Remember the Name

We have passed the census date and the students who are in your class are likely staying there. Do you know who they are? 

No judgment here, I have never been great at remembering student names and when we returned to teaching in person after, I discovered what little talent I had for remembering names was significantly diminished. It can also be intimidating if you see a name you don’t know how to pronounce and reverting to a pronoun or calling on a student by pointing can be less intimidating. 

Hard as it may be, this is one of the most critical steps you can take toward building an inclusive classroom. There is an excellent guide from the Poorvu Center for Teaching and Learning from Yale where the center highlights the importance of correct names and pronouns for inclusion and respect. I want to highlight just two of the techniques we have previously featured when covering this topic

  • A 2014 tip from Kate McCarthy: “Ask them to use their name each time they speak in class, and repeat their names in your responses.”
  • Adapted from a 2019 tip by Josh Trout: Use the Portal Roster function or now the Canvas “People” tab to associate names with photos. Be sure to upload your own photo to Canvas to model the behavior you want to encourage. 

This is not the first time the Tuesday Teaching Tip has focused on remembering and using student names. I counted seven instances in our archive. It keeps coming up because it is so critical in fostering a sense of belonging in the classroom. I selected this tip for the week because of the timeliness with the census, but also because in a period of rapid change–this remains the same. You don’t need to be an artificial intelligence expert or a whiz at Canvas to get a little better at teaching. Little things like remembering names can have a big impact.

Zach Justus
Interim Director of Faculty Development
Professor of Communication Arts and Sciences

Inclusive Pedagogy and Student Research Support

Sent on bahelf of Dr. Alisa Wade, Assistant Professor of History and READI Equity Fellow

While serving as a Research on Equity, Antiracism, Diversity and Inclusion (READI) Equity Fellow this past year, I’ve spent a lot of time reading about and reflecting on inclusive and equitable pedagogy. Part of the process of working toward a student-centered approach to teaching entails empowering our students as active agents and considering ways we as educators might draw on their cultural knowledge and creativity in the classroom. How might we, as instructors at a Hispanic-Serving Institution with a growing percentage of first-generation students, find ways to continue to support our students and encourage them to take ownership of their own learning experiences?  

In Active Learning Strategies in Higher Education: Teaching for Leadership, Innovation, and Creativity, the authors advocate for a pedagogical approach that “promotes creativity, imagination, and emotional depth of students along with knowledge acquisition and development” and “cultivates a participatory culture in academia at all levels” (5-6). In this framework, the goal is to embed students actively in work of our disciplines in the classroom and to encourage them as participatory and engaged local, national, and global citizens. In turn, the process of working closely with faculty members can help them learn and grow in new ways, build confidence, bolster their academic success, and give them relevant skills for their academic and professional careers. 

One program on campus designed to facilitate this process is the Adelante Postbaccalaureate Pipeline. The Adelante Program’s mission centers on supporting Latinx and low-income CSUC students, and includes a Summer Research Program for undergraduate and graduate students to participate in a “faculty-mentored, funded research experience” that will give students a hands-on opportunity to engage in—and, later, present on and consider publishing—their research under the guidance of their faculty research mentor. Applications for this summer just opened last week, and the deadline for submissions is April 24, 2023. For those in Agriculture, Engineering, and the Natural Sciences, CSC² offers additional student resources, including a Summer Undergraduate Research Program. 

For details, tips, and resources on encouraging students as active classroom agents, take a look at the FDEV teaching guide for building student agency

Remembering Student Names

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.

Design a Sensational Syllabus

Welcome to the Fall ’18 semester!

I hope this e-mail catches you while you’re developing or revising your syllabi this week. This document can be one of your most effective communication tools. A syllabus sets the tone for your course (Harnish & Bridges, 2011) so be mindful about what tone you wish to set as you create it. Here are three tips to ensure your syllabus effectively communicates what you want it to.

  1. Make it Inclusive  – Scan your syllabi for content that could potentially be exclusive, and thus perhaps inaccessible, to some student groups (e.g. first-gen, low-income, international, certain genders, athletes etc.). Consider a reading list that includes diverse authors. Consider allowing students to purchase previous (and thus cheaper and more accessible) versions of a textbook. Consider allowing students to vote on the sequence of some parts of the curriculum as suggested in the book Why Students Resist Learning. Most importantly, be sure that all sections of your syllabus meet accessibility requirements (see attached tips and contact info for assistance)?
  2.  Introduce Yourself –Sure, office location and e-mail address are important to mention, but consider including a photo of yourself along with a few sentences about your hobbies, where you’re from, something unique about you, etc. Academic achievement is linked to student-teacher connection (Konishi, Hymel, Zumbo, & Li, 2010) so anything you can do to strengthen that connection is a solid investment in your students.
  3. Be Aware of Bloat – Is your syllabus more like a novel? It can be tempting to include every bit of information a student could possibly need along with a series of disclaimers addressing any and all possible scenarios. A syllabus shouldn’t read like a smartphone’s Terms & Conditions that few people ever read. If a syllabus is long enough to discourage reading, then it ceases to be a communication tool. Aim for the sweet spot of including adequate and relevant information without overloading students.

Have a wonderful first week of classes!