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Spring Celebration of Teaching Symposium

Dear Colleagues – Thank you for attending our Spring Celebration of Teaching. We so rarely have a chance to simply discuss great ideas. The energy and enthusiasm at the event was palpable. We thank you all for your commitment to OSU students and teaching excellence.  If you would like to see the photographs of Benny and our guests, click on the Link.

Blended Learning Hands-On Workshop

Join us to explore tools and techniques to integrate online and classroom learning in your courses. Learn effective blended/hybrid teaching practices in this hands-on CTL workshop on Wednesday, May 3 1:00-2:30 p.m., in Milam 215. All faculty and GTA’s welcome. Please bring your laptop. Refreshments provided. Please register here.

Academic Technology Lunchtime Webinar: How You Can Create a Successful Hybrid Course

Join Cub Kahn (CTL) on Wednesday, 19 April, noon to 12:30 p.m. More than 270 OSU courses are hybrid, integrating a reduced amount of face-to-face class meeting time with significant online learning activity. This webinar will demonstrate effective methods for designing and teaching a hybrid course, and cover ways in which the Center for Teaching and Learning and Academic Technology can support your on-campus hybrid teaching efforts. Register here.

Strategies for Handling Student Absences

Our primary goal is to ensure students learn what we intend.  It is true that when students miss a class, particularly one that is activity based, it is not possible to “make up” the experience.  Still, there are legitimate reasons why students may need to be absent: death in the family, illness, sports and arts obligations, etc.  Students should not be penalized for legitimate absences.

As teachers, our question is: what will best support a student’s learning even though s/he cannot be in class? You are the content expert and course designer, so you are the best person to decide what additional assignment would best support students in the case of an absence.  Still, here are a few ideas for your consideration.

Assign the student to:

  • review the assigned reading and identify the key points accompanied by an explanation of why those particular points are most important
  • organize the course information (up to this point) into a graphic representation…then in a NEW color, add in, and CONNECT the new content (covered when he was absent).
  • write a short paper, not to exceed two pages, that summarizes the ideas, relationships, concepts, calculations he missed

Again, our focus needs to be on how to best support students’ learning despite absences. Another idea is to require students, upon return, to meet with another student to review the class content and provide you with a short, written summary of the classes missed.  This would allow you to quickly check to see if s/he missed any major points. Whether an assessment is delivered through a clicker or exam, its purpose is communication: assessments communicate to teachers the degree to which the students are learning what we intend.  This “feedback” informs us about what was difficult for students and needs re-teaching.

Some teachers pre-manage for student absences by adding this statement to the course syllabi: “In case of an excused absence, an alternative assignment that supports your learning will be required.”  Another idea for your consideration is to allow students to “drop” one or two daily grades; we all have things come up…and once in a while we need a “get out of jail card.”  This communicates to students that we understand the complexities of life, yet expect them to come prepared.

Equitable Group Participation

Dear Colleagues,

Even though it is the end of the quarter and your hearts and minds are on the closure of winter quarter, I thought I would post a support for your spring quarter courses.  We are often asked how to assess group work.

Cherry blossoms and OSU Memorial UnionCreating equitable work groups is an issue, as you know, of great importance. “Effective collaboration” is not only an institutional outcome it is authentic preparation for life.

Students figure out rather quickly that we assess what we value. Clearly preface group work by outlining the importance of, practicing and mastering, effective collaborative skills; explain it is necessary preparation for the world of work and citizenry.  Clearly outline expectations:  you expect equitable work and the group will be “graded accordingly.”

In this case, collaborative participation must be a percentage of the grade: the success of the group must count towards each individual’s final grade. (This encourages commitment to equity…unless there is a significant emergency of one group member, group members are required to figure out how to collaborate as a group.  This is not really an issue with today’s technology).

Provide the students with the Collaboration and Equity Rubric: tell them clearly that each person will independently and confidentially evaluating their group’s performance using the rubric as the metric.  Explain you will collect the evaluations at the completion of the task. (There are a number of ways to ensure individuals’ responses remain confidential; Canvas is an option as students can post without others seeing their work.)

Please note, according to the rubric students’ assessments require data for evaluation of the group’s performance; if someone is identified  by group members as someone who didn’t contribute equitably, that individual receives a lower rating that the rest of the group members. Do not assign the group a grade; always grade collaboration skills on an individual basis.  If your class is small enough you can evaluate your students’ participation levels in class; those who are not contributing can be encourages and supported by you (during the quarter) in the improvement of their collaborative skills.

When we directly clarify expectations and evaluate them, it communicates we value the skill necessary for full citizenry and the world of work.

The Collaboration and Equity Rubric is for your use, reflection and revision.

Have a great break!

Teaching Triads

Teaching Triads: Join colleagues and the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) in this spring’s professional learning community (PLC). Teaching Triads is designed to engage trios of faculty around structured teaching observations and intellectual coaching. Through reciprocal observations, feedback, and dialogue participants collaboratively address questions, needs, and opportunities in the enhancement of teaching. The work is supportive, formative, voluntary and NOT evaluative. This hyflex PLC runs April 13 – June 15 and has live sessions on Thursdays at 12:30. This PLC is also offered to off-site teachers. Extended MOU submission date April 3, 2017. Download the MOU.

Spring into the Celebration of Teaching!

The Center for Teaching and Learning spring symposium, Celebrating Teaching Excellence, is traditionally dedicated to the showcasing of OSU’s innovative and creative teaching. This is a fun event that fosters reflection, enhances the exchange of ideas, and inspires our collective commitment to our students and the art of teaching. Progressive family-style lunch and rotating conversations are hallmarks of this celebration.

On Wednesday, April 26 from 11-2, if you (and colleagues and/or students) would like to showcase your work at a round table, please fill out the short application proposal.  All applications will be reviewed and 12 will be selected.

Don’t be shy…apply!

Who is in the Teaching and Learning Spotlight?

The Center for Teaching and Learning and LIFE@OSU are introducing a new semi-monthly series highlighting the stories of successful teaching on campus. Teachers featured in the series have all utilized CTL services and resources in order to better enhance their teaching experiences. For more information about LIFE@OSU.

This month’s featured faculty member is Rebecca Hutchinson, assistant professor with the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. To learn about Rebecca and her teaching experiences check out her article on our Announcements & Events page or see the article in LIFE@OSU.

5 Tips for Facilitating Difficult Conversations

As a follow up to our Winter Symposium we wanted to share five tips for facilitating our students’ citizenry and communication skills. Handling difficult discussions in the classroom is a topic many of us are faced with today.

-1-  Before the class begins, identify any controversial issues that might arise in your classroom. How might these discussions contribute to the course you are teaching?

-2-  Prepare students for the discussions by including this in the course syllabus, and remind students throughout the course that controversial issues are opportunities to develop an understanding of, and empathy for, others.  Critical thinking and respectful communication skills are institutional outcomes for all OSU graduates as they are skills necessary for full participation in a democracy and all work environments.

-3-  Support students in learning difficult discussion skills by providing them the opportunity to set ground rules. (Preliminary work can be done in Canvas; bring the summary of the input to the face-to-face session.)

-4-  Ask students how they might handle a situation in which someone chooses not to follow the ground rules.  (What specifically might they say or do to maintain the safe environment?)  This emphasizes the collective responsibility for maintaining a civil environment, as opposed to it being only the teacher’s responsibility.

  • Have an agreed upon method for stopping the class and gaining everyone’s attention.
  • Keep your emotions in check.

-5-  After the discussion ask students to write a short reflection on the act of participating in the difficult discussion.  This assignment underscores the importance of communication skill development (we assess what we value).  You may wish to also include a question about the rhetoric in the argument, the framework from an argument was made, or the quality of information used to defend a point of view.

  • When were you most engaged?
  • At what point, if any, did you disconnect from the conversation?

For a pdf of these 5 tips, click “Print Friendly” at the end of this post.

Our website now contains this information as well as many additional resources to support you in engaging in difficult dialogue in the classroom. Check out these resources.


CTL 2017 Winter Symposium Golden Ticket Winners

Thank you for joining us at the winter symposium, Humor. Care. Contemplation. We appreciate you taking the time to join us. We would like to announce that the Golden Ticket winners from our Ask an Expert Question Carnival were Jennifer McKee and Tianhong Shi! Congratulations to you both! We look forward to seeing you at the Spring Symposium, Celebrating Teaching Excellence on April 26!

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