Fall Proposal Deadline for Two of the Center’s Grants Is September 15!

September 15 is the fall due date for proposals for two of the grants offered by the Center for Teaching Excellence. Both grants are for a maximum of $3000.

Major Teaching Project for Departments/Programs grants are to encourage departments/programs to engage in innovations that are consistent with university goals, e.g., diversity initiatives, implementation of curricular renovation at the university or divisional levels, or engaged learning across the curriculum. To learn more and submit a proposal, go to http://www.units.miamioh.edu/celt/grants/major-dpt.php

Major Teaching Project for Individual or Small Groups of Faculty grants are to encourage individuals to engage in innovations that are consistent with university goals, e.g., diversity initiatives, implementation of curricular renovation at the university, divisional or department/program levels, or engaged learning across the curriculum. To learn more and submit a proposal, go to http://www.units.miamioh.edu/celt/grants/major-fac.php

To read about all of the Center’s grants and awards and see past winners, go to http://www.units.miamioh.edu/celt/grants/

Summer Book Discussions Help Kick Off Miami’s “Year of Creativity and Innovation”

In summer 2015 the Center for Teaching Excellence hosted discussions of three books (one in June, one in July, and one in August) focused around Miami’s 2015-16 theme of Creativity and Innovation.

The discussions allowed faculty and staff from across campus the opportunity to consider the following questions, among others, raised by the books:

• In what ways is creativity a social act?

• How can we assess creativity in the various disciplines?

• Why do our students (and we) sometimes shy away from the challenge to be creative, and how can we encourage students to embrace this challenge with confidence and enthusiasm?

• What are the most pressing problems or challenges requiring creativity and innovation that our students are likely to face in their professional careers? How can we address them in our courses? In the Miami experience as a whole?

41MmaQgSR2L._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_The first book discussion topic, on June 25, was Marty Neumeier’s Metaskills: Five Talents for the Robotic Age (http://www.amazon.com/Metaskills-Five-Talents-Robotic-Age/dp/0321898672/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1440433560&sr=8-1&keywords=metaskills).

Amazon.com describes the book in this way:

“In this sweeping vision for personal mastery in a post-industrial era, Neumeier presents five metaskills–feeling, seeing, dreaming, making, and learning–that can help you reach your true potential. They’ll keep you two or three steps ahead of the machines, the algorithms, and the outsourcing forces of the “robot curve.” They’ll also bring you greater creativity, higher purpose, and a deeper sense of fulfillment. . . .

Metaskills is more than a manifesto. It’s a compass for visionary leaders, policymakers, educators, and planners. It’s a creative framework for designers, engineers, scientists, and artists. It’s a picture of the future that allows people from a wide range of disciplines, industries, and professions to envision new ways to create value together. Perhaps more important, it’s a long-overdue examination of what it means to be human in the 21st century.”

41Ik6q3fzhL._AC_SY220_The July 23 book discussion topic was Bruce Nussbaum’s Creative Intelligence: Harnessing the Power to Create, Connect, and Inspire (http://www.amazon.com/Creative-Intelligence-Harnessing-INTELLIGENCE-Hardcover/dp/B00QQ1PPWA/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1440433302&sr=8-1&keywords=brucenussbaum)

Amazon.com describes the book as follows:

“Offering insights from the spheres of anthropology, psychology, education, design, and business, Creative Intelligence, by Bruce Nussbaum, a leading thinker, commentator, and curator on the subjects of design, creativity, and innovation, is first book to identify and explore creative intelligence as a new form of cultural literacy and as a powerful method for problem-solving, driving innovation, and sparking start-up capitalism. . . .

“Nussbaum investigates the ways in which individuals, corporations, and nations are boosting their creative intelligence—CQ—and how that translates into their abilities to make new products and solve new problems. Ultimately, Creative Intelligence shows how to frame problems in new ways and devise solutions that are original and highly social.”

41IABBlGx0L._AC_SY220_The final book discussion of the summer, on August 13, was Scott Berkun’s Mindfire: Big Ideas for Curious Minds (http://www.amazon.com/Mindfire-Big-Ideas-Curious-Minds/dp/0983873100/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1440433454&sr=8-1&keywords=mindfire)

Amazon.com says the following about the book:

“This definitive best-of collection of one of the web’s best young writers is packed with provocations and entertainments, guaranteed to make you think and smile. You’ll learn to find passion, think free, manage time, pay attention and more. Fast paced, inspiring and memorable, you’ll find new ideas and inspirations on every page.

“Essays include famous missives such as: How to be a free thinker; The cult of busy; Why smart people defend bad ideas; Street smarts vs. Book smarts; Hating vs. loving; Why the world is a mess; How to make a difference; How to be passionate; The secret motivation of death; Creative thinking hacks; How to detect BS; Why you must lead or follow; and nearly 20 more provocations that will get you motivated to create, think, and enjoy your life.”

All three summer reading books (along with over 1000 other titles on teaching and learning) are available for checkout from the Center for Teaching Excellence library in 317 Laws Hall on the Oxford campus. You may browse the library collection at http://celt.miamioh.edu/celt/libsearch.php.

Is the Course Syllabus a Legal Contract?

A recent issue of Miami’s peer-reviewed Journal on Excellence in College Teaching (www.miamioh.edu/ject/) features an article on the legal implications of syllabus construction. In “A Legal Analysis and Contrarian View of the Syllabus-as-Contract Perspective” (Vol. 26.2, 2015), author Kent D. Kauffman provides what he calls the “contrarian view” about whether or not a syllabus is a legal contract. Kauffman provides guidance in drafting syllabi that can both “enhance teaching and learning” and “minimize the legal risks of student grievances” (p. 177).

The article’s abstract explains Kauffman’s position:

Despite the claim made in the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) literature for over two decades that a syllabus is a contract, the courts have uniformly ruled that it is not. While there is no harm in thinking one’s syllabus is a contract, there may be legal risk in proclaiming it so. The author provides an analysis of the syllabus-as-contract dilemma as well as a review of the legal precedents. Best practices from contract drafting are applied to syllabus creation to enhance teaching and learning and minimize the legal risks of student grievances. (p. 177)

To read this article and the rest of the Journal archive since 1990, go to www.miamioh.edu/ject/

We invite you to use the Journal as a resource for teaching and learning. On the website, click “Issue Archive” to access all issues of the Journal published since its inception in 1990; to locate teaching and learning topics you wish to research, click on “Search Archive.”

For information about submitting manuscripts or other inquiries, click “Submitting Manuscripts” on the website (www.miamioh.edu/ject/) or contact Gregg Wentzell, Managing Editor, at the Center for Teaching Excellence, 317 Laws Hall, on Miami’s Oxford campus (telephone: 529-9265; e-mail: wentzegw@miamioh.edu).

Engaging Students From the First Day of Class

In his remarks to new faculty at the New Faculty Orientation on August 18, 2015, Miami University President David Hodge stressed the importance of creating a “vibrant learning and discovery environment” for students. There is no better time to begin creating this environment than the very first day of class. And in order to create this environment, we need to know about our students’ interests, prior knowledge, and backgrounds. In an article in the Faculty Focus blog (http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/effective-teaching-strategies/first-day-of-class-activity-the-interest-inventory/), Jennifer Garrett and Mary Clement suggest using an interest inventory as an alternative to oral introductions for engaging and learning about our students.
As Garrett and Clement describe it, “The inventory is simply a list of questions about students’ interests and backgrounds, but you decide which questions appear. The questions should always include students’ names and majors (or whether or not they have decided on a major). It is helpful to ask students their reasons for taking this course at this point in time, and what they would like to learn or get out of the class. These types of questions help you discover what their expectations are. Some fun icebreaker questions are valuable too. ‘What is the best book you’ve ever read?’ ‘What kind of music is playing on your iPod?’”

These sorts of icebreaker questions are low-risk and nonthreatening to students, and, as such, they help establish a comfortable environment for learning. Instructors should consider providing their own answers to these questions as well; sharing personal (but not too private) information with students will put them more at ease with you.

Sample interest inventory question types may include students’ backgrounds and plans, their learning styles and preferences, their background in course content, and fun questions to help everyone get acquainted. Garrett and Clement propose also adding what they call “if you dare” questions to the inventory–those question that may elicit answers requesting instructors to step outside their own comfort zones.

To read the entire article, go to http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/effective-teaching-strategies/first-day-of-class-activity-the-interest-inventory/

New Issue of the Journal on Excellence in College Teaching Examines “Catalysts to Enhance Learning”

Journal Cover shrunkA new issue of the Journal on Excellence in College Teaching is now available online at the Journal website:

www.miamioh.edu/ject/

Volume 26, number 3 (2015) focuses on Catalysts to Enhance Learning. The authors in this issue of the Journal examined the following catalysts to enhance their students’ learning when added to their courses: infusion of sustainability, documentation skills, team-based learning, web conferencing, intelligent tutoring systems, and flexibility in teaching.

The articles in this issue are:

Sustainability Matters for Undergraduate Teaching and Learning
C. L. Fry & C. A. Wei

Overcoming Content-Associated Challenges Using Attention-Focused Methods
M. T. Lebec & L. Kesteloot

Online Teaching as a Catalyst for Re-Examining Pedagogical Assumptions
A. K. Russell

Using Faculty Preference to Identify Disciplinary Pairs and Foster Collaboration
M. D. Shaw et al.

The Effects of Web Conferencing on the Community of Inquiry in Online Classes
S. Stover & Y. Miura

Working With Pedagogical Agents: Understanding the “Back End” of an Intelligent Tutoring System
C. R. Wolfe et al.

Developing a Preference for Collaboration Using Team-Based Learning
K. L. Smart et al.

The Meaning of Flexibility in Teaching: Views From College Students and Exemplary College Instructors
J. H. Yoo et al.

For those who are not aware, the Journal is a peer-reviewed venue published four times a year at Miami University by and for faculty at universities and two- and four-year colleges to increase student learning through effective teaching, interest in and enthusiasm for the profession of teaching, and communication among faculty about their classroom experiences. It answers Ernest Boyer’s (1990) call for a forum to present the scholarship of teaching and learning. The Journal provides a scholarly, written forum for discussion by faculty about all areas affecting teaching and learning, and gives faculty the opportunity to share proven, innovative pedagogies and thoughtful, inspirational insights about teaching.

We invite you to use the Journal as a resource for teaching and learning. On the website, click “Issue Archive” to access all issues of the Journal published since its inception in 1990; to locate teaching and learning topics you wish to research, click on “Search Archive.” This electronic version of the Journal is provided by funding from the Committee for Teaching Excellence for all Miami faculty and staff.

For information about submitting manuscripts or other inquiries, click “Submitting Manuscripts” on the website (www.miamioh.edu/ject/) or contact Gregg Wentzell, Managing Editor, at the Center for Teaching Excellence, 317 Laws Hall, on Miami’s Oxford campus (telephone: 529-9265; e-mail: wentzegw@miamioh.edu).

Enjoy reading, and watch for the next issue of the Journal (volume 26, number 4), a special focus issue on “Integrating Communication Instruction Throughout STEM Curricula: Transformational Approaches to Curricular Design,” due out in Fall 2015.

Some Strategies for Learning Students’ Names

Why learn our students’ names? From the students’ perspective, it can make them feel more like the instructor cares about them and wants to get to know them individually. It also lets them know that, especially in larger classes, they are more accountable for their behavior and performance in class. “The professor knows our names” is regularly cited as a strength in small-group instructional diagnoses (student focus groups) at Miami (http://blogs.miamioh.edu/sgid/). From the instructor’s perspective, it can make her or him more comfortable calling on students and/or responding to them as individuals. By an instructor’s consistently attempting to learn and use students’ names in class, students learn each other’s names as well, which can promote better interaction in class or group activities. Using names personalizes the classroom experience. Perhaps the most compelling reason for learning students’ names is that students are more likely to be engaged in classes in which instructors know their names.

What follows are some strategies for learning students’ names that may work in any size classroom.

1. On the first day of class, make a game out of learning students’ names. If the class is smaller (under 25 or so), students might be asked to sit in a circle and recite their names one by one. Then the instructor attempts to go around the circle and name as many students as possible, getting help from students as needed until all students are named. Then ask each student to do the same. In larger classes, students might be divided into smaller groups for the same procedure.

2. Challenge students to get you to remember their name by making a connection with you, asking questions, stating their name when participating, etc. You might ask your classes to devise a name-learning strategy to use in the class.
3. Ask students to sit in the same seat for the first three weeks of class while you learn their names. Have them also make a table-tent that has their name on it in large letters to place on their desk. The visual association of where students sit in class and the table-tent helps with learning names while taking attendance, calling on them in class, etc.

4. Take individual photos of students and put their names on the back of the photo. Then practice using the photos like flash cards: Look at the face and recall the name. You may have student photos in your LMS, so you can use those the same way. Remember to practice leisurely in spaced sessions (“spaced practice”) and not to cram!

5. Practice learning students’ names while they are working in groups, perhaps again using table tents at their desks. Learning 4-6 names at a time is much less intimidating than trying to learn the entire class roster and makes it possible to keep rehearsing the smaller group of names until they’re mastered.

6. To make students’ name learning a bit more personal and informative, hand out 3X5 cards and have students put their name, major, contact information, and one piece of unusual information about themselves on the card. This can be a hobby, pet, something they have accomplished, etc. Then ask them to paste a photo of themselves on the card. This allows them to get into the act of creating a unique persona and helps them appreciate the difficulty of memorizing so many names. This approach provides information that enables you to make a connection with each student even before you enter the classroom again.

7. There is a free app called Teacher’s Aide (https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/teachers-aide-attendance-gradebook/id510174556?mt=8) for the iPad and iPhone that allows you to use your device to take student pictures for use in taking attendance. It compiles a table of photos and names, and you just press the student’s photo for attendance — one tap for present, another for absent, and a third for late. You can have up to 3 classes for free. In smaller classes the instructor can pass the iPad around and let students take their picture and type in their name. This app also offers grading features too.

Use the space below to share additional strategies for learning students’ names that you have discovered or heard about!

New Issue of the Journal on Centers for Teaching and Learning Available!

JCTL-cover-previewA new issue of the Journal on Centers for Teaching and Learning (JCTL) is now available online at the Journal website:

http://www.miamioh.edu/jctl/

JCTL is a peer-reviewed venue published once a year at Miami University as a site through which Centers for Teaching and Learning (CTL) staff can engage in conversations, explore their relevance to their own institutional situations, and imagine new possibilities to take back to these institutions—not to mention new ways of looking at the conversations already at work there.

Volume 6 (2014) focuses on “Supporting Effective Teaching at Small Colleges: Theory & Practice.” The issue’s guest editor is Michael Reder, Director, Joy Shechtman Mankoff Faculty Center for Teaching & Learning, Connecticut College. As Reder describes the issue, “The articles in this issue have been carefully selected because they address these key issues that small colleges—and, to a great extent, all institutions—face. These articles build upon current theory and practices in new and productive ways, and ask us to push our work as educational developers to new levels or to think about our roles differently” (from “A Message From the Guest Editor,” p. 6).

The articles in this issue are as follows:

Supporting Teaching and Learning at Small Colleges—Past, Present, & Future: A Message From the Guest Editor, M. Reder

Foreword: The Changing Landscape of Faculty Development at Small Colleges, M. D. Sorcinelli

Difficult Conversations We’re NOT Having: Mixed-Group Perspective Taking and Diversity Education at a Small College, J. L. Bowen & J. H. Shope

The Growth Mindset Approach: A Threshold Concept in Course Redesign, D. E. Boyd

Faculty Developer as Change Agent: A Conceptual Model for Small Institutions and Beyond, L. L. Grupp

Facilitating Mentoring Across Three Models of Faculty Work: Mentoring Within a Community of Practice for Faculty Development, P. E. Calderwood & S. Klaf

The Care and Maintenance of Faculty Culture: A Small College Curricular Approach, C. Zimmerman & C. Rutz

Supporting Faculty Teaching & Learning at Small Colleges: Selected Resources That Are Specifically Relevant to the Small College Context

We invite Miami faculty and staff to use the Journal as a resource for teaching and learning. On the website, click “Issue Archive” to access all issues of the Journal; to locate teaching and learning topics you wish to research, click on “Search Archive.” This electronic version of the Journal is provided by funding from the Center for Teaching Excellence for all Miami faculty and staff.

For information about submitting manuscripts or other inquiries, click “Submit a Manuscript” or contact

John Tassoni, Editor-in-Chief
Journal on Centers for Teaching and Learning
Miami University
Center for Teaching & Learning
Telephone: 513-529-7135
Email: tassonjp@MiamiOH.edu

New Issue of the Journal on Excellence in College Teaching Now Available!

Journal Cover shrunkA new issue of the Journal on Excellence in College Teaching is now available online at the Journal website:

www.miamioh.edu/ject/

Volume 26, number 2 (2015) focuses on “Inside and Outside of the Classroom—Ideas and Processes That Encourage Learning.” The Journal’s editors describe the issue as follows:

“As the borders and spaces within which we teach and learn expand both temporally and physically, so does the need grow to find ways to accommodate learners’ needs in all of those locations. This issue’s authors speak to these needs from various perspectives and approaches and remind us that much of the learning that goes on in college occurs outside of the physical classroom. We must create learning environments that will best achieve our students’ needs and then assess our methods’ effectiveness with the goal of continual improvement.” (from “A Message From the Editors”)

The articles in this issue are:

Mentoring Graduate Students: The Good, Bad, and Gray
J. H. Ballantine & J. A. Jolly-Ballantine

Selected Application of Response-to-Intervention Principles
in College Courses: Possibilities and Limitations
C. A. Blondin et al.

Do Students Understand Our Course Structure?
Implications for Important Classroom Attitudes and Behavior
J. D. Elicker et al.

Sharing Action Research on Research Day: Students’ Perceptions of a Command Performance
T. S. Foulger & D. Zambo

Inspiring the Civil Revolution: The Role of Bullying Education and Experiential Learning
J. A. Gilbert & D. M. Raffo

A Legal Analysis and Contrarian View of the Syllabus-as-Contract Perspective
K. D. Kauffman

Formative Assessment and the Intuitive Incorporation
of Research-Based Instruction Techniques
P. Kuiper et al.

Student Perceptions of a Form-Based Approach to Reflective Journaling
P. A. Mabrouk

For those who are not aware, the Journal is a peer-reviewed venue published four times a year at Miami University by and for faculty at universities and two- and four-year colleges to increase student learning through effective teaching, interest in and enthusiasm for the profession of teaching, and communication among faculty about their classroom experiences. It answers Ernest Boyer’s (1990) call for a forum to present the scholarship of teaching and learning. The Journal provides a scholarly, written forum for discussion by faculty about all areas affecting teaching and learning, and gives faculty the opportunity to share proven, innovative pedagogies and thoughtful, inspirational insights about teaching.

We invite you to use the Journal as a resource for teaching and learning. On the website, click “Issue Archive” to access all issues of the Journal published since its inception in 1990; to locate teaching and learning topics you wish to research, click on “Search Archive.” This electronic version of the Journal is provided by funding from the Committee for the Enhancement of Learning, Teaching, and University Assessment (CELTUA) for all Miami faculty and staff.

For information about submitting manuscripts or other inquiries, click “Submitting Manuscripts” on the website (www.miamioh.edu/ject/) or contact Gregg Wentzell, Managing Editor, at the Center for Teaching Excellence, 317 Laws Hall, on Miami’s Oxford campus (telephone: 529-9265; e-mail: wentzegw@miamioh.edu).

Enjoy reading, and watch for the next issue of the Journal (volume 26, number 3), due out in summer 2015.

Study Strategies for Content-Heavy Courses (and All Courses)

By Gerald Nelms, Academic Director of Developmental Writing, Wright State University

1. Research has shown students overwhelmingly “multitask” while “studying.” They need to understand that what we normally call “multitasking” is actually rapid task-switching, which involves moving your attention from one task to another. There all kinds of negative consequences to that: mental fatigue that leads to increased errors and lower grades; the brain having to store information in inefficient ways that leads to impaired memory and decreased ability to transfer knowledge to new contexts; up to 40% loss in productivity; increased stress; and increased time to complete tasks.

The best way to reduce “multitasking” is through time management: blocking out time for undistracted studying, reading, writing, whatever with what Larry Rosen calls “tech breaks” (short time periods for checking incoming texts, emails, etc., and checking Facebook or whatever). Students can start with short “unitasking” blocks (30-45 minutes) with 10-15 minutes for tech breaks and then build up to an hour or more of unitasking. And of course, this means turning off mobile electronic devices and the Internet. It also means turning off the TV and monitoring how distracting or not distracting the music is that they are listening to as they study. We do need to keep in mind that at least one small study has shown that “media multitasking” can have a positive effect by providing emotional satisfaction that keeps students “studying” longer, although there is no evidence that that studying is actually productive.

2. Research is also very clear that time management is crucial to college success. In fact, using a little class time to have students fill out a weekly schedule that designates some “activity” for every hour of the day and night (including non-school-related activities like meals, relaxation, exercise, and sleep) can be really effective. This allows students of study at more or less the same times daily and to see study time in the hour or two between classes in a day. The key, of course, is that students keep to their schedules. A good time management strategy is for students to break up assignments (whether projects, papers, reading, studying for tests, whatever) into smaller units of time. In fact, this is something that instructors can help with, breaking up big assignments into smaller assignments that accumulate into one big project or paper.

3. Students should also evaluate their study times and locations. How effective are the times when they study? How effective are the places where they study? They are the best judges of this.

4. Collaboration and study groups can be helpful–as long as they’re not distracting. Setting up an agenda for study group get-togethers can be important. Those get-togethers can begin with 10-15 minutes of chit-chat and then it’s down to work.

Posted to the POD listserv (http://listserv.nd.edu/archives/pod.html) on April 24, 2015

FLC Call for Applications: Due May 8!

Please consider applying for one of the following Faculty learning Communities for 2015-16:

Faculty Learning Community for Exploring and Improving Assessment of Student Learning
http://www.units.miamioh.edu/celt/faculty/flcs/miami/1516/flc-assessment.php

Faculty Learning Community on Inspiring Creativity and Innovation
http://www.units.miamioh.edu/celt/faculty/flcs/miami/1516/flc-creativity_and_innovation.php

Faculty Learning Community on Advising and Mentoring Diverse Students
http://www.units.miamioh.edu/celt/faculty/flcs/miami/1516/flc-diverse_students.php

Faculty Learning Community on Developing Deep Impact Equity Projects: Bridging Intellect, Creativity and Action Students
http://www.units.miamioh.edu/celt/faculty/flcs/miami/1516/flc-equity_projects.php

Faculty Learning Community on Interdisciplinary STEM Collaborative: Developing New Capacities
http://www.units.miamioh.edu/celt/faculty/flcs/miami/1516/flc-STEM_collaboration.php

Faculty Learning Community on Creative, Innovative, and Sustainable Approaches to Teaching, Science, Engineering, and Math (STEM)
http://www.units.miamioh.edu/celt/faculty/flcs/miami/1516/flc-sustainability_in_STEM.php

Faculty Learning Community: What Now? Strategies for Female Associate Professors
http://www.units.miamioh.edu/celt/faculty/flcs/miami/1516/flc-female_assoc_profs.php

Faculty Learning Community: Heanon-Wilkins Fellowship
http://www.units.miamioh.edu/celt/faculty/flcs/miami/1516/flc-heanon-wilkins.php

For information and applications on all FLCs, visit the website at:
http://www.units.miamioh.edu/celt/faculty/flcs/miami/index1516.php

Applications are due May 8th – don’t delay!