Faculty Invited to Apply for Active Learning Certificate Program

Beginning Spring 2017, eCampus and the Center for Faculty Development are pleased to offer an Active Learning Certificate Program. Participants will explore teaching strategies and activities designed to enhance their students’ academic success by increasing their engagement with their courses. The program builds upon the principles articulated in SJSU’s Four Pillars of Student Success planning document. We invite all faculty (full, associate, assistant and adjunct professors) to submit a proposal for the program. The goal of the certificate program is to create learning environments that are more welcoming, inclusive and supportive while still being academically rigorous; and to help students become more aware of how their own learning works and recognize study practices that will best enable them to master their course material.

Those who are accepted into the program will attend a kick-off session in February, attend three additional workshops on active learning topics during the spring semester, complete activities within Canvas, meet with an instructional designer, record and reflect on a class session that implements active learning strategies. Upon successful completion of all components, participants will receive a certificate, a badge, and $500 professional development funds.

Review the entire program description for complete program requirements and additional details. Proposals are due via online submission by Jan. 29, 2017.

Nominate Students for 2017 Research Competition

 SJSU Student Research Competition 2017 and University Student Research Forum

Undergraduate and graduate research students have the opportunity to present their work and compete for selection as SJSU representatives at the annual CSU Student Research Competition at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. Applications are made to the appropriate college and each college submits their selections to the Office of Research. Details about the competition follow and can also be found at the following link:  http://www.sjsu.edu/research/student-research-competition/. A PDF copy of this announcement with instructions can be found at: General Description and Information for 2017 Competition.


Each college established its own deadline for receipt of the nominations from its faculty, included below.

College of Applied Sciences and Arts (CASA) – Application packets should be submitted to the CASA Dean’s Office, MH 431, by 5 p.m., on Monday, Feb. 6, 2017.

Lucas College and Graduate School of Business – Application packets should be submitted to the Business Dean’s Office, BT 950, by 4 p.m., on Monday, Feb. 6, 2017.

Connie L. Lurie College of Education – Application packets should be submitted to the Education Dean’s Office, SH 103, by 5 p.m., on Friday, Feb. 10, 2017.

Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering – Application packets should be submitted to the Engineering Dean’s Office in care of Teresa Mercure, ENG 493, by 4 p.m., on Monday, Feb. 6, 2017.

College of Humanities and the Arts – Application packets should be submitted to the Humanities and the Arts Dean’s Office, WSQ 120, by 5 p.m., on Monday, Feb. 13, 2017.

College of Science – Application packets should be submitted to the Science Dean’s Office, SCI 127, by 4 p.m., on Monday, Feb. 6, 2017.

College of Social Sciences – Application packets should be submitted to the Social Sciences Dean’s Office, WSQ 103, by 5 p.m., on Friday, Feb. 10, 2017.

Feb. 20, 2017 – Colleges send electronic copy of completed student delegate registration form and 5-page summary for each student to gilles.muller@sjsu.edu or deliver a hard copy to the Office of Research (ADM 223B). Student teams must submit individual registration forms for each one of its members.

March 1 and 2, 2017 – Student presentation of research and subsequent selection of SJSU finalists.

March 17, 2017 – SJSU Office of Research submits SJSU finalist list to California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo.

April 28 and April 29, 2017 – CSU Student Research Competition at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo.


The student registration form for nomination of students from each college to participate in the SJSU Student Research Competition can be found at the following link: Application Form for 2017 Competition. Attach this registration form to a written summary of the research. The rules governing the written summary are as follows:

–  The summary must include the names(s) of the student(s) and the title of the presentation.

–  The narrative may not exceed five double-spaced pages.  Use fonts and margins that ensure legibility.

–  Appendices (bibliography, graphs, photographs, or other supplementary materials) may not exceed three pages.

–  Research that has human or animal subjects involvement must have appropriate institutional review.

Each college may send forward a total of FOUR student projects (undergraduate and/or graduate) representing outstanding research or creative activity. Students eligible to compete at SJSU and at the CSU-wide competition at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, are undergraduate and graduate students currently enrolled or those who graduated in May 2016, August 2016 or December 2016. The research presented should be appropriate to the student’s discipline and career goals. Proprietary research is excluded.

Divisions of Competition

Divisions of competition have been defined by CSU-wide procedures and the CSU-defined divisions are indicated below:

Group A                                                                    Group B                                                                

Behavioral and Social Sciences                                  Biological and Agricultural Sciences

Business, Economics, and Public Administration         Engineering and Computer Science

Creative Arts and Design*                                           Health, Nutrition, and Clinical Sciences

Education                                                                 Physical and Mathematical Sciences

Humanities and Letters

Interdisciplinary Majors

*Creative projects are welcome, see SJSU Oral Presentation section for more information.

SJSU Oral Presentation

Student research will be presented on March 1 and 2, 2017, from 1:30 to 6 p.m. (or as the number of eligible participants dictate) in IRC 101. This event is not open to the public. See the Open House Celebration section for the event open to the campus constituency. Students in Group B will make their presentations on March 1; those in Group A will present on March 2. Each student or multi-student group will have 10 minutes to present her or his research orally and five minutes to listen and respond to juror and audience questions. Students are encouraged to use delivery techniques that promote interaction with the audience. All entrants may use audio visual materials as appropriate. An entrant in the Creative Arts and Design category may present an audio and/or visual record of a performance s/he has given or a work s/he created; the oral presentation should focus on the rationale and historical context underlying the student’s interpretation of the material. Successful students in previous years often have been those who practiced with their advisors or other faculty and students. It is expected that students will not make oral presentations by simply reading directly from their research summaries.

Research Summary and Oral Presentation Evaluation Criteria

The University Graduate Studies & Research Committee will evaluate the research summary and the oral presentation to identify finalists for the CSU-wide competition using the same evaluation criteria that will be used in the CSU-wide competition. The evaluation criteria are as follows:

– Clarity of purpose

– Appropriateness of methodology

– Interpretation of results

– Value of the research or creative activity

– Ability of presenter to articulate the research or creative activity

– Organization of the material presented

– Presenter’s ability to handle questions from the jury and general audience.

After the event, Associate Dean Gilles Muller in the Office of Research can provide feedback to each student (or each group) on her/his presentation if requested.

Open House Celebration

The 38th SJSU Annual University Research Forum sponsored by the SJSU Research Foundation and the Office of Research will be held on WednesdayApril 5, 2017in Engineering 285/287. Refreshments will be served. The Forum will be a celebration for students who have been selected to represent San José State University at the 31st Annual CSU Student Research Competition. At this event, SJSU finalists will receive a small monetary award that can be used to defray students’ basic travel expenses to the CSU statewide competition. Finalists in a multi-student research group have the one monetary award amount split equally between all group members. The Forum will also recognize the faculty mentors of selected students by the presentation of Distinguished Faculty Mentor awards. At the Forum, finalists will be available to discuss their research at a poster session; family and friends are invited to attend.

CSU Statewide Competition

The 31st Annual CSU Student Research Competition will be held April 28 and 29, 2017, at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. The competition is held to promote excellence in undergraduate and graduate scholarly research and creative activity by recognizing outstanding student accomplishments throughout the twenty-three campuses of the California State University. Evaluation criteria to be used is the same as the evaluation criteria shown above except the jurors will be comprised of experts from corporations, foundations, public agencies, and colleges and universities in California. There will be separate undergraduate and graduate divisions for each category (listed in Divisions of Competition section) unless a division has four or fewer entrants, in which case undergraduate and graduate divisions may be combined. The California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, steering committee reserves the right to combine or subdivide the categories or to move an entrant from one category to another, as numbers of submissions necessitate. Based on the recommendations of the jurors, cash awards will be provided to the outstanding presenter and the runner-up in both the undergraduate and graduate divisions of each category. If the undergraduate and graduate divisions of a category have been combined because there are fewer than four presenters in one division, awards will be provided to the outstanding presenter and the runner-up without regard to class standing. In the event there are five or fewer presenters in a session, only the outstanding presenter will receive an award.

If you have questions about the SJSU Student Research Competition, please contact the Office of Research in care of Gilles Muller at 408-924-2632 or gilles.muller@sjsu.edu. For any matters related to the Forum, please contact the SJSU Research Foundation in care of Brenda Swann at 408-924-1414 or brenda.swann@sjsu.edu.

Faculty Matter Tip #11: Encouraging Students to Engage in Each Others’ Presentations

In many courses, considerable portions of class sessions during the final weeks of the semester are devoted to student presentations. These assignments – and the preparation that goes into them – provide valuable opportunities for students to delve into topics of particular interest, to develop important public speaking skills as they plan and execute a formal presentation, and to collaborate with fellow students when they need to work as a team. Most students become fairly enthusiastic about the material they get to explore so deeply. One of the challenges for faculty, however, is to ensure that students be as engaged in (and reap benefits from) their classmates’ presentations.

A common strategy is to simply hold students accountable for the information contained in the presentations on the final exam. Below, are a few additional suggestions that are designed to prompt students to more intentionally make connections between the content of the presentations and ideas that have been of interest to them throughout the course.

BEFORE the presentations

Have each student create and share a brief summary of their upcoming presentation (one paragraph in length or so). Have students then formulate one or two questions about several other students’ topics, based on the summaries. This can be done online (using the discussion features of Canvas) or in class (as a gallery walk where each student prints out their summary and the class then circulates, reads the summaries, and writes their questions on sticky notes which are placed adjacent to the summaries). If it is feasible, presenters can address some of these questions in their actual presentations.

If time permits, facilitate opportunities for students to work in groups of three to four to rehearse their presentations with each other. Once students serve as “audiences” for each other have them probe linkages among their topics, or between topics and issues raised in the course more generally.

THE DAY OF the presentations

Allow time after each presentation for brief question and answer session to clarify any points of confusion. Encourage students to note how what they have just heard aligns with something they have discovered, as a result of the research they did for their own presentation.

Allocate a few minutes near the end of class periods for small-group discussion of the day’s presentations. Have one student in each group record the essence of the conversation. Provide prompts, as you deem useful (what was interesting/surprising; link to their own topics or to course themes; etc…)

Have students create worksheets or quizzes for other students to complete during their presentation. Students can compare and discuss answers after the presentation.

AFTER the presentations

Have students post comments about several of their classmates’ presentations (using the discussion features of Canvas). Provide prompts as you deem useful (what was interesting/surprising; link to their own topics or to course themes; etc…)

If students will be submitting a paper based on their presentation, have them include a section where they explicitly address a connection between what they have studied in depth and one or more of their classmates’ presentations.

Please add your own strategies using the comment link below.

Faculty Matter Tip #8: What to do when students do poorly on your midterm

At this point in the semester, your students have probably taken midterms designed to gauge their mastery of course contents thus far. For some of you, the results may be somewhat surprising, and even disconcerting.  In our last FacultyMatter Tip, we pointed out a number of resources on campus that your students (and you) might turn to for additional academic support. In this week’s missive, we take a slightly different tack:

Faculty Matter Tip #8 – What to do when students do poorly on your midterm

What if the problem is that, despite your best intentions, YOU misestimated the difficulty of the exam, and a very large proportion of your students did poorly?  How can you keep students from becoming discouraged, from giving up, and from disengaging?  How can you help them get back on track?

Research linking students’ motivation, the effort they are willing to put into studying, and their success points to the importance of their sense of efficacy – that is their sense of control over their academic fate.

  • When students feel that they know what it would take to do well, they are far more willing to try hard than when they feel it is all a mystery and a matter of luck.  
  • When they can’t figure out a “formula for success’, they are much more likely to get discouraged and disengage.  Then they – and you – can get caught in a vicious circle.

Assuming your students did not do as well as they (or you) had hoped or expected, what can YOU do to help them (re)gain a sense of control in your class?

Begin by trying to figure out what went wrong:

  1. Might you have missed cues prior to the test that students were not “getting it”, that their command of the material was too weak and ephemeral, and that they needed more time learning the material before they could effectively prepare to be tested on it?
  2. Was your guidance about what and how to study clear and accurate?
  3. Did you underestimate how much time it would take a reasonably well-prepared student to complete the test?

Pros and cons of different solutions:

If you think the answer to (1) above might be “yes”, consider revising your course timeline a bit, and spending some time re-teaching the materials they seem to have not “gotten.”  If students’ ability to succeed with up-coming material depends on their mastery of material from earlier in the course, it is important to allow time to help students understand and learn what they clearly hadn’t fully grasped by the time of the test they took.  It may be worth “sacrificing a day” to make sure students have a firmer grasp of the material and to make sure you are not going to expect them to build upon a shaky foundation.

If you think the answer to (2) or (3) above might be “no”, consider spending some class time clarifying expectations and then offering some version of a “re-do” of the midterm. This will give students the chance to show you – as well as themselves – what they are capable of learning and producing when they are truly prepared.

Many common “solutions” (such as simply adjusting the test grading scale, or providing opportunities for extra credit unrelated to the material students were tested on, or permitting students to throw out their lowest test grade) may provide some relief (in the form of more points and better grades), but they do not provide opportunities for students to revisit and ultimately master the material in question, and so they do not result in students developing a sense of efficacy in the class.

We are happy to organize conversations around this topic – please let us know if this sounds like something that would be of interest to you.

Please add your own strategies using the comment link below.

September 2016 Newsletter: High-Impact Practices Engage Students

Photo courtesy of Resa Kelly Chemistry Professor Resa Kelly, second from the left, presented research on using visual animations in teaching chemistry this summer. Here she is pictured with colleagues at a meeting in Brazil.

Photo courtesy of Resa Kelly
Chemistry Professor Resa Kelly, second from the left, presented research on using visual animations in teaching chemistry this summer. Here she is pictured with colleagues at a meeting in Brazil.

A group of San Jose State University professors who work in the College of Science as part of the Science Education Program is offering their support to faculty who are interested in incorporating high-impact practices into their curriculum to support student success. Ellen Metzger, the director of the Science Ed Program and a professor of geology, attended a summer workshop on high-impact practices at the University of California, Los Angeles.

“It helped me understand the practices better and I am really grateful to be part of a team that is developing sustainable and interdisciplinary tools,” she said.

The Science Education Program also includes Resa Kelly, a chemistry professor, Cassandra Paul, a physics and astronomy professor, and Elly Walsh, a meteorology and climate science professor. The four are versed in curricular design, transformation and evaluation along with using technology to design and study learning. As part of SJSU’s Four Pillars of Student Success, high-impact practices are recommended to increase student engagement and help to clear bottlenecks in key courses.

Kelly began her teaching career at the high school level and is particularly interested in helping students make the transition from high school to college-level chemistry. Chemistry is a prerequisite for some majors that often causes a bottleneck due to a higher rate of failure or withdrawals than the average across other courses.

Using a grant from the National Science Foundation, Kelly’s research is aimed at developing visualizations to boost deeper learning. She has worked with SJSU animation artists and computer science students to create short videos about the atomic level details of chemical reactions where the outcomes conflict.

“The overall goal is that we shouldn’t tell students which animation is right or wrong,” she said. “We want to connect them to the evidence and hope over time, with practice, they will be able to justify why one model is preferred over another.”

Walsh is currently involved in research on understanding and supporting student engagement in socially controversial scientific issues, such as climate change causes and impacts. Paul is a member of the Physics Education Research group. She has experience in investigating the interactions between students and instructors in interactive classrooms and helped develop the Real-time Instructor Observing Tool (RIOT).

Metzger said the Science Ed team is particularly hopeful that plans for an interdisciplinary science building will allow them more opportunities to collaborate with colleagues from other colleges.

“Research has shown project-based learning and instruction is effective,” she said. “We need to think of innovative ways to be interdisciplinary.”

She also noted that project-based learning offers an opportunity for students to feel connected to their community.

“The key to equity is engaging students of all types in their learning,” she said.

Stacy Gleixner, interim AVP for Student Academic Success, and Amy Strage, AVP for Faculty Development and director of the Center for Faculty Development, also attended the summer workshop on high-impact practices. They are developing easy to implement “Faculty Matter” tips that are sent to all faculty weekly by email and archived on the Academic Spotlight blog.