Together We Will

In her inaugural address President Hutchinson provided us with perspective on our history and our future that moved and inspired. Towards the end of her remarks she gave us this promise:

Together, we will work as one University; breaking down silos, removing institutional barriers, and encouraging innovations so that we serve our students better and promote their success through applied instruction and engaged learning, community service and civic engagement, and global and multicultural education. And, we will improve upon and make sustainable the means by which we provide support for students’ personal well-being.”

I left the address with those words stuck on repeat in my head. I was thinking about the ways we rise to meet those challenges and how we try, fall short, and get up to try again. Mainly I thought about the phrasing. This is not a directive or a question, it is a promise, which led me to think about who we are making this promise to and how we will make sure we keep it.

Faculty Development relies on an empowerment model rather than on expertise. If you were looking to us for answers, the best tool we have to offer is a mirror. Today I want to point you to the currently active options for enrichment offered through our office and encourage you to think about them as opportunities to learn and teach. More than anything, think of them as ways to keep our promise not that we can, or that we will try, but rather that we will.

Faculty Development Spring 2017 Program Offerings

Feel free to apply for multiple offerings. General questions can be directed to Zach Justus
zjustus@csuchico.edu. All applications due on 3/31/2017.

Academy e-Learning 9.1: Teaching with Help

Leadership: Faculty Development and the Technology and Learning Program
Compensation: $750 (taxable income)
Workload: June 1-2, 5-7 9am-4pm intensive plus assessment reporting
Brief Description: You are invited to participate in Academy e-Learning (AeL) Cohort 9.1, launching with the first of this summer’s one-week institutes –Teaching with Help. During this intensive institute, we will explore highly effective strategies for mentoring and working with TAs/mentors so you can realize their full potential and value in your course(s). Your work during this institute will focus on incorporating assistants, in all their forms, into your courses in meaningful ways.

Full RFP Link
Application

Academy e-Learning 9.2: Best Practices for Working with Student Writing

Leadership: Faculty Development and the Technology and Learning Program
Compensation: $750 (taxable income)
Workload: August 3-4, 7-9 9am-4pm intensive plus assessment reporting
Brief Description: You are invited to participate in Academy e-Learning (AeL) Cohort 9.2, the second of this summer’s one-week institutes. In recognition of the campus’ on-going interest in high impact educational practices, this institute is focused on supporting students’ writing.

Full RFP Link
Application

 Writing Boot Camp

Leadership: Chris Fosen
Compensation: $500 (taxable income)
Workload: May 23-26 8am-4pm
Brief Description: You are invited to take part in a one-week writing boot camp. Applicants are expected to be physically present and participate all day.  Since our goal is substantive writing, it is most suitable for projects that are already well under way.

Full RFP Link
Application

Learning Enhancement Grants

Brief Description: The Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT) is offering faculty awards of up to $5,515 to improve quality and productivity in learning and teaching in a course or program. Projects that strongly enhance student learning and have a demonstrable impact receive priority consideration. Proposals should address relevance to the University Strategic Plan. Funds awarded in spring of 2017 must be expended between July 1, 2017 and May 30, 2018. Proposals are due by Friday, March 31, 2017 at 5pm.

Full RFP Link
Application

Just in time Professional Development

Brief Description: The Faculty Development Program is offering faculty awards of up to $1,000 in Professional Development Funds to support faculty who need to attend a conference or support a project. The funds must be expended by 5/30/2017.

Full RFP Link
Application

Faculty Development is searching for the next director!

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Don’t forget to subscribe to the Caffeinated Cats podcast! Our newest episode is out now! Mary, Tracy, and I discuss the past, present, and future of alcohol at CSU, Chico with CADEC staff member Morgan Rosen. Link to it on soundclouditunesovercast, or follow the podcast on facebook.

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Give yourself an A+ for reading this

Image result for teaching assessmentA few years ago I was filling out a mid-semester report for a student regarding eligibility for a Greek organization. She thought she was doing great with a strong “B.” As it happens she was reading the gradebook incorrectly and was squarely in the “D” range. It was a difficult conversation, but she rededicated herself to her work and ended up earning a “B-.” I often tell the story to students to illustrate the importance of accurate self-assessment and the real possibility of improving once you have a good idea about where you are.

A recent article from Faculty Focus takes the strategy a step further in suggesting formalized self-assessment in the first third of the semester. They suggest having students perform a basic assessment (which you can grade credit/no-credit) on attendance, their overall grade, set goals, and several other items. I love this idea as it compels students to be reflective, gives you a better understanding of their self-perception, and gives you a point of reference later in the semester. Of course there are limitations to this in large courses (an issue addressed in the article) or with students who elect not to do the work, but it is an effective strategy within a class and it has the potential to set up good habits for students moving forward. Overall, it is a nice companion to the tip from last week about identifying key markers for success in your courses.

A few reminders for you:
The Academy e-Learning application is live!
Faculty Development is searching for the next director!
We held a popular workshop on Dossier Prep for Lecturers last week. Find the video archive and handouts here.

Dr. Sara Cooper has provided additional Book in Common Material. Check out this section of the CELT page for regular synopsis updates, discussion questions, and other resources.
Got feedback on this tip? Got an idea for a tip? Send it along. Check out our new and improved wordpress site here.
Don’t forget to subscribe to the Caffeinated Cats podcast! Our newest episode is out now! Mary, Tracy, and I discuss what it means to be an alum with Aaron Skaggs of the Alumni Association. Link to it on soundclouditunesovercast, or follow the podcast on facebook.

What do they need to know?

Welcome to the second week of the semester!

As students settle into the rhythm of their courses they will also be settling into old patterns. You have the opportunity to intervene and many of you do by highlighting the behavior of historically successful students. Maybe your course is supported by Supplemental Instruction through the Student Learning Center and you know if they go regularly, they will probably pass. Maybe your course uses online videos and you know students who watch in advance of the class always do better. Sharing this information with students is almost always appreciated and can lead to student success, but it is our responsibility to make sure we are sharing the right information. When I taught the public speaking course I assumed the students who failed were getting low speech grades. It was actually much more common that if they were failing they were missing the weekly quizzes. This information changed the advice I gave students and how I trained my Teaching Associates.

In light of that, I have homework for you. Go back through grades from one or two semesters to look at some landmark assignments like the first exam or project. Even if you are not fluent in statistics you can probably draw some conclusions about early success and overall performance in the course. You may find similar markers like attendance or one of the things mentioned earlier. You may be quite surprised. I am urging you to be intentional about it rather than relying on assumptions. This will start to give you markers for when students are headed for trouble. In some other Universities, like Georgia State, they have used information like this to radically improve student performance. In my conversations with colleagues around campus they are often surprised to learn the number of students who fail their courses or that there is an achievement gap between Under Represented Minority students and non-Under Represented Minority students. We can only unravel these dynamics when we pay attention to why students do well and why they don’t and then fashion solutions. Most of us share advice at the beginning of the semester about how to do well and when students are headed for trouble, let’s be sure we are giving the right advice.

Digging into these dynamics can require help from Institutional Research, your Assessment Coordinator, or a colleague, but it is almost always worth it.

Dr. Sara Cooper has provided additional Book in Common Material. Check out this section of the CELT page for regular synopsis updates, discussion questions, and other resources.

Got feedback on this tip? Got an idea for a tip? Send it along. Check out our new and improved wordpress site here.

Don’t forget to subscribe to the Caffeinated Cats podcast! Our fourth episode of the Fall is out now! Mary, Tracy, and I discuss the election with Juni Banerjee-Stevens and Mike Pence (not really, just checking to see if you were still reading). Link to it on soundclouditunesovercast, or follow the podcast on facebook.

Make Today Special

Image result for votingI have heard a frequent refrain from friends and colleagues about election day this year, “I am ready for this to be over.” It rings true for even those of us who love politics. The Presidential campaign is 19 months old; if it were a child it would be climbing on things and learning new words every day. However, as I often suggest, we also need to consider this from a student’s perspective. For the vast majority of our students this is their first time voting in a Presidential election, let’s not dampen their enthusiasm with our exhaustion regarding the election cycle. Student voices matter:

  • This year the First-Year Experience program partnered with the Civic Engagement office to register and inform student voters at Chico.
  • Today there are signs and people all over campus urging voting in general or supporting particular candidates.
  • Our own student groups have been present and visible on campus throughout the election season.
  • Across the nation we saw students engaging in dynamic ways. College Republicans were split on their support of Donald Trump this year, so an enthusiastic group formed StudentsforTrump with pop-up groups all over the nation. The group is even mentioned by Trump in speeches, which is a testament to the power of the student voice.

Students often emerge from events like an election with interest in a specific topic, but without a clear path to activism. One such outlet on campus is Civic Engagement which was made a Strategic Priority last year. The campus is looking for a new Director of Civic Engagement right now and it is a great time to get involved. Even if you are not interested in the leadership position, it is worth keeping an eye on the office to learn how to get your students involved in the community. Civic Engagement is not for other students in other classes only during the election, it is for all of us, all the time.

Dr. Sara Cooper has provided additional Book in Common Material. Check out this section of the CELT page for regular synopsis updates, discussion questions, and other resources.

Got feedback on this tip? Got an idea for a tip? Send it along. Check out our new and improved wordpress site here.

Don’t forget to subscribe to the Caffeinated Cats podcast! Our second episode of the Fall is out now and our third will be up shortly! Mary, Tracy, and I explore Chico traditions and college athletics. Link to it on soundclouditunesovercast, or follow the podcast on facebook.

The Struggling Student

Before I started in Faculty Development, I was the course coordinator for the large lecture public speaking class. In my third year, I abandoned the midterm and final for a series of low-risk open-book quizzes students took through Blackboard. I had read the research and decided to make the switch. Some aspects of student performance increased, but the failure rate for the course more than doubled. I worked with my Teaching Associates to discover why students were failing when the thing they expressed the most concern about in evaluations, the exams, had been eliminated and replaced with a user friendly assessment strategy. Almost universally, the students who did not pass the class had failed to take several quizzes. Very few of these students would have forgotten to take exams because they happen during class time. We were concerned about student success so we set up an alert system on Blackboard, reminders were built in to lectures, and we started doing periodic grade checks throughout the semester to identify students who were struggling. None of these represented magic bullets, but they did help us make progress.Image result for struggling students

12 weeks from now you will be glancing back and forth between an Excel sheet or your gradebook and Peoplesoft entering grades for Fall 2016. It can be an interesting exercise as you realize the student who was always active in class didn’t turn in half of the assignments. Maybe the student who never showed up was actually a star in every category except for attendance. You might realize, like I did, the unintended consequence of a well-meaning change. The time to help students is during the semester, not at the very end. One tool for identifying struggling students is the Retention Center in Blackboard. This can help you set up rules to identify students who are struggling. Even if this tool does not work for you, it is worth your time to scan your gradebook once a month to identify trouble spots.

Once you have identified a student, there are a variety of ways to increase their chances for success. Campus resources like the Student Learning Center, Accessibility Resources, college or department based tutoring, or peers are all available to students. Regardless of how they get help, you reaching out to them is a great first step. We have all had the student in our office at the end of the semester who is shocked their grade is low even though there has been ample information about it throughout the term. The time to help that student and avoid that uncomfortable conversation is now.

Dr. Sara Cooper has provided addition Book in Common Material. Check out this section of the CELT page for regular synopsis updates, discussion questions, and other resources.

The CELT Conference preliminary program and registration link are now available. See you on October 6-7!

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Don’t forget to subscribe to the Caffeinated Cats podcast! Link to it on soundclouditunesovercast, or follow the podcast on facebook.

Low Stress, High Success

SStress-Metertress seems everywhere this time of the semester. The academic year is close to an end which means student concerns about grades and graduation, too many meetings crammed into the day, celebrations that sometimes feel like obligations, and this year we are all making sense of the strike and what it might mean for ourselves and our students. Speaking of students, the stress of the end of the year can be even greater for them as they deal with a host of transitions many of us moved on from years ago.

I once worked with a graduate student whose motto was “low stress-high success” and while I have never been able to live the slogan quite how he did, the merits of limiting stress in our lives are well documented and substantial.

This week’s tips for reducing stress are brought to you by the School of Nursing. They authored the attached sheet and want to encourage you to stop by their table outside Butte Station this week to pick up a stress kit. Please encourage your students to stop by as well.

 

Why Would I Ever Need to Know This?

Today’s tip is brought to you by Patti Horsley and Ellie Ertle from the Office of Civic Engagement.

StudeWhy-Picnts often struggle to connect course content outside the classroom. This can lead to uncomfortable classroom moments with questions like “why would I ever need to know this?” and “who cares about this?” CSU, Chico is a national leader at answering this question with civic engagement, our newest strategic priority.

Simply put, civic engagement is helping students engage with real problems and opportunities in the community and world in which they live. Chico State faculty have a rich history of civic engagement – whether it is working with community leaders to research and address local issues, teaching lessons in schools, or engaging students in service learning projects. In doing so, we create space for students to learn more about themselves as well as about how they can use their unique talents, and academic expertise to impact the world for the better.

Civic Engagement provides a host of benefits for students and faculty members. It fosters student growth by enhancing academic engagement and performance, increases the likelihood of graduation and positively impacts understanding of civic involvement, community roles, democracy and public life. With the new strategic priority, faculty can now connect their civic engagement work specifically to the service section of RTP.

Chico State values civic engagement and education for the public good. It may seem intimidating, but there are resources on campus to facilitate these opportunities for your courses. The Office of Civic Engagement (OCE) can help you incorporate civic engagement into your curriculum in a way that works for you, your class and your students. For more information, visit OCE’s website or email us at oce@csuchico.edu.

Check out these upcoming civic engagement opportunities:

  1. Civic Engagement Forum: Join us May 2nd, 10:30 am – 1:30 pm in Colusa 100 and dialogue with Chico State students as they showcase their civic engagement projects! This is a great opportunity to get ideas for your future civic engagement work!
  2. Know someone doing great work? Nominate them for the 2016 Civic Engagement Recognitions! OCE is proud to celebrate civic engagement achievements at Chico State by recognizing excellence in civic engagement among Chico State faculty, academic departments/ centers/programs, student organizations and community partners. For more information or to submit a nomination, please visit our website at www.csuchico.edu/civic/

Got feedback on this tip? Leave a comment or email it to us. Got an idea for a tip? Send it along.

Don’t forget to subscribe to the Caffeinated Cats podcast! The newest episode is on our new President. Link to it on itunesovercast, or follow the podcast on facebook.

 

Why aren’t they paying attention?

Today’s tip is about a tough issue without an easy answer: homelessness and food security. A study from the Chancellor’s Office brought some of those issues home to us. They are estimating up to 12% of students have insecure housing and up to 24% experience regular food insecurity. This is based on a limited preliminary study which is being continued. These numbers are shocking, but consistent with other studies, including some national work on Community College students. As many of the researchers note this is a difficult topic because of the stigma associated with housing and food insecurity students are often reluctant to self-report these problems.

This is a tough topic, but you may be wondering what it has to do with teaching. First and foremost, we care about our students as people and I would imagine most of us would want to help our students even if these problems did not intersect with learning. Unsurprisingly, they do intersect with learning. The aforementioned national study from Wisconsin’s HOPE lab reports “The data suggest that students feel quite compromised by inadequate living situations, and often struggle to focus on school.”

It is not your responsibility as an instructor to ask distracted students if they are hungry or offer up a room in your house. We can point them toward resources on and off campus.

Hungry Wildcat Logo

Our Wildcat Food Pantry is a great resource for students, but did you know they can also sign up for EBT in Kendall 110? Also, students should ask about veggie bucks at the Wednesday sales outside the BMU. I would suggest these resources for all students rather than just ones you think might be in need. The pantry should be a resource for some people, and other students might be in a position to donate. In any case, the emerging research on this topic should give us pause as we are often quick to judge our students. That distracted look or forgotten assignment may be the result of dire circumstances outside their control. 

Got an idea for a tip or feedback about this one? Don’t hesitate to send it to us. We are developing a wordpress site (under construction) to showcase teaching tips and your great ideas.

Don’t forget to subscribe to the Caffeinated Cats podcast! The newest episode is on Greek life at Chico. Link to it on itunessoundcloud, or follow the podcast on facebook.

 

What did i miss?

  • Dear Professor, I cannot be in class on Tuesday night because I am rushing a Greek organization and we have an event.
  • Hello teacher, I need to reschedule my presentation on Monday because I will be out of town for an athletic competition.
  • Hi, did we do anything in class on Thursday? I was sick.

It is that time of year when you are probably being inundated with requests to adjust your schedule or help a student make up for lost time. Some of you are reading your email and thinking “Do I have to? Unsurprisingly this issue is complicated, but my office has been doing a little legwork to help faculty deal with attendance issues in higher education.

The first and most important thing to remember is that the vast majority of students who miss class do so because of legitimate reasons and are looking to get a high quality education while balancing other commitments. There are students who are looking to take advantage of your willingness to accommodate, but they are an exception rather than a rule. First, let’s sift through the reasons students miss class and what we can do to accommodate.

Greek Life: Most fraternity/sorority events take place in the evening hours after most classes have concluded, but not always. Even so, many of us teach in the evenings and must resolve requests to miss class. Fraternity and Sorority Affairs Program Coordinator Malcom McLemore was unequivocal when he told me “We do not encourage or imply that missing class for any event is beneficial.” I appreciated his sharp response. Rescheduling class around social events sends an odd message to both Greek life students and other students in the class that is inconsistent with the academic mission of the University.

Athletics: Chico State is the proud sponsor of a great many intercollegiate student athletes and their success is a point of pride for many of us. Sometimes participation requires travel that results in missed classes. In a conversation with Faculty Athletic Representative Jim Morgan I learned a couple things about how the programs negotiate this conflict. First, these problems with intercollegiate schedules are predictable and students are encouraged to find course schedules that line up well with their athletic schedules. Second, as a faculty member you should receive a letter with a roster, and a schedule from the student at the start of the semester. Third, ultimately the decision resides with the faculty member as to what constitutes a sensible accommodation.

Health: We all get sick and most of us are quite accommodating when students have physical or mental health issues that prevent them from coming to class. Health Center Director Deborah Stewart mentioned a few things in our conversation that faculty members should keep in mind. First, a sick student is often also a stressed student who is worried about missing class time. Second, if the Health Center is unable to see a patient they may still issue a note recording the “student reported being sick” but this is not necessarily validation of illness. Whether accommodations are made ultimately resides with the faculty member. One thing to keep in mind if you take a hard line on attendance, do you really want a classroom full of sick students?

Students also miss class for other reasons from bereavement to forgetfulness. It is impossible to have course policies that govern all these areas, but I would encourage you to insert language into your syllabus about sensible accommodations.

Got an idea for a tip? Send it my way!

 

Are we there yet?

Thanksgiving break is so close you can taste it, and the students can too. This can be a difficult week for substantive instruction as you are probably inundated with emails like “my mom booked a flight for me six months ago and I need to leave town on Wednesday” or “why are you giving an exam this week? Can I take it online?”

Students have lives and we don’t want to be dismissive of them, but how do we balance that with the needs of our other students and our schedules?

I have usually taken a hard line with issues like this, and I have encouraged other instructors to do the same. This week is a scheduled school week and it should be treated as such. If students miss an exam this week then it is the same as if they miss it in the 2nd week of the semester. Some instructors may feel the need to be more flexible, and at times I have been as well.

Regardless, I would encourage you to be clear. Set expectations early in the week or even earlier in the semester about your adherence to the course calendar and expectations for student involvement. Then when you need to break some bad news to a student, it has some context. Nothing softens the blow of bad news like a healthy dose of “I told you so.” Maybe not, but it is still a best practice to keep everyone informed.

Looking for inspiration over break? Don’t forget about our 20 minute mentor subscription.

STEP 1: Activate your 20 Minute Mentor Commons subscription

  1. Go to www.magnapubs.com/sitelicense/registration.html?v=magna61715
  2. Enter information in each of the required fields.  In the Authorization Code box, enter our group Authorization Code CSUCHICO587and click Submit

Please note: entering the Authorization Code is done only once.

STEP 2: Access the 20 Minute Mentor Commons library

  1. Go to www.magnapubs.com/profile
  2. Enter your email address & password & click Submit. If you do not know or remember your account password, use “Forget your password?” to reset it.
  3. On the left side of the screen, under My Account, My Online Access, select Subscriptions. The online content you have access to will be listed to the right. Click the appropriate link to view the content.

Access to 20 Minute Mentor Commons is also available to registered members at www.mentorcommons.com.

Come visit us in MLIB 458 we are open 8-5 five days a week and have space for you to spread out and do work.

Have a great break!