News and Announcements

Student Ratings of Teaching Effectiveness (SRTEs) available Monday, April 17 through Sunday, April 30

During the active SRTE offering period, students will receive an email directing them to Faculty can also visit this same website during the offering period to confirm that all courses they expect to be rated are listed there. SRTEs are typically offered during the last two weeks of a traditional semester or modified according to the length of the course. If a course does not appear on the list, it means that SRTE forms for those courses have not been assigned. Contact the staff member responsible for setting up SRTEs in your discipline or the SRTE Representative for your academic area. SRTEs are available to both ANGEL and Canvas users.

Did you know that your students can begin SRTEs in class? A mobile-friendly version of the SRTEs allows them to do just that!

Screen shot of mobile SRTE.

To increase the number of students completing your SRTEs, we recommend scheduling 10 minutes at the beginning of a class session. Remember to leave the classroom while students fill in SRTEs.

SRTE Pro-Tips

  • Your attitude is the primary determinant of student participation! Faculty who genuinely express that they read the SRTEs, make changes based on student feedback, and care about their students’ views have the highest response rates.
  • Focus on how student feedback improves the course. Communicate to your current students how their feedback (positive or negative) can improve the course for future students.
  • Students may not remember their course title or faculty members’ names. Remind students to make sure they are rating the correct course, especially for those courses with more than one instructor.
  • Finally, so that a student's feedback isn't potentially influenced, we recommend that you wait to submit final grades until after the SRTE offering period ends at 11:59 p.m., Sunday, April 30.

Find more SRTE tips for increasing response rates at

For more information about SRTEs, visit

For help with interpreting SRTE results, contact us at or 814-863-2599 to schedule a consultation.

Is your syllabus inclusive of students who are parents?

April 17, 2017, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Students Can Be Parents, Too

As the All In initiative at Penn State continues to grow, an article by Perry Threlfall in The Chronicle of Higher Education rang a bell for me. Threfall provides five suggestions about how faculty can be more inclusive of adult students who have family responsibilities and explains why each of the suggestions is important. Following these suggestions “can reduce the invisibility of single-mother students and help them stay in school.”

The suggestions include not assuming that all students are 18-22 years in age, that single parents may have to prioritize their children over buying course extras, and that “no phone” rules are simply not an option for parents who must be accessible to their kids or childcare providers. If faculty take the time to find out why their students are in college, they might be able to help these adult students feel more included on campus by helping them to connect with other adult students.

The above is paraphrased from the list below:

  • Acknowledge I exist.
  • Rethink your phone rules.
  • Help me network with others like me.
  • Consider that I’m financially strapped.
  • Find out who I am and why I’m in college.


A Common Sense Approach to Assessment and Accreditation

A blog by Linda Suskie, internationally recognized consultant, speaker, writer, and workshop facilitator on a broad variety of higher education assessment and accreditation topics

Are you looking for ways to measure how well students are learning your course content? Are you curious about the whys and hows of assessment in higher education? Linda Suskie has a blog for that!

Visit Linda's blog for deep thoughts and quick tips on assessing student learning.

Photo of Linda Suskie's blog header, A Common Sense Approach to Assessment and Accreditation

Graduate Student Online Teaching Certificate Program

The Faculty Development for Outreach and Online Education office announces a spring offering of the Graduate Online Teaching Certificate (GOTC) course to run from May 15 through June 19, 2017.

The GOTC is a 5-week, fully online, asynchronous, at-a-distance, instructor-led course in Canvas. Students should expect to spend 4-7 hours a week completing assignments. The purpose of the course is to introduce students to online teaching basics while learning in the online environment. One synchronous webinar is required.

Since the course started in fall 2015, nearly 600 graduate students have enrolled. This non-credit course is free to Penn State graduate students and post-docs who will be or wish to be teaching online.

Registration runs April 24 through May 8 and can only be accessed through this link:

Questions? Contact Shawna Cassick ( or Larry Boggess (

Inclusive Teaching: What does it mean and what can we do about it?

In a report presented to the University Faculty Senate on January 24, 2017, Addressing Issues of Classroom Climate and Bias in the Classroom, the senate committee on Educational Equity and Campus Environment (EECE) recommended that the Schreyer Institute for Teaching Excellence make available resources to help faculty address issues of classroom climate and implicit bias. An appendix to the committee report includes a worksheet from our workshop “Teaching Inclusive Courses.” The Inclusive Teaching worksheet, as well as other resources and materials, are available in our Tools & Resources repository. Simply visit the link and enter the search term "inclusive teaching" in the search box. While the worksheet may be used individually by faculty, it is not a checklist, nor a prescription. This is an activity designed for a workshop. No one faculty member would be likely to use every strategy, nor would using all of them guarantee an inclusive learning environment. Faculty find the activity more useful within the context of the workshop, which is designed to encourage discussion among participants. The workshop includes other activities and generates interest in the research that prompted development of these strategies. The workshop also serves as a forum for faculty to give voice to their own questions.

Our inclusive teaching workshops are available at the request of any program, department, campus or college, without cost and at the convenience of the faculty. Penn State Altoona, the College of Agricultural Sciences, and the STEM Teaching Group, which includes a sampling of faculty from three colleges, have participated in earlier iterations of this workshop. We refine the workshop every time we conduct it, whether here or at other institutions such as the University of Connecticut’s College of Medicine and the University of New Hampshire. We have presented the workshop and its unique design at number of conferences including the annual conference of the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) in 2016.

Our inclusive teaching workshops are designed with faculty in mind. The design is founded on the assumption that most faculty are already aware of the importance of diversity and inclusion. However, fewer faculty are aware of how the lack of inclusion can have a negative impact on students’ learning and faculty teaching. Experience indicates that even the most caring faculty may not know what actions they can take in their own courses or how to respond to inadvertent or overt biases expressed in the classroom. The workshop design ensures that faculty walk away from the workshop with strategies they can use in their next class session, but also includes information about the underlying issues and why they matter in all courses and all disciplines. This workshop does not pretend to have all the answers, but does provide assurance that faculty can take actions that matter, and it opens the door for future discussions and deeper explorations.

Penn State's All In Image

As President Barron, the ECEE, and President’s Council on Racial and Ethnic Diversity have noted, we continue to hear reports from students that they experience implicit biases, stereotype threat, and micro and macro aggressions in our classrooms. Research indicates that a negative classroom climate can hinder students’ learning, and faculty teaching. Even if you cannot attend a workshop, come talk to us about inclusion, diversity, teaching, and learning.

Other important information provided during the recent senate meeting includes the university’s Report A Bias Incident, webpage hosted by the Office of Educational Equity, and that the Office of Affirmative Action offers a variety of training activities for the Penn State community.

Do not hesitate! Invite us to bring this workshop to your faculty! Contact us at or 814-863-2599 for more information.

Do your students have trouble reading for deep understanding?

This topic is the focus of the latest article from Magna's Faculty Focus, Literacy Levels Among College Students, by Oliver Dreon of Millerville University and Director of Academic Excellence. The article includes sources for faculty interested in learning more about how students develop as readers.

Faculty & Students: Participate in Research on Discomfort and Safety in U.S. College Classrooms

Kathryn C. Oleson, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology at Reed College in Portland, Oregon, is looking for faculty and students to participate in her IRB-approved survey research on discomfort and safety in the college classroom.

Dr. Oleson invites faculty and students to participate in a 20-minute survey about perceptions of classroom dynamics, including, safety, discomfort and prejudice.

Faculty, visit:

Students, visit:

Participants will be entered into a lottery to win a $25 Amazon gift card.

If you want to learn more about the project, please email Kathy Oleson at or

SRTEs Go Mobile!

This semester students can choose to submit SRTEs using the new mobile friendly web version for phones and tablets. No app download is necessary, upon sign-in students will see this option when they have active SRTEs to complete. Students may find it convenient to respond to open-ended questions using the voice-recognition built into their mobile devices.

Screen shot of mobile icon from SRTE tool. 
Screen shot of Mobile SRTE icon.

When students choose the mobile option, they will see only one question at a time, rather than the entire SRTE form on their screens.

The regular web version SRTE is still available for students with laptops or without mobile devices.

Faculty will also be able to use the mobile version to check response rates for courses with active SRTEs. Those faculty who are concerned about response rates will be interested in taking advantage of this new functionality by asking students with mobile devices to complete their SRTEs during class.

Faculty: please remember that if you set aside class time for students to complete the SRTE, you need to leave the room.