Teaching Resources (and more)

Dear faculty, 

Starting in Summer 2020, the Office of Faculty Development has produced a number of tools and resources “on demand” – so to speak – to ensure that faculty could receive support and access information whenever they needed, to mitigate the fact that the office was not physically available during the early stages of the pandemic. 

Since then our resources have grown exponentially, so I have begun a process of curation to ensure that every faculty can access and navigate our tools easily. After all, it is useless to have a lot of resources if faculty don’t know where or how to find them. 

In this Tuesday Tip, I want to introduce a new set of resources included in the FDEV website. The Teaching Resources page offers a number of tools specific to teaching and learning, organized in six main areas: 

  1. Course Design 
  2. Course Delivery 
  3. Assessment 
  4. Inclusive Teaching 
  5. Digital Learning 
  6. Evaluation of Teaching 

Each area has a dedicated page that offers resources for fairly specific needs, and each page (with the exception of “Evaluation of Teaching) is organized in three columns: 

  1. I need help with… 
  2. Ideas for implementation 
  3. Resources 

My goal was to identify specific needs, provide a few clear tips for implementation, and pair those tips with digestible resources and tools, including fillable templates. 

In addition to these new Teaching Resources, I also want to remind everyone of two additional resources page: 

New Faculty Resources: this is a page designed specifically for new faculty, and it offers broad resources, including links to faculty orientation and information on how to access our systems. 

FDEV Resources: this page includes a compilation of all resources and tools in FDEV so you can get a glimpse of the full menu available to you. 

We hope that these pages will make navigating resources easier for you, but feel free to reach out if you have any questions! 

Chiara Ferrari, Ph.D. 
Faculty Development Director 

Flexibility in the class: yay or nay?

Dear faculty, 

One question that I often receive from instructors, and certainly more so since the pandemic, goes approximately like this: how can we allow for flexibility in our classes without losing track of meeting objectives and teaching the importance of meeting deadlines? 

This is a very legitimate question: we want to be flexible and acknowledge how hard the last 2-3 years have been, but we also want to teach students that in the professional world they will have to respect due dates and meet their responsibilities. 

To look at flexibility from different perspectives, I want to share a couple of readings that invite to consider flexibility as both a blessing and a curse, so to speak. In Flexibility is key if we want students to connect with their studies (Nave, 2021), the author makes a great point about how “the forced shift to online education was in fact a great windfall for many students, who found the flexibility it brought to be life-changing. Education, suddenly, became much more accessible.”  

On the other hand, in The Perils of Flexibility (2022), Breana Bayraktar reminds us that flexibility might actually be an inequitable practice: “I’m always concerned that being flexible when asked for grace from a student means that some students will ask but others equally in need of extra help will not” and therefore she “prefer[s] to build in from the start of the semester whatever flexibility or choice I plan to offer.” 

Specifically, Bayraktar advocates for negotiable deadlines, which 

  • Teach evaluation & planning skills 
  • Helps students articulate their process 
  • Improves self-awareness 

I hope these readings will encourage some conversations among faculty about both the benefits and the perils of flexibility, as I remind everyone that faculty always have the ability to establish thresholds of flexibility, as long as they are applied equitably to all your students!