Mastering the EPR!

By now you are getting to know your students and have an idea of who they are as learners. Perhaps you have already discussed accommodation agreements with specific students and you are looking for ways to ensure that each student achieves learning objectives and course competencies. One way to communicate with students is the Early Progress Report (EPR).

This fall the deadline for Early Progress Reports is October 27th at 2pm. But, there is no reason that you need to wait until then. Students may find it helpful to have these reports earlier. The sooner they understand the nature of the problem, the sooner they can make changes, discuss options for staying in the class, and perhaps most importantly, they can get the help they need to be successful in your course. Even more importantly, the more quickly struggling students are identified and receive academic support; the more likely they are to stay in college and achieve educational goals.

If you have an inkling that a student may be struggling, but are not be sure how to help, the EPR can set the stage for additional academic support. Use the ERP for students who are not making satisfactory progress in your course or who might be displaying behaviors what could lead to academic difficulty (i.e. tardiness or absenteeism).

In the early progress report, you can include information about:

  • Course expectations (you might include excerpts from the syllabus)
  • Detailed feedback about student work
  • Suggestions about extra academic help (tutoring, use of class resources, etc)
  • Ideas for improvement
  • Your office hours and contact information

The ERP can create accountability. It encourages the student to take steps to remedy the situation and make improvements. It can also alert the student’s advisor about challenges the student is facing.

To help tailor your suggestions to students facing failure or academic difficulty here are some helpful links for resources at GCC:

 

Professional development events during the 2014-2015 Academic Year

It is never to early to be thinking about how you will grow and learn this academic year. Sometimes we are so wrapped up in the start of classes that we forget to make plans to attend on campus events or submit proposals and attend conferences in the region. Here is a handy list of excellent professional development events for you to mark on your calendar. Money is often available to help defray costs of travel and registration. These events are also on the Teaching and Learning schedule.

PD on and Off campus 2014-2015

Fall Semester at GCC: Welcome back!

As we start making plans for our classes and our students, we have to admire how much has changed in a few short months. During the summer GCC has been thriving, growing and moving in exciting directions. The commitment to students, staff, faculty and the community remains strong, but the tools that allow us to create and foster success have expanded and deepened.

For instance, you have probably noticed the new look of the GCC website—these changes make the site more mobile-friendly. There are new technology and moodle resources to help students and faculty. Plus there are new posts and links at the Teaching and Learning site to help solve problems, see common challenges in new ways and support the vital work that happens at GCC.

But perhaps most importantly, we have new students and many returning students who will be new to each of us. They will look to us to nurture, support and encourage their educational goals. While each of us has our own tried and true methods, the best teachers and staff are those who are looking to improve, innovate and take risks. Now is the ideal time to try something new…. and there are resources to help do that! Read about the moment that Eric Mazur’s teaching changed dramatically.

The start of the semester is exciting—full of transitions and fresh starts. This is the time to “hook” students and get them interested in your class and the work they will do! Take a look at 101 ideas for the First Three weeks of Class.

Syllabus help:

General Tips and Ideas:

Also available on the Teaching and Learning website are ideas for working with diverse populations, motivating students, designing courses and assignments, etc. You can use the search tool or the menu on the right hand side of the site. If there are resources you have to share or ideas for additional resources, please let me know at sheldonl@gcc.mass.edu.

Have a great semester!

The end of another academic year!

Here we are in the last week of classes and starting final exams. While it is easy to let off the accelerator a little bit, this is the time to put all our efforts into the final lap around the track. Role model the behaviors and attitudes that you want to see from your students–help them carry their natural momentum to the end of the academic year. With final exams fast approaching, we need our students to stay focused and committed to learning.

The last day of class is a time to praise students and show them how far they have come in a few short months. Everyone deserves and needs a pat on the back! Read what some faculty do to end the semester on a high note and ideas for the last day of class and  think about how you can adapt these ideas to fit your students, discipline and teaching style.

Think about incorporating some new review techniques into final exam preparation. Show students that getting ready for the final exam can be fun and productive.

Share these studying tips and techniques with your students. They can help this semester and in the future! Encourage study groups and ways of connecting that might make this time of year less stressful.

Once the grades are calculated and entered, it is easy to out the semester to bed and forget about our own learning. We have all learned so much this semester, from our students and our colleagues—reflect on this learning. Review your syllabus from the semester and decide NOW what worked well and what needs revision.  The postmortem should include assessment of how well you believe students met learning objectives and course competencies. Your assessment will give you a head start on next semester.

 

 

Must have skills: Quantitative Reasoning & Critical Thinking

Believe it or not, the end of the semester is the ideal time to think about course design and re-design. You are in a position to take advantage of your recent teaching experience, feedback from students and new ideas that have emerged during the past months.

One of the goals for your work on course development might be to include more Quantitative Reasoning and Critical Thinking activities.  The development of these skills helps students to be strong consumers of information, do better in coursework (now and in the future) and be prepared to meet workplace demands. If you are unsure where to start, consider attending the AMCOA Region 1 Faculty Workshop  right here at GCC on June 5th.   Stipends are available and lunch will be provided. Register here.

At this workshop you will learn the fundamentals of creating assignments that grow reasoning and thinking skills in your discipline and across disciplines.  Just as important, you will be able to assess these skills and your students’ progress toward learning goals.

If you cannot attend the workshop, you might use the resources provided by the Carnegie Mellon Eberly Center for teaching to examine effective teaching approaches. There are ideas about how to craft learning objectives and assignments that will help students achieve these objectives.

For more on Critical Thinking in the Classroom, review resources on the T & L site.

For more on Quantitative Reasoning, visit the Brown University Center for Teaching.

 

Increasing Motivation: Let’s Go!

It has been a long winter—the cold and dark days affect motivation and commitment to academics. This is true for students and if we are honest, it is true for faculty and staff. At midpoint of the spring semester, there is a certain level of fatigue that needs to be addressed.

First, let’s tackle students:

For a theoretical orientation to motivation and science of motivating learners, look here.

Although this link is to the Geoscience Department at Carlton College, the information here about motivating students is applicable to any department and any population of students.  Take a look at how faculty behaviors can directly impact student motivation. You make a huge difference in your classroom!

Not to be outdone, Vanderbilt University examines the types of motivation students possess and how we can tap into these in ways that encourage success and GRIT when the going gets tough.

Now, let’s address the needs of faculty and staff. If you feel like your “get-up-and go” got up and went, then this link is for you:

Perhaps, there is a 12-step program for motivation, but maybe 7 steps are all you really need. Or maybe 8 steps are better.

 

 

 

 

 

True Grit: The Key to Success?

Like researchers, many of us who work with students often hypothesize about what it takes for students to be successful in college. Why and how do some students overcome adversity when others collapse under the weight of these challenges? And, perhaps more importantly, what can we do to foster the skills and resilience that college requires? Angela Lee Duckworth says it comes down to grit. Images of John Wayne may come to mind with good reason—true grit may be rare, but it is out there for us to discover and develop.

Ted Talk: Angela Lee Duckworth with a introduction to grit and what it means.

She has also written an excellent journal article on grit and the ability to reach long term goals.

Her work is so potentially important in education and our approach to student struggle that the Chronicle of Higher Education has focused on her work.

In Feb 2013, the Department of Education released a draft report on Promoting Grit, Tenacity and Perseverance Critical Factors for Success in the 21st Century.

This report includes interesting strategies to foster a sense of stick-to-it-ness in our students and why it is deemed to be so important for creating students who have the ability to reach long term goals.

Explore ideas for your classroom here.

 

 

Got a teaching tip to share? We want ‘em!

With all the talented teachers and staff at GCC, we know there is wealth of information and best practices to share. From policies to assignments, building rapport and creating classroom communities…we want to hear about what works and how you make your class and interactions with students stronger. Please share your expertise!
Every tip, trick or idea you share will be an entry into the T & L site raffle for the month of March. We will be giving away practical and much sought after prizes like vouchers for the café and gift cards for the bookstore every week. Don’t miss out!

Use the form provided at the T & L site or at this link http://www.gcc.mass.edu/professional-development/faculty-staff-best-practices/. Keep your entry to 150 words or less. We’ll post the entries on the site according to category along with your name and department—you’ll be famous before you know it!

There are other ways besides our contest to share your expertise. Consider presenting at a conference. Last month’s T & L post dealt with how to write a conference proposal and tips for getting it accepted (you can access this post from the left hand menu or using the search tool at the site). Attending a conference and bringing back new ideas and fresh perspectives to share with your colleagues and our students is valuable to the GCC community. Plus, there is professional development money available to help cover costs–just contact Judi Greene-Corvee for more information.

Writing a Conference Proposal…and getting it accepted!

Faculty and staff sometimes do not realize that what they do in their classrooms, advising sessions and programming is unique and worth sharing on a larger stage. Think about how you have developed your craft—it is likely that many of the skills and strategies you employ have been workshop topics at conferences. Presenting and conducting a workshop is an opportunity for you to share your ideas and help others learn new techniques and perspectives on education.

All conferences have a general theme but often accept workshop and presentation topics that are tangentially related. This opens the door for you to present on a variety of topics, but keep in mind that linking your topic to the theme in a concrete way may increase the likelihood of proposal acceptance. Look at previous conferences to see if the topic has been covered in recent years—reviewers often want to see new and innovative ideas.

If you are new to conferences, start here with a basic introduction to writing your proposal.Submitting a conference proposal from Julie Shaw.

Once you have a topic in mind, the conference proposal writing is the next step.

Some things to keep in mind with when writing your proposal

There are many formats for conference sessions—workshops, formal presentations, teaching tips, posters. The length and type of information required in your proposal can vary, too. Each conference proposal process is unique, so read the guidelines carefully. Make sure you are providing the information requested and have included all the relevant details that will make your proposal a success.

Consider teaming up with a colleague for your proposal and potential presentation. Sharing the workload and doubling the ideas can be a smart approach especially if you are new to conferences.  Even if you go it alone, have a second reader for clarity, understanding and proof reading.

Three upcoming conferences to consider:

Check with Judi Greene-Corvee to see if professional development money is available to help cover conference costs which can include registration, materials and travel.

NEFDC Conference: Call for Proposals

New England Faculty Development Consortium Spring Conference
Roger Williams University, Bristol, RI
Friday, June 6, 2014
Moving from STEM to STEAM: What Really Works
Call for Proposals Deadline: Feb. 23, 2014
Consider submitting a proposal for this conference! More information can be found here.