Information Update - Fall 2006

Full Steam Ahead for the Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence

Math Specialist for the CTLE
 
The demands on the peer tutoring program over the past two years have been steadily increasing to approximately 1000 requests per term. About 75% of these requests come from freshmen and juniors and most of the requests are for Mathematics, Biology, and Chemistry. The demand for tutors for Mathematics has been particularly dramatic to the point where it has been difficult to accommodate all requests and to coordinate them in a meaningful manner. Accordingly, the CTLE is conducting a search for a Math Specialist who will train and manage math tutors and assist with the general management of the peer tutoring program. We are expecting to have a Math Specialist on board by the beginning of the fall 2006 semester.
 
Assistive Technology at the CTLE
 
The Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence is now a one-stop portal for all students with special needs. Students with disabilities will register in the Center and meet with a specialist to review accommodations. They will also continue to receive their accommodations at the CTLE.
 
The installation of various assistive technologies in the Center has now been completed. Through a generous grant from the Verizon Foundation, we were able to install hardware and software in our testing rooms, in the writing center, and in one of our labs. These Enhancements will significantly assist students with special needs and allow them much independence in dealing with their disabilities. The software installed includes Kurzweil, reading software that allows students to decipher and analyze written text in a number of ways. Another software package we installed is Inspiration, a brainstorming and concept mapping tool for visual thinking and learning. It can be used in all subjects for brainstorming, planning and organizing and writing a paper. The use of these software packages is not limited to individuals with clinical disabilities. They can significantly enhance the learning of most individuals.
 
As a result of receiving special grants from the University of Scranton, we now have automated doors to provide easy access to our facilities for individuals in wheelchairs and those affected by other mobility impairments. We have acquired desks that adjust at the touch of a button and hardware to assist individuals with sight impairment and dyslexia to decipher text. All of this technology is designed to allow individuals to work independently.
 
Universal Design in Learning
 
At the end of May, the Center sponsored a one-day workshop on Universal Design in Learning facilitated by Dr. Joan McGuire, an international expert on the topic. In practical terms, Universal Design in Learning (UDL) means teaching courses and facilitating learning in such a way that everyone is able to learn optimally regardless of whether they have any special needs or disabilities or not. The concept comes to learning originally from architecture and design. A good example of this principle from the realm of design would be curb cuts and access ramps that allow people in wheelchairs access but also allow others to use baby carriages, shopping carts, and rolling suitcases. The audible feedback on many electronic devices would be another good example. UDL is an important concept in the enhancement of teaching and learning. The workshop was partially funded through a Diversity Grant from the University of Scranton. The CTLE is also working in collaboration with Marywood University to further knowledge and practice of Universal Design on our campuses. You will hear more about this exciting area in the near future.
 
Faculty Enrichment Offerings
 
During the spring term we offered the following workshops:
  • How did I get that mark? Effective assessment of student learning
  • IR/CTLE forum on Internet 2
  • Concept Mapping: Powerful as a cognitive and assessment tool
  • Working with learning outcomes
  • Blackboard Showcase
  • Developmental use of evaluations
  • What to do with all those electronic pictures/The magic of compression
  • Showcasing Teaching Enhancement Grant projects
  • Project portfolios: Enhancing student learning through portfolio work
 
We have been very busy planning services to faculty and students for the fall term. Students can expect more efficient access, shorter waiting times, and improved programs. With the efficient automation of much of the application and record maintenance work, we can spend more time with students and colleagues. We have put together a comprehensive Faculty Enrichment Program based on faculty requests and planned an orientation for full-time and part-time faculty.
 
Invitation to Visit and Explore Teaching and Learning Issues
 
Faculty and staff are invited to attend workshops offered by the CTLE. Please remember that one-on-one consultations are also available.
 
 
André Oberlé
CTLE Director
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