Looking ahead to next semester

Hi all! We hope you survived the Thanksgiving holiday and that you are rested and ready to finish out the semester strong.

While it might seem too early to think about next semester already, we do want to highlight three topics that will be featured in various ways during our CTL programming next semester: hybrid course design, inclusive classrooms, and active learning strategies. These are topics that continue to come up as areas in which faculty want more training–we’ve got you covered!

A few more notes before I sign off for today:

  • If you missed last Monday’s CTL hour on Test/Performance Anxiety with Normandale counselor Kristen Cooper, the materials from that session have been posted on the CTL D2L page. Thanks, Kristen, for sharing your expertise with us!
  • Congratulations to Xiaosheng Li for passing another “Quality Matters” certification for his online Math 2150 course! You can find more information about Quality Matters and what it is here.
  • Thank you to everyone who has posted a conference nametag on our bulletin board in F2201! It’s great to see the topics that faculty are exploring and the places they are visiting. Keep ’em coming 🙂
  • And finally, this week’s Friday Coffee Fix is “Bring Your Own Questions” from 9 am-12 pm and again from 1-3 pm in L1735.

Have a great week everyone!





The End is Near! (Now what do we do?)

The smell of turkey is in the air. Students are starting to look increasingly panicked. Faculty carrying large stacks of paper and looking harried rush from class to class.

Ahhh, the end of the semester. How do we survive it?

For starters, you can join us this afternoon from 3-4 pm in A2552 for a CTL workshop on student performance anxiety. Now that it’s nearly Thanksgiving, students are feeling more and more anxious about end-of-the-semester exams, projects, and presentations, and as finals get nearer, this anxiety will only intensify.

How can we help students manage and decrease their performance-related anxiety? In this CTL workshop, Kristen Cooper, one of Normandale’s counselors, will share strategies for helping students deal with anxiety—test anxiety in particular, but also anxiety related to class participation, presentations, etc.

We hope to see you there!

In other end-of-the-semester news, it is almost time for students to submit course evaluations. But what do we, as faculty, do with the information that we get from these evaluations?  Here are some articles that offer suggestions:

  • Here is an article from the Innovative Instructor blog (out of Johns Hopkins), with suggestions for how faculty can use course evaluations to improve their teaching and, ultimately, student feedback.
  • This article from Faculty Focus discusses how faculty can adopt an improvement mindset, where they are “always confronting themselves with how they could improve, always being on the lookout for ways to increase student learning, and always accepting that no matter how high (or low) the scores, improvement is an option.”
  • This final article, also from Faculty Focus, discusses when faculty receive negative comments and considers how to respond without overreacting.

As we look ahead to next semester, here are a few additional opportunities to consider:

  • First of all, thank you to the 44 faculty who responded to the “Blended/Hybrid course Instructor preparation and challenges, and to those who emailed Kathleen separately. Faculty can contact Kathleen Coate for an appointment if they’d like one-on-one help with D2L course design. Also, watch for a workshop on hybrid course design during the January Development Day–we know this is something that many of you have asked for! 
  • Also, Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) is hosting a 2.5-day Institute on Project-Based Learning “where teams of five or more faculty and administrators from colleges and universities of all types work with experts to gain knowledge about project-based learning and make tangible progress to integrate that knowledge into their own curricula. The Institute curriculum is a mix of interactive workshops on project-based learning, consultations with Institute faculty, and collaborative teamwork guided by a dedicated coach.” Applications are being accepted through February 12. You can find more information about this opportunity on WPI’s website.

That’s it for today! Enjoy the shorter week, and have a very happy Thanksgiving 🙂

A New Faculty Focus Interview; plus, some things you may have missed…and some things to look forward to!

Happy November everyone!

Since it’s a new month, we are please to feature another faculty member as part of our “Faculty Focus” interviews. This month, we talked to Kurt Burch, faculty in Political Science. You can find our interview with him here. Email me (jennifer.miller@normandale.edu) by Friday with something interesting you learned about Kurt for a chance to win $3 in Lancer Bucks!  If you have someone that you think should be featured in this interview series, please email me as well.

Last week, Dr. Chris Jazwinski and Dr. Amanda Hemmesch gave a presentation entitled, “Mindsets, Belonging, Student Resilience, and Success,” in which they discussed the importance of students’ mindset and sense of belonging to their success in college. If you missed this presentation, the resources have been posted on the CTL D2L page in the “CTL Hour Information” module. In addition to their PowerPoint and handout, links to several of the articles they cited have also been posted–thanks to Lacey Mamek for helping compile that list!

Have you been to a conference recently? We’re trying something new with the bulletin board space in F2201. Take your conference nametag and stick it on the bulletin board–and then look to see where others have gone. Find someone who has gone to a conference that interests you, and ask them about it!

This Friday’s Coffee Fix (November 9th) will be on the Rubrics tool in D2L.  Not using the Rubric tool in D2L? It’s not too late! Rubrics can be used simply to remind students of your grading criteria, or as an interactive grading tool linked to your D2L gradebook. Get help designing a new rubric, or uploading a generic one! The Coffee Fix will be held in L1753 from 10-12pm and again from 1-3pm. Drop in anytime!

As the end of the semester approaches, are you thinking about how best to assess student learning through exams? Here are two articles that might help you think through various strategies for exam structure and question writing:

    •  In a Two-Stage Exam, students take an exam individually. After they submit their answers, they split into groups of three to five students to go over the test together and discuss the answers. Curious to hear more about this approach? Check out this article from The Chronicle.
    • When writing an exam, how do you choose among the many different types of exam questions? This article from Faculty Focus reviews the advantages and disadvantages of the most commonly used types of exam questions, including multiple choice, short answer, true-false, essay, and test bank item questions.

Finally, here are a few upcoming things to look forward to:

  • On Monday, November 19th, we will be holding a CTL workshop on how to help alleviate student anxiety about tests, presentations, etc. Watch for a calendar invitation this week!
  • Blended/Hybrid course design training is coming! You asked for it, you got it. We are working on rolling out a series of robust materials and trainings for instructional design and best practices for Blended/Hybrid courses. Watch next week’s Chalk & Pixels for a survey to help us identify your biggest challenges. You can also email Kathleen Coate with suggestions of what we should provide that will help you create or improve your Blended/Hybrid courses.
  • And last but not least, Minnesota State is working to develop Opendora, a repository for open educational resources. Opendora is currently accessible as a stand-alone resource, but Minnesota State is working to integrate it into D2L. Stay tuned for more information!

Have a great week, everyone!

We Belong…at this afternoon’s CTL workshop on belonging!

In 1984, Pat Benatar released the now-classic song “We Belong,” singing:

“We belong to the light, we belong to the thunder
We belong to the sound of the words we’ve both fallen under
Whatever we deny or embrace for worse or for better
We belong, we belong, we belong together”

Well, here at Normandale, we, too, are working to create a sense of belonging–among students, faculty and staff; in the classroom and in communal spaces; in the books that we read and the programs that we schedule; and even in the very buildings on campus.

To help us better understand what belonging is and why it is so important to student success, Dr. Chris Jazwinski and Dr. Amanda R. Hemmesch from the Department of Psychology at St. Cloud State University will present “Mindsets, Belonging, Student Resilience, and Success” this afternoon (Monday, October 29) from 3-4 pm in A2552.

In this presentation, Drs. Jazwinski and Hemmesch will discuss key concepts related to student competence and achievement, including mindset, belonging, and belonging uncertainty.

They will focus on scholarship on belonging, defined as the perceived quality of fit between oneself and a setting, particularly how it applies to academics.

We hope to see you all there!

On the subject of belonging, The Chronicle of Higher Education recently featured an article about how the moments before class starts can be incredibly valuable in creating a positive classroom atmosphere and fostering a sense of connection between students and faculty–something that is vital to students feeling like they belong in college.

In this article, James P. Lang writes, “The more time I spend with students in that brief space before the start of class, the more I recognize that those warm-up minutes actually represent a fertile opportunity. I can use the time to enhance the learning that will take place in the hour that follows, to build a more positive atmosphere for class discussion, or simply to get to know my students a little better.”

Later, he goes on to say, “Students cited the relationships they formed as the most important and memorable aspect of college. Those relationships began with fellow students, but also included connections with faculty and staff members. The number and intensity of those relationships not only predicted students’ general satisfaction with college, but had the power to motivate them to deeper, more committed learning in their courses.”

Take a look at the three strategies that Lang offers, and try them out in your own classes!

Also–a quick reminder that there will be no drop-in D2L hours this afternoon.

And last but not least, here is Pat Benatar herself to energize the rest of your Monday aftenroon:

You Ask–CTL Listens!

Thank you to everyone who shared CTL training requests at their division meetings during the August Development Days! We are sorting through the suggestions and using them to figure out which workshops to offer this fall.

Two of those suggestions were to have a workshop on students with autism, and to have more programs on belonging and inclusiveness.  Well, you asked, and we answered!

  • TODAY (Monday, October 15th) from 3-4 pm, CTL and OSD are holding a workshop on working with students with autism. In this workshop, faculty and staff will learn a bit about what autism is and how it affects students, and then discuss possible strategies for helping these students in the classroom. Please bring challenges or scenarios that you have encountered in the classroom to work through with the group as case studies!
  • In two weeks, on Monday, October 29th, Dr. Chris Jazwinski and Dr. Amanda R. Hemmesch from the Department of Psychology at St. Cloud State University will present “Mindsets, Belonging, Student Resilience, and Success.” In this presentation, Drs. Jazwinski and Hemmesch will discuss key concepts related to student competence and achievement, including mindset, belonging, and belonging uncertainty.  They will focus on scholarship on belonging, defined as the perceived quality of fit between oneself and a setting, particularly how it applies to academics. This presentation will be held from 3-4 pm in A2552.

Many of you also wanted more training on online or hybrid courses–we can help you there, too! Want to take an in-depth look at your online or hybrid course? The Minnesota Online Quality Initiative (MOQI) offers several methods for training and improving your courses within the online environment. Click here for the MOQI website; you can also find more information in this flyer.

Here is some other information you might find useful:

  • D2L updates are coming this Thursday, Oct. 18th, just in time for MEA break. Review these updates for Quizzes, Assignments, and HTML Quicklinks – see the attached summary, or full description document for more info.
  • As a reminder, submissions for the 2018-2019 Discipline Teaching Grants program are due by the end of the day, Monday, October 15th. Complete funding details are available at here.
  • The 2019 STAR Symposium will be held February 8, 2019. The award-winning STAR Symposium celebrates excellence in post-secondary teaching and learning by providing an avenue for individuals to share best practices, ideas, and resources with colleagues. This virtual one-day conference includes presentations that focus on pedagogical approaches including delivery via face-to-face, blended, flipped and online classrooms. The Call for Proposals is open until November 16, 2018–click here to submit your proposal. 
  • Want to know more about Open Educational Resources (OER)? Faculty at OpenOregon have created a helpful FAQ!
  • This post from the Tomorrow’s Professor blog highlights ways in which Dr.Carolyn Gentle-Genitty from Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) uses the Canva online system to make online learning more personal. While this system is different from our D2L system, many of tools are the same–her strategies also point to the power of assessment in tailoring online education to individual students. Take a look at the post, and if there are tools that Dr. Gentle-Genitty uses in Canva that sound interesting to you, email Kathleen Coate and see whether D2L has something similar!

Have a great Fall Break, everyone!