Faculty Development Digest, January 2024

The Faculty Development Digest highlights 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.

Spring Book Group

There’s still time to sign up for the spring book group! Meetings begin on Wednesday, January 24.

Belonging Book Group. How can we foster a sense of belonging for our students and for ourselves? The spring 2024 faculty/staff book group, facilitated by Rachel Weir, will focus on Geoffrey Cohen’s book Belonging: The Science of Creating Connections and Bridging Divides, which describes how “small actions to boost belonging have the potential to restore a sense of community in times of isolation and division” and that a sense of belonging “even boosts individual and communal health.” Meetings will take place on Wednesdays (January 24, February 7, February 21, March 13, March 27, April 10, and April 24) from 12:30pm to 1:20pm, with lunch provided, and all participants will receive a copy of the book. Please contact Rachel Weir with any questions. Sponsored by the Office of the Provost.

Setting Up Your Courses

Syllabus Checklist. The Syllabus Checklist page contains a list of required and recommended syllabus content, summarizing the information found in Section 9.1 of the Faculty Handbook.

DR Assessment. If you are teaching a course that has an ME or CL tag, please make sure you are able to identify at least one assignment for which one rubric row can be applied (Process or Conventions for ME; Civic Systems or Civic Actions for CL). Additional details can be found in the ME rubric and the CL rubric. Information about the assessment process will be emailed to instructors.

Reports of Student Experience (RSEs) The spring RSE survey will be open during the week of April 22, so please make sure that you set aside time for students to complete the survey during class that week. You may also want to make time to administer a midterm course reflection, followed by a post-semester course reflection.

Canvas Courses The RSE and other assessments are administered via Canvas, so all courses must have published Canvas sites, preferably by the Add/Drop deadline so that reminders don’t need to be sent out to instructors. This doesn’t mean that entire courses need to be managed through Canvas. You can find instructions on how to create a minimal Canvas course in this document.

Check out the Preparing for a New Semester page for additional reminders and tips for the new semester.

Teaching Tools

First Day Advice. Check out James Lang’s post How to Teach a Good First Day of Class for advice on how to set the tone for the semester by incorporating curiosity, community, learning, and expectations into your first class meeting.

Engaging Teaching. In her advice guide How to Make Your Teaching More Engaging, Sarah Rose Cavanaugh (author of The Spark of Learning: Energizing the College Classroom with the Science of Emotion) shares four principles for increasing engagement in your classes:
– Cognitive Resources Are Limited. Emotion Trumps.
– Your Persona and Performance Matter, Like It or Not
– We Are Intensely Social Creatures, Motivated by Community
– Stories Are Our ‘Most Natural Form of Thought.’

Mental Health Days. Thinking about incorporating mental health days into your class schedule? In the post Student Wellness Tip: Create Mental Health Day Reflections, read about how one professor structures these breaks by requiring students to submit a short, written reflection describing how they spent the scheduled class meeting time, with the only rules being that they can’t sleep or study. The professor also commits to using this break to focus on his own wellness.

Ending With Review. In her post The Case for Ending the Semester With Review, Beth McMurtrie describes how Robert Talbert structures his classes so that the last two weeks do not involve any new content, allowing time to review material so that students can further bolster understanding. A similar strategy is to use these two weeks to delve more deeply into the material, but to only assess students on the earlier material. This provides the opportunity for students to view the assessed content from different points of view, enhancing their understanding without the pressure of additional testing.

Reading Your RSEs

Finding RSE Reports. Each course’s responses are contained in an Evaluation Report. To find your Evaluation Reports, go to the Anthology platform, click on the Reports icon at the top and then select Evaluation Reports. You should then see a list of your courses. Select the reports that you would like to see by checking boxes in the Include column and clicking the View button that appears above the list. You can also use the filters at the top of a page to find a specific course. Department chairs can access the reports for faculty in their department in the same way. The Anthology platform can be accessed directly via the RSEs link in your Canvas courses or via the Google waffle. If you run into any issues, please email rsesupport@allegheny.edu to contact the on-campus Anthology managers.

Analyzing RSE Responses. RSE results should be viewed through the lens of reflection and growth, as opposed to comparison with other faculty. For the qualitative responses, which appear at the end of the Evaluation Report, look for themes and identify possible action items. Pay attention to the positive comments, not just the negative ones! For the quantitative results, look for trends over time, celebrate the positives, and identify areas for improvement.

It’s normal to have an emotional reaction to reading feedback from your students, so give yourself time to work through any feelings that come up for you. For more advice on how to approach reading your evaluations, take a look at Constanza Bartholomae’s post Put Your Teaching Evaluations in a Jar. For example, she suggests “leaning into your values” and creating a “jar of affirmations.”

The Reports of Student Experience page contains additional information and advice, including the slides from the October 2022 presentation RSEs and You: What Does It All Mean?

Canvas Information

Course Mergers. Faculty who are teaching more than one section of a course may wish to request that the sections be merged into a single Canvas course. To request a merger, please use the Request a Canvas Course Merger button on the Library Resources for Faculty page, and submit the form provided. Requests will be processed by Library Services after approval by the Registrar, so please allow time for processing. Course mergers cannot be completed after students have submitted assignments or participated in discussions in the course.

New Quizzes Training Course. A 90-minute on-demand training course on New Quizzes is now available through the Canvas Training Portal. To access the portal, click the Help link in Canvas, located at the bottom of the navigation menu on the left-hand side. As noted in the portal, “New Quizzes is an enhanced quizzing tool available inside of Canvas. The tool offers a variety of interactive question types to promote engagement in your assessments. This course explores New Quizzes including the creation process, moderation and grading options, item bank management, as well as how to import and migrate existing quiz content.”

Canvas Support. 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. Two quick reminders:
– 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.

ASC Reminders

ASC Funding Deadline. The spring semester deadline for ASC grant applications is February 15. All full-time continuing faculty are eligible to apply for funding of up to $3500 per year to support projects in 2023/24 or 2024/25 that are related to teaching or research. Requests for sabbatical or pre-tenure leave funding should also be submitted as ASC grant applications. The application form and additional details can be found on this page. Please contact ASC Chair Tim Bianco or Director of Faculty Development Rachel Weir with any questions.

ASC Funding Reports. If you use Academic Support Committee funding in the current fiscal year (July 1, 2023 – June 30, 2024), please remember to complete the Funding Report submission form by June 30. This form and further details are available on the ASC Grant Applications page. Please contact Director of Faculty Development Rachel Weir with any questions.

Fall Leave Reports. If you were on leave during the fall semester, please remember to submit your leave report using the form on this page by March 31. For spring one-semester leaves and two-semester (fall/spring) leaves, reports are due by October 31.

Teaching Conference

The Center for Innovative Pedagogy at Kenyon College is currently accepting presentation proposals for the What Works in 2024 Conference, which will take place virtually during the week of May 29-31, 2024. The application deadline is March 15 and presenters will be notified of their acceptance status by March 29.


Upcoming Events

  • May 14, 2024 – Spring Educator Resource Institute (save the date)

Past Events and Materials

See the Faculty Development Opportunities page for additional links to previous events.