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

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.

Faculty Notes for May 2017: Publications, Quotes and More

Associate Professor Andrea Bechert, Department of Television, Radio, Film & Theatre, designed the sets for the Center Repertory Theatre’s April production of Sisters Matsumoto, a play by Philip Kan Gotanda exploring the return of three sisters to their Stockton farm post-World War II. Bechert’s scenic design talents are currently on display at The Mountain Play’s production of Beauty and the Beast. Performances run until June 18 at Cushing Memorial Amphitheatre in Marin.

Associate Professor Christine Hagie, chair of the Department of Special Education, joined the board of Second Start Learning Disabilities Programs. Founded in San Jose in 1974, the organization provides individualized learning programs for students diagnosed on the autism spectrum and those with similar learning disorders.

Lecturer Michael Hernandez, School of Music and Dance, soprano saxophonist and founder of the Mana Quartet, performed at Jamestown Community College’s Scharmann Theatre on April 12. The concert featured works by Quantz, Singelée, Brahms and Piazzolla. Hernandez, who as been featured on NPR’s “Performance Today,” is also a D’Addario Performing Artist.

Released this month: “Chapter Five” (OA2 Records) by the Bicoastal Collective, one half of which is School of Music and Dance Professor Aaron Lington, a baritone saxophonist. Lington shares writing and arranging credits with trumpeter and long-time collaborator Paul Tynan, who is based in Nova Scotia, hence the name of their duo. The two met in the master’s program at the University of North Texas. This, their fifth album together, was recorded with an 18-piece big band. “It’s always been our dream to do a big-band record, and we were finally able to make this happen,” Lington said. Read more online.

Center for Literary Arts Director and Department of English Associate Professor Cathleen Miller received a 2017 Silicon Valley Artist Laureate award in recognition of her creative accomplishments and community arts involvement. She is the author of The Birdhouse Chronicles: Survivng the Joys of Country Life and Champion of Choice, a biography of UN leader Nafis Sadik, named by Booklist as one of the top ten biographies of 2013. Miller also serves as editor-in-chief of SJSU’s Reed Magazine. Read more online.

“A landmark day for San Jose State University and Armenian people,” reported The Armenian Mirror-Spectator on the occasion of President Mary Papazian’s inauguration this month as the university’s 30th president. Papazian is the first Armenian woman president of a California State University campus and only the third woman president of SJSU. Read more online.

 

Faculty Matter Teaching Tip #23: Summer Send-off for Students

In earlier tips, we provided suggestions for messages you might send to students before the formal start of the semester.  This tip will serve as something of the “other bookend” – suggesting things you might do to sustain students’ engagement with the course beyond its official end. In this way, you may provide opportunities for students:

  • to deepen their knowledge or appreciation of themes and issues you touched on during the course
  • to remain excited about and engaged in their academic pursuits
  • to find connections between the material you covered during the course and their “summer world” beyond SJSU
  • to share their interest in these topics with the people they spend time with outside of school
  • to be(come) life-long-learners.

“Books for the beach.” Bring to your students’ attention to a selection of books, periodicals, blogs, podcasts and the like that they could take up over the summer, wherever they are and whatever they are doing (at the beach or otherwise).

  • You might begin with sources you used as you constructed your course, as these will give students the chance to delve deeper into issues you covered in class.
  • Alternatively, you might suggest materials that will provide food for thought and help prepare them for other courses in your department that they are likely to take next year.
  • Or you might suggest materials you have found worthwhile for any of a number of reasons not necessarily connected to your course or your department’s offerings.

You could certainly add layers to this, by creating online discussion boards or others ways to check in throughout the summer.  Or you could just keep it simple, and provide the list of items you recommend and let your students take it from there.

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

 

‘Disability at Work’ Panel Teaches Students to Expand Their Horizons

Attendee Rosse Strada poses for a photo with panelists Joseph Fox, Karo Caran and Victor Tsaran at the "Disablilty At Work" Panel hosted by Communications Studies students.

Attendee Rosse Strada poses for a photo with panelists Joseph Fox, Karo Caran and Victor Tsaran at the “Disablilty At Work” Panel hosted by Communications Studies students.

By Riley Wilcox and America Yamaguchi, Communication Studies students

On May 5, San Jose State University students hosted a panel on “Disability at Work. Students enrolled in Communication Studies 132F Dis/Ability Communications with Professor Bettina Brockmann coordinated the three-person panel event that was open to the public in the Dr. Martin Luther King. Jr. Library. The event was widely publicized, with invitations going out to the entire Communication Studies department as well as all Accessible Education Center (AEC) registered students, and a Facebook event post that made it clear the event was open to the public. The panel’s purpose was to inform the audience about employment and accessibility difficulties for people with disabilities.

The speakers included Victor Tsaran, technical program manager at Google, Karo Caran, who also works in accessibility at Google and is an  accomplished author, and Joseph Fox, senior vice president at SAP Ariba.

Tsaran and Caran presented together, speaking on their experiences growing up as vision-impaired children in Ukraine and Poland respectively, and the differences in their experiences in mainstream and specialized education programs. Tsaran and Caran both work with Google to increase the accessibility of the user interfaces for Google and Google Play. They concentrated on perspectives in ableism for people with disabilities, and the similarities between ableism and other forms of oppression such as racism, sexism and homophobia.

Dreams became a theme that emerged throughout the event. Caran pursued a dream of studying Chinese that early instructors had hesitated about due to her vision impairment.

“I work in the business of dreams,” Tsaran said. “I had a few dreams—I wanted to teach history at my school of the blind. But [when I came to the United States], my dreams expanded as my horizons were expanded.”

He noted that his university’s dedication to accessibility created a capacity for dreams he had not had before. Working in the tech industry, the pair also spoke on how computers are “great enablers,” that allow people to speak, get their point across and have a sense of self. Caran explained that because times are changing, and so much of the world is now accessed through an electronic platform, society must more than ever make sure that computer technology is accessible for everyone.

Joseph Fox, who also works in the tech industry, is the parent of four children, three of whom are on the Autism spectrum. Fox spoke on always having a “parent view” before having a “business view.” He said he has found as a father, as an employer and as a student, there were many challenges for people with disabilities. Fox presents frequently on the benefits of hiring a neurodiverse workforce, informs parents of resources for their children, informs young adults with an Autism Spectrum Disorder on toolsets and programs to aide them, and highlights for employers the best ways to incorporate accessibility into the workforce. Some of his key advice includes self advocacy and the benefits of finding peers and mentors who can help young adults to obtain the accommodations they need. He also recommends employers to develop hiring processes that do not involve interviews because people who are capable of the job may not always be impressive during interviews. Under Fox’s leadership, SAP Ariba announced in May 2013 a goal of having one percent of its global workforce represented by those on the Autism Spectrum.

After Fox’s presentation, the floor was opened to audience questions. Some of the key messages were that accessibility development requires trial and error, and that the best way to reduce ableism is to maximize exposure by reading and meeting more people with disabilities.

May 2017 Newsletter: Faculty and Staff Redesign Courses to Enhance Learning, Engagement

Photo: Klaus Trilck Dr. Marilyn Easter, a professor of marketing and decision sciences, presents on her course redesign during a faculty and staff recognition luncheon hosted by eCampus on April 21.

Photo: Klaus Trilck
Dr. Marilyn Easter, a professor of marketing and decision sciences, presents on her course redesign during a faculty and staff recognition luncheon hosted by eCampus on April 21.

During eCampus’ Faculty and Staff Recognition Luncheon on April 21, select presenters shared the way they have collaborated to enhance the curriculum in their course work in support of student success. Posters around the classroom where the luncheon was held showed some of the techniques used as part of the CSU Proven Course Redesign Grant and the university’s Quality Assurance Grant.

“We will highlight the work of staff and faculty, and hear and see what they’ve been working on,” said Jennifer Redd, director of eCampus, noting that theirwebsite lists many of the services they provide.

Dr. Marilyn Easter, a professor of marketing and decision sciences, and Prabha Chandrasekar, a mediated learning assistant, shared the ways they worked to redesign a Lucas College and Graduate School of Business introduction to marketing course with a goal of decreasing bottlenecks in the required course for students in their major. Bobbi Makani, a lecturer who also worked on the redesign, shared insights via a prerecorded video.

“To decrease bottlenecks, an online course is the solution,” Easter said. “We wanted to redesign it to make it accessible and easy to navigate.”

Using the campus learning management system Canvas, they created easy-to-digest modules each week for the students that included an overview of the content, a video introduction from Easter, step-by-step instructions, a description of learning outcomes, reading and assignments, and a “check your knowledge” section. Each week, the students also had a chance to engage live with Easter.

A student who provided a testimonial on video said that for her while working full time and taking courses toward an undergraduate degree, she sometimes struggled to get the courses she needed at times that worked for her schedule. Dr. Easter’s online course fulfilled her time needs while also providing engaging material.

Ravisha Mathur, an associate professor of child and adolescent development, and Debbie Weissman (via prerecorded video), a faculty member in the School of Information, discussed their experience as participants and more recently as team leaders with the Quality Assurance program. The program aims to evaluate the effectiveness of online courses and provides individualized mentoring to faculty to improve their online classes. Mathur, who is a peer reviewer this year, said the program helped her to improve student learning and engagement in the online environment.

The feedback she received from students showed her that they preferred some lecture information in PDFs that they could download to read at times when they were offline. She now also requires a “meet up” twice a semester for her online courses, in which students can personally engage and connect with her in person, online or by phone; she has seen an improvement in student achievement and motivation with these meet ups.

“It only has to be five to 10 minutes, but it usually ends up being 20 minutes,” she said. “Engagement goes up after that first meet up.”

Resa Kelly, a professor of chemistry and the science education program, and Yingjie Liu, an instructional designer with eCampus, discussed their work on incorporating augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) equipment into a post-baccalaureate science teaching credential program course.

“We looked at it as an exploration in a sense,” Kelly said, “To get them thinking about how they might try to teach with the technologies.”

The 2017-18 Quality Assurance application is available online, due June 18.