You will never believe who…

Stopped by the Faculty Grading Oasis during finals week and finished all their grading—You! Come see us during finals week for open space, coffee, snacks, tech support from TLP, and assistance (FERPA compliant) from our student staff.

It is that time of year. Grading is piling up, and each piece of click-bait you see looks more enticing as you try and avoid the regular task of finishing your grading. With that in mind, our “reasons to visit” the Grading Oasis is inspired by the click-bait you should avoid:

  1. Genius uses this one weird trickto finish all their grading. Seriously, going somewhere new and having some help makes a difference.
  2. You won’t believe what this instructor looks like nowhappy once they have come by the Grading Oasis for coffee and snacks. We buy, and you thrive.
  3. Healthy professors do this one thing to stay youngthey get help with their grading. Our students help with blinded grading, alphabetizing, anything FERPA allows them to assist with. TLP help is two doors away!
  4. Warren Buffet is warning teachers not toprocrastinate on finishing grading. Avoid the artificial extension of your classwork into the summer by doing it soon.
  5. Shocking photos of polar bear attacks-okay I don’t have a tie in for this one, I just like polar bear videos.

Grading Oasis (4)

 

The call for the 23rd annual CELT conference is live! Submit an abstract today to change the world tomorrow—or maybe in October.

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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.

Get it Done!

Many of us will do anything to avoid grading. If you have a to-do list you need to get through and avoiding grading is that push you need to clean the gutters, finish your shopping, or clean the grout in your bathroom please disregard this email. If you are someone who actually wants to get your grading done read on!

The Faculty Grading Oasis is open and we want to help you finish your grading. Here is what we have to offer.

grading-oasis

  1. Fresh coffee, creamer, tea, and snacks.
  2. Space away from your office where no one will knock on your door, and you can get grading done.
  3. Help from our student staff Monday-Thursday 8-5. They can alphabetize exams, grade exams with direction (as long as the student name is hidden), and help with clerical tasks.
  4. Accountability from each other and from admin extraordinaire Michelle Wysocki, who comes in to MLIB 459 to peer at you with her judging eyes if you are off task.

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 third episode of the Fall is out now! Mary, Tracy, and I explore athletics at Chico and beyond in the aptly titled “locker room talk.” Link to it on soundclouditunesovercast, or follow the podcast on facebook.

Use this one weird trick to finish all your grading in one day!

Today’s tip is a three-parter, and while I lack the magic solution you may have craved when you opened this email, there is a lesson to be learned; keep reading to find out!

Part One: Audience analysis, perspective taking, teaching empathy—these are all variations on similar teaching practices that cut across all disciplines. In a recent Teaching in Higher Ed podcast about this topic I was struck by one particular example. One of the guests who teaches Android application development dramatically improved his class by incorporating perspective taking and directing his students to start from the consumer perspective and design the application around their needs rather than starting with the technology. It was a powerful example because it illustrated to me the extreme utility of perspective taking, regardless of discipline. In this forum I have often urged you to think about things from the perspective of your students; this is a little different as we are trying to get our students to engage in that same practice. This practice is powerful because it is practical and personally transformative. In a world increasingly customized to our own perspectives and tastes it is easy to assume other people will adjust to us, when in reality we have to start by understanding them.

Part Two: Friday is the deadline for our Spring Programming including Faculty Learning Communities for: Write your article in 12 weeks, We are a Hispanic Serving Institution, Now What?, Improve Your Teaching Practice, Quality Online Learning and Teaching, and the Leadership Initiative. Make Spring a great semester, and get involved with a rewarding community.

Part Three: The Faculty Grading Oasis is as close to “one weird trick” as you are going to get and we will be in full effect during finals week. See the flyer below for details.

grading-oasis-fall-2016-6

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 third episode of the Fall is out now! Mary, Tracy, and I explore athletics at Chico and beyond in the aptly titled “locker room talk.” Link to it on soundclouditunesovercast, or follow the podcast on facebook.

Get by with a little help from your friends

Get by with a little help from your friends at Faculty Development this week. Maybe you don’t consider us friends, “colleagues” maybe? How about “acquaintances with snacks”?

This week we are running the Faculty Grading Oasis in MLIB 458 and we would love to see you in the office. We offer fresh coffee, snacks, a place outside your normal office, and students to assist you with grading/clerical tasks. Our schedule this week is:

Tuesday Open 8-12, 1-5, Student help 1-5

Wednesday Open 8-5, Student help 8-10:30, 11-5

Thursday Open 8-2, Student help 8-2

Friday Open 8-11:30, Student help 8-11 (we are working on the afternoon schedule)

Without further procrastination, your top 10 reasons for visiting the faculty grading oasis (revised from Fall).

  1. Students studying on the 4th floor are more stressed than you are, feel better by proxy.
  2. No one knocks on our door asking to redo an assignment from early February.
  3. Student workers to help with basic tasks like alphabetizing (remember to be FERPA compliant).
  4. We have dedicated dual monitor workstations you can use and print from. They are probably newer than the post-war ENIAC surplus machine you are reading this on.
  5. Get away from that judgy colleague who already has all their grading done.
  6. Experience one of the only offices on campus where control of the thermostat is possible.
  7. Our office has windows, you know the magical devices that allow light to come in.
  8. We are closer to Common Grounds than where you normally work.
  9. Our office is now is now 173 4 days since our last Chupacabra attack. You will probably possibly be safe.
  10. Have you ever seen the library vaccum Zamboni machine? Need I say more?

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

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Make a Habit of it

Finals are just around the corner and many of us are sprinting/struggling to the finish line. In many courses grading is the thing standing between us and a change of pace during the summer. There have probably been semesters when you moved through grading efficiently and others when you are wondering how serious those requirements on timely grade entry from the Office of the Registrar really are. Those different experiences were probably driven by different habits. Take a minute to think of your best and worst grading habits.

My best habit has always been preparation. This was the time in the semester when I would be motivated to focus in the evenings and clear my schedule of lingering grading, manuscripts in need of attention, and other projects. This allowed me to focus on grading final papers or exams when they came in without having other work to do. When I executed well I would be done with grading on Wednesday of final exam week. My worst habit was the mini-reward. I would be proud of myself for grading one or two papers and take a minute to read ESPN or check facebook, then that minute turned into 10, then I needed a cup of coffee, soon 30 minutes had passed without additional progress.

Despite commonly held beliefs, you do not have enough time to create a new habit before final exams and papers come in, but you do have time to get started. The least we should do is commit to being conscientious of our habits so we can make note for the future. This can be a challenge as habits, by their nature, are often automatic.

This tip was inspired by one of my better habits, listening to the Teaching in H
igher Ed podcast by Bonni Stachowiak and her episode on habits.

grading effectively podcast quote
Teaching in Higher Ed podcast

Her guest Natalie Houston is a regular contributor to the Chronicle and said something
that hit home for me, “habits save us tremendoustime and energy, but they can also lead us to doing a lot of things mindlessly.” It made me think about the things I do mindlessly which are not that productive.

Got feedback on this tip? A bad habit to disclose? 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 food on and off campus. Link to it on soundclouditunesovercast, or follow the podcast on facebook.

 

But I really deserve an A

I have a tortured relationship with grade appeals. I admire the investment of students in their education. It takes courage to walk into an office hour and make a case for a higher grade to what may be an unreceptive audience. Whether it is the first office hour visit of the semester or the 100th, I appreciate a student who is willing to advocate for themselves. I also dread every one of these conversations where students sometimes pry into the minutia of assignments I put behind me months ago.

Over time I have developed some strategies for dealing with this that I have shared earlier. A recent article from Faculty Focus shed light on a different way to deal with these conversations, through rubrics. The argument is relatively simple: greater clarity in the grading process decreases complaints and can increase student performance. It can also prevent you from getting sued. A student literally sued University of Massachusetts, Amherst over a passing, but apparently unsatisfactory grade in 2007. He lost the case and it is extreme, but it does highlight the commitment of some students to the grades they feel they deserve.

There are other benefits to more systematized grading as well. A 2010 study by Bickes and Schim revealed rubrics as an effective way to curb grade inflation in a nursing program by standardizing grading practices across sections. I have always found the process of creating rubrics instructive as it forces me to consider the relative value of components of an assignment. Rubrics are not the answer to all your problems, but they do offer some real benefits in the short and long term.

Looking for time to form a Faculty Learning Community and develop some program rubrics? As luck would have it, we are in the window for Learning Enhancement Grants and I encourage you to apply for any worthy idea.

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 our new President. Link to it on itunesovercast, or follow the podcast on facebook.

*  Bickes, J. T. & Schim, S. M. (2010). Righting writing: Strategies for improving nursing student papers. International Journal of Nursing Education Scholarship, 7, 1-11. doi: 10.2202/1548-923X.1964

 

I am only X Points away from a higher grade

Sometimes assigning grades can be the most unpleasant part of the semester. Attaching summative value to a semester’s worth of work can seem reductive and dismissive of the growth and learning we see in our students. My least favorite part of the grading process has always been the request to “bump” grades based on effort, proximity to another letter grade, or an impassioned plea. In most of my courses I have go so far as to issue a Blackboaearning gradesrd announcement making it clear grades are not raised OR lowered based on criteria extraneous to the syllabus.I was also eager to use the “I don’t give grades, you earned them” zinger whenever possible. My justifications were always clear to me.

  1. Grade breakdowns along the guidelines specified in the syllabus are the fairest way to deliver grades. Anything else is unpredictable.
  2. If I were to bump grades up, students have to be ready for me to bump them down for similarly arbitrary reasons, otherwise the practice leads to grade inflation.
  3. Grades are a product of work and performance. If students want better grades, they need to perform better.

This may not be the perspective you take when assigning letter grades at the end of the semester. You may have even better reasons for your policies. My advice is to make whatever grading policy you have clear to your students. If you move grades up and down based on some additional criteria at the end of the semester, let your students know in advance. If grades follow a strict statistical model, make sure it is in the syllabus. We don’t owe our students good grades, but we do owe them transparency and honesty in the process.

Top 10 reasons to come to the Faculty Grading Oasis (open 8-5) in MLIB 458

  1. Get out of your office…where the walls are closing in on you.
  2. No one knocks on the door asking where the bathroom is.
  3. Free coffee and treats.
  4. Student help if you need exams alphabetized or data entered (as long as we are FERPA compliant).
  5. Bring one thing and focus on it rather than getting distracted at home or your office.
  6. Experience the magic of the 4th floor of the library.
  7. You are unlikely to run into that colleague who roams the hallway, complaining about how much grading they have to do.
  8. We are closer to Common Grounds than where you normally work.
  9. Our office is now is now 173 days since our last Chupacabra attack. You will probably be safe.
  10. We control our thermostat.

 

Grading, does it ever stop?

thanksgiving breakThanksgiving break has always been my time to catch up and get ready for the close of the semester. For most of us, that can only mean one thing–grading. I have used turn-it-in for years to avoid dragging hundreds of pages of paper with me everywhere and as a tool to encourage academic honesty. A few years ago I found myself typing the same comments over-and-over again “this sentence does not make any sense, try reading it out loud to yourself” or “this is great analysis, but it does not fit well with the rest of the paper” and so on. My fingers were getting tired and so was my brain.

This was about the time turn-it-in started supporting audio feedback. I decided to take a chance and give it a try. Then I explored the different options within the platform: pre-loaded comments to drag and drop onto digital papers, embedded rubrics for easy grading, and a wide variety of other options. It turns out there are built in options to grade a wide variety of assignments from calculus equations to creative writing with feedback from peers. There is also local support through TLP to help get you started. I found the initial investment in time to set-up the remarks for each assignment substantial, but worth it. Eventually, I ended up saving tons to time and the students loved the audio feedback as it contained more information than written feedback.

This is not a great solution for everyone, but the take away from this experience for me was not “turn-it-in is amazing!” Instead, I realized investing in the long-term and learning a few new tools can save you time and enhance the student experience. It can be worth it, even when you are at your busiest.

Looking for inspiration? 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 while school is in session and have space for you to spread out and do work.

 

Put yourself in their shoes

Earlier this semester I was in a webinar about a project I was already pretty familiar with. I had participated in a similar program a few years ago and had done some reading in advance. I was excited to learn more about the program and sat down with the best of intentions.

Ten minutes in, I was completely lost. There were acronyms, complex questions, nuances, and personal histories I was completely unfamiliar with. I was so lost, I got bored. I made sure my webcam was not on and pointed my browser to espn.com to familiarize myself with the 49ers 49ers depth chart. 35 minutes later the webinar had ended and I had gained almost nothing. I started to do some catch-up reading to see if I could be less lost the next time there was a webinar, and then something occurred to me, I was a novice learner again.

This is the experience many students have in our classes. They are well intentioned, ambitious, interested in the subject matter, and overwhelmed by what we are talking about. The content seems obvious to us, key concepts jump off the page and are elaborated with ease for us, but not for them.

This process does not have to remain a mystery. There are several things you can do in and out of class to transition your class from novice learner status.

  1. Provide them with a preview of one or two main concepts from a class period, then reference them, then repeat them at the end. The goal is not memorization, it is providing them with a framework for understanding.
  2. Check in with them during class. Break up an activity or a lecture to re-center a conversation on a framework you find useful.
  3. Engage in perspective taking. Imagine (with help from them) encountering the material for the first time, what would you think?

A little outside reading never hurt. Check out “The Journey to High Level Performance: Using Knowledge on the Novice-Expert Trajectory to Enhance Higher Education Teaching” by Moore, O’Neil, & Barrett from The Changing Roles and Identities of Teachers and Learners in Higher Education as a good topic primer.

Just remember, every change comes with a cost. With increased attention on the course material, how will your students keep up on the 49ers?