Month: August 2015

Arranging for Faculty Development Consultations

talkingWhat are faculty consultations?  Faculty development specialists at UConn’s Institute for Teaching and Learning provide feedback to faculty members seeking advice and support for their teaching.

Who can request a consultation?  General consultation services are available to all UConn faculty members and at all campuses.  There is no charge for the services.  Although consultations offer a great way to resolve difficult teaching issues, ITL’s services are not limited to problem resolution; in fact, some of UConn’s most successful teachers have been known to take advantage of consultation services to expand their repertoire and try new teaching techniques.  To request a consultation, simply send an email to

What does a typical consultation entail?  Consultations may entail anything from a single meeting to a series of meetings spanning an entire semester, depending upon the needs and interests of the faculty member.  Some of the topics and formats that can be addressed in consultations include the following:

  • Classroom related issues or concerns
  • Student evaluations
  • Instructional methods: active learning techniques, flipped classrooms, group work, discussions, interactive lectures, etc.
  • Instructional design of courses or redesign of existing courses
  • Resources on specific teaching topics: teaching freshmen, classroom management, civility, teaching large classes, midterm feedback on teaching, etc.
  • Presentation skills
  • Observations or videotaping and feedback
  • Hybridizing and applying educational technologies to achieve learning and course objectives

All services rendered in consultations are confidential and shared only with the client. ITL does not provide information or evaluation for tenure, promotion, or hiring decisions; clients, however, may use consultation reports as they see fit.

For more information, contact the Institute for Teaching and Learning at



Choosing a Classroom Ice-Breaker for the First Day, Aug 2015

teaching tip2

The first day of classes can be daunting for both students and faculty:  Students may be anxious about their professors, as well as about the work load of the course and other expectations; their instructors are likely to be anxious about establishing a positive first impression, conveying the syllabus and other information about the course, and generally setting the right tone for the next 14 weeks.

One way to ease that anxiety is to try an ice breaker, perhaps playing a name game or encouraging students to mingle as they complete a scavenger hunt aimed at learning about one another.  Marilyn Weimer offers the following advice in the “Teaching Professor Blog”:

  • Best and Worst Classes—On one section of the board, write “The best class I ever had,” and on another write, “The worst class I ever had.” Under each, write the subheadings, “What the students did” and “What the teacher did.”  Then ask students to add attributes to lists, being careful not to identify names of teachers or courses.  Afterward, discuss among the class how to capture the best attributes and avoid the worst this semester.
  • First Day Graffiti—On sections of the board or separate flip charts, write the beginning of a sentence; for example, “I learn best in classes where the teacher ___,” “Students in courses help me learn when they ___,” and “I am most likely to participate in classes when ___.” Have students walk around the room and finish the sentences, then discuss them and their significance to your course as a class.
  • Syllabus Speed dating—We hand out syllabi, but do students actually read them? This technique teams students up to search the syllabus and find answers to a series questions, such as “How will participation be graded?” or “What citation style is required in this class? Why?”  This encourages interaction and collaboration while ensuring that your syllabus gets read.

These techniques come from

For even more ideas, visit

For more information, contact ITL at

Preparing for your First Class, Aug 2015

Fight First-Day Anxiety with a Plan

Are first-day jitters leaving you feeling anxious and under-prepared?  Have you been waking with a jolt at night after dreaming of being locked out of your classroom, unable to turn on the overhead projector, or incapable of getting your students’ attention?

The first day of class is important on many levels:  It affords you the opportunity to introduce yourself and the course, get a sense of your students, and set the tone for the semester.  It also gives students a chance to try the course out—to get a sense of who you are and what your course will be like.  Carefully plan the first class session, so you are sure to cover everything intended.

Use these guidelines to avoid the kinds of last-minute surprises that can ruin even the best teacher’s confidence.

Before you step into the classroom…

  • Know the rules
  • View your class roster
  • Request a HuskyCT site
  • Order your text books and other course materials
  • Order library reserves
  • Visit your classroom

On the first day…

  • Set a goal
  • Introduce yourself
  • Show an interest in getting to know your students
  • Introduce your course
  • Ask questions
  • Save time for student questions

Visit and for UConn-specific suggestions on how to achieve these goals, as well as for contact information and other helpful details.

For more information, contact ITL at

Designing your Syllabus, Aug 2015

teaching tip3Does your Syllabus Make the Grade?

Use the following checklist to create a syllabus that your students will actually read and use:

  • Provide contact information and office hours
  • Present an overview of the course description, goals and objectives
  • List required materials
  • Describe the schedule, assignments, and assessments
  • Clarify policies (including grading criteria) and expectations

Introduce the syllabus to your students on the first day of class.  If necessary, show them how to read the syllabus; perhaps even conduct a group activity (e.g., a syllabus scavenger hunt) or quiz to ensure that students have read and understand all components of the syllabus.

Create a syllabus before the start of your course, and be sure to distribute it—perhaps by posting it on HuskyCT.  But don’t stop there; continue to revise the syllabus, marking it up throughout the semester to improve it for the next time you teach the course.  Visit for sample syllabi and other syllabus-development details.

For more information, contact ITL at