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Northwest Missouri State University

Welcome Back!  Check out our fall 2012 faculty focus on teaching highlights on our web site featuring Janet Marta, Dan Smith, and Rena Smith at

CITE Teaching and Learning Logo
Check out our Teaching and Learning resources:   The Center will encourage and support the scholarship of teaching by assisting Northwest faculty in the development and sharing of pedagogical and content-specific knowledge, support faculty in their teaching and professional activities, and provide faculty with access to professional development support and resources. Specific services areas will include teaching, research and the scholarship of teaching, student support and personal enrichment.  Explore the Teaching information menu on the web site.

Good Teaching: The Top 10 Requirements

By: Richard W. Leblanc, PhD in Philosophy of Teaching

One. Good teaching is as much about passion as it is about reason. It's about motivating students not only to learn, but teaching them how to learn, and doing so in a manner that is relevant, meaningful and memorable. It's about caring for your craft, having a passion for it and conveying that passion to everyone, but mostly importantly to your students.

Two. Good teaching is about substance and treating students as consumers of knowledge. It's about doing your best to keep on top of your field, reading sources, inside and outside of your areas of expertise, and being at the leading edge as often as possible. But knowledge is not confined to scholarly journals. Good teaching is also about bridging the gap between theory and practice. It's about leaving the ivory tower and immersing oneself in the field in talking to, consulting with, and assisting practitioners and liaising with their communities.

Three. Good teaching is about listening, questioning, being responsive and remembering that each student and class is different. It's about eliciting responses and developing the oral communication skills of the quiet students. It's about pushing students to excel and at the same time it's about being human, respecting others and being professional at all times.

Four. Good teaching is about not always having a fixed agenda and being rigid, but being flexible, fluid, experimenting, and having the confidence to react and adjust to changing circumstances. It's about getting only 10 percent of what you wanted to do in a class done and still feeling good. It's about deviating from the course syllabus or lecture schedule easily when there is more and better learning elsewhere. Good teaching is about the creative balance between being an authoritarian dictator on the one hand and a push-over on the other. Good teachers migrate between these poles at all times depending on the circumstances. They know where they need to be and when.

Five. Good teaching is also about style. Should good teaching be entertaining? You bet! Does this mean that it lacks in substance? Not a chance! Effective teaching is not about being locked with both hands glued to a podium or having your eyes fixated on a slide projector while you drone on. Good teachers work the room and every student in it. They realize that they are the conductors and that the class is their orchestra. All students play different instruments and at varying proficiencies. A teacher's job is to develop skills and make these instruments come to life as a coherent whole to make music.

Six. And this is very important, good teaching is about humor. It's about being self-deprecating and not taking yourself too seriously. It's often about making innocuous jokes, mostly at your own expense, so that the ice breaks and students learn in a more relaxed atmosphere where you, like them, are human with your own share of faults and shortcomings.

Seven. Good teaching is about caring, nurturing and developing minds and talents. It's about devoting time, often invisible, to every student. It's also about the thankless hours of grading, designing or redesigning courses and preparing materials to still further enhance instruction.

Eight. Good teaching is supported by strong and visionary leadership, and very tangible institutional support-resources, personnel, and funds. Good teaching is continually reinforced by an overarching vision that transcends the entire organization-from full professors to part-time instructors-and is reflected in what is said, but more importantly by what is done.

Nine. Good teaching is about mentoring between senior and junior faculty, teamwork, and being recognized and promoted by one's peers. Effective teaching should also be rewarded and poor teaching needs to be remedied through training and development programs.

Ten. At the end of the day, good teaching is about having fun, experiencing pleasure and intrinsic rewards ... like locking eyes with a student in the back row and seeing the synapses and neurons connecting, thoughts being formed, the person becoming better, and a smile cracking across a face as learning all of a sudden happens. It's about the former student who says your course changed her life. It's about another telling you that your course was the best one he's ever taken. Good teachers practice their craft not for the money or because they have to, but because they truly enjoy it and because they want to. Good teachers couldn't imagine doing anything else.

Dr. Richard W. Leblanc is an associate professor at York University in Toronto. Contact him at

Reprinted from The Teaching Professor, Vol. 12, no. 6.


Cornell Note-taking: Helping students succeed

Recently a group of faculty attended a workshop which covered several teaching techniques to integrate and use in the classroom.  One of the techniques presented was the Cornell note-taking method.  This method provides an ogranized way for students to take notes in order to capture key points while listening to a lecture or reading in order to better retain the information and improve grades.  The key to the Cornell note-taking method is how the student sets up the paper. 

At the top of the paper, include the course name, date, and section.  Write a heading at the very top and then draw a vertical line about 2 inches from the left-hand side of the page.  The right-hand side of the vertical line is for notes.  In the notes section, students can write notes based on the following: main ideas and details from either the lecture or reading, vocabulary words they may not know along with definitions, drawings of main concepts, etc.  The left-hand side of the vertical line would be used after taking notes to develop questions about the notes.  The summary section at the bottom can be used to write a summary of the notes.  This provides another opportunity for students to interact with the notes.  It is recommended that the summary be written within a day of taking notes.

These notes can then be used to study by folding the paper on the vertical line, reading the questions, and answering.  Questions that are not answered correctly can be marked in order to study more on these topics.

Notes can also be taken electronically either using a Cornell note-taking template or by using OneNote software which can be found on the student and faculty computer loadsets.  OneNote is a part of the Microsoft Office Suite.

Below is an example of a Cornell note page.  Cornell Notes template

Nuview Bridge Early College High School AVID Program
Retrieved from: 

Teaching and technology resources available through the library

Librarian Lori Mardis has created a technology resources page with free resources.  Since there are so many, she has organized them and placed them into a  guide.  The guide is available at  As new tools are located, they will be added to the site.

Owens Library is delighted to provide linked resources to titles highlighted in the recent workshop on active learning strategies.  Explore the items on the Professional Development guide (always available on the library homepage under “Faculty Staff). 

FacultyStaff tab on library site

Early alert system provides student support

The Advisement Office provides an Early Alert System web link in MyNorthwest.  Faculty may use the Early Alert System to notify Advisement if they are concerned about a student.  To find this link, log into MyNorthwest and click on the Faculty tab.   Scroll down to the Teaching Resources box on the right-hand side of the page and click on the Early Alert link.

Early Alert picture of web page

Students requiring time and 1/2 for exams and quizzes in eCompanion/eCourse

If you are using eCompanion/eCourse to deliver quizzes and exams through Exam Builder to your students and you have a student who has approved documentation for time and ½ or double time accommodations, we can set that for these exams using the Exam Multiplier.  This is a tool that allows students to have extended time in all exams/quizzes in eCompanion/eCourse sites.  For example:  If a student should be allotted 2 ½ hours in an exam as opposed to 1 hour, a 1.5 would be associated with that student on the admin side, allowing for an additional 1 ½ hour of exam time.  This will be applied to ALL of the exams in all courses, for that particular student, as long as the 1.5 is associated to their account.  In order to use Exam Multiplier for a student, send us the name of the student and we will set up the Exam Multiplier. 

Fall 2012 course sites available

eCompanion/eCourse sites should be available for all faculty to duplicate content into.  All  you need to do is log into the eCompanion/eCourse system and click on the link for your fall course site.  Once inside the course site, just click on the Course Admin tab and then select the Copy Course Content link.   From there, select the Copy Course Content radio button. 

If there are course sites that you do not wish to use, let us know and we can remove these sites.

Flipping your classroom

In an inverted or flipped classroom, students are expected to read materials required for class, including the textbook and other resources that may be used and possibly listen to a mini lecture, outside of class time. Class time is then freed up to focus on discussion, collaborative work, and engagement with the other activities that are traditionally done outside of class.

Dr. Janet Marta teaches International Business for the Marketing/Management Department and uses a model similar to the inverted or flipped classroom model.  The main teaching strategy Dr. Marta employs for her International Business course is total immersion in the content through extensive reading of material from the textbook and outside sources such as the Wall Street Journal.  She encourages interaction with peers as they apply the materials using course activities.  Her approach is to expect the students to read the materials required and, through group participation and interaction, guide the students to synthesize the content.  A secondary strategy is to utilize teams or groups for the discussion of content and for the activities that are to be completed in the course.  This strategy simulates teams in business.  A formative check of the reading material is completed each class session through the use of individual and group quizzes.

Picture of Janet Marta

Students are formatively assessed at the beginning of the class session with a quiz taken individually and graded during class.  Students are divided into groups and once quizzes have been graded, students take the quiz again as a group where they can discuss issues and concerns about the questions and answers.  This includes being able to challenge Dr. Marta regarding questions and answers on the quizzes.  If an individual grade is at least a 70%, students are allowed to average in the group score to improve their individual grade.  

During the remainder of time in class, Dr. Marta discusses topics that will be on the test related to the chapter content.  She asks direct questions of specific students and tosses them a ball.  They are expected to support their answers based on their reading.  The ball is used to help students feel more relaxed about answering questions.  If they feel they cannot provide an answer, they are allowed to pass the ball to another student to assist them in answering the question.  An essay exam is also given after all content has been read and studied using this individual and group process. 

Finally, during the latter part of the course once the main content has been covered, a consultation presentation is completed by each of the groups based on specific guidelines provided in the syllabus.  This presentation allows the students to further synthesize the content in a real-world approach by working on this consultation to determine if a firm should invest abroad in a specific country. 

Dr. Marta is a Professor in the Management/Marketing Department where she teaches International Business.  If you are interested in learning more about how Dr. Marta organizes her daily class session, contact her at or x-1859.

iNcourt provides virtual Supreme Court site

iNcourt is a virtual Supreme Court site, which is designed to facilitate judicial simulations in Political Science courses (at present, in the advanced Law & Courts course).  Moot court simulations are widely used in these courses, with students engaging in various tasks–-briefing cases, drafting appellate briefs and/or outlines, presenting oral arguments, questioning advocates as judges, drafting opinions, completing written or verbal debriefing exercises-- depending on how sophisticated the instructor chooses to make the simulation.  Moot court simulations serve numerous pedagogical goals, most commonly creating an environment for rigorous discussion and debate of legal doctrine; role-playing to develop critical thinking and communications skills; confronting alternative points of view in a case study environment, and teaching/reinforcing judicial politics by embedding students in the judicial decision-making process.  Over the past several years Dan has gradually progressed from a more traditional “classroom with the occasional simulation” format to a more simulation-driven course in which students regularly engage in role playing. 

Picture of Dan Smith

iNcourt provides a one-stop source for a simulation-driven course.  It is a research and information resource, electronic filing depository, virtual conference (for certiorari and merits voting and discussion), and debriefing center.  The Introduction to the Supreme Court tab provides general content on court rules, procedures and history of the institution, which is both useful background and essential content for required assignments.  The Library provides information about legal research and writing, including how-to guides and samples of written work.  The Law Office is the location for all activities as attorneys–-case pools for students to consider for filings petitions before the Court, submission tabs for filings, calendar information, and access to filings by other attorneys in class.  The Court House includes a detailed schedule of all moot court cases, all filings before the Court, voting and virtual judicial conferences, and submission of opinions.  The Classroom provides course information such as the syllabus, master calendar, submission tabs for certain assignments, plus debriefing tools such as threaded discussions and journals.  It is neither a substitute for the in-class simulations nor a mere depository; briefs are filed on the site, read by students, and then used for the in-class oral arguments.  Following oral arguments, the class goes into judicial conference mode, in which we discuss the case in anticipation of voting.  That discussion continues in the virtual Judicial Conference, which continues until the voting deadline, whereupon each “judge” must vote and post an explanation.  Following votes, opinions are assigned, which the judges file on the site for review by all class members. 

The iNcourt site has accelerated Dan’s goal of making these courses simulation-driven.  In addition to the traditional classroom and written assignments, students are engaged from Day 1 reviewing and selecting cases for briefing and oral argument, voting and explaining their votes.  Most exciting, the site has enabled Dan to integrate lessons of judicial decision making and politics almost inherently; by requiring students to create judicial self-profiles, act strategically in the decision making process, and reflect on the process, they are learning the process almost by osmosis as we focus on the doctrine.

Former CITE student employee, Courtney Heitman assisted in the development of this project.  For additional information about iNcourt and how this program was developed, contact Dan at or x-1293.  Or, contact the CITE Office at or x-1532.

Twitter in the classroom

Rena Smith, Instructor for the Chemistry/Physics Department, uses Twitter both as formative and summative assessment teaching technique.  Twitter is a social networking tool used to microblog by sending and reading text-based posts.  These text-based posts are called “tweets” and can be up to 140 characters in length. 

Picture of Rena Smith

Students in Rena’s courses are asked to post comments, questions, or even pictures of their thoughts, ideas or investigations.  This can happen before arriving to class because they read something the night before, as they arrive to class as a part of the startup process, during class as they discover content knowledge in the middle of a lab, or after class in the form of a survey or quiz.  Students do have the option of tweeting some responses as a group, but most of the time they are asked to provide a response individually.

For example, she might ask her students to view a portion of the video, From Thin Air, by using the following link or her tweet on Twitter.

Tweeting during “presentations” is now becoming an acceptable and effective way of engaging with the content of the presentation.  Many of students report that tweeting during a class helps them to concentrate on the topic and is similar to note-taking during a lecture. 

Tweeting provides a way for students to engage actively with the content rather than just listening passively.  In the past, students had to wait until the presenter was ready to take questions before they could request their instructor to clarify things they did not understand.  Now, they can tweet their question and another student may tweet back the answer.

Many students are not comfortable at first asking questions in a new class, but they can ask these questions on Twitter without the same level of risk.  If other students indicate they are wondering about the same issue, they may get the courage to speak up.  After the presentation is over, the instructor can read the Twitterstream to see what students were tweeting.

Follow Rena’s course on Twitter @NwScienceEd.  For more information about how Rena uses Twitter, contact her at or phone at x-1509.