Spring 2017 Teaching Effectiveness Institute Featured Tips for Energizing the College Classroom

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Sarah Cavanagh
Sarah Cavanagh, Assumption College

Energy was high for the NIU faculty and staff who participated in the Spring 2017 Teaching Effectiveness Institute, The Spark of Learning: Energizing the College Classroom with the Science of Emotions. The event featured Sarah Cavanagh from the Laboratory for Cognitive and Affective Science at Assumption College, and author of the recent book The Spark of Learning: Energizing the College Classroom with the Science of Emotion. Dr. Cavanagh explained her research in Cognitive Psychology as well as connections between emotions and learning. She also explained techniques for stimulating curiosity, strategies for low-stakes assessments, and methods for incorporating choice of assignments in the syllabus. Sarah guided participants through a variety of engaged learning activities that provided opportunities to apply Cognitive Psychology concepts to teaching and learning in the college classroom. Workshop participants actively engaged throughout the day-long event while carefully considering the impact of emotions on the teaching and learning processes.

NIU faculty and instructors from 23 colleges and departments across campus attended the engaging, day-long event. Participants were excited to learn techniques that could be applied immediately in their courses.

Plans are underway for the Fall 2017 Teaching Effectiveness Institute scheduled for Friday, August 18th. The event will feature David Matthes of the University of Minnesota and will focus on team-based learning.

To share ideas for new Institute topics or if you would be interested in presenting at one of our Institutes, please contact Yvonne Johnson, Multimodal Teaching Coordinator at yjohnson@niu.edu, 815-753-2690 or Janet Giesen, Instructional Design Coordinator at giesen@niu.edu, 815-753-1085. We look forward to hearing from you!

Fall 2016 Teaching Effectiveness Institute on Teaching Effectiveness and Using Performance Techniques in the Classroom

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greg justice
Greg Justice

The two-day Fall 2016 Teaching Effectiveness Institute was once again a success! Day one, Fundamental Principles of Effective Teaching, featured 10 presenters who represented a range of departments and offices across campus. Presenters included NIU faculty and staff who prepared informative and engaging sessions on topics including Energizing the Classroom Experience, Establishing and Maintaining Classroom Civility, Assessing Student Learning, Preparing Successful Writing Assignments, and Planning an Effective Course Syllabus.

Instead of printing all of the session documents that include PowerPoint presentations and handouts, this year we created one-page outlines for each of the ten presentations and placed a link on our website where participants can access session PowerPoint presentations and other related resources. Printing fewer paper handouts is one way Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center embraces NIU’s sustainability initiatives. The online resources will remain on our website for everyone to access.

The second day of the Institute, The Art of Teaching: Using Performance Techniques in the Teaching/Learning Process, featured Greg Justice from the School of Performing Arts at Virginia Tech. Greg explained connections between the performing arts and teaching while sharing techniques for preparing the mind, body and voice, three key tools required for success in the classroom. Participants were led through a series of active learning exercises to practice focusing the mind on the teaching goals, relaxing the body for peak performance, and strengthening the voice for effective communication. Those who attended the workshop were fully engaged and laughed while learning strategies to enhance their teaching skills. Participants enjoyed receiving a copy of a book referenced during the workshop by Kristin Linklater, Freeing the natural voice: Imagery and art in the practice of voice and language by Drama Publishers.

To share ideas for new Institute topics or if you would be interested in presenting at one of our Institutes, please contact Yvonne Johnson, Multimodal Teaching Coordinator at yjohnson@niu.edu, 815-753-2690 or Janet Giesen, Instructional Design Coordinator at giesen@niu.edu, 815-753-1085. We look forward to hearing from you!

 

 

Philosophical Perspectives and Being Green Inspire Online Spring 2016 Teaching Effectiveness Institute

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appleThe first Faculty Development program of the New Year focused on the fundamental philosophical principles of how and why we teach. On Thursday, January 7, 2016, nearly 70 individuals participated in both the morning and afternoon online sessions, saving over 180 gallons of gasoline if everyone would have traveled by car to campus that day. This equates to almost 3500 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions saved from entering the atmosphere by everyone who participated staying home! Other benefits of an online Institute are not commuting to campus, learning from the comfort of their home or offices, and coming and going as desired.

From a theoretical point of view, the morning session, Why We Teach: Our Impact as Educators, included four unique philosophical perspectives from NIU faculty members.

  • Kerry Burch from the Department of Leadership, Educational Psychology and Foundations presented the opening session On Formulating a Teaching Philosophy: Crucial Etymologies to Consider. Kerry’s session focused on the etymological significances related to teaching philosophies that faculty can consider for their own teaching philosophies.
  • Nick Pohlman from the Department of Mechanical Engineering presented Enabling Students to Illuminate the Path of Learning and shared valuable tips for working with students of different skill levels and insightful strategies for engaging all students in the educational process.
  • Ursula Sullivan from the Department of Marketing presented Preparing and Coaching Professional and identified ways to incorporate active learning, real world experiences, and hands on activities that can be used in a range of classroom situations.
  • Laura Vazquez from the Department of Communication presented Philosophies of Teaching: Fostering Collaboration and Creativity and included examples of strategies for connecting with students who bring a wide variety of perspectives to the 21st century higher education classroom.

Following the faculty presentations, Institute participants engaged in an interactive guided reflection activity during which they addressed a set of questions and prompts that encouraged them to reflect on the question, “Why do I teach?” Using Blackboard’s Collaborate Ultra, participants were able to write, draw, and reflect with one another about questions such as:

  • I believe students learn best by…
  • I want my students to learn…
  • My students benefit from taking my course or working with me because…

Participants ended the morning with virtual homework for which they were asked to draft a simple teaching philosophy statement based on their reflections of the morning session. This statement could then be included in their course syllabi that can convey to students the hows and whys of their teaching practices.

You can watch a recording of the morning session below.

The afternoon session, How We Teach: Connecting Philosophy with Practice, highlighted the four philosophical perspectives of Idealism, Realism, Pragmatism, and Existentialism. During this session, Faculty Development staff members provided ways faculty can align their teaching practices with each of the philosophical perspectives. Here are just a few of the teaching takeaways from the afternoon session that faculty can implement in their own teaching:

  1. Assigning persuasive essays, articles, and other readings that encourage students to evaluate various instructional materials (Idealism)
  2. Having students practice and refine newly learned information until they master the intended skill (Realism)
  3. Breaking students into groups to brainstorm issues and solutions for a current issue in your field and then bringing the class together to discuss the problem (Pragmatism)
  4. Incorporating cooperative learning activities in the classroom in which students become members of a learning community (Existentialism)

Your teaching philosophy can inform your teaching practice and have a profound impact on your students’ development and progress throughout their lives. In difficult times such as we face in higher education today, reflecting on your teaching philosophy can help remind you of why you teach and how your role as a teacher is so important.

You can watch a recording of the afternoon session below.

Finally, here are a few resources on how to write a personal teaching philosophy statement and ways to implement different philosophical approaches in your teaching:

Six Questions That Will Bring Your Teaching Philosophy into Focus

Writing a Teaching Philosophy Statement

Philosophical Perspectives in Education

 

 

Fall 2015 Teaching Effectiveness Institute Focused on Fundamental Principles of Effective Instruction and Student Feedback & Classroom Observations

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Therese Huston, Ph.D.
Therese Huston, Ph.D., Seattle University

Every fall semester the Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center presents a two-day Teaching Effectiveness Institute. During the first day ten invited presenters introduced to new and continuing faculty some of the basic principles of teaching, shared information about teaching-related support resources available at NIU, and discussed how faculty can address students’ learning needs. Registered participants were given opportunities to network with the presenters and each other.

The second day of the Institute was presented by Therese Huston from Seattle University, author of Teaching What You Don’t Know by Harvard University Press. Dr. Huston presented ways faculty can collect and respond to meaningful feedback from their students. Dr. Huston also demonstrated, through discussion and activities, how faculty can collect constructive feedback from their colleagues, which can be used to improve teaching.

If you have ideas for new Institute topics or would be interested in presenting at one of our Institutes, please contact Janet Giesen, Instructional Design Coordinator at giesen@niu.edu or 815-753-1085. We’d love to hear from you!

Spring 2015 Teaching Effectiveness Institute on Getting Credit for What You Do

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Laurie RichlinLaurie Richlin, professor and chair of the Department of Medical Education, Western Michigan University Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine presented two, half-day workshops on getting credit for what you do. Upon check-in for both workshops, participants were presented with a copy of Dr. Richlin’s book, Blueprint for Learning: Creating College Courses to Facilitate, Assess, and Document Learning, which details much of what was presented during the institute.

During the morning workshop, Getting Credit for What You Do: Designing an Evidence-Based Course, Dr. Richlin discussed ways faculty can demonstrate how well their teaching facilitates their students’ learning. Using a worksheet and through discussions, participants had the opportunity to document their teaching/learning decisions and results so that their colleagues and intelligent non-experts can understand what they are doing. Participants were lead through the evidence-based course design process, which allowed them to identify traditional activities and ideas they felt were appropriate for documentation.

In the afternoon workshop, Getting Credit for What You Do: Creating the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, participants, after having documented their work, were shown how and why to share their findings about effective ways to help students learn better in their discipline and the university. “The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) promotes teaching as a scholarly endeavor and a worthy subject for research, producing a public body of knowledge open to critique and evaluation” (Michigan State University Office of Faculty & Organizational Development). During the workshop, Dr. Richlin described how to turn teaching strategies and results into presentations and publications. She offered anyone who attended either workshop to contact her to answer questions about her workshops or give a preliminary review of a manuscript.

For more information on the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, read The Status of the Scholarship of Teaching in the Discipline (2007) by Paul D. Witman and Laurie Richlin.

To learn about current and practical applications of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, consider attending the 2015 Midwest Conference on the Scholarship of Teaching, on April 10, 2015, hosted by Indiana University South Bend.

Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center offers the Teaching Effectiveness Institute twice each year, at the beginning of fall and spring semesters. Day one of the fall Teaching Effectiveness Institute is offered as a one day workshop, which is designed to introduce faculty to the basic principles of teaching, information about teaching-related support resources available at NIU, and ways faculty can address students’ learning needs.

The second day of the institute is offered either as a one, all-day workshop or two, half-day workshops that center on a more focused topic presented by an outside expert in the field. The Fall 2015 Teaching Effectiveness Institute will take place on Thursday, August 14 and Friday, August 15. Look for more details about the institute on our webpage later this spring semester at www.niu.edu/facdev.

References

Michigan State University Office of Faculty and Organizational Development (n.d.). Scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL). Retrieved from: http://fod.msu.edu/oir/scholarship-teaching-and-learning-sotl

Richlin, L. (2006). Blueprint for learning: Constructing college courses to facilitate, assess, and document learning. Sterling, VA: Stylus Press.

Witman, P. D. and Richlin, L. (2007). The Status of the Scholarship of Teaching in the Discipline. Retrieved from: http://digitalcommons.georgiasouthern.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1013&context=ij-sotl

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