Fall Teaching Effectiveness Institute Energizes Faculty for 2017-2018 Academic Year

Ritu Subramony, Director, Accreditation, Assessment and Evaluation
Ritu Subramony, Director of Accreditation, Assessment, and Evaluation

Energy was high at the Fall 2017 Teaching Effectiveness Institute held a week before students arrived on campus. Over 40 faculty and instructors from 21 departments across campus attended Day One, Fundamental Principles of Effective Instruction. Twelve speakers representing a variety of NIU departments and offices shared insights and strategies on topics ranging from Energizing the Classroom Experience, Managing Academic Integrity, Addressing Cultural Sensitivity in the Classroom, Getting Support from the University Libraries and Assessing Student Learning. Comments from participants indicated that they gained insights on the importance of making use of the many resources available for NIU faculty and students, as well as “energizing the classroom with varied activities” and “showing students your passion and humanity.”

The second day of the Institute, Team-Based Learning: A Transformative Strategy for Your Courses, featured David Matthes from the Department of Biology Teaching and Learning and the Department of Genetics, Cell Biology and Development at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities.

David Matthes, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
David Matthes, Professor at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities

David explained techniques for harnessing the power of highly effective teams of students for broader, deeper, and longer-lasting learning gains. Sessions addressed the Readiness Assurance Process for Team-Based Learning (TBL), Stacking the Odds for the Success of Teams, Gathering Evidence of Engagement, Efficacy, and Transformation as well as other TBL concepts.

Forty-five participants from 23 different NIU departments attended Day Two of the institute. Feedback from faculty and staff indicated that the discussions related to developing a team-based syllabus, using pre and post-tests to measure learning and increasing student engagement through TBL techniques helped to extend their knowledge of pedagogy and instructional design to support students’ learning.

To continue our efforts to reduce printing and to support NIU’s sustainability initiatives, the session resources and presentations for both institute days are available on their respective web pages. The presentations and resources can be reviewed and downloaded.

To share ideas for new Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center 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.

Spring Workshops Inspire Writing and Publishing on Campus

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brad peters work with faculty during a workshopEngaged learning was evident in two workshops conducted by Dr. Brad Peters, professor in the NIU Department of English and Coordinator of Writing Across the Curriculum, Rhetoric and Composition. On May 23, 2017, faculty learned techniques for Designing a Writing-Infused Course in the Major or General Education. Faculty from 11 different departments shared experiences and collaborated while exploring topics including helping students become better readers, giving feedback that improves content and grammatical correctness, as well as effective use of rubrics and writing technologies.

Comments from participants indicated that valuable information related to scaffolding the writing process, providing effective feedback to students, using informal writing activities, and thinking visually as well as textually were gained throughout the day long workshop. Participants appreciated the practical approach and strategies shared by Dr. Peters that could be immediately applied in the classroom.

A few quotations from participants summed up the workshops:

“Fantastic workshop!”

“Thank you for such an engaging Faculty Development workshop.”

“It is a joy to learn from Dr. Brad Peters!”

The Write Well, Publish More! workshop held on May 25, 2017, also received excellent reviews. Faculty from 10 different departments attended the workshop that focused on improving the writing process, budgeting time, power planning and drafting, forming writing circles, systematizing revising, and letting go. Dr. Peters encouraged participants to expand their perspectives of the writing process to incorporate new techniques and tools discussed during the workshop. Participants thanked Dr. Peters for sharing strategies for overcoming obstacles and writer’s block, explaining steps in the publishing process, and sharing checklists for structuring the review process.

Participants shared their thanks by commenting:

“Brad makes every training valuable and engaging.”

“His insights are SO helpful.”

“I enjoyed working with new colleagues on writing. Learning excellent, practical ways to improve writing.”

The Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center hosts a Writing Circle each semester to support faculty who are working on scholarly publications. For more information on joining the Writing Circle, contact Yvonne Johnson, yjohnson@niu.edu or Janet Giesen, giesen@niu.edu or contact the Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center at 815-753-0595.

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!

Tips to Engage Critical Thinkers & Writers – Transform Your Course Now!

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workshop_series_for_success

The Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center is pleased to share a series of workshops designed to provide faculty, teaching assistants, and instructional staff tips to effectively engage students in critical thinking and writing assignments in their courses. The workshops include hands-on activities and strategies you can immediately apply in your course. Tips focus on providing effective feedback to students, managing the workload, avoiding plagiarism and more. Participants will learn and practice ways to engage students in the learning process. You may select individual workshops that meet your needs or attend all 5 in the series.

The workshops were first offered during the fall 2016 semester. Feedback from participants overwhelmingly indicated that the sessions will benefit both instructors and students.

Comments include:

I learned –

  • the value of using papers to motivate students
  • prioritizing feedback is key for both instructors and students
  • strategies for managing instructor workload by identifying trends in writing and commenting on trends rather than in-line editing
  • ways to add components to the classroom environment to require direct engagement
  • possible responses to plagiarism

Dr. Brad Peters from the Department of English will lead each workshop.

The Engage Students workshop series is sponsored by Writing Across the Curriculum and the Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center. Register Here

To share ideas for new workshop 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!

Blackboard Portfolio Tool: Faculty Perspectives

Blackboard Portfolio ImageDuring the summer of 2015, the Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center team worked collaboratively with many faculty and staff to prepare for the Fall 2015 implementation of the new Blackboard Portfolio tool. Blackboard portfolios were created in a variety of courses including UNIV 101 and First Year Composition courses, as well as other undergraduate and graduate level courses and programs.

The easy-to-use portfolio tool allows students and faculty to create several portfolios for different purposes. For example, portfolios may be created for a specific course, program of study, or job search.  Faculty can request templates to serve as a guide for students and grade the portfolio assignment in the Blackboard Grade Center. Students can upload completed assignments, projects from co-curricular activities, and career information using the portfolio tool. Students can then share their portfolio by submitting it to a course or via email to NIU users or non-NIU contacts with only an email address.

NIU faculty who have used the Blackboard Portfolio tool found it beneficial for their students. Some of the comments from faculty include:

It was easy to set-up.

 

The portfolio gave me (as instructor) far deeper insights…what really had an impact on their learning and how beneficial different teaching strategies or activities were from the students’ perspective.

 

For the students, I believe this portfolio really helped them explore and recognize everything that they accomplished in a very short time frame.

 

The portfolio also helped the students reflect on what type of learner they are…and how to adjust their approach to their own education and learning in the future.

 

It is so important to have all of the resources…in one place and this functionality in Blackboard made it especially convenient.

 

Students were able to include a variety of media (ppt, animation, audio, documents, links, etc.).

 

I was able to create a checklist/rubric to go along with the portfolio assignment, which made grading painless.

 

I was very pleased with the pilot of the e-portfolio. I would like to experiment with setting up an e-portfolio for another class I am teaching this semester.

We have extensive information and tutorials on using the Blackboard Portfolio tools at go.niu.edu/portfolios, including tutorials specifically for faculty and students to help you get started using Blackboard Portfolios. Contact us at facdev@niu.edu for more information on using the Blackboard Portfolio for your course or departmental ePortfolios!

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