Staying Well in April

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.

How Our Students Get Jobs

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.

Equality, Equity, or Both?

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?

Mobile Devices in Class?

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.

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As a reminder, please complete the 8-minute survey about the professional development programming you want from the FDEV office. Thank-you!

Organize Reading Lists & Earn $250

Faculty have numerous methods of organizing reading lists for students. This can be confusing, especially when students have five or six different professors in a semester, all of whom place reading lists in various locations. The Meriam Library now offers an optional new tool called “Leganto (PDF)” (integrated directly into Bb or used as a standalone application) that helps you create dynamic online reading lists and provides seamless access for students. Leganto allows faculty to…

  • search the library directly to create links to articles
  • upload and organize your own content
  • view student usage of course content
  • include collaborators on course reading lists

To help you get started, the library is sponsoring a Faculty Learning Community (FLC) where you can develop your own course reading lists. The FLC will meet this semester for 90 minutes once per week for four weeks. Faculty who complete the FLC will receive $250. More information and start dates are on the application, which is due April 6, 2018. If you have questions or want more information, contact Jodi Shepherd.

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Reminders…

RSVP For What Enriches You

Today’s tip is a friendly reminder about a few of the development and recognition invitations this semester for faculty. I know your schedules are very busy so please only RSVP to what nourishes and interests you.

Have a great last few days before Spring Break!!

Use BOX to Make Your Life Easier!

Over the past year, departments at Chico State have transitioned their file storage from Bay to Box (in the cloud). This transition provides greater security, easier accessibility, and a wider range of collaboration tools for you. As part of this transition, every faculty member now has an unlimited amount of storage space on Box (in the cloud) to store files. Here are the top five ways Box can improve your life…

  1. You can access all of your files anytime, anywhere, including from home, office, any mobile device, and in any classroom with a computer and Internet access. No need to ever use (or lose) a flash drive again.
  2. You can access your files from the Box website as if they were on your computer and changes are automatically stored in the cloud (imagine updating a lecture slide from your phone at the airport).
  3. You can easily share course materials with your students (they don’t need Box accounts to access).
  4. You control access to your materials by sharing folders and files of content with your students or colleagues while keeping other folders and files private.
  5. Links you share to your course content are always up-to-date. You never need to upload new versions of files, update links, or worry about being stuck in class with an outdated version of your content.

If you’d like to learn how you can leverage Box in your courses to make your files more accessible and secure, we will be hosting a 45-minute workshop inColusa 100B on Wednesday, 3/28 from 1:15-2pm and on Thursday, 3/29 from 9-9:45am (same workshop – just on different days to accommodate faculty schedules). The workshop will be led by Tony Dunn, Lecturer in the Business Department and Project Manager for Information Technology Client Services. RSVP for the workshop.

Log in to Box

Get answers to Box FAQs

Make Office Hours An Accessible Resource

“Frequent student-faculty contact in and out of classes is the most important factor in student motivation and involvement.” This is first of Seven Principles of Good Practice in Undergraduate Education at Chico State. One relatively untapped resource to increase student involvement outside of class is office hours.

In a low-stakes office meeting with you, students can learn about resources they need and ask questions in a safe environment without their peers present. Investing time with students can actually be a long-term time-saver if you can address problems before they get worse or help with initial drafts of papers before they’re submitted. So, why are office hours seldom utilized by students? Maybe they’re nervous. Maybe they don’t feel their reason for visiting is worth your time. Maybe they don’t want to appear to need extra help. Whatever the reason, helping students access your office hours is a great way to boost student engagement. Here are a few ways to help students access this valuable resource.

  • Prop your door open during scheduled office hours and warmly greet them. Display your Safe Zone Ally placard on your door if you earned one from the Office of Diversity & Inclusion. If students apologize for bothering you, remind them that office hours are devoted to them and you’re glad they stopped by.
  • Stagger office hour days and times to enable students with varied schedules to access you.
  • Post office hours on your syllabus, on Blackboard, on your office door, and remind students about the benefits of office hours at key points in the course when you know students will need them most.
  • Consider making an office hour visit an assignment with points attached to it. If necessary, you can give students a specific purpose for visiting (e.g. bring your most recent assignment and the single biggest question you have about the topics covered so far).
  • Consider occasionally holding office hours off-campus at a coffee shop, the library, or a park as long as the location is accessible to all your students. If you regularly hold some of your office hours outdoors, you could have a “walking meeting” which might be less intimidating to some students.
  • Offer some office hours online. Zoom is a great platform for this and you have a free account through Chico State. Contact TLP if you need assistance.
  • Consider offering some group office hours to be held in an empty classroom. Perhaps these could be theme-based office hours (e.g. test prep, participating in research, finding internships, applying to graduate school)

Faculty are partners with students in the learning process. The more resources students can access, the more successful the partnership.

Hold Class At the Big Chico Creek Ecological Reserve

If you’re interested in a unique and engaging classroom experience, consider holding class at the Big Chico Creek Ecological Reserve (BCCER). Classes ranging from art and journalism to agriculture and construction management utilize the BCCER. It’s a 25-minute drive from campus (on Hwy 32 near Forrest Ranch). Thousands of people every year visit the 4,000 acres of diverse ecosystems.

They are open every weekday and have staff and resources to help you and your students have the best learning experience possible. Visit their websitefor more information and to explore how you can best utilize this wonderful resource.  Also, you can view upcoming events and opportunities on their Facebook page.

The first attached flyer has more information on BCCER. The second attached flyer is an open house they’re hosting on April 21. For additional questions or to set up a visit, contact:

Jon Aull, Education and Research Coordinator
CSUC Ecological Reserves
jaull@csuchico.edu
(530) 898-5010

Easily Produce Video in the New Multimedia Studio

Video has become a useful tool in classrooms all over the world. Have you ever wanted to create a video of a lecture or speech to augment your course? Our friends in Creative Media Technologies just opened a new multimedia recording studio for faculty to use. You can create high-definition videos for just about any educational purpose you can imagine. For example, embed videos in Blackboard with Kaltura for use in face-to-face, online, flipped, hybrid, or remote courses. You can integrate a document-camera or PPT slides into your video to create a top-notch presentation. The studio, located in 027B, is also equipped with a useful new technology called Learning Glass, which incorporates a transparent LED-lit whiteboard along with a neon marker so you can write in a way that engages your audience. Click  here for a 90-second video demonstration.

To visit the studio and learn more, contact Classroom Technology Services at 898-5475.