Student Success a Conference Success at Temple University

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More than 130 instructors from around the region joined over 100 faculty and administrators from Temple University at the Teaching and Learning Center’s 13th Annual Faculty Conference on Teaching Excellence.  This year’s theme, Student Success, focused on ways faculty can support student success inside and out of the classroom.

The conference was designed to reflect the Teaching and Learning Center’s belief in learning-centered teaching and active learning. During the keynote address as well as the breakout sessions, educators were given the opportunity to discuss research-based teaching methods with an interdisciplinary group of colleagues from two-year and four-year schools around the region. Faculty were also given several opportunities to individually reflect on their own role in student success.

Check out Temple Faculty member Jonathan Singer’s recap of the conference through social media on storify.

Keynote Address

TLC was honored to invite Dr. Vincent Tinto, author of the books Leaving College and Completing College as this year’s keynote speaker. Dr. Tinto’s address, Student Success Does Not Arise By Chance began by highlighting the importance of classroom success—“one class, one course at a time,” to a larger institutional goal: student success.

Dr. Tinto focused the discussion on four key factors to student success:

  • (high) expectations

  • support

  • assessment and feedback

  • engagement

Throughout the general session, Dr. Tinto took questions and examples from the audience of strategies and methods to student success. He highlighted several programs such as early warning systems, learning communities and first year experience courses as strategies that have been successful.

In closing Dr. Tinto reminded the audience, “the object of education is student learning. Retention is merely the vehicle by which it can arise.”

Breakout and Poster Sessions

Morning and afternoon breakout sessions focused on a variety of research-based strategies that lead to student success in the classroom and were facilitated by members of the Temple University Provost’s Teaching Academy. Click here to read summaries of each.

This year’s call for poster session proposals brought in over thirty-five submissions from educators affiliated with regional institutions such as Rowan University, Philadelphia University, and University of Pennsylvania. Twenty-four posters were selected for presentation.

Conference attendees voted and selected “The Trauma-Informed Classroom: Understanding the Neuroscience of a Student’s Capacity to Learn Following Exposure to Traumatic Events,” by Pierce College’s Kathleen Watson, as this year’s best poster. Her prize was a Google Chromebook.

Watson’s poster discussed strategies to assist learners inside and outside of the classroom in a way that is informed by the literature on trauma and the brain.  The poster included a definition of trauma grounded in scientific evidence, rates of trauma among young adults, an introduction to the neuroscience of learning, a discussion of barriers to learning (inside and outside of the classroom) for students who have been exposed to trauma, and teaching strategies that may better serve students who are coping with the effects of trauma.

Looking Forward

TLC is already beginning to plan for our 2016 conference, which will take place Thursday, January 7th! If there is anything you would like to see at our next conference, leave a comment below, email us at tlc@temple.edu, or tweet us @TempleTLC.

Thank you to everyone who made this year’s conference a true success!

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Using a Participation Rubric: A Case for Fairness and Learning

In my first year of teaching after graduate school I received (what I thought then) was sage advice about grading: Always make participation at least 20% of the final grade in your class. This strategy gives you wiggle room to make the ultimate decision about a student’s grade. At the time it didn’t raise any red flags. In fact, it seemed like solid common sense advice, especially for the courses that I taught which were mostly in the visual arts.

It is fairly common in an undergraduate art course (and I imagine in other disciplines as well) to have students who submit really amazing work, but believing they are the next Picasso, put forth a lot of attitude and only a little effort. These students tend to coast on a bit of talent and intuition, but rarely challenge themselves or improve. Then, there are those students who submit fairly average work, but who put forth enormous effort, regularly step outside of their comfort zone, demonstrate enthusiasm for their accomplishments, and improve tremendously throughout the semester.

So when I received this advice I thought of course! Shouldn’t I be able to penalize a slacker or reward added effort? Shouldn’t students’ final grades reflect their overall performance in the class? Back then my answer was absolutely yes! However, today my answer to these questions is slightly different.  Today I still say yes—but with one caveat. I now believe that participation should only be graded if students are provided a clear definition and standards for participation. To achieve this, I use a participation rubric.  A “rubric,” simply defined as a list of specific criteria for grading, provides this clarity to them.

I advocate the use of a participation rubric for two reasons: fairness and learning.

Finish reading this post at ScholarlyTeacher.com

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