News and Announcements

Consultation event to support faculty in adopting open educational resources

June 14, 2017

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — In support of faculty members who are interested in adopting, adapting or authoring open educational resources (OER) or incorporating library resources in new or existing courses, the Schreyer Institute for Teaching Excellence, Teaching and Learning with Technology, and the University Libraries will offer a drop-in consultation event from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Thursday, June 29, in 315 Rider Building.

Consultants Deena Levy from the Schreyer Institute, Julie Lang and Angie Dick from Teaching and Learning with Technology, and Torrie Raish and Rebecca Miller from the University Libraries will be available to speak with attendees. Faculty members are free to attend as their schedules permit.

Faculty can receive support in areas such as:

  • Defining course/lesson goals and objectives and selecting appropriate open content to help support them
  • Finding OER to replace course textbooks/high-cost materials
  • Adapting existing OER to replace course textbooks/high-cost materials
  • Authoring OER to replace course textbooks/high-cost materials
  • Licensing content with a Creative Commons License
  • Creating content in Pressbooks
  • Creating a project-planning document to support adoption, adaption and authoring
  • Methods/tools to share open content/courses
  • Matching with a library subject expert who can help identify free library resources, including course reserves and e-books
  • Help developing lesson plans and assignments utilizing OER
  • Library support in providing full modules that include content for and assessments of information literacy skills

While the event was designed to provide Integrative Studies Seed Grant Program awardees with support in OER and library resources, all Penn State faculty members are invited to attend.

Appointments are not required. However, faculty members are asked to indicate their intention to attend by registering for the event at https://www.schreyerinstitute.psu.edu/events.

Stressed about shifting your course to Canvas?

Stress no more! If your campus or college doesn't have its own template, consider using the New Course Template from Penn State's Training Services.

Visit the Penn State Canvas Learning Center to learn how to get the most out of using Canvas for teaching and learning.

Do you support teaching improvement, excellence, and innovation? Tell us about it!

The Faculty Development Resources Working Group is seeking information to build an inventory of faculty development activities and resources that support teaching improvement, excellence, and innovation—both face-to-face and online resources, as well as teaching and learning resources for graduate student instructors, postdocs, and Teaching Assistants.

If you provide resources, services, or activities that promote instructional improvement, excellence, and or innovation please complete the 5-7 minute survey.

The Faculty Development Resources group will collate the responses and develop a strategy for sharing our collective resources.

About the Faculty Development Resources (FDR) Working Group:

  • Definition: The FDR group is part of the Transforming Education theme of Penn State's Strategic Plan.
  • Vision: The vision for the FDR group is for all Penn State faculty and graduate instructors to be engaged in their own instructional development and willing to implement innovations that enhance students’ learning by knowing where and how to access information, people, and services.
  • Goals:
    • Inventory currently available resources and support for faculty and instructional development
    • Identify gaps in resources and support for current and future faculty and graduate students
    • Recommend additional resources to enhance support for faculty development
  • Co-Chairs:
    • Angela Linse, Executive Director and Assoc. Dean of the Schreyer Institute for Teaching Excellence
    • Laurence B. Boggess, Director of Faculty Development for World Campus

The Scholarship of Teaching & Learning—And a visit to Cornell University

Edmund Hansen, senior research associate and instructional consultant at the Schreyer Institute, recently visited our colleagues at the Center for Teaching Excellence (CTE) at Cornell University. As they have done for some years, they put on a Teaching as Research: Train-the-Trainer Workshop, combined with a second day of conference presentations by mostly graduate teaching assistants who showcased their recent projects on classroom research.

Day one was an intensive train-the-trainer workshop for faculty and faculty developers from around the country who were about to get involved in “Teaching as Research” projects on their own campuses. Kimberly Williams, CTE's Teaching Support Specialist and author of the Routledge Publishers 2015 book Doing Research to Improve Teaching: A Guide for College and University Faculty, served as the trainer. Kim provided a sampling of the possibilities and limitations of doing qualitative and quantitative research on college teaching.

On day two, Williams chaperoned many of her Cornell graduate student mentees through a program of presentations, poster sessions, and round-table discussions. The day ended with a truly insightful keynote, “Using Evidence to Transform Undergraduate Teaching,” by Dr. Michelle K. Smith, associate professor at the University of Maine’s School of Biology and Ecology. Research papers from this and previous years are available on CTE's website.

We are making plans to venture into the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) ourselves—So stay tuned! We will be looking for collaborators in the near future. Please contact Edmund for more information about SoTL and his Cornell visit.

All In? Hidden Labor

Are you a faculty member that is called on by students to serve as a mentor because of an alignment between their background or personal (visible) characteristics? Are you getting "credit" for this additional mentoring? Manya Whitaker, assistant professor of education at Colorado College, has some advice that will be helpful for you whether you are at a large or small Penn State campus and tenure-line or a 'tenure exempt' faculty member!

See Whitaker's recent article, “The Unseen Labor of Mentoring,” in The Chronicle of Higher Education's Vitae.

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 SITE@psu.edu or 814-863-2599 for more information.

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.