As one participant at the recent Preparing Future Faculty conference had heard from her faculty mentor, "Everyone is busy. Not everyone is productive." What can you do to make sure you fall into the latter category? The conference session on Strategies, Tools and Resources for Productivity focused on developing habits while in graduate school that will lead to greater success as a faculty member. Of course, such habits are useful for scholars at any stage of their career, especially if you're balancing full teaching and research agendas. 

At the session, CRLT Assitant Director Rachel Niemer presented research showing that success in most endeavors begins with creating the right habits so that you are consistently making progress toward your goals. For college faculty, one crucial habit to develop is regular writing. But knowing this fact does not always mean acting upon it. Developing a new habit requires creating the right environment for it to grow. For regular writing, the elements of such an enviroment include: a regular trigger, opportunities to engage in the desired behavior, and a "reward" or sense of accountability for completing the behavior.
 
Want to learn more about how to enhance your own productivity? If you read on, you can see the Prezi presentation from the session and learn more about resources for productivity. 
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It's a common challenge: A student answers a question in class. But the answer is wrong. How do you respond?

When there are definite right and wrong answers, it's important that instructors provide clear feedback on student responses so that the class knows which answers are right, which are wrong, and which are somewhere in between. Often, a wrong answer gives some insight into how students are thinking about the question, and provides an opportunity to lead the students to a better answer. Of course, you also want to communicate that the student's answer is appreciated, and maintain a safe space for students to contribute answers in the future. 

We've located some resources from teaching centers around the country with suggestions for how to handle wrong answers. Some of the best suggestions include: Read more »

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Are you currently searching for academic jobs or planning a higher ed job search in the future? Beyond exploring individual schools' websites, do you know how to find good information about the institutions you're applying to? Or how to find similar institutions in a given geographic area? Or how to research salary ranges for the kinds of positions you're seeking? 

This screencast prepared by CRLT's Rachel Niemer highlights web-based resources that can answer a range of questions you might not have even known you had. The 7-minute presentation provides introductions to search tools from trusted sources like the Carnegie Foundation, the Chronicle of Higher Education, and the Department of Education to help you pursue a more fully-informed job search. 

For other resources for job seekers, click on the "PFF" (Preparing Future Faculty) tag below. Or click here for a range of resources from the recent one-day Preparing Future Faculty conference co-sponsored by Rackham and CRLT. 

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Friday, September 13, kicked off another year of the Student Learning and Analytics at Michigan (SLAM) speaker series with a presentation by Tim McKay, chair of the University's Learning Analytics Task Force and Thurnau Professor of Physics. McKay spoke about the accomplishments of the Task Force from the previous year, presented data from recent Learning Analytics research, and discussed plans for the next year. 
 
For those new to the topic, McKay explained that Learning Analytics (LA) -- or the collection, analysis, and use of large bodies of student data to improve learning -- can assist instructors in achieving a wide range of teaching goals. Data can be used to drive changes to how we interact with students, teach material, and evaluate learning, ultimately improving student outcomes in the classroom. The U-M Learning Analytics Task Force works to facilitate and support LA projects within the University community.
 
Last year, the Task Force funded a variety of LA projects at University of Michigan. One of these projects involved using data and technology to personalize the guidance given to undergraduate students in large lecture classes using the software system E2Coach. For more information on E2Coach and the Thurnau professors who created it, click here. Other projects involved creating systems to customize course advising, with the goal of improving success throughout students' university careers.
 
If you are interested in learning more about learning analytics, sign up for the rest of the SLAM talks, or watch them online after they are posted. Videos of last year's series are already available here. If you would like to pursue a LA project related to your teaching, the Task Force will be sponsoring a Learning Analytics Fellows program during the Winter term. Applications for this program will be available soon and due by November 15. The last round of Exploring Learning Analytics grants also are due on November 15, and the call for proposals can be found here.
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CRLT staff provide hundreds of Midterm Student Feedback sessions for U-M instructors every year. You can learn more about the process or request a consulation on this page. In this guest blog, LSA Associate Dean Phil Deloria discusses the value of these sessions even for very experienced teachers.

If you're teaching this term, I encourage you to contact CRLT soon to schedule a Midterm Student Feedback session for your course. I want to emphasize that these consultations are:

  • Wholly confidential, between yourself and the CRLT staff member only, with no communication to your department. They are meant only to inform your own teaching.  
  • Formative, not summative. They offer you an opportunity to improve upon a course while it is still underway.
  • Appreciated by students. Often, students experience the midterm evaluations as a sign that you are committed to hearing them and to thinking self-critically about your teaching (in the same way that we often ask our students to be self-critical about their experience with the material we are teaching them!).
  • Conducted efficiently and effectively. Having a midterm feedback session does not require giving up a significant amount of classroom time.
  • Consistently, year after year, the feature of the LSA Teaching Academy that receives the highest marks from new faculty for its usefulness in improving teaching.  

It's not always easy to let someone else into your classroom, but the rewards are substantial. I have been teaching since 1994, and I think I do a pretty good job. But I have never failed to learn from a midterm evaluation. Indeed, many of our most distinguished teachers have already scheduled their feedback sessions for this fall. I urge you to do the same.

Philip J. Deloria
LSA Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education
Carroll Smith-Rosenberg Collegiate Professor of History and American Culture 

 

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