Small Teaching: Predicting

2nd post of 9 in the Small Teaching Series

Small Teaching by J.M. Lang presents methods for making small changes in your teaching practices (hence the name) that can significantly improve your students’ learning.  Each chapter provides the research-based evidence behind the practices Lang proposes so you can have confidence that Lang’s ideas work.  The Coulter Faculty Commons will be boiling the Small Teaching chapters down into blog posts to provide instructors with concepts they can apply to a lesson, a class, or a course.

“Once more unto the breach…” (from Henry V, spoken by King Henry)

Lang references “the connected nature of knowledge” (p. 48) to clarify how prediction aids learning.  The example he offers is that of a comparison between a history student and a history professor.  Given the date 1865, a history student would recall that it was the year that the American Civil War ended.  A professor of history would also recall the events leading up to the surrender of the Confederate Army at Appomattox, Chamberlain’s rendering honors to the defeated troops, the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, the ultimate failure of Reconstruction, and countless other bits of information that are connected to that date.  The fact that the Civil War ended in 1865 is relatively useless in itself, but knowledge is derived through the “web of connections” surrounding that date.   Lang posits (and the research supports this) that when confronted with the need to answer a question (predict a result) with insufficient information compels the brain to seek out any possible related information on the subject.  This process creates and reinforces the connections in the brain and begins building knowledge.

Lang suggests the following methods to give your students the opportunity to refine their powers of prediction:

  • At the beginning of the class, unit, or course, give students a brief pretest on the material. For example, give an opening-week pretest that is similar in format to the final exam.
  • Prior to first content exposure, ask students to write down what they already know about that subject matter or to speculate about what they will be learning.
  • When presenting cases, problems, examples, or histories, stop before the conclusion and ask students to predict the outcome.
  • When you are teaching a new cognitive skill (e.g., writing in a new genre), let students try their hand at it (and receive feedback) before they feel ready.
  • Close class by asking students to make predictions about material that will be covered in the next class session (p. 60)

Of course, predicting doesn’t always result in a correct answer.  Our theoretical history student might have thought that 1865 was the year the Civil War began.  Lang cautions that immediate feedback (or as immediate as practical) is important to keep inaccurate facts from getting entrenched.  It also has the benefit of helping students identify gaps in their knowledge or as Lang put it, vaccinate them against the illusion of fluency.  In the case of a pretest, it also lets your students know what kind of information they will be assessed on in the future, so they can adjust their study practices appropriately.

Small Teaching is available in the library as an ebook and is one of this summer’s Beach Reads! Email John Hawes (jhawes@wcu.edu)  if you are interested in joining a casual reading group this summer!Summer Beach Reads

As always, if you’d like to discuss these or other ideas with the Coulter Faculty Commons you can schedule an appointment at https://affiliate.wcu.edu/cfc/consultations/

Lang, J. M. (2016). Small Teaching: Everyday Lessons from the Science of Learning. John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated. http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/hunter-ebooks/detail.action?docID=4455000

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.

Agenda:

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

Registration

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

CFC now accepting applications for 3 faculty fellowships for AY 22-23

CFC Faculty Fellows

We are excited to announce that the Coulter Faculty Commons is seeking applications and nominations for three Faculty Fellow positions for the 2022-23 Academic Year. We invite all full-time Tenure, Tenure-Track, and full-time Non-Tenure Track faculty members to join us in making an impact on teaching & learning at WCU.

For the upcoming year, the CFC is particularly interested in fellows who can develop and expand programming in the following areas:

DEI Inclusive Pedagogy

In support of the university’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, this fellow will work to develop a course design and teaching seminar in Canvas focusing on inclusive pedagogy and facilitate the seminar in the spring 2023 semester. The seminar will be in collaboration with the WCU DEI Community of Practice Training and Professional Development group.

 New Faculty Mentoring and Support

This faculty member will work with members of the Faculty Partners team in the CFC in mentoring/supporting new faculty during New Faculty Orientation and Faculty Forward, our yearlong symposium.  The Fellow will also be trained to facilitate the mid-semester Teaching Assessment Protocols as part of supporting new faculty. The fellow will also have input on content, resources, and opportunities for engaging new faculty, either new to teaching or new to WCU, and facilitate at least one of the monthly conversations.

Online Course Design and Pedagogy

Depending on the faculty member’s interest, this fellow will work on developing a mentoring program at WCU or take a lead in refining and co-facilitating the Online Course Design Institute and the Teaching Online with Impact Institute.  The mentoring program will start from the ground up and the Online Course Design and Pedagogy program will expand on the existing offerings the CFC has in place.

Details

The fellows will be working collaboratively with the Director, current members of the Coulter Faculty Commons, and various other constituents across campus. The fellow will have a dedicated working space in the CFC but can also work remotely, and will attend the Faculty Partners meetings each week. The estimated time commitment is 2-4 hours per week. The faculty selected for these positions will be provided with a $1000 stipend in each academic semester (Fall 2022 and Spring 2023) and a $500 stipend for one summer session.

 Apply

Applications for the 2022-2023 year will be accepted from all full-time Tenure, Tenure-Track, and full-time Non-Tenure Track faculty members. The application deadline is April 15, 2022.

purple button with apply now on it.

Completed applications should include a current vita, a brief letter of interest that clearly addresses the candidate’s qualifications and interest for the position, and a letter of support from the applicant’s chair or director. Applications should also clearly communicate the candidate’s intended area(s) of focus in at least one of the areas described above.

CFC Faculty Fellowships Applications are Open!

Completed applications should include a current vita, a brief letter of interest that clearly addresses the candidate’s qualifications and interest for the position, and a letter of support from the applicant’s chair or director. Applications should also clearly communicate the candidate’s intended area(s) of focus in at least one of the areas described above.

Applications are open through April 15, 2022

 Questions?

 Contact Dr. Eli Collins-Brown, Director, if you have any questions.  ecollins-brown@wcu.edu, or x7196.

Humanizing Your Online Course

Part 2 of the Inclusive Pedagogy Series

I started teaching online in 2003 for a for-profit institution. It was two years after receiving my M.Ed. in Research and Collaboration at TCU where my focus was on online asynchronous learning. I was anxious to apply my research to my own classroom!

The realities of teaching online soon became very apparent. At that time the institution did not have an LMS. I taught the course through discussion forums. My students were lines of text on the screen, as I was to them. We didn’t have Zoom or any other video meeting software so we were confined to interacting through the discussions and email.

I realized quickly that I needed to somehow become a real person to my students; a person who cared about their experience and success. So I set about recording video introductions, using video and recorded screencasts to help them learn HTML, web design and multimedia. Soon I was asking them to post an audio or video introduction instead of text, encouraging them to share photos of pets and places they loved to travel. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was humanizing my online course.

What is humanizing?

If you google this topic, you will see quite a few results. We’ve been working on this for a couple of decades, so that doesn’t surprise me.  I particularly appreciate the work of Michelle Pacansky-Brock, a community college faculty member turned faculty developer who started teaching online in 2004. She created a wonderful infographic on this topic.  

 “Humanizing leverages learning science and culturally responsive teaching to create an inclusive, equitable online class climate for today’s diverse students.” Brock, 2020.

https://brocansky.com/humanizing/infographic2  

Humanizing your course is how you bring equity into your course design and teaching.

 It also brings decades of research on instructor presence and student persistence to bear on course design and instruction.  Being an excellent instructor in both the physical and online classroom in higher ed is a skill that anyone can learn. So these steps can apply to in-person courses as well.

screen capture of the Humanzing Your Online Course Inforgraphic

Steps to Take to Humanize Your Course

 

Brock offers eight elements to use in humanizing your course:

The Liquid Syllabus: A public, mobile-friendly website that has your brief welcome video and includes “warm, non-verbal cues and hopeful language” to ease anxieties about your course and how to be successful in week one (Brock, 2020, pp107-108).

Humanized Homepage: the homepage provides a clear and friendly welcome to the course and tells the student how the course works and has a clear Start Here link to the syllabus and/or the course information module in Canvas (this is also a Quality Matters and Online Learning Consortium quality standard). Here is an example

Getting to Know You Survey: In week one, ask the students to complete a confidential survey that provides additional information about each student and helps you identify which students are going to be ‘high touch’ requiring more of your time that other students. In Canvas, you can create a survey for this purpose. If you are logged into Canvas, go to https://westerncarolina.instructure.com/accounts/1/external_tools/43?launch_type=global_navigation to see an example of questions to include.

Warm, Wise Feedback: I love this and always attempt to convey support and encouragement in my feedback to students. Brock states, “Your feedback is critical to your students’ continuous growth. But how you deliver your feedback really makes a difference, especially in an online course. To support your students’ continued development and mitigate the effects of social and psychological threats, follow the Wise feedback model (Cohen & Steele, 2002) that also supports growth mindset (Dweck, 2007). Support effort + ability  + action. And deliver your message in voice or video to include verbal or nonverbal cues and minimize misinterpretation. 

Self-affirming Ice Breaker: Week one of a course is full of anxiety for students and can impede their ability to start the course. Try an ice breaker that invites them to share a part of their identity. One example from the infographic is to ask them to reflect on a value that is important to them and then choose an object from their life that represents that value.

Wisdom Wall: sharing the ‘wisdom’ or advice from students who have previously taken your class. You can use a collaborative tool such as a Word file in OneDrive that students can access, or Flipgrid, which can be enabled in Canvas. You can also have studente email their success advice to you that you would add to the file, or empower students to create their own by having a link to a shared Word document by changing the edit settings to ‘Anyone with the link’. Post this link in your course to share it with your current students and then they can also add their own advice. Here is Michelle’s example of a Wisdom Wall.

Bumper Video: Short videos used throughout the course to introduce a new module or clarify a sticky concept.

Microlectures: laser-focused short videos (5 – 10 minute) that walk the students through the comprehension of complex concepts.  Before you record, identify the one or two ideas you want your students to take from the video. Write a script to make sure that you are saying exactly what you want to say in the short video.  Also, remember to produce closed captions for all videos.  If you need help with closed captioning in Panopto, please contact the help desk ithelp@wcu.edu 

All of these suggested steps are part of the best practices in online course design and teaching. They are also steps that you can take at any time during the semester. 

These elements will be included in the CFC’s Online Course Design Institute offered totally online this summer. If you’d like more information about the OCDI, please contact us.

Resources:

Pacansky-Brock, M. 2017. Best practices for teaching with emerging technologies. Routledge, New York, NY.

Pacansky-Brock, M. Liquid syllabus. https://brocansky.com/humanizing/liquidsyllabus

Pacansky-Brock, M. (2020). How to humanize your online class, version 2.0 [Infographic]. https://brocansky.com/humanizing/infographic2

Prevent Burnout with Self-Care Strategies

2nd annual T&L Day, Jan 21, 2022 HHS 204, 1-3:30 pm

Join us for our 2nd Annual Teaching & Learning Day.  We will meet from 1 – 3:30 to discuss strategies faculty can use to prevent burnout in these demanding times.  We will also discuss ways in which we can encourage and support our freshman and sophomores whose academic preparation was affected by the pandemic. 

We have invited an expert on helping faculty prevent burnout through self-care to give the keynote address.  Dr Julie Harrison-Swartz, DNP, MSN, RN, FNP-BC, is an assistant professor in the Department of Nursing at UNC Pembroke.

In the second hour of the event, we will discuss supporting students to be successful. We had an unprecedented increase in failure rates last semester at WCU.  But we are not alone in this as other institutions across the country are also experiencing this situation. We will discuss what’s happening and brainstorm some ways in which we as instructors can help these students succeed this semester. 

Let us know you are going to attend REGISTRATION LINK

The Fall Blend – A Hybrid Course Workshop Now Offered Every Week This Summer

The Coulter Faculty Commons is offering three new sections of its Fall Planning Workshop (“Fall Blend”), intended to help faculty walk through design, delivery, and technology considerations for fall teaching. A workshop will be offered each week until the beginning of fall courses, following a Tuesday – Thursday format:

  • July 28 – 30
  • August 4 – 6
  • August 11 – 13

Faculty will begin each day in a Zoom session with other participating faculty, prior to joining their small cohorts in breakout style sessions. In the breakout groups, emphasis will be provided on helping faculty work through their own unique teaching challenges and situations. Daily goals will be set by the faculty member, with a check-in late in the day. An educational technology or educational developer from the CFC will facilitate each group, bringing unity to common themes and concerns. Faculty will spend independent time between the two Zoom sessions, developing a holistic plan or working on digitizing lessons. Two live technology sessions will be hosted by the Educational Technology team in the CFC late in the week.

Faculty may sign up through an Office365 registration form.

Note: the total time commitment requires 4-5 hours each day.

Faculty will receive the following information the week prior to their workshop start date:

  • A digital workbook on blended learning
  • “Save the Date” times for the daily live sessions
  • Dates for the live “technology and course design” sessions with CFC educational technology staff
  • Video content showing how to digitize and deliver instructional content in Panopto and the LMS
  • Organizational/planning sheets to facilitate transfer of F2F teaching to digital teaching