Return on Investment


What if a college instructor could appreciably increase the likelihood of the long-term well-being of a student by simply having a few conversations with the student?

Great Jobs Great Lives, the recently released 2014 Gallup-Purdue Index National Report, links the quality of one’s college experience with subsequent well-being and with workplace engagement. This report is an eye opener concerning the potential for wide-ranging consequences when college students feel supported by faculty.

Interestingly, the report finds that current well-being and workplace engagement of college graduates do not show a strong relationship with the colleges’ levels of selectivity, or public vs. private not-for-profit status.  However, among the random sample of 30,000 college graduates (bachelor’s degree or higher) interviewed nationally for this study, those who strongly agreed with any of the following three statements were approximately twice as likely to report that they are now engaged with their work and at least 50% more likely to report that they are thriving in all 5 key areas of well-being (purpose, social, financial, community and physical):

  • I had at least one professor at [College] who made me excited about learning.
  • My professors at [College] cared about me as a person. 
  • I had a mentor who encouraged me to pursue my goals and dreams. 

Wow! Yes, wow!

Notably, none of these three practices costs even a dollar, and none of them requires adopting new technology, upgrading infrastructure or implementing new curricula. None of these practices takes a new state law or federal regulation; none of them requires a university-wide initiative. These three practices only require educators to effectively communicate their excitement about learning, their care for students as people, and their encouragement for students to pursue personal goals and dreams.

The Gallup-Purdue report strongly suggests that a comparatively small personal investment by faculty to nurture today’s college students could have a huge societal return. Kudos to those of you who already make this investment in your students as part of your regular teaching practice. We would all do well to remind our teaching colleagues how meaningful their work is in shaping the future well-being of their students.

There is much more to glean from Great Jobs Great Lives; check it out!

Universal Design for Teaching and Learning

IMGP3527 - Version 2 “Universal design is the design of products and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design” –Ron Mace, NCSU Center for Universal Design

 Though the term “universal design” has been used since the ‘70s, full application of the principles of universal design to teaching and learning in higher education is still very much in process. Martha Smith and Gabe Merrell, two OSU campus leaders in universal design and accessibility, met with the College of Education Hybrid Study Group on March 5 to discuss universal design for instruction. Martha is Director of Disability Access Services, and Gabe is Senior Accessibility Associate and Deputy ADA Coordinator in the Office of Equity and Inclusion.

Gabe and Martha emphasized the importance of considering universal design up front in the development of teaching materials, instructional methods and means of assessing student learning. They also noted that universal design benefits all learners. The principles of universal design offer guidance for the design of all elements of an instructor’s toolkit, from syllabi to presentation style, to class activities and exams. As OSU serves an increasingly diverse student population, universal design can enhance learning in the classroom, the lab, in the field, and online.

In what ways are you implementing universal design in your teaching?

To find out more, contact, or check out the Center for Universal Design in Education.

Flipped Learning

Have you heard about flipped learning, but you aren’t quite sure what it is or whether you want to try it?  Is there solid evidence that it fosters student success and engagement?

If you’re trying to answer these questions, check out A Review of Flipped Learning, a new report based on the growing body of literature on this practice.  The report was produced by the Flipped Learning Network, George Mason University, and Pearson’ Center for Educator Effectiveness.  The authors identify “four pillars of flipped learning” that are essential for this approach to be successful:

  1. Flexible environments, including learning spaces that can be rearranged
  2. A shift in learning culture toward a more learner-centered approach
  3. “Intentional content” to optimize the use of classroom time with strategies such as active learning
  4. Professional educators who are reflective, and willing to be more than the traditional “sage on the stage”

What do students say about flipped learning? 

“The Flipped Learning and Democratic Education survey conducted by Tom Driscoll at Teachers College, Columbia University in 2012 was completed by 26 educators and 203 students from across the United States. Overall, close to 80% of students in flipped classrooms agreed that they have more constant and positive interactions with teachers and peers during class time; they said they have more access to course materials and instruction; are more able to work at their own pace; they can exercise more choice in how they demonstrate their learning; and they viewed learning as a more active process.”
Intrigued?  See the full report.





Research and Development in Teaching Improvement

Are you curious about what the research agenda is for the improvement of teaching? The Carnegie Institute  is a leader in setting the agenda for R & D. In 2011 Carnegie invited a group of nationally recognized teaching and learning experts together to discuss the research and development agenda.

First the team drew a clear distinction between teacher “evaluation” and teacher “development.” Teacher evaluation, is a specific accountability process (often an event) of data collection,analysis and comparison that requires inter-rater reliability and static criteria to determine award merit pay, promotion, etc.  Teacher development, on the other hand, is a process of supporting teachers in improving their ability determine what action to take, with which audience, at what time.  Not surprisingly, teacher evaluation can occur in any situation; it’s goal is not to IMPROVE teaching practice, but rather to evaluate it (compare it to other faculty members’ performance).  Teacher development though, is different.  It does NOT occur in every environment.  In fact, teacher development, like any other kind of learning, requires a CONTEXT that facilitates growth.  In other words: where we work, matters.  Work environments characterized by trust, rapport, humor and inquiry are more likely to have faculty who are engaged in ongoing professional development.  Competitive environments in which workers feel isolated and unsupported are less likely to grow and develop.  Sound familiar?  The first step to effective teaching, is creating a “climate conducive to learning.”  People learn when they feel supported, capable, encouraged and valued.

The research agenda for the Scholarship of Teaching, therefore, is now focused not just on teacher development, but also on the development of the work context.  In what way might a department, program or college be structured to facilitate the learning of the faculty?  How are trust and rapport communicated and rewarded?  It turns out, faculty, are not unlike all the other phenomena we study: we are affected by our surroundings.  For further information and food for thought, check out this essay written by Anthony S. Bryk, president of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, and his colleagues, to get a quick overview of the R & D agenda for the scholarship of teaching.