|Thoughts on Student Engagement - The Power
Rausch, Associate Professor of Political Science and tMentor
As instructors we are challenged to provide
resources and information additional to the textbooks and
lectures. We have to consider duplication costs and whether or
not we are depleting natural resources wisely. We also want our
students to learn as much as possible. I have found a solution in
the simple process of linking.
Linking can be used in traditional face-to-face
courses as well as online courses. For the online courses I use
lists of links (you may find some of these in the course areas of my
courses on WTClass). I include the links in my online course
lectures as part of the text. By the way, the links do not always
have to point to other peoples' websites. I have included papers
and projects I have written as links on my course webpages.
How do I find things to link to?
- You may want to start with your textbook. Many
textbooks include "For additional information" sections that may have
URLs. You will need to be careful because links change and the
URLs may have become corrupted during the publishing process.
- Instructors manuals also may have additional resources
- You could find webpages using a search engine like Google.
- I've learned that the reference librarians in Cornette
Library enjoy searching for web resources. It is possible that a
previous instructor may have asked the reference librarians to set up a
course guide for your course. Of course, the librarians will not
link the webpages to your website, but they may be able to provide some
Why would I want to spend extra time
looking for webpages to link to?
- You will be providing students with access to more
information on the topic you are examining in class. You will
have some idea what outside reading and research they are doing since
you directed them to the websites.
- The students will have access to more examples of the
concepts you are examining in class. This may make it easier for
students to grasp and apply those concepts. It also is possible
that the information you provide will become more "real."
- Linking makes it easier to provide alternative
theories and perspectives. Recall that one of the questions on
the CIEQ is "The instructor encouraged development of new viewpoints
Are there any problems or issues
involved in linking to other material?
- Linking may encourage a greater sense of ownership for
the student. Instead of the instructor working, the student
gathered the information. It may spur them to look for more
information. A sense of ownership will increase engagement and it
may also increase CIEQ ratings.
- Probably the biggest challenge is that the World Wide
Web is a dynamic organism. URLs change and links move.
Keeping the information updated and free of "dead" links takes a little
What do I do when a
student asks, "Is the material on the linked pages going to be on the
- The information presented on some webpages is
incorrect and sometimes just morally wrong. You will have to
evaluate the webpages to make sure that they are produced by reputable
sources. The reference librarians will be able to direct you to
ways of evaluating webpages and webpage content. Dr. Hal Nees, a
Criminal Justice professor at Metropolitan State College of Denver,
provides some guidance on How to
Evaluate Web Resources.
I'm asked this every semester. My
honest answer is "Yes. The linked material provides additional
information that will help you in preparing for the tests."
Typically, the truly engaged student will not ask.
August 14, 2005