Country Visit Dates

We have made contact with each partner university and started to make arrangements to visit.  We hope to have dates set and travel plans finalized in the coming weeks.

The purpose of the visit is to assist you with the integration of the PBEA e-Modules and your teaching and, as appropriate, your teaching practices.  Consider us consultants.  We have sketched out a generic schedule of our visits, but events and times can be rearranged to meet individual needs.

The following is a condensed version of the proposed schedule:

Day 1 & 2:  Understand the coursework, environment, student/teacher dynamics, and instructional approaches through observation.

Day 3:  Provide seminars, workshops, or other forms of professional development.

Day 4:  Provide individual consultations and make observations for needs assessments.

Day 5:  Wrap things up and plan for the future.

The full version of this schedule can be found on the PLC website at this link:


Learning & Teaching Symposium

for members of our PBEA-PLC Team 

As part of the funding to develop a Professional Learning Community, Iowa State University will be hosting a Learning & Teaching Symposium.  
The goals of the Symposium are to:
  • improve use of the PBEA E-Learning Modules and the ALAs through in-depth use of the materials and
  • improve your classroom learning & teaching strategies. 
This symposium will directly immerse you in preparing for your next academic year.   Included in the symposium are field trips, demonstrations, and lots of hands-on, minds-on work; and of course lots of fun.  Judy and Courtney will ensure the fun part. We are in the planning stage, so please share what you would like to see during this event.
Email Judy at; or Courtney at with your Ideas!

Where:  Iowa State University, Ames Iowa

When:  Choose one or more of these possible dates:
July 24-28, 2017
July 31- August 4, 2017
August 4-11, 2017
August 14-18, 2017      
Participate in this doodle poll to choose the weeks that will work well for you!
We will get back to you with the results.

How:  Funding is available for two faculty to attend from each of our partner institutions. This includes airfare, transportation, and meals & lodging while in Ames.  Other faculty may attend at their own expense.   

You Wanted to Know...

     Do you struggle writing multiple choice questions (MCQs)?  Maybe you have no way to tell if your MCQs are effective at assessing student learning.  Dr. Akromah requested information in order to deliver more effective MCQs in his classroom.  

     Multiple choice questions (MCQs) are an easy way to quickly assess student understanding and provide fast feedback to students.  On the other hand, writing MCQs can be time consuming as you write, review, and revise your questions.  It is important the MCQs are not testing the ability for students to choose the correct answer, rather they are testing student understanding.  In order to write effective MCQs you must first understand the two main components.

     MCQs are composed of a stem and options.  The stem is the prompt at the first part of the question.  The options are composed of one correct answer and multiple incorrect answers.

     For more information, tips, and examples of how to write MCQ visit the PLC website at this link:

Improving Lectures and Learning

     Lecturing is the primary teaching technique used by many University faculty.  For centuries professors had to lecture, because of the lack of books and resources.  Today there is much more access to information on all topics, and even so lectures still predominate as the go-to teaching method at Universities.   Some reasons for this could be due to tradition, efficiency, and school infrastructure.

      A number of educational research studies on the effectiveness of lectures has been conducted throughout the years and this information is summarized below using Bates (2016), (Bligh, (2000) Freeman, et. al (2014) and Prince (2004).         

  1. Lectures are as effective as other methods for transmitting information (video, reading, independent study- note that these are also just as effective as lecturing).
  2. Lectures aren’t as effective for promoting thought as discussion.
  3. Lectures are ineffective for changing attitudes, values, and perspectives or for inspiring interest in a subject.
  4. Lectures are ineffective for teaching behavioral skills.
  5. Lectures made available in a recorded format increases learning effectiveness, as it allows for greater time on task with students who review or repeat views/listening to the lecture.
  6. Lectures are more effective if the video or audio is chunked into smaller segments and if activities are built in to allow students to interact with the information.  
  7. Lectures may be more effective if they only last 20-30 minutes and are combined with active learning techniques to help students to understand, analyze, apply and commit information into long-term memory.
     While lectures are not always the most effective method of teaching, they serve a valuable purpose in the classroom.  It is important when planning lectures to consider how to make the lecture more engaging.  Follow the link to the PLC website to learn more about how to incorporate active learning in your lectures.

Contact the PBEA-PLC Team

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