1. Great teaching can start with small changes

Two of our keynote speakers, James Lang and Mills Kelly, reminded us that even small changes to our teaching can have huge impacts.  Prior to introducing our first keynote speaker, UD’s own Agnes Ly demonstrated a small change that she made to her teaching that has had a meaningful impact on her students’ learning.  By asking just a few questions prior to the beginning of class, she encourages students to recall and reinforce what they’ve learned in previous classes.  It’s a small change but a powerful one!

 

  1. Match the right tool to the right task

Many SFI sessions introduced participants to new tools that could enhance their teaching but how do you know what’s right for you?  As participants in CTAL’s followup Course Design Institute learned, the specific learning outcomes of each course should play the starring role in determining the tools that are used in the course.  Tools like Google sites, Zoom, Lucidchart, story mapping, and Qualtrics surveys can support teachers and students if they are aligned with the outcomes, method, and content of the course.

 

  1. Challenge and discomfort are necessary parts of learning and growth

Conversations about diversity, inclusion, and multicultural issues challenge our students and create uncomfortable situations. However, being uncomfortable is an important part of the learning experience and often marks a critical juncture in our intellectual and ethical growth.  Participants in FYS Diversity and General Education Multicultural sessions learned how to anticipate these challenges and create proactive plans for supporting students through those challenging but necessary moments.

 

  1. Rubrics are good for students and instructors.

We know that being explicit with students about what we expect often leads to better learning and assignments that are easier and more enjoyable to grade.  SFI sessions not only highlighted some of UD’s unique strengths in rubric development but also presented a new rubric for assessing computational reasoning, a new UD General Education objective.  The new rubric has been very helpful for faculty participating in the NSF-funded “Infusing Computation Reasoning in General Education” project and SFI participants were among the first people outside of the project to see and begin to use the new tool.

 

  1. Lectures and Powerpoint presentations can be interactive, too

When we think about “active learning,” it’s easy to focus on high-tech tools and complex pedagogies e.g., clickers, problem-based learning.  But our keynote speakers demonstrated and a popular SFI session explored in depth how lectures and Powerpoint presentations can be active and engaging.

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