CETL’s Graduate Instructor Seminar on Teaching (GIST) focused on engaging students through active learning. Dr. Alice Steimle and Dr. Susan Gaunt-Stearns defined active learning and described its benefits to students. Active learning techniques encourage greater student participation and collaboration in class and increase student motivation to think critically about course content. Participants engaged in a series of reflective “think, pair, share” activities and were provided a number of active learning techniques to try in their classes. Finally, participant groups engaged in a sample activity used in Dr. Gaunt-Stearns’ own history class. Materials used in the seminar are posted on the Graduate Instructor Course on Blackboard. The next seminar is scheduled for Friday, April 27.
Faculty Development Luncheon (FDL)
Dr. Barry Maid, Professor and former head of Technical Communications at Arizona State University, lead CETL’s FDL in March. He addressed Threshold Concepts, perspectives that differentiate novices and professionals within a discipline. They highlight the transition from thinking like a Mathematics student, for example, to thinking like a Mathematician. Though these concepts vary by discipline, they share eight characteristics, all of which describe changes in a person’s thinking, language, and beliefs once he or she joins a community of researchers, practitioners, etc. Dr. Maid encouraged faculty to identify the Threshold Concepts applicable to their own fields and use them to augment program goals. The materials provided at the FDL are available in CETL Learning Communities on Blackboard.
UM Professors Alan Gross, Kelly Wilson, and John Rimoldi led this month’s FacChat, which addressed promoting greater student autonomy in graduate programs. Though representing different disciplines, these recipients of the Excellence in Teaching and Mentoring Award agreed that helping graduate students build confidence throughout their programs contributes to their exhibiting greater autonomy. Strategies which they use involve ensuring that graduate students engage in tasks expected of professionals in their fields, e.g. grant writing, manuscript reviewing, etc. They also emphasize the importance of community within a graduate program. Team tasks, journal clubs, and research groups provide foundation for students to develop a broader supportive network throughout their graduate studies and beyond. Finally, they agreed that good mentors can help students correlate their experiences, good, bad, and ugly, with their development from graduate student to professional. By engaging in professionally oriented tasks, establishing good peer relationships, and actively reflecting on their experiences, graduate students build confidence and exhibit greater autonomy in their programs.
Backward design model and provided materials with questions to guide instructors’ thoughts about courses they teach or plan to teach. The instructors appreciated the tips and suggestions about developing measurable goals and objectives, but one of the tips they especially appreciated related to the final exam. By creating the final exam while planning the course, instructors can reduce the stress traditionally attributed to ”end-of-semester frenzy” and improve the likelihood of their staying true to their course plans throughout the semester. The materials for this seminar are included on the Graduate Instructor Course on Blackboard. The next GIST event is scheduled for Friday, March 23.
Graham Bodie (Journalism) lead CETL’s first FacChat of the semester. Elaborating on his presentation at CETL’s faculty development luncheon in October, he discussed practical classroom applications of the Listen First Model.
Several participants mentioned the difficulty in motivating students to engage in conversations involving controversial topics or to converse with those dissimilar from themselves. They highlighted factors that might contribute to students’ silence: fear, minimal confidence, and cultural norms. Perhaps some students wanted to avoid others’ expectations that they have an opinion. Dr. Bodie stressed the importance of preparing students for classroom conversations. He offered several resources to help students and instructors develop a good “space” for good “conversations.” These resources are available in CETL Learning Communities on Blackboard.
Critical Thinking Workshop
In lieu of the monthly faculty development luncheon, CETL collaborated with the Provost’s Office on UM’s 2018 Kickoff Event, a day with Linda Nilson, Director Emeritus of Clemson University’s Office of Teaching Effectiveness and Innovation. Dr. Nilson is a leading expert on critical thinking (CT), which is the focus of UM’s upcoming Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP). During her visit, she met with a variety of committees, administrators, and faculty to discuss her research and experiences related to CT initiatives on university campuses. The day culminated with her workshop, “Critical Thinking Unmasked,” where she summarized her research on CT and offered suggestions for promoting it in discipline-based courses. The handout for the workshop as well as materials from one of her CT webinars may be found in CETL Learning Communities on Blackboard.
Winter Intersession Workshop
Despite icy roads and school closings, UM faculty, instructors, and administrators gathered for the two-day workshop to examine the instructional applications and research opportunities afforded by CATME, Comprehensive Assessment of Team Member Effectiveness.
Participants left the workshop inspired to try or augment team-based approaches in their classes and to incorporate CATME.
Presently, individual UM departments are licensed to use CATME, but given the interest generated by the workshop, CETL and The Division of Outreach are investigating the possibility for a university-wide license to allow broader access to this innovative tool.
CETL scheduled its first monthly Graduate Instructor Seminar on Teaching (GIST) on January 26th. More than 45 graduate students attended to lunch and learn about the value of teaching statements for their careers in higher education. Ken Sufka (Psychology) and Lauren Reynolds (Modern Languages) provided tips on creating teaching statements, using them as a basis for reflection, and refining them to support academic job searches at different types of institutions, e.g. R1’s, community colleges, etc. They stressed that teaching beliefs are not static; they change with time, experience, students, and environments. They advised the graduate students to continually reflect and refine their teaching statements as they develop as instructors. Materials included in the seminar are posted on the Graduate Instructor Course on Blackboard. The next GIST Seminar is scheduled for Friday, February 23.
Faculty Development Luncheon
On Thursday, October 12, Dr. Graham Bodie lead our faculty development luncheon about The Role of Listening in Civil Discourse. He introduced the Listen First Model, its application in university classrooms, and responded to faculty questions.
For a full description of Dr. Bodie’s presentation please see Better Learning Through Listening in the Classroom by Dr. Deb Wenger (Journalism).
If you are interested in viewing the faculty development luncheon in its entirety, please refer to the following linked video: CETL FDL: