Teachers on Teaching
This brownbag lunch series gathers faculty to explore and discuss teaching practices at RIT.
All sessions take place at noon in the Teaching and Learning Services workshop space, A-650, Wallace Library (enter through A-600). Seating is limited, so please enroll. Watch videos of previous Teachers on Teaching discussions.
Is there a teacher you'd like to hear from, or a topic you'd like us to cover? Let us know!
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Thinking about Thinking: Using Metacognition to Tackle
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."