Tuesday, July 24, 2012

New Issue of International SoTL Journal Online

For those interested in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL), the International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching & Learning has published its most recent volume online. Topics in this issue include:

Can Trained Student Interns Rate Essays as Well as Faculty Members?
Multitasking in the University Classroom

Improving Students' Research Questions and Hypotheses

The new, July 2012 issue of International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching & Learning is online at http://academics.georgiasouthern.edu/ijsotl/v6n2.html. Authors are from Australia, Canada, China, New Zealand, United Kingdom, and the United States.

UC Berkeley Offers Free "EdX" Courses Online

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard University have caused quite a stir by offering free online courses and degrees as part of a project called "EdX." The effect of these high profile universities taking on a new model of higher education is that others want to join the elite club. The University of California Berkeley recently announced its entry into the free online education market. As more prestigious universities join the movement, the future of the massive open online course (MOOCs) becomes ever more prominent (read more about MOOCs in a recent NY Times article). The model seems unlikely for many universities, whose budget is controlled much more by prospective students and government officials being willing to pay for access to quality instruction. Anyone might heft a guess as to what funding models might emerge in the future. Perhaps homework assignments will come with Google ads, or perhaps institutional funding will be based solely on foundation money donated by the vast alumni.
To read more about UC Berkeley's announcement, read the recent article about these developments in the Chronicle.

I would be interested in hearing some comments from the UNF community regarding MOOCs.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Strategies for Thriving in the Academy

When starting a new position in an institution of higher education, faculty are faced with a number of challenges. With all of the demands placed on someone in a faculty position, it can be difficulty to focus on the things that will help one flourish. In a recent article in the "On Campus with Women," Kerry Ann Rockquemore provides some tips for newly-hired women in faculty positions. Among the tips are rethinking mentoring relationships and aligning time and effort with how one is to be evaluated. The advice is targeted toward women, but the suggestions are appropriate for all new faculty. Read more tips about succeeding in new faculty positions.

Making Tenure and Promotion More Transparent for Underrepresented Faculty

The promotion and tenure process can be a challenge to navigate for many faculty. In a recent article in the American Association of Colleges & Universities (AAC&U) publication "On Campus with Women," Stephanie Luster addresses the need to have greater clarity in the promotion and tenure process, especially for faculty from underrepresented groups. Among the solutions she offers are faculty development seminars and sincere conversations regarding expectations for promotion and tenure. Read the entire article on the publications website.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Annual Teaching Evaluations at UNF

Please see the message below by United Faculty of Florida-UNF Union President, Dr. Cheryl Frohlich.
The note indicates that if your annual evaluation only addresses the student satisfaction ratings from your courses, you should look into remedying the situation. Excellence in teaching should be evaluated by using information beyond student assessments of teaching.
If you would like additional ideas on providing evidence of excellence in teaching, see the resources available on the OFE website.

Message from Cheryl J. Frohlich, Ph.D
Annual Evaluations
Please note that student evaluations cannot be used as the determining factor on any teaching portion of your annual performance evaluation.  If your teaching performance segment refers to how student’s rated you in the student evaluation of your class and that is the main determinate of your teaching evaluation, then your evaluation is grievable.  See below from our Contract.

14 The use of student evaluations in the annual evaluation process is governed by Article 18.6 (3) of the CBA. Student evaluations ―are one useful tool‖ and, except as expressly provided in the CBA, the annual evaluation ―shall not be based solely on student evaluations‖. When using the student evaluations, the evaluator shall take into account results on a range of questions appropriate to the course.  (pg. 159)

Thank You
Cheryl J. Frohlich, Ph.D.
Department of Accounting and Finance

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Ubiquitous Learning Conference

Please see the message from Garett Gietzen, Garett.Gietzen@ubi-learn.com, regarding the upcoming conference on teaching and learning. The deadline to submit proposals is September 4, 2012.

I-Hotel and Conference Center    
Urbana-Champaign, Illinois, USA    
12-13 October 2012    

We are pleased to announce the Call for Papers for the Fifth International Conference on Ubiquitous Learning. The Ubiquitous Learning Conference examines the ways in which the affordances of new technologies are changing how, where and when learning takes place. It considers, for example, how computing and networking devices might benefit learning not only in the classroom but well beyond the times and places traditionally considered the purview of education.

Proposals are accepted in phases. The upcoming phase deadline is 4 September 2012. To learn more about paper session options and how to submit a proposal, please see the Call for Papers: http://ubi-learn.com/conference-2012/call-for-papers/.

The Conference welcomes participants from many countries and professional areas, including teachers, administrators, researchers, university faculty, managers and others interested in the possibilities of technology in learning. Each day features plenary presentations and a variety of parallel sessions. Proposals may be submitted for paper sessions, workshops, and pre-formed panels. If you are unable to attend the conference in person, virtual registrations are also available. Presenters may submit their papers for publication in the peer refereed 'Ubiquitous Learning: An International Journal.'

Garett Gietzen      
College of Education    
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign    
Illinois, USA

A New Peer-Review Journal Publishes Syllabi

Have you ever considered your syllabus something worthy of critique and comment? If so, a new journal, Syllabus, will peer-review your syllabus. The journal has some advantages, such as sharing ideas among teaching professionals. Read more about this new journal and join the discussion in this recent Chronicle article.

To view the first issue, visit the Syllabus website.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Some Advice for Mentees

Mentoring relationships in higher education can be rewarding for mentees and mentors. Not all mentor-mentee relationships are successful, however. In a recent Chronicle article, Allison Vaillancourt provides some advice for mentees on how to pursue a successful mentoring relationship. She stresses the value of setting limits in the relationship and being mindful of opportunities for reciprocity.

Read more tips on how to be a good mentee.

Can the US Keep Up With STEM Demand?

Reports that US students are falling behind students from other countries in science and math have highlighted a growing problem in the US. If we are going to compete globally, we must do a better job of preparing and graduating STEM students.

In a recent Chronicle article, S. James Gates Jr. and Chad Mirkin discuss the recent report from the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, which calls for producing one million additional college graduates in STEM-related fields. Noting that approximately half of college graduates who initially express an interest in gaining a STEM degree end up with a non-STEM degree at graduation, Gates and Mirkin provide several suggestions for dealing with the call for more STEM graduates. They emphasize the need to retain those students who were initially interested in STEM degrees. Some of their suggestions include active-learning teaching approaches in introductory STEM courses and discovery-based labs.

Read more recommendations on retaining STEM students by linking to the article.

What strategies do you use to retain STEM students? Where do you see trouble spots, and what can institutions of higher education do about them?

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Reactions to Grading

As a part of every semester, faculty provide grades for students (and for the institutions where they teach). In a recent Chronicle article, Ahmed Afzaal describes common misconceptions students have about grading and how instructors can address these misconceptions. Read more at the following link.

How do students respond to grades in your courses? How do you handle the discouraging comments and requests?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Debate Over Abolishing Tenure

Over the past several years, institutions of higher education increasingly are deciding to offer their faculty members short-term contracts rather than tenure. In a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, "Should Tenure for College Professors Be Abolished," Naomi Riley and Cary Nelson present opposing positions on the issue.
Arguments against tenure suggest that teaching plays too small a role in tenure decisions across institutions of higher learning across the US. Arguments supportive of tenure suggest that concerns around a lack of academic freedom and the suppression of risky yet innovative teaching practices persist. Read the different views on the issue and post your comments below.

Students Play Games to Learn

Student motivation and engagement has become an ever increasing theme in the national teaching and learning forum. Typically present in the discussion is a comparison between the time it takes to conduct active and engaging activities in the classroom and the need to "cover" content by experts (the instructors).
In a recent Chronicle article, Dan Berrett highlights a "reacting" method in which students role-play and debate important historical events. The goal of the role-play is to spark student curiosity in the subject and produce deeper learning of the subject. Read more about this interesting approach to student learning.

Accreditation Woes in West Virginia

What happens when a college loses its accreditation? Likely, the details vary from one institution to the next, but the main result is a lack of federal government funds and financial upheaval.
In a recent report in the Chronicle, Jack Stripling details some reasons why Mountain State University in West Virginia is in jeopardy of losing its accreditation status. Among the reasons given by the accrediting body was the institution's lack of "adequate learning support and faculty oversight to assure an effective teaching and learning environment." The commission cites inconsistency in academic rigor among courses within the same program and faculty teaching loads of 15 credit-hours per semester. Other concerns include insufficient faculty governance and oversight of teaching and learning activities. The university's extremely well-paid university president has been fired. 
Read more by linking to the article.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Undergraduate Research Conference

Undergraduate research is an important ingredient to the UNF faculty profile. Undergraduate students often have little opportunity to present their work and build on their skills by receiving feedback from others in the field. The Florida Statewide Symposium on Undergraduate Research provides such an opportunity. If you have undergraduate students involved in research, I would encourage you to consider having your students present at the conference. Such experiences can support transformational learning for students.
The deadline for submissions is September 21, 2012.

October 19-20, 2012, Orlando, Florida

Where: University of Central Florida
Who: Faculty, Administrators, and Professional Staff
Why: To improve the undergraduate research climate at all universities and colleges in Florida
Keynote Speaker: Dr. Mary Crowe, President-Elect for the Council on Undergraduate Research, An Overview of Assessment Practices of Undergraduate Research
Presentation Submission and Registration Deadline: September 21, 2012  
Cost: $50
Funding: Contact the UNF Office of Undergraduate Research at lhawkins@unf.edu
Questions: Contact the UCF Office of Undergraduate Research at our@ucf.edu or 407-823-3125.