Information Update - Fall 2008

Report from the Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence

The Center is happy to report a number of significant recent events.
Thanks to the efforts of Aileen McHale, the Center's Instructional Technology and Learning Enrichment Specialist, the CTLE received a grant of $10,000 from the Verizon Foundation to enable us to upgrade hardware and software in the development lab of the techcons. These improvements will enable techcons to be of further assistance to faculty in the fall and provide new services in support of teaching and learning. Among other features, our capability of producing multi-media presentations has been significantly improved. There will be an Open House on Friday, October 17, 2008, where the new software and hardware will be featured in demonstrations on how you can enhance your teaching with technology.
The Center also upgraded its audio-visual equipment and software with a special internal grant to enable us to record Faculty Advancement Events and post them on our web page for viewing by off-campus faculty and those who have missed the presentation due to scheduling conflicts. As a result, we will be able to record the PowerPoint presentation, the speaker doing the presentation and the audience participating to enable the viewer to more fully witness what went on at the workshop.
The Center in collaboration with the Office of Research Services is now the official sponsor of the First-year Faculty Mentoring Program. The purpose of this program is to make it easier for new faculty to get their bearings on campus and to avoid some of the common pitfalls that surround us when we first start at a new institution. The faculty Liaisons, Dr. Marian Farrell (Nursing) and Dr. Anthony Ferzola (Mathematics) are in charge of designing and overseeing the program. New faculty members will be paired with an experienced faculty member to assist them in doing well in their first year. The matching of mentor and mentee is based on questionnaires designed to ensure good matches. Participants may consult their mentors whenever there is an inclination or need. Consultations may be as brief as a short phone inquiry or a discussion over lunch. In addition, there is a formal meeting every month at which teaching issues are discussed. The program uses the popular manual for first-year faculty Teaching at its Best by Linda Nilson (Clemson University). Many faculty members will remember Linda's presentation here last September on The Graphic Syllabus. Dr. Nilson will be back this fall to work with First-year Faculty and to give a workshop on Holistic Grading for the general faculty. Dr. Antonio Calganio (Western) will also work with First-year faculty on learning styles. In addition to those guests from outside our institution, a number of individuals from our University community will be invited to bring their expertise to these sessions. A substantial number of experienced faculty members have agreed to become mentors for new faculty in this program. We are very grateful to them for their support of this important program. The Center, in collaboration with the Weinberg Memorial Library, has completed an online tutorial on academic integrity designed especially for graduate students. We have also been of assistance to a substantial number of professors in their preparation of online courses. We are also actively engaged in collaborating with the Library on the support of and RefWorks. This kind of collaboration with the Library is very important. To further it, a special standing committee has been formed charged with exploring ways in which the two units can work together more closely.
The past year has seen steady efforts by the Center to ease our transition from Blackboard to ANGEL. Innumerable workshops and presentations have been given on the subject allowing a substantial number of faculty members to switch. We are now getting ready for the last-minute rush of those who did not take advantage of getting on board last year. Blackboard was discontinued at the end of Spring Semester. Workshops have continued throughout the summer and will continue all year. A listing of our workshops has been sent to all faculty members at the end of July and is posted on our website at
During the coming year, we propose to offer a number of important workshops on teaching effectiveness. Aside from Dr. Nilson (Clemson), we welcome back Dr. Larry Silver (Georgetown) to present on the topic of students with special needs and Dr. Michael Reder (Massachusetts) will conduct a workshop on integrating low-risk writing projects into the curriculum. In addition to these topics we will have workshops on authoring effective syllabi, setting course objectives for the OCE, Evaluating Course Evaluation for professional development, using universal design, and active learning, designing effective tests, and more.
Our services for students, such as the Writing Center, Reading Services and Peer Tutoring as well as Supplemental Instruction, continue to grow. Peer Tutoring Requests soared up to 1,634 during the academic year 2007-08. This growth is up 27.9% from two years ago and 17.2% from last year. The Supplemental Instruction (SI) program in the Mathematics Department and our group tutoring efforts (Study Groups and Drop-in Labs) in that department have been unqualified successes. We are beginning to introduce these services in other areas. Thus, Biology and Chemistry also ran Supplemental Instruction in some of their introductory courses last semester as a pilot. It appears that these supports are just as effective there. We will continue to expand our services in this area.
In its ongoing efforts to keep the University community apprised of its services and activities, the CTLE has reviewed and revised all of its brochures to make them more appealing and informative.
Please feel free to pay us a visit any time or make an appointment with one of our Specialists. We will be pleased to assist you and discuss any teaching projects with you.
André Oberlé, Ph.D., Director
Pride, Passion, Promise: Experience Our Jesuit Tradition