Month: September 2016

Fall Teaching Talks, Sept. 2016

You are invited to participate in a series of informal teaching talks on Mondays and Fridays throughout the Fall 2016 and Spring 2017 semesters.  We would like to create an environment in which participants can comfortably share teaching concerns and discuss techniques and strategies with colleagues, experts, and CETL staff.  All sessions will take place in CETL’s Innovation Room (Rowe 319), a casual meeting space in the heart of the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning.  All UConn instructors—graduate students, TAs, and APIRs, as well as adjunct, tenure-track and tenured faculty—are encouraged to attend.  The fall 2016 schedule is as follows:

  • Monday, October 3 (12:30 – 1:45 p.m.)—Understanding students
  • Friday, October 7 (10:00 – 11:15 a.m.)—Creativity in the classroom
  • Friday, October 14 (10:00 – 11:15 a.m.)—Motivating students
  • Monday, October 24 (12:30 – 1:45 p.m.)—Classroom management
  • Friday, November 4 (10:00 – 11:15 a.m.) —Active learning strategies
  • Monday, November 7 (12:30 – 1:45 p.m.)—Conducting class discussions
  • Friday, December 2 (10:00 – 11:15 a.m.)—Feedback and assessment strategies
  • Monday, December 5 (12:30 – 1:45 p.m.)—Group and team work

Attend all the sessions or choose only those covering the topics that most interest you.  Please email Stacey Valliere at (860-486-2686) to register, and contact Suzanne LaFleur if you have questions or would like more information.

Faculty Development Consultations, Sept. 2016

Faculty development specialists at UConn’s Center for Excellence in 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 instructors—graduate students, TAs, and APIRs, as well as adjunct, tenure-track and tenured faculty.  There is no charge for the services.  Although consultations offer a great way to resolve difficult teaching issues, CETL’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 Suzanne LaFleur.

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.

Providing Whole-Class Feedback, Sept. 2016

It happens at some point almost every semester:  We are immersed in the time-consuming and often tedious task of grading a towering pile of student papers, projects or exams; in the wee hours of the night, we find ourselves making the same types of comments over and over and wondering if there’s an easier way.

…Perhaps there is.

Whole-class feedback can be an effective, time-saving technique for responding to student work—particularly in large lecture sections and when many in the class are struggling with the same issues.

A Teaching Professor Blog describes whole-class feedback as instances “when the teacher returns a set of papers or exams and talks to the entire class about its performance, or the debriefing part of an activity where the teacher comments on how students completed the task.”

This feedback offers efficiency, but we need to be careful when and how to present it:  A whole-class lecture on how students could improve their work might leave many tuned out unless they know that the remarks refer specifically to them.  And, if students are not given the opportunity to revise their work afterwards—or incorporate lessons learned into similar upcoming assignments—they may not be concerned enough to attend in the first place.

Instead of lecture, a better technique might be to conduct a whole-class discussion in which we pose questions, discuss and brainstorm revisions to student work together, and encourage all members of the class to identify areas that need improvement in addition to things done well.  We could also offer what the Blog calls “future-focused discussions,” which are aimed specifically at how to avoid similar errors on the next upcoming assignment.

Visit the Teaching Professor Blog for more options and ideas on this topic:

Please also visit Mentor Commons for 20-Minute Videos on related topics, including How Can I Use Voice Feedback to Improve Student Learning?, How Can I Enhance the Impact of Feedback in Online Classes?, How Do I Give Feedback that Improves Student Writing?, How Can I Use Technology to Create Custom Automated Feedback?, and How Can I Make My Exams More about Learning, Less about Grades?