The Chalk Talk Series

About

The CTRL Chalk Talk Series supports focused discussions that are timely and relevant to all faculty at American University. The series, which are 75 minutes long, are designed to be responsive to the needs of faculty: topics can be submitted by as early as two weeks in advance, and the event can be scheduled anytime that best meets the needs of the faculty. Light snacks and refreshments will be served. If you have ideas or topics for this series, please send them to ctrl@american.edu.

Summer 2020

Incoming First-Year Students in the Time of COVID

Monday, July 13 | 11:00 am – 12:15 pm | Online Workshop

Jeremy Lowe (Office of Enrollment) and James Quirk (Department of Government)

The incoming cohort of first-year students will be like no other. The COVID Pandemic has upended all aspects of higher education from recruiting to teaching practices. In this session, we will hear about the make-up of AU’s class of 2024 including their Landscape scores which “considers what the students achieved in the context of where they’ve learned and lived–their high school and neighborhood.” In addition, we will hear about a survey of college-bound seniors, finishing high school under quarantine, who were asked what they want if their first semester of college begins online. The presentations will be followed by a conversation about how these data could be used to inform our teaching and support of students.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Recognize the increasing dimensions of diversity of AU’s students
  • Apply these data and relevant pedagogical practices to course planning for the fall semester

Research-Based Practices for Online Instruction

Tuesday, June 9 | 2:00 pm – 3:15 pm | Online Workshop

Wednesday, July 8 | 6:30 pm – 7:45 pm | Online Workshop

Erin Horan, Ph.D. (Assistant Director for Research, Assessment & Pedagogy, CTRL)

Creating an online course is a difficult endeavor, but there is an abundance of research we can use to inform our planning for teaching online. This workshop will include research-based, best practices to guide the workshop content, along with real examples of what this looks like in your online course. There will be 30 minutes of structured instruction, followed by 45 minutes of group discussions and questions and answers.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Summarize research-based best practices for online teaching
  • Assess your own ability to implement some new instructional strategies
  • Create an implementation strategy in your online courses

Spring 2020

Engaging More Students Using Crowd Sourcing and Online Tools

Thursday, May 7 | 9:30 a.m. – 10:45 a.m. | Online Workshop

Mike Alonzo (Department of Environmental Science)

Not all students like to participate or feel comfortable participating in an open-ended discussion. Similarly, not all course material lends itself to the invigorating conversation. Tech tools such as Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, and Maps can be used to add structure to an active learning environment in a way that is fun for students and facilitates targeted feedback from the instructor. In this session, we will talk pedagogical goals, technical implementation, and lessons learned. Of course, we will put all this into action, collaboratively in a suitable online setting.

Facilitating Group Work and Student Peer Review for Online Instruction

Wednesday, April 15 | 12:55 p.m. – 2:10 p.m. | Online Workshop

Erin Horan, PhD (Assistant Director for Research, Assessment & Pedagogy, CTRL) 

Amy Trietiak (Professorial Lecturer, Dept. of Health Studies)

Both presenters are members of CTRL’s Rethinking Peer Review Faculty Learning Community.

This workshop will discuss logistics for planning group work in online instruction. The facilitators will provide examples of group work they use in their online classes with a focus on the technologies used, including Blackboard.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Identify assessments well suited for peer review and/or group work based on existing learning outcomes
  • Select relevant tools in Blackboard for facilitating effective group work or peer review

Using Pass-fail Grading to Align Grade Achievement with Course Learning Achievement

Friday, April 24 | 12:55 p.m. – 2:10 p.m. | Online Workshop

Ericka Menchen-Trevino (School of Communication)

Most students are more motivated by grades than the inherent value of learning course content. Instructors try to create course assignments and policies that help students learn the course material, but grading with percentage points encourages students who would be satisfied with anything less than an A to turn in low-quality work and skip low-point assignments. Does anyone know if a B- student has achieved any of the learning outcomes of a course? In this session, Ericka Menchen-Trevino of the School of Communication will discuss her experience implementing the Specifications Grading system (Nilson, 2015) of pass-fail grading to better align grades with the achievement of learning outcomes. At the end of the session you will have drafted a pass/fail rubric for one of your assignments.

Fall 2019

Creating an Engaging Syllabus

Monday, December 2 | 12:55 p.m. – 2:10 p.m. | Mary Graydon Center (MGC) 245

Alex Breiding (Core Curriculum Program Coordinator, Office of Vice Provost for Undergraduate Studies)

Along with your opening remarks, the syllabus is the first opportunity for you to influence students’ interest and motivation in your course. In this session, Alex Breiding of the AU Core curriculum team will present emerging research and trends in syllabus design that centers student engagement. At the end of the session, you will leave with at least one component of a syllabus that incorporates these new strategies for student engagement.

Formative Assessments: Strategies for Monitoring Student Learning

Thursday, October 3 | 5:30 p.m. – 6:45 p.m. | Mary Graydon Center (MGC) 245

Kim Westemeier (Center for Teaching, Research & Learning)
Ashley Roccamo (eLearning Support Services)

Formative assessments are a great way to create structured feedback channels to enhance your teaching, and therefore improve student learning. In this session, we will explore how formative assessments can help you determine where your students are in the learning process. We will examine different assessment types including formative assessment, how each type of assessment is different from one another, and what the particular benefits of formative assessments (and limitations) are.

Creating a Rubric

Tuesday, September 3 | 5:30 p.m. – 6:45 p.m. | Mary Graydon Center (MGC) 245

Kim Westemeier (Center for Teaching, Research & Learning)

Erin Horan (Center for Teaching, Research & Learning)

In this session, Instructional Designers Kim Westemeier and Erin Horan will present tips and tricks to fast-track your rubric creation process. You will have the opportunity to create a rubric for an assignment of your choice using their rubric creation framework. At the end of the session, you will leave with a new rubric in hand (or deployed in Blackboard) ready-to-use in your course!

Spring 2019

Bringing Transparency to the Classroom in an Interactive Learning Environment

Wednesday, April 17 | 12:55 p.m. – 2:10 p.m. | CTRL Collaboratory (Hurst 202)

Krisztina Domjan (School of Professional & Extended Studies)

Mary-Ann Winkelmes’s award-winning research project, The Transparency in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education project (TILT Higher Ed) has opened many eyes and started conversations in many institutions on how to reshape course assignments in a way that assignments become achievable and successful tasks. While the research project was originally designed for student retention, the findings are indeed more universal and inclusive. Carefully designed, transparent assignments engage students, provide guidance, involve specific learning objectives, and promote metacognition. In this Noontime Conversation, instructors will learn about interactive tools that can help modify their assignments in order to guarantee that students complete assignments (especially the more complex, heavily weighted ones) with success.

Resources:

Understanding Students’ Perspectives on the Learning Experience

Monday, April 8 | 12:55 p.m. – 2:10 p.m. | CTRL Collaboratory (Hurst 202)

Lara Schwartz (School of Public Affairs)

As instructors, we know far more about course subject matter than our students.  But when it comes to the 2019 college student experience, we are the least knowledgeable person in the room.  Our students bring diverse experiences with them that affect their engagement in class. In addition to disability, trauma, and distance from home (particularly in the case of international students), this discussion will explore intergenerational differences and the way that normative Boomer/Gen X behavior feels and reads to a Gen Z student.

Resources:

Creating a Rubric

Thursday, March 28 | 12:55 p.m. – 2:10 p.m. | CTRL Collaboratory (Hurst 202)

Erin Horan (Center for Teaching, Research & Learning)
Kim Westemeier (Center for Teaching, Research & Learning)

In this session, Instructional Designers Kim Westemeier and Erin Horan will present tips and tricks to fast-track your rubric creation process. You will have the opportunity to create a rubric for an assignment of your choice using their rubric creation framework. At the end of the session, you will leave with a new rubric in hand (or deployed in Blackboard) ready-to-use in your course!

Feedback Tools for Writing Assignments

Thursday, February 28 | 12:55 p.m. – 2:10 p.m. | CTRL Collaboratory (Hurst 202)

Erin Horan (Center for Teaching, Research & Learning)
Kim Westemeier (Center for Teaching, Research & Learning)

Writing assignments are a great way to assess students’ learning, but grading can be tedious and time consuming. In this workshop we will discuss research-based strategies for effectively and efficiently grading your students’ writing assignments. After this Chalk Talk participants will be able to design assignments and utilize rubrics to effectively and efficiently grade writing assignments.

Resources:

References

Bangert-Drowns, R. L., Kulik, C. C., Kulik, J. A., & Morgan, M. T. (1991). The instructional effect of feedback in test-like events. Review of Educational Research, 61(2). https://doi.org/10.3102/00346543061002213

Dukes, R. L. & Albanesi, H. (2013). Seeing red: Quality of an essay, color of the grading pen, and student reactions to the grading process. The Social Science Journal, 50(1), 96-100. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.soscij.2012.07.005

Fisher, R., J. Cavanagh, and A. Bowles. 2011. Assisting transition to university: Using assessment as a formative learning tool.  Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 36(2), 225–237.

O’Donovan, B., Rust, C., & Price, M. (2016). A scholarly approach to solving the feedback dilemma in practice. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 41(6), 938-949. https://doi.org/10.1080/02602938.2015.1052774

Shute, V. J. (2008). Focus on formative feedback. Review of Educational Research, 78(1), 153-189. https://doi.org/10.3102/0034654307313795

Winstone, N. E., Nash, R. A., Rowntree, J., & Parker, M. (2017). ‘It’d be useful, but I wouldn’t use it’: Barriers to university students’ feedback seeking and recipience. Studies in Higher Education, 42(11), 2026-2041. DOI: 10.1080/03075079.2015.1130032

Fulbright Scholars Program for Faculty & Staff: Discover How You Can Make an Impact Abroad

Tuesday, February 19 | 11:20 a.m. – 12:35 p.m. | Mary Graydon Center 324

Michelle Bolourchi (Outreach and Recruitment Specialist, Institute of International Education)
Nathan Harshman (Department of Physics (Fulbright to Italy))
Elizabeth Worden (School of Education (Fulbright to Northern Ireland))

The Fulbright Scholar program offers approximately 1,200 grants annually to U.S. faculty and other established professionals, including artists, journalists, scientists, lawyers, independent scholars. The Core Fulbright Scholar Program provides teaching, research or combination awards in over 125 countries. Come and learn about these programs, get tips on how to craft a competitive application, and hear from your colleagues on the impact of the Scholars Program on their teaching and scholarship.

Fostering a Collaborative Learning Environment: Building and Assessing Student Cooperation

Wednesday, February 13 | 12:55 p.m. – 2:10 p.m. | Hurst 202

Lara Schwartz (School of Public Affairs)

In the best learning communities, students can learn as much from one another as from instructors. But how do we build learning spaces where students listen to and learn from one another?  In this talk, Lara Schwartz (School of Public Affairs) will present and discuss policies, exercises, and assessments that foster cooperation, listening, and shared responsibility for the learning process.

Resources:

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