News & Announcements

2018 Faculty Activity Insight Training Schedule

Join the Faculty Activity Management Services Team and members of the Activity Insight Oversight Committee for an overview of Activity Insight. All six dates will include the same information—pick one that fits your schedule.

  • Learn about new features
  • Get tips from the experts
  • Bring your questions


Monday, May 14, 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Wednesday, May 16, 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.

Friday, May 18, 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Monday, August 20, 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.

Wednesday, August 22, 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Friday, August 24, 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

All sessions will be held in the Paterno Library, Foster Auditorium. The Wednesday sessions will be live-streamed on Media Site Live, and recorded. To register visit, Seating is limited.

For more information, email

Give Students More Options When They Have to Take Your Course

Check out this article, "Give Students More Options When They Have to Take Your Course," by David Gooblar in his Pedagogy Unbound series for The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Gooblar provides a lot of examples of how to include options in required courses that help students become more engaged.

Faculty and Students Study Resiliency and Lifelong Learning

Photo of faculty and staff at kick-off workshop.

Faculty and students at seven Penn State campuses worked with several measurement instruments during the 2017-18 academic year to explore lifelong learning and resiliency with the goal being to strengthen student success. The projects were funded by a teaching grant from the Schreyer Institute for Teaching Excellence and were supported by Teaching & Learning with Technology (TLT), as well as the leadership at the participating campuses.

In fall 2017, students took the Effective Lifelong Learning Inventory (ELLI – Vital Partnerships) and/or a resilience survey from the Center for Resilience Advisory, LLC, to get baseline information about themselves as learners. Participating faculty then had students use the information in class to develop self-awareness and strategies to support growth and success. Nearly 800 students guided by 34 faculty members from seven Penn State campuses (Altoona, Berks, Fayette, Mont Alto, Harrisburg, Lehigh Valley, and York) participated in the resilience project.

Coordinator of this multi-campus project, Suzanne Shaffer, TLT instructional designer stationed at the York Campus, has been working with ELLI for the past five years with Penn State York students. The Schreyer Teaching Grant gave Shaffer and her colleagues the opportunity to involve partners from multiple campuses. One of the primary findings of the project was that opportunities for reflection have an important impact on students' growth processes. The participating faculty and instructional designers are committed to continue their building student resilience, as well as critical curiosity.

More information on all of the projects, including outcomes, resources, and lessons learned can be found at Below are a variety of stories about the work completed at several of the participating campuses.

Penn State Mont Alto and Altoona

HDFS faculty members Lauren Jacobson-McConnell, Jackie Schwab, and Robin Yaure worked with their students in various ways to support growth, using ELLI, the resilience survey, and a variety of other instruments in both lower and upper division courses to build student success. Schwab reported, “Now that I have a better understanding of the lifelong learning components, I look forward to including them in all of my classes to more consciously support my students to be stronger learners in college and beyond.” One of her students commented at the end of the course, [My scores] actually changed dramatically and I'm very proud of myself. I was a little surprised at the results, but I know they are true because I worked hard this semester to make it work. I tried my best to work on changing my learning strategies for the better to make me a better student.”

In her HDFS 129 classes, Robin Yaure uses multiple self-knowledge instruments. [These tools enable students] to get an objective sense of themselves and then decide where they may want to change in order to be better students in the near term and [as] life-long learners as well.”

Lauren Jacobson-McConnell used the project as an opportunity to consider the issue of “belongingness”, especially with minority students and first generation students on her campus.

Penn State Lehigh Valley

Lehigh Valley was heavily involved in the project with approximately 200 First-Year Seminar (FYS) students participating. Kristy Hove, coordinator of the FYS courses, organized the efforts at her campus, working with 11 faculty members to integrate the resilience survey and content into their coursework. Shaffer visited the campus in fall 2017 to present strategies for community building, stress management, and self-reflection to those involved in the program. “It was an incredible experience to be able to share strategies that have made a difference in my own life and teaching with the campus community members. Everyone was very open and willing to try the strategies presented, from mindful breathing exercises to guided meditation and emotion-regulation.”

This photo is from Lehigh Valley first-year student Photo from Lehigh Valley first-year student Patrick Vega’s reflection blog. “…we learned multiple ways on how to calm down in stress inducing situations. As a symbol of peace and tranquility, I created a lotus flower out of multiple slips of paper, [each with a]…source we could use to reduce stress, and in the center was a small stone with the wordPatrick Vega’s reflection blog. “…we learned multiple ways on how to calm down in stress inducing situations. As a symbol of peace and tranquility, I created a lotus flower out of multiple slips of paper, [each with a]…source we could use to reduce stress, and in the center was a small stone with the word "Thrive" on it.”

Penn State York

Lion Ambassadors, Nittany Success Center Tutors, PaSSS students, and students in various first-year courses were presented with information about building resilience as well as strategies to strengthen inner resources and challenge unproductive mindsets. Joan Smeltzer, lecturer in mathematics, is working closely with her students in two Math 21 sections in spring 2018 to embed resilience instruction into the course content. “In high school, review of math skills learned typically occurs each day the class meets. In most cases, this in-class review is sufficient to allow a student to achieve a reasonable level of success. However, in a college level class, students need to take responsibility for this review themselves outside of class time. Many developmental math students do not recognize the need to make this change, and earn exam grades that disappoint them. Those same students need to have or develop a level of resilience that allows them to recover from this disappointment, seek out additional resources needed to properly learn, and to adopt a new strategy for learning the math outside of class.” Smeltzer is studying the impact of this intervention on student success via a formal Scholarship of “PhotoTeaching & Learning (SoTL) project and will be presenting the findings at the Pennsylvania Association of Developmental Educators conference in April.

In addition to these efforts, Dr. Margaret Mbindyo from Millersville University visited the York campus in late fall 2017. She spoke with students about her own research on resilience after which a student commented, “But I know on my path to these careers it isn’t going to be all smooth sailing, I know there will be many ups and downs on my road to success. I know I should stay the course and be resilient, I must “take in the good” because I know the good will be able to lift me up when I need it. I’m not saying just blow off the bad because the bad will be able to teach you certain lessons in life.”

Penn State Fayette, Beaver, & New Kensington Faculty Focus on Resilience & Self-Care

In January 2018, faculty from three western campuses gathered at Penn State Fayette for a Schreyer Institute for Teaching Excellence sponsored colloquy to explore the topics of resilience and self-care as they apply to the challenging and often stress-filled lives of faculty members. Organizers Cheryl Tkacs (Fayette & TLT) and Deborah Sillman (New Kensington) arranged for the presentation. Faculty members spent this time considering topics ranging from research on resilience and happiness to mindfulness practices and stress reduction.


Faculty were able to help students see the underlying mindsets that may or may not be productive for them. Students learned that changing their mindsets has the power to change their educational outcomes. The project empowered students to make changes that altered how they manage their daily lives and their education. through reflection on their experiences and mindsets and taking time and space for reflection. Students also learned that all students face challenges and that those challenges can be address by implementing the strategies they learned as part of the project. Students report that knowing change is possible and observing their own physical, psychological, intellectual, and emotional change can be life-altering.

The resilience project built on five years of investigating lifelong learning attributes using the ELLI instrument. Resilience is one of the seven lifelong learning attributes measured by the instrument. This most recent project focused on resilience because it always showed slow growth, even with direct instruction. Benchmark samples comparing first-year and senior ELLI scores show statistically significant differences between the groups in most areas of lifelong learning, including resilience, which demonstrate the ancillary growth that students make in addition to content knowledge through the span of their college years. We know that students grow and change in areas other than their formal studies as a result of their college experiences. The work we have done with ELLI now gives us data to support these assumptions. The support received from the Schreyer Institute for Teaching Excellence, Teaching & Learning with Technology, and the leadership at the participating campuses made all of these efforts possible.

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.

Workshops & Seminars