Faculty Development Digest, January 2023

Welcome to the second issue of the Faculty Development Digest. We will use this digest to highlight events and resources that may be of interest to faculty and other educators on campus. The Digest will be posted on the Faculty Resources site periodically throughout the year. If you have an item that you would like to suggest for inclusion in a future issue, please send the details to Director of Faculty Development Rachel Weir at rweir@allegheny.edu.

In this issue, you’ll find a variety of resources connected to the start of the semester and setting up your courses. There are also reminders about various faculty development opportunities that will be taking place this semester. You can also see what’s coming up by checking out the Faculty Development calendar, which is posted on the Faculty Development Opportunities page.

Upcoming Events

We’re pleased to announced a virtual workshop on AI-Based Writing Systems, which will take place on Friday, February 3. If you’ve been anxiously following recent conversations about services like ChatGPT and the possible effect they may have on our courses, this workshop is for you! Thanks to Alexis Hart for helping to get this workshop in place and to the Pelletier Library for financial support.

On Thursday, January 19 from 12:00pm-1:30pm CST (1:00pm-2:30pm ET), join speakers Susan D. Blum, Joshua Eyler, and Courtney Sobers for a virtual, public conversation about grades and (un)grading in higher education: what are our challenges, how are we meeting them, and where do we go from here? Organized by the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning at the University of Mississippi.

And one last reminder – if you’ve been notified that you’ve reached your Canvas storage limit or you just want to learn more, check out the workshop on Using Google Storage with Canvas that will take place on Tuesday, January 10, at 1pm. You can also check out the slides here.

Setting Up Your Course

Take a look at the Syllabus Checklist page as a reminder of the required and recommended syllabus content. This page summarizes the information found in Section 9.1 of the Faculty Handbook.

There’s still time to conduct a post-semester course reflection to identify what worked and what didn’t in your classes last semester. One step in this reflection process is analyzing your RSE (Report of Student Experience) responses from the fall semester, which are now available on Anthology. See more information about the survey and how to analyze your responses on this page.

The spring RSE survey will be administered during the week of April 24. Please make sure that you set aside time during class for students to complete the survey. You may also want to make time to administer a midterm course reflection.

For these tips and more, see the Preparing for a New Semester page.

Teaching Tools

One way to begin to build a welcoming classroom environment is to create opportunities for everyone to get to know each other in the first days of the semester, or even before the semester begins. Here are some ideas:

  • Create an Introductions slide deck and have each student add a slide. Click here to get a copy of a simple template.
  • Use name tents at the start of the semester so everyone can start to learn names.
  • Have students write a low-stakes (or no stakes) introductory essay at the start of the semester. For example, this Math Autobiography assignment can be adapted to other disciplines.
  • Administer an anonymous Who’s in Class? survey.
  • Create opportunities for students to work together during the first days of class. You could use activities connected to the course content or more general icebreakers. See this page for some examples.

For more information on inclusive teaching, check out What Inclusive Instructors Do: Principles and Practices for Excellence in College Teaching, by Tracie Addy et al., new online at Pelletier!

Canvas Information

The Canvas Tips page contains information about Canvas resources and support, course set-up reminders, troubleshooting suggestions, and a link to materials from previous Canvas workshops. Three quick reminders:
– Faculty who are teaching more than one section of a course can request that the sections be merged into a single Canvas course, provided the merger meets the following criterion: students will have occasion to see each other in the same classroom or collaborate (physically or online) with each other for educational or pedagogical reasons related to the course during the semester.
– If you’ve copied content from a previous course, watch out for issues with invalid links or unpublished images (the dreaded padlock!). You can identify these quickly using the Course Link Validator. See this article for more information.
– If you can’t find one of your courses in Canvas, click on the Courses icon and then select All Courses. Click the star next to any course to add it to your Courses menu and your Dashboard. See more information here.


Check out the new Registrar Quick Links page in the Faculty Resources site. This page contains links to the Registrar resources that are most commonly used by faculty and is listed in the right-hand menu.

If you’re looking for a way to “regain some control over [your] work, [your] commitments, and [your] attention in order to have time and energy to get what [you] want out of both work and life,” check out Robert Talbert’s new blog Intentional Academia. The first post came out on January 9, 2023.

Spring 2023 Opportunities

Communities of Practice

Critical Professor Series

Using various interdisciplinary frameworks, this professional development opportunity will reintroduce faculty to hidden dimensions of their pedagogical identities and actively discuss equity and inclusion inside undergraduate classrooms. Upon completion, participating faculty may be asked to co-facilitate future department level, course diversity audits throughout the College. Participants will meet weekly for 8 weeks beginning January 2023 (lunch will be provided). Participating faculty will receive a stipend for their active engagement. If interested, please complete this Google form by January 5th, 2023. For more detailed information, please contact Heather Moore Roberson at hroberson@allegheny.edu.

Mindful Communication Book Group

How can we slow down to focus on creating conversations, spaces, and a community prioritizing care and compassion? The spring 2023 faculty book group, facilitated by Sharon Wesoky (Political Science), will focus on Oren Jay Sofer’s book Say What You Mean: A Mindful Approach to Nonviolent Communication to learn the theory behind mindful approaches to communication, as well as specific practices to cultivate skills in presence and patience, curiosity and care, focusing on what matters, and applying these skills to conversations both in and out of the classroom. There will also be the opportunity to participate in optional instruction in mindfulness meditation. Meetings will take place on Mondays (January 23, February 6 and 27, March 20, April 3 and 17, and May 1) from 12:30pm to 1:20pm, with lunch provided, and all participants will receive a copy of the book. Please contact Sharon Wesoky or Rachel Weir with any questions. Interested educators can sign up by completing this form. Sponsored by the Office of the Provost.

Writing Accountability Group

Are you an untenured faculty member (tenure-track, NTTR, visiting, adjunct, etc)? Do you have writing projects you need to complete? Do you need some camaraderie while you work? Please join us for the Writing Accountability Group! We meet one Saturday a month to write (9am-12pm), socialize during lunch (12pm-1pm), and write some more (1pm-4pm). Lunch will be provided. If you’re interested, please email Pam Runestad at prunestad@allegheny.edu for details.


  • May 16 – Spring Educator Resource Institute (click this link to add the event to your calendar)
  • May 17 – Department Chairs Workshop