Thursday, December 17, 2015

Researchers Seek Civically-Engaged Millennial Faculty

magnifyingglass_iconThe American Democracy Project (ADP) is currently searching for Millennial Generation (anyone born after 1981) faculty members from across the nation who utilize service-learning techniques regularly in teaching their courses.

Those who meet that description are eligible to participate in a research study conducted by Texas A&M University- Central Texas researchers that will explore how millennials, who tend to be highly civically-engaged. are teaching courses that promote civic engagement, community service, and social justice at the university level. The researchers will also be exploring how the civic engagement of millennial faculty has been influenced by their own undergraduate experiences. This research is important to continue to grow the benefits of service-learning techniques that improve learning outcomes for students and create practical benefits for their communities.

If you are interested, please see the full announcement on the ADP blogsite for contact information!

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Student Evaluations of Teaching Useful - in Context

Students' evaluations of professors have great value for administrators who seek an accurate
assessment of the quality of teaching at their universities. This is in turn drives their decisions regarding faculty promotion, pay rates, and termination.

One of the problems with placing such heavy weight on student evaluations in making decisions about faculty employment is that students don't always give valid feedback. Students, like most people, don't always play fair. Students will sometimes give poor scores (not to mention rude comments) in evaluations, not because the scores are warranted, but because they felt the class was too challenging or made them work too hard. When these ratings are included in aggregate, they punish professors who simply teach difficult courses or demand high standards from their students.

How can student evaluations be more useful? A recent article outlines some suggestions on using student evaluations of teaching more effectively. The best ideas seem to revolve around cross-checking teaching quality using measurements other than student evaluations alone. For instance, finding innovative ways to assess how much students are learning by the end of their courses, rather than asking them to solely self-report how much they liked the experience of the course, is one way to supplement assessment. Other ideas that have been successfully implemented include classroom observations (both scheduled and surprise) by administrators or senior faculty, spot-checking faculty practices feedback on assignments, and including multiple iterations of student evaluations throughout the semester to give professors a chance to adjust their strategies. The Office of Faculty Enhancement at UNF provides a number of alternatives to end-of-semester student evaluations.

Context is very important in using results from student evaluations, especially because research has shown positive correlations between students' expected grades and their evaluation scores. Essentially, student evaluations are important because they provide direct feedback on how students feel about their professors' ability to educate them. However, they do not tell the whole story, must be taken in their rightful context, and need accompaniment to be used as a key metric in faculty assessment.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Testing Critical Thinking using Multiple Choice Questions - Part 2

The General Education Program and the Office of Faculty Enhancement invites faculty to a continuing discussion and workshop on using multiple-choice questions to assess critical thinking. 

Teaching and assessing critical thinking in student work is a priority for many faculty. Faculty typically assess critical thinking through essay test questions and lengthy assignments, both of which are time consuming to grade. Multiple choice questions are quick to grade but typically are constructed to test recall and comprehension. 

In the first workshop of this series, participants evaluated multiple-choice questions on whether they assessed two important skills associated with critical thinking, analysis and evaluation. 

In this workshop, participants will work collaboratively in crafting multiple-choice test items that assess analysis and evaluation. This event will be especially helpful to those teaching General Education courses that satisfy the Critical Thinking requirement. Participants are encouraged to bring with them 3-5 multiple choice questions that they would like to convert to critical thinking questions or that they would like to modify and enhance to assess critical thinking. 
RSVP is required, email 

Testing Critical Thinking using Multiple Choice Questions
Friday, December 4th, 2015, 11:30-1:00 p.m.
COAS Dean's Conference Room, Bld 51, Room 3201
RSVP required, email

Monday, November 30, 2015

Noodles and Networking Event: Being an Effective Teacher

Being an Effective Teacher: Tips on Class Preps, Course Design and Classroom Management
Presenter: JeffriAnne Wilder, Associate Professor, Sociology
Tuesday, December 1st, 3:00-4:15 p.m.

President's Conference Room, Building 1, Room 2800
RSVP to 

Noodles and Networking: A Minority Faculty Learning Community is a pilot faculty community building initiative for tenure-earning underrepresented and ethnic minority faculty led by tenured minority faculty. The goal of this initiative is to create a network that supports the smooth transition of minority faculty at UNF and serve as an outlet for social, professional and community interactions. The President’s Office and Academic Affairs’ Office of Faculty Enhancement are sponsoring this initiative.

At this Noodles and Networking event, JeffriAnne Wilder, Associate Professor of Sociology will address tips for being an effective teacher. She will address the benefits of intentional course design, time management, and dealing with difficult issues in the classroom.
Come and join the conversation.

RSVP to 

Being an Effective Teacher: Tips on Class Preps, Course Design and Classroom Management
Presenter: JeffriAnne Wilder, Associate Professor, Sociology
Tuesday, December 1st, 3:00-4:15 p.m.

President's Conference Room, Building 1, Room 2800

Should Students Write Their Own Exams? The Benefits of Innovation

Two marketing professors are espousing the view that traditional college exams, in which a professor writes an exam to assess students' knowledge of course learning objectives, may not be the most effective way to motivate students to learn. Their proposed alternative? Students write their own exams. While it is well-known that humans learn more effectively when they must manipulate materials and ideas to create a new product, rather than simply regurgitate information, many professors would undoubtedly be uneasy with the idea of students writing and taking their own exams.

In their study, the researchers asked students to create exam questions based on a range of recently covered course materials (like most exams) and then answer the questions they had written for themselves. Students were given specific guidelines in terms of what content they needed to cover in their questions, what practical learning objectives the exam should address, and the rubric that would be used to grade the exam. The questions were meant to be predominantly multiple choice, with one short essay question. Students wrote and answered their questions and brought them to class, where the normal time used to take the exam was used instead to discuss questions and answers, during which time students could alter answers, but not questions, if they wished. Then, students turned in their exams to be graded by the professors, who graded them based on the extent to which questions covered relevant course content and learning objectives, how challenging the questions were, and the accuracy of the answers.

The results may be surprising to those outside academia, but really shouldn't surprise any professional educators. Follow-up assessment showed that this method improved student learning outcomes. Because students had been forced to utilize the material at a higher level of processing, by analyzing, evaluating, and creating course information instead of memorizing and occasionally applying it, students learned more deeply. Students were thinking critically about material in the same way their professors had to in order to create an exam that would test student knowledge fairly and comprehensively. When they were required to think like those who have mastery in the subject, they were able to better approach mastery themselves. Although students reported that this method is more challenging than traditional exams, they also reported that they were more motivated to learn as a result and that their exam experience was less stressful. Although this alternative to traditional testing in higher learning is not perfect, it is an important reminder that when faculty stop thinking about education as a static system and start incorporating viable fresh perspectives, students are able to make breakthroughs in the quality of their learning.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Is Your Grading Biased? Beware the Halo Effect

Humans are prone to taking mental short cuts, it's part of the physiology of our brains. We are exposed to so much information throughout our lives and from day-to-day that it is necessary for our brain to utilize mental short-cuts (i.e., heuristics) to help sort information and to determine what should grab one's attention. Heuristics are mental guidelines you create from your experience to help you reach an answer more quickly than by algorithm searching through every possible answer. The only problem is that this quick thinking can also bias cognition and decision-making, and grading is no exception.

The Halo effect is one form of heuristic bias that impacts everyone's decision making. It happens when we find good qualities in an individual and, through experience, incorporate those good qualities as part of our perception of the person. This biases the way we perceive their actions, whether good or bad. For instance, attractive individuals are often perceived to be more intelligent, talented, and generally good more often than individuals of average attractiveness.

The Halo effect can produce biases in grading just like any other area of judgment. In a previous post we discussed briefly how faculty will frequently grade students based on their personal characteristics and past performance rather than solely on their performance on the work in question. Faculty may begin reading an assignment, stop and think, 'so-and-so usually does great work' and allow that judgment to alter the way they grade the assignment.

This bias in judgment and decision-making process is exactly what researchers found at work in a study examining the Halo effect in subjective student assessments. The researchers randomly assigned faculty to observe a student perform either very poorly or very well on an oral presentation, and then graded the student on a written assignment. When grading the exact same student on the exact same writing assignment, faculty members gave substantially higher grades when the students had done well in a presentation before being graded and lower grades when the students had done poorly before being graded. Other than giving either a poor or good oral performance, the student was the same and the quality of the written assignment was the same. And yet the grades were different. Prior experience with students will bias the way faculty members grade students on future assessments, but by being aware of this "Halo effect", faculty can more effectively protect against bias. Making student assessments anonymous is another effective was to reduce biased grading.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Making Office Hours Required for Students: The Best Bad Idea You've Ever Heard

It is well known that students who build working relationships with their professors are
more successful both in college and after graduation. One of the best ways to cultivate that relationship is the simple step of coming to a professor's office hours.

Despite the fact that office hours are theoretically beneficial for students, very few students seem to take advantage of this valuable opportunity. Office hours should be the time students are receiving much-needed mentoring that can lead to increased student engagement, leading to better performance in the course and ultimately to higher graduation rates.

Should faculty then make office hours mandatory for students? The logic behind this move is simple. Much is lost in the translation of course material and knowledge from the professor to the student during the lecture because it lacks personal and motivational factors that are typical in more personal conversations. This effect is compounded when grades and feedback are given only through writing, whether digital or analog. Making a personal connection has always been, and is still, extremely helpful to the learning process. Although practical ways to implement required office hours depend tremendously on course size, the idea that students benefit from engaging with their professors on an individual level about course topics is wholly unsurprising and is worth pursuing.

Let us know your feedback. Do you require office visits for your students? What would be some advantages or disadvantages?

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

TurnItIn Provides a Valuable Service, But Jeopardizes Students' Rights

Realistically, if you're a professor who needs to ensure students aren't cheating on their papers, is a true time-saver with few alternatives. TurnItIn is a tremendous boon for professors who simply do not have time to painstakingly check their students' written work for plagiarism against the millions of other scholastic documents on the internet. In an insightful article published last month, one professor praises TurnItIn for its incredible efficiency and criticizes it for its monopolistic hold on students' original works.

The issue hinges on what TurnItIn does with all of those student papers it receives. It keeps them, archives them, and continues to use them for plagiarism checking. Whereas this is more of an issue in principle rather than reality, the fact remains that students are required to give over their intellectual products to a company that will use them to make a profit. Some may find that to be a bit unsettling, although there is no apparent harm that comes from it. After a 2007 lawsuit, a district court determined that TurnItIn is not breaking any copyright laws in their practices. Despite the fact that it is not technically unlawful, TurnItIn does influence the rights of students to be in control of their intellectual property.

As term papers, research manuscripts, and other long written assignments pile up, it is hard to argue against the benefits of using a site like TurnItIn to protect academic integrity and ensure the quality of students' educations. But there is a hidden cost of student ownership that, although practically innocuous (for now), may trouble the ethical constitutions of some.

Friday, November 13, 2015

For Ph.D.s Working Outside Academia, Incorporation Holds Benefits

Occupational prospects for Ph.D. holding scientists and researchers have become increasingly sparse in recent years. In 2012 around 10% of scientists with a Ph.D. were unemployed. For many highly-educated individuals who have been unable to find careers as a university faculty, working as a freelance researcher, consultant, grant writer, or scientific worker outside of academia has been the best available option. Regardless of employment status, Ph.D.s may stand to benefit by incorporating themselves into a limited liability company.

According to Andrew Thaler, Ph.D., incorporation provides a more efficient way to manage finances and make services more appealing to outside sources of work/funding. As a "single-owner S Corp limited liability company (LLC)", for instance, personal wealth is better protected from lawsuits. In addition, there are a number of tax benefits afforded to a LLC that are not available to an individual person. Perhaps more importantly, forming a corporate organization allows a given Ph.D. to be more competitive for research grants and other opportunities for which they may otherwise be overlooked. Funding organizations are less hesitant to pay large amounts in the form of a grant or other vector to a professional consulting organization than they are to an individual. Organizations or corporations appear to be more accountable and therefore less risky in terms of investment. Additionally, the perception of being the leader of an organization, rather than a lone, semi-unemployed freelancer, is more appealing to those who can offer opportunities to further your career.

Incorporating can serve to legitimize the functions and services that are likely to produce greater opportunity for career growth and success. Futures look positive for more Ph.D.s to seek incorporation regardless of their current employment status.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

AACU Encourages Civic Learning, Provides Practical Ways to Implement It

The American Association of Colleges and Universities (AACU) has made available a free publication on practical ways faculty can better produce civic learning. The publication, called Civic Prompts, addresses a goal that has been part of the American education system since its inception: to instill the values of democracy in American college students and inspire and enable them to take democratic action and further democratic process. In recent years, the American higher education system has been charged by United States leadership to define how each discipline can contribute to public well-being and how to incorporate civic learning into coursework.

Civic Prompts helps to provide faculty with resources to encourage civic learning and generate students who will use their degrees to benefit the nation as a whole and advance democracy worldwide. Some prompts include, "What are some big issues that are common to your disciplinary domain that lend themselves to civic inquiries and/or actions?", "What kinds of assignments generate a line of civic questioning or civic actions within the context of your disciplinary or interdisciplinary course?", and "What are some civic pedagogies suited to your disciplinary domain?". The AACU hopes priming faculty with these prompts will make civic learning more routine across the disciplines of higher education.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Study Suggests Student Self-Assessment Is an Untapped Resource

RM Tamrakar;
Students are constantly being academically assessed,usually by professors, in the form of exams and quizzes. Students are rarely given the opportunity, however, to assess their own work. Researchers found that students who voluntarily self-assess become better able to make accurate judgement about their own work. A recent study showed that, as students continued to voluntarily self-assess their work, the judgments they made about their work became more closely aligned with those of tutors who were experts in assessment for the particular subject.

What does this imply for higher education faculty? It looks like it is a good idea to allow your students to self-assess more often. Although this study evaluated voluntary (self-selected) student self-assessment and not the effects of student self-assessment overall, it is theoretically likely that self-assessment would improve students' academic judgments of their own work regardless of whether they have chosen to self-assess on their own. Asking students to assess their own work in class or on assignments gives them a chance to develop assessment skills that they would otherwise have no opportunity to practice.

Self-assessment practice pays dividends post-graduation, when evaluation of one's own task performance does not come until after the performance is completed and cannot be taken back. Being able to accurately assess the quality of one's own work before putting it into action is critical in the real-world, where there are few second chances. Better self-assessment in college work could save professors more time, as students are better able to determine what areas need improvement before turning in completed work. 

Thursday, October 29, 2015

When Assessing and Correcting Personal Bias, Slow and Steady Wins

The first step in eliminating bias is acknowledging that a bias exist. However, few faculty members, or any other profession, are willing to acknowledge their own biases in the classroom. Although progress can come from large-scale change that trickles down into individual lives and everyday interaction, equally beneficial change can work from the bottom-up. Taking small steps on a manageable time scale to reduce our own biases can make all the difference.

Here are a few tips to becoming a little more equitable everyday.
1) Faculty are often tempted to grade students based on personal characteristics and their work, rather than solely on the quality of the work. Like many other mental shortcuts used for judgement and decision-making, making assumptions about another person saves massive amounts of time and are often accurate enough. Faculty may begin reading an assignment, stop and think, "So-and-so usually does great work," and, thus, skim the rest of the assignment with their mind already made up on what type of grade to give. However, when it comes to grading, using our first impression of a person is genuinely unfair. Students benefit when faculty take the time to thoroughly assess work for the work itself.

2) Whereas a faculty member may not be consciously biased, every human is biased on an unconscious level. If you don't believe that, follow this link and take the Race Implicit Attitude Test (IAT), Age IAT, or other available IAT. It's likely that you have no desire to act on your biases, whether unconscious or conscious, and simply becoming aware that you may be accidentally adjusting student performance evaluations or classroom experiences allows you to correct for biases.

3) Follow-up with yourself to continually evaluate how you are working to reduce your own bias.

4) Listen actively and empathetically to each individual with whom you speak. This allows you to look past surface-level characteristics and focus on content, substance, and quality.

5) Seek progress, not perfection. In other words, don't expect to ever fully eliminate bias, whether that's based on gender, race, age, or education level, because it is impossible to do so. But it's worth attempting to reduce as much as possible. By doing so, you are making a more fair and inclusive environment for your students.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Advancing Gender Equity in STEM Fields

Although great strides in gender equity have been made in recent years, STEM fields are among the areas where women still lag behind men. STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) has long been a boy's-club of sorts. The nature of these STEM fields in no way deters female participation by definition; women should be no less effective in these areas than men. However, STEM is intimidating for women because relatively few women are present in STEM fields. To close the gap, it would take a strong push to successfully initiate more women into these fields. A recent publication of the American Association of Colleges and Universities' Peer Review offers insight into this issue and how women can become more prominent in STEM. 

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Mentoring: One Way to Remedy Disadvantages Experienced by Minority Faculty

A recent interview has shed light on how being a part of a minority group can negatively impact faculty and what can be done about it. While assistance for minority students is discussed often in university settings, it is often assumed that faculty are on an equal playing field regardless of race, which is sometimes simply untrue.

Professor Olympia Duhart, J.D. (pictured) is the President of the Society of American Law Teachers and had several important points regarding the current state of minority faculty in large university environments. Minority faculty seem to benefit more than non-minority faculty from mentoring and guidance from other, more established faculty members, regardless of the race of their mentor. Mentorship helps to decrease the isolation and pressure to be more qualified than their non-minority peers that minority faculty often feel, by offering support, guidance, camaraderie, and validation. This relationship, as well as other forms of faculty community, can serve as a buffer to the negative effects of subtle, institutional racism and other forms of prejudice and help all faculty members thrive in their academic community.

The Commission on Diversity and Inclusion at UNF has established a mentoring network for minority faculty called "Noodles and Networking." Check out the list of upcoming events.

Noodles & Networking Event on Being a Proactive Mentee

Being a Proactive Mentee
Presenter: Radha Pyati, Chair/Professor, Chemistry
Monday, October 26, 2015, 3:00-4:15 p.m.,
President's Conference Room, JJ Daniel Hall, Building 1, Room 2800

Noodles and Networking: A Minority Faculty Learning Community is a pilot faculty community building initiative for tenure-earning underrepresented and ethnic minority faculty led by tenured minority faculty. The goal of this initiative is to create a network that supports the smooth transition of minority faculty at UNF and serve as an outlet for social, professional and community interactions. The President’s Office and Academic Affairs’ Office of Faculty Enhancement are sponsoring this initiative.

At this Noodles and Networking event, Radha Pyati, Professor and Chair of the Department of Chemistry will address how being a proactive mentee helps faculty get the most out of  mentoring relationships. Come and join the conversation.

Being a Proactive Mentee
Monday, October 26, 2015, 3:00-4:15 p.m.,
President's Conference Room, JJ Daniel Hall, Building 1, Room 2800
Please RSVP to, or contact Dedra Harris in the President’s Office at 620-2500

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Florida Faculty Development Fall 2015 Conference

The Florida Faculty Development Consortium (FFDC) is celebrating its 10th year of supporting faculty at Florida colleges and universities.

The Fall 2015 meeting will be held on Thursday, November 12th at the University of North Florida; the topic is 
Reflect on the past, look into the future

Registration is open to anyone interested in faculty professional development in higher education. There is no cost for attending. 
If you plan on attending, please register at

For travel information and to see the preliminary meeting agenda, please go to the FFDC website at

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Post-graduate Well-being, Engagement, More Impacted by College Experiences than by College Type

"College is what you make of it" they say. Recent data from Gallup suggests that the qualities of universities where students enroll, such as whether they are public or private, large or small, very selective or less selective, have less impact on students' lives after graduation than is often thought. In fact, what seem to have the greatest impact on students' post-graduate levels of well-being and engagement in their work are six elements of the college experience in particular.

The quality of interaction between faculty and students was important for life after college, with the following experiences being the most highly related to positive long-term outcomes: graduates feeling supported by professors who cared about them, having professors that made them excited for learning course material, and having professors who encouraged their goals and dreams. Other impactful experiences seem to center more on translating knowledge learned in the classroom to practical settings, such as working on a long-term (at least one semester) project, having an internship or job that allowed them to apply what they had learned, and being actively involved in extra-curricular activities. Unfortunately, only 3% of graduates polled claimed to strongly agree that they had had all six of the most impactful experiences during their time at college.

Given this data, it seems that many collegiate measurements traditionally associated with well-being and work engagement of graduates, like rejection rates or student/faculty ratios, may be missing what can make college effective in preparing students for happy and productive lives post-graduation. Beneficial long-term outcomes stem from richness and depth in areas of the college experience like support and connection with faculty and hands-on opportunities that bridge the gap between classroom learning and practical application.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

For STEM Instructors, Impartial Observation May Bring Needed Perspective

In any professional pursuit, it is often very difficult to improve performance without some form of assessment from an impartial observer. Receiving feedback from a colleague who is knowledgeable, yet not so deeply entrenched in the everyday context or style of a practice is essential to genuinely assessing strengths and weaknesses.

Instructors of STEM courses can benefit from this practice as well. In fact, third party observation may be especially important for STEM professors. STEM material is notoriously difficult to learn, and because of the difficulty of the material, the difference between effective and ineffective teaching may be more noticeable and result in greater changes in performance compared to other fields. Asking a colleague to provide perspective by sitting in on a class and observing your teaching methods, without necessarily even providing evaluation, may be eye-opening for some instructors. Using a set of classroom observation protocols for undergraduate STEM courses is a step that can help instructors breathe fresh life into their communication of STEM material and provide students with a better learning experience. When instructors discover what beneficial or detrimental habits that they were previously unaware of, they can begin to take action and adjust their teaching style for the better.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Exam Cramming Common, But Ineffective

Free College Pathology Student Sleeping Creative Commons (6961676525).jpg
Photo: D. Sharon Pruitt 
When it comes to undergraduates' plans for preparing for exams,
the strategy is often to ignore the "problem" of studying until the test is imminent. Students then study as much as possible in the span of one or two days to "learn" the material in time for the exam. The problem with this practice, called cramming, is that it does not work very well. This is especially true for students who are inconsistent with class attendance, as they really are left to learn all the covered material in the day or two prior to assessment.

Compared to the strategy of incremental learning, where students study recently covered material in a smaller amount every night or several times a week, cramming simply does not produce preferable short-term nor long-term results. The larger differences between incremental learning and cramming are found in performance is in long-term retention. When students cram, they are not adequately elaborating on the material they want to learn. Rather, they are only doing what is necessary to keep the material fresh in their minds for a short time. Once they have finished their exam, that information is no longer elaborated on with any additional repetition and, thus, disappears from memory fairly quickly. Incremental learning is done with more manageable amounts of information  across many repetitions, and on a much larger time scale, allowing for elaboration and consolidation that makes information much more likely to be assimilated into long-term memory.

Students will always be drawn to cramming, as it often get results that are "good enough." Students may benefit from instructors encouraging students to abandon cramming so that the students remember material from their course after final exams are turned in.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Faculty Development Teaching Grant Panel

Applications for Summer 2016 funding for Faculty Development Teaching Grants are due on October 16, 2015.  To assist faculty in preparing grant applications, the Faculty Enhancement Committee and the Office of Faculty Enhancement will host a Teaching Grant Panel to answer questions regarding the review process and evaluation criteria for the program. Faculty interested in submitting a Faculty Development Teaching Grant are encouraged to attend. For more information on faculty development grants , visit the website below.
Tuesday, October 13, 2015, 3:30-4:30 p.m.
OFE Conference Room, Building 16, Room 3108

Monday, October 5, 2015

Frankly Friday Event - Gender Gap in Promotion and Tenure

Is there a gender gap in gaining tenure?
Friday, October 9th, 2015
9:30 a.m. - 10:30 a.m.

The Promotion and Tenure process at UNF is designed in a way to reduce bias and provide a fair chance for any qualified professor to receive tenure. A recent Stanford University study on the promotion and tenure process revealed that, given comparable research productivity, women assistant professors were in some cases 50% less likely to receive positive tenure decisions than their male counterparts. At UNF, the differences are much smaller, with 90% of men and 88% of women receiving tenure. As part of a recent Campus Climate survey at UNF, when faculty and staff were asked whether there were discriminatory practices involved in the promotion and tenure process, 18% indicated some bias whereas 82% indicated no bias.

We invite you to join the discussion. How should UNF address concerns over the gender gap in the P&T process?
OFE will provide the coffee and pastries.

Frankly Friday: Is there a gender gap in gaining tenure?Friday, October 9th, 2015
9:30 a.m. - 10:30 a.m.

Testing Critical Thinking using Multiple Choice Questions

Teaching and assessing critical thinking in student work is a priority for many faculty. Faculty typically assess critical thinking through essay test questions and lengthy assignments, both of which are time consuming to grade. Multiple choice questions are quick to grade but typically are constructed to test recall and comprehension. This workshop will provide guidance and practice in crafting multiple-choice test items that assess higher-order and critical thinking skills of analysis and evaluation. 
Testing Critical Thinking using Multiple Choice Questions
Friday, October 30th, 2015, 1:00-2:00 p.m.
Biology Building 59, Room 2701

This event will be especially helpful to those teaching General Education courses that satisfy the Critical Thinking requirement. 
Participants are asked to post (up to 5) example critical thinking multiple choice questions prior to joining the workshop. Contact Dan Richard for details.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Liberal Education, Integrative Learning Best Preparation for Uncertain Post-Grad Future

Are higher education graduates equipped to address the challenges that face an ever-changing modern Liberal Education and America's Promise (LEAP) Challenge encourages higher-education institutions to design their curricula in ways that help graduates develop the empirical reasoning, communication skills, and critical thinking skills that will prepare them to solve complex, real-world problems.
world? The Association of American Colleges and Universities' (AAC&U)

LEAP has begun the Signature Work initiative which asks student to pursue a long-term project in which they incorporate the knowledge they have learned in courses into their own motivations to produce tangible results. Such projects last at least one semester and could be in the form of research, community service, or other forms of experiential learning. Signature Work projects force students to make connections between different fields of study and their application.

This Signature Work helps to seal in the benefits of a liberal education and prepare college students for a future which will undoubtedly be unpredictable, complex, and varied in terms of its events, experiences, and opportunities. Preparing students to react to unforeseen changes by allowing them to experience how their own knowledge can be engaged in a practical format brings meaning to their time spent in the classroom. Being able to understand the world from multiple view-points is arguably the essence of a liberal education.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

CCPH Conference Call for Proposals

Community-Campus Partnerships for Health is accepting proposals for their 14th annual International . The theme for this year's conference is
Journey to Justice: Creating Change Through Partnerships.
Conference to be held in New Orleans, LA, May 11th-14th, 2016.

The deadline for proposal submission is October 15th, 2015

Here is a message from the conference organizers: 
Submit your ideas for workshops, roundtable discussions, posters and other creative story telling sessions by October 15, 2015. We will highlight partnerships and research collaborations of all shapes and sizes at this inclusive and vibrant gathering. Share your knowledge, wisdom and experiences! Visit the CCPH conference website for more information and follow the CCPH Twitter feed for the latest conference news! Join the conversation using the conference hashtags #CCPH16 and #JourneytoJustice.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Strategies for Online Discussion Forums

Do you have a strategy for managing discussions in your online courses? Some discussion topics seem to foster polarization and animosity. Online discussions of contentious issues can lead to "flaming" or emotional and anonymous venting. Online discussion forums may be one of the few places, however, that individuals have to discuss important issues with others who are different from them.

Anastasia Salter from ProfHacker has some suggestions for making online discussions safe and productive. Some suggestions include setting rules early and dealing with disruptive students.

Do you have some strategies that you think are effective?

Monday, September 21, 2015

Faculty Learning Communities Available through OFE

The Office of Faculty Enhancement announces two Faculty Learning Communities (FLCs) available for the Fall 2015 semester, FLIP - Flipping Learning Innovation Panel and TIME – Teaching Innovations for Multi-faceted Engagement.

Faculty Learning Communities (FLCs) are groups of approximately 6-12 faculty members organized around a theme or cohort who commit to meeting regularly and to working collaboratively on issues relevant to all members within the FLC.

Below is a description of each group with meeting times and dates. FLCs will meet in the Faculty Lounge, Building 16, Room 4202

FLIP – Flipping Learning Innovation Panel
A flipped classroom is one in which lectures are delivered online and face-to-face time is devoted to student projects and homework. If you are interested in learning more or if you have experimented with various forms of class flipping, this FLC is for you. Come and share your ideas and hear from others who are working on flipping their classrooms.
Friday, Sep 25th, 10:00-11:00 a.m.
Friday, Oct 30th, 10:00-11:00 a.m.
Friday, Nov 20th, 10:00-11:00 a.m.
Friday, Dec 11th, 10:00-11:00 a.m.

TIME – Teaching Innovations for Multi-faceted Engagement
Time is precious in the classroom. It is best to make the most of that time in maximizing student learning. This FLC will focus on innovative ways to provide engaging and active learning experiences for students in small and large classrooms. The TIME FLC is targeted toward new faculty. Come and share ideas about engaging activities and hear from others who have creative ideas to support student learning.
Friday, Oct 16th, 10:00-11:00 a.m.
Friday, Nov 13th, 10:00-11:00 a.m.
Friday, Dec 4th, 10:00-11:00 a.m.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Transformational Learning Workshop

The Office of Undergraduate Studies and the Office of Faculty Enhancement (OFE) will be hosting two workshops to help faculty plan for Transformational Learning Opportunities (TLOs) and to apply for the TLO Grant Program.
The first session will provide an overview of the program and foundational perspectives. The second session will provide a hands-on workshop for developing effective assessment strategies.

The TLO Application Deadline for projects taking place in 2016-2017 (July 1 2016 - June 30, 2017) is Friday, October 16, 2015 by 5:00 p.m. Find more details on the TLO Application webpage.

Designing Successful Transformational Learning Opportunities (TLOs)
Wednesday, September 23, 2015, 3:00-4:30 p.m.
Student Union, Building 58W, Room 3805
Faculty and staff interested in applying for Transformational Learning Opportunity (TLO) funds are invited to attend the TLO workshop titled, "Designing Successful Transformational Learning Opportunities (TLOs)." This session will provide an overview of the TLO concept, some examples of past successful TLOs, and guidelines for applying for financial support.   

Manageable and Meaningful Measurement of Transformational Learning
Wednesday, September 30, 2015, 2:00-3:30 p.m.
Student Union, Building 58W, Room 3805
UNF Faculty who apply for TLO funding design a wide variety of truly transformational learning experiences for students. Designing an assessment plan both enhances the TLO application and provides an important way to maximize student benefit from the experience.  Yet assessing transformational learning objectives can be difficult because the objectives can be difficult to define, and because TLOs may not include graded assignments in the same way as other classes do. This workshop will help participants define transformational learning objectives and develop manageable assessment strategies for determining the impact of the TLO experience. Faculty and staff interested in applying for Transformational Learning Opportunity (TLO) funds are especially encouraged to attend.

Well-designed Online Courseware Facilitates Attention, Learning

When faculty take the time to put in extra effort to the online components of their courses, it pays dividends in the engagement of their students. Although details of the layout of an online course, such as its level of visual appeal and amount of stimulating or relatable images, may seem purely cosmetic, they offer real value to the student experience in the course by making the course material more compelling.

Other qualities of online courses that recent research has has identified as positive are simple and user-friendly navigation formats and depth in terms of having a variety of features (i.e. discussion forums, content links, files, and assignments) that are used with consistency throughout the course.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Quick Tips to Help Learn Students' Names

At the beginning of the semester, teachers in higher education often are faced with a large room of new faces. Past research suggests that teacher verbal and nonverbal behaviors, including calling students by name, were associated with student motivation and student learning.

Below are a few useful links containing some practical tips to help learn students' names at the beginning of the semester and remember them throughout!

Not Quite 101 Ways to Learn Students' Names

Tomorrow's Professor: Learning Student Names

Protecting teacher immediacy and social presence can be especially difficult in online classes.
Past research links social presence in online classes with learning.

New Research on Student Motivation, Success

Researchers have found new evidence that the motivation and success of students impacted by teaching and learning environments. In a series of studies, researchers at the University of Texas at Austin has found that two factors can alter student performance and success, in particular for minority students. The perception that their teacher cares about their improvement and overall well-being and performance, as well as the perception that they belong in their learning environment have significant effects on student motivation and subsequent performance.

Additional research by Stanford researcher David Paunesku demonstrates the importance of a "growth-mindset" to a students' motivation to succeed, which of course strongly impacts actual success. When students believe that success is based more on one's level of effort and dedication rather than unearned talent or raw intelligence, students were able to perform above their expectations and succeed in academic challenges.

The conclusions center around the following: 1) students who feel they belong and are supported in their efforts for success are more likely to succeed, especially if they are part of a group that historically has not been supported; 2) students who believe the key to success is being hard-working will perform more successfully than students who believe the key to success is being intelligent.

Click To Read The Article Here

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

New OFE Social Media Experience

The Office of Faculty Enhancement (OFE) has created a new facebook page ( and a new approach to connecting with faculty at UNF. Follow the discussion by Liking the page, finding a post that connects with you, and comment. Feel free to share the posts with your friends as well.

The old OFE account will be discontinued, so you will need to connect with the new page to continue to receive notices through facebook.

We will still keep up with our OFE Newsletter blog, thecurrent, for news, announcements, and interesting teaching and learning ideas. We also maintain a twitter page (@OFEUNF) that posts tips and ideas for teaching and learning you might find interesting, mostly from conferences, symposia, and the like.

So what are you waiting for? Join the conversation online.

OFE Staff

Monday, August 17, 2015

UNF-UFF Faculty Social

The University of North Florida Chapter of the United Faculty of Florida (UNF-UFF) will host a Faculty Social for new and returning UNF faculty on
Thursday, Aug 20th, from 4:00-6:00 p.m.
at the UNF Boathouse

All faculty, administrators, and staff are invited.

Free appetizers and drink tickets are available.
 Please RSVP to Caroline Guardino

Adjunct Kickstart Syllabus Workshop

Syllabus Kickstarter 
Workshop for Adjunct Professors 
Saturday, August 22, 2015
8:30 a.m. to 12:00 noon 
Building 58W, Student Union, Room 3804 This hands-on workshop will provide tools and information to craft a well-organized and focused syllabus with the necessary components for university compliance. Attendees should bring his/her syllabus and laptop.
Breakfast will be provided.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Lilly Conference on Teaching and Learning Call for Proposals

Lilly Conference The Lilly Conference on Teaching and Learning has supported the scholarship of teaching and learning for over 30 years. Participants share ideas and evidence regarding effective teaching practices and demonstrated student learning outcomes. See the call for applications below. 

The 35th Annual Original Lilly Conference on College Teaching will be on November 19-22, 2015, and for the 35th consecutive year will be held on the beautiful campus of Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. 

To submit a contributed paper proposal for the Conference, go to

The deadline for submitting a paper proposal is
Monday, June 15, 2015

This year’s Conference features plenary sessions by Robbie Melton, Tennessee Board of Regents, Jim Sibley, University of British Columbia, and Dennis Cheatham, Miami University.

Visit the Conference website at to register for the Conference (register by October 1 and receive the $50 early registration discount).

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Summer Faculty Writing Circles Available

Many faculty members find it difficult to find focused time to write grants and write for academic publication because they feel challenged by teaching loads and administrative duties.
Faculty Writing Circles are designed to facilitate academic writing for faculty who are faced with these challenges. The goal of the Writing Circle is to set an atmosphere of trust within which scholars feel comfortable sharing their work, receiving formative feedback, and revising their work for publication, grant submissions, and other professional forums. The ultimate goal of the Writing Circle is the development of writing and editing skills within the Writing-Circle participant that leads to the recognized distribution of scholarly work.

Registration for UNF Faculty Writing Circles is available online.
The deadline for registration is May 1st.

Frankly Friday: The Soul of Higher Education

The Soul of Higher Education
Friday, April 10th, 2015, 9:30-10:30 a.m.
Faculty Lounge, Building 16, Room 4201

In 2011, the Governor Rick Scott called on institutions of Higher Education in Florida to focus on producing more graduates in the STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) and said that the State probably did not need more Anthropology majors. The stated goal of this reform was to produce students who have degrees where jobs are available. The increased emphasis on the college degree serving to provide job opportunities for graduates is a national trend. A recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Dan Berret reviews evidence that college students increasingly view the college degree as an avenue to financial success and consider less and less that a college degree serves to develop a meaningful philosophy of life. As the Florida Board of Governors focuses more on performance metrics to determine State funding, the university system has increased its focus on producing graduates with jobs. These trends challenge traditional notions of universities providing a broad liberal education for students. Come and discuss the implications of these trends and how they might affect UNF. The Office of Faculty Enhancement will provide coffee and breakfast items.
Friday, April 10th, 2015, 9:30-10:30 a.m.
Faculty Lounge, Building 16, Room 4201

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Beyond the ISQ: New Models, New Methods

Beyond the ISQ: New Models, New Methods
12:00 noon - 1:30 p.m., Friday, April 10, 2015
Building 12, Room 2405
Admission is free. Lunch provided for those who RSVP

Instructional Satisfaction Questionnaires (ISQ) are used ubiquitously in evaluating teaching effectiveness, yet may people question the validity and usefulness of such instruments in assessing quality teaching and learning. Moreover, in the Fall of 2013, UNF moved to a fully online ISQ process. The online administration of the ISQ raised concerns about response rates and the validity of this form of administration. In this session, the Office of Faculty Enhancement (OFE) will present evidence from a comparison of online administration to face-to-face administration of the ISQ. In addition, faculty will discuss different ways to demonstrate teaching effectiveness and student learning that go beyond the use of the ISQ. Topics will include quantitative approaches to learning data, pre-post strategies, and qualitative assessment of evidence of student learning. Participants will be encouraged to find strategies that will work in their own courses to demonstrate teaching effectiveness and provide assessment of student learning. Faculty are encouraged to come and join the discussion. Lunch will be provided for those who RSVP to
12:00 noon - 1:30 p.m., Friday, April 10, 2015
Building 2, Room 2002
Admission is free. Lunch provided for those who RSVP

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Call for Proposals - Transforming STEM Education Conference

STEM Education has experienced a resurgence of interest, especially in the State of Florida, as Governor Rick Scott has made jobs in STEM fields a priority.  The Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) and Project Kaleidoscope (PKAL) have been leading STEM education reform for over 10 years. AAC&U has issues a call for applications to an upcoming conference on transforming STEM education. See the details below.

Crossing Boundaries—Transforming STEM Education

A Network for Academic Renewal Conference
Conference Date: November 12-14, 2015
Location: Seattle, Washington

Proposals Due March 18, 2015

The Association of American Colleges and Universities and ProjectKaleidoscope are pleased to announce their Call for Proposals for the 2015 AAC&U conference Crossing Boundaries—Transforming STEM Education.  Proposals are invited and encouraged to showcase evidence-based practices that reflect any of the themes below, and that can be adapted readily to a wide range of institution types, including community colleges and minority-serving institutions.  
We look forward to your proposals in the context of the four themes listed below.

Theme I:  Integrative Undergraduate STEM Teaching and Learning
This theme invites proposals for sessions that describe cross-disciplinary, innovative approaches for enhancing undergraduate STEM learning.  Proposals should represent research and/or practices from any disciplines that focus on achieving core STEM learning outcomes and/or development of research skills.

Theme II:  Inclusive Excellence/Broadening Participation in STEM Higher Education
This theme invites proposals for sessions that highlight theory driven models and innovations directed toward the recruitment, retention, and persistence of students from historically underrepresented groups in the STEM disciplines.  A focus on the career advancement of underrepresented STEM faculty is also appropriate.

Theme III: Supporting, Rewarding, and Building Capacity of STEM Faculty
This theme will focus on specific faculty development initiatives that are easily transferable to a diverse group of faculty and/or diverse institutions of higher education. Proposals that emphasize innovative reward systems for STEM faculty are encouraged, including rewards for work in online, hybrid, or blended venues.

Theme IV: Institutional Transformation for Undergraduate STEM Education Reform
This theme invites proposals for sessions related to campus-wide institutional change efforts designed to achieve undergraduate STEM education transformation for both faculty and students.  Proposals addressing how college is training K-12 STEM teachers to prepare students for college STEM courses and curricula are encouraged.

Visit the Call for Proposals to find out how to submit a proposal to share your work at this conference.

For more information, please call 202.387.3760, or write to Siah Annand at

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Call for Proposals - Active Learning Forum

2015 National Forum on Active Learning Classrooms (NF-ALC) at the University of Minnesota Active learning captures the best aspects of student learning by prompting students to become active learners rather than passive recipients of information. See the call for proposals below from the National Forum on Active Learning Classrooms. 
Deadline for submissions is April 1, 2015.

The third National Forum on Active Learning Classrooms will take place on August 5-7, 2015 at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities.

Held in Robert H. Bruininks Hall—the largest SCALE-UP installation in the world—the Forum builds on the success of previous events with an expanded set of preconference workshops, demonstrations, posters, roundtables, and paper presentations.

Take a look at our website below for registration and for additional details about the Forum. Paper, demonstration, roundtable, and poster submission deadlines are April 1, 2015. We encourage you to send along this note and website to any of your colleagues who may be interested in attending or presenting.


For more information, contact:
David Langley, Ph.D
Center for Educational Innovation
Office of the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost
University Office Plaza Suite 400
University of Minnesota
Minneapolis, MN 55414

Friday, February 13, 2015

Call for Papers - Journal of Teaching and Learning with Technology

Faculty use a variety of methods to enhance student learning. Many of these innovative techniques are facilitated by the use of technology. Please see the call for papers from the Journal of Teaching and Learning with Technology. The call for manuscripts is open continuously. 

The Journal of Teaching and Learning with Technology (JoTLT) is an international journal dedicated to enhancing student learning through the use of technology. We will be focused on teaching at the university level and will not be accepting manuscripts relating to teaching in the K-12 area. The goal of this journal is to provide a platform for academicians all over the world to promote, share, and discuss what does and does not work when using technology.

We will accept four types of manuscripts:

Quick Hits: A Quick Hit is a brief contribution describing innovative procedures, courses, or materials involving technology (1500 words or less). Each contribution should include sufficient detail to allow another educator to use the Quick Hit in his or her own course. Manuscripts for consideration as Quick Hits should be submitted using the journal website: If you would like to share links, podcasts, etc this can be accommodated – please contact the journal staff.

Empirical Manuscript: Manuscripts in this category should provide qualitative or quantitative evidence demonstrating the effectiveness of the technology in increasing student learning. Each manuscript should include sufficient detail to allow another educator to use the technology in his or her own course. Manuscripts for consideration as Quick Hits should be submitted using the journal website:

Book Reviews: Book Reviews can be submitted for recently published works related to teaching and learning with technology. These manuscripts are typically less than 1500 words in addition to the complete citation of the book and the publisher’s description of the book.

Case Studies: These studies illustrate the use of technology in regards to teaching and learning of higher education students, usually generalizable to a wide and multidisciplinary audience.

Peer Review:
All submitted papers undergo blind review. Please include all identifying information on the title page only. The title page will not be sent to the reviewers. First, all manuscripts are initially reviewed by a member of our international editorial board to ensure that they meet our standards. Then, each manuscript will be peer- reviewed by at least two of our reviewers.

Open Access:
Both the Journal of Teaching and Learning with Technology (JoTLT), and the Journal on the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (JoSoTL) are open access. Print copies will be made available as requested.
Any questions should be directed to Kimberly Olivares, Managing Editor:
Kimberly Olivares, MA, PMP
Asst. Director of FACET for Strategic Outreach
Managing Editor, JoSoTL & JoTLT