The Summer Institute on Teaching 2021 took place June 2nd and 3rd was held virtually, but still brought our teaching community together in a big way.

SIT 2021 by the numbers:

306 Unique registrants
67 Facilitators across 19 unique sessions
286 Unique attendees across both days
93% …of those registered attended the event
207 Keynote attendees on day 1


What we learned…

If you missed SIT this year, or weren’t able to attend all of the sessions, we’ve compiled some of our big takeaways:

  1. Annotation is already happening all around us- you can harness it for your teaching. Remi Kalir showed us how inviting students to annotate the course syllabus creates a foundation for learning based on openness, curiosity, and care.
  2. Today’s college students face unique challenges to their success outside the classroom. Understanding the pressures of those external factors can help us design courses with greater compassion and ultimately better outcomes for your students.
  3. Students may struggle engaging in conversations about social justice for many reasons, but a major issue for many students is an insufficient ability to identify misinformation. You can model good info literacy in these situations by saying, “I don’t know…” and then describing where you would go for accurate information.
  4. Oral Exams are a great online assessment option! They can work especially well in smaller classes. Faculty can connect with students one-on-one, which is especially valuable for a course that has not met on campus.
  5. Students, especially first-year students, may need help “learning how to learn.” This will look different in every course, but supports for reflection, organizing information, and identifying misinformation will help all students be more successful.
  6. Alternative assessments are here to stay. While teaching remotely during the pandemic, one engineering instructor experimented with reflection papers in lieu of online testing solutions. Student responses were thoughtful and students provided feedback in their course evaluations expressing how the writing assignments increased their engagement with course materials. This instructor will continue using this method of alternative assessment when he returns to teaching on campus this fall.
  7. Lessons from those who taught on campus in Spring 2021: At this point we don’t know what Covid requirements will be in place in the fall. Faculty who taught on campus this spring shared challenges that they faced and offered strategies for overcoming these challenges. One difficulty of students wearing masks is that it’s extremely difficult to recognize students and learn their names. Creating name cards and having students display those on their desks, along with creating seating charts, can be helpful in learning student names. Another difficulty with mask wearing is that you can become breathless when teaching in a mask. You might consider using a microphone when you hadn’t used a microphone previously. In addition to these challenges, it may be helpful to think about the structure of your in-person fall courses and how they may be affected by Covid requirements.

If you want to check out materials uploaded by our facilitators, visit the SIT2021 site: 

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