Avoiding End-of-Semester Bitterness through Trust and Flexibility

Midterms have come and gone, along with March, and now we’re staring down the last four weeks or so of the semester. One of the perks of working at Grand View is that the end of the semester falls in the last week of April, earlier than any other institution at which I’ve taught, by far. But that early endpoint is a bit of a double-edged sword, as I feel like I’ve just finished midterm grades and all of a sudden it’s a sprint to the end of the semester. Both faculty and students feel the end-of-term crunch as projects come due and graduation deadlines loom, while it seems like we’ve been at this for years, instead of since last August. As we prepare for this hectic final stretch, it’s worth remembering that stress and burnout aren’t just things our students experience; they can shape our response to the end of the term as well. Continue reading “Avoiding End-of-Semester Bitterness through Trust and Flexibility”

Summer Teaching and Learning Institute, 2019

This year’s Summer Teaching and Learning Institute will be a bit different from previous years’ iterations, in both format and content. With the sponsorship of both CETL and grant funds from NETVUE, we’ll be offering a range of opportunities for faculty and staff to consider how we might more effectively promote success across all of our increasingly diversifying student body. To better match both speaker schedules and our own workflow needs, this year’s Summer Institute will be held earlier than what’s usually been our practice. Here is this year’s schedule of events: Continue reading “Summer Teaching and Learning Institute, 2019”

Improving Student Learning–and Confidence!–with Retrieval Practice

As we move past the middle of the semester, exams and other big-ticket assessment items are likely on the radar screen for our students. This means, of course, that test anxiety and other underminers are also on students’ mental radar screens, and they can cause unintended difficulties as the higher-stakes, more summative assignments begin to intensify. How many of our students, after doing poorly on an exam, have said something like “I thought I was ready for the test, but once you passed it out, I just got so nervous I couldn’t remember what I studied?” This type of anxiety, where nervousness interferes with cognition, is a real and constant problem for some of our students. For others, it is a more sporadic, but just as difficult, phenomenon. Either way, though, it’s worth thinking about ways in which we might be able to help students mitigate this anxiety and allow for their work to accurately show us what they’ve really learned.
Continue reading “Improving Student Learning–and Confidence!–with Retrieval Practice”

Using the Grading Schema Tool in Blackboard

In the joint college meeting last Thursday, there was a lengthy discussion of some of the implementation questions surrounding Grand View’s new plus-minus grading system that will go into effect this Fall. During the discussion, a couple folks had questions about how Blackboard’s gradebook could be tweaked to reflect the new plus-minus scales that we implement in our classes. As promised, here is a quick overview of how you can use the “Grading Schema” feature of Blackboard’s gradebook to create a custom scale for students to see the letter grade equivalents for their percentages that you enter in the gradebook columns. Continue reading “Using the Grading Schema Tool in Blackboard”

New in the CETL Library

Every so often, when the budget gods smile upon us, we get some new books for the CETL Teaching and Learning Library. We’ve had a few orders come in recently, so this week’s post highlights some of these new acquisitions, which will be available for checkout within the next few days (as soon  as they’re finished being entered into the library’s cataloging system).  Continue reading “New in the CETL Library”

Interpreting Student Ratings of Instruction

Last week, those who administered IDEA Student Ratings of Instruction in our Fall courses received that data in our campus mailboxes. If you’re anything like me, there’s always a mixture of anticipation and anxiety when opening the packet: I think I did well; they seemed to like the class; I hope no one flamed me, though. And of course, no matter how many times we’re told to not take things personally, there’s always that one comment we can’t seem to take any other way. In my case, it’s a good bet that even if all the comments except one sing the praises of the course and my instruction, I’m going to obssess about the one that didn’t. Because teaching is an endeavor that’s so tied up in our identity, it’s hard to react any other way, it seems. Continue reading “Interpreting Student Ratings of Instruction”