site banner

Welcome to TMAC!

Welcome to the online home for the Teaching Matters and Assessment Center! TMAC’s mission is to support Arts and Sciences faculty and departments in sustaining a culture of teaching excellence through best practices in pedagogy and assessment.

Through workshops, colloquia and consultations with faculty and departments, the Center seeks to foster success in traditional and online learning and the productive mentoring of undergraduate and graduate researchers. 

We expect this TMAC website to become a ‘go to’ resource for all faculty as a clearinghouse for information and online repository of the Center’s wide-ranging activities. We invite you to make frequent use of the site and to contribute to its development. 

Please explore the site and scroll down for the latest postings.

Teaching Matters Weekly 5.9.14

Week of May 5 (Year’s End Summary)

Faculty Spotlight Wendell Pritchett

This year, we bid farewell to our Chancellor, Wendell Pritchett. Beyond the many visible achievements of his tenure these five years, Wendell has been steadfast in his support for enhancing a culture of teaching and learning across campus. To discuss the strides we have made (and express appreciation for his leadership), this week TMAC sat down with Wendell for a conversation about teaching.

A Note From the Director: I enjoy the honor of serving as TMAC Director. It allows me the opportunity to work with so many of my colleagues across campus on matters of vital interest to us all. Indeed, I look forward to building on the progress we have made in fostering a culture of excellence

While I continue on, we bid farewell to my fabulous graduate assistant, Travis DuBose, who has completed his Masters in English with distinction. Travis has been any director’s dream as you have surely seen in his fine work, each week, in our newsletter, on our website, and in multiple workshops and presentations we put together throughout the year. THANK YOU, TRAVIS!

In August, TMAC welcomes Tara Aiken (masters student, English) as graduate assistant. We look forward to continuing efforts to bring our faculty and TAs together to promote effective pedagogy. Look out in September for Teaching Matters: A Bi-monthly Newsletter, successor to Teaching Matters Weekly. 

As the semester ends, we look back at topics discussed and collect both books and peer teaching and learning centers featured this semester.

Conversation starters: The new Common Core standards were a frequent topic of discussion this semester, and the debate seems as if it will only intensify. Indiana withdrew from the Common Core, and comedian Louis C.K. has gained press for expressing the frustration of many parents with the new standards.

Technology was also one our TMAC focuses this semester, and we featured reports about increased technological engagement with students and questions about whether the push to get technology in students’ hands could be proven to be an effective means to student learning.

➡ Looking for Gen Ed resources? Learning goals, proposal forms and more are here.

 

From the Bookshelf: Barbara Davis’ excellent and comprehensive Tools for Teaching (also here) features discussion on the large lecture course and strategies for leading discussions.

Student Writing in the Quantitative Disciplines: A Guide for College Faculty (Wiley 2012) is a resource for STEM faculty seeking to incorporate writing-to-learn strategies at all levels.

Adam Mackie’s New Literacies Dictionary: Primer for the Twenty-first Century Learner is an ebook focused on how digital literacies, including fan fiction, online communities and Youtube, can be incorporated into modern teaching.

WAC and Second-Language Writers: Research Towards Linguistically and Culturally Inclusive Programs and Practices is a collection (free download) edited by Terry Myers Zawacki and Michelle Cox on best practices in teaching second-language writers across the curriculum (Psst: today, we are all teachers of second-language writers.)

Amanda Ripley’s The Smartest Kids in the World is an inquiry into what certain countries are currently doing to educate their children in a way that gives problem-solving skills rather than information regurgitation. Widely reviewed and lauded, the book gives an overview of the differences between the educational programs of the United States and those of countries such as South Korea or Poland.

Style: Lessons in Clarity and Grace, originally created by Joseph M. Williams and now in the charge of Joseph Bizup, has reached its 11th edition for good reason: its simple advice for writing clearly and succinctly are useful for writers across genres and levels of expertise and can be a useful guide for a professor looking to improve student writing.

James Gee, professor of Education at University of Wisconsin-Madison, addresses an often maligned new medium in his book, What Video Games Have to Teach Us about Learning and Literacy. The second edition is updated to include contemporary games and their potential role in the cognitive development of our students.

Harvard’s Dr. Nancy Sommers has released Responding to Student Writing, a freely downloadable manual on best practices from across the disciplines, addressing issues such as marginal comments and endnotes as well as managing the paper load in writing-intensive classes. TMAC’s own collection of advice on responding to student writing can be found on our site.

Student Engagement Techniques: A Handbook for College Faculty by Elizabeth F. Barkley contains methods of engaging students and connects student engagement with topics such as student motivation and active learning. The link above leads to an extensive Google Books preview of the full work.

Jame’s Lang’s On Course: A Week by Week Guide to Your First Semester of College Teaching, is a book aimed at new teachers but offering practical advice for teachers at all stages of their career.

Ken Bain’s What the Best College Students Do is a follow up to his well-regarded What the Best College Teachers Do, and it profiles the practices of students who found success both in the classroom and beyond. Bain’s principles have also inspired a conference, the Best Teachers Summer Institute, held this year in New York.

Teaching at Its Best by Linda B. Nilson is a research-based “toolkit” for teaching today’s students. Including research from a variety of fields, this volume touches on issues such as using visuals to teach and issues of copyright in the classroom.

Introduction to Rubrics by Danelle D. Stevens and Antonia J. Levi gives a comprehensive overview of the use of rubrics in the classroom. The book’s website contains some sample rubrics and frameworks as well as an overview of the book’s content.

Rebecca S. Nowacek’s Agents of Integration: Understanding Transfer as a Rhetorical Act proposes student knowledge transfer as an act of recontextualization, and builds a framework of teaching for transfer from an array of disciplines.

Peer Teaching and Learning Center: The Teaching and Faculty Support Center at the University of Arkansas hosts an array of links and articles on teaching topics, including these resources on teaching large classes.

The Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning at Harvard University has an extensive resources page which gives advice on issues of classroom assessment and tips for teaching to engage multiple learning styles.

The Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning at Indiana University-Bloomington has a wide-ranging series of short articles (under Resources), from teaching with Wikipedia to creating rubrics. (Your Weekly compiler found the article on avoiding the “late semester doldrums” particularly salient.)

DePaul University’s excellent Teaching Commons has resources on course design and syllabus construction, among many other topics.

As part of TMAC’s building of a new Writing in the Disciplines resource page, we invite you to take a look at University of Vermont’s WiDprogram, where they host a number of articles, videos and other materials on disciplinary writing.

Georgia Tech’s library has a huge selection of sites, books, videos and other materials on teaching and learning, including support for Teaching Assistants.

Dartmouth’s Institute for Writing and Rhetoric collects and creates materials on the difficult task of engaging students in the writing classroom. In particular we recommend their advice on teaching academic argument.

This recommendation comes from the Ivy League in Cornell’s Center for Teaching Excellence. In particular, we direct you to this course decision guide and syllabus rubric featured in our recent workshop on syllabus design.

Excelsior College’s Online Writing Lab is an excellent place to direct students who struggle with the writing process. Additionally, Excelsior’s OWL has launched writing tools for both iOS and Android devices, available in their respective app stores free of charge.

The University of California at Berkeley Center for Teaching and Learning contains both original materials developed by the university on course design and evaluation and a frequently updated blog that covers current headlines and issues in university teaching.

The Vanderbilt Center for Teaching contains guides for many topics related to classroom practices and theories of teaching and learning. Particularly of note is their section on teaching diverse populations, a topic not often addressed explicitly by teaching and learning centers.

Teaching Resources at Michigan State University include links and advice for professors across the discipline, with a special section devoted to teaching essentials in STEM fields.

The University of British Columbia’s Center for Teaching, Learning and Technology contains a large teaching resources page as well as a collection of over 200 links to teaching and learning topics around the web.

The Sweetland Center for Writing at the University of Michigan offers resources and advice on topics such as giving student feedback and motivating student reading and writing across the disciplines.

Follow us on Twitter: @RUCamdenTMAC

If you’re interested in being interviewed for the Faculty Spotlight or have a link or topic you’d like to share, please email us at teaching.matters@camden.rutgers.edu.

TMAC Weekly 5.2.14

Faculty Spotlight — Wendell Pritchett

This year, we bid farewell to our Chancellor, Wendell Pritchett. Beyond the many visible achievements of his tenure these five years, Wendell has been steadfast in his support for enhancing a culture of teaching and learning across campus. To discuss the strides we have made (and express appreciation for his leadership), this week TMAC sat down with Wendell for a conversation about teaching.

New TMAC Resources: Following the workshop (4/25/14) on “Pen-Free Paper Grading,” our webpage on “Responding to Writing” features resources on digital and audio-based comments. (Stay tuned for news of a working group in AY 2014-15 to experiment with using VoiceThread as a responding tool.) Whatever your mode of response, Tom Deans (U Conn) offers 5 easy tips.

Conversation starters: Skepticism surrounds a well-publicized effort to supply all first year students with handheld digital devices. The Chronicle of Higher Education’s ProfHacker asks about standards in demonstrating the effectiveness of these devices in the classroom.

At “Faculty Focus,” advice on facilitating classroom discussion, not simply answering questions.

Comedian Louis C. K. speaks out against Common Core standards in The New Yorker.

➡ Looking for Gen Ed resources? Learning goals, proposal forms and more are here.

Asking for Your Apps (Week Nine):

As we build a new section of our site on Digital Teaching, TMAC solicits recommendations for teaching tools and classroom apps.

Poll Everywhere allows real time voting via web browser or cell phone—it doesn’t have to be a smart phone!. The web-based application can build polls in seconds and is particularly useful in large lecture courses to conduct informal quizzes or gauge comfort with concepts. One beta feature allows Poll Everywhere to insert polls directly into PowerPoint presentations.

Your turn: what teaching tools/apps do you use? teaching.matters@camden.rutgers.edu

From the Bookshelf: Barbara Davis’ excellent and comprehensive Tools for Teaching (also here) features discussion on the large lecture course and strategies for leading discussions.

Peer Teaching and Learning Center: The Teaching and Faculty Support Center at the University of Arkansas hosts an array of links and articles on teaching topics, including these resources on teaching large classes.

Follow us on Twitter: @RUCamdenTMAC

If you’re interested in being interviewed for the Faculty Spotlight or have a link or topic you’d like to share, please email us at teaching.matters@camden.rutgers.edu.

Faculty Spotlight: Chancellor Wendell Pritchett

This year, we bid farewell to our Chancellor, Wendell Pritchett. Beyond the many visible achievements of his tenure these five years, Wendell has been steadfast in his support for enhancing a culture of teaching and learning across campus. To discuss the strides we have made (and express appreciation for his leadership), this week TMAC sat down with Wendell for a conversation about teaching.

TMAC: How would you assess the level of teaching at RU-C?

Rutgers-Camden prides itself on the personal touch, the way that the campus is small enough to foster a direct connection between teacher and student. As we have grown in size and complexity, this personal touch has become more challenging, but we work to maintain it.

Our alumni always talk about getting to know their professors and how that close, personal connection fostered their growth into adulthood as well as academic ways of thinking. And these personal relationship are often maintained long after graduation.

Unfortunately, some students miss out on this experience. Whether it is because of a growing reliance on PTLs or because of backgrounds that make it difficult to engage, too many students simply pass through the academy. We have an obligation to connect with them.

TMAC: How do you see our turn to digital approaches to teaching?

My use of digital tools (e.g., Discussion in Sakai) is not very sophisticated, even as I recognize the importance of online courses and programs. I see the eLearning conference as a good way to build on the steady progress we are making in becoming a digital campus.

TMAC: And undergraduate research?

I am pleased by our emphasis on undergraduate research and the expansion of opportunities for students to work with faculty on individual or collaborative projects. Every year, the quality of the work rises at our CURCA poster fair. We need to lead even more students into this kind of learning. Though difficult, we must find incentives for busy faculty to sponsor transformative research experiences.

TMAC: What opportunities do you see for growth in teaching at Rutgers-Camden?

As college teachers, we tend to recreate the wheel in our courses. But we would benefit from sharing of syllabi and other materials among scholars both on and across campuses. As in good high school teaching, we could rely on the many databases and other resources that allow us to benefit from best practices in our fields.

Likewise, our classrooms could be more open spaces in terms of fostering a supportive community where we learn from each other. We need to be more comfortable and proficient in our use of technology and more flexible in our methods, including in the use of team-teaching, something we have been slow to adopt.

Of course, TMAC has a major role to play in those efforts as do initiatives such as the new Digital Faculty Fellows program that [Dean] Kris [Lindenmeyer] is spearheading this summer.

TMAC: What do you say about the infrastructure for teaching on this campus?

While our approach to classroom space continues to evolve, we are unlikely to move to llarge lecture environments. Rather, we seek to be more modular in redesigning physical learning spaces. This is something to forward to, especially, in our new science and nursing facilities.

TMAC: What will be in the notebook you leave for our incoming chancellor regarding teaching?

I am fully confident in our next chancellor, Phoebe [Haddon] and her commitment to teaching. She well understands our existing strengths and the challenges we face.

TMAC: We haven’t yet spoken about assessment.

Here, again, we need to recognize the progress we have made in thinking about measures of success. We need to continue the conversation about how best to assess our effectiveness as individual teachers and as an institution as a whole. We need to be more explicit about the learning goals we define for ourselves and our students. We also need to underscore that there are no single measures of success, such as exit exams. Such tests cannot capture the full complement of skills, including the ”soft skills” as our colleagues in business call them. Above all it is these skills, these habits of mind, that we should keep in mind in our teaching and our assessment.  

TMAC: Wendell, we thank you for this interview and your leadership and wish you all the best.

Thank you!

TMAC Weekly 4.25.14

UPCOMING TMAC EVENTS

April 29 (Campus Center Multipurpose Room) 8:30 a.m – 3:00 p.m.: “RUC Faculty eLearning Conference”

Please join us for the 2014 Faculty eLearning conference, focused on equipping Rutgers-Camden faculty for teaching using digital tools. Sessions will run throughout the day on topics ranging from the flipped classroom to fully online classes. Several hands-on training sessions will also be held on how to use technologies like VoiceThread (this week’s featured Teaching App, below) for facilitating online discussion. The day’s keynote speaker will be Karen Swan of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign who will discuss her research on improving student learning in online environments.

May 1 (Faculty Lounge) 12:15-1:15 p.m.: “Grading 101: RU Using RUbrics?”

Some swear by rubrics as tools for grading and communicating expectations. Others are skeptical about, even opposed to, rubrics. In this semester’s session of “Grading 101,” we explore the pros and cons (and do’s and dont’s) of rubric-based assessment drawing upon examples from a range of assignments and disciplines. (Pizza!)

➡ Looking for Gen Ed resources? Learning goals, proposal forms and more are here.

Conversation starters: A free webinar from Inside Higher Ed, “The Completion Agenda,” takes place on April 28 at 2 p.m. Focused on getting more students to finish college, the webinar discusses current trends in facing higher ed’s retention challenge. Registration is here and a related eBook can be found at IHT’s website.

Bedford/St. Martin offers Take 20, a documentary featuring 20 leading scholars in composition. Listen to frank talk on missteps, best practices, and the future of writing instruction.

Asking for Your Apps (Week Eight):

As we build a new section of our site on Digital Teaching, TMAC solicits recommendations for teaching tools and classroom apps.

VoiceThread is a web-based annotation tool that allows students and teachers to offer audio and video comments, including responses to student papers. Using VoiceThread, you can create a conversational timeline which can be played back to jump start class discussions. Now fully integrated with Sakai; sign up to access premium features.

Your turn: what teaching tools/apps do you use? teaching.matters@camden.rutgers.edu

From the Bookshelf: Student Writing in the Quantitative Disciplines: A Guide for College Faculty (Wiley 2012) is a resource for STEM faculty seeking to incorporate writing-to-learn strategies at all levels.

Featured Peer Teaching Center: The Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning at Harvard University has an extensive resources page which gives advice on issues of classroom assessment and tips for teaching to engage multiple learning styles.

Follow us on Twitter: @RUCamdenTMAC

If you’re interested in being interviewed for the Faculty Spotlight or have a link or topic you’d like to share, please email us at teaching.matters@camden.rutgers.edu.

 

TMAC Weekly 4.17.14

UPCOMING TMAC EVENTS

April 24 (Campus Center Viewing Room) 12:20-1:20 p.m.: “Pen-Free Paper Grading: Alternative Approaches to Responding to Student Writers”

Tired of composing comments student never read? Want to make best use of your time as a reader of student work? In this workshop, we’ll survey a range of approaches to grading and guidance using digital tools including audio comments. (Workshop attendees will receive a free copy of Responding to Student Writing by Nancy Sommers, Harvard University.)

May 1 (Faculty Lounge) 12:15-1:15 p.m.: “Grading 101: RU Using RUbrics?”

Some swear by rubrics as tools for grading and communicating expectations. Others are skeptical about, even opposed to, rubrics. In this semester’s session of “Grading 101,” we explore the pros and cons (and do’s and dont’s) of rubric-based assessment drawing upon examples from a range of assignments and disciplines. (Pizza!)

Faculty Spotlight: Drew Humphries (professor, Criminal Justice) discusses how she approaches managing the classroom, both as a teacher and a department chair.

 ➡ Looking for Gen Ed resources? Learning goals, proposal forms and more are here.

 Conversation starters: A new report from Project Information Literacy details the difficulties of first year students in applying high school research skills to college-level assignments.

 Research into knowledge transfer suggests that, through explicit instruction, students can retain and apply concepts from one course to another. (Chronicle of Higher Education, 4.07.14)

Asking for Your Apps (Week Seven):

As we build a new section of our site on Digital Teaching, TMAC solicits recommendations for teaching tools and classroom apps.

Piktochart is a free web-based infographic creator that can be used to enhance visual presentations in the classroom or create visually interesting assignment sheets or syllabi. It can also be a way for you or your students to visually represent how ideas relate.

Your turn: what teaching tools/apps do you use? teaching.matters@camden.rutgers.edu

From the Bookshelf: Adam Mackie’s New Literacies Dictionary: Primer for the Twenty-first Century Learner is an ebook focused on how digital literacies, including fan fiction, online communities and Youtube, can be incorporated into modern teaching.

Featured Peer Teaching Center: The Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning at Indiana University-Bloomington has a wide-ranging series of short articles (under Resources), from teaching with Wikipedia to creating rubrics. (Your Weekly compiler found the article on avoiding the “late semester doldrums” particularly salient.)

Call for Proposals:

“Thinking and Writing Beyond Two Culture: STEM, WAC/WID, and the Changing Academy” Friday, November 21st and Saturday, November 22nd, Quinnipiac University

Deadline for Proposals: Friday, May 23, 2014

Follow us on Twitter: @RUCamdenTMAC

If you’re interested in being interviewed for the Faculty Spotlight or have a link or topic you’d like to share, please email us at teaching.matters@camden.rutgers.edu.