2023 STEM Educators’ Lecture Recap

Cliff Rouder, Ed.D

The CAT’s STEM Educators’ Lecture, held on March 28, featured guest speaker Dr. Cynthia Bauerle (they/them), who engaged faculty from Temple and other regional institutions in this year’s topic, “Utilizing an Ethical Reasoning Framework to Create More Equitable STEM Education.” Dr. Bauerle is a Professor of Biology at James Madison University, formerly holding positions as Dean of the College of Science and Mathematics and Vice Provost for Faculty. Dr. Bauerle is a molecular biologist by training, publishing widely in both scientific and science education journals. Their career interweaves scientific expertise, passion for inclusive teaching, and a commitment to improving STEM education nationally.

In Dr. Bauerle’s interactive presentation, they introduced the ethical reasoning instrument (ERI), a tool that uses a framework developed collaboratively with colleagues Dr. Laura Bottomley from North Carolina State University, Dr. Carrie Hall from the National Science Foundation, and Dr. Lisette Torrres-Gerald from TERC (originally standing for Technical Education Research Centers, but now just known as TERC), a private organization that supports STEM projects and research.

The ERI guides STEM faculty through a series of questions related to eight dimensions of ethical reasoning. Faculty re-center ethical reasoning by using the instrument as they think about the design of their courses, i.e., their pedagogy, classroom activities, and assessments. Important to note is that these questions ask us to consider more than just bringing in course content that addresses ethical issues. Rather, the ERI enables us to reflect on how our course design can be more equitable. To that end, Dr. Bauerle reminded us that this reflective process also requires us to consider the various identities we bring into the classroom, as well as those of the students, with the belief that diverse identities provide richness. It also enables us to explore more intentionally the biases we may hold so that they don’t enter the classroom. 

Users of the ERI should be able to incorporate at least some of the eight characteristics of ethical reasoning (listed below) into their STEM courses. Under each characteristic are sub-questions we can consider in our course design. For example:

  • Fairness – How can I (we) act justly, equitably, and balance legitimate interests?

Here, the sub-questions we can consider are if our courses provide opportunities for students to learn about inequities in science or the consequences of ignoring inequities in the practice of science. We can also consider if our course includes principles of Universal Design for Learning, including access and accommodation.

The other seven dimensions have useful sub-questions as well. Click on each one to see these sub-questions.

  • Outcomes – What possible actions achieve the best short- and long-term outcomes for me and all others?
  • Responsibilities – What duties and/or obligations apply?
  • Character – What actions help me (us) become my (our) ideal self (selves)?
  • Liberty – How do I (we) show respect for personal freedom, autonomy, and consent?
  • Empathy – How would I (we) act if I (we) cared about all involved?
  • Authority – What do legitimate authorities (e.g. experts, law, my religion/god) expect?
  • Rights – What rights, if any, (e.g. innate, legal, social) apply?

Faculty can also use the ERI to evaluate the success of their course implementation. The instrument provides scaffolding for assessment and activity development, as well as examples of each of eight key characteristics of ethical reasoning.

Dr. Bauerle explained that the ERI is being implemented in a variety of STEM courses. Because the ERI is in the beta phase, the research team encourages participants to share any feedback with them regarding its implementation and usefulness. An important reminder was that the ERI is not just a valuable tool for STEM courses–ethical issues that encompass equity are valuable for any course!

If you’d like to keep the ERI discussion going, post a comment on our Faculty Teaching Commons. What are your thoughts about–and experiences with–incorporating one or more of these ethical dimensions? Inquiring minds want to know! As always, if you’d like assistance planning your courses to incorporate elements of the ERI, our CAT staff is ready to help. Make a consultation appointment or email a CAT staff member directly.

The CAT Celebrates 20 Years of Advancing Teaching Excellence!

Cliff Rouder

More than 220 faculty from universities across the region came together with the CAT for the 2023 Annual Faculty Conference on Teaching Excellence co-sponsored by Temple Libraries, the Office of Digital Education, Information Technology Services, and the General Education Program. We were delighted to be back in-person on January 11th and 12th to celebrate the 20-year anniversary of the CAT. The CAT was founded in 2002 as the Teaching and Learning Center (TLC). In 2016, the TLC merged with the Instructional Support Center and was renamed the Center for the Advancement of Teaching. In celebration of the 20-year anniversary, the CAT invited and honored past directors of our center.

This year’s theme was Achieving Rigor Without the Mortis: Keeping High Standards While Rejuvenating Our Students, Ourselves, and Our Communities. Participants grappled with the notion of rigor–its different meanings, how the pandemic may have reshaped our notion of rigor, and how that is being played out in the policies and practices in our courses.

Keynote and Plenary Address

Marcus Johnson and Derek Bruff

The CAT was honored to have Dr. Marcus Johnson, Professor in the Educational Psychology and Educational Research and Evaluation programs at Virginia Tech, as our keynote speaker and Dr. Derick Bruff, author, consultant and Visiting Associate Director of the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning at the University of Mississippi, as our plenary speaker. 

Dr. Johnson’s day one keynote was titled, Motivation and Rejuvenation with Rigor + Care. After defining motivation and its characteristics, he shared common misconceptions about what motivates students. He then discussed three constructs from different theories of motivation that could guide us as we consider ways to spark students’ motivation through our assessments, learning activities, and classroom environment: purpose, mastery, and autonomy. By considering our students’ diverse motivations, experiences, and identities, we can target a variety of motivational strategies that can lead to better outcomes for more of our students. Dr. Johnson concluded by encouraging us to help rejuvenate our students by supporting their well-being, helping them to become better self-directed learners, and by giving them opportunities to be inspired and engaged cognitively, behaviorally, affectively, and socially

Dr. Bruff’s Plenary on day two was titled, Intentional Tech: Reconnecting Our Students to Learning. He discussed three principles and then asked us to generate and consider a variety of technologies to address these principles, which are to 

  • structure ways for students to learn from and with each other to enhance learning for all and for creating a sense of community;
  • incorporate multiple modalities (audio, visual, embodied) for teaching content that can help more learners succeed;
  • connect our students to authentic learning experiences to raise the value of what they’re learning and to help students see themselves in their desired majors and as future professionals in their field of interest.

He reminded us to base our choice of technologies on whether they help students meet the learning goals for the course. 

Building on the Keynote and Plenary Sessions

In addition to keynote and plenary speakers, the conference featured interactive workshops, breakout sessions, lightning talks, and poster sessions–all designed to generate discussion and share ideas for creating challenging, inspiring, inclusive, and equitable learning experiences. 

New this year was our resource fair, where representatives from a variety of Temple support units explained their services and provided informational materials. Representatives from the Student Success Center, Temple Libraries, The Wellness Resource Center, CARE Team, Disability Resources and Services, and Instructional Technology all joined us for this fair. Additionally, two tables were set up for CAT staff to provide information about the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) scholarship and another table for information regarding CAT’s Teaching in Higher Education Certificate.

This year we invited representatives from a variety of Temple support units to provide resources and explain their services during the luncheon on day 2. Representatives from the Student Success Center, Temple Libraries, The Wellness Resource Center, CARE Team, Disability Resources and Services, and Instructional Technology joined us to share resources. In addition, CAT staff who are leading efforts to expand its outreach for Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) scholarship and another table for information regarding CAT’s Teaching in Higher Education Certificate.

Let’s Continue the Conversation

Our annual faculty conference generated many thought-provoking questions and teaching strategies, so let’s continue talking! Here are some ways you can keep the conversation going:

  • Share what you’ve learned with your program/department faculty.
  • Visit our faculty commons to ask questions, pose ideas, and get feedback from the CAT and faculty across disciplines.

On behalf of everyone at the CAT, we wish you a joyous new year and a fullfilling spring semester!

Award-Winning Teachers Offer Wisdom

David Gooblar

CAT Teaching Awards Luncheon 2020

It was at the end of a fascinating hour, an hour in which some of Temple University’s finest professors shared some of what made them such great teachers, that Stephanie Fiore, the Assistant Vice Provost of the Center for the Advancement of Teaching, asked one final question. “What words of wisdom would you offer to other professors who want to improve their teaching?” 

The occasion was the Center for the Advancement of Teaching’s annual luncheon to celebrate Temple’s award-winning teachers. The guests of honor were the 2018-19 recipients of the Great Teacher Award and of the Christian R. and Mary F. Lindback Foundation Awards for Distinguished Teaching. Also present were a number of Temple faculty and staff eager to hear what these excellent teachers had to say about their approach to helping students learn. 

The responses to that last question were instructive in their variety, underlining that there are a number of ways to become a great teacher. 

For Matt Wray, Associate Professor of Sociology, there’s an important distinction between teaching content and teaching students. “As graduate students, most of us were trained to teach content—theories, concepts, terminology, research methods and findings, and so on.” But just because a professor knows all of the content does not mean that students will learn it all. To focus on students “takes more time and patience and understanding. Above all, it takes sustained dialogue with students and active listening on our part to hear what it is students know, what they don’t know, what they want to know, and how they know that they know it.” 

Lawrence Kaplan, Professor of Medicine and an Associate Dean for Inter-Professional Education at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine, also counseled a focus on students. But Kaplan was careful to note that he guarded against assuming that all students wanted to follow the same paths that he followed. “My responsibility in medical education is to help students become the best physician that they want to be—not to turn them into me.” He aims to “help each student’s individual self-discovery,” and admitted that he loved to see “the light bulb moment when they see how the details of what they are studying is applied in the care of patients.” 

But chasing such moments can lead professors to try to do too much, warned Nancy Morris, Professor of Media Studies and Production. Morris reminded professors that sometimes wanting students to know everything can come at the expense of depth. “I think in general we all want our students to grasp the full breadth of class themes, to be well-versed in all class topics, and to engage with a range of readings that provide different approaches to class topics. But attempts at breadth can be counter-productive.” The solution, Morris said, was often to take material out, “in order to make class time not feel rushed, to not have to sacrifice exploration for superficial ‘coverage,’ and to encourage students to delve into readings rather than (at best) skimming them.” 

For David Schuff, Professor of Management Information Systems, the question made him think of how he conceives of a course’s full progression. “I try to think of a class as having a narrative with a beginning, middle, and end. That helps me focus on the content that is essential to the ‘story’ and eliminate the rest.” He’s found that thinking of a semester as a story—with a narrative pay-off—helps students stay engaged for the whole course. “Students can see how each piece of content in the class serves the end goal (i.e., what I want them to be able to do when they finish the course).” 

There was a lot of nodding, both in the audience and on the dais, as these professors gave their answers. Judith Litvin Daniels, Associate Professor and Vice Chair of Education for Anatomy and Cell Biology, noted that such effective approaches to teaching weren’t magic bullets. “Becoming a good educator takes time,” Daniels reminded us. It takes years of trial and error, of paying attention to teaching as a discipline, to reach the heights of these award-winning professors. “If one has the passion and devotion to imparting knowledge, and if one is self-aware, then in time one grows into an accomplished educator.” 

If there’s one thing everyone at the event agreed upon, it’s that such commitment is worth it. As Wray noted, “it’s not an easy path, but the rewards are pretty great.”

David Gooblar is the Associate Director for Temple University’s Center for the Advancement of Teaching and author of The Missing Course: Everything They Never Taught You About College Teaching (Harvard University Press 2019).

Lang and Yearwood on Teaching Excellence

Jeff Rients, Senior Teaching and Learning Specialist, CAT

The 17th Annual Faculty Conference on Teaching Excellence was held January 9th and 10th at Temple University’s Howard Gittis Student Center.  In previous years, the Conference was a one-day affair, with a second event, the Teaching with Technology Symposium, occurring late in the semester.  This year, the two events were combined to better reflect our evolving understanding of the inseparability of our teaching and the tools we use to make learning happen.

The first day of the conference  featured a keynote by Dr. James Lang, Director of the D’Amour Center for Teaching Excellence at Assumption College in Worcester, MA, and a leader in the field of teaching and learning.  Dr. Lang’s address, Small Changes, Big Impact, was based in part on his latest book, Small Teaching: Everyday Lessons from the Science of Learning. He shared several easy-to-implement teaching strategies that better reflect what cognitive science tells us about how learning works.  Some key takeaways included:

  • Don’t underestimate the power of small changes to a class — there are many things that could make a difference in how students learn and engage with courses that require minimal changes to the overall course structure and workload for the instructor.
  • With so many ideas on how to enhance classrooms, deciding what to do next can be overwhelming. Instead of doing an complete overhaul of your course, try to do one small thing at a time.  When changes are manageable, instructors can focus on doing them well.
  • Practice is powerful.  Before asking your students to tackle a big project, break it down into the individual skills necessary to succeed at the task.  Incorporate opportunities to practice all of these skills into your lesson plans before assessing the students.

For the second day of the conference, our plenary speaker was Dr. David Yearwood, Professor in the School of Entrepreneurship and past chair of the Technology Department at the University of North Dakota.  His highly interactive plenary address, Using Technology to Promote Connection, Engagement, and Empowerment, challenged us to reconsider the role of technology in our classrooms.  Crucially, Dr. Yearwood warns us not to add new technologies to our classes unless they serve a specific need in the course design.

Dr. Yearwood’s CEE (Connection/Engagement/Empowerment) model gives us a framework for interrogating whether a new technology is right for our students.  Does the technology allow the student to connect the new material in the course with past learning?  Does it help the student engage with the instructor, the course content, and/or the other students?  Does the technology empower the students, allowing them to feel confident in their new abilities and take charge of their learning?  These questions can help us assess the value of new tools before we deploy them in their courses.

Thank you to both Dr. Lang and Dr. Yearwood for sharing their wisdom with us as we begin another semester!  

Dr. Freeman Hrabowski Talks About Inclusive Excellence

Pete Watkins, Associate Director, CAT

The 16th Annual Faculty Conference on Teaching Excellence was held January 10th at Temple University, and Dr. Freeman Hrabowski delivered an energetic and inspiring keynote address combining passion and personal memoir with larger lessons about higher education and inclusive excellence.  
 

In his compelling presentation, he wove together three stories.  First, he told his personal story of growing up as a Black man in the segregated South, including his experience with Dr. Martin Luther King’s Children’s Crusade.  From those beginnings, Dr. Hrabowski has gone on to become a scholar, university president and higher education leader who advised President Obama on higher education policy and who was named by TIME in 2012 as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World.  
 

But his presentation was about more than his inspiring personal story.  He also described the culture of inclusive excellence at University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC), the institution he has led for over 20 years.  UMBC was founded in 1966 and unlike most universities in Maryland which were founded during segregation to serve students of one race, UMBC has been integrated since its inception.  Today, UMBC has a strong culture of mentorship and undergraduate research which has helped make UMBC one of the nation’s leading universities for graduating Black undergraduates who then earn doctoral degrees.  
 

Also woven throughout his presentation was reference to the generations-long struggle to make higher education accessible to people from less privileged backgrounds.  He recounted how after World War II, influential college presidents fought against the GI Bill fearing that veterans attending college would tarnish higher education.  Instead, the middle of the 20th Century saw educational attainment soar, not just through the GI Bill, but through the spread of financial aid and community colleges.  

However, he reminded us that “change is not distributed equally.”  While the overall college attainment rate in the United States has increased significantly since the 1960s, there are still wide racial and class disparities in terms of who attends college, which institutions they attend and whether or not they graduate.    

Inspired by Dr. Hrabowski’s call for inclusive excellence, participants headed to breakout sessions which explored how specific practices related to Hrabowski’s four pillars of college success such as active learning, undergraduate research, formative assessment and co-curricular activities, can be used to bring inclusive excellence to their classes.
 

Thank you to Dr. Hrabowski and UMBC for showing us that inclusive excellence is possible!

Do you know the Five Rs?

Pete Watkins, Associate Director, TLC

You have probably heard of the three Rs—“reading, ‘riting, and ‘rithmetic”.  But have you heard of the “Five Rs” for engaging and motivating modern learners?  You do if you were one of the over 200 people who braved the impending blizzard to attend the 14th Annual Faculty Conference on Teaching Excellence sponsored by Temple’s Teaching & Learning Center.

In case you were at the supermarket stocking up on bread and milk, let me recap.  Dr. Christy Price, the 2012 Carnegie Professor of the Year, has developed the “Five Rs” as a handy mnemonic for remembering ways to engage modern learners.
 

1.     Research-based pedagogies of engagement

Use active learning techniques as problem-based learning, team-based learning, undergraduate research, and community engagement which have been shown to increase learning.


2.     Relaxed environment

Create a more caring and less rigid environment. Share a little information about yourself such as your hobbies, research interests, or why you enjoy teaching this course.  You do not need to reveal deeply personal information, but students like to know that their professor is a real person that they can relate too. 
 

3.     Relevant

Make assessments and activities relevant to students’ lives and their futures.  Help them to understand why it’s important that they learn something. Try to find natural connections between the course material and something that is important to them such as current events, popular culture, or future career plans.  If a student asks, “When are we ever going to use this?”, you should have an answer. 
 

4.     Rationales

Provide rationales for policies.  “Because I said so” just won’t cut it.  Help students understand that your policies are not arbitrary, but are there to create a safe and supportive learning environment for everyone. 
 

5.     Rapport

Building positive rapport with students has been shown to improve student learning. Try to arrive a few minutes early and/or stay a few minutes after class so that you can interact informally with students.  Ask students about their interests, career plans and hobbies?  Try to know your students’ names when feasible.  When students feel valued, they are more likely to participate in the learning experience and take risks. 

Let’s Exchange EDvice!

These seem like winning strategies for working with students of any generation. What strategies do you use to engage modern learners?

Student Success a Conference Success at Temple University

Dr. Tinto's Keynote

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

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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 session.

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.

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Conference Attendees

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!