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Jan 8 / otl

Helping Students Learn Canvas

You have set up your course in Canvas and are ready for the semester to start. You may have some questions lingering in the back of your mind: 

How will my students learn Canvas?  

 When students log in to Canvas, they will be prompted to follow a link to self-enroll in the CANVAS Student Training Course to get to know how to use CANVAS. The course has three modules:

  • Module 1: gives an overview of the learning management system and also reviews Canvas’ mobile application.
  • Module 2: reviews a few commonly used tools: Discussions, Assignments, Quizzes and Grades.
  • Module 3: reviews Office 365 and Respondus LockDown Browser / LockDown Monitor.

What can I do as an instructor to motivate my students to take the course?

You can assign the course to students by providing a link to the course. Furthermore, you can make this a required, graded assignment, by assigning a few points to the course to motivate students to take the course.

Canvas Assignment for Students

Canvas Assignment for Students

The assignment can be found in the Canvas Commons area. From the Global Navigation Menu, in Canvas, click Commons :

  1. Select Assignment
  2. Then, enter Badges
  3. The following should appear:

To load the assignment into your course, please follow these instructions.

Additionally, consultants in the Office for Teaching and Learning (OTL) are available to meet with you in person, by phone, or virtual meeting spaces (e.g., Skype) to discuss strategies for helping students learn Canvas. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call the OTL at 313-577-0001 or email OTL@wayne.edu.

Dec 14 / otl

New Class for Graduate Students Launching in Winter 2018: Intro to College Teaching

Are you a GTA at WSU and the thought of having to teach makes you panic? Are you overwhelmed when you start putting together your syllabus and have no idea what “learning outcomes” are?Graduate Teaching Assistants sharing their course design

Panic no more – we can help!

The Office of Teaching and Learning (OTL) and the Graduate School are pleased to announce an introductory class on college teaching for graduate students next winter semester:

GS 7900 Introduction to College Teaching and Learning. The one-credit class will be taught in a hybrid format – both in-person and online – and provides an introduction to the principles of college teaching through an examination of proven methods for teaching effectively. The class offers opportunities for the development and improvement of participants’ instructional skills from both a theoretical and a practice-based understanding of excellence in teaching.

Graduate Teaching Assistants sharing their course design. Topics include:

  • Designing your class – from syllabus to final exam:
    What learning outcomes should be included when designing a new class? What framework should be applied to design lessons that reflect the course’s learning objectives?
  • Active learning and assessments:
    What evidence-based teaching methods can I use to enhance my students’ learning in my classroom? How do I design exams and other assessments that are effective and align with my learning outcomes?
  • Technology:
    How can I successfully incorporate educational technologies in the classroom? What are some fun tools I can use in class that support student learning?Register Today for GS 7900: Introduction to College Teaching and Learning
  • Career development:
    What should be included in my diversity statement, teaching philosophy, and teaching portfolio?

We especially encourage new GTAs who have never taught and PhD’s that are preparing to enter the job market to take this class. Graduate students from all disciplines are welcome!

Spots are limited – register today!

 

Sep 15 / otl

Teaching Handbook

Are you looking to incorporate some new teaching and learning strategies to help you be at your best as a teacher? Is your goal to engage students and build a strong community of learners regardless of the environment – traditional, hybrid or online – in which you are teaching? The Office for Teaching and Learning (OTL) has designed the Teaching Handbook, an online resource meant to help all Wayne State University (WSU) instructors open the conversation about course design, student-centered teaching methods, and assessment.

For example, if your goal is use evidence based teaching methods to engage students, the Student-Centered Classrooms section of the Teaching Handbook will help you get started by providing suggestions for activities for the first day of class and examples of evidence-based teaching methods, such as think-pair-share, one-minute papers, or effective use of clickers. The Leading Discussions sub-section lists some of the benefits of leading discussions in a classroom, provides some strategies for implementing discussion, and includes resources for improving classroom discussions. Additionally, the sub-section Using Groups to Enhance Student Learning provides guidance on how to support students’ learning through groups and a video on how one WSU professor uses groups to enhance learning. Lastly, instructors can save time and help students make the best use of their time by creating clear instructions on the assignments. The Making Assignments Clear sub-section offers concrete strategies for designing clear assignments such as describe the purpose of the assignment, break instruction into steps, provide need-to-know information rather that nice-to-know, and use a rubric. Clear assignments will help students make the best of each assignment, and have an overall better experience in the course.

The Teaching Handbook is a great place to get ideas and find resources, but it is only the beginning. Consultants in the OTL are available to meet with you in person, by phone, or virtual meeting spaces (e.g., Skype or Blackboard Collaborate Ultra) to further discuss student-centered teaching methods and any of the other topics found in the Teaching Handbook. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call the OTL at 313-577-0001 or email OTL@wayne.edu.

Have you visited the Teaching Handbook? What is your favorite student-centered strategy that you found? Use the comments section below to let us know how you have incorporated student-centered strategies in your course.

Apr 12 / otl

Teach Students How to Learn

Dr. Saundra McGuire presenting to WSU faculty and staff

Dr. Saundra McGuire presenting to WSU faculty and staff

Dr. Saundra McGuire, the Director Emerita of the Center for Academic Success and retired Assistant Vice Chancellor and Professor of Chemistry at Louisiana State University (LSU) was our featured speaker on Tuesday, March 28th 2017.  The campus wide forum on teaching and learning was co-hosted by the Office for Teaching and Learning and the Wayne State University (WSU) National Science Foundation – funded WIDER/ SSTEPS Grant Program. As a part of this forum, Provost Keith Whitfield addressed participants on the importance of meeting students where they are, emphasized that what may have worked 10 years ago may no longer be sufficient and that new strategies are called for in today’s classrooms. Dr. McGuire engaged a diverse audience of over one hundred and fifty Wayne State faculty, senior academic leaders, and academic staff members on the topic of engaging students in their learning. McGuire, author of Teach Students How to Learn, led participants through a series of highly interactive exercises in a workshop that exemplified how the use of simple learning strategies, such as introducing students to the study cycle and Bloom’s taxonomy, can significantly improve students’ academic success.

Dr. Saundra McGuire presenting to WSU faculty and staff

Dr. Saundra McGuire presenting to WSU faculty and staff

As a follow up to Dr. McGuire’s presentation, we have included several tips and strategies suggested by Dr. McGuire to help students acquire simple, effective learning strategies:

  • Emphasize that students’ actions, not their intelligence, will determine their success
  • Establish high expectations and show students how to meet those expectation on the first day of class
  • Provide early opportunity for success so that students can build confidence in their ability to excel in the course
  • Assign students real0world tasks to help them develop a senses of belonging to the larger university community
  • Clearly articulate assignment expectations to students and provide rubrics and examples as possible

To access the presentation used by Dr. McGuire, click here (PDF) or here (PowerPoint).

Faculty and staff engaged in Dr. Saundra McGuire's presentation

Faculty and staff engaged in Dr. Saundra McGuire’s presentation

Additionally, consultants in the Office for Teaching and Learning (OTL) are available to meet with you in person, by phone, or virtual meeting spaces (e.g., Skype or Blackboard Collaborate) to discuss strategies for helping students how to learn. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call the OTL at 313-577-0001 or email OTL@wayne.edu.

Use the comment section below to let us know what tip and strategies you have found most useful when you anticipate needing to respond to a range of student readiness in a course!

 

McGuire, S.Y. (2015). Teach Students How to Learn. Sterling, VA: Stylus.

 

 

 

Feb 6 / Carl Sorgen

Teaching a Range of Academic Readiness

How can you turn the challenge of teaching students with a wide range of academic readiness into an opportunity?

Lecture Course

Connect learning to students’ prior knowledge, experiences, and interests.  Helping students to make meaningful connections with what they already know provides a foundation on which to build new knowledge and skills. They are more likely to apply the course content in meaningful ways.

Vary your assessments.  If possible, give students choices in how they demonstrate their mastery of the course content where appropriate.  Allow students to submit their assignment as a blog post, a journal entry, an experiment, a short video, an article, a poster, to name just a few options. Through this type of assessment students have more flexibility to work on their interests and needs, and then share their findings with the group.

Vary your instructional strategies.  Some instructors on campus have found it beneficial to incorporate more active learning strategies to effectively teach students with different academic readiness. For example, project-based learning helps students to deepen their understanding of a topic while working interdependently with peers as a part of a small group.

Consultants in the Office for Teaching and Learning are available to meet with you in person, by phone, or virtual meeting spaces (e.g., Skype or Blackboard Collaborate) to discuss strategies for teaching students with a range of academic readiness. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call the OTL at 313-577-0001 or email OTL@wayne.edu.

Use the comment section below to let us know what strategies you have found most useful when you anticipate needing to respond to a range of student readiness in a course!

Jan 19 / Carl Sorgen

Facilitating Hot Moments in the Classroom

As educators, having difficult conversations in the classroom can be a transformative component of teaching and learning that can help students grow. For many students, university life brings experience that can expose them to multiple points of view and peers from many different backgrounds. While a diversity of ideas and people is a central attribute of the Wayne State University experience, instructors may value some tips on how to facilitate “hot moments” in the classroom.  These strategies can help instructors approach difficult topics in a manner productive for everyone.

 

What helps?

  • Get to know your students and help them get to know each other before taking on a controversial topic. This will also allow you to anticipate potential issues and plan accordingly.
  • Establish your expectations for the classroom climate by clarifying appropriate classroom behaviors. For example, with your students, create discussion guidelines (e.g., don’t shout, raise your hand, let people finish their thoughts, don’t hog air time, etc.).
  • Confront the potential for conflict in a direct way: students know when you are honest.
  • Link the discussion topics to learning outcome goals related to your course / discipline and make sure this link is transparent to students.
  • Actively facilitate the discussion by using multiple methods to make sure everyone has a chance to form and express their perspectives (whether they talk, or not). Use brief writing exercises, voluntary dyad discussion partners, etc.  Normalize the experience that students may feel strongly and differently about the topic. If you feel comfortable, gentle humor can help re-center a heated discussion, as that will give students a chance to stop and reflect. Strive to remain personally neutral and play devil’s advocate to facilitate multiple points of view.
  • Ask supporting questions to help students explain their opinion, and encourage students to clarify their point of view.
  • After class discussion, follow up with students to make sure they got the right take-aways.

 

Faculty Support:

To hear a podcast from faculty colleagues around the country sharing strategies they use in the classroom to make discussions of difficult topics helpful and productive, click here.

The Office for Teaching and Learning (OTL) staff is available to consult with instructors on teaching strategies and learning-related outcomes associated with addressing sensitive and emotionally charged issues when these emerge in the classroom in either anticipated or unplanned ways. We are available in person, by phone, or virtual meeting spaces (e.g., Skype or Blackboard Collaborate).  To schedule an individual consultation, click here or call (313) 577-0001.

Our colleagues in the Center for Research on Learning and Teaching (CRLT) at the University of Michigan have prepared a useful resource, Responding to Difficult Moments. Should you decide to invite a discussion, it may help to review these guidelines for difficult topics.

Additionally, Lee Warren, from the Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning at Harvard University, describes a series of concrete strategies instructors can implement to facilitate learning in the midst of emotionally charged topics in Managing Hot Moments in the Classroom.

 

 

Dec 5 / Carl Sorgen

WIDER Steering Committee Accepting Proposals for 2017 SSTEP Fellows

A team of faculty consisting of Andrew Feig (Chemistry), Peter Hoffmann (Physics), Robert Bruner (Mathematics), Karen Myhr (Biology), and Mathew Ouellett (Associate Provost and Director of the Office for Teaching and Learning) have been awarded a series of NSF grants to study and improve STEM education at Wayne State.  The project began with WIDER (Widening Implementation and Dissemination of Evidence-Based Reforms) and is continued with funding from the NSF IUSE (Improving Undergraduate STEM Education) program.  This program has funded a five-year project, titled “Student Success Through Evidence-based Pedagogies” (SSTEP).  The SSTEP grant is designed to fund a range of competitive, department-based awards of up to $100,000 supporting faculty-driven course reform projects.

 

In 2016, four teams of faculty were awarded SSTEP funding for their course reform projects.  These projects are:

  • Student-student and student-instructor interaction intensive teaching strategies for two fundamental proof-based mathematics courses. This project is utilizing group work and project-based learning to improve student learning and experience in two upper-level courses in the Department of Mathematics.
  • Evidence-based course sequence in “Physics for the Life Sciences.” Based in the Physics and Astronomy Department, this project includes a redesign of the curriculum and implementation of Peer Instruction in a sequence of introductory Physics classes for life science majors.
  • Effective Mathematics INstruction for lEarning aNd Teaching (EMINENT). EMINENT is reforming a sequence of math classes for pre-service K-12 teachers, including the use of group work and journaling.  This project is a collaboration between the Wayne State Departments of Mathematics and Mathematics Education and Henry Ford College Mathematics Education.
  • Student-initiated learning in engineering. This project has incorporated a team-based project in an introductory course in the College of Engineering, demonstrating real-life application of the coding skills learned in this course.

 

The WIDER Steering Committee is now accepting proposals for faculty-driven course reform projects for 2017.  Faculty in STEM departments are invited to submit proposals for course reform projects leading to the implementation of evidence-based practices and learner-centered classroom experiences.  Preference will be given to developmental and foundational courses for STEM majors, though upper-division classes impacting degree completion will also be considered.

 

Two information sessions will be held for faculty to ask questions about their proposals and the review process.  Additionally, questions can be directed to the PI, Andrew Feig (afeig@chem.wayne.edu).  The information sessions will be held:

  • December 6, 2016 at 10 AM, Maccabees Building, Conference Room A
  • January 5, 2017 at 1 PM, Purdy/Kresge Teaching Commons, Room 150

 

The request for proposals can be found here.  Proposals are due February 8, 2017.

 

Nov 15 / Carl Sorgen

Teaching and Learning Post-Election: OTL Resources for Instructors

As members of the Wayne State University community continue to absorb and grapple with understanding the implications of the presidential election, the Office for Teaching and Learning (OTL) has prepared some resource materials for instructors.

As President Wilson recently said, “…whether we agree or disagree with the election outcome, we must come together for the sake of our students, our university and our community.” At the OTL we have been hearing from instructors seeking guidance and resources on how to talk with their students in this post-election time. Of course, such strategies depend on many factors and you may or may not choose to engage your students in conversation about the election results. In either case, we hope the following will prove helpful.

Huston and DiPietro (2007) suggest that instructors’ responses need not be complicated, time-intensive, or personalized for students to perceive them as helpful. They offer the following strategies as useful to consider:

  • Be yourself. Students appreciate an instructor who responds in a unique and humane way. Faculty should not feel pressured to homogenize their responses or have the perfect answer.
  • Acknowledge that members of the class may quite possibly have a direct relationship with the current event (and different perspectives on what the election may mean personally, to their families, to their communities, and to the country).
  • Consider holding a minute of silent reflection at the beginning of class.
  • Be self-reflective yet neutral. Students unsure of how to relate to events may benefit from seeing a mentor model open-ended reflection and self-control.
  • Understand that this election might resonate with prior experiences with authorities and social institutions (both in our own life and in our students’ lives).
  • Cognitive research informs us that working memory capacity is reduced during times of enhanced stress, making students less capable of focusing and learning new material:
    • Consider supporting anxious students by offering to grant an extension on current assignments for those who request it.
    • Offer to review course material again in a future class session in case students are preoccupied or distracted.
  • Consider posting campus resources for students on your course Blackboard site. A simple acknowledgement that this may be a stressful time and that seeking formal and / or informal support in addition to friends and family can be genuinely helpful.

 

Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS)

(313) 577-3398

552 Student Center

 

Office of Multicultural Student Engagement (OMSE)

(313) 577-2408

799 Student Center

 

Office of Diversity and Inclusion

(313) 577-2200

4135 Faculty Administration Building

 

Dean of Students Office

(313) 577-1010

301 Student Center

 

Consider the tools of your discipline as the point of entry. Faculty responses that required high levels of effort were also viewed as helpful, so those who wish to use the lens of their discipline to examine the events and possible future outcomes surrounding this election are encouraged to do so. Such strategies might include journal writing, listening to a story that addresses relevant themes, reading selected poems, and other activities that allow students to address the events (Huston & DiPietro, 2007).

 

Faculty Support:

The Office for Teaching and Learning (OTL) staff is available to consult with instructors on teaching strategies and learning-related outcomes associated with addressing sensitive and emotionally charged issues when these emerge in the classroom in either anticipated or unplanned ways. We are available in person, by phone, or virtual meeting spaces (e.g., Skype or Blackboard Collaborate).  To schedule an individual consultation, click here or call (313) 577-0001.

Our colleagues in the Center for Research on Learning and Teaching (CRLT) at the University of Michigan have prepared a useful resource, Returning to the Classroom After the Election, as well. Should you decide to invite a discussion, it may help to review these guidelines for difficult topics.

Additionally, Lee Warren, from the Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning at Harvard University, describes a series of concrete strategies instructors can implement to facilitate learning in the midst of emotionally charged topics in Managing Hot Moments in the Classroom.

 

Sometimes, more comprehensive social and psychological support is warranted. Additional resources include:

 

Sep 7 / Carl Sorgen

Teaching through Technological Outages

How do you keep your classes moving ahead when technology isn’t cooperating?

 

The beginning of the semester can present technological challenges under the best circumstances.  Recently, faculty and students have experienced ongoing issues with accessing Blackboard, the WSU learning management system.  During this time of fluctuating access, consider other means to communicate with your students. For example, some instructors on campus have found email and the Academica stream helpful substitutes.

 

Here are some suggestions:

  • Remind students that you are available to them (in person, by phone, via Skype, or email). Highlight your contact information and office hours.   Assuring your students that they can still reach you will make them feel more connected to their course and you during a time of technological outages.
  • Reassure students that they are not the only ones experiencing these issues; the situation is campus wide and the university is doing everything possible to remedy it.
  • Email a copy of the syllabus, related course materials, and information on upcoming assignments so they have an electronic copy on hand until they have Blackboard access again. From there, they can choose what to print and what to save on their computer or in email.

 

You may also want to consider being flexible with your current deadlines.

  • For example, you could email your students to let them know you are extending the due date of current assignments because of the technology glitch.
  • Consider allowing students to submit assignments by email, via OneDrive, or by sharing a Google Doc.
  • If pertinent to your course, allow students multiple attempts on assignments and avoid checking “Forced Completion,” as students may not be able to complete assignments or tests if a technical glitch occurs.

 

As always, the Office for Teaching and Learning (OTL) and Computing & Information Technology (C&IT) are here to assist you.  We are happy to think creatively with you to ensure a successful experience for students and instructors.

 

Have you found strategies that are working well for you and your students? Share your ideas in the comments.

Aug 24 / Carl Sorgen

Do you have a strategy for learning students’ names?

If you want your students to be active participants in their learning over the course of the semester, then on the very first day, set an example and engage them in an active learning activity!

Many times students in your classes won’t know each other.  To create opportunities for peer learning, begin with getting to know each other’s names.  Dedicate time during the first class to learn students’ names and to help them learn each other’s names. Creating a sense of community among students fosters learning both inside and outside of the classroom.  Here are some strategies for learning students’ names in courses of various sizes.

 

For classes with about 40 or fewer students

Have the students move their desks in a circle so everyone can see each other.  Ask students to say an adjective that describe them and then state their preferred name.  The adjective should start with the same sound as their name (e.g., “Charismatic Carl” or “Shy Shonda”).  Start with the person on your left and go around the circle.   Here’s the catch; have the next person in the circle repeat all of the previous adjectives and names.  The last person should be you.  It can be challenging, but hearing the names repeated multiple times and associating an adjective with each individual will help solidify the names for you as well as all of your students.

Tip: This isn’t a test!  Don’t be shy about helping each other as you go around the room.

Acknowledge that there is some swirl during the beginning of the semester and students will continue to come and go for the first few weeks.  During this time, use a couple of minutes at the beginning of each class session for new students to introduce themselves.  This communicates a desire to create an inclusive learning environment where they’re not just another number. 

 

For larger class settings

  • When students ask a question, have them say their name first.
  • Use a seating chart.
  • Have students make name cards that they place in front of them.
  • Use a class list to randomly call on students.
  • Ask students to turn to their left and right (forming a small group of three) and introduce themselves.

Tip: Although it can be difficult to learn every person’s name in large classes, even trying with some success has an impact on students.

At the appropriate time, ask students to identify someone if they’re going to miss class so they can get the notes.  Even in a large lecture setting, you can ask students to turn to a partner and introduce themselves.  This helps to breakdown a sense of anonymity in a large lecture setting.  Of course, make this a voluntary activity.  Students who do not wish to share their contact information are permitted to opt-out.

Do you use a different strategy for learning names?  Share it in the comments!