Our News & Announcements page is your one-stop shop for all the recent resources, events and news from CTL! This page will be updated periodically with contributions from CTL staff, Graduate Teaching Consultants, and Faculty. We invite your feedback and suggestions for topics – please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
CTL begins new partnership with MetroBridge
The Center for Teaching & Learning is excited to announce a new partnership with The Initiative on Cities’ MetroBridge experiential learning program. The partnership will be supported by a $25,000 grant over two years from the Davis Educational Foundation. Thanks to the Davis Educational Foundation and to David Glick, Faculty Director of MetroBridge, and Paige Dolci, former Program Manager, for making this new collaboration possible. Deb Breen, CTL's Director, and Assistant Director Ben Keating will support the new program.
MetroBridge is a university-wide applied research and experiential learning program that matches BU courses to local governments and community organizations. It provides students with the unique opportunity to work on real-world projects, and partners with valuable research to address pressing urban challenges. Read More
Reimagining the Grading Paradigm
In Spring 2022, the Center for Teaching & Learning created several events and programming that focused on questions about grading. This programming was inspired by, and in partnership with, colleagues from the College of General Studies, Kilachand Honors College, and the College of Arts Writing Program.
Why grading? We chose this focus because of the many conversations around campus about the purpose and practices of grading and how we might develop alternatives that serve students and faculty better. Some of these conversations about alternatives have been happening for years while others emerged throughout the pandemic as instructors grappled with assessing student work in the new context of pandemic pedagogy. Still other conversations have developed over the complexities of academic integrity within the virtual environment.
These conversations share the same theme but are not necessarily congruent with each other. On this page, we hope to continue the conversations in ways that faculty and students will find productive. We hope to generate more discussion, more ideas about alternatives to grading, and research into the many experiments with grading and assessment tasks that are happening around campus. Read More
Meet our Spring 2022 Adobe Catalyst Program Cohort!
BU’s Adobe Catalyst Program (ACP), a Center for Teaching & Learning (CTL) and Digital & Learning Innovation (DL&I) partnership has started its fourth cohort. The ACP provides a virtual learning space for experienced Adobe Creative Cloud (ACC) users (catalysts) to mentor colleagues who wish to implement multi-modality into their teaching and assignments, and use ACC as a tool to make this happen.
During the Spring 2022 semester, eleven faculty mentees—from a range of colleges, departments, and programs—are sharing their pedagogical goals for incorporating digital design into their teaching and student projects. In addition, three catalysts—from QST, BUSM, and CAS World Languages & Literatures—will share their expertise with specific Adobe applications and multi-modal assignments to help their mentees reach these goals. The faculty partnership and collective learning is a strong component of this program, one in which both catalysts and mentees learn together and from one another. Read More
CTL’s Graduate Assistants and Associates
This semester, five wonderful graduate students are helping the CTL to provide support to the graduate student teaching community at BU. Graduate Assistants Federica Bocchi (Philosophy), Maya Chakravorty (Classical Studies), and Maria Valadez Ingersoll (Cellular and Molecular Biology) joined us this month, and Graduate Associates Phillippa Pitts (History of Art and Architecture) and Sarah Sklar (Political Science) are building on their prior work with us. Together, they will offer Learning Analysis Polls to graduate students serving as instructors of record, share evidence-based strategies about teaching through the CTL's website, and help us to connect with the graduate student community. Please keep an eye on the Graduate Student Blog for news and announcements from this group. Welcome and thank you, Federica, Maya, Maria, Phillippa, and Sarah!
Making Time for Connection at the End of the Semester
Contributed by Jean Otsuki.
As we near the end of the semester, we encourage you to make time to check in with your students about how they are doing and create space for them to connect with their peers. Fostering classroom community is meaningful at any time, but can be especially valuable during stressful periods. At this point in the semester, your students will likely be preparing for final assessments in all of their courses and steeped in any extracurricular commitments. Moreover, as Sarah Ketchen Lipson, Assistant Professor at SPH, demonstrated through a survey of almost 33,000 college students across the country through the Healthy Minds Network in 2020, the uncertainties of the current moment has exacerbated the mental health crisis among college students. Despite being back on campus, many students still feel lonely, as the pandemic continues to pose challenges to community building. Acknowledging that students are whole people with complex lives in and beyond the classroom, and recognizing that these circumstances impact their ability to engage in your course, are important steps to supporting students. Read More
Including Diverse Role Models in STEM Curricula
Including Diverse Role Models in STEM Curricula
Contributed by Bryanne McDonough
In most areas of the STEM workforce, racial minorities, people with disabilities, and women are still underrepresented [1,2]. As college educators, we have a critical role to play in retaining and encouraging underrepresented students in STEM. One way to accomplish this is by creating a sense of belonging through adding diverse voices to our curricula and classroom. It is not always immediately obvious where to add diversity in a STEM course, as we most often teach about facts and data rather than people. However, instructors can make a difference by highlighting the contributions of individuals to the facts and data, and help ameliorate identity threats along the way. Read More
Mid Semester Feedback
Contributed by Jean Otsuki
The middle of the semester is a valuable time to check in with students - to solicit their feedback about how the course is going, and to reset and refocus for the remainder of the term.
Why collect feedback?
While instructors typically receive feedback about their teaching in the form of course evaluations at the end of the semester, this feedback comes too late for instructors to address students’ concerns and to implement any changes during that particular academic term. Asking students for feedback about how the course is going at mid-semester allows you to open up a conversation with your students about their learning experience and potentially to make adjustments to instruction while the course is in session. Read More
Clarity of Assignment Prompts: Considering Multimodality
Contributed by Pary Fassihi
(1 minute read)
A clear assignment prompt will give students all the information they need to complete the assignment. Not only does this set the students up for success, but it also saves time and reduces any confusion they may experience. There are some common reasons students may find themselves confused when reviewing assignment sheets. For example, the assignment sheet may be too lengthy, give students too many directions and options, lack clear directives for students or simply lack guidelines. Check out our list of Key Components of Assignment Prompts for some of the key information that would typically be included in an assignment sheet. Read More
Graduate students: come learn and connect with other graduate students and CTL staff this fall!
Graduate students: welcome back! Come learn and connect with other grad students and CTL staff this fall. Here are some of the ways you can get involved: attend a workshop on Lesson Planning; join a Learning Community, co-facilitated by PDPA, on inclusive teaching in STEM courses; and work with us through the Graduate Assistant program. We look forward to seeing you soon!
Announcing a new CTL Guide: Teaching in a Mask (at BU & beyond)
BU’s face covering policy, which requires masks “to be worn indoors in classrooms, offices, public common areas, the BU Shuttle, and healthcare facilities,” is designed to protect the BU community. Teaching in a mask, however, presents a unique set of challenges.
This Guide presents tips to help instructors meet these challenges by protecting their voices, engaging students, and choosing the right gear. The Guide also includes an overview of the specific circumstances in which BU’s policy allows instructors and students to remove their masks.