Chalk Talk: E-advice from Jonas Chalk, Legendary College Teacher

Key Information

Chalk Talk: E-advice from Jonas Chalk, Legendary College Teacher, By Donna M. Qualters & Miriam Rosalyn Diamond

2004 [ISBN: 1-58107-085-3; 230 pages; 5 1/4 by 8 1/4 inch; soft cover] $19.95


CTBwebCovThis book presents a national award-winning approach to encouraging dialogue among interdisciplinary faculty about ways to reflect on and broaden their repertoire of teaching skills. Based on the “Dear Abby” advice column format, the process was developed to initiate a dialogue on best practices, successes, and ways to address frustrations in teaching.

Faculty from four different disciplines (math, chemistry, physics and engineering) began asking questions about their instructional practices and thinking about teaching in a more scholarly way. A team of outstanding teachers from across Northeastern University and the staff of the Center for Effective University Teaching formed a community of practitioners to construct responses to common teaching challenges, drawing upon the literature on effective teaching as well as their own personal experience. The resulting “columns” were sent to faculty via mass e-mail in the form of suggestions from “Jonas Chalk,” an experienced teacher/advisor colleague. Topics were archived and posted on a website. Each quarter, one column was included for publication in the teaching center’s newsletter.

Topics Jonas tackled included testing approaches, effective uses of office hours, the ways and hows of asking questions in class, dealing with disruptive classroom behavior and much more. The mechanism garnered enthusiastic responses across disciplines; faculty were eager to share their concerns as well as techniques they had developed. Significant numbers of the faculty put the columns’ ideas to work in their classrooms.

Faculty interested in practicing the scholarship of teaching, while dealing with common classroom concerns, will be able to increase their understanding of classroom dynamics and their repertoire of teaching skills through the concepts and resources described in this book. Written in entertaining, enjoyable and readable prose, Chalk Talk includes a history of the project’s development, the actual columns grouped into chapters by topic, and responses from faculty about how the column helped them with their teaching.

The Contents

Chapter 1: Dear Jonas: Why an E- Advice Column?

Donna M. Qualters
Chapter 2: Becoming JONAS: Reflections from the Team
Master Teaching Team
Chapter 3: Dear Jonas: WhereÕs the Water Fountain or What’s the Best Way to Reach Freshmen?
Richard Scranton
>Lost Students
>Helping Freshmen Get up to Speed
>Teaching Problem Solving
>An Appeal from a Freshmen
>Freshmen Switchers
>Student Backgrounds
>Role Models
Chapter 4: Dear Jonas: DonÕt They Teach Them Anything in High School Anymore?
Susan Freeman
>First Class of the Term
>Time Management
>Teaching Decisions
>Non-facilitating Faculty Behaviors
>Peer Review of Teaching
>Mid-term Assessment
>Paired Programming
Chapter 5: Dear Jonas: What Can I Say?
David Massey
>Inattentive Students
>Excused (or not) Absences
>Student Excuses
>”But the dog ate my homework!”
>Lonely Office Hours
>Effective Use of Office Hours
>Students monopolizing time
>Team Teaching
>Managing E-mail Communication
>Communication Outside of Class
Chapter 6: Dear Jonas: Since When Did I Become the Manager Of the Class?
Thomas Sheahan
>Why Ask Questions
>Asking Questions: How to
>Reacting to Student Responses
>Student Athletes
>Civility in the Classroom
>End-of-term course evaluation results
Chapter 7: Dear Jonas: How Can I be Everything to Everybody?
Donna M. Qualters
>Accidental Stereotyping
>Appealing to Different Learning Styles
>Learning Disabilities
>On Issues of Diversity
Chapter 8: Dear Jonas: When is an A an A?
Jacqueline Isaacs
>Why We Test
>Unfair Testing
>Testing Poorly
>Answering Questions during Exams
>Understanding Grading Practices
>Letter Grades to Numerical Scores
>Impact of Late Grades
>Multiple Choice Testing
>Helping Students Prepare for and Take Exams
>Changing the Ground Rules
>Changing the Syllabus Midstream
Chapter 9: Dear Jonas: How Can I Get My TAÕs on Board?
Miriam Rosalyn Diamond
>Guiding TAs
>Standards for Multiple Graders
>Communication about Grading
>Command of Course Material
>Shirking Responsibilities
>Fostering a Team Mentality
>TAs Not Yet Fluent in English
Chapter 10: Dear Jonas: How Can I Use Your Information to Help My Faculty?
Miriam Rosalyn Diamond
>Announcing Awards
>Invitation To Lunch
>Jonas Signs Off For The Summer

The Authors

Donna M. Qualters is Associate Professor of Education and Director of the Center for Effective University Teaching at Northeastern University. Her research focuses on faculty development, teaching and learning issues, and ethical inquiry and spirituality in higher education. Donna has held faculty development positions at MIT and the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

Miriam Rosalyn Diamond, Ph.D., is Associate Director of Northeastern University’s Center for Effective University Teaching, and conducts programming for both teaching assistants and faculty. She teaches interdisciplinary courses in Adult and Ethical Development, Education, and Religious Studies. Miriam provides international consulting, including training on ethics, acting techniques that promote learning, structured mid-term feedback, and spiritual aspects of teaching and learning.


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