Teaching Tip: Midterms, plus/delta, document your teaching series, and more!

Karri Haen Whitmer, Associate Department Chair for Teaching, Teaching Professor, Genetics, Development, and Cell Biology (by Christopher Gannon)

A semester’s midpoint is an essential opportunity for your students to examine their progress in a course and for us to do a check-in on teaching our course.

Midterm grades

As an instructor, you can help students become aware of their standing through the midterm grade submission. Midterm grades are due on Friday, October 14, by 2:15 p.m. and are submitted electronically via Canvas or AccessPlus. Read about grading policies on the ISU Catalog Grading website. Review the Grade Submission in Canvas guide and follow the step-by-step guide to submit grades for any midterms. For additional tips, join the Grade submission using Canvas workshop on October 5 (9-10 a.m., via Webex or 2030 Morrill)

Plus/Delta: A course check-in

The Plus/Delta tool, also known as the Midterm Assessment Technique, helps students reflect on their responsibility to your course, what they should continue doing to learn (PLUS), and what they need to change for the course to improve for them (DELTA) (Helminski & Koberna, 1995). It also gives feedback on what changes could help them within the course by asking these four open-ended questions:

Plus

  • What is helping me to learn in this class?
  • What changes are needed in this course to improve learning?

Delta

  • What am I doing to improve my learning in the course?
  • What do I need to do to improve my learning in this course?

Students complete the plus delta using paper or online (Canvas Classic quizzes, TopHat, Qualtrics, etc.) during the fourth through the eighth week of the semester. Then, you summarize the results and share themes back with the class. This feedback process sends a powerful message to students that they have responsibility for their learning. It also demonstrates that you, as the instructor, are willing to receive feedback and specify what modifications will (or will not) be implemented. To get started, review CELT’s Use formative course feedback guide.

With a joy for teaching,

Sara Marcketti, Assistant Provost and Executive Director
Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching

Pictured above: Karri Haen Whitmer, Associate Department Chair for Teaching, Teaching Professor, Genetics, Development, and Cell Biology (by Christopher Gannon)

Full Teaching Tip

View the published CELT Teaching Tip: Midterms: How are you and your students doing? (September 29, 2022)

Prefer a Print Version?

To view the Teaching Tip as a printable document with web addresses, download the CELT Teaching Tip for September 29, 2022 (PDF).

Connecting with (and among) our students (Teaching Tip)

Students meeting with Joel Geske at Hixson Lied Success Center

The fall messages from Provost Wickert and Associate Provost VanDerZanden discussed the importance of wellbeing for students, faculty, and staff. As instructors, we can offer support for wellbeing in the classroom by ensuring all our students feel welcomed and included.

During the annual inclusive classroom training (AY22-23), we use the mindful and learner-centered syllabus toolkit (PDF) to guide discussions about connecting with our students throughout the semester. We incorporate active learning to connect faculty and build community while they talk about teaching inclusively. We know these facilitated peer interactions matter because, in the post-survey, we read responses such as, “… I like having to do this annually because it does force us to talk about teaching, which we rarely do with each other,” and “We have many dedicated faculty who keep working on improving their teaching — including making the classroom inclusive!”

Here are a few strategies to create connections:

Example: When teaching for 50 minutes, intentionally pause twice for 90 seconds. During those 90-seconds, request that your students review their notes, then ask a neighbor if they discovered anything unclear in those notes. Researchers found that students will recall more content if brief engagement activities are introduced into the lecture (Prince, 2004).

  • Reflect on peer interactions: Give students regular opportunities to reflect upon ways their peers enhance their learning at the end of a class with the questions, such as: “What did you learn from someone else today? How did your peers support your learning today?”
  • Promote student office hours: Now is the time to encourage students to use student office hours early and often. Connect with those seeking help, wanting to discuss your discipline, or share any feedback; see CELT’s student office hours.
  • Find out what matters: Express a commitment to continuous growth by inviting periodic feedback about the course and their learning; see CELT’s Use formative feedback page for ideas.

To discuss additional active learning strategies, attend the Simple methods to keep students engaged webinar on Sept. 26 (12:10-1 p.m., online via Zoom) presented by Megan Myers (Associate Professor, World Languages & Cultures and CELT Faculty Fellow).

With a joy for teaching,

Sara Marcketti

References and resources are available on the training (AY22-23) page.

Full Teaching Tip

View the published CELT Teaching Tip: Connecting with (and among) your students (September 15, 2022)

Prefer a Print Version?

To view the Teaching Tip as a printable document with web addresses, download the CELT Teaching Tip for September 15, 2022 (PDF).

Keep Your Students Engaged (Teaching Tip)

Photo of Students using educational technology in the English language classroom by Iowa State University licensed under CC BY 4.0

A reoccurring theme in CELT focuses on best practices for engaging students in the classroom. As we move forward this semester, these suggestions may help keep your students engaged with the course and its content.

  • Ask for feedback: Solicit feedback in real-time from students to gauge understanding of new course material.
  • Host student (office) hours: Provide students with great access by offering office hours virtually and in person.
  • Plan thoughtful group work: Use the table on the CELT website to see if group work is the most appropriate method of use and follow the tips for facilitating successful group work.
  • Develop participation as a skill: Review the Gillis (2019) framework for ways to reframe participation as a skill that can be practiced, strengthened, and valued by students.

If you are looking for more ways to increase student engagement, check out the CELT website or attend a CELT event.

One event to consider is the webinar taking place on Sept. 8 from 3:10-4 p.m. discussing creating an inclusive learning environment. Creating an equitable and inclusive classroom can foster engagement and encourage student involvement. More information, including how to register, can be found on the CELT Event page.

With a joy for teaching, 

Sara Marcketti

Full Teaching Tip

View the published CELT Teaching Tip: Keep Your Students engaged (September 1, 2022 – Constant Contact) page.

Prefer a Print Version?

To view the Teaching Tip as a printable document with web addresses, download the CELT Teaching Tip for September 1, 2022 (PDF).

Engaged or not? That is the Question.

Faculty member teaching a classOne of the questions CELT receives on a regular basis is, “How can I engage my students in the course content?” Or, “How do I help my students engage with course content more meaningfully?”

In the article titled, “ Engaged Learning: Are we all on the same page” Dr. Bowen (2005) observed that “engagement is increasingly cited as a distinguishing characteristic of the best learning in American higher education today.” Dr. Bowen discusses four ways in which we can engage with student learners that may be known as other initiatives in higher education:

  • Engagement with the learning process is similar to active learning.
  • Engagement with the object of study is similar to experiential learning.
  • Engagement with contexts generally is similar to multidisciplinary learning.
  • Engagement with social and civic contexts is similar to service learning.

Our upcoming workshop, Engagement Strategies for Every Classroom on September 20 (12:10 – 1:00 p.m., 2030 Morrill Hall) will feature engagement with the learning process or active learning strategies. Many of the learning activities help students progress cognitively by engaging them on an affective level (enjoyment) and on a kinesthetic level (physical).

One of my favorite engagement strategies, from this workshop, is called the “Barometer” or the “Continuum”. It is an interactive opportunity for students to share their opinions by asking them to line up along a continuum based on their position on an issue. It is especially useful when you want to discuss an issue about which students have a wide range of opinions. The Barometer or Continuum can be used to:

  • Gauge student knowledge, beliefs, perceptions
  • Demonstrate the wide array of knowledge, beliefs, perceptions on a topic
  • Because a Barometer activity makes many positions viewable, it can be an effective pre-writing exercise before an essay assignment.

All that you need is space for students to physically move to their place of agreement on the continuum. If space is not available, you can ask students to indicate with their hands (raised or lowered) their opinion.

Register for the Engagement Strategies for Every Classroom workshop via the Learn@ISU website; as well as, download CELT’s 226 Active Learning Techniques (PDF).

See you there,

Sara Marcketti, Interim Director
Center for Excellence in Learning Teaching

 

View the published CELT Teaching Tip: Engaged or not? That is the Question. (September 14, 2017 – Constant Contact) website.

Winter Health and Wellness (Teaching Tip)

Iowa State campanile in the early stages of winter. The clock tower is feature with some trees and a light dusting of snow.

The first day of Winter is quickly approaching. As we wrap up the Fall 2021 semester and prepare to enter the Winter season, we want to remind you of the resources available to support you and your students.

  • ISU WellBeing: ISU WellBeing provides resources to help faculty and staff with a range of topics. They include mental health resources available to employees, financial well-being, and mindfulness. If you will be on campus or in the area, consider doing the Strolls for Well-Being at ISU. Keep an eye out for the upcoming Winter Strolls for Well-Being at ISU which will feature online and in-person options.
  • Student Wellness: Student Wellness supports the holistic health, wellbeing, and safety of students on campus. They provide various programs and services, including information about the Campus Food Pantry, a wellbeing assessment tool, and a myriad of other topics.
  • Student Counseling Services: Student Counseling Services offers clinical and campus-based services to help students achieve goals. As we navigate the pandemic, we have witnessed mental health needs for the entire campus community, and supporting students’ mental health is another way to support their wellbeing.
  • Campus Resources to Support Students (general): An extensive list of resources available to students and different ways of supporting your students can be found on the CELT website.

We wish you all a restful break and look forward to reconnecting for Spring 2022. Best wishes for the remainder of the Fall semester.

Full Teaching Tip

View the published CELT Teaching Tip: Resources for Success (December 16, 2021 – Constant Contact) page.

Prefer a Print Version?

To view the Teaching Tip as a printable document with web addresses, download the CELT Teaching Tip for December 16, 2021 (PDF).

Important Semester Reminders

End of Semester

Grades are due by 2:15 p.m. on December 21.

Review the End of Semester Checklist and the Course Conclusion in Canvas webpage for helpful guides to wrap up your semester.

CELT will be closed the week of December 27-December 31. We will reopen January 3 with hours of 7:30 a.m.-4:00 p.m. Normal business hours resume Tuesday, January 18.

Start of Semester

Winter term runs from December 20-January 14. Grades will be due January 19 by 2:15 p.m.

Spring semester will begin Tuesday, January 18.

Review the Start of Semester Checklist for resources to help you begin your Spring course setup.

All about grade submission, incompletes, instructional tool updates, and more! (Teaching Tip)

Ready for final grade submission?

Fall 2020 grades are due by 2:15 p.m. on Wed., Dec. 9. Use this End of Semester Checklist to submit final grades and conclude your Canvas course.

Do you have a student who was unable to complete your course?

Follow the process on the manage incomplete grades for students guide.

Note: Instructors must complete grade submission for incomplete grades through the Office of the Registrar. As an instructor, you will need to work with the Registrar to submit the grade for an incomplete. To do so, follow the instructions in the Registrar’s Incomplete Contract Form (DOCX). Questions about this process? Contact the Registrar via phone at 515-294-1840 or email registrar@iastate.edu.

Are you preparing to teach?

Use the Start of Semester Checklist to create your Canvas course, specify your course settings, choose a homepage, and make your course available to students.

  • Winter Session 2021 begins on Mon., Dec. 14, and ends Thurs., Jan. 21.
  • Spring Semester 2021 begins on Mon., Jan. 25, and ends Thurs., May 6.

Be sure to reference the CELT Quick Start Guide for Instructors and remember to add the New required syllabus statement on free expression to your syllabus (see the Required & Recommended ISU Syllabus Statements page).

See something new in an instructional tool you use?

Updates occurred on Dec. 2 with Canvas, ISU Admin Tools, Webex, TurnItIn, Panopto, and Piazza.

Stay up-to-date on ISU-approved learning technologies via the CELT’s Instructional Tools News & Updates page (https://bit.ly/35g7KqL). Questions about these updates? Email celt-help@iastate.edu.

 


Full Teaching Tip

View the published CELT Teaching Tip: All about grade submission, incompletes, instructional tool updates, and more! (December 2, 2020 – Constant Contact) page.

Prefer a Print version?

To view the Teaching Tip as a printable document with web addresses, download the CELT Teaching Tip for December 2, 2020 (PDF).

Preparing for Final Exams & End of Semester (Teaching Tip)

Students studying in the Student Innovation Center at Iowa State University
As we wrap up the Fall semester and prepare for final exams, here are a few resources and key pieces of information to keep in mind:
  • Grades are due December 21. All grades must be submitted by 2:15 p.m. on Tuesday, December 21. The End-of-Semester Checklist provides resources to help you submit grades through Canvas. The CELT Instructional Design Team will also hold Open Labs specifically focused on grade submission on December 20 and December 21 from 9 a.m.-2:15 p.m. in 3015 Morrill and online via Webex. Stop by at your convenience.
  • Course conclusion in Canvas. The anticipated date for Canvas course conclusion for Fall term courses is January 3, 2022. All faculty with Fall courses on Canvas are encouraged to review the Course Conclusion in Canvas CELT webpage, which provides tips to help you navigate the course conclusion process.
  • Winter Break hours. CELT will operate on a modified schedule over the winter term in an effort to conserve energy with fewer activities on campus. The CELT office will be closed the week of December 27-31. Beginning January 3, CELT will be open with modified hours of 7:30 a.m.-4 p.m., Monday-Friday. We will resume normal business hours (8 a.m.-5 p.m.) when the Spring semester begins on Tuesday, January 18.
  • Canvas Support, 24/7. We would like to remind you that Canvas support is available 24/7 if you are in need of assistance while our offices are closed or on a modified schedule. Follow the “? Help” icon in your left navigation bar in Canvas for all of the support options available to you.
If you need any further assistance, you can always email celt-help@iastate.edu. This will create a ticket and one of our team members will be assigned to help you as soon as they’re able. We wish you the best as we enter the final weeks of the semester!

Full Teaching Tip

View the published CELT Teaching Tip: Resources for Success (December 2, 2021 – Constant Contact) page.

Prefer a Print Version?

To view the Teaching Tip as a printable document with web addresses, download the CELT Teaching Tip for December 2, 2021 (PDF).

Congratulations on the end of this historic academic year (Teaching Tip)

Congratulations on the end of this historic academic year

We did it! We persevered as educators, learners, and members of the Cyclone community.
 
Celebrate innovation; see our first collection of CELT Teaching Briefs from our faculty and teaching community. This collection reminds us of the importance of student engagement, community building, and practice –the same powerful pedagogies adapted from face-to-face settings work well for online environments.
 
Complete this semester; follow the steps outlined on the End of Semester Checklist to guide you through the grade submission process. As a reminder, grades are due Tuesday, May 11, at 2:15 p.m.
 
 
Begin planning; use the Start of Semester Checklist to get a head start on your future courses.
 
With a joy for teaching,
 
Sara Marcketti, Director 
Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching
 
Pictured above are the authors for the CELT Teaching Briefs in alphabetical order:
  • Top row (from left to right): Alzoubi, Baran, Bonaccorsi, Chatterjee, and Irish.
  • Bottom row (from left to right): Kukday, LaWare, McNicholl, Murphy, Stewart, and Zhang

Full Teaching Tip

View the published CELT Teaching Tip: Congratulations on the end of this historic academic year (April 22, 2021 – Constant Contact) page.

Prefer a Print version?

To view the Teaching Tip as a printable document with web addresses, download the CELT Teaching Tip for April 22, 2021 (PDF).

Almost at the finish line (Teaching Tip)

Over a decade ago, I participated in my first marathon. Despite being exhausted, the last two miles were my two best miles because the end was in sight. I knew that I would accomplish the goal that I had spent months preparing for. We are mere weeks away from the end of the semester. What could you do in the next class session to help your students and yourself see the finish line?

Review course objectives

Consider spending the first 2-5 minutes of an upcoming class period asking students to reflect on the new knowledge and skills they have gained from your course. You could ask students to examine the course objectives as outlined on your syllabus and rank them (either using paper or Top Hat – use the Sorting type of question) from their most to least confident. This information, combined with your knowledge of students’ progress in your course can help inform your final exam preparations.

Ask for their questions regarding final assessments

It is also a great time to display the course schedule. Remind students of the tremendous progress that has been made and ask for their questions on upcoming exams, projects, and assignments. If you have a particularly talkative class, this can be accomplished through verbal feedback. Alternatively, providing them a means to write down or type the responses and submit via a Canvas ungraded survey allows for the opportunity to clarify and hopefully improve their success on final assessments.

Student Ratings of Teaching

In the coming weeks, students will receive emails asking them to complete the student ratings of teaching. Students often do not understand why these are important to instructor’s formative plans to improve the class and summative annual reviews. To help provide guidance for students providing useful feedback, share the Providing useful and constructive feedback webpage with your students.

Finally remind your students that learning is hard work. There is an overabundance of neuroscience research that proper nutrition, adequate sleep, and fitness supports good health as well as improved learning.*

With a joy for teaching,

Sara Marcketti, Director
Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching

*Doyle, T., Zakrajsek, T., & Gabriel, K. (2019). The new science of learning: How to learn in harmony with your brain / Terry Doyle and Todd Zakrajsek; foreword by Kathleen F. Gabriel. (Second ed.).


Full Teaching Tip

View the published CELT Teaching Tip: The 10,000-hour rule applied to improving your teaching (April 18, 2019 – Constant Contact) website.

Prefer a Print version?

To view the Teaching Tip as a printable document with web addresses, download the CELT Teaching Tip for April 18, 2019 (PDF)

Tips to Make Your Course More Accessible (Teaching Tip)

Students work together during Disability Awareness Week

This week, Iowa State University has been observing Disability Awareness Week, a week devoted to educating the Cyclone community about the experience of individuals with disabilities. As an instructor, you have a direct impact on a student’s experience and ability to grow and thrive at ISU. Consider these tips to increase accessibility and improve all student learning experiences.

  • Present information in multiple formats: A disability may impact a student’s ability to access specific forms of communication. Provide course content in a variety of modalities to eliminate this barrier, and allow all students the ability to access materials through the platform most beneficial to their learning. Create captions and transcripts for videos and audio recordings, include audio descriptions of images, diagrams, or maps, or include a simulation or hands-on experience.
  • Consider how students will engage with course materials and each other: Can you identify any barriers to or within the meeting location(s) or learning environment? Have you selected learning technologies accessible to students with disabilities? Support students by being flexible and providing alternative options for engaging with course materials and each other. Allow students to participate in person or virtually. Give them the opportunity to voice questions and comments, type them within a chat, or provide anonymous feedback via Qualtrics. Encourage students to work together using alternative formats including virtual rooms, team chats, discussion boards, or online interactive apps.
  • Use assessment for learning ownership: Identify alternative mechanisms students may utilize to demonstrate acquisition of knowledge and skills indicated in your learning objectives. Provide a variety of options for students to demonstrate their skills that allow for various strengths, preferences, abilities, and student disabilities.

Contact Lori Mickle (ldmickle@iastate.edu, 515-294-5299) for more information about course accessibility or email celt-help@iastate.edu with any questions.

Above photo courtesy of Alexandra Kelly/Iowa State Daily

Full Teaching Tip

View the published CELT Teaching Tip: Resources for Success (October 28, 2021 – Constant Contact) page.

Prefer a Print Version?

To view the Teaching Tip as a printable document with web addresses, download the CELT Teaching Tip for October 28, 2021 (PDF).

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