Chico State students pay several hundred dollars for textbooks and supplies every semester, in each of their courses, on top of tuition and fees. There is a growing interest among faculty to adopt lower cost (or even free) learning solutions to help remove financial barriers for students who sometimes forego purchasing course materials in order to meet their basic needs. The Chico Affordable Learning Solutions (CAL$) website has several suggestions to decrease costs of course materials while retaining quality and rigor. Reducing course costs can help narrow equity gaps while improving graduations rates for all students.
If you’re interested in locating (or even creating your own) high-quality low-cost course materials, Apply Here to the CAL$ Fall Workshop series by October 15. Faculty who attend three different one-hour workshops (see attached details) and implement a cost-savings strategy for students in their Spring 2020 course(s) will earn both a CAL$ Training Certificate and $400 (paid in Spring 2020). Applications from faculty who teach high-enrollment, high cost, and/or GE courses are especially encouraged. Workshop titles and payment details can be found on the CAL$ FA19 Memorandum of Understanding. If you have questions, please contact Beth Shook or Edward Roualdes .
Interested in learning a new language to enhance your cultural competency, prepare for an overseas trip, or communicate with your International students? Well, there’s an app for that. Chico State recently partnered with Mango Languages to provide faculty and students with a free (normally $18/month) full-access account. Mango (similar to Duolingo or Babbel) is a database with over 70 languages including Spanish, Thai, Punjabi, Latin, Korean, Greek, and many more. Mango can prepare learners for realistic conversations and strengthen everyday communication skills. You can read and hear words, speak words and play them back to yourself, and play comprehension games. There is even a built-in translator.
To access Mango, click on this Meriam Library link and then click on Mango Languages. Then, you can create a free account by clicking Sign Up. Enter your campus email address and a password (doesn’t have to be your campus password), click the free account, click on Chico State, and you’re all set.
There is also a Mango Languages mobile app available on Apple and Google Play stores.
If you want to deeply engage your students in course content by shifting away from teacher-centered instruction and towards student-centered projects, try Project-Based Learning (PBL). This hi-impact curricular model makes learning relevant to students by establishing connections to life outside the classroom and by tackling real life issues. In PBL, faculty serve as facilitators and even co-learners as students engage in projects such as investigating community problems, analyzing complex social issues, creating new scientific tools, designing a new app, etc. Students are “coached” through hands-on experiences in real-world interdisciplinary settings that require critical thinking, teamwork, and problem-solving. Chico State already has several courses using PBL, some of which include service learning in collaboration with the Office of Civic Engagement.
Below are a few resources if you’re interested in learning more about PBL.
Contentious moments in a classroom, such as when someone makes a politically charged or racially insensitive comment, can be uncomfortable. These comments can also completely derail a lecture and compromise the learning environment. Sometimes our instinct is to quickly redirect the conversation to avoid addressing the comment. A more effective approach, however, is to role-model to students how to manage the situation through discussion. The ideas presented on Chico State’s Our Democracy page include resources to navigate situations like this. For example, the suggested L.E.A.R.N. approach is to…
L – Listen to what students are saying
E – Empathize with their position
A – Assess what to do (take a moment to compose yourself)
R – Respond directly
N – Negotiate how to move forward
It might be helpful for you to have a mental script ready for times like this. For example, you could say something like “Diverse perspectives are welcome in this classroom and I sense some disagreement about this topic. Let’s take a minute to process this idea including writing down your thoughts. Would anyone like to share what came to mind as we seek to better understand each other’s points of view?”
You can always revisit the conversation at the next class after everyone, including yourself, has had time to process it. Ignoring the comment altogether or ending class early is a last resort unless you feel that someone’s safety might be at risk.
The grading/reading/writing space for faculty in MLIB 459 has new featured service to support your work. Aside from enjoying the most spectacular panoramic view on campus, faculty can now enjoy coffee, decaf, hot tea, and snacks in the room between 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
To welcome you to the “Rose Garden Room” with these new amenities, the Office of Faculty Development and the Meriam Library will be hosting an open house this Friday, 9/13 from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Drop in at your leisure to enjoy appetizers, juice shots, and prize giveaways.
Fall 2019 Book Club Invitation!
Do you ever feel like too much of your time is spent in a hurried blur of emails, meetings, and quick tasks? Do you want to be able to invest time focusing deeply on certain tasks without distraction? In the book “Deep Work,” author and professor, Cal Newport, shares strategies for cultivating a “deep work ethic” that can enhance focus so we can produce better results in less time.
If you’re interested in discussing these concepts, the Book Club will meet for one hour on four occasions this semester to discuss the implications of this book on our work as Chico State faculty. Click here by Tuesday, 9/10 to reserve your spot in the FA19 Book Club. You’ll get the book for free and plenty of coffee and snacks at each gathering.
Today’s Tuesday Tip is a strategy to learn students’ names, which can facilitate a welcoming and inclusive classroom environment. It’s also a great way to connect with students but it can be challenging, especially in large classes. One strategy is to access your Class Roster to match students’ names with faces. When students get their photo taken for their University ID, they can choose to upload it to the Class Roster. To access your Class Roster with student photos, log on to the Chico State Portal, sign in with your campus username and password, and click on the Faculty Center. Then, click on the Class Roster icon to the left of your course and then click View All. On the Class Roster, you will see your students’ name, major, year in school, and photo (if they chose to upload it). You can then review the photos with names before each class.
Additional strategies for a successful first week of class can be found in this recent article in the Chronicle.
In this final Tuesday Tip of the academic year, the Office of Faculty Development (FDEV) is interested in what type of programming would most benefit you in 2019-20. This past year, we offered paid programs on teaching enhancement, article writing, online course design, free speech in the classroom, mentoring new faculty, a book club on artificial intelligence and another on culturally inclusive education, as well as four intensive summer programs on inclusive pedagogy, teaching writing, affordable textbooks, and a writing community.
Assuming FDEV is appropriately funded in 2019-20, we plan to retain most of our existing offerings while also exploring programming on teaching first-generation college students, grant-writing, and department chair development.
FDEV is the one office on campus that supports your growth and development as a teacher and scholar. Click on the FDEV blog and let us know what you want from your Office of Faculty Development next year.
This is often the time of the semester when faculty receive emails from students asking for a “grade bump” (i.e. – a student asks for a favor such as their grade of 89.4% be rounded up to a 90% to get an A). Should you deny the request and stick to the point structure on your syllabus? Doing so can result in guilt-inducing responses from students about losing scholarships, being ineligible for sports, or not getting into med school. This decision is, of course, totally up to you but granting an unearned grade bump, just because a student asked for it, can widen equity gaps. That is, it rewards only the students with the audacity to ask you for the favor. Many students, including First-Gen and under-represented minorities, may lack either the cultural awareness or the boldness to ask for a grade bump and thus they may end up with lower grades in the class simply because they accepted the grade they earned. To be clear, if a student has a concern about a calculation error in their grade, it deserves a closer look. There is a clear distinction, however, between asking for grade clarification and asking for a grade boost.
Commencement is this weekend and the last official academic workday for faculty is May 28th. If you plan to write this summer, the Office of Faculty Development is offering support to facilitate your success. From June 3rd – 6th, we’re offering a Summer Faculty Writing Community. This is a community of faculty in a quiet and comfortable room for four days, from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. each day to write. That’s it. Nothing else. Just writing articles, books, manuscript revisions, or other scholarly pieces. FDEV will provide coffee, snacks, and lunch everyday to keep you going. English professor, Kim Jaxon, will facilitate a supportive community and assist you as needed. There will be some time devoted to peer review of drafts so you can get feedback along the way.
Many faculty write in the summer anyway. This community is a great way to hold yourself accountable for your writing projects and be surrounded in support during the process. If you’re interested, complete the application by Monday, May 27th.