You’re Invited to the April 26th Resilient Teaching Symposium

Milam Hall on OSU Campus in SpringThe vast shifts in teaching modalities during the two years since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic have been a contributing factor to prolonged stress and fatigue for many faculty. As they navigate the roller coaster of their professional and personal lives, teaching faculty are confronting the question of how best to adapt their course designs, teaching practices, and mindsets to deal with the unpredictable nature of teaching as we move forward.

Looking for a lift? Common ground? New strategies? All OSU faculty, staff, and GTAs are invited to participate in CTL’s Spring ‘22 Resilient Teaching Symposium via Zoom on Tuesday, April 26, 3:30 to 4:20 p.m.

Inara Scott, Assistant Dean for Teaching and Learning Excellence in the College of Business, and a faculty/staff panel will address effective strategies to build and sustain resilience in our teaching practices. Attendees will have opportunities to reflect and share their perspectives on resilience.

Register for the Resilient Teaching Symposium

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Teaching with Media: Liven up Your Lecture Videos

cherry blossoms on OSU campusCreating and using instructional media well can be a major asset in your teaching.

Discover new ways to create more interactive and engaging lecture videos as you blend classroom and Canvas learning activities in your Corvallis and Cascades campus courses. The Faculty Media Center and the Center for Teaching and Learning invite all OSU faculty and GTAs to a one-hour Zoom workshop. The workshop will be offered twice. You can register for Wed., April 20 at 2 p.m., or register for Thurs., April 21 at 10 a.m.

For more info: Faculty Media Center

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Student Reflections Inform Teaching

This week I have learned a few things:

1. I now completely understand why so many people drop out of college.
2. Insulin is as cheap as water. (I’m being sarcastic.)
3. My boyfriend gives the best hugs.
4. I can’t wait to become a teacher and help mold little brains.
5. Weighted blankets and lots of ice cream will get me through college.

 Anya R., October 11, 2020

There Is No College in COVID bookThere Is No College in COVID is an unadorned compilation of twice-weekly journal entries by first-term, first-year students in Jenna Goldsmith’s Fall ’20 ALS 199 U-Engage class at OSU-Cascades. The book is equal parts inspiring, reflective, heartening, and heartbreaking. It’s a precious first-person chronicle of students’ lives as they entered college six months after the pandemic began.

You can read this book in an hour or two, then spend months sorting through the thoughts and feelings that the powerful, honest writing of these students evokes about a long ordeal that we, too, lived through, each in our own way.

Jenna Goldsmith is a poet and Assistant Director of the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program at Illinois State University. She was a Senior Instructor of writing at OSU-Cascades at the time of the  COVID-19 Journaling Project. Dr. Goldsmith graciously agreed to answer our questions and share her perspectives about the book. She identified the student quotes used in this post as some of her favorite passages.

CTL: What do you think instructors might learn from this book that would be applicable to their roles in teaching, advising, and nurturing college students?

JG: I think there are two main takeaways from this book. First, the journal entries reflect a complex swath of reactions to being a college student during the pandemic. As educators, I believe we benefit from reading those responses, as it’s sometimes easy to become numb to our students’ experiences, or forget about how impactful this has been on their lives. 

Also, the book reflects an effort to think creatively about what students can produce in a course. As noted in the Introduction of the book, the course this book came out of looked very different before the pandemic. The pandemic caused me to reconceptualize the course, and in a way, opened up the possibility of what we could do in the course. I encourage instructors to think hard about how they can infuse students’ lived experience during these unprecedented times in the courses they are teaching.

CTL: What are the lasting messages about teaching and learning that you find in these Fall ’20 writings of your students?

JG: I hope that instructors will continue to take care of themselves, just as they would instruct their students to take care of themselves. In this book, we witness a lot of confusion, a lot of heartbreak, and a lot of uncertainty about the future. These are not just feelings students have in higher ed—instructors are right alongside them in that. Find common ground with students when it comes to these challenging times, and see where there is overlap in experience.

I found that giving students an academic space to reflect allowed them some relief in other areas of their lives. At the end of the term, they voiced their appreciation for the term-long journaling assignment, noting in particular how it added to their self-care routine and a more positive mental state.

Though the OSU grading system doesn’t recognize A+ as a final grade, There Is No College in COVID has earned one. This book will continue to inform teaching and coping with great challenges for a long time to come.

This pandemic really made me enjoy the little details: the smell of cookies when they are baking in the oven; the cat stretched out baking in the sun; the warmth of the fire in the woodstove; the sound of the rain on the roof. I am a homebody but this virus has led to a whole new level of comfort, and it is amazing. Sometimes we just have to focus on the positive things and not let our worries take over our lives. We need to pay attention to what’s happening around us.

                                           Elliana B., November 22, 2020

You are invited to the Bright Side ProjectIn the spirit of There Is No College in COVID, you are invited to share your perspectives on the pandemic through CTL’s Bright Side Project, which is compiling the stories of faculty, staff, and students for an online public collection. Would you like to share your thoughts on how you kept teaching amidst the challenges of the past two years? What worked well? What skills have you gained and what have you learned about yourself that you will carry forward?

The There Is No College in COVID project was supported by a grant from the OSU Women’s Giving Circle, and all proceeds from sale of the book go toward OSU-Cascades scholarships.

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Requests for Extensions Getting You Down? Some Solutions.

GurungIt is near the end of Week Seven here at Oregon State University. It is about the time faculty will be getting a lot of requests from students. Requests for more time for a paper, for a quiz, or for an exam. Requests for recording lectures, copies of notes, or zoom links. Most faculty want to be flexible and compassionate educators. While these attributes foster positive faculty-student interactions in the best of times, they are critical in the worst of times.

Many parts of the last two years have felt like the worst of times.

We have gone through four phases in the last two years: 1: When we Pivoted (Emergency remote teaching), 2: Remote teaching, 3: The Return (Fall 2021), and 4: Now (2022). For each one and the before times, it paid to be Compassionate, Clear, Organized, Multifaceted, and Engaging, (CCOMFE1).  Even adhering to this principle may not quell the increase in requests.

How can educators be fair but not be taken advantage of? How do instructors best manage requests for accommodations?  Attempting to respond on a case by case basis is exhausting and is a suboptimal solution. Here are some considerations to help with managing student requests.

First, it is important to remember that students are as exhausted, stressed, and fatigued by the pandemic as educators are2,3. In the before (pandemic) times, some faculty would look askew at upticks in the frequency of absences due to losses in the family, often going to the extreme of asking for death certificates. While insulting and hurtful to many students and implying a lack of trust, the PET 4 equivalent is asking for proof of a positive COVID test to justify an absence.

In addition to taxing an overburdened health care system, requesting certificates creates more work for all concerned.  The confluence of stressors may elevate already rising mental health issues.  A simple solution: Have more trust in what students say. If they are lying, let that be on their conscience. What they miss from an absence (or the effort to make it up) is already a punishment.

A multitude of requests for extra time to complete assignments may be an indicator that your course design calibration needs some work. During PET 2 many classes showed engorged syllabi as faculty aimed to increase assignments to make up for not teaching in person.  With the additional stress of the pandemic, normally manageable class loads may become less manageable.  Sometimes educators feel pressured to cover all the content or hold to their standards of rigor. While both are commendable and understandable, they should also be open to modification. Are the assignments and assessments mapping onto the course learning outcomes? Maybe there is more leeway in your design than you know.

Reworking course design and content is a fine agenda item for the next time one teaches. How do educators cope with the requests right now? There is a philosophical answer and there are some pragmatic ones.

An important starting place is for instructors to have a clear idea of what is really important to them and why.  If you require attendance, why do you require attendance?  When you set a due date, why can the student not turn it in a little later? Examine your teaching philosophy and have a clear idea of what you do not want to budge on (and why) and what you are willing to be flexible on. Once you are clear on what you are willing to be flexible on, then be fair and clear about your decision and as specific as possible.  Often, consulting scholarship of teaching and learning can guide your decisions (see the guides at for evidence-informed solutions to pedagogical questions). If you are open to students turning material in late, is it for any reason or only for COVID-related reasons (and is it fair to make the distinction)? Every student should have the same options.

I taught 400 students during Fall 2021. The return to the classroom was exuberant for most but to minimize issues my course policies allowed any student to take extra time on any assignment except exams. It could be if they were not feeling great, had COVID, or had some other emergency. In any of these cases they did not have to email me or let me know to get the extension. There would be no late penalties and no need for doctor, parent, or peer notes. This decision cut down on potentially 100s of emails and a lot of hassle on students’ parts and mine.

It worked well. There is no evidence that learning suffered. If anything, these allowances enhanced learning according to student testimonies.  Objectively, my class scores were not significantly different from scores for the same class taught in the before times or during PET 1 or PET 2. My student evaluations were perhaps some of the highest they have ever been.

Not all educators may be ready to be as flexible. Some may be ready to be more so next term and perhaps are even planning to a course redesign and rebuilding CCOMFE into their syllabi and classes. There are still many pragmatic solutions before next term:

  • Once you are clear about where you stand with allowances, broadcast them to the class immediately, even midstream of the term.
  • Post clear statements about your policy on late assignments, penalties, and absences, or modifications of them if what you started the term with no longer holds.
  • Discuss these changes in class and make it clear why you have these policies.
  • Be genuine about what you will not allow and why.
  • Consider using Canvas “availability dates” to keep assignments open beyond due dates.
  • Create one common response you can use for all requests for accommodations that elucidates your position. Cut and paste it in response to emails and requests you get (one trick is to create it as a signature file and then add THIS signature to a request).
    • A great tip related to this from Nicole Wolf (School for Psychological Science). Check out the “Quick Parts” feature in Outlook on the “Insert” tab of your ribbon. This feature allows you to save as many text templates as you like without formatting as a signature (i.e. if you want to add multiple “quick parts” you can without them overriding each other like with signatures).  One downside is that you can only access it if you “pop-out” your email reply; essentially, you have to have the email in it’s own window to access the “Insert” tab and the Quick Parts menu.  But adding text is super easy; just select the template text you want and in that drop-down menu, select “Save Selection to Quick Part Gallery”.

  • Different class sizes (large lecture, small discussion) and class levels (first year, final year) may allow for different allowances, but avoid case by case decisions instead have a position.
  • Most importantly, it is alright to say no! While being fair and flexible is a worthy goal, being firm also helps your students. When you show you are open to change, have given your philosophy thought, and that your decisions are not random but tied to a philosophy of education, then holding firm to it is justified.
  • You may want to run your position on allowances by your supervisor who can support your position. This is important given some supervisors may want the entire department to share a level of flexibility and compassion.

Learning is a challenge and teaching effectively is a demanding proposal. Both teaching and learning got substantially more difficult during the pandemic. There are undoubtedly more challenges downstream. Being ready to cope with students concerns and fears, even if it means re-examining our philosophies, is work that will help us all get through these times better.


  1. Gurung, R. A. R. (2021). Inspire to learn and be CCOMFE doing it. Canadian Psychology/Psychologie canadienne, 62(4), 348–351. https://doi-org/10.1037/cap0000277
  2. Gonzalez-Ramirez, J., Mulqueen, K., Zealand, R., Silverstein, S., Reina, C., BuShell, S., & Ladda, S. (2021). Emergency online learning: College students’ perceptions during the COVID-19 pandemic. College Student Journal, 55(1), 29–46.
  3. Gurung, R. A. R., Mai, T., Nelson, M., & Pruitt, S. (2022). Predicting learning: Comparing study techniques, perseverance, and metacognitive skill. Teaching of Psychology, 49(1), 71–77. https://doi:10.1177/0098628320972332

About the author: Regan A. R. Gurung, Ph.D. is Associate Vice Provost and Executive Director of the Center for Teaching and Learning at Oregon State University and Professor of Psychological Science. This post is based on a piece that first appeared in Inside Higher Education (earlier this week) and has been modified for OSU.

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CTL Lumen Learning GRANT Opportunity


We are excited to announce a grant funded professional development opportunity with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Lumen Learning. In collaboration with the Center for Teaching and Learning, Lumen hopes to engage faculty (tenure track and fixed term) and graduate students with new resources and experiences, and study the impact in order to inform future work. This grant project will help better understand the teaching practices that positively impact student success and as a result, develop a model for teaching success.

BENEFITS: $500 is available for each participant. All students using Lumen Learning in grant-related courses will have their course fees waived.   Space is LIMITED, SIGN UP NOWDEADLINE: March 1st, 2022.

Why Participate?

Faculty members are an essential part of U.S. higher education with tremendous potential to impact student success. Too often, faculty miss out on support services and professional development opportunities to help them expand their capabilities as effective teachers.

There are two main options:

I. SUCCESS CIRCLES: Does well-designed courseware + faculty professional development better support success?

Your Commitment:

  • Teach your course for two semesters using Waymaker or OHM (Implement courseware if you are not a current user)
  • Participate in Success Accelerator
  • Estimated time: 2 hours per week engaging virtually in Success Accelerator Circle

Success Accelerator builds capability for faculty using Lumen’s courseware with mentoring and peer support around course design, pedagogy, use of learning data, and best practices to increase student success.

What’s included in Success Accelerator

  • 6-week virtual learning circle to build skills and apply effective teaching practices
  • Weekly reflection & peer collaboration activities
  • Lumen Circles platform and professional development community
  • Faculty Mentors to consult on pedagogy, learning design, teaching practices, technology
  • Opt into Lumen Circle Fellowship during a future term

Grounded in evidence-based teaching practices and self-reflection, Lumen’s Success Accelerator works well for any faculty member, in any discipline, and at any stage of career.

II. Does combining evidence-based teaching practices + Belonging focused faculty development better support success?

Your Commitment

  • Participate in Belonging Circle
  • Estimated time: 2 hours per week engaging virtually in Belonging & Inclusive Teaching Fundamentals Circle

Belonging & Inclusive Teaching Fundamentals build

What’s included in Belonging Circle?

  • 9-week virtual learning circle to build skills and apply effective teaching practices
  • Weekly reflection & peer collaboration activities
  • Lumen Circles platform and professional development community
  • Faculty Mentors to consult on pedagogy, learning design, teaching practices, technology
  • Opt into Lumen Circle Fellowship during a future term

BENEFITS: Participants will receive a $500 stipend. All students using Lumen Learning in grant-related courses will have their course fees waived.


DEADLINE: March 1st, 2022.



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CTL Mutual Mentors

About the Author: Dr. Brooke Howland provides curriculum design and pedagogical support for OSU teachers. Prior to working at OSU, Dr. Howland taught in the School of Education for University of Southern California, University of California, Irvine, and University of California, Los Angeles. 

Wanting professional renewal that impacts your teaching and improves your students’ learning? Interested in advancing your abilities to conduct peer observations?

Join the Center for Teaching and Learning this spring for Mutual Mentors! Trios of faculty engage in: 1) intellectual peer coaching practices; 2) reciprocal classroom observations; 3) data collection; and 4) structured reflective dialogue – all designed to enhance teaching practices.

Mutual Mentors uses a mixed learning modality: learn content via Canvas; practice skills during synchronous Zoom sessions; and apply during peer teaching observations. Earn points along the way, using a gamified approach, to earn a digital badge that can be used towards your own promotion and/or tenure. This work is not evaluative but rather voluntary, supportive, and collaborative.

Check out the website to learn more and register. Launching Week 1, via Canvas, Mutual Mentors will run concurrent with the Spring 2022 academic term. Complete the application to participate! Registration closes February 25, 2022.

Hosted by Kelby Hahn and Brooke Howland

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Towards Transformative Teaching

About the Author: Jacqueline Goldman earned a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology from the University of Oklahoma in 2018, with an emphasis on the cognitive and motivational aspects of learning. Her current research focuses on increasing first-generation college student retention in higher education through task value and engagement interventions. Dr. Goldman taught as an Assistant Professor of Psychology at Delta State University for 3 years prior to coming to Oregon State University. Dr. Goldman is currently an Instructor in the School of Psychological Science at Oregon State University.

One thing that drew me, and many of my students, into the field of Psychology was how easy it was to relate course material to my own life, as much of the material provides opportunity for self-reference (Dunn et al., 2010;). Even though educators in psychology find this to be obvious, some of our students struggle to see the personal and meaningful connections of psychology course material that can prevent higher levels of engagement. This lack of meaningful connection can be especially prominent in statistics, research methods, and other high-level courses that students who may not continue to graduate school may find even less relevant (Conroy et al., 2019).

At first this may not seem like an issue, as you do not necessarily need to find personal relevance in every piece of content that is learned, but helping students to find connection in meaningful ways to course content can help them better retain material in the long term (Heddy & Sinatra, 2017) which is arguably the goal in any course. One way we can encourage and facilitate meaningful and personal connection to course content is through a construct called Transformative Experience (TE).

A transformative experience, refers to using course content in an everyday experience to see and value the world in new ways (Wong et al., 2001). Based on John Dewey’s work on learning and aesthetics, the transformative experience framework as developed by Pugh (2011) combines various components of transfer:

-Applying learning to a new task in a new context (Marini & Genereux, 1995),

– Conceptual change, a cognitive reconstruction of knowledge (Dole & Sinatra, 1998),

– Task value, a students’ belief of the degree to which an academic task is worth pursuing (Wigfield & Eccles, 2000).

There are three pieces (or subcomponents) that need to occur for a true transformative experience to have happened: motivated use, expansion of perception, and experiential value. In essence: students apply concepts to their everyday experience, that then changes the way they see that concept/phenomenon, they then value that concept for its ability to influence their experience, and as a result, their everyday experience is enhanced (for a review see: Pugh, 2011).

Although its construct creation is still relatively new, the findings associated with facilitating TEs in classroom environments (both K12 and higher ed) have demonstrated clear benefits (Heddy & Sinatra, 2017; Pugh et al., 2010). Previous research in STEM courses found that engagement in TE was related to increased interest and perceived instrumentality (Pugh et al., 2017); TE engagement generated positive affect and interest in social studies education (Alongi et al., 2016); and contributed to scientific conceptual change and academic achievement (Heddy & Sinatra, 2013). Similar to other educational interventions, a main concern for educators is how difficult the actual implementation can be.

There are two main avenues for implementing TE interventions, one of them requiring much more instructor involvement and scaffolding (TTES, see Alongi et al., 2016) and one that I have personally used with great success in my own courses, Use Change Value (UCV) discussions (developed by Heddy et al., 2018). Like the commonly used utility value intervention by Hulleman and colleagues (2010), the UCV intervention is a discussion prompt formatted to ask students about each component of TE within a concept they have seen in their own life:

1) Discuss how you saw an example of course content in your everyday life (Use)

2) Discuss how seeing that content in your real-life experience has changed how you see that topic (Change)

3) Discuss why that experience was/is valuable to you (Value). Students write about their experiences with course content in their own experiences, and then discuss these in class, creating rich connections that are personally meaningful for students as well as allowing the instructor to encourage further connections to other students’ experiences and course content.

All in all, TE has been an easy and effective to way to allow students to see their content and lives through a new lens. For a larger discussion see:


Alongi, M. D., Heddy, B. C., & Sinatra, G. M. (2016). Real-world engagement with controversial issues in history and social studies: Teaching for transformative experiences and conceptual change. Journal of Social Science Education, 15(2) 26-41.

Conroy, J., Christidis, P., Fleischmann, M., & Lin, L. (2019, September). Datapoint: How many psychology majors go on to graduate school? Monitor on Psychology50(8).

Dole, J. A., & Sinatra, G. M. (1998). Reconceptualizing change in the cognitive construction of knowledge. Educational Psychologist, 33(2-3), 109–128.

Dunn, D. S., Brewer, C. L., Cautin, R. L., Gurung, R. A. R., Keith, K. D., McGregor, L. N., Nida, S. A., Puccio, P., & Voigt, M. J. (2010). The undergraduate psychology curriculum: Call for a core. In D. F. Halpern (Ed.), Undergraduate education in psychology: A blueprint for the future of the discipline (pp. 47–61). American Psychological Association.

Heddy, B. C., & Sinatra, G. M. (2013). Transforming misconceptions: Using transformative experience to promote positive affect and conceptual change in students learning about biological evolution. Science Education, 97(5), 723–744.

Heddy, B. C., & Sinatra, G. M. (2017). Transformative parents: Facilitating transformative experiences and interest with a parent involvement intervention. Science Education, 101(5), 765–786.

Marini, A., & Genereux, R. (1995). The challenge of teaching for transfer. In A. McKeough, J. L. Lupart, & A. Marini (Eds.), Teaching for transfer: Fostering generalization in learning (pp. 1–19). New York, NY: Routledge.

Pugh, K. J., Linnenbrink-Garcia, L., Koskey, K. L. K., Stewart, V. C., & Manzey, C. (2010).
Motivation, learning, and transformative experience: A study of deep engagement in science. Science Education, 94(1), 1–28. https://DOI:10.1002/sce.20344

Pugh, K. J. (2011). Transformative experience: An integrative construct in the spirit of Deweyan pragmatism. Educational Psychologist, 46(2), 107–121.

Pugh, K. J., Bergstrom, C. M., Heddy, B. C., & Krob, K. E. (2017). Supporting deep engagement: The Teaching for Transformative Experiences in Science (TTES) model. Journal of Experimental Education, 85(4), 629–657.

Wigfield, A., & Eccles, J. S. (2000). Expectancy–value theory of achievement motivation.
Contemporary Educational Psychology, 25(1), 68-81.

Wong, E. D., Pugh, K. J., & the Dewey Ideas Group at Michigan State University. (2001).

Learning science: A Deweyan perspective. Journal of Research on Science Teaching, 38, 317-336.;2-9

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Apply Now for the 2022 CTL Blended Course Redesign Program

The Blended Learning Innovation in Pedagogy (BLIP) initiative, a partnership between the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL), Academic Technologies, Ecampus, and the Office of Academic Affairs, is currently recruiting lead instructors interested in redesigning large enrollment courses on campus.

Lead instructors will work alongside the BLIP Faculty Fellow, Dr. Raechel Soicher, in exploring and developing solutions for teaching challenges, redeveloping their courses by integrating these solutions, and teaching their redeveloped courses.

Instructors and tenured/tenure-track faculty who teach credit-based Corvallis campus, large enrollment (n>80) courses are eligible to apply. See the Call for Proposals and apply by February 14.

About the BLIP Faculty Fellow:

Dr. Raechel Soicher is currently an instructor in the School of Psychological Science. Raechel earned her PhD in Fall 2020 in the same department. Her dissertation focused on the implementation of a motivational intervention in General Psychology courses at OSU. Prior to graduate school, Raechel was a tenure-track community college professor, where she conducted classroom research on the effect of metacognitive exam review tools on student learning. Her background in cognitive neuroscience and applied research have combined synergistically to support her own teaching innovations. She is excited to delve into supporting other faculty to do the same.

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Call for Applications – CAAI Faculty Learning Community – Spring ‘22

Community for the Advancement of Antiracist Instruction (CAAI): A learning community led by and for instructors and TAs

The Community for the Advancement of Antiracist Instruction (CAAI) is a learning community in which instructors and TAs engage in antiracist work related to their teaching. This grassroot project was designed and will be facilitated by a team of instructors and TAs from programs across campus. The intention is to create a space where instructors and TAs have agency and are empowered to explore antiracist teaching in community. The learning community will culminate in the creation of an individualized antiracist teaching action plan. This professional development opportunity is sponsored by the Center for Teaching and Learning and Faculty Affairs.

Participants will attend 2 synchronous, Zoom sessions; an introductory session on Friday, April 8 3:00 pm-5:30 pm and a concluding session on Friday, May 13 3-5 pm. Participants will also engage with four interactive, asynchronous Canvas modules over the course of 5 weeks. While active in the learning community, participants will:

1. Examine the social construction of Whiteness and its effects on teaching and learning, particularly in individual disciplines and among faculty in their academic units.
2. Discuss and share conversations about race and racism with colleagues.
3. Develop familiarity with and discuss antiracist pedagogy in general educational practices and across disciplines.
4. Apply antiracist teaching practices through revisions to course design and delivery.
5. Contribute to department and university expectations around diversity, equity and inclusion.

While space is limited, all OSU instructors and TAs from any campus (Corvallis, Cascade, Ecampus, etc.) are eligible to participate. Instructors and TAs with all levels of experience and comfort with social justice, critical, inclusive and antiracist teaching approaches are encouraged to apply. To apply, interested instructors and TAs should submit an application via the following link by March 6: CAAI Application Link. Questions regarding this learning community may be directed to Notifications regarding acceptance will be announced by March 18.

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Building a robust framework for supporting QTI+ students at OSU

About the author. Jessica Lodwick is an instructor of Botany and Plant Pathology and Integrative Biology at Oregon State University. ​​Her teaching interests are grounded in the ecology and the evolutionary basis of life on earth. Jessica has previously taught courses on animal behavior and scientific writing, with a focus on fundamental ecological principles and biological concepts. She is currently teaching Introductory Biology (BI 204-206) to Ecampus students and Ecology (BI 370) on the Corvallis campus.

In terms of her research background, Jessica is trained as a behavioral ecologist and primatologist. Jessica’s dissertation research focused on the links between foraging strategies, feeding competition, and female dominance relationships in wild western gorillas (Gorilla gorilla). Her fieldwork was conducted at the Mondika Research Center in the Republic of Congo over a 19-month period. Please see Jessica’s personal website for a list of her publications and conference presentations.

This past week, I attended a Tuesday Teaching + Tech Talk aimed at best practices for supporting LGBTQQIAA+ (QTI+: Queer, Trans, Intersex+ ) students. Our dynamic presenter, Dharma Mirza (OSU graduate student in Public Health and advocate for the QTI+ community), kicked off the talk by focusing on three types of discrimination that QTI+ students may experience in higher ed– interpersonal, curricular, and institutional. These non-mutually-exclusive pathways of discrimination can interact and create barriers to academic success.

Interpersonal discrimination may manifest in small group/ class discussions or in events on campus. As instructors, we may inadvertently be engaging in interpersonal discrimination if, for example, we misgender students in a class discussion or fail to acknowledge the use of preferred names and/or personal pronouns. Dharma stressed that educators have a responsibility to acknowledge and model accountability when instances of gender discrimination (or e.g., homophobic/transphobic comments) crop up in class. This practice of acknowledgement is aimed at ensuring that QTI+ students are treated equitably and feel that they are valued members of the classroom community.

Curricular discrimination is another pervasive issue for QTI+ students, particularly in biology content that presents research on humans and animals based on an outdated, binary view of biological sex. As a new biology instructor at OSU, I’ve become acutely aware that a few of my QTI+ students have expressed frustration with how the textbook treats discussions of biological sex, sex determination, and sexual selection. As a result, they may feel invisible/excluded from course material. Research on intersex animals and human individuals have, in recent years, shed light on the beautiful diversity of sex chromosome arrangements, sexuality, and gender identity in the natural world and exposed the problematic nature of this binary construct (e.g., reviewed in Monro et al. 2021) for QTI+ students. It’s my goal to incorporate and discuss examples/data collected on intersex and gender-diverse populations to help my QTI+ students feel included and seen in the biology curriculum that I am teaching. I recommend the resources and examples aimed at humanizing and diversifying biology curricula that have been compiled on Gender Inclusive Biology and Project Biodiversify.

I also learned from Dharma’s presentation that QTI+ students may face institutional discrimination, which has only been exacerbated by the pandemic, such as reduced access to housing, reliable internet, and financial aid (Williams Institute 2021). Furthermore, QTI+ students may not be aware of campus and community resources available to them, such as the Pride Center, Hattie Redmon Women and Gender Center, OSU oSTEM, CAPS LGBTQQIAA+, and SHS Gender Affirming Care. As educators, we can be allies and advocates while supporting the needs of our QTI+ students by connecting them to campus resources like these.

Finally, I am coming to the understanding that as an instructor wishing to cultivate an inclusive learning environment for my students, it’s important to acknowledge, address, and create a framework of inclusivity. With a spirit of inclusivity and by implementing a working framework to support QTI+ student populations, we can co-opt the framework for extending similar policies and practices to our DAS students, students of color, first- generation, neuro-atypical, and other underrepresented student populations in the higher ed landscape of today’s changing world.

References Cited

Monro, S.; Carpenter, M.; Crocetti, D.; Davis, G.; Garland, F.; Griffiths, D.; Hegarty, P.; Travis, M.; Cabral Grinspan, M.; Aggleton, P. (2021) Intersex: cultural and social perspectives. Culture, Health, and Sexuality 23: 431-440. ​​

Williams Institute (2021). One-third of LGBTQ college students experienced housing disruption during the COVID-19 pandemic. University of California Los Angeles. Retrieved from

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