Promoting your new college course

The new academic year is starting at almost 4,000 colleges and universities around the country. What will make this a special year for many faculty is offering a new course that they have developed.

Typically when you develop a new course, you are excited about exploring and teaching a new topic and sharing a great learning experience with your students. But that excitement can turn to disappointment when you find that only a few students have registered for the course, and your course is cancelled because it doesn’t have the required minimum number of students.

Let me offer some suggestions for promoting your course based on my own experience in creating new courses and from my experience serving on the University of Florida’s General Education Committee and the College of Journalism and Communications Curriculum Committee.

Don’t count on the course to draw students without your active involvement in promoting the course. Even if you have developed a great course, the first time you offer a course, you are likely to have some difficulty attracting students.

Your new course probably isn’t listed in the university’s catalog and may not be included in your college’s advising materials. So students may not be aware of the course.

Even if they learn about your course, the course is competing with the established courses in the curriculum that students are familiar. Your new course is an unknown.

Develop written descriptions to use in promoting the course – from a one-page flyer to a tweet.
Provide specifics about the course that would appeal to the students. List course objectives, assignments, etc. In addition to the course title and number, include the course meeting time so students will know if the course will fit into their class and work schedules. Explain how the course fits into the major or minor – or why it is a great elective. Include a brief bio of you, and explain how students can obtain more information about the course.

Create a flyer that you can post, distribute and email. Make copies of the flyer to post and distribute. Create a PDF of the flyer to email or link to in social media. Consider the visual appeal of your flyer.

Ask your department chair to send an email to the department’s listserv for students to make them aware of the course. Your department chair will be sending information to the students about drop/add and can include your course as an option.

Use social media to help in your recruitment. Post a promotion on the department’s Facebook page and Twitter account and use your own social media…maybe even record a TikTok.

Talk with academic advisers in your college to make sure they are aware of your new course and ask for their help in promoting the course. Also talk with the academic advisers in other colleges to encourage their students to take your course to fulfill a requirement for a minor or an elective.

The drop/add time period is a crucial time to recruit students for your course. Students are making changes to their schedules. New students will be creating their schedules.

Contact former students of yours and encourage them to take the course. As you know these students, you can explain how the course ties to their career goals or interests.

Send the course description to colleagues and advisers of relevant professional and academic organizations. Ask them to forward the flyer to individual students or student groups. You also can ask them to send you recommendations of students you could contact to invite them to take your course.

Check the roster of the students who are enrolled in for the course and email them to help recruit students for the course. Students registered for the course will know classmates who might be interested in taking your course.

If your course is an upper division undergraduate course, you could talk with the director of graduate studies or dean about the possibility of cross-listing the course as a graduate class. Including undergraduate and graduate students in the same course requires some course management issues, such as designing additional (or alternative) assignments that justify the course awarding graduate credit.

If the school term is about to begin, you won’t have time to try all of these recruitment strategies. Select the ones that seem like the best options for you and your course.

Best wishes in recruiting the students you need so that you can teach your new course!

University of Florida Graduate Student Teacher Award winners for 2021-2022

UF Graduate Student Teaching award winners2021-2022
Graduate Student Teaching Award winners and members of the Selection Committee. Photo by Eric Zamora

Congratulations to the 19 graduate students who were selected as the University of Florida Graduate Student Teaching Award winners for 2021-2022.

Award Winners

Pearis Bellamy – Psychology
Recep Celebi – Mathematics
Savannah Gramze – Astronomy
Joseph Hoft – Sociology and Criminology
Haley Johnson – Theatre and Dance
Lindsay Lloveras – Psychology
Nicolas Macaluso – Chemical Engineering
Ioannis Michaloliakos – Physics
Cristovão Nwachukwu – English
Emily Pappo – Natural Resources and Environment
Anthony Smith – Classics
Ar’Darius Stewart – Theatre and Dance
Nathaniel Strauss – Physics
Nieves Villaseñor III – Music
Anita Walsh – Economics
Lauren Weisberg  – Teaching and Learning
LingQin Xue – Physics

Calvin A. VanderWerf Winners

Leandra Merz – Geography
Hank Samuels – Teaching and Learning

Selection Committee

Connie Shehan, Chair
Professor of Sociology and Women’s Studies
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Sharon Difino
Clinical Assistant Professor of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences
College of Public Health and Health Professions

Julie E. Dodd
Professor Emerita of Journalism
College of Journalism and Communications

Ifigeneia Giannadaki
Assistant Professor of Classics
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Martin Gundersen, Jr.
Associate Professor Emeritus of Architecture
College of Design, Construction and Planning

Valeria Kleiman
Associate Professor of Chemistry
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Sujata Krishna
Lecturer & Learning Assistant Coordinator of Physics
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Gillian Lord
Professor of Spanish and Portuguese Studies
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Jon Reiskind
Associate Professor Emeritus of Biology
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Lynn E. Sollenberger
Distinguished Professor of Agronomy
College of Agricultural and Life Sciences

Bradley Walters
Associate Professor of Architecture
College of Design, Construction and Planning

Lorna Dishman
Executive Assistant I
Graduate School


I am honored to serve on the Graduate Student Teaching Awards Committee to promote the importance of teaching excellence. Every semester, I am inspired by the hardworking, creative and caring graduate student instructors I observe.

I appreciate the University of Florida and Dr. Nicole Stedman, Associate Provost and Dean of the Graduate School, for making this award program possible.

Microphone use: Tips for instructors

Raising hands in UF TA Orientation - Photo by Daniel Brotherton
Some teaching situations require the instructor to use a microphone, such as when I made a presentation at the University of Florida’s orientation for new teaching assistants. (That’s me at the front of the auditorium. Thank goodness I had a microphone.) Photo by Daniel Brotherton

An increase in microphone use by instructors is one of the results of the pandemic and the increase in online and hybrid teaching.

Prior to the pandemic, most instructors taught in classrooms that didn’t require microphone use. Many instructors had never used microphones in their classrooms and, perhaps, had only used a microphone for making a conference presentations.

Even auditorium teaching doesn’t always require a microphone, depending on the design of the auditorium and the instructor’s voice projection.

With the pandemic, most instructors moved to teaching with microphones. Teaching via Zoom, using their laptops. Teaching in an in-person setting and wearing a mask. Teaching in a hybrid environment, with some students in the classroom and others participating online. Recording classes – or entire courses – for asynchronous learning.

Kevin Hull in his home teaching studio
Kevin Hull converted a portion of a room at home into a studio for his online teaching, complete with a Blue Yeti microphone.

I asked University of South Carolina faculty member and former sportscaster Dr. Kevin Hull to join me to discuss microphone use for instructors.

Hull is associate professor of journalism and Sport Media Lead in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication. He was named a “Breakthrough Star” by the University of South Carolina and named “Promising Professor” by the Association for Education in Journalism and Communication’s Mass Communication and Society Division.

Julie Dodd: Let’s talk about the microphones instructors might use for in-person teaching, online teaching or conference presentations.

Continue reading

Colleagues create textbook during pandemic

Published! Middle Tennessee State University colleagues (from left to right) Dr. Sally Ann Cruikshank, Dr. Keonte Coleman and Dr. Christine Eschenfelder pose with their newly published textbook in the  School of Journalism and Strategic Media’s student news studio. Photo by Dan Eschenfelder

When I received word from Dr. Christine Eschenfelder that she and two of her Middle Tennessee State University colleagues had written a textbook during the pandemic, I wanted to hear how they did it.

Dr. Eschenfelder, Dr. Sally Ann Cruikshank and Dr. Keonte Coleman, all faculty in the School of Journalism and Strategic Media, were motivated to write “A Complete Guide to Television, Field, and Digital Producing” to fill a need in the curriculum in their school and in other communication programs.

During the pandemic, they developed the concept for the book, secured a publisher, and wrote the book, in spite of all the disruptions caused by the pandemic.

I asked the three to share their experiences in writing the book.

Dr. Christine Eschenfelder is an associate professor and recipient of the MTSU Outstanding Teaching Award and broadcast industry awards. Her research focuses on broadcast journalism education, newsroom diversity, and women in broadcasting.
Twitter: @cceschenfelder

What inspired you and your two colleagues to write “A Complete Guide to Television, Field, and Digital Producing”?

We all worked in television news before our careers in academia. I was an on-air reporter and producer. Sally Ann and Keonte were also producers. Television news producers are in great demand. It’s an important and exciting job that many students don’t know about.

Continue reading

Librarians assist faculty in using Open Education Resources (OER) and library-licensed materials

When you design a new course or update a course you’ve previously taught, consider talking with your librarian to help identify course resources.

April Hines
April Hines encouraged library use during the Student Involvement Fair, held in the courtyard of the College of Journalism and Communications.

I asked April Hines, librarian for the University of Florida College of Journalism and Mass Communications, to share insights about the work of librarians and how librarians can enable faculty to utilize Open Educational Resources (OER) to provide up-to-date, free course materials for students.

Hines is chair of the Education and Behavioral Sciences Section (EBSS) of the Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL), a division of the American Library Association (ALA). She earned a bachelor’s degree in Journalism from UF and a master’s degree in Library and Information Science from the University of South Florida.

Faculty often think campus librarians are solely focused on helping students who are in the library. What are some of the ways you are involved in helping faculty? 

April Hines: Much of my work happens beyond the physical library space – especially during COVID-19. Faculty will often ask me to be a guest speaker in their classes (either in person or virtually) to teach specialized research skills or to discuss topics related to information or media literacy.

Continue reading

University of Florida Graduate Student Teaching Award winners 2020-2021

Congratulations to the 20 University of Florida graduate students who received Graduate Student Teaching Awards for 2020-2021.

Here is the list of the award winners, including the top two who received the Calvin A. VanderWerf Award.

This was an especially challenging year for all teachers — K-12 and higher ed — due to Covid-19. The teaching assistants we observed, especially those selected as award winners, did an excellent job dealing with variables of online teaching or teaching in a hybrid or face-to-face setting.

I am honored to serve on the Graduate Student Teaching Awards Committee to promote the importance of teaching excellence. Every semester, I am inspired by the hardworking, creative and caring graduate student instructors I observe.

Thanks to Dr. Connie Shehan for chairing the committee and to Lorna Dishman, Executive Assistant in the Graduate School, who coordinates the application process and assists with our meetings.

Improve class discussions with Bloom’s Taxonomy

So many class discussions could become an improved learning experience for students with a little more guidance from the instructor.

That assessment is based on observing classes as a member of the University of Florida Graduate Student Teaching Awards Committee.

I’ve been listening to class discussions in a wide range of disciplines – psychology, educational technology, acting, kinesiology, history and microbiology to name just some.

Some instructors have led probing insightful discussions, but many discussions remained at a superficial level.

The instructor posed a good opening question that often results with a student providing a very concise “correct answer.” The instructor validates the student’s response but often moves on rather than digging deeper into that correct answer.

Bloom’s Taxonomy is a good reference for designing questions to guide small-group or full-class discussions. The taxonomy originally was published in 1956 by a team of University of Chicago cognitive psychologists and named after Benjamin Bloom who was the committee’s chair.

Continue reading

Your voice as a teaching tool

If you’re like most instructors this fall, you are doing some – or perhaps all – of your teaching online due to Covid-19. You miss being able to safely be in the classroom with your students.

But teaching online provides you an opportunity to do something that rarely happens when you are teaching in person.

You can record yourself as you teach and then use the recording to assess yourself and take steps to improve your teaching.

For my UF Online course, I recorded several lectures on location and used a lavalier microphone. Here I’m in the College of Journalism and Communications Innovation News Center, talking about news writing with the assistance of two of my former students.

Over the years, I’ve recorded and critiqued my voice. I used an audio recorder and then my iPhone to record when I was teaching face-to-face classes. When I was doing on-air fundraising for the local public radio station, I asked a friend to record my shifts. As part of a team creating online instruction through GoToMeeting, I would listen to the recorded session.

When I created a course for the University of Florida’s UF Online, I had the opportunity each time I recorded a lecture to hear how my voice sounded to my students. This semester, as part of the University of Florida’s orientation for new teaching assistants, I recorded my session at home using my laptop and its built-in microphone.

I’m now observing teaching assistants who are nominees for UF’s Graduate Student Teaching Award. Typically, I’d observe them in classrooms, labs and studios where they would be teaching. But now I observe them teaching with Zoom or through recorded videos.

Listening to yourself teach – even just one class – can help you make adjustments to improve your teaching.

Continue reading

Teach with Zoom breakout rooms

Zoom breakout rooms are a teaching tool being used more frequently as universities invest in the application and as instructors become more familiar in setting up and using the breakout rooms.

Zoom image

Having students work in breakout rooms can provide a change of pace in class and enable more students to engage actively in class.

As a member of the University of Florida’s Graduate Student Teaching Awards Committee, I have observed graduate students utilizing Zoom breakout rooms in a wide range of subject areas. Whereas instructors typically only make brief visits to breakout rooms during class, I have been able to observe the full time students are in a breakout room.

Based on my observations, I’m offering a few suggestions for using Zoom breakout rooms.

Develop an effective breakout room assignment.

Creating a good breakout room assignment is like creating a good small group discussion activity for face-to-face classes. Consider what a small group discussion will accomplish in a more productive way than a full-class discussion.

Continue reading

Covid-19 and teaching advice

I’ve been part of the University of Florida’s orientation for new teaching assistants for a number of years. My topic has been advice for having a successful start to the school year.

Dr. Julie Dodd speaks at UF TA orientation 2019

This was what my presentation looked like at the 2019 orientation for new teaching assistants. Photo by Daniel Brotherton

Prior to this year, the 400 new teaching assistants would meet in a large auditorium for the orientation.

Due to Covid-19, this year’s orientation went online.

Over four days, part of the orientation was held live via Zoom, with about 100 different TAs attending each day.

Dr. Julie Dodd presents at UF TA orientation 2020

This is what my presentation looked like for the 2020 TA orientation. Click on the link at the end of the post to watch the video.

The other portion of the orientation, which included my presentation, were recorded videos. (At the end of this post you can click on a link to watch the video.)

In creating my presentation, I considered what would be helpful advice for starting a school year in a pandemic.

Continue reading