Recognizing and Embracing Cultural Communications and Sensitivity in the Classroom

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Eighty-three graduate teaching assistants (GTAs) from the College of Engineering and Engineering Technology (CEET) attended the panel discussion, Recognizing & Embracing Cultural Communications & Sensitivity in the Classroom, on February 10 and nineteen GTAs from various Colleges attended the repeated panel on March 2, 2017.

Invited panelists for both panels were Sim Chin, Director, International Student and Faculty Office; Molly Holmes, Director, Gender and Sexuality Resource Center; and Debra Miller, Director, Disabilities Resource. The panels were cosponsored by the CEET and Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center.

The panel discussions were offered to help GTAs be sensitive in communicating with their students who represent a range of cultures who are potentially different than their own.  The presenters spoke about interacting with students from different cultures, considering gender and sexuality of their students, and dealing with students with disabilities.

After the panel discussion, GTAs took part in an interactive activity to help them think about privilege and heterosexism and to reflect on their own behaviors and beliefs regarding sexuality. After the activity, one GTA asked, “Why don’t we follow the golden rule, treat everyone with respect and kindness? Be that star!” Another GTA suggested that, “These kinds of workshops will definitely help us to grow through our lives and do well in [our] professional careers.”

Center staff conducted evaluations at the conclusion of the panels.  89% of the GTAs indicated that the concepts/techniques covered in the panels were applicable in their teaching or other student-related activities, and 90% indicated that their participation in the panels has potential benefit to students.  GTAs also provided comments, such as:

  • This gave me a good understanding of how to treat people with disabilities.
  • Now I have a broader understanding of cultures.
  • I will be adding an accessibility statement in my syllabus.
  • We need to be more sensitive about the LGBT community.
  • I now feel more prepared to approach an unexpected situation.
  • Be mindful of students because you might not know who they are.

Faculty Awarded University Writing Project Stipends

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penEach May, the Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center invites faculty to participate in a day-long workshop on “Designing a Writing-Enhanced Course,” led by English professor Brad Peters. They learn best practices in preventing plagiarism, encouraging revision, fostering critical thinking, lightening the paper load, and grading. Attendees have received a stipend of $250 from Vision 2020 funds to select and develop a course, using the most effective methods of assignment design.

Workshop participants also have the opportunity to receive a follow-up stipend of $250 from Vision 2020, by applying what they have learned and submitting a set of class papers to the University Writing Project.

This year’s list of 21 faculty participants came from 5 colleges and 14 academic units. They include:  Wendy Bostwick (School of Nursing and Health Studies), David Buller (Department of Philosphy), James Byrd (Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures), Barbara Cuppett (School of Family, Consumer and Nutrition Sciences), Rhodalyne Gallo-Crail (Center for Southeast Asian Studies), Lynn Hermann (School of Nursing and Health Studies), Helen Nagata (School of Art), Peter Olson (Art Museum), Ozlem Ozkanli (Department of Management), William Penrod (Department of Special and Early Education), Catherine Raymond (School of Art), Janet Reynolds (Department of Sociology), Carolyn Riley (Department of Literacy Education), Susan Schaub (School of Nursing and Health Studies), S. Adam Seagrave (Department of Political Science), Jie Song (Department of Geography), Gary Swick (Department of Leadership, Educational Psychology and Foundations), Molly Swick (Department of Leadership, Educational Psychology and Foundations), Ann Van Dijk (School of Art), Richard Wozniak (Department of Marketing), and Robin Young (Department of Special and Early Education).

Previous workshop participants who have received follow-up stipends from Vision 2020 include Sheila Barrett (School of Family, Consumer and Nutrition Sciences), Kristen Borre (Department of Anthropology), Ximena Burgin (Office of Research, Evaluation and Policy Studies), Ross Corbett (Department of Political Science), Michele Crase (Department of Environmental Health and Safety), Elisa Fredericks (Department of Marketing), Kristin Huffine (Latino Resource Center),  Jin Jung (Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education), Heidi Koenig (Division of Public Administration), Mary Elaine Koren (School of Nursing and Health Studies), Robert Reichle (Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures), Hidetada Shimizu (Department of Leadership, Educational Psychology and Foundations), Ursula Sullivan (Department of Marketing), Morse Tan (College of Law), Sheela Vemu (Department of Biological Sciences), Jim Wilson (Department of Geography), and Sandra Wolf (School of Nursing and Health Studies).  They represent 5 colleges and 16 academic units.

Congratulations to all!  For more information about the workshop on “Designing a Writing-Enhanced Course,” please contact Professor Brad Peters (Department of English) at 815-753-6601 or bpeters@niu.edu.

August 2012 Welcoming Programs were a Great Success!

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August 2012 Welcoming ProgramsWe are happy to report to the NIU community that the Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center’s fall 2012 welcoming programs were all well-attended and well-received! We would like to thank all co-sponsors, presenters, and participants of our programs who helped make each program successful.

Teaching Effectiveness Institute sponsored by the Center consisted of two one-day institutes. Day 1, on August 15, 2012, was on the fundamental principles of instruction and presented by NIU faculty and staff, and Day 2, held on August 16, 2012, was a day-long institute “Tools of Engagement: Connecting with Educationally Human Moments through Technologies,” by Kelvin Thompson, (University of Central Florida). The two-day institute had largest attendance in a while and both days were well received.

The 10th annual Teaching Assistant Orientation, held on August 21, 2012 and sponsored by the Center, had the largest attendance ever with 226 attendees. The orientation included a series of presentations to the entire audience in the morning and 5 concurrent sessions during the afternoon on different topics of interest to graduate teaching assistants (GTAs). The sessions were presented by NIU faculty, staff, and GTAs. If your department hired GTAs after August 21st, or if your GTAs were unable to attend the orientation, they can view the slides made available by some of the presenters here.

The second annual University Support Expo, was co-sponsored by the Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center, Human Resource Services, and Document Services, and held on Tuesday, September 11, 2012 in the Duke Ellington Ballroom. The expo welcomed new and current faculty, academic support staff, instructors and GTAs to the new academic year. Attendees were invited to browse among more than 40 university support units available to them. A total of 140 people attended this year’s expo.

Adding to the success of the fall 2012 welcoming programs, participants’ feedback was excellent as were the number of unsolicited comments received from attendees during and after each program. We continue to use your valued feedback as we prepare future programs.

Spring 2012 Campuswide Survey

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filling out a survey formThe programs, resources, and services offered by Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center are assessed on a regular basis. The Center’s assessment plan uses various mechanisms such as program evaluations by participants, six-month follow-up program evaluations, resource usage, consultations, program attendance, mentoring feedback, development grant reports, and unsolicited feedback from the Center’s clientele. As part of the Center’s assessment plan, the Center conducts a campuswide survey of faculty and academic supportive professional staff (SPS) every four years to assess the overall impact that the Center’s programs, resources, and services have on faculty and SPS.

During spring 2012, the Center designed and emailed a survey to nearly 1,890 NIU faculty and SPS. Data collected were analyzed the by the Director, Program Coordinator, and other staff to identify the Center’s programs and services that are effectively supporting its mission as well as opportunities for improving programs, resources, and services. The Center used the following process to create and distribute the survey: Step 1: In 2008, the survey was emailed to all faculty and staff; as a result, we received superfluous feedback from non-academic staff. Therefore, the Center created an email list of only teaching faculty, instructors and academic SPS which garnered more reliable data. Step 2: In 2008, some respondents indicated that they did not remember having attended any Center programs or used any services. In response to this issue, the survey was redesigned to allow respondents to self-identify as having attended a program or not having attended a program. Step 3: The survey was sent out via email listserv. Step 4: Data were collected and analyzed.

The results from the campuswide survey have helped Center staff to continue the programs and activities that were working well and to identify opportunities for improvement. Tables 1 – 3 are samples of findings on what is working well.

Table 1 lists modes of program delivery and participants’ preference. Participants were allowed to select all that applied. A significant result is that 89.1% of respondents indicated that they prefer face-to-face program delivery.

Table 1. Preferred mode of program delivery

I would prefer to attend programs offered by Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center (select all that apply):

Face-to-Face

89.1%

Online, real-time

27.1%

Online, recorded (on-demand)

45.7%

Mobile, recorded podcast

12.5%

 

Table 2 lists a sample of significant results from the campuswide survey conducted in spring 2008 and spring 2012, and the percentage responses indicate “strongly agree” or “agree” to a sample of significant statements in the survey.

Table 2. Comparison of Significant results conducted in spring 2008 and spring 2012

Significant Statements from the Campuswide Survey

2008 % of Strongly Agree or Agree

2012 % of Strongly Agree or Agree

The concepts/techniques covered in Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center programs are applicable in my teaching and teaching-related activities.

80.1%

90.8%

My participation in Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center programs has potential benefit to students.

84.8%

91.5%

I have found Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center’s teaching-related consultations, classroom observations, and referral services to be useful.

20.8%

95.5%

 

Table 3 lists a sample of additional feedback from individual responses of participants to the campuswide survey conducted in spring 2012.

Table 3. Additional feedback from the spring 2012 Campuswide Survey

“There is a great selection of trainings offered every year. Really satisfied with the professional development opportunities right here on campus for staff.”
“The programs cover timely topics that are beneficial to both faculty and students. You are responsive to adding new topics and developing special programs for colleges and departments. Thank you.”
“The variety of options available are appreciated. I count on Faculty Development programs to keep me up to date with technology!”
“Each of the teaching-related workshops that I participated in helped make me a more effective teacher. I value the various teaching ideas that were presented.”
“The staff at the FDIDC are very knowledgeable regarding the most current instructional technology. They are available and willing to assist faculty on an individual basis when needed. They provide a valuable service to faculty and, in turn, their students who benefit from more effective teaching.”
“Every Faculty Development program I’ve attended has been planned and executed in an outstanding way. These programs add tremendous expertise to our faculty and staff and enhance our educational offerings to students.”
“The transition to Blackboard was incredible. I have learned new teaching techniques and how to use new technology.”
“The new faculty workshops were wonderful. The multicultural institute was useful to me as a teacher and researcher and also beneficial to my students.”
“All the workshops I have attended are very helpful indeed, both for me and for students.”

 

The spring 2012 campuswide survey was instrumental in identifying opportunities for improvement. The following items identify opportunities for improvement:

    1. Some respondents suggested they did not know the Center offers almost the same workshops to Graduate Teaching Assistants (GTAs) as to faculty. In response to this finding, the Center plans to send program announcements to department chairs and graduate directors to raise awareness of the Center’s GTA program offerings. GTA programs are listed at: http://www.facdev.niu.edu/facdev/programs/tacurrent.shtml.

 

  • Some faculty who have not attended workshops (according to the Center’s records) indicated they had attended; they may have confused participation in ITS, HRS, and Center workshops. In response, the Center plans to clarify between Center’s programs and programs offered by other departments.

 

 

  • Forty percent of respondents indicated that they would like more workshops delivered on mobile devices when appropriate, and so Center staff plan to offer more programs on mobile devices.

 

The Center currently has three levels of assessment of initial reaction to the new information, how they used the new information, and following up to inquire if participants believe the newly learned information has impacted their teaching and teaching-related duties and impacted their students. A fourth level of assessment will also include how participants used the new information (i.e., shared it with colleagues, students performed better because of it). The fourth level of assessment would also gather information if participants were unable to use the new information and why (i.e., not enough time, did not have the skills to do it, did not fit in with their courses, etc.).

During the summer of 2012, the Center held a staff retreat to further analyze data and to identify opportunities for continuous improvement. The next campuswide survey of faculty and supportive professional staff is scheduled for spring 2016.