Month: October 2015

Planning Ahead for Canceled Classes, Oct 2015

The sighting of snowflakes on Sunday reminded many of us that winter weather—and its incessant interruptions—is right around the corner.  This time of year, we may be faced with the need to improvise teaching plans in the moment.  One way to avoid the upheaval caused by weather-related cancelations is to plan ahead and incorporate a variety of online activities, assignments and assessments into the curriculum.  It’s never too late to get started!

Add an online component to your course via HuskyCT:

  • Design a HuskyCT assignment focusing on analyzing and reflecting on a case study.
  • Use Course Blogs:  Assign a reading and ask students to each start a HuskyCT discussion thread and respond to their classmate’s threads. Give clear direction as to the content and how many threads to respond to.
  • Create quizzes or other forms of assessment to be administered and graded via HuskyCT—for students to self-check major concepts illustrated in class.
  • Create a discussion board forum in place of the discussion topic you would have facilitated for the day. Be sure to give clear directions regarding your expectations for student participation and the quality of the posts. Prepare a grading rubric with explicit and descriptive criteria aligned with your learning objectives so students fully understand what they need to produce in the discussion board to be successful.

Take advantage of UConn’s lecture capture technology, which makes hybridizing a class a breeze:

  • Mediasite is one of the University’s solutions for lecture capture and streaming. Whether you are teaching online or face to face, reinforcing a difficult topic or making up a missed class, Mediasite can provide an appropriate and effective solution.  This tool can be accessed through two recording studios in the Rowe Center for Undergraduate Education or conveniently used from home, making it an excellent choice for offering a virtual lecture in case of a last-minute cancelled class due to weather.
  • UConn’s lightboard offers another, more sophisticated form of lecture capture.  This new technology allows faculty to integrate PowerPoint while discussing key concepts, illustrate lessons with a diagram, or explain a formula without blocking the written content with their bodies and without turning their backs to their students.  UConn’s Lightboard is located at the Center for Excellence in Teaching & Learning (CETL) in the Rowe Building.

Make this experience a professional development opportunity:   All of the techniques and technology discussed here can be used for online, hybrid/blended, flipped, and in-person courses at UConn. Many of your colleagues are already using these methods to increase effectiveness in and out of the classroom. Once you have used these techniques initially, we encourage you to continue exploring them as possible first steps in further bolstering the effectiveness of your courses through the use of educational technology.  Follow these links to connect with appropriate staff and resources as you further explore these opportunities:

 

Innovation in Teaching Showcase

itl showcaseThe Center for Excellence in Teaching & Learning invites you to attend:
Innovation in Teaching Showcase
Friday October 30th 2015
Oak Hall 117
1:30 – 4:30 pm

Presenters:

Jamie Kleinman – Psychology
Steve McDermott – Instructional Resource Center
Amit Savkar – Mathematics
Mark Boyer – Political Science
 
Join us for an afternoon to discuss and explore new educational technology and pedagogy.
 
Light refreshments will be served.
 
Please RSVP to Stacey Valliere at stacey.valliere@uconn.edu

Learning through Service, Oct 2015

Have you thought about including service learning in your teaching?

Service learning projects are developed by connecting student learning objectives and community need. As such, the resulting partnership is mutually beneficial for all parties. The project activities and deliverables can vary widely as service learning can take on many forms.

Service learning actively engages students in the community.  As a form of experiential learning, it provides direct experience and hands-on learning to develop skills useful in future careers, family life, and community involvement.  It can help develop critical thinking through involvement in situations conducive to creative, effective problem-solving, and it can enhance students’ social responsibility by expanding their compassion, civic awareness, and desire to be engaged in the community.

Service learning can fall into three general categories (Furco, 1996):

  • Direct: Students are in direct contact with people and/or organizations (e.g., tutoring at the Boys and Girls Club)
  • Indirect: Students engage with a cause or a community need through means that does not involve having constant contact with beneficiaries (e.g., market research, designing surveys, creating websites
  • Civic Action or Advocacy: Students are provided with an opportunity to affect change in public policy (e.g., presenting at a Town Safety Meeting or Legislative Public Hearing)

Service Learning courses are designated and searchable in the Peoplesoft system. Faculty who use the pedagogy of service learning can have their courses designated as such by completing this application, which will allow the University and the Office of Public Engagement to gain accurate information for reporting and quality purposes.  It will also provide students necessary information about their coursework.  Submissions are due by Friday, Oct. 16 at noon for Spring 2016 courses. Once submitted, applications will be reviewed by the Service Learning Committee.

For more information on service learning, access this week’s 20-Minute Mentor video, “Can Service Learning Work in My Discipline?” Link to the Presentation by clicking here: http://www.mondaymorningmentors.com.  From this link, you can view the featured presentation, as well as access the transcript, handouts, and supplemental material. You will need to enter the following password in order to view the program: work9403.  Note that the video and attached supplemental materials will be available only until Sunday, October 18, 2015. 

Links:

  • Contact the Office of Public Engagement for more information or for help getting started on developing your service learning course or project
  • To learn more about the faculty benefits of service learning, visit Faculty Overview
  • Visit National Campus Compact for models of service learning across disciplines and institutions.
  • Spring 2016 SL Course Designation Applications are due by Friday, Oct. 16 at noon.  To submit a course, please click on this application 

Conducting Formative Mid-Semester Evaluations, Oct 2015

Do you wonder how your students are responding to your course this semester?

Consider administering a formative assessment to gather mid-semester feedback that you can use to improve your teaching while your course is underway.  Formative assessment can help you recognize when your students are struggling and enable you to address problems in the middle of the semester.

Unlike end-of-semester student evaluations of teaching, mid-semester surveys are optional and completely confidential.  You can use these formative assessments privately, or you may decide to share them with your department head, along with the resulting course modifications, and include the same in your teaching portfolio.

Results of these surveys can provide you with valuable opportunities for reflection and course improvement, and studies show that when students know that you intend to use the results to improve your course immediately, their response rates are typically high and carefully thought-out.

Visit http://cetl.uconn.edu/mid-semester-formative-evaluations/  or contact the Institute for Teaching and Learning if you would like to learn more about formative assessment or arrange for consultations or classroom observations.

 

 

Incorporate New Teaching Technologies into your Course Design and Delivery, Oct 2015

UConn makes a variety of technological tools available to enhance your teaching, as well as staff resources to help show you how to use them.

Achieve flexibility and enhance student learning outcomes with web-enhanced teaching strategies: 

  • HuskyCTis UConn’s Blackboard learning management system. Use HuskyCT to electronically send announcements, post content, collect and grade assignments, give quizzes, hold discussions, post grades, and more.  Set up a HuskyCT site at the beginning of the semester and use it regularly to share materials—perhaps using the tools described below—with students.
  • Collaborateis Blackboard’s web conferencing tool that allows for one-to-many synchronous video-based communication, simulating a virtual classroom.  If designed well and aligned with course learning outcomes, it can be used “live” in place of a face-to-face class.  In addition, Collaborate integrates fully with HuskyCT and enables instructors to initiate, record, and archive sessions, which they can then incorporate into online course content.  It also includes capabilities that simulate a face-to-face class experience, such as breakout rooms, an interactive whiteboard, application sharing, polling, and a hand-raising feature.

Reimagine how, when, and why you lecture:  Lecture capture tools make it possible to record and save lectures and make them available digitally.  Many faculty successfully use lecture capture to “flip their courses,” requiring students to watch modularized recorded lecture material prior to class to free up class time for more engaged learning activities and group discussion

  • Mediasite is one of the University’s solutions for lecture capture and streaming. Whether you are teaching online or face to face, reinforcing a difficult topic or making up a missed class, Mediasite can provide an appropriate and effective solution.  This tool can be accessed through two recording studios in the Rowe Center for Undergraduate Education or conveniently used from home, making it an excellent choice for offering a virtual lecture in case of a last-minute cancelled class due to weather.
  • UConn’s lightboard offers another, more sophisticated form of lecture capture.  This new technology allows faculty to integrate PowerPoint while discussing key concepts, illustrate lessons with a diagram, or explain a formula without blocking the written content with their bodies and without turning their backs to their students.  UConn’s Lightboard is located at the Center for Excellence in Teaching & Learning in the Rowe Building.

Contact the Institute for Teaching and Learning to learn more about the instructional technology options available to you, many of which are easy enough to immediately expand your pedagogy and technology toolbox.

Are you feeling overwhelmed by the rapidly expanding body of instructional technologies?  Learn how to narrow your options in this week’s 20-Minute Mentor video, which presents some simple guiding principles for choosing technology to use in the classroom.  Enter password tech3051 to access the video, which is available this week only (through October 4th).

 

Writing a Teaching Philosophy, Sept 2015

Have you considered writing a teaching philosophy?  We often teach without ever really thinking about long-term goals, but the process of writing a teaching philosophy encourages the kind of consideration and reflection that can ultimately improve our effectiveness in the classroom.  Teachers find the process of writing such a philosophy instrumental in making their own teaching goals more deliberate and intentional.  A teaching philosophy can also be useful in job applications for faculty positions and in the tenure and promotion review process.

An effective teaching philosophy should answer these questions:

  • Why do I teach?
  • What does good teaching mean to me?
  • What does effective learning mean to me?
  • Do I have a particular teaching style or approach? If so, how would I describe it?
  • What makes me unique as a teacher?
  • What do I expect from my students?
  • What can my students expect from me?
  • What do I do to continue to improve?

The suggestions above come directly from the Faculty Focus Special Report: “Philosophy of Teaching Statements: Examples and Tips on How to Write a Teaching Philosophy Statement” (May 2009).  To access this report, as well as sample teaching philosophies from faculty members in various disciplines, and to learn more about writing a teaching philosophy, visit http://cetl.uconn.edu/teaching-philosophy/.

If you would like help writing a teaching philosophy of your own, contact the Institute for Teaching and Learning.

 

Incorporating Active Learning

Active learningOverview:  We’ve been hearing a lot about active learning these days, but what, exactly, does active learning mean? Neal (2010) defines active learning as “educational methods in which students are involved in higher-order thinking (analysis, synthesis, evaluation). The term therefore primarily reflects what is going on in a student’s mind, whether or not the body (or the mouth) is physically active.” Studies show that active learning can increase students’ attention in class, as well as their retention of ideas, leading to more effective, gratifying, and memorable learning outcomes. In fact, most people learn better from actively engaging with material than they do from passively listening to a speaker or reading from a textbook.  Active learning strategies have students “doing” things—analyzing, creating, role playing, experiencing, reflecting, etc.

What are the basic elements of active learning?  According to the Center for Teaching & Learning at the University of Minnesota, the four Basic Active Learning Activities are the same elements you are probably already using in your class:

  1. Talking and listening – Students actively process information when they ask or answer questions, comment, present, and explain. When students go beyond passive listening to relate, analyze, and use what they are hearing, they are engaged in active learning. Discussions and Interactive Lectures are useful strategies.
  2. Writing – Students can actively process information by putting it in their own words; this can help students organize their thoughts and reflections and prepare them for discussion. Check out these suggestions for Informal Writing Activities from the University of Minnesota.
  3. Reading – Instructors often expect students to learn through reading. It’s easy for students to read passively in order “to get it done.”  Providing questions, summary exercises, opportunities for posts or reflection, etc., can transform it into an active process.  Students can often benefit from instruction on Active Reading.
  4. Reflecting – Class periods are often packed with information. Students sometimes need time to process the material and connect it to what they’ve already learned.  Reflecting on the applications and implications of new knowledge can help develop higher-order thinking skills and Metacognition.

Examples of Active Learning Strategies:  Try these strategies in the classroom:

Individual Activities:

  • The “One Minute Paper”
  • Muddiest (or Clearest) Point
  • Affective Response
  • Daily Journal
  • Reading Quiz
  • Clarification Pauses
  • Response to a Demonstration or other Teacher-Centered Activity

Paired Activities:

  • Discussion
  • Note Comparison/Sharing
  • Evaluation of Another Student’s Work

Small-Group Activities:

  • Cooperative Groups in Class
  • Active Review Sessions
  • Work at the Blackboard
  • Concept Mapping
  • Visual Lists
  • Jigsaw Group Projects
  • Role Playing
  • Panel Discussions
  • Debates
  • Games

For more information, contact the Institute for Teaching and Learning at itl@uconn.edu.