Respond to the Seminar: HELP! Handling Emotional and Life-Challenging Problems With College Students: The Faculty-Staff Dilemma

Use this space to continue the dialogue about this seminar.

Date: Wednesday, September 30, 2015
Time: 10:00 am – 11:30 am
Place: 320 Laws Hall

Presented by Kip Alishio, Director, Student Counseling Service; and Tim Parsons, Emergency Case Manager, Office of the Dean of Students.

This program will help participants:
– Recognize the difference between disturbed students and disturbing students
– Become familiar with steps faculty and staff can take to intervene in response to both types of student crisis
– Know institutional resources to use in seeking support and assistance with students in crisis

Miami’s Faculty Learning Communities for 2015-16 Focus on Creativity and Innovation, Other Topics

A faculty learning community (FLC) is a cross-disciplinary faculty and staff group of 8 to 12 members engaging in an active, collaborative, yearlong program with a curriculum about enhancing teaching and learning and with frequent seminars and activities that provide learning, development, interdisciplinarity, the scholarship of teaching and learning, and community building.

There are two categories of faculty learning communities: cohort-based and topic-based. Cohort-based learning communities address the teaching, learning, and developmental needs of an important cohort of faculty that has been particularly affected by the isolation, fragmentation, or chilly climate in the academy. Each topic-based learning community is yearlong and has a curriculum designed to address a special campus teaching and learning issue, for example, diversity, technology, or cooperative learning.

Some common characteristics of FLCs at Miami are as follows:

• Participants engage in scholarly teaching and the scholarship of teaching
• Community members participate actively in the Lilly Conference on College Teaching and present their work to the campus and at a national teaching conference
• Criteria for selection include commitment to quality teaching, level of interest in and commitment to participation in activities of the community, need, openness to new ideas, potential for contributions to the community, and plans for use of the award year
• Participation needs approval of applicant’s department chair
• Appropriate committees select participants
• Faculty facilitators receive one-course release time (or equivalent funds) or the same professional expenses as members of the FLC or both, and facilitators in administrative units receive the same professional expenses as the members of the FLC

For the 2015-16 academic year there are 8 FLCs at Miami:

Cohort-Based FLCs:
• Faculty Learning Community: What Now? Strategies for Female Associate Professors
• Alumni Teaching Scholars Community for Early-Career Faculty

Topic-Based FLCs:
• Faculty Learning Community for Exploring and Improving Assessment of Student Learning
• Faculty Learning Community on Inspiring Creativity and Innovation
• Faculty Learning Community on Advising and Mentoring Diverse Students
• Faculty Learning Community on Developing Deep Impact Equity Projects: Bridging Intellect, Creativity and Action Students
• Faculty Learning Community on Interdisciplinary STEM Collaborative: Developing New Capacities
• Faculty Learning Community on Creative, Innovative, and Sustainable Approaches to Teaching Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM)

To read more about FLCs and the application process, go to:

To see the final reports of Miami’s FLCs for the past 5 years, go to

Respond to the Seminar: Mobilizing Anger Into Activism

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Date: Thursday, September 17, 2015
Time: 10:00 am – 11:30 am
Place: 320 Laws Hall

Presented by Dominique C. Hill, Stephen John Quaye, and Mahauganee Dawn Shaw, Educational Leadership

The Mobilizing Anger Collective (MAC) is a group of people affiliated with Miami University (undergraduate and graduate students, staff, faculty, and community members) who regularly connect virtually and in-person to: create space and community in which to process instances of injustice, organize actions that make literal and symbolic statements about our shared commitment to social justice, and galvanize our collective power. The purpose of this session is to learn more about the importance of engaging in activism, what mobilizing one’s anger into activism looks like, and the implications of these actions on Miami’s campus. Participants will also build connections with each other and develop ideas for future MAC activities.

Small Group Instructional Diagnosis (SGID) for Mid-Semester Feedback Available Now!

Don’t wait until the end of the semester to get your students’ feedback—help your students when they need it most! The Center for Teaching Excellence staff will facilitate this straightforward approach to formative course assessment involving small-group discussion among students to provide feedback to an instructor. This mid-semester process is confidential and arranged only through an instructor’s request.

The benefits of the SGID are many. For instructors, it provides formative feedback on what your students think about your teaching and the course. It allows you to engage in personal interaction and interpretation of results with a supportive colleague who has faced many of these same issues. Students’ suggestions provide a diversity of perspectives and may even save you time in developing problem-solving alternatives.
For students, the SGID opens lines of communication between their instructor and them. It gives students a voice in course direction. It may increase students’ interest in and acceptance of course materials and methods.
Among the benefits that instructors have cited are “finding out early what was working for students and what was not” and “providing an accessible and enjoyable forum for my class to freely discuss my teaching.”
Because of its formative purpose, the SGID is best scheduled before midterm so that there is time for the instructor to make any desired changes in the course. Schedule as early as possible to ensure a time that works best with your syllabus. Because of limited staffing and high demand, we must limit SGID requests to one per instructor per semester.

SGIDs for Fall semester 2015 will only be conducted until October 31, so act now! For additional information or to request an SGID, visit

Respond to the Seminar: The Global Miami Plan

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Date: Thursday, September 10, 2015
Time: 10:00 am – 11:30 am
Place: 320 Laws Hall

Presented by Richard T. Taylor, Liberal Education

While the Miami Plan for Liberal Education has been the template for Miami’s general education requirements for about 30 years, this year’s entering class (Fall, 2015 and later) will see a major change in emphasis and format. The revised plan is designed to be compatible with the broader university 2020 goals and emphasizes student competencies with ongoing assessment. Such a revision necessitates changes in both course development and academic advising. A brief outline of the revised Miami Plan will be presented, along with a discussion of the challenges and opportunities it presents to new faculty.

Rose Marie Ward Receives 2015 Miami University Effective Educator Award

Rose Marie Ward

Rose Marie Ward

Rose Marie Ward, a Professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Health and Director of the Center for Teaching Excellence (formerly CELTUA), has been chosen as the Miami University Alumni Association’s 2015 Effective Educator.

An excerpt from the article by Vince Frieden, Development Communications, follows:

“Ward, a frequent recipient of nominations and awards for teaching excellence, arrived at Miami as a visiting assistant professor in 2002. She is the 33rd recipient of the award, which annually recognizes one faculty or staff member whose impact extends both within and beyond the classroom. She will be recognized during Miami’s Homecoming Pep Rally, Friday, Sept. 18, and during the Homecoming football game, Saturday, Sept. 19.

“Miami’s Class of 2011—the five-year reunion class—provided nominations for this year’s Effective Educator Award. Ward’s nominations cited her enthusiasm in the classroom, passion for research and enduring influence on her students.”

To read the entire article, go to

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

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

To read about all of the Center’s grants and awards and see past winners, go to

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 ( 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 ( 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 ( 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

Is the Course Syllabus a Legal Contract?

A recent issue of Miami’s peer-reviewed Journal on Excellence in College Teaching ( 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

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 ( 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:

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 (, 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