How did they know that?

Last year an accomplished professor came by the office for some grading help with a midterm which our students are sometimes able to provide (so long as we stay FERPA compliant). He noticed many students were getting the same answer wrong in the same particular way over and over. Perplexed, he wondered aloud what could be happening until one of the student staff members in the office remarked that the exam and/or study guide was probably on Quizlet. We both responded “What is Quizlet?”Image result for quizlet

Quizlet is one of a suite of websites leveraging crowdsourced content for study help for students. Study Blue is also popular and there are probably dozens of others I am not aware of. In most cases these sites offer study guides students have uploaded that can be turned into flash cards or practice exams. On the whole, the sort of thing we all hope students do. Of course there are also less than exemplary practices. In the case referenced earlier, someone had uploaded nearly an entire exam. Even further on the spectrum, there are many pay-for-essay sites online offering products of dubious origin. We have come a long way from file folders of essays and exams passed from friend-to-friend over years and are likely to go even further in the coming years.

We have tools at our disposal to help with academic honesty including digital products like turnitin and personnel with expertise in Student Judicial Affairs. These can be extremely useful, but I also want to direct you to the most valuable resource at your disposal: your students. Asking current and former students what tools they or their peers used in your classes can give you a baseline. You may like what you hear and decide to help curate the collections on Quizlet yourself or direct future students to especially valuable guides. You may find your students are utilizing out-of-date, incorrect, or unethical resources. Then it may be up to you to change your exams or teaching practices to accommodate. If you do talk to your students and find something interesting, especially a web service or a network, don’t keep it a secret, pass it along and let us know.

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

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Don’t forget to subscribe to the Caffeinated Cats podcast! Our second episode of the Fall is out now! Mary, Tracy, and I explore Chico traditions. 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.

Know your limitations and get some help

My academic training is in communication. I am reminded of all the things I do not know every time I have a conversation with my father-in-law who is an engineer or my friend who works as a recreational therapist with physically challenged youth. I like to think of myself as well rounded, but the most important life/academic lesson I have learned is when to ask for help.

This lesson is most important when dealing with students in crisis. We are teachers, mentors, and field area experts, but rarely possess the training or experience to properly assist a student in a time of deep psychological distress. There are as many different profiles of students in distress as there are students. The young man who is away from home for the first time and feels crushed by responsibility, the student who was been the victim of sexual assault, the young women poised to be the first family member to graduate, but riddled with anxiety about what happens next, the high achieving student who appears confident but is actually struggling through a family crisis, and an infinite number of other variations and combinations. The one thing these hypotheticals have in common is that we as faculty members are only a part of the puzzle in supporting the student, not the whole picture.

There arumatter-logoe so many places where students and faculty can find support when dealing with these difficult scenarios.  The Counseling Center is the resource we most often think of, but in many situations Student Judicial Affairs, The Health Center, University Police, or an Associated Students organization like the Gender and Sexuality Equity Center may also be able to offer help.

The first move often falls to you as the faculty member, you need to pick up the phone and ask for help. Even if you call the wrong unit, you can be directed to the right one. When students confide in us or seek guidance about an issue putting them in crisis. What we have to realize is that most often they are doing so because they need some help, and while we may not be the ones to provide it, we can help them get it.