April is one of the most lively, engaging, and hectic times of year for faculty. Projects need to be graded, final exams begin in 3 weeks, and commencement is right around the corner. Our devotion to (and love for) our work can unsettle the work/life balance. Stress, which we all experience and a 2014 study suggests can be particularly prevalent among lecturers, can be detrimental unless managed effectively. A 2016 study found that as the stress of teachers increased, the academic achievement of students decreased. Thus, an argument could be made that faculty wellness is both a health issue and a pedagogical issue. If wellness can improve your quality of life and positively impact student learning, it is worth investing in.
If you do all you can to manage stress (sleep 8-9 hours per night, eat healthy, meditate, limit caffeine and alcohol, stay physically active, etc.) but still need additional help, consider using MyLifeMatters Services (see attached for more info). It is a free counseling service to Chico State employees and their dependents that can help with depression, anxiety, addictions, and many other aspects of wellness. You can call them 24/7 at 1-800-367-7474 and even arrange for up to three free counseling sessions if you choose. If you’re asked for a passcode, it is “csuchico”.
FDEV wishes you a happy, healthy, productive, and enjoyable remainder of the semester.
A common, and very important, question among faculty is “How do we help students secure employment after graduation?” Knowing what employers need for the modern workforce is part of the answer.
A survey conducted for the AAC&U asked employers what they seek when hiring college graduates. Over 80% reported that they valued the following broad-based skills even more than a college graduate’s specific major: oral and written communication, ethical judgement and decision-making, the ability to work in teams, critical and analytical reasoning, and the ability to apply learning to real-world settings.
Helping students learn discipline-specific knowledge and skill is, of course, critical for progress towards graduation and preparation for professional employment. However, guiding them to develop a well-rounded and broad-based skillset necessary for the modern work environment may be just as important. Implementing collaborative group work, active learning techniques, and civic engagement are classroom strategies that could accomplish both simultaneously.
Have you seen these images floating around educational social media that offer a visual comparison of equality and equity?
The first image shows how some people need more or different resources to reach a goal. The second image sends the same message but acknowledges that some people start out standing on lower ground. If being able to see the baseball game is a metaphor for graduating from college, the fence represents the myriad of challenges that students must navigate along the way. The different ground heights in the second image are similar to the range of advantage or oppression students experience in their lives before arriving at Chico State. Equality (i.e. accessibility) is offering equal access to the educational experience. Equity goes a step further and offers all students, including those with persistent disadvantage, the opportunity to be successful in college and meet course learning outcomes.
Many courses on our campus are both accessible and equitable. Some may be accessible but not equitable. Some may be neither. Chico State has multiple programs and departments to help make the Chico State experience both accessible and equitable such as the Office of Accessible Technology & Services, the Accessibility Resource Center, the Educational Opportunity Program, and the Office of Diversity & Inclusion. Faculty have perhaps the greatest potential to impact students and can strive towards both accessibility and equity in the classroom. Some pedagogical techniques, including “differentiated instruction”, can maximize students’ chances for success. Here are a few examples…
- Adjust pacing, resources, and methods of engagement for individual learners
- Empower students intellectually, socially, emotionally, and politically
- Include readings from diverse authors
- Use varied socio-cultural context in test questions and assignments
- Encourage multiple perspectives in class rather than consensus
- Include partner and small-group work to engage multiple learning preferences
- Offer a variety of ways for students to earn points and participate in class
Might there be one pedagogical change could you implement this semester to help students see over the proverbial fence in your course?
Should students be allowed to use smartphones and laptops in class? If so, they might get distracted and check e-mail or browse Facebook, although they could just as easily doodle on paper or daydream if mobile devices weren’t allowed. Technology is rarely the sole cause for students being disengaged. In fact, laptops and smartphones can increase student engagement and enhance the learning environment if leveraged properly. Here are five reasons to allow (and even encourage) mobile devices in your class…
- Using iClickers Cloud, students can engage with you and their peers by responding electronically to questions (TLP can help you set this up).
- Students can supplement lecture by following along with Blackboard content or searching the web to learn more about concepts presented in class.
- Some students have illegible handwriting and laptops can create typed, well-organized, and searchable notes. Microsoft OneNote is a good example of this which also facilitates in-class collaboration.
- Students with accessibility needs often rely on laptops and don’t want to be singled out by a classroom ban on mobile devices.
- If you approve students to record lectures, they can replay them while driving or working out if that’s their preferred method of learning.
If you allow laptops but not cell phones, the Pocket Points app might benefit both you and your students. When a student locks up and puts away their phone during class, they earn rewards that are redeemable at local stores.
Whatever your policy, there is real value in educating students about mobile device etiquette both in and out of the classroom.
As a reminder, please complete the 8-minute survey about the professional development programming you want from the FDEV office. Thank-you!