Event Recordings/Handouts

After each session that the Faculty Center holds throughout the year, you will be able to find any handouts or supplemental material here. Please access this page frequently, especially for sessions that you were unable to attend.

Spring 2017 (Sessions - Adobe Spark - Part of the Cool Tools Series; Reading Across the Curriculum; Diving Beneath the Surface; 5 Databases in 15 Minutes; Assessment Series 1: Backward Design, Rubrics First - featuring Megan Oakleaf; Assessment Series 2: Backward Design, Imagine Your Classroom)
Assessment Series 2: Backward Design, Imagine Your Classroom - featuring Peggy Takach - March 22, 2017

In this session, attendees considered different ways to assess learning in their classrooms, and the challenges of balancing rigor with differing student expectations of explicit assessment. This was an interactive learning session, using examples of ways students are currently assessed in various courses. Attendees walked away with a classroom activity and developmental checklist rubric to assess student learning. Attendees also received a blank matrix (attached below) that can be used as a guide to map an interconnection of rubrics and your assessment activities in a big picture view of the course and how it functions.

Backward Design, Imagine Your Classroom Recording

Imagine Your Classroom Handout

Blank Matrix

Assessment Series 1: Backward Design, Rubrics First - featuring Megan Oakleaf - March 7, 2017

Consider rubric content and design before determining assessment activities and in-class structure.  Discussion included types of rubrics (analytical and holistic) and why you might choose one type over another. Rubric examples of each type are attached in the handout.

Backward Design, Rubrics First Handout

5 Databases in 15 Minutes - Natasha Cooper - March 6, 2017

Learn about 5 featured SU Libraries resources in 15 minutes. In a hands-on session, Tasha Cooper will share highlights from featured journal, ebook, video, data, business or other resources available through SU Libraries. The session handout is a database exploration exercise that could be adapted to any class.

5 Databases in 15 Minutes Database Handout

Diving Beneath the Surface - February 23, 2017

A discussion and demonstration of SURFACE, Syracuse University’s open access repository for research and scholarship. This session covered what it means to make your research available open access, how you can use SURFACE to boost the impact of your publications, and how to negotiate and leverage your rights as an author in order to make your work freely available to a global audience.

Presented by Taylor Davis-Van Atta, MSLIS ’17 candidate, member of the SURFACE steering committee, and publisher of the journal Music & Literature.

Diving Beneath the Surface Slide Deck

Click below to view the recording of the session:

Diving Beneath the Surface Recording

Reading Across the Curriculum - February 8, 2017

Do your students really know how to effectively complete their readings? We shared ways to help students focus: read/think/highlight/analyze. Specifically,

1) how to prepare students for reading comprehension and analysis, 2) proper highlighting techniques, and 3) using analyzed information to pull out main concepts and talking points.

Additionally, we shared: 1) how students should study and 2) how they can predict questions for exams from the text.

Reading Across the Curriculum Handout

Reading Across the Curriculum Slide Deck

Click below to view the recording of the Reading Across the Curriculum session:

Reading Across the Curriculum Recording

Adobe Spark - Part of the Cool Tools Series - January 31, 2017

Adobe Spark allows both web and mobile users to create and share visual content – like posts for social media, graphics, web stories, and animated videos. The goal with the new Spark suite is to allow anyone, including instructors and students, the ability to create and share visual stories without needing to be professional designers. The tools also don’t require a lot of time to use.

Session materials are below:

Adobe Spark Posts

Adobe Spark Pages

Adobe Spark Videos

Click below to view the video recording of the Adobe Spark session:

Adobe Spark Session Recording

IceBox Talk Featuring Steve Sawyer - Electronic whiteboard using iPad and AirSketch

The Faculty Center for Teaching and Learning hosted an IceBox talk featuring Steve Sawyer on Wednesday, November 9, 2016. The talk focused around using an iPad and an application called AirSketch as an alternative to whiteboards and static presentations. Click on the link below to view the presentation:

IceBox Talk featuring Steve Sawyer

Fall 2016 (Sessions - Flip a Lesson Plan; Cool Tools (Participoll, Symbaloo, Kahoot, AnswerGarden, Padlet); Teaching Professor Conference Workshop; Interactive Rubrics in Blackboard; Exemplary Course Design in Blackboard; Slide Decks; Questioning Techniques)
Flip a Lesson Plan - November 1, 2016

This session covered ways to create and design a flipped lesson from start to finish.  What is a flipped lesson plan?  Flipping means you reverse the way you design the learning environment so students engage in activities, apply course concepts and focus on higher-level learning outcomes during class time.   Session materials are below:

Flip a Lesson Plan Recording

Flip a Lesson Plan Presentation

Flip a Lesson Plan Handout

10 Strategies to Encourage Students to do Pre-class Work

Cool Instructional Technologies (Participoll, Symbaloo, Kahoot, AnswerGarden, Padlet) - October 20, 2016

This session covered some new, refreshing ways to engage your students using new technologies that are available today. The technologies are either free, easy, with no registration required for students and/or a combination of all three. If you are looking for some new ideas for classroom engagement, both online and face to face, this is the session for you. Session materials are below:

Cool Instructional Technologies Recording (Participoll, Symbaloo, Kahoot, AnswerGarden, Padlet)

Cool Instructional Technologies Handout (Participoll, Symbaloo, Kahoot, AnswerGarden, Padlet)

Teaching Professor Conference Workshop - October 11, 2016

Every year Peggy Takach, Director of the Faculty Center for Teaching and Learning and a handful of iSchool instructors attend the Teaching Professor Conference. The Teaching Professor Conference provides a thought-provoking forum for educators of all disciplines and experience levels to share best practices that advance college teaching and learning. The three-day conference features pre-conference workshops that provide hands-on learning, provocative plenary presentations, carefully selected concurrent sessions on a range of relevant topics, poster presentations highlighting the latest research, and ample opportunities for conversations with fellow attendees.

This year Peggy attended along with Angela Usha Ramnarine-Rieks and Michael Fudge. After each conference a workshop is scheduled to share new information learned from attending the conference. The topics for this workshop are as follows:

  • Reading Across the Curriculum
  • Exploring Backward Design Approach for Curriculum Development
  • Student Engagement

The materials below were what was used in the workshop:

Teaching Professor Conference Workshop Recording

Active Learning Strategies For Your Classroom – Mike Fudge

Exploring Backward Design – Angela Usha Ramnarine-Rieks

Reading Across the Curriculum Presentation – Peggy Takach

Reading Across the Curriculum Handout – Peggy Takach

Interactive Rubrics in Blackboard - October 10, 2016

Slide Decks - September 30, 2016

This session focused on engaging and creative ways to build a slide deck. Whether you are using PowerPoint, Keynote, Prezi, etc. this session gave some new, creative ideas to creating your presentation slides.

SlideDeck Handout

Exemplary Course Design in Blackboard - September 19, 2016

The Exemplary Course Design in Blackboard session focused on best practices in four main areas: Course Design, Interaction & Collaboration, Assessment, and Learner Support. The session was supported by an Exemplary Design Program Rubric

Exemplary Design Presentation

Exemplary Design Program Rubric

Questioning Techniques - September 6, 2016
This session focused on creating engaging student questions using Bloom’s Taxonomy as the basis. The following concepts were discussed during this session:

  • Students learn key concepts better when they have opportunities to actively monitor their understanding.
  • Knowledge is socially constructed and people learn best in supportive social settings when working with peers.
  • Students become better learners when we challenge them to answer questions that require the use of higher order thinking skills.

Below are two documents that were discussed during the session. The first one is the presentation that was used to discuss questioning techniques and the second one is a handout of Bloom’s taxonomy and sample questions that can be used at each level of Bloom’s taxonomy.

Questioning Techniques Presentation

Bloom’s Taxonomy Question Samples

Summer 2016 (Sessions - Adjunct Get Together)
Adjunct Get Together - August 8, 2016

The Faculty Center for Teaching and Learning at the iSchool hosted an adjunct get together on Monday, August 8th from 5:30 pm – 7:30 pm and discussed the upcoming Fall 2016 semester. Introductions were made and there were networking opportunities available. The agenda included such topics such as “What to expect on the first day”, “Lessons Learned from previous semesters” and “Culture of Teaching”.  Below are three documents that were discussed during the session. The first one is the presentation that Art Thomas gave on the culture of the iSchool; the second one is the tentative Fall 2016 FCTL Professional Development Opportunities; and the third one is the complete list of tools that are available to students which can be discussed on the first day of classes.

The Culture of Teaching at the iSchool, Art Thomas, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs – Associate Professor of Practice

FCTL Professional Development Opportunities – Fall, 2016

Tools for Students to Use at SU

Adjunct Get Together, Presentation by Peggy Takach

Spring 2016 (Sessions - Invigorating the Classroom; Unleashing Analytics in the Classroom)
Invigorating the Classroom - April 15, 2016

Description: Tired of using the same techniques, activities and lesson plans? This session outlines techniques to inject new life into your classroom, including numerous creative teaching tips and strategies and best practices for infusing technology into the curriculum.

We will also talk about 3 creative online tools that you can use right now to help stimulate creativity and excitement back into the classroom. These tools will help to build friendly competition, poll your students for instant feedback, and create personal learning environments that your students can utilize to help them stay organized and for project-based learning.

Learning goals:

  • Be reinvigorated and inspired to enhance your teaching and adapt new techniques
  • Reframe or modify your approach to teaching by incorporating engaging and student-centered learning tools
  • Create exciting learning-centered environments driven by creativity, engagement, and the maximization of student learning

After this workshop, you will be able to:

  • Implement techniques to help invigorate your classroom, whether online or face-to-face.
  • Assess the potential for meeting your instructional goals and challenges.
  • Formulate a plan for moving beyond gaining an initial understanding of selected tools to using them for specific instructional purposes.

Invigorating the Classroom Presentation

Invigorating the Classroom Handout

Technology for Engaging Learners Handout

Unleashing Analytics in the Classroom - March 11, 2016

This session will consider the purpose of measuring student engagement. We will identify which activities not only engage students but also produce quality analysis, which is critical to designing and adapting both online and face-to-face courses.

Some of the questions that we will show you how to answer are:

  • When are students logging into my course?
  • Which course resources/tools are being used most frequently?
  • Which discussions boards generate the most traffic?
  • What are the patterns of performance in an online assessment?
  • What are some of my opportunities for improvement?

Unleashing Analytics in the Classroom PowerPoint Presentation

Evaluating Your Students

Course Reports Cheat Sheet

Fall 2015 (Sessions - Group Learning Techiques by Bei Yu; How to Use Adobe Connect)
Group Learning Techniques by Bei Yu - November 13, 2015

Tired of using the same techniques, activities and lesson plans?  This session outlines techniques to inject new life into your classroom, including numerous creative teaching tips and strategies and best practices for infusing technology into the curriculum.

Learning goals:

  • Be reinvigorated and inspired to enhance your teaching and adapt new techniques
  • Reframe or modify your approach to teaching by incorporating engaging and student-centered learning tools
  • Create exciting learning-centered environments driven by creativity, engagement, and the maximization of student learning

6 Thinking Hats

Ground Rules for Groups

Small Group Communication Factors Questionnaire

Teaching Conference Summary

Summer 2015 (Sessions - All About Video)
All About Video - August 4, 2015

This workshop will focus on what are the different types of videos and what are some tools that you can use to create, edit and share videos.

All About Video

YouTube video on basic video shooting techniques  – by Penn State University

Faculty Focus Top 11 Teaching and Learning Articles of 2016

Our Top 11 Teaching and Learning Articles of 2016


Top 11 articles on Faculty Focus

It wouldn’t be the end of the year without a few top 10 lists. As we prepare to put 2016 in the rearview mirror, we’re offering up our own list, which goes to 11.

Throughout 2016, we published more than 200 articles. The articles covered a wide range of teaching and learning topics, including diversity and inclusion, critical thinking, peer feedback, assignment strategies, course design, flipped learning, online discussions, and grading policies.

In this post, we reveal the 11 articles that most resonated with our readers. Each article’s ranking is based on a combination of factors, including e-newsletter open and click rates, social shares, reader comments, web traffic, reprint requests, and other reader engagement metrics.

11. Why Are We So Slow to Change the Way We Teach?
Many aspects of teaching—lecture, course design, assignments, and grading—have changed little over the years. The question is, “Why?”

10. Backward Design, Forward Progress
Backward course design forces us, as faculty, to make tough decisions about what content is really needed for our students to achieve their learning goals.

9. The Ugly Consequences of Complaining about ‘Students These Days’
What we say about students becomes what we think about them. And that’s when it starts getting dangerous, because it affects how we teach.

8. Three Focusing Activities to Engage Students in the First Five Minutes of Class
You can use a focusing activity to introduce a new idea or to set the stage for what’s to come during class. They can be high-tech, low-tech, or no tech.

7. Student Engagement Strategies for the Online Learning Environment
Our faculty development unit gathered data from students about how engaged they felt in their online courses. Their comments helped inform our teaching.

6. A Memo to Students about Studying for Finals
The end of the semester is rarely pretty. You’re tired. I’m tired. We both have too much to do, and you’re feeling the pressure to perform well on finals.

5. Six Things Faculty Can Do to Promote Student Engagement
Last week’s post encouraged us to reconsider what student engagement means. Today we explore some of the things teachers can do to better promote it.

4. A Practical Approach for Increasing Students’ In-Class Questions
Why don’t students ask questions in class? Is it shyness, lack of preparedness, or something else? Perhaps they simple don’t know where to begin.

3. Supporting Transgender Students in the Classroom
The needs of our transgender students are too often overlooked. This article outlines strategies to support gender diversity in your inclusive classroom.

2. Ready to Flip: Three Ways to Hold Students Accountable for Pre-Class Work
One of the biggest questions about the flipped classroom model is how to get students to actually do the pre-class work and come to class prepared.

1. A Memo to My Students Re: College and the Real World
What happens in college and what you’ll be doing in your career aren’t the same, but they aren’t as different as many of you seem to think.


You guys rock! Totally Stellar Team

Both you and Jeff are a tremendous asset to the iSchool. I also teach classes at (2) other colleges locally and there are no such resources available. Much appreciated!

Mark Borte

Mark Borte

I also thank Jeff and Peggy. Jeff helped me throughout the semester not only with BB but with real life teaching techniques 🙂 Thanks!

Daniel Acuna

Daniel Acuna

Thank you both for all of your help this semester! Have a great break (do you get one?) and a happy holiday season.

Marcene Sonneborn

Marcene Sonneborn

Thank you for the summary, Peggy! Please let me use this opportunity to thank Peggy and Jeff. You two have provided *tremendous* help for my Blackboard/teaching tasks. Thank you so much!

Lu Xiao

Lu Xiao

Y'all are doing a great job. ...keep up the good work.

Dale Thompson

Dale Thompson

Enhancing Learning through Zest, Grit, and Sweat

student studying in library

By Lolita Paff, PhD

Early in my career, I focused most of my efforts on teaching content. That is, after all, what most of us are hired to do, right? With experience and greater understanding of how learning works, my attention shifted toward metacognition. I began investing lots of time and energy reading and identifying ways to help students grow as learners while they learned the content.

It was an improvement, but I had nagging suspicions that important contributors to learning were still missing from my teaching repertoire. I considered the ways teachers influence student behaviors (generally lots of carrots and sticks). What about motivation? What makes students want to learn and want to become better learners? My research identified three overlooked aspects of learning that teachers should consider promoting through their instructional practices: student curiosity (zest), an academic growth mindset and persistence (grit), and an understanding that true long-lasting learning takes effort (sweat).

Fueling zest
Zest is my word for intellectual curiosity, student interest, and enthusiasm. When we’re interested in what we’re learning, we pay closer attention. We think more carefully, make more connections, and dig below the surface. When we’re curious, we are motivated to work harder and longer. Zest isn’t about entertaining. It’s about leveraging the mind’s natural tendency to attend to and expend energy on that which engages and stimulates.

Addressing metacognition without considering students’ curiosity and motivation is like heading out on a long bike trip to an unfamiliar destination. Simply having the roadmap doesn’t ensure the desire to ride or the will to finish. Zest entices us to hop on the saddle; it’s a call to adventure. Teachers incorporate zest when we

  • Connect to students’ interests and make work relevant. Tap into questions, topics, and issues that matter to students. Ask students to identify topics or questions they care about. Use their questions as a means of learning content.
  • Make it real. Study real-world events, analyze historical cases, incorporate web-based writing, and provide opportunities for service learning.
  • Bring passion to the table. Teacher enthusiasm covers a multitude of sins and fosters student interest. Enthusiasm can be contagious.

Promoting grit
Terms like grit, tenacity, perseverance, and persistence describe students who approach learning with a long-term focus. These students endure; they view challenges as temporary setbacks. Students with a fixed mindset focus on performance measures like grades, not learning. Mistakes are perceived as failures, not a necessary part of learning. Resilient learners persist in assignments, courses, and programs like cyclists who dust themselves off and get back on the trail after a mishap. Gritty learners view academic difficulties and confusion as speed bumps, not roadblocks to learning. Teachers promote grit when we

  • Identify appropriate challenges. If goals are too easy or too difficult, student motivation is decreased. Too easy suggests the value or worth is low. Likewise, students may not put forth sufficient effort if a task seems “impossible.”
  • Provide low-stakes practice. Learning requires practice. Multiple, low-stakes opportunities, with timely feedback, promote grit.
  • Offer specific feedback. To be most effective, feedback needs to be specific, and timely. It should identify strengths, weaknesses, and recommendations for future action.

Encouraging sweat
Completing a cycling trip requires stamina and good planning. It’s common for novice riders to underestimate the challenges, overestimate their ability, and fail to plan or plan poorly. Inexperienced learners face these issues too. Learning, like cycling, is hard. It takes time, things go wrong, and you’re not going far without putting forth effort. Fortunately, teachers can help students work smarter, harder and longer when we

  • Incorporate reflection. Reflective questions can be part of class time or incorporated into assignments. Why was this question asked? How is X related to Y? What is the most challenging topic in the chapter? How does this material connect to what you learned before? When students make these connections, learning takes on a long-term perspective.
  • Provide study tips. Provide or develop with students a list of strategies that promote deep learning. Suggest a timeline for study based on “spaced learning” principles. Or better, ask students to submit a timeline or project plan for studying, writing a paper, or completing a project. Develop practice tests or ask students to write questions to use as part of a “testing to learn” strategy.
  • Mind cognitive load. Complex assignment instructions, confusing website navigation, and disorganized course materials increase unproductive cognitive load. Cognitive load should focus energy on the subject, not on the periphery.

 Lifelong learning is more about the ride than the destination. Integrating zest influences what students think and motivates them to start the journey. Strategies attending to grit and sweat influence what students do and the efforts put forth by helping them advance along the paths of learning, now and in the future.

Watch this preview of Developing a Growth Mindset, a three-pack of 20-Minute Mentors led by Lolita Paff. Learn More »

Recommended Reading:

Ambrose, S.A., Bridges, M.W., DiPietro, M., Lovett, MC., Norman, M.K. (2010). How Learning Works Seven Research-Based Principles for Smart Teaching. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Benassi, V.A., Overson, C.E. & Hakala, C.M. (Eds.). Applying Science of Learning in Education: Infusing Psychological Science into the Curriculum. Available at the Society for the Teaching of Psychology web site: http://teachpsych.org/ebooks/asle2014/index.php

Brown, P.C., Roediger, H. L, & McDaniel, M.A. (2014). Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Carey, B. (2015). How We Learn and Why It Happens. NY: Random House.

Duckworth, A. (2016). Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, NY: Simon & Schuster.

Dweck, C. S. (2008). Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. NY: Ballentine.

Dr. Lolita Paff is an associate professor of business and economics at Penn State Berks. She also serves on the advisory board of the Teaching Professor Conference.

The Power of Transparency in Your Teaching


students working on project

The most recent issue of Peer Review (Winter/Spring 2016; published by AACU) highlights the powerful impact ‘transparency’ can have on learning for all students. One aspect of transparency is making obvious the intellectual practices involved in completing and evaluating a learning task. But making these processes visible for students is more easily said than done; we are experts in our fields for the very reasons that our thinking and evaluating are automatic and subconscious. It’s hard to describe exactly what we do intellectually when we synthesize or integrate, critique, or create. Similarly, it’s difficult to articulate the differences between an assignment we score as an A and one to which we give a B. Thus, a challenge in achieving transparency is developing a deep awareness of our own processes. Only then can we explicitly teach those thinking processes. In my own case, thinking about thinking (aka metacognition) was a new pedagogical consideration and it took time to learn this new set of skills in the context of teaching biology. So I was tickled pink one day last September when, at my new institution, I was able to problem-solve on my feet. I was teaching a new-to-me set of skills (writing outside of science) in a new-to-me format (discussion) to a population of students with whom I had no prior experience and in a class I’d never taught before.

In one of our early class meetings I asked my first-year students to identify ways that the reading homework connected to ideas from previous chapters of our text. When I was greeted with mostly weak attempts and puzzled looks, I thought fast. What is it that my brain does when I’m integrating information? My first answer was that I just “see” the connections and parallels. How do I explain that to students? Fortunately, previous reflections served me well and a strategy came to me in the moment. I suggested we start by identifying the major ideas, topics, and characters from previous chapters. As we made the lists on the whiteboard, I felt a wave of relief as I personally started to see more connections among the material—connections I hadn’t identified before arriving in class. This gave me confidence that I had stumbled in the right direction.

Another aspect of transparency is to overtly model what it is you want the students to do for themselves. So, I circled the three times that Darwin appeared in our list and as a class we identified the pages in the relevant chapters where the great man was discussed: first about his belief that humans, like other organisms, could be understood biologically; second about his influence on Rokitansky and the Vienna School of Medicine; and third about his influence on Freud. During the ensuing discussion in which we explored those connections, I silently circled the additional items on the whiteboard that had relevance (Modernism, Klimt, emotion) and noted that as I did so, a few students were using the book’s index to find more textual passages. To be even more transparent about our process, when conversation started to lag, I asked the students to identify what it was we’d done to integrate ideas across chapters.

Knowing that watching isn’t the same as doing I wanted to give students a chance to practice. I asked them to form small groups, identify three clearly related terms on our list, and explore the links using the same strategy of examining the relevant sections in the text. Because we’d done concept mapping in a previous class session, I asked them to track their discussion with an abbreviated version of such a map. For our class-wide debrief, each group reported on the connections they identified. These two steps, working in small groups and then reporting to the larger group, provided a direct experience of practice, as well as examples of how others had approached the task. It also provided feedback from peers (and me as I commented during reports). I created another low-stakes opportunity to practice by asking students to bring to our next class meeting a concept map linking two ideas from our list on the whiteboard with one from the next reading assignment and to provide page numbers that supported the links.

Looking back, I could have pushed the transparency a bit further by modeling how to evaluate the quality of what we were producing. If I had thought about how to help students integrate ideas ahead of time rather than coming up with it on the fly, I would have done two examples (one of lesser quality) of how content connected across chapters and then engaged us in a discussion about significance, novelty, and intellectual depth of understanding. This approach would have clarified my expectations and it would have given students practice evaluating their ideas.

Moreover, this last approach makes transparent a mindset important to becoming independent and creative thinkers: it’s okay to take intellectual risks and go down a path that winds around without getting any place exciting. I could have talked about how, in fact, the risk-taking plus evaluation is part of the intentionality students need not just for my class and not just for college, but for their life and work beyond graduation. This is a learning goal that I often don’t even acknowledge to myself much less make transparent for my students.

Good thing I’m teaching the class again this fall!

Dr. Amy B. Mulnix is the director of the Faculty Center at Franklin and Marshall College. Her current scholarship involves synthesizing literature on professional development and the learning sciences.

Working in Groups and Facilitating Discussions

This is a post from the tomorrows-professor newsletter by Rick Reis of Stanford University

Working in Groups and Facilitating Discussions

Some students are good at helping groups work together, address conflicts, and solve problems. Some aren’t. Teaching students group skills is not typically part of any academic discipline, but the work environment requires that students learn to use these skills effectively.

Group Composition

* Do not let students pick their own groups.
* Be aware of seating patterns before you set up the groups so you can split up friendship groups if appropriate.
* Before groups begin work, ask them to introduce themselves and share contact information.

Group Process Issues

* Ask students in their groups to discuss the best and the worst group they ever belonged to. Then have them report their findings to the class and draw some general conclusions about what makes a group work well. Summarize this list of effective behaviors and write the list on a whiteboard or blackboard and/or post it online. It is also illuminating to have a classroom discussion about why these behaviors make a group work. You definitely do not need to be the expert. You just need to listen, summarize, and if appropriate ask the students how this approach to group work might help them in their careers. This discussion might even provide an opportunity for a grad to come to class and talk about work environment or for the students to talk about places where they have worked.

* Ask students within their groups to discuss how they handle conflicts or what they do when they really disagree with somebody, report their findings, and discuss good conflict management strategies. If you need support in the conflict management strategies area, try searching the topic online, inviting a member of the student affairs staff to co-teach that class, or find a partner on the faculty who is experienced in this area.
* Have each group pick an easy to use signal for stopping work when somebody feels ignored. This can be as simple as saying, “I’m stuck.”

Group Facilitation Skills (for the professor)

There are at least two keys to effective group facilitation. One is active listening and the other is observing group dynamics.

Active Listening

* When you listen to what students are saying, try not to think about what you are going to say afterward. Listen with a clear mind (see Appendix B) and listen for themes. Then tell the students what you have heard or seen. For example, “You seem to be confused about who’s at fault in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. You seem to want to place the blame on one of the groups.” Rephrasing what the student said before responding assures the student that you have understood the student’s intended meaning. The student is then more open to listening to new information. This process creates the beginnings of a dialogue.

* Encourage students to speak with each other rather than to you alone. For example: “Jorge, that was an interesting idea. Susan, you seemed to react to what Jorge said. What do you think about the idea? Anybody else want to respond?” I think of this aspect of group facilitation as weaving. You want to teach the students to listen to each other because it builds trust, encourages self-authorship, and teaches them how to treat differences of opinion respectfully. After you have exhausted a particular topic, summarize what you think you heard. For example: “It sounds as if you are concerned about being misunderstood or not being able to express yourself accurately. Some of you may be concerned about being attacked or dismissed for your opinions.” Then ask the students if you got it right or missed anything important.

Observing Group Dynamics

* Watching group dynamics is like watching a pot of soup heat up. As the soup gets hotter you can see currents and bubbles in the pot. These currents affect the various ingredients in the soup differently depending on their density, size, and so forth. You can also see dynamics in any body of water by watching currents and the objects floating in the water. If you like to fish you have seen this phenomenon. If you haven’t noticed, perhaps you should go fishing. Once you experience dynamics in fluid, try watching a department meeting. Similar phenomena occur.

* In your classes begin observing the connections among your students – either positive or negative. When some students speak, everybody listens. Others seem to evoke eye rolling, looking down or toward each other, or arm crossing. If there are out-of-class alliances in the group, students may speak in an invariant order. For example, as soon as Kemesha speaks, her friend Jamal may follow up. If people ignore Kemesha, Jamal may get agitated. If students have competitive relationships or are trying to outspeak each other, the follow-up is likely to be a contradiction or a challenge. There are gender patterns to this phenomenon as well (Belenky, Clinchy, Goldberger, & Tarule, 1986).

* Be aware that sometimes the professor is the target of the dynamic process. You are the authority figure. Students who are engaged in the self-authorization process may begin to challenge authority. This is normal but uncomfortable for the target. Generally speaking, this is not personal, however personal it may feel. It is very important to respond impersonally. For example: “There seems to be some agitation [distress, upset, anger, and so on] in the conversation. Anybody want to talk about what’s going on?” Your role is to encourage reasonable expression of feelings and minimize student attacks or disrespect. You can refer to the class rules. You need to think of yourself as an observer and a person who helps students talk to each other. Remember to summarize what you have heard before adding your observations or additional information.

* Do not join the conflict. Remember, your job in this situation is to observe the dynamics and label them, not to join the conflict. Take the lid off the pot before it boils over. What people really want is to be heard. Summarize what you’re hearing. That typically calms things down considerably.

* If you know you will be teaching a class where conflict is inevitable, and you want to use conflict as an educational tool, invite a person with good group skills to join you for that class. Group process experts can be found in student affairs, in departments of communication, and possibly in the human resources department of your institution.

* Learning to watch and use group dynamics as an educational tool is an endless process. Start where you are. If what you see doesn’t make sense to you, find somebody who is an experienced facilitator to discuss the situation with you. I recommend seeking out student affairs people, but there are also many academic departments that teach about groups. Ask your friends for suggestions. Do not talk to people who are more likely to have group counseling experience because what you are doing is not counseling and counseling issues will probably confuse the process.


* If you really want to explore this topic in greater depth, search out group decision-making styles online. Many assessment tools are available that can be used to help students develop a language for addressing and resolving differences of opinion. If you don’t feel comfortable participating in the clarification process as a facilitator, ask a staff member from student activities or residence life to help. Many of these people know how to use these tools. There are also potential partners in communication and business departments.

* Consider consulting a book on group dynamics. My favorite group dynamics book is Joining Together: Group Theory and Group Skills (Johnson & Johnson, 2013). This book organizes group process by issues and contains many exercises to illustrate each topic.


* Make the students assess the quality of the group work as part of their final grade. I usually ask students to write a short reflection paper after completion of a group project. This allows me to find out who really did what and how satisfied with the group the individual members were. If there are different renditions of what happened that is a good subject for a meeting with the group.

Remember, the key to good assessment of group skills is to identify specific behaviors that are the positive contributors. You can probably develop the list from the earlier student conversations about how good groups work.


Belenky, M.F., B.M. Clinchy, N.R. Goldberger and J.M. Tarule. 1986. Women’s Ways of Knowing. Basic Books, NY.

Johnson, D., & Johnson, F. (2013). Joining together: Group theory and group skills (11th ed.). Minneapolis, MN: Pearson.

Adjunct Get Together – Tech Garden

All Full Time, Part Time and Ph.D. faculty are welcome to attend. If you would like to attend please email Jeff Fouts at jlfouts@syr.edu

techgardenThe Faculty Center for Teaching and Learning in conjunction with the Director of Undergraduate Programs cordially invites all iSchool full time, part time and Ph.D. faculty members to a Saturday get together. The purpose of the get together is to learn more about how each of your courses fits into the big picture at the iSchool. We will also be including two other workshops for you to participate in. One will discuss exemplary course design in Blackboard and the other will focus on creating an engaging slidedeck for your course presentations.

There will be networking opportunities throughout the morning as well.

What: Adjunct Instructor Get Together

When: Saturday, November 5, 2016

Time: 8:30 AM – 12:00 PM

Where: Tech Garden, 235 Harrison Street, Syracuse, NY 13202

Parking: Parking is Free. Bring in your parking receipt with you for immediate reimbursement.

Please Note: Breakfast will be served

The agenda will consist of the following:
Time Event
8:30 AM – 9:00 AM Network with Dean Liddy
8:30 AM – 9:00 AM Breakfast/Networking/Socialization
*9:00 AM – 10:00 AM Understanding the Undergrad Program: Where Does My Course Fit?
*10:00 AM – 11:00 AM Exemplary Course Design in Blackboard
*11:00 AM – 12:00 PM SlideDecks – Your Presentation Slides on Steroids
*Time will be set aside before and after each presentation for breaks/networking/socialization


Understanding the Undergrad Program: Where Does My Course Fit In?

Title: Understanding the Undergrad Program: Where Does My Course Fit?

Presentation Delivery Method: Presentation/Discussion

Description: All of us fully understand the content of the courses we teach. But do we know where our course fits within the overall structure of the undergraduate IM&T program? Is it a core course? Does it have or fulfill a pre-requisite? How does the course relate to our 6 concentrations? And most important of all, how does the course help expose our students to the plethora of career opportunities that await? The B.S. in Information Management and Technology is so much more than 120 random credit hours. This session is the first in a series, each focusing on a different program offered by the iSchool. Come learn more about our undergraduate program and our students!

Presenter: Deb Nosky, Director of Undergraduate Programs/Assistant Professor of Practice and Sheila Clifford-Bova, Undergraduate Program Manager

Exemplary Course Design in Blackboard

Title: Exemplary Course Design in Blackboard

Presentation Delivery Method: Presentation/Discussion

Description: The Exemplary Course Design in Blackboard session focuses on best practices in four major areas: Course Design, Interaction & Collaboration, Assessment, and Learner Support. The session is supported by an Exemplary Course Program Rubric.

If you are interested to find out what is considered an exemplary course design in Blackboard, as determined by Blackboard, this is the session for you. We will discuss the course design and why or why not we would want to include some of the aspects listed in the rubric as part of our course design here at the iSchool.

Presenter: Jeff Fouts, Director of Instructional Technology/Adjunct Instructor

SlideDecks – Your Presentation Slides on Steroids

Title: SlideDecks – Your Presentation Slides on Steroids

Presentation Method: Presentation/Discussion

Description: The SlideDecks session focuses on engaging and creative ways to build a SlideDeck. Whether you are using PowerPoint, Keynote, Prezi, etc. this session will give you some new, creative ideas to creating your presentation slides.

Have you wanted to add images, update your slide design or simply make your bulleted slides more visually appealing to your students and other audiences?   It is easy and fun to do!

Presenter: Peggy Takach, Director of Faculty Center for Teaching and Learning/Adjunct Instructor

Upcoming Sessions

Unleashing Analytics in the Classroom

This session will consider the purpose of measuring student engagement. We will identify which activities not only engage students but also produce quality analysis, which is critical to designing and adapting both online and face-to-face courses.

Some of the questions that we will show you how to answer are:

  • When are students logging into my course?
  • Which course resources/tools are being used most frequently?
  • Which discussions boards generate the most traffic?
  • What are the patterns of performance in an online assessment?
  • What are some of my opportunities for improvement?
Gaming in Education: Using the Blackboard Achievement Feature

Achievements were put into games first by Microsoft who were trying to think of ways to keep people playing. Gamers play a game and when they do something they can occasionally get an achievement. It may be beating a level under a specific time limit or it could be finding something hidden. Achievements are all over the place in gaming. Microsoft really hit a nerve with gamers because today achievements are EVERYWHERE and some gamers literally spend all of their time getting achievements and never beating the game. Main Theme: Achievements to NOT impact beating a game but rather act as side bonuses. Some of the topics that we will discuss in this session are:

  • What are the three types of achievements?
  • What are the 4 rules that should be adhered to when creating achievements in your courses?
It's Not the Answer, It's How You Construct the Question. How to Assess Students Using the Principles of Bloom's Taxonomy

This session will focus on creating engaging student questions using Bloom’s Taxonomy as the basis. The following concepts will be discussed during this session:

  • Students learn key concepts better when they have opportunities to actively monitor their understanding.
  • Knowledge is socially constructed and people learn best in supportive social settings when working with peers.
  • Students become better learners when we challenge them to answer questions that require the use of higher order thinking skills.

Announcing: The New Faculty Center for Teaching and Learning

The iSchool has formalized a new initiative committed to the professional development and personal growth of all faculty, with the mission of fostering a dynamic and committed teaching and learning community across all distances and disciplines.
It’s the Faculty Center for Teaching and Learning! Now located in Suite 206 on the second floor of Hinds Hall, you’ll find a new training area/faculty lounge, staff offices, and an informational resource lending library.
The FCTL is designed to provide iSchool faculty members and adjunct faculty with the needed resources and support to excel in your teaching and instructional design and to thrive personally, in order to benefit all students at the iSchool. Especially given today’s diverse and rapidly changing education environment, we hope you’ll take advantage of the wide range of services and resources available.
The FCTL’s scope is to provide one-on-one, small-group, and whole-faculty support for effective course design, technology assistance and instruction, promotion of evidence-based teaching methods, and means of assessment for all iSchool instructors, including faculty, professors of practice, adjunct instructors, Ph.D. students, teaching assistants, and students.
The Center aims to:
•Support faculty professional development within a rapidly evolving profession and
teaching/learning environment.
•Respond to new ideas and trends in teaching and learning.
•Create an ongoing, coherent discussion of pedagogical practices in and out of the
classroom, with the FCTL coordinating faculty development activities, resources, and
•Foster a safe space for honest, productive dialogue informed by scholarship and
experience from all disciplines, ranks, and full-time and part-time faculty members.
•Promote communication and collaboration across disciplines by providing a hub that fosters a dynamic and committed cross-discipline community.
•Assure that the iSchool remains up-to-date in current pedagogical thinking.

The Center is led by Director Peggy M. Takach and Jeff Fouts, Director of Instructional Technology.
The FCTL will coordinate a strategic group of School faculty and staff members who will collaborate on operational functions. (This includes the School’s curriculum program directors, director of online education, director of instructional quality, and Assistant Dean for IT Services and Facilities.) Dr. Barbara Stripling, Senior Associate Dean, will oversee the center, and the staff team will work closely with the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Art Thomas.
Please stop by Suite 206! Or contact Center staff as follows:
Peggy M. Takach
Director of the Faculty Center for Teaching and Learning

Jeffrey L. Fouts
Director of Instructional Technology

Services Offered: The New Faculty Center for Teaching and Learning

• Faculty support for course design, development and delivery
• Blackboard support
• New faculty on-boarding training
• Faculty pedagogical quality workshops and sessions
• One-on-one and small group consulting for course preparation
• One-on-one and small group consulting for classroom preparation
• Panopto for recordings of lectures, screen casts, video recordings in classroom, etc.
• Adobe Connect sessions
• Support of additional instructional tools: Turnitin, Ensemble Video, YouTube, WordPress
• In class demonstrations for students
• One stop shop for all things faculty related

Along with the services listed above, we can also serve as a resource for such things as: handling introverted and extroverted students, flipping a lesson plan, engaging students, creating a welcome video, etc.
We are always open to suggestions and recommendations from YOU on how we can make the Faculty Center better support you.

Please stop by anytime in Suite 206! Or contact Center staff as follows:

Peggy M. Takach
Director of the Faculty Center for Teaching and Learning

Jeffrey L. Fouts
Director of Instructional Technology