University Teaching Leadership Fellows Initiative Now Accepting Applications
The University Teaching Leadership Fellows (UTLFs) are a distinguished and cross-disciplinary community of educators who act as institutional change agents by engaging in educational leadership, research, advocacy, networking, service, and mentoring to promote educational excellence. This initiative from the Offices of the Provost and Vice President (Academic) will award up to 10 UTLFs to begin 3-year terms on July 1st, 2023. Each UTLF will be awarded $30,000 to undertake scholarly projects to advance teaching and learning at U of G. Apply by January 15th, 2023 for an opportunity to join the inaugural cohort of UTLFs. For more information, join our virtual information session on November 22nd from 10:00 – 11:30am.
Register for UNIV*6800: University Teaching: Theory and Practice
University Theory and Teaching Practice (UTTP) is a graduate-level course that focuses on the relationship between pedagogical theory and instructional practice. UTTP introduces participants to foundational and recent pedagogical theories that underlie instructional practices. Participants will develop and deliver a micro-teaching lesson, give and receive peer feedback, and develop their approach to becoming a reflective instructional practitioner. Course registration will open to graduate students, staff, faculty, and post-docs on November 8th via WebAdvisor. This in-person course will take place on Tuesdays from 8:30 – 11:20am during the Winter 2023 semester. Contact Janet Wolstenholme at email@example.com for more information about the course.
Meet An Educational Developer
Each month, we will feature a member of the Office of Teaching and Learning team in a brief interview. For more information about each Educational Developer’s portfolio, please visit our website.
Janet Wolstenholme, Educational Developer
What pathway did you take to your career as an Educational Developer?
After coming to Canada in 1982, I worked in a number of jobs while I was going to school earning a diploma in Art from what is now OCAD. I then came to Guelph, as a single parent, with a two-and-a-half-year-old in the summer of 1996. As I was returning to school as an older student, I earned my undergraduate degree with a double major: Fine Art and Sociology. I then went on to do a Master’s in Sociology and from there, began working as a Research Assistant for the then new University of Guelph-Humber and the curriculum development committee. I really enjoyed that work and learning about the systems of the university and how courses get adopted onto the registration system and how programs are put together. I also loved working with the faculty members of the committee and others in the university. After the curriculum was developed, we continued working together in a unit that we put together called ERDU (Educational Research and Development Unit). After a few years working at ERDU, I joined Teaching Support Services too as a new ED. That was in 2007 and I have been part of the team since then.
What interests you about teaching and learning?
I love education and learning new things. I find the field of teaching and learning ever evolving and I like the flexibility of the work. Teaching allows for making mistakes and trying again, to keep on improving or as we EDs say, “continuous improvement.” Learning can be challenging and messy, and all worth it when you see the lights of understanding in learners’ eyes! The best thing is, I get to help others with their own growth and development which impacts lots of other minds in the classroom. What other work allows for that?
What advice would you give new instructors?
Be yourself. Be open and honest (transparent) with students. No one person has all the answers and that is ok. It is human nature, I think, when we are first in the classroom to think students believe you have all the answers and know everything. Students need to know you are human and that learning is a process – even “facts” change over time!!
Talk about teaching with anyone who will listen, especially us EDs; that is what we are here for! There is lots of help and advice out there, so use your “critically reflective lens” and only use what resonates with you, your personality, and your way of teaching.
Start a “teaching toolbox” for yourself. Put anything you wish into it - things you find are a great idea, something you might try, reflections on what went well during class, what you might change, informal mid-term feedback, images, articles, etc.
Create a “happy file” too, something that houses all the good stuff, letters, comments, or emails that people send to you that make you smile, for those not to bright days when you need a “pick me up.”
Featured Teaching Resources
Assessing Critical Thinking Using Multiple-Choice Exams
Many courses aim to teach and assess a student’s ability to think critically. In fact, Critical and Creative Thinking is the first of the U of G’s five Undergraduate Learning Outcomes. Critical thinking involves a collection of skills including analysis, interpretation, decision making, and problem solving. Using well-designed questions, it is possible to assess many critical thinking skills using objective assessments such as multiple-choice questions. This resource contains evidence-based, practical suggestions for writing multiple-choice questions that can assess higher-order thinking skills.
What is Universal Design?
Minimizing Barriers to Maximize Learning for All Students
You've probably seen the term "Universal Design," but what does it really mean? Universal Design is inspired by how architects sought to make buildings and infrastructure as accessible to everyone as possible. Consider, for example, how ramps for buildings and sloped curbs on sidewalks not only create access for people who use wheeled mobility devices, but also for strollers and bikes, or for people who find steps difficult. Universal Design makes moving through our world easier for everyone.
In the 1980s, Universal Design for Learning emerged out of the notion that design technologies could make education more accessible. It began with the rise of home computing, which opened pathways to more flexible electronic learning materials – where texts and images, for example, were made more accessible through interactive, audio, video, and adjustable components. Same content, more accessible to everyone! That's the heart of Universal Design for Learning.
In this and upcoming newsletters, we'll be sharing how Universal Design specifically benefits post-secondary teaching and learning. If you've noticed obstacles in your teaching, please feel free to seek guidance from our in-house Educational Developer focusing on universal design, Christopher Laursen at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Research shows that students are more likely to retain information when they spread studying out over several sessions instead of ‘cramming’ before an exam. Even with this knowledge, students may not know how to structure their studying. This SoTL Snapshot summarizes research that found that a self-study program based on physical training schedules for athletes was valuable for students in a rigorous academic program (San Miguel et al., 2022). The study program involved scheduling study sessions to include a brief warm-up, physical preparation, and a cooldown. Instructors could encourage students to think of preparing for exams the way they would prepare for other challenges such as a race.