Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Math Motivation Moderates the Effect of Math Anxiety on Math Performance

Mathematics is perhaps the most-feared school subject across education, from students in elementary schools to universities. There is a wealth of research providing evidence that math performance and math learning have negative relationships with math anxiety. Unfortunately, the more anxious one becomes about their math performance, the worse they will be at learning and performing math skills.

Math anxiety contributes to a performance gap in STEM fields for minority students and women, who report more anxiety in math-related fields than their White male counterparts. But is it really as simple as, "If math makes you nervous, you won't be as good at it"? Recent research indicates that that's not the whole story.

A 2015 study, researchers, brings some new evidence to the discussion. The authors underscore that, yes, past research has shown that math anxiety diminishes math cognition, stunting both math performance and learning. However, anxiety tends to have a curvilinear relationship with complex cognitive tasks in general, such that more anxiety correlates with increased performance, but after a certain point, increased anxiety begins to correlate with decreased performance. When this relationship is graphed it is shaped like an upside-down U (similar to a parabola, as a matter of fact).

What researchers found was that math anxiety and math performance had a curvilinear (inverse-U) relationship, but only when the students had a high intrinsic math motivation. Those with low math motivation showed the typical negative linear relationship between math anxiety and performance, that is, as anxiety increased, performance decreased. The moderating effect of motivation on the relationship between math anxiety and performance was found for both children and adult college students.

This research demonstrates that there is a a complex interaction of emotional and cognitive factors that impact learning and performance. For math, it seems, anxiety can be harnessed as a useful learning tool for those with high intrinsic motivation. Those with low intrinsic motivation around math are best to avoid panic.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Using Rubrics Adds Depth to Analytical Learning

In recent years, higher education has moved in a utilitarian direction, refocusing on the purported purpose of post-secondary education- preparing its students to live and work after graduation.

Many faculty have begun to show a preference of active learning, a strategy that fosters critical and analytical thinking about material and its application. Recently, support has risen for utilizing rubrics as a way to support effective teaching. Rubrics, scholars suggest, have many uses in university classrooms to stimulate active learning by increasing the quality and quantity of student performance.

Rubrics bring clarity and order to assignments that are more subjective and require more abstract thought than multiple-choice or fill-in-the-blank style questions. However, the benefits of using rubrics can go much further than that. Rubrics help to ensure quality by providing criteria for what different levels of manipulation and understanding of material are worth in terms of grading. Best of all, because students have a means to assess their work as they are completing it, they engage in the critical thinking required for self-evaluation.

Rubrics can be used in creative ways to boost energy in the classroom and enable students to view material from novel standpoints. For instance, a rubric might be used as a means for students to think like their professor if they are asked to write a rubric for their own assignment or use a rubric to grade their own work or those of their peers. When students create rubrics or grade using a rubric, they are applying course knowledge in a more complex and applied way than a typical assignment may require. Classroom practices that include rubrics hold great potential in stimulating deeper levels of thought and engagement with material by forcing students to think analytically and critically.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Survey Finds Support and Concern for Contingent Faculty Wanting

Results of a recent survey from the New Faculty Majority, a national coalition for adjunct and contingent faculty equity, provides evidence that working conditions do not provide adequate resources or support for non-tenured faculty on higher-education campuses. The survey polled 400 contingent faculty members across 33 states in 2015, building on the results of the same survey administered in 2011. The results, which have changed little since 4 years ago, show some startling realities for contingent faculty members to which tenured faculty members simply are not exposed.

The conclusion here is that most post-secondary institutions do not prioritize contingent faculty when considering whom of their employees need to be supported seriously or compensated fairly for their work.

Some of the most jarring results are related to the livelihoods of contingent faculty, Despite the fact that forty-five percent of contingent faculty receive less than $20,000 per year from their teaching, seventy-three percent derive most of their income from their teaching positions and two-thirds of them have actively sought or are seeking tenure-track positions.

Other than the difficulties of supporting themselves, contingent faculty also face difficulties in securing the infrastructure and support they need to teach effectively. More than half of contingent faculty reported never being provided access to an office phone at at least one appointment, twenty four percent reported having no computer access at all at at least one appointment, and twenty-eight percent reported never being provided with office space at at least one appointment.

Contingent professors also suffer from a lack of guidance and attention from their university or department administrations. A full 70% of contingent faculty reported that they had never received any departmental or institutional orientation when they first began a new teaching appointment. More than half of contingent faculty have had to prepare to teach courses with less than three weeks' notice, and 23% percent have had to prepare to teach courses for which they never received curriculum guidelines.

All of this forces the question: Do institutions of higher education realize how much of the teaching load contingent faculty bear, and how do they support contingent faculty in lifting such a load?

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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Gateway Course Conference in Atlanta - Call for Applications

The Office of Faculty Enhancement invites faculty who teach, coordinate and/or develop curriculum for high enrollment courses and/or high risk gateway courses to attend an upcoming conference on gateway courses in Atlanta, GA.

The John N. Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education will be hosting a conference on Improving Institutional and Student Performance in Gateway Courses. The conference will be held on April 3rd-5th, 2016, at the Grand Hyatt Buckhead, Atlanta, GA.

Gateway (high enrollment, high risk) courses provide unique challenges for students who may be unprepared for the rigor of the course or who may have difficulty progressing in their curriculum plan if they do not succeed. Helping students succeed in these gateway courses improves student retention and graduation.

The Office of Faculty Enhancement will support the travel and collaboration of 3-5 UNF faculty members to attend the conference and present what they have learned to the UNF faculty community. Faculty interested in attending and being a part of the UNF innovation team, contact Dan Richard at drichard@unf.edu with a brief statement of your interest in the conference and in gateway courses. Preference for funding will be given to faculty who teach gateway courses. 
Faculty interested in OFE providing travel support (funding) will need to contact drichard@unf.edu with your interest by February 29th. 

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FLIP Learning Community Spring 2016 Meetings

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 faculty learning community (FLC) is for you. Come and share your ideas and hear from others who are working on flipping their classrooms.
RSVP to ofe@unf.edu

We will be continuing our monthly meetings this semester, Spring 2016.
The dates of the upcoming meetings are:
Friday, February 12, 9:30 a.m. 
Friday, March 11, 9:30 a.m. 
Friday, April 8, 9:30 a.m. 

We will meet in the Office of Faculty Enhancement (Building 16, Room 3108) conference room. Here is a map: http://bit.ly/unfmapofe

On Friday, Feb 12th, Georgette Dumont, Assistant Professor in Political Science & Public Administration, will present on capturing short video segments for flipping the classroom. Come and join the conversation.

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UNF SoTL Symposium - Call for Proposals

SoTL Symposium - Call for Proposals 
The Office of Faculty Enhancement is pleased to announce its 
3rd Annual Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) Symposium.

The Symposium will be held on Monday, April 11th, 2016, in the Student Union. The SoTL Symposium will be held in conjunction with the 2016 Research Week (April 11th-15th), highlighting faculty and student research and scholarship at UNF.

Call for Proposals:
The Office of Faculty Enhancement invites proposals for the 3rd Annual Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) Symposium that fit the theme of “Transformational Learning.”

The deadline for submitting 250 word summaries is March 15th, 2016.

Transformational learning helps students adopt new perspectives, develop complex representations of the world, and find new ways of interacting with others who are different than them. Transformational learning practices may take students to places they had never been before, to see things they had never seen, and to imagine concepts they had never considered. The outcomes of such experiences are integrated connections across disciplinary boundaries, the ability to use complex frameworks, and self-knowledge that supports professional and personal growth. The SoTL Symposium will highlight transformational learning at UNF and invites all faculty who have used these strategies to submit a proposal to present at the symposium. The University of North Florida through the Undergraduate Dean's office has supported Transformational Learning Opportunity (TLO) grants for the past 10 years. Grantees are especially invited to submit a proposal, but receiving a TLO grant is not a requirement to present. Presentations can focus on any area of transformational learning including study abroad, undergraduate research, community-based learning, field experiences, co-op experiences, learning communities, leadership experiences, and others.

The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) is the systematic investigation of questions related to teaching and student learning characterized by clear goals, adequate preparation, appropriate methods, outstanding results, effective communication, and a reflective critique.

In sum, SoTL is about bringing a scholarly approach to teaching practice and student learning.

The deadline for submitting 250 word summaries is March 15
th, 2016.

More on SoTL:
Hutchings, P., & Shulman, L. S. (1999). The scholarship of teaching: New elaborations, new developments. Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning,31(5), 10-15. 
Glassick, C. E., & Huber, M. T., (1997). Scholarship assessed: Evaluation of the professoriate. Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. SF: Jossey-Bass.

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Saturday, February 6, 2016

Call for Applications - Course Redesign Summer Institute

Call For Applications:
Course Redesign for Effective Learning (CREL)
The Office of Faculty Enhancement (OFE) invites full-time UNF faculty to participate in a summer course redesign institute. The purpose of this institute is to provide faculty with the time, resources, information, and collaborative support needed to revise and redesign a selected Fall 2016 or Spring 2017 course (or design a new course) in ways that will maximize student learning.

Deadline for Applications: Tuesday, March 15th, 2016  
Interested faculty should complete the online application at: http://bit.ly/crel2016
OFE invites all full-time UNF faculty who are interested in enhancing student learning apply for the CREL program. Such proposals could include student projects, research activities as part of a course, community-based learning, or other forms of engaged learning.
The UNF faculty selected to participate in the CREL and who produce a redesigned product will receive a $1000 stipend.
The dates for the 2016 CREL workshops are Tuesday, June 21st, Thursday, June 23rd, and Tuesday, June 28th.

The Review Process
The proposals will be reviewed by the OFE Director in consultation with the Faculty Association’s Faculty Enhancement Committee.

Applications will be reviewed according to the following criteria:
·                The proposed change represents a significant change to the structure, organization, or activities associated with the course.
·                The proposed change is reasonable given the time constraints.
·                The proposed change is likely to affect student learning positively.

Faculty members who have been awarded summer research and teaching grants are eligible to participate in CREL.  For those who have received a summer teaching grant, the CREL project proposal should involve a different course than that on which the summer teaching grant is based.  Preference will be given to first-time participants in OFE’s course redesign workshops. Applications from a variety of perspectives and methods are encouraged. Selection of proposals will ensure a broad participation across disciplines on campus.

Preparing the CREL Proposal Application

Interested faculty should complete the online application at:


The deadline for applications is March 15th.​

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