Teaching in Today’s California

The theme of the CELT Conference this year is “Teaching and Learning in Today’s California.” The changing demographics of California and the evolving priorities of the State should compel us all to take a moment and consider how the University has changed and will change in the coming years. The 22nd annual CELT Conference is just such an opportunity. President Gayle Hutchinson will be sharing her thoughts in the Awards Luncheon and Keynote on Thursday. The Conference runs 10/6-10/7, is on campus, and is free.

Check out the CELT conference program here.

Register for the conference here.

Top 10 reasons to register for the CELT conference

  1. Looking at teaching posters while eating a breakfast burrito, is literally my perfect morning. Join us on Friday 7:30-9:00am in Colusa for the catered poster session.
  2. Heard the buzz about e-Portfolios, but not sure what to make of them? Check out nationally recognized e-Portfolio leader Kathleen Yancey on Friday at 3pm for a presentation or join her for a workshop 12-2pm, please register for the separate workshop.
  3. Avoid a meeting you do not want to attend with the excuse “I can’t make it, I need to attend a conference.”
  4. Check out the great work of our colleagues from San Jose State who are coming to share their work on a prestigious First in the World Grant on Friday at 1pm.
  5. We are making outreach to our local community colleges a priority, help us make the conference a regional centerpiece by promoting it to your friends at other institutions.
  6. Get better at teaching.
  7. Learn from the successes and mistakes of others in course redesign. Join colleagues from Business focused on course redesign at 9am on Friday. A separate session on Friday at 10am explores the relationship between our own Academy-e Learning and the CSU funded program to support quality online instruction.
  8. Join us for student focused sessions like the Students in Crisis workshop/presentation on Thursday at 9:30am or the Writing for First-Year Students session at 11am on Friday.
  9. Support your colleagues. Most of you know someone who is presenting or invested in one or more presentations.
  10. See and be seen. The CELT conference is the networking opportunity of a lifetime, or at least the best one you will have on Thursday/Friday.

Dr. Sara Cooper has provided addition Book in Common Material. Check out this section of the CELT page for regular synopsis updates, discussion questions, and other resources.

Got feedback on this tip? Got an idea for a tip? Send it along. Check out our new and improved wordpress site here.

Don’t forget to subscribe to the Caffeinated Cats podcast! The first episode of the semester is up online. Mary, Tracy, and I explore diversity and protest on campus and off. Link to it on soundclouditunesovercast, or follow the podcast on facebook.


This week’s tip is brought to you by Chiara Ferrari, Associate Professor of Media, Arts, Design and Technology and the campus coordinator for the grant-funded Quality in Online Teaching and Learning program.

Throughout my academic career I have had many misconceptions about education, one of the most persistent ones was: I know everything about online education (i.e. let me put some stuff online, et voilá I am creating distance learning). The misconception mostly relied on the idea that “online education” was primarily a matter of technology, and that technology was a tool that allowed me to do the same stuff I did in class, but you know… somewhere on the web. Teaching online, learning via distance learning, and training about pedagogy and technology made me realize how wrong, or better said, how limited my perception was. As a techno-nerd myself, I tend to love technology and every new little gadget the market has to offer, but looking closely at technology and its uses in distance learning I realized how it actually offers not one, but a million different opportunities to reach an incredibly diverse body of students, with incredibly diverse talents, and abilities. Not everyone feels the same, however. Some colleagues consider digital technology a gimmick, and to some extent I agree: technology cannot drive a course, instead technologies present us with tools for teaching and learning. At Chico State I have found numerous opportunities to improve my use and understanding of technology while learning about pedagogy, assessment, and overall how to improve my teaching. One such opportunity has been the Quality Assurance/ Quality Online Teaching and Learning (QOLT) Program. The program offers close mentorship with both fellow faculty members and ITC experts, and has provided me with a new understanding about the importance of student feedback, student interaction, and universal design. I strongly invite everyone who wants to learn about pedagogy and the creative use of technology to apply to the QA/QOLT Program for Fall 2016. Here you can find some testimonies from faculty who went through the program last year:

Professor Celina Phillips: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=znmuFb7l_AQ

Professor Bev Landers: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8yZR9UGzHzE

Professor Chiara Ferrari: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cVDVKXRxFaI

To apply find the application here. If you have any additional questions do not hesitate to contact the campus QOLT coordinator Chiara Ferrari: cfferari@csuchico.edu

Dr. Sara Cooper has provided addition Book in Common Material. Check out this section of the CELT page for regular synopsis updates, discussion questions, and other resources.

The CELT Conference preliminary program and registration link are now available. See you on October 6-7!

Got feedback on this tip? Got an idea for a tip? Send it along. Check out our new and improved wordpress site here.

Don’t forget to subscribe to the Caffeinated Cats podcast! Link to it on soundclouditunesovercast, or follow the podcast on facebook.

Good News!

In lieu of a normal Teaching Tip we are sharing two pieces of good news for faculty across campus.

First, we have great news regarding MLIB 459, also known as the Rose Garden room. Library Dean Patrick Newell worked with Interim Provost Mike Ward and Interim Dean of Graduate Studies Sharon Barrios over the summer to open up multi-use, multi-purpose spaces for collaboration in the Meriam Library. There are more plans in development, but as of Fall 2016 MLIB 459 is a space for faculty to meet and collaborate during working hours. The space is beautiful, bright, quiet, and welcoming to faculty who want to work outside their offices. It is adjacent to the Faculty Development Office which means you can get a cup of coffee, learn about campus programs, and get to work. The space is secure enough you can leave your laptop open and not have to worry about leaving to use the restroom or get a snack from the BMU. The same space is open to graduate students after hours and is soon to be bustling with late night thesis writing. We want to extend a sincere thanks to Dean Newell, Interim Dean Barrios, and Interim Provost Ward for making this possible and invite faculty to come to MLIB 459 to do great work.

Second, we also want to pass along a more traditional tip in relation to this year’s Book in Common “My Life on The Road” by Gloria Steinem. Dr. Sara Cooper is providing the campus with a valuable resource: teaching notes on integrating this powerful book into your curriculum. Check out this section of the CELT page for regular synopsis updates, discussion questions, and other resources. This work is a wonderful guide if you want to draw in themes and conversation about the book and are looking for expert guidance.

The CELT Conference preliminary program and registration link are now available. See you on October 6-7!

Got feedback on this tip? Got an idea for a tip? Send it along. Check out our new and improved wordpress site here.

Don’t forget to subscribe to the Caffeinated Cats podcast! Link to it on soundclouditunesovercast, or follow the podcast on facebook.

Take the long view

This is not the time in the semester when we usually think about planning ahead. We are usually pushing through those last few portfolios, finalizing our cumulative exam, or wondering how much coffee the human body can consume during 24 hours and still function normally. I want to encourage you to take 15 minutes to take a longer view of your work at Chico.

I want you to think about teaching and learning in relation to three events/deadlines this week and invest in yourself by taking advantage of them.

  1. How many great student ideas find their final destination on your desk or in gradebook and never see the light of day? One solution that helps showcase student ideas while also helping us with assessment and content management are ePortfolios. The ePortfolio assessment team is bringing vendors to campus on Wednesday and there will be examples of current ePortfolio work on campus. These platforms can be powerful in promoting teaching and learning, they can also help students transition to the workforce. Find out more about the event here. If you are unable to attend, but want more information visit http://www.csuchico.edu/eportfolios/.
  1. One of our most popular programs in Faculty Development is the article in 12 weeks faculty learning community. Chris Fosen leads interdisciplinary groups through encouragement and mutual accountability toward publication. This program is popular because it works. The participants in the past three semesters have almost all met their goals and some have utilized the lessons learned to publish multiple articles. The deadline for Fall 2016 participation is this Friday (5/13).The application process is straight forward and brief. Writing can be a real challenge during the semester, take advantage of this proven program to get the work done.
  2. The CELT conference submission deadline has been extended to 5/13 at 5pm. The conference is a great opportunity to share your own innovations and learn from others. There is no cost to participants and the audience numbers (we averaged 14 per session in 2015) are solid. We welcome submissions from faculty, students, and staff. Take a few minutes to submit an abstract or coordinate with colleagues on a topic, it will be worth your time.

One last reminder, the Faculty Grading Oasis will be available to you again this semester. We will have fresh coffee, snacks, and our student staff will be available to you to help with grading as long as schedules and FERPA guidelines permit. Come see us in MLIB 458 next week and get some help!

Got feedback on this tip? Leave a comment or email it to us. Got an idea for a tip? Send it along.

Don’t forget to subscribe to the Caffeinated Cats podcast! The newest episode is on the strike that wasn’t. Link to it on soundclouditunesovercast, or follow the podcast on facebook.


Connect with your colleagues!

For many of us teaching can be somewhat isolating. We prepare in our offices or at home, come to campus, teach our classes, grade in solitude, and meet with students individually. Between service obligations, research opportunities, and life outside the academy, there can be precious time left to connect with our colleagues, especially about teaching.

The CELT Conference is a great and easy way to reinvigorate your love for the classroom and learn something new. Ever think about Sports Radio as a teaching strategy? What about setting students on academic probation up to succeed? Explore these topics and many more at the Conference this Thursday and Friday.

If you cannot make the conference that does not mean you cannot move forward with your teaching. Come by the faculty development center in MLIB 458 to take advantage of some of our teaching resources or schedule a teach-and-tell coffee date with a colleague whose teaching you admire, but take the time to connect about teaching.

In the grind of the semester it is easy to lose sight of the fact that a passion for student learning is what brought most of us here. Do what you need to do to remind yourself.

See you on Thursday and Friday at the CELT Conference!


Call for proposals

It’s your turn.  Instead of a teaching tip today, I’d like to invite you to share your own expertiseby submitting a proposal to next year’s CELT Conference, scheduled for October 8-9, 2015.  The conference will focus on  CELT ConferenceAcademic Tenacity, or “grit,” the resilience in the face of challenge that turns academic potential into academic success. Recent work on the psychology of learning indicates that non-cognitive factors—motivation, habits of self-discipline, self-perception, and beliefs about learning itself—are vital to academic achievement.

In “Academic Tenacity: Mindsets and Skills the Promote Long-Term Learning,” (2014) Carol Dweck, Gregory Walton, and Geoffrey Cohen identify proven interventions that increase academic achievement by developing tenacity.  These include teaching students that intelligence is not fixed but can be developed, helping them feel that they belong and that the curriculum is relevant to their lives, and helping them to set goals and learn self-control strategies. Faculty can foster academic tenacity in their students by making their courses challenging and setting high expectations; scaffolding learning with feedback, support, and opportunities to fail and retry; and fostering the students’ sense that theybelong and are valued by their instructor and peers.

I have learned this year that our campus is full of creative and effective teachers; surely you are building grit and resilience in your students.  Won’t you share with us? We are specifically looking for presentations on the following:

  • Setting high expectations and maintaining academic challenge
  • Fostering resilience and persistence, especially among underserved students
  • Linking learning to real-world interest and long-term goals
  • Sustaining effort and motivation
  • Developing a “growth mindset”
  • Meta-cognition, self-awareness, and self-reflection
  • Risk-taking and safe failures in the learning process
  • Formative feedback to promote persistence
  • Processes of revision and iteration
  • Fostering a sense of belonging in the classroom and beyond
  • Building an institutional culture of creative risk-taking
  • Other innovative pedagogical research and practice

*  Authored by Dr. Katherine McCarthy.

The highlight of my CELT Conference experience?

The highlight of my CELT Conference experience?  Probably getting to physically act out the elements of the human digestive system with a dozen esteemed colleagues in a Teaching Slam.  But today’s tip—gleaned from multiple conference sessions—is less, well, gross.

It turns out that whether or not a High Impact Practice—like a capstone course or an internship or a collaborative learning experience—actually has a high impact often hinges on whether or not students have been given—and take—the time to think about what and how they are learning, and how their learning is reshaping who they are. This can be done, of course, in long, rewarding, and schedule-wrecking office hour conversations, but it can also be integrated into regular assignments: “How my mind has changed” exam questions, portfolio reviews, group process reflection questions at the end of collaborative projects, even a 5-minute end-of-class reflective quick-write. Who knew “high impact” could be so quiet?

And now:  Two faculty development opportunities for your consideration:

  • The call for applications for CELT Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SOTL) grants is now available on the CELT website. These are awards of up to $1,000 in Professional Development Funds to support dissemination of pedagogical research at a major academic or professional conference and/or attendance of a learning & teaching-centered conference or workshop.  Proposals are due Monday December 1.  See full details here.
  • Chico’s Affordable Learning Solutions (AL$) program invites faculty applications to the Textbook Alternatives Project (TAP) to help research and implement alternatives to expensive print textbooks. Participants will learn about AL$ options and possibilities and will work with faculty librarians and TLP consultants focused on their class(es).  Participants will receive $1,000 stipends.   Applications are available here, or contact TLP’s Laura Sederberg for more information, lsederberg@csuchico.edu or 898-4326. This project is being co-sponsored by TLP, CELT, and Meriam Library.

And forget the coffee, you should come to the 4th floor of the library just to see the incredible student collaboration that is going on—all day—around white boards, in table pods, in squishy chairs; on chemistry, history, math, you name it. The energy is great.  Come check it out—it will make you proud to be part of their faculty.

Oh, and remember to let me know if you’re interested in being part of a Faculty Writing Circle.

*Authored by Dr. Katherine McCarthy.

Two quick but important items from CELT today

The 20th Annual CELT Conference opens tomorrow with the Awards Luncheon and Keynote address by Jillian Kinzie at 11:30 in the BMU Auditorium. I hope we’ll see you there, and at many of the great sessions slated for the following three days. The theme of the conference is High Impact Practices or, as we like to say, HIPs. You’re probably already using some of these, maybe without realizing it. Come learn more about what HIPs are, how they work to improve student learning, and how you can expand their effects in your courses. For a concentrated look at a range of HIPs used by our colleagues, check out the Thursday afternoon panel discussion on “Infusing Courses with High Impact Practices,” from 3 to 4:30 pm in Colusa 100B. And you won’t want to miss the Workshop for Faculty offered by Dr. Kinzie on Friday from 12 to 1:30 in Colusa 100. Really, I’ve seen the handout, you don’t want to miss it.

Several faculty members have expressed interest in forming Faculty Writing Circles, those groups that meet regularly to offer structure, support, and accountability for our varied writing projects.  The Faculty Writing Community is a great space for these, and I want to facilitate the formation of at least one this semester. So please reply to me at kmccarthy@csuchico.edu if you’re at all interested and we can talk about timing and structure.

Hope to see you at the Conference.  I’ll have a name tag—say hello!

*Authored by Dr. Katherine McCarthy.

Not so much a tip this week as a teaser

Not so much a tip this week as a teaser. The 20th Annual CELT Conference is happening next Wednesday through Friday, and will offer you more tips than you can shake a clicker at. For instance:

  • Thinking about trying a flipped classroom unit or course?  Hear about the benefits and challenges Gayle Kipnis discovered last year in her flipped Nursing course. (Wednesday 10/1, 2-2:50, Colusa 100B)
  • Struggling with slackers and controllers in group projects? Find groups even harder to manage in online settings? Learn from some small group communication experts about how to avoid these pitfalls to achieve true cooperative learning. (Thursday October 2, 9:30-10:45, BMU 210)
  • Ever think about becoming a department chair or dean?  Wondering what it takes to achieve a campus leadership role, and what happens when you get there? Consider these two new sessions: “Sitting in the Seat of the Chair” (Friday 10/3, 8:30-9:45, Colusa 100B) and “Women’s Leadership Roundtable.” (Thursday 10/2, 1:30-3, CE 107)
  • Got a tip of your own to share? We’ve got an open mic and a friendly audience for you at our first annual Teaching Slam. Demo a favorite lecture nugget, in-class activity, testing technique, you name it! (Friday 10/3, 9-9:50, Colusa 100A)

Full descriptions of these and all the conference sessions can be found here, where you can also register for the Awards Luncheon and Keynote on Wednesday, The Learning Catalyst Fellows Breakfast on Thursday, and the Keynote Faculty Workshop on Friday. None of the other sessions requires advance registration.

It’s week 5, and your schedules have very few open spaces left, but wouldn’t it be rejuvenating to spend an hour thinking and talking about these things with your colleagues? I hope you’ll join us.

*Authored by Dr. Katherine McCarthy.