For faculty the time between semesters includes reflecting on the previous semester, developing and revising courses, and adopting a few teaching resolutions.
Over the years, I have spent many hours during the breaks between terms updating class plans for the next term. I often read books, articles and blog posts related to teaching for inspiration and strategies.
Love’s article included her research on the origin of the suggestion box and interviews with five university faculty who study different aspects of advice – from communication science to workplace psychology.
One of the people Love interviewed was University of Chicago philosopher Dr. Agnes Callard. Dr. Callard discussed the differences between instructions, suggestions, advice, and mentorship. And all of these apply to reflecting on and improving your teaching.
What is the value of writing a teaching philosophy? And why is a teaching philosophy required in most faculty job applications and teaching award nominations?
Even experienced teachers say that writing a teaching philosophy can be difficult. Writing a teaching philosophy would be more challenging for graduate students, most of whom have been teaching for only a year or two. So why are teaching philosophies a required part of one’s teaching career?
During my faculty career at the University of Florida, I was fortunate to teach a pedagogy course for graduate students in the College of Journalism and Communications. I really enjoyed working with the graduate students to help them develop and expand their teaching competencies and their outlook on teaching and learning.
As a major assignment for the course, the students developed a teaching portfolio to be used in applying for faculty positions. The portfolio included their created instructional materials, a syllabus, and a teaching philosophy.
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.
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
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.
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.
When you design a new course or update a course you’ve previously taught, consider talking with your librarian to help identify course resources.
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.
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.
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.
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.