Spring Teaching & Learning Day Event

This workshop will take an intimate look at neurodiversity and many of the characteristics resulting from seeing the world through a very different lens. We will engage in several activities that will provide a glimpse into living with a learning disability and ADHD. Participants will leave with a deeper understanding of this population along with their strengths and challenges. Come prepared to move around, share your thoughts, and participate in experiential lessons designed to help you better serve this dynamic population.

Save Your Spot!

Let us know if you are going to attend this exceptional workshop!

John Willson received a B.A. in Sociology in 1990 from Texas State University and an M.S in Outdoor Therapeutic Recreation Administration from Aurora University in 1993. John has spent over 30 years working in youth programs with an emphasis on youth diagnosed with learning and attention challenges. He has led hundreds of adventure courses throughout North America, Costa Rica, and Belize. He is currently the Executive Director of SOAR, a non profit residential academic boarding school, summer adventure camp, and Gap year program serving youth diagnosed with learning disabilities and ADHD.

Along with his responsibilities at SOAR, John is currently the Past President of the Learning Disabilities Association (LDA) of North Carolina. He also served on the national board for CHADD (Children and Adults with Attention Deficiency / Hyperactivity Disorder).

He actively presents to teachers, parents and professionals at local, state and national conferences. In addition, he has been an adjunct professor at Western Carolina University and Mars Hill College teaching Outdoor Recreation, Therapeutic Recreation, and Leadership courses. His certifications include Wilderness First Responder, PADI Rescue Diver, State licensed Recreation Therapist, and Nationally Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist.

Finally, and most importantly, he is an adult thriving with ADHD and the proud parent of two magnificent, creative, children living with learning and attention challenges.

Popcorn & Pedagogy Oct 25, 12:30 pm HL 186

Coulter Faculty Commons 

High Impact Practice (HIP) Educational Development Program: Popcorn & Pedagogy 

HIP focus: Collaborative Assignments & Projects 


Evidence shows that High Impact Practices (HIPs) offer educational benefits for students, including increased rates of student retention and student engagement. One of several HIPs includes collaborative assignments & projects. Join us in an interactive conversation about how two experienced WCU faculty members successfully use collaborative assignments & projects to strengthen intellectual skills and engagement of their students. The first in a series of conversations, we are pleased to roll out our new educational development program: Popcorn & Pedagogy. 


Tuesday October 25, 2022 

12:30-1:45 pm (Program)
2:00-3:00 pm (Optional Workshop) Stay for a while longer to draft a collaborative assignment or project for one of your classes. 

You bring a sandwich. We’ll make fresh popcorn! 


  1. Promote academic excellence by recognizing and celebrating outstanding faculty that engage in high impact practices (tied to WCU Strategic Goal 1.2.3).  
  2. Provide an easy access point for faculty who want to adopt or improve existing high impact practices in their classes (tied to WCU Strategic Goal 1.2.1).  
  3. Eat popcorn. 


WCU’s expert faculty are known for engaging students in high impact practices.  Two faculty members will share their expertise. You’ll have an opportunity to ask them questions. 


Rebekah Campbell

Rebekah Campbell, MS is a full-time instructor in Parks and Recreation Management in the Human Service Department.  Her passion is exploring and applying experiential learning methodologies to create a more dynamic and engaging learning process for students. 

Wes Stone, PhD is the Director and a Professor in the School of Engineering + Technology. His primary teaching duties are in product development, using a project-based learning (PBL) approach. His research interests are focused on outdoor gear design, analysis, and testing. 


Hunter Library 186 

Learning Outcomes: 

  • Identify the benefits of implementing collaborative assignments and projects for both students and professors. 
  • Examine collaborative assignments and projects used by experienced faculty. 
  • Determine how elements of collaborative assignments and projects might work in your own classes and programs. 

Program Deliverables: 

  • Connected learning with your colleagues. 
  • Space and time to think intentionally about collaborative assignments and projects in the context of your own courses and programs. 
  • Resources for further reading and exploration. 

Optional Workshop Deliverable: 

  • Draft a collaborative assignment or project for one of your courses. 


Look for more information about our next HIP conversation coming soon!  

“Feeling Seen and Appreciated”: Student Feedback Preferences

Guest Bloggers: Candy Noltensmeyer and Lisa Bloom

Feedback is an integral part of the learning process. Many studies have examined feedback from the instructor’s perspective to enhance student learning. However, there is less research assessing how students perceive different types of feedback and their usefulness. 

Feedback is often a struggle for professors as it can be quite time consuming. Additionally, faculty are often left not knowing whether students have reviewed the feedback. On the other hand, some of us have heard students complain about the lack of feedback from professors. This leads us to wonder what kind of feedback students actually want.

Well, we asked students the question, and they responded with only minimal reminders to complete our survey!  We asked students about 3 specific types of feedback, written, audio, and video, and what they liked, disliked, and how each type made them feel. Additionally, we asked them to rate whether the feedback was engaging, easy to access, and easy to understand. Participants from courses in Education, Communication, and Integrated Health Sciences responded to Likert-type questions on a scale of 1-5 as well as open-ended questions.  

What we learned

Overall, students reported a preference for video feedback. While accessibility and understanding were ranked slightly higher for written feedback, video and audio closely followed. Students struggled a bit with accessing audio files. Students mentioned that replaying audio and video files was a bit cumbersome when searching for specific feedback, while they preferred the ease of skimming written feedback. But when it came to engagement, students really preferred video feedback. Most striking is the overwhelming number of comments about feeling connection and care from the feedback, audio and video in particular.

Topic Audio   Video   Written  
The Feedback was… Mean Broad Agreement Mean Broad Agreement Mean Broad Agreement
Engaging 4.40 86% 4.59 91.9% 4.12 78.7%
Easy to Access 4.05 76.2% 4.65 91.9% 4.67 93.9%
Easy to Understand 4.51 90.7% 4.68 91.9% 4.52 92.9%

Here is what the students told us.

Audio feedback

“It made me feel proud of my work and happy to do such a good job on it. I enjoyed hearing the professor’s enthusiasm.”

“I liked how I was able to hear your tone and it was much easier to understand compared to reading off feedback (sometimes it’s confusing on paper).”

“I enjoyed hearing my professor’s voice- especially with this course being delivered in an asynchronous, online fashion. I enjoyed the verbal insights!”

“It felt much more personalized. Rather than a few words, or sentences that seem pretty generic, the audio feedback really gave me that feeling that my work was being read and analyzed.”

Video feedback

“The video feedback just made me feel more seen and appreciated.”

“It made me feel like I was one on one with the professor and sometimes is hard to come by in college.”

“During COVID, it has been weird to not be able to see my professors’ faces, so it was nice to be able to fully see their faces. It also felt more personal and somewhat like a conversation even though the professor was the only one talking.”

“Made me feel like a student rather than just a number with a generic response.”

Written feedback

“I understand that professors can’t write a book of feedback every time they grade something, but it just never feels like enough to go off of. It feels like I am getting the bare minimum amount of help.”

“It feels detached from my work and I feel like there is not as much effort with written feedback.”


In summary, students do appreciate feedback.  They are looking for feedback not just regarding an assessment of their performance and how to improve, but feedback is also a vehicle for relationship building.  As you are grading your students’ work, consider the audio and video feedback options afforded by Canvas.  We found these options to take only a little extra time, and the results were definitely worth it. The benefit comes in building strong relationships with students which translates into more engaged learning and positive classroom environments.  Students perceived feedback as evidence that they have been seen, heard, and regarded as individuals amongst a sea of others.  So, while you might be swimming in ungraded assignments, remember, that your feedback has the potential to be the life preserver that keeps a student engaged.  

Writing Observable and Measurable Learning Outcomes

Learning outcomes help us identify and clarify the end point or destination of a learning experience.  If we don’t know where we are going, we can get lost or wander all over the place.  A course then becomes a bloated unorganized mess.

We use Fink’s Taxonomy for Significant Learning to create observable and measurable course learning outcomes.

This resource from the teaching center at the University of Buffalo provides a discussion of the taxonomy and how to use it to write your course outcomes.


Click on the image on the right to download a PDF version of the graphic

Summer Institute for Teaching & Learning (SITL)

It’s BACK!!

The Summer Institute of Teaching & Learning is back after a two year COVID hiatus. We will gather together in person on May 10 & 11th in HHS 204 for sharing and conversation.

We are keeping it low key this year. Come to relax, learn something new, and enjoy good food and conversation with your peers.

The keynote speaker will be Dr. Sudhir Kaul, Professor, School of Engineering and Technology, and the 2022 UNC Board of Governor’s Teaching Award winner from WCU.

Lunch is provided on both days – registration is required.


Tuesday May 10: 

9:00-9:15 am –  Welcome  

9:15-10:00  –  Student Engagement in the Times of a Pandemic  Keynote: Dr. Sudhir Kaul, Professor, School of Engineering and Technology, BOG Teaching Award Winner, 2022

10:15 am-Noon  –   Workshop 1 – How to Engage with Students in any Modality

Noon-1:00pm   –    Lunch 

1:00-3:00pm  –    Workshop 2 – The First Steps: Instructional Design or Redesign

 Do you want to design or redesign an assignment, assessment, content, part of a course, or an entire course?  This interactive session will get you started with brainstorming and an action plan to get you through the summer

3 – 3:15 –     Summer Beach Read

3:15 – 3:30 – Sharing and Next Steps


Dr. Sudhir Kaul

Wednesday May 11:

9:00-11:30am –  Workshop 3 – Student Engagement through Assessment and Grading in Canvas

11:30am-12:30pm  – Lunch

12:30-3:00 pm – Workshop 4 – Undergraduate Students as Research Partners

3:00 – 3:30 pm – Sharing, Next Steps, and Closing


Use the QR code to access the registration form or https://wcu.az1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_1FX4RGQqj1AjF54


Looking forward to seeing you!

SITL Registration

Summer Institute of Teaching & Learning

May 10 & 11, 2022

HHS 204

Use the QR code below or go to the Registration Form

QRQ code to register for SITL