February 2023   

OTL Announcements

TLI Call for Proposals Open

The Teaching and Learning Innovations Conference is returning in 2023! On Wednesday, May 17, we will connect in person at the University Centre with a panel, workshops, and presentations. On Thursday, May 18, presentations will be delivered synchronously online.

We invite faculty, sessionals, instructors, staff, or students to submit your proposal for the 34th Teaching and Learning Innovations Conference. Our theme, “Successes, Challenges, and New Ideas: Effective Approaches in Teaching and Learning,” focuses on how your teaching and learning endeavours have persevered and evolved during the pandemic. Proposals are due by March 10, 2023. To submit a proposal or for additional information, please use the proposal submission form.

2023/24 Associate Vice-President (Academic) SoTL Grant Call for Proposals Now Open

The goal of the AVPA Grant for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) is to encourage and support scholarship that informs and enhances learning experiences, teaching practices, and educational development within and across disciplines by providing financial support for research projects. The AVPA SoTL Grant competition considers submissions designed to support any aspect of SoTL.

Please submit your completed proposal via email to the AVPA’s office no later than 4:00pm March 24th, 2023, using the downloadable proposal and budget templates available on the OTL website. We welcome and look forward to new AVPA SoTL Grant applicants.

Newsletter News

Join the OTL Newsletter Mailing List

Since its inception in 2021, the OTL Teaching & Learning Digest has been distributed through central administration via Chairs, Deans, and Administrative Assistants. We are pleased to share that UofG faculty, staff, and students can now subscribe directly to our newsletter to make sure you don’t miss it.

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We are seeking feedback from the UofG community about the OTL Teaching & Learning Digest, our monthly OTL newsletter. Please complete this short survey to share your thoughts to help us make the newsletter as useful as possible

OTL Book Club: New Date

Spring 2023 Book Club Registration– What Inclusive Instructors Do: Principles and Practices for Excellence in College Teaching

Beginning April 6th, the Office of Teaching and Learning will host a book club to discuss What Inclusive Instructors Do: Principles and Practices for Excellence in College Teaching (Addy et al., 2021). Book club

discussions are open to all University of Guelph faculty and instructional staff (including sessionals). The book club is always welcoming new members.

At each meeting, book club members will take part in a facilitated discussion of one or two chapters of What Inclusive Instructors Do and discuss your thoughts, questions or share experiences from their own classes. Book club meetings will take place every other Thursday. If you are interested in joining our friendly, informative, and fun community, please register for the Spring 2023 Book Club or contact otl@uoguelph.ca for more information

Featured Teaching Resource

Collecting Mid-Semester Student Feedback

As we near the mid-point of the semester, consider gathering informal feedback from your students about the teaching and assessment strategies implemented in your course and your students’ engagement with the material. Not only can mid-semester feedback help you know if you should consider any adjustments to your teaching strategies, but well-designed feedback questions can encourage students to reflect on their learning in the course. This resource provides guidance for crafting informal mid-semester feedback tools to use in your course.

Focus on Universal Design For Learning

A Bird's Eye View of UDL Guidelines

Increasingly, post-secondary institutions encourage instructors to use universal design for learning (UDL) because it effectively guides them on how to stimulate different networks of learners’ brains. With student success, wellness, and academic rigour in mind, UDL highlights how multiple means of engagement, representation, and action and expression in teaching maximizes learning for a greater number of learners.

Through this single-page graphic, CAST, the founding organization of UDL, captures how you can design teaching, courses, and assessments to stimulate learners’ brains through three neural networks:

  1. Provide learning options that spark learner interest, persistence, and self-regulation through their affective (emotion-related) networks. This strategy ignites why students become invested in learning something.
  2. Activate learners’ recognition networks – perception, language and symbols, and comprehension – to build what information is being presented to them. This strategy means providing multiple ways of representing information to learners, such as text, videos, podcasts, etc.
  3. Enable learners to show how they have learned something through physical action, expression and communication, and executive functions. This strategy engages the brain’s strategic networks.

If you would like to explore how UDL can enhance teaching and learning in your department, contact our educational developer Christopher Laursen at laursenc@uoguelph.ca.

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.

Aron Fazekas, Educational Developer

What pathway did you take to your career as an Educational Developer?

During my graduate program at the University of Alberta, I discovered that teaching was something that could be fun. The population genetics lab that I was part of had some of the newest technology, so I took on the responsibility of teaching other grad students how to use and troubleshoot the equipment and ways to connect theory with application.

When I arrived back at Guelph as a post-doc, I was privileged to get in at the very start of DNA barcoding, and soon found myself again teaching methods to other researchers at Guelph and internationally. Later, through my experiences lecturing large first year biology classes and supporting TA’s in their own teaching, I really became aware of the importance of curriculum design and alignment as I worked toward improving student learning. My teaching interest, experience and research background brought me to the OTL where I leverage my skills to support research in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, curriculum design, assessments, and more.

What interests you about teaching and learning?

Teaching and learning lies at the intersection of so many domains that there really is something for everyone. I like hearing instructors’ perspectives and challenges and finding common ground as an entry to supporting them in their needs and the directions they want to go. It’s incredibly varied, but at the same time there are a lot of commonalities. As someone who is interested in research, there is an enormous body of literature, but any barriers to entry are low enough that first year students can engage with it.

What advice would you give new instructors?

There seem to be more and more demands on instructors, such that it can be hard sometimes to take a student-centred approach to teaching – but I think it’s critically important. Everything starts with caring about the student and their success. If one cares, it’s easier to become engaging, to notice when the class doesn’t ‘get it’, to consider accessibility, to be inclusive, and to change approaches because you can see something isn’t working. Students see all this too, and usually respond positively to an instructor that they think is trying to ensure that they succeed.

Featured SoTL Snapshot

Using Collaborative Note-Taking to Promote an Inclusive Learning Environment 

Creating and sharing collaborative documents is easier than ever with online tools such as Google Docs and MS Word Online. Encouraging students to create collaborative class notes can foster student engagement and a positive classroom atmosphere. This SoTL Snapshot describes a study that examined the use of collaborative note-taking in an American government class. The researchers found that the collaborative note-taking requirement resulted in better class discussions, student engagement, and a collegial and inclusive class environment.

For more teaching resources or to chat with an Educational Developer, visit our website at otl.uoguelph.ca or contact otl@uoguelph.ca.

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