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RIT Ready: Moving Forward Into Fall
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Past Teachers on Teaching

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Hye-Jin Nae
Assistant Professor, School of Design,
College of Art and Design

Small Changes That Make a Big Difference

All teachers have to organize visual content at some point, whether in presentation slides, document formatting, or even email. How can non-designers apply visual design principles to achieve clarity and impact?

Hye-Jin Nae, Assistant Professor in the College of Art and Design, demonstrated how to use the tools you already know to achieve the greatest impact in your communication.

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Demontration Slides (PPT)
Additional Notes (PDF)

Carol Marchetti
Professor, School of Mathematical Sciences

Effective Student Teamwork

For years, instructors have heard that assigning group work is a good teaching strategy. Research shows that by working together in small groups, students can develop critical thinking skills, exchange knowledge, share expertise, increase motivation, and improve their attitudes toward learning. Yet, when asked, many students describe negative experiences with group work and may even declare that they prefer individual work. In this session, Carol Marchetti discusses ways to implement student teams in a variety of environments and for a variety of tasks. She addresses approaches to creating student teams, instructional supports, tools for communication, and the instructor’s role in managing teamwork.

Dr. Marchetti is a professor in the School of Mathematical Sciences, College of Science; an associate faculty member in the Research Center for Teaching and Learning, National Technical Institute for the Deaf; and a recipient of RIT's Provost Award for Excellence in Teaching.

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Robert Barbato
Professor, Department of Management, International Business, and Entrepreneurship

Teaching Critical Thinking: A Modeling Approach

Bob Barbato, Professor of Management in Saunders College of Business, describes his approaching to teaching ACT: "Students can acquire and improve critical thinking skills from observing those behaviors in a role model. As an instructor, I am often that role model. In order to model critical thinking skills, I often create situations that allow me to behave as an exemplar." During this session, he uses examples to share some of the classroom techniques that result in modeled critical thinking skills that students can then practice.

Bob Barbato is a Professor of Management in the Saunders College of Business. His primary teaching and research interests are in the areas of business ethics, entrepreneurship, and organizational behavior. In addition to his teaching responsibilities at RIT, Bob has taught or lectured in Kosovo, Dubai, Saudi Arabia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, South Korea, Ethiopia, and England.

There is no recording of this presentation.

Miguel Cardona
Assistant Professor, School of Design

Digital Tools for a More Accessible and Collaborative Classroom

Whether presenting in the classroom, facilitating a critique, or setting up your myCourses shell, there are several ways to enable faster, clearer communication with students.

RIT College of Art and Design instructor Miguel Cardona gives an overview of the ways he uses myCourses, Dropbox Paper, and OS X's built-in accessibility tools to make learning experiences accessible and collaborative.

Miguel Cardona is an Assistant Professor in New Media Design and Visual Communication Design. He is a 2013 MFA graduate of RIT's Industrial Design program.

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Mike Palanski
Associate Professor, Department of Management, International Business, and Entrepreneurship

Teaching an Old Project New Tricks--Adventures in Cross-Campus Teaching Collaborations

Mike Palanski, associate professor of management, discusses his experience collaborating with faculty at other campuses and talks about how he and his partner, Maja Vidovic from RIT Croatia, developed a cross-cultural virtual student project by repurposing a “tried-and-true” in-class project, and what happened when they invited other faculty from RIT and other universities to join them.

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Kaitlin Stack Whitney
Visiting Assistant Professor, Environmental Science Program

Using and Creating Case Studies for Active Learning

Our presenter for this session of Teachers on Teaching is Kaitlin Stack Whitney, Visiting Assistant Professor with a joint appointment in the Science, Technology & Society Department, College of Liberal Arts and Gosnell School of Life Sciences, College of Science. She teaches and researches about environmental science, animal studies, ecoinformatics, and feminist biology.

Dr. Stack Whitney talks about case studies in teaching – both using them as a tool in the active learning pedagogy toolbox and creating and publishing them with students. She also provides guidance on finding case studies about your classroom topics and opportunities for submitting peer-reviewed case studies.

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David Simkins
Associate Professor, School of Interactive Games and Media

Using Role Play to Contextualize Critical Thinking in the Classroom

David Simkins, assistant professor in Interactive Games and Media, talks about the effective uses of role play in classrooms. Commonly used in pre-service and ongoing training in fields as diverse as social work, medicine, emergency response, and military preparation, its applications are much broader.

Role play is a form of experiential learning that engages contextualized critical thinking in practice. Good role play creates learning opportunities, enhances uptake, encourages ongoing engagement, creates opportunities to put critical reasoning into practice, and improves comprehension of complex topics. It is particularly useful when teaching how to participate within complex systems.

If you have used role play in classrooms, have thought about using it, or simply want to learn more about an innovative technique, this guided conversation provides techniques and best practices for applying role play across disciplines and practices.

There is no recording of this presentation.

John Capps
Professor, Department of Philosophy

Wade Robison
Ezra A Hale Professorship, College of Liberal Arts

Teaching Discussion-Intensive Courses

Discussion is a powerful pedagogical tool that can increase student engagement and comprehension of course material. Discussion encourages our students to think critically, to consider a variety of perspectives, and to give reasons in support of their conclusions. But we aren’t always clear on what discussion is, how to incorporate discussion into our classes, or how to assess it. For the last two years the Philosophy Department has been piloting “discussion-intensive” (DI) courses that use discussion to enhance student understanding, collaboration, and interaction. This session delivers findings as well as tips for successful discussions.

John Capps is Professor of Philosophy and Wade L. Robison is the Ezra A. Hale Professor of Applied Ethics; both are in the Department of Philosophy, College of Liberal Arts.

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Paulette Swartzfager
Lecturer, University Writing Program

Paul Tymann
Director for Center for Computing Outreach, Research, and Education, Department of Computer Science

Faculty Assessing What We Value, Students Valuing What We Assess--Rubrics

In a follow up to this presentation, Paulette Swartzfager from the University Writing Program and Paul Tymann from the Department of Computer Science talk about their assessment challenges and share rubrics that they've designed to address those challenges.

There is no recording of this presentation.

Elizabeth Reeves O'Connor
Principal Lecturer, School of Communication

Teaching Oral Presentation Online

Can oral presentation assignments work in the online environment? During an online intersession course, Elizabeth Reeves O'Connor set out to enable students to self-record and self-produce their own oral presentation videos, and do so accessibly with captioning. The primary goal was to enable peer review and feedback between students. In this presentation, she talks about the struggles, successes and lessons learned during her students' use of GoReact.

Elizabeth Reeves O'Connor is a Principal Lecturer and the Director of Undergraduate Studies in Communication and Advertising & Public Relations in the School of Communication. Elizabeth organizes the bi-annual School of Communication public speaking competitions and supports student and faculty presentation needs through the Expressive Communication Center.

There is no recording of this presentation.

Elizabeth Lawley
Professor, School of Interactive Games and Media

Using Slack and GitHub to Support Class Community

Slack is an online tool that provides chatrooms for teams. Github is a platform for workgroups to manage contributions to shared code repositories.

In recent months, Slack has emerged as a popular way to provide private group and direct messaging for classrooms. GitHub is being used by faculty not just for tracking coursework around code but also for collaborative documenting editing, and as a mechanism for sharing course materials in a form that can easily be adapted by others.

Liz Lawley, professor in the School of Interactive Games and Media and director of the Lab for Social Computing at the RIT MAGIC Center, describes how she has used Slack to better engage students in an intro-level interactive media class, and GitHub to share her course materials and invite collaboration not just with other RIT colleagues, but also with faculty at other institutions.

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Paulette Swartzfager
Lecturer, University Writing Program

Paul Tymann
Director for Center for Computing Outreach, Research, and Education, Department of Computer Science

Teachers on Teaching ACT: Faculty Assessing What We Value, Students Valuing What We Assess, Part 1

Your feedback on student work is vital in helping students learn to think critically. How can you make sure the feedback you’re providing is effective? How can you be sure that students will use your feedback?

In this first of a two-part series, join Paulette Swartzfager from the University Writing Center and Paul Tymann from the Department of Computer Science in a discussion of how to assess and articulate what we value, and how rubrics can help. We will discuss how you can effectively apply rubrics and what value they bring to the educational process for both faculty and students. Participants will be encouraged to share their assessment challenges and participate in a rubric-design activity.

There is no recording of this presentation.


Roberley Bell
Professor, School of Photographic Arts and Sciences

Asking Questions, Here and Elsewhere

"You take delight not in a city's seven or seventy wonders, but in the answer, it gives to a question of yours." --Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities

Our presenter for this session of Teachers on Teaching is Roberley Bell, Professor in the School of Photographic Arts and Sciences, College of Imaging Arts and Sciences. She will speak about asking questions--what are we asking and where do the questions we ask come from.

Professor Bell is the recipient of many awards, grants, and fellowships, including RIT's Eisenhart Award for Outstanding Teaching (in 1999 and 2007), the New York Foundation for the Arts, a Pollock Krasner Fellowship, and a Senior Fulbright Fellowship to Turkey. She is currently a Fulbright Specialist working on a multi-year project with the American University of Sharjah School of Architecture.

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Michael Brown
Assistant Professor, Department of History

Classrooms Becoming Communities

Our student-ratings-of-teaching-effectiveness surveys ask whether “the instructor established a positive learning environment.” What makes for such an environment? We might define it in the negative—as the absence of disrespect or distraction. In courses where a substantial portion of the content may be controversial or disruptive, however, a positive learning environment requires more than the absence of problems; it requires the presence of an intentional classroom community. In the face of a variety of obstacles, how can our classrooms become communities, and how do such communities support effective teaching and learning?

Michael Brown is an Assistant Professor in the Department of History, College of Liberal Arts, and a member of the Museum Studies program faculty.

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Dina Newman
Associate Professor, Thomas H. Gosnell School of Life Sciences

Small Changes That Make a Big Difference

In recent years, numerous calls for education reform have focused on the mountain of evidence for the effectiveness of active learning approaches. Though the evidence is overwhelming, changing how you teach needn’t be.

Dina Newman is an associate professor in the Thomas H. Gosnell School of Life Sciences, who has a recent publication with Gosnell colleague Kate Wright, called "What Do Students Think the Arrow Means?" CBE Life Sci Educ 13:338-348.10.1187/cbe.CBE-13-09-0188

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Bernard Brooks
Professor, School of Mathematical Sciences

Teaching Math Online (Yes, I Was Skeptical Too)

Teaching math online has its own special challenges. When I began developing my Financial Mathematics course as an online class in 2015 I was skeptical that learning mathematics online could be a replacement for an in-class lecture. Sure, online could work for a liberal arts class or maybe even for some of the other sciences but mathematics is special and has been taught via lecture format for thousands of years. In this talk I will discuss how some of those challenges were addressed. Many of the difficulties in teaching math online are actually pre-solved problems with the tools and resources readily available. I will present example clips of videos that use a variety of ways to replicate an in-class math experience and we can talk about the ways an online class can be better than an in-class lecture.

Professor Bernard Brooks has taught mathematics at RIT since 2001. He won the Eisenhart Award for Outstanding Teaching in 2012 and has been involved in many K-12 outreach activities.

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Lawrence Torcello
Associate Professor, Department of Philosophy

Teachers on Teaching ACT: The Uses and Abuses of Critical Thinking

No society can be or remain healthy without well informed citizens. In order to be well informed, citizens must be able to think critically. Reasoned skepticism plays a crucial role in clear thinking, but it can be bypassed, and when it is, our attempts to think critically devolve into cynicism. This talk is about the difference between skepticism and cynicism, about the moral stakes of their difference, and about how we can support practices of reasoned skepticism. In it, I will discuss how instructors can utilize techniques from critical thinking pedagogy to guide students through controversial topics.

Teachers on Teaching Applied Critical Thinking (ACT)—a joint effort from the Eugene H. Fram Chair in Applied Critical Thinking and the Innovative Learning Institute—is a series that focuses on the development and discussion of best practices in the teaching of applied critical thinking.

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Benjamin Banta
Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science

Being Strategic about Active Learning

Benjamin Banta has strategically implemented active learning in his courses in a way that is intellectually rigorous and helps him engage students, keep them motivated throughout the semester, and balance his workload.

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Kate Wright
Associate Professor, Thomas H. Gosnell School of Life Sciences

Effective, Reflective Teaching: What Data Tells Us About Active-Engagement Learning

Kate Wright, associate professor of biotechnology and molecular bioscience and 2016 recipient of the Eisenhart Award for Outstanding Teaching, discussed "Effective, Reflective Teaching: What Data Tells Us About Active-Engagement Learning."

There is no recording of this presentation.

Rachel Silvestrini
Kate Gleason Associate Professor, Industrial and Systems Engineering Department

Rachel Silvestrini on Learning Analytics

Rachel Silvestrini used data collected from (grades and student access of material) myCourses in conjunction with demographic and prerequisite data to generate mathematical models that could be used to predict student success in her classes. Some models created provided useful information regarding student behavior and performance. There are not generalizable results, but the methods are generalizable can could be useful for instructors. This work was supported by a Provost’s Learning Innovation Grant.

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Sabrina Weiss
Visiting Assistant Professor, College of Liberal Arts

Teaching Controversy: Guiding Safe Discussions of High-Stakes Topics

How can teachers guide discussions about issues like sexual harassment, transgender bathrooms, Gamergate, and Hurricane Katrina…without tipping the classroom into a conflagration?

Sabrina Weiss will share her methods and techniques for facilitating engaging class discussions, with an emphasis on proactive planning and understanding where students are coming from. She will share assignment examples and discussion protocols.

Sabrina Weiss is a Visiting Assistant Professor in RIT's department of Science, Technology and Society. Her expertise lies in research and analysis of interdisciplinary policy issues related to science and technology, with a focus in biological and medical science areas.

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Amos Scully
Associate Professor,

Mary Golden
Program Chair, Interior Design, CIAS

Implementing a Multi-Day Departmental Project

For the past three years, the Industrial Design program in the College of Imaging Arts and Sciences has started each Spring semester with T-Minus 151, a multi-day event in which mixed-year student teams develop a product design for an industry client, working under an all-consuming deadline. The project concept has been so successful that other departments within CIAS have developed similar multi-day challenges for their students.

At our next Teachers on Teaching, Associate Professor Amos Scully will talk about the genesis and development of T-Minus 151. He will be joined by Mary Golden, Chair of the Interior Design program, who will explain how her program adapted the original concept for a different group of students.

T minus (151 hours of Industrial Design) from Alex Freeman on Vimeo.

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Mike Johansson
Senior Lecturer,
School of Communication

Leveraging Social Media as Teaching Tools

Mike Johansson uses a variety of social media tools in his courses. Whether text-based tools like blogs and Twitter, or image-based tools like Pinterest and Vine, each environment presents a new set of opportunities and challenges when used in teaching. Mike will discuss these challenges, as well as his strategy for evaluating new tools as they become available.

Mike is a senior lecturer in the School of Communication. He spent 20+ years in various capacities for media companies in New Zealand, Australia, Britain and the United States before joining the Department of Communication in 2009. Among his achievements in the business world: He won two fellowships to the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, FL (for publication design and media ethics studies), was one of 12 UC Berkeley Digital Journalism Fellows in 2003, and in 2004 founded insider, a free weekly for 20-somethings in Rochester. He teaches, speaks and writes about social media, public relations and advertising copywriting.

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Jennifer Schneider
Professor, College of Applied Science & Technology

“All the thinks you’ll think”: The Act of Teaching ACT (Applied Critical Thinking)

The great Dr. Seuss had it right, we all have a lot of thinks. Teaching students to think critically is a challenge for both the professor and the student, and is especially daunting when you're just trying to get through the required learning outcomes and content. This interactive presentation will give participants practical strategies for the integration of applied critical thinking into courses, especially those pesky program related courses.

Topics include:

  • What is applied critical thinking at RIT, and why should I care?
  • When teaching problem solving is not enough, and what else you can use without wanting to throw yourself off a cliff!
  • Where is the fun? Not all critical thinking is serious!

Dr. Jennifer Schneider was recently appointed the Eugene H. Fram Chair in Applied Critical Thinking. She is a full professor in the College of Applied Science and Technology.

Download slides from the presentation

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Keri Barone
Senior Lecturer, School
of Communication

Success Strategies for Teaching Online Courses 2

In an extension of her earlier talk (which you can see below), Keri Barone, Senior Lecturer in RIT’s School of Communication, shares her strategies for setting expectations with online students, and for keeping them engaged, while maintaining a high level of efficiency and managing time effectively.

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Jennifer Briggs
Lecturer, NTID

Kellie Grasman
Adjunct Instructor, KGCOE

Humanizing Online with VoiceThread

Video and audio creation tools continue to play a significant role in online learning by affording faculty and students, alike, the ability to convey information and interact in more personalized ways. With these modes of delivery, the added nuances of facial expression, body language, and the subtleties in voiced and signed communications can help enhance and reinforce meaning.

RIT faculty Jennifer Briggs and Kellie Grasman shared their unique applications of a tool called, VoiceThread. VoiceThread is a multi-media tool that allows users to both share and comment on content in a variety of ways using video, audio, and text. Jennifer and Kellie demonstrated how they’ve used this tool in their respective online courses to establish a connection with their students, deliver content, foster community, and facilitate online, student presentations.

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Keri Barone
Senior Lecturer, School
of Communication

Success Strategies for Teaching Online Courses

Teaching in the online mode requires shifts in teaching strategies. From navigating the online learning environment, to adjusting instructional design and teaching practices, there are many considerations that successful teachers take into account when planning to teach online.

Keri Barone, Senior Lecturer in RIT’s School of Communication, shares her strategies for setting expectations with online students, and for keeping them engaged, while maintaining a high level of efficiency and managing time effectively.

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Corey Ptak
College of Science

Applications of Poll Everywhere to Student-Centered Learning Environments

Active engagement in the classroom has been shown to increase student learning and retention. However, many faculty report that active, student-centered learning environments are difficult to achieve in lecture-format classes as a result of the demands on the instructor.

Dr. Corey Ptak introduces how a text-message-based polling software, Poll Everywhere, has been used to facilitate student-centered learning in lecture-format classes. Topics include using Poll Everywhere to encourage student discussions, coordinate two-way communication between students and faculty, and facilitate debate-style exercises.

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Katie Terezakis
Associate Professor,
College of Liberal Arts

Reflection and Teaching

Recent approaches to the affective and metacognitive elements of teaching draw us back to techniques consistent with the reflective practices defined in traditional philosophies. In this discussion, Dr. Katie Terezakis highlights several initiatives in metacognitive research, foremost the link between metacognition and personal identity; the ability to manage conflicts in the learning environment; and the classroom as a microcosm for social and psychodynamic constructions.

Dr. Terezakis is an associate professor in the Department of Philosophy, College of Liberal Arts. She is a recipient of the 2014-2015 Eisenhart Award for Outstanding Teaching.

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Rob Garrick
Associate Professor, College of Applied
Science & Technology

21st Century Teaching: Using 21st Century technology tools with modern models of teaching

The skills we teach to students are very similar to previous centuries, but the technology tools we have can allow different approaches and additional/different literacies from the 20th century. The “sage from the stage” model of the content/information expert lecturing to rows of students taking handwritten notes seems like a dated instruction model with modern learning theories and today’s technology.

Rob Garrick, Ph.D. (Manufacturing & Mechanical Engineering Technology) spoke about how pedagogy remains the key, but that technology properly used can assist student learning and instructor teaching.

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Kirsten Condry
Associate Professor, College of Liberal Arts

Thinking about Thinking: Using Metacognition to Tackle Teaching Pet Peeves

They don't read the assignment! They can't write a clear topic sentence! Your students need to learn how to learn, but you don’t have time to teach them study skills.

Not true. Dr. Kirsten Condry (Psychology) led a discussion about tools and strategies that you can use in your teaching to help students succeed in your class and learn how to learn.

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Sandi Connelly
Assistant Professor, College of Science

Safe Teaching Experiments: Hedging Against Risk

You want to try out a new teaching method, but what if it doesn't work? How can you preserve your investment of time, your teaching portfolio, and your learning outcomes?

With a breadth of experience in blended, online, and flipped formats, Sandi Connelly (Biology) has much to share about teaching experimentation, formulating a backup plan, and "taking safe risks."

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