Turning Thoughts to Fall

As June turns to July, faculty may be thinking about plans for Fall semester 2020.  Important topics on their mind include adapting to mixed-mode, remote, or web-based teaching and learning, assessments and academic integrity, and providing a more inclusive classroom. Here are a few reading suggestions and resources for HHD Faculty on each.

Adapting to Mixed-Mode, Remote or Web-based Teaching and Learning

Penn State faculty have shared some of the strategies they used in Spring and Summer to adapt their classes in a series of short videos. You can see the whole series of videos on what worked in remote learning here: https://psu.mediaspace.kaltura.com/playlist/details/1_sxqucxxd/categoryid/159329361

Many HHD faculty provide fantastic engaged learning experiences as part of classes, and may be wondering how to adapt. One of many possibilities might be going virtual, as faculty in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences did. Reach out to Ravi Patel in HHD Instructional Design Team to talk about options and check out the Canvas site of resources they’ve created for all HHD faculty. Penn State’s Teaching and Learning with Technology (TLT) office is a fantastic resource. Faculty may want to look into their “BlendLT Learning Path”, which has a wealth of resources on how to combine in-class and out-of-class work for hybrid and mixed-mode teaching and learning.

One of the hardest things for faculty and students working online (and in the classroom) can be trying to build an engaged community. TLT has another great resource for faculty in their Engaging Student Series, offering ideas for how to keep students motivated in all types of learning. I also found this story from SSRI on how Penn State medical school faculty and students responded to the pandemic and built community interesting and inspiring.

Assessments and Academic Integrity

Spring 2020 presented huge challenges for adapting assessments and maintaining academic integrity, and many of those challenges will continue. I am co-chairing a committee working on providing recommendations for Fall 2020, so feel free to drop me an email (dgs4@psu.edu) with any of your thoughts. While we work on that, here are a few resources to consider.

While Penn State announced that faculty could not require students to use webcams in Spring 2020, there is an exception to that for assessments. As the link notes, make sure you provide notice and an option for students who may not have a webcam. Exam proctoring through both Zoom and Examity is available, though the costs for the latter will need to be discussed with your department and the college.

An alternative to high-stakes exams may be to consider alternative assessment methods. Both the Keep Teaching website and the Schreyer Institute for Teaching and Learning have ideas for adapting assessments. Whether for exams or quizzes, faculty can take full advantage of testing security options in Canvas.

Setting an environment that enhances integrity is another building block for good assessment. In addition to include the required language on academic integrity, what are some other things faculty can do? Take a few minutes during the first week of classes to speak personally about why integrity matters to you. Penn State faculty can have students sign an honor code (should HHD develop one for anyone to use?) at the beginning of class and before assessments, as repeated reminders of integrity can enhance integrity. Have students complete the academic integrity training at https://www.academicintegrity.psu.edu/ and check out the material on academic integrity in our Teaching Strategies for Fall 2020 Canvas site.

Building an Inclusive Class

Recent events have reminded us, yet again, how far we have to go to address systemic and institutional injustices in our nation. What are some ways that faculty can help be part of that solution? Custom workshops on many topics are available from Penn State’s Schreyer institute which has a workshop on Creating Inclusive Courses and many other tools for faculty this topic.

During a focus group after the Spring 2020 semester, I had a chance to hear from some of our HHD students on how remote learning challenged them. From spotty wifi to no private area for studying to family job loss, illnesses and deaths, there were abundant examples that echo what others have found.

Last year, the Chronicle of Higher Education provided an excellent resource on “How to Make your Teaching More Inclusive” that I recommend. I’ve also found this resource on Becoming an Anti-Racist Educator helpful for thinking about my teaching.

Final Thoughts

In all three of these areas, becoming a great teacher is the same story—and it’s the same story on how faculty do great research. Always question. Find new methods to solve problems. Fail and learn and try again. Here are a few other recent articles you might want to read:

P.S. Don’t forget that proposals for HHD Undergraduate Education Endowment Funds are due July 17. See the endowment announcements in the Digest archive.

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