November Newsletter 2017: Provost Update – Countless Reasons to be Thankful

As we return from Thanksgiving break – refreshed and ready for the final weeks of the fall term – I want to take a moment to express gratitude for our students, staff, faculty and alumni. One of my favorite duties as provost and senior vice president for academic affairs is working with inspirational colleagues who are dedicated, hardworking and generous.

Provost Andy Feinstein and the Academic Affairs Leadership team host an appreciation breakfast to say thanks to the 500+ staff members who support faculty and students in the division. (Photo: James Tensuan, '15 Journalism)

Provost Andy Feinstein and the Academic Affairs Leadership team host an appreciation breakfast to say thanks to the 500+ staff members who support faculty and students in the division. (Photo: James Tensuan, ’15 Journalism)

Earlier this month, I hosted the Academic Affairs Staff Appreciation Breakfast with the division’s leadership team – a great opportunity to see our staff members come together and to hear from their supervisors about the great work they do each day. This year, we invited peers to share positive stories about their colleagues. The shout-outs, as we called them, highlighted the many great things I see in our hardworking staff – greeting students with grace and enthusiasm; going the extra mile; acting with patience and good humor; seeking ways to help colleagues.

I also had the honor of recognizing some of our longest-serving employees at the 50th Spartan Service Celebration, where 116 Spartan staff members were recognized for service milestones. I was moved by videos during which honorees shared personal memories.

An especially poignant story was Jack Harding’s. Jack began working as a lab technician 35 years ago in the aeronautics department (now Aviation and Technology) and since has moved on to become a telecommunications network analyst in IT.

Jack’s two sons grew up on our campus, regularly attending football games and campus events. Both eventually enrolled here as college students. His oldest son, Jack Jr., joined the Marines after graduation, following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather. He was welcomed back to the campus in 2011 when Jack Sr. and his wife were invited to present his lieutenant stripes in a stirring ceremony.

All of our staff – whether they have served SJSU for months, or decades – deserve our support. That includes professional development opportunities; I am pleased that we have the resources this year to again offer the Staff Professional Development Grant Program. These stipends allow staff members to develop skills that can enhance their capacity to serve our students. We have approved 229 proposals to date, and hope to issue another call for applications in early spring.

Many members of our campus community “pay it forward” by helping those following in their path. This includes our Emeritus and Retired Faculty Association (ERFA), which created a research, scholarship and creative activities (RSCA) grant program to help current faculty members advance their professional growth. Last year’s recipients included Anthropology Department Assistant Professor AJ Faas and School of Social Work Assistant Professor Nicole Dubus.

Another reason for gratitude is the many alumni whose financial support helps current and future students achieve their goals. A generous gift from Marion Cilker, ’39, established a scholarship for students interested in infusing arts into education and funded an annual conference. While Ms. Cilker passed away in 2012, her generosity lives on, supporting current and aspiring teachers seeking ways to incorporate art into diverse curricula for K-12 students.

Students also are benefiting from strategic collaborations. A partnership with nonprofit Braven Bay Area fueled a program for first-generation, underrepresented minority students that connects them with community mentors at high-tech companies and nonprofits and develops personal skills for future career searches.

These are just some of the people, programs and connections that are empowering us to power student success. In this season of gratitude, I’m especially mindful of your remarkable contributions. Thank you!

SJSU Faculty, Staff and Students Participate in the Academic Technology Expo (ATXpo) at Stanford University

On Oct. 2, San Jose State University faculty, staff and students joined colleagues from Stanford University, University of California, Berkeley, UC San Francisco, University of San Francisco, San Francisco State University, Santa Clara University and Saint Mary’s College of California at the Academic Technology Expo. The event provided a forum to share, discuss and promote effective practices for teaching and learning with technology. The Expo included a series of IdeaLab sessions and a student panel. The IdeaLab is a unique interactive session where presenters showcase practices, projects and technologies that are improving teaching and learning at participating institutions. Each presentation focused on a central teaching and learning challenge and how their solution might be adopted by other participants.

IdeaLab sessions included topics such as virtual reality, open education resources, writing activities, and student-centered approaches to communication, metacognition, and assessment that are enhanced by technology with eight teams of SJSU affiliates presenting throughout the day.

List of SJSU Presentations:

Presenters: David W. Parent

Presenters: Resa Kelly, Yingjie Liu

Presenters: Debra Caires, Isadora McCullough, Andrea Ulloa

Presenters: Marilyn Easter, Prabha Chandrasekar, Bobbi Makani

Presenters: Bryan Dang, Jeland Palicte, Colleen O’Leary-Kelley, Minh Tran

Presenters: Tianqin Shi, Jennifer Redd, Yingjie Liu

Presenters: Karin Jeffery, Ph.D., Emily Wughalter, Ed.D., Bethany Winslow

Presenters: Linda M. Dunn-Jensen, Prabha Chandrasekar

Additionally, Alora Frederick, Marketing ’18 with a minor in advertising, joined students from other participating campuses on a student panel. The discussion focused on teaching methods and tools used in courses. The panel provided an opportunity for students to share their experiences, thoughts and opinions on using different methods and tools.

For additional information about the event, visit the ATXpo website. For questions or for those interested in participating next year, please contact Jennifer Redd.

 

Univeristy Scholars Series Continues Oct. 11

Early Career Investigator Award Winner Miranda Worthen poses for a photograph at San Jose State University on Friday, Feb. 3, 2017. (Photo: James Tensuan, '15 Journalism)

Early Career Investigator Award Winner Miranda Worthen poses for a photograph at San Jose State University on Friday, Feb. 3, 2017. (Photo: James Tensuan, ’15 Journalism)

The Fall 2017 University Scholar Series continues Oct. 11, from noon to 1 p.m., in the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library 225/229. Dr. Miranda Worthen, an associate professor in the Department of Health Science and Recreation in the College of Applied Sciences and Arts and coordinator of the undergraduate Public Health Program, will present a lecture on “Risk and Protective Factors for Anger and Violent Behavior in U.S. Military Service Members.”

Worthen received San Jose State University’s Early Career Investigator Award in 2016 for her strong publication track record. Her research examines the psychosocial experiences of vulnerable populations that have undergone high levels of trauma, with an emphasis on those who have participated in armed forces or have been impacted by exposure to war.

At the lecture, she will discuss the findings of her recent mixed-methods study that aims to increase understanding of the reintegration challenges that U.S. Veterans and members of service face.

The last lecture for the fall series will be Nov. 29, from noon to 1 p.m. in the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library 225/229 when Dr. Randall Stross, a professor in the School of Management in the Lucas College and Graduate School of Business, presents on his latest book “A Practical Education: Why Liberal Arts Majors Make Great Employees.”

The University Scholars Series is supported by University Library, the Spartan Bookstore, RSCA Advisory Council, the Office of Research and the Office of the Provost.

Faculty Matter Teaching Tip #25: Starting off on a good foot – building good habits and connections

Welcome to the new school year!  By now, your rosters are likely settled, and you and your students are well into the heart of your courses.  So now, before major assignments are due and before exams loom, is the perfect time to make sure that your students are establishing healthy routines that will enable them to function – and learn and perform – to their capabilities. This will also help ensure that they can maintain their stride as the pace and stress of the semester pick up.

  • Check in with your students about their study habits and time management strategies.  This can be especially helpful for students new to the campus.  Dedicate a few minutes of class time to general discussion of these topics.  Share your expectations and advice. Consider inviting a peer mentor (from Peer Connections) to give a brief presentation in your class.  Students will often take their suggestions to heart much more readily than yours, even if they are substantively identical.
  • Refer students to the calendar of workshops offered through Peer Connections, the Tutoring Hub, and Educational Counseling. Have them check out the Spartan Success Portal and complete one or two of the online academic success modules.
  • Check in with students about their physical and emotional well-being. Inform or remind them of the extensive resources available to them, free of charge, through Counseling and Psychological Services, including workshops and individual counseling sessions.
  • Build activities into your courses that help your students get to know at least a few of their classmates. One of the most common – and in many ways saddest – factors disclosed by students in crisis is that they feel they don’t know anyone to talk to at the university.  Whether the activities you design are formal group assignments or more casual discussions, they can help students feel a sense of connection and belongingness.
  • To the degree that you can, consider making yourself available to your students.  Circulate throughout the class as they engage in group activities, and take advantage of the opportunity to talk with them as you move around the room; encourage them to come to your office hours – individually, or in pairs if they feel more comfortable bringing along a classmate; consider inviting them to ask you to coffee through the Coffee with a Professor program; sign up to be a mentor (you may be matched with a student in your class, or from some other part of the campus – either way, you may help them feel like they have someone they can reach out to).
  • And finally, think about the laminated card in the seat-back pocket of the airplane seat in front of you:  If those oxygen masks appear, make sure to secure your own before helping others with theirs. As you encourage your students to establish these interpersonal connections and good habits, take a few moments to do the same for yourself.

You can read all previous tips on the Faculty Matter Tips page of the CFD website, and share your own thoughts and ideas on the Provost’s Academic Spotlight blog under the category “Faculty Matter.” Please add your own strategies using the comment link below.

Faculty Matter Teaching Tip #24: Before You Wrap Up for the Semester, Leave a Trail of Breadcrumbs

With exams nearly done and summer beckoning, this is a time when faculty can feel particularly pressed for time and ready to move on from the tasks of the academic year. In the spirit of the “A stitch in time saves nine” adage, we offer this last Faculty Matter Teaching Tip for the semester.

Before you wrap up for the semester, leave a trail of breadcrumbs to help you reconstruct how you’d like to modify your courses before you teach them next.

Many of us tend to shove all of our teaching materials aside as soon as we are done submitting students’ grades. The essence of this final Faculty Matter Tip for the semester is that it might be productive to take some time to review the courses we have just wrapped up, and make some notes before moving on to other commitments and activities. Next time you teach the class, what might you want to add, what might you want to delete, what might you want to tweak a little bit, what might you want to change significantly, and what might you want to leave exactly as is because it went really, really well?

As you review your course materials, consider the following:

  • Were there topics that didn’t grab students’ attention as much as you had hoped or expected?
  • Were there concepts that students struggled with more that you had envisioned they might?
  • Were there activities or techniques that required more of your time than warranted, given the student gains you can attribute to them?
  • Did you come across resources that you didn’t have time to draw upon this semester?Have you gotten ideas about things to try next time you teach the class?
  • Were there topics or activities or teaching techniques that really engaged your students or helped them master the material?

We encourage you to make some notes while these observations are still fresh in your mind.  Without this “trail of breadcrumbs” to jog your memory, as you sit down weeks or months from now to “refresh” the course, you may find it frustrating to try to reconstruct what changes you had thought might be fruitful. We also invite you to participate in any of the upcoming CFD or eCampus sessions or workshops, or to sit down one-on-one with CFD or eCampus staff, to flesh out your ideas about the changes you would like to make to your courses.

You can view the entire Faculty Matter Teaching Tip series on the Center for Faculty Development web-site. Please add your own strategies using the comment link below.