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College Readiness Department

 For Faculty

Are You with Me? Measuring Student Attention in the Classroom
Most university classes last 50 to 90 minutes—much longer than the attention span of a typical student. Sustained attention varies widely, and the quality of attention depends on several factors, including time of day, motivation, emotion, and enjoyment. Instructors use a variety of strategies to increase student attention during class—from incorporating demonstrations or visuals to requiring student participation, asking students to turn off cell phones and laptops, and waking up the occasional sleeper. The idea, of course, is that increased attention during a class results in better, longer-lasting retention of the presented information; decades of memory research confirm this basic idea.

How long can you reasonably expect your students to sustain attention in the classroom? One common belief is that the typical student’s attention span is about 10 to 15 minutes long.

Review of Bunce, D. M., Flens, E. A., & Neiles, K. Y. (2010). "How Long Can Students Pay Attention in Class? A Study of Student Attention Decline using Clickers." Journal of Chemical Education, 87, 1438-1443.

What is Writing to Learn?
Generally, writing-to-learn activities are short, impromptu or otherwise informal writing tasks that help students think through key concepts or ideas presented in a course. Often, these writing tasks are limited to less than five minutes of class time or are assigned as brief, out-of-class assignments.

Because writing-to-learn activities are crucial to many programs (because they best meet teaching goals through writing), this guide presents a great deal of information on writing to learn (WTL), including a detailed rationale, examples, and logistical tips.
A fuller definition of writing to learn
   • Examples of WTL activities
   • Using computers with WTL activities
   • Alternatives for evaluating WTL writing
   • Teacher commentary
   • Selected print resources
   • Related Web Sites


Illustrative Mathematics: Function Rules
The purpose of this task is to connect the function described by a verbal rule with corresponding values in a table (one of six connections to be made between the four ways to represent a function, the other two being through its graph and through an expression). It also encourages students to think more broadly about functions as relating objects other than numbers, although this broad application is not intended to be assessed.

Using a Lottery to Illustrate Functions
This was a discovery lesson about a lottery, and it was used to introduce functions. The objective of the lesson is to have the students see functions from a completely different perspective, how it can be related to a real-life application.

Lesson Plan

Lesson Study Among Mathematics Educators
A group of mathematics educators worked together to implement the lesson study model as a professional development strategy while teaching their methods courses. This article describes the experiences of the group, including unique benefits and unpredictable challenges of forming a virtual faculty learning community.

Lesson Study: Enhancing Mathematics Teaching and Learning


Conjecturing About Functions
The series of lessons is really getting students to move beyond the set of problems that’s provided to start to notice important math structures and to really make a conjecture. This is the kind of lesson that generally takes two days. Students are solving these problems but they're solving them as a tool to kind of go beyond and be able to test concepts with a wide range of items. Students are color coding their work so other people can understand it. Students really try to get down to the math of why the conjectures seem to be true.

Math and Metaphor: Using Poetry to Teach College Mathematics
Math is everywhere, and most people don’t even realize it. For the longest time I found math boring and confusing—just a bunch of numbers and symbols jumbled together, or word problems with juvenile purposes. When I realized the concepts were actually relevant, and could be used to solve relevant problems, my feelings changed.
—Katherine, Fall 2007 Math Student

In the fall 2007 semester at the University of North Carolina, Asheville, Patrick Bahls asked his math students to complete an atypical mathematics assignment. Each student was prompted to write a poem (a few students would end up writing several) offering the reader insight into her or his experience with mathematics.

My Best Lesson
Turning math pupils into second world war codebreakers. Mission accomplished: Teacher turned First Officer, Charlotte King, explains how to send pupils on a codebreaking mission to learn about factors, multiples and the Second World War.

Keeping it Safe and Quiet

Public Key Cryptography


Reading Practices at Chabot College
Chabot English faculty believe students who improve their reading tend to improve their writing and vice-versa. Reading should be integrated with writing, speaking and listening at all levels of our English courses.

An active reading style is critical to improving reading comprehension and more effective in helping students grasp ideas and meaning than "word by word reading." We must actively lead students in the classroom to critically read assigned texts. Teaching reading includes guiding students in understanding what they are reading, how they should read it, and the author's purpose.

Freire Discussion

What Can We Learn From Developmental Reading Research?
The success of underprepared readers in college is directly and significantly related to taking and passing a reading skills course.

Reading and Learning Strategies: Recommendations for the 21st Century
Finding practical ideas about college reading and learning strategy programs that have been drawn from theory and research is difficult for most veteran instructors, but is even more difficult for those instructors new to the field.


Reading for Understanding: How Reading Apprenticeship Improves Disciplinary Learning in Secondary and College Classrooms
Reading Apprenticeship has proven to be an inspiration to Renton Technical College faculty and students alike. They have learned together to view themselves as readers in transformative ways, as they embrace powerful techniques to increase reading comprehension. The ideas and strategies in Reading for Understanding anchor this new and broad-based energy around reading and an enthusiasm among our faculty to model effective reading strategies for our students. Steve Hanson, President, Renton Technical College, Renton, Washington Reading for Understanding "has the finest blend I have seen of research, strategies, and classroom vignettes to deepen teacher learning and help them connect the dots between theory and practice."

Gallery Walk
One of the most versatile learner-centered activities, the Gallery Walk, has been called by a lot of names and has many variations. You can use it as an information-rich, opening (connection), closing (celebration), or review activity.

The Gallery Walk connects learners to each other and learners to the training topic in a number of interesting, interactive ways.

The Focal Point: Redesigning Developmental English Education 
This report of the Developmental English Redesign Team, presents recommendations to redesign developmental reading and writing to improve student success, to implement more streamlined and efficient delivery methods, and to enhance student support services surrounding those delivery methods.


Framework for Success in Postsecondary Writing
Describes the rhetorical and 21st century skills as well as habits of mind and experiences that are critical for college success. Based in current research in writing and writing pedagogy, the Framework was written and reviewed by two- and four-year college and high school writing faculty nationwide and is endorsed by the Council of Writing Program Administrators, the National Council of Teachers of English, and the National Writing Project.


30 Ideas for Teaching Writing
The National Writing Project's 30 Ideas for Teaching Writing offers successful strategies contributed by experienced Writing Project teachers. Since NWP does not promote a single approach to teaching writing, readers will benefit from a variety of eclectic, classroom-tested techniques.

Accelerating Achievement
On the “Accelerating Achievement” blog you’ll find posts about current news, learning, and research as well as highlights of the work that’s being done in DEI colleges and states. We’ll share our viewpoint on how this learning can be taken up on other campuses and states—and we hope you’ll share your perspective, too.

Writing: A Ticket to Work Or a Ticket Out
In its second landmark report, the National Commission on Writing for America's Families, Schools, and Colleges argues that good writing is taken as a given in today's professional world. "With the fast pace of today's electronic communications, one might think that the value of fundamental writing skills has diminished in the workplace," said Joseph M. Tucci, president and chief executive officer of EMC Corporation and chairman of the Business Roundtable's Education and the Workforce Task Force. "Actually the need to write clearly and quickly has never been more important than in today's highly competitive, technology-driven global economy."

Getting Results: A Professional Development Online Course
This multimedia resource for community college faculty will challenge your previous thinking about teaching and learning and give you the basic tools for effective classroom practice. The key theme of the course is to encourage you to focus on what the students will do and take responsibility for their success.

In order to provide quality opportunities for student writing, teachers must minimally understand:
How to interpret curriculum documents, including things that can be taught while students are actually writing, rather than one thing at a time to all students at once.
The elements of “writing lives” as people construct them in the world outside of school.
Social structures that support independent work.
How to confer with individual writers.
How to assess while students are writing.
How to plan what students need to know in response to ongoing research.
How to create a sense of personal safety in the classroom, so that students are willing to write freely and at length.

How to create community while students are writing in the same room together.

Writing to Read
A Carnegie Corporation report which finds that while reading and writing are closely connected, writing is an often-overlooked tool for improving reading skills and content learning.

Classroom Ideas That Work!

Resource Archive

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