Vol. 4, No. 2

Your Source for Teaching & Learning News and Information

Winter 2011

 
Campus News

CSU East Bay:  Hybrid Course Design

 

Dr. Julie Glass, FLC Facilitator and Professor of Mathematics, CSU East Bay

Hybrid
Hybrid FLC in foreground.  From left:  Drs. Julie Glass, Lynn Von Hofwegen, Holly Vugia, Meiling Wu, Joan Davenport, Andrew Wong, Elizabeth Bergman, and Linda Ivey. Caron Inouye is not pictured.

It was my pleasure to facilitate the Faculty Learning Community (FLC) Hybrid Course Design:  Develop, Create, and Deliver supported by the Institute for Teaching and Learning.  FLCs have been very successful at CSU East Bay in bringing faculty together to think, collaborate, share, and enrich learning experiences for our students and each other.  The 8 FLC members came from a range of disciplines and experiences, but each person brought his or her own unique abilities and insights to the group.  That’s what’s so great about FLCs!  In this article I took the opportunity to ask some of the participants a few questions about their experiences.  Since they are the true experts, I’ll let their words speak for themselves.  ~ Julie Glass, Interviewer

Why did you decide to redesign your course? Was your initial decision with or against your "better judgment" in terms of enhancing student learning? 

Denise Fleming (Professor, Teacher Education): I was decidedly in favor of revising my methods course. It has been my impression that teacher education faculty who do not specialize in technology do not infuse their courses with technology. Thus, I wanted to restructure my course to include, validate, and model Web 2.0 technologies that teacher candidates could use in their own classrooms.

Lynn Van Hofwegen (Associate Professor, Nursing and Health Sciences): I decided to redesign my course on Community Health Nursing to provide a more flexible platform for upper-level students who are engaged in a wide variety of community placements and to simultaneously enhance the development of a community of learners using active inquiry.  I saw hybrid learning as a tool to accomplish these goals. 

What did you think about in determining which learning objectives and activities to move online and which to keep face-to-face? 

Andrew Wong (Assistant Professor, Anthropology): I used Bloom's Taxonomy levels of learning to help me decide which learning objectives and activities to move online and which ones to keep face-to-face.  I plan to use pre-class assignments for material that involves students’ lower-level thinking skills (e.g., knowledge, understanding) and in-class activities to develop their higher-level thinking skills (e.g., application, analysis, synthesis, evaluation).  Students will be required to take pre-class online quizzes, respond to weekly reading/film, and to think about how to use concepts and theories discussed in the assigned readings to analyze examples of folklore from their own culture and from other cultures.  Class time will be spent on clarifying the concepts that students find more difficult, as well as discussing students’ reading/film responses and their folklore fieldwork projects.

Linda Ivey (Assistant Professor, History): This is a good question, because I didn’t think much about it at all.  But once the FLC was underway, I learned to do it quickly as I was constructing a syllabus.  Our earliest meetings and documents warned us against cramming in 1 1/2 classes’ worth of work – which is really tempting in this format.  What I did know initially is that I wanted to hold a seminar face-to-face as we discussed the history of the area, giving students a context in which to place their own work, and that the hybrid portion would be devoted to the construction of a blog.  This worked out fairly well, although in future incarnations, I will reorganize the calendar, most likely conducting the seminar discussions up front, and then letting students loose to research and blog, with a handful of meetings for checking in.

Caron Inouye (Associate Professor, Biological Sciences): The easiest components for me to move online were the background and foundational material for each unit.  Delivery of this basic content online (using, for example, a Panopto recorded PowerPoint lecture) will (1) allow the student to go through and then revisit the material at his or her own pace and (2) provide me with a more diverse platform and latitude for integrating more dynamic components to the course (e.g., publisher’s media, interactive tutorials, and formative assessments).

How do you think your course redesign impacted student learning?

Ivey (History):  In a very positive way!  Even non-majors who were a little intimidated really engaged in their own research projects.  I felt very positively about the independent research time the hybrid format allowed. They were much more active learners, and most students commented how they really liked being the historian rather than only a passive learner taking in information.

Fleming (Teacher Education):  Nearly all of my students are anxious about being prepared to plan and implement powerful and productive lessons for their own classrooms. This course provided them with hands-on practice with a variety of technologies (Ning, VoiceThread, Wikis, edublog, podcasts, etc.), and they now have these as part of their teaching repertoire.

VanHofwegen (Nursing and Health Sciences):  The course redesign had a positive impact on student learning.  I see the students as more engaged and more participatory in the learning process. I was quite pleased with the level of critical thinking seen in the Wiki discussions. The students were looking to each other to share ideas and resources, truly a community of learners.  The use of these different modalities is useful for reaching students with different learning preferences.  The online sessions provided flexibility and independent learning, while the in-class sessions kept connections and provided for a different kind of exchange between students and the teacher.

How did the FLC help you in your course redesign project?

Inouye (Biological Sciences):  The FLC encouraged me to clarify the learning objectives for my course in order to identify which components were most effectively delivered online versus in person.  It exposed me to a wealth of knowledge and support: sage advice from those who had already taught courses in online or hybrid format and various tools, web resources, and strategies to support online course delivery. 

Wong (Anthropology):  The FLC helped me tremendously in my course redesign project.  I was given a rare opportunity to learn about different models of hybrid course design and development, to reflect on my own pedagogical practices, and to think seriously about what I want my students to learn and then to design my course accordingly.  I also gained invaluable knowledge about different multimedia tools for online and hybrid courses (e.g., Ning, Wiki, VoiceThread).  In addition, my interaction with faculty members from other departments who are also interested in hybrid course development was extremely rewarding.  Not only did I learn a tremendous amount from my colleagues, but I was also able to obtain constructive feedback from them at various stages of my project.

What advice or guidance do you have for other CSU faculty who are considering teaching hybrid/online?

Ivey (History):  Initially, the most appealing thing to me about the hybrid was that I could meet my online students for some face-to-face guidance.  I would encourage faculty to not think of their course as an online course with a bit of face-to-face time, nor as a regular course with some online projects.  This format really affords professors the opportunity to experiment with ways of learning and researching – which ultimately makes it an interesting class to teach as well as to take. Think beyond how this is a different kind of schedule, to how it can be an exciting way to indulge in your own interests and share that passion with your students.

Fleming (Teacher Education):  Technologies are changing quite rapidly, and I doubt that any of us will be able (or are even supposed) to keep up with all the changes. That being said, we need to be able to collaborate, share knowledge and skills, and most of all, be really competent and inquisitive learners. Participating in FLCs allows faculty expanded exposure and rapid access to multiple stores of knowledge and skills and, in my experience, geometrically expands the available learning possibilities.

VanHofwegen (Nursing and Health Sciences):  I think it is important to start with the framework of the course rather than adapting or tweaking an existing course.  The course mapping was very useful in this process.  The online sessions need active learning design.  In my course, web searches, case studies, and online media were very positively received by the students.  Moreover, let me add that hybrid/online learning takes time to develop well and also takes time to deliver.  So it is important to have appropriate class sizes in order to be able to effectively engage with the students.

Wong (Anthropology):  Start early!  Also, organization is key: students in online classes really appreciate detailed syllabi and well-designed assignments with clear instructions.  Moreover, it’s a good idea to participate in online discussion as much as possible. 

Is there anything the interviewer should have asked that would help other faculty who are thinking about redesigning a course?

Ivey (History):  I think a big component of this is the use of media and digital resources.  Putting this up front would inspire more faculty to take on these types of classes when they see the potential for projects and ways of learning first, rather than trying to fit new tools into old teaching plans. 

Inouye (Biological Sciences):  What is your administration’s level of commitment to online or hybrid course development? In an ideal world, administration should give more release time to develop these courses.  A truly effective online or hybrid course requires inordinate amounts of planning – far more than developing an in-person course anew.

Thank you CSU East Bay faculty colleagues for sharing your experiences!

Dynamic Learning Practices:  Southern California’s Undergraduate Researchers Present Their Achievements at SCCUR 2010

Dr. Elizabeth (Beth) Ambos, Assistant Vice Chancellor Research Initiatives and Partnerships California State University, CSU Chancellor’s Office

Eager SCCUR Participants
Eager SCCUR participants enter the 2010 event hosted by Pepperdine University in Malibu, California, held on Saturday, November 21, 2010.  [Photo courtesy of Rheagan Martin, Pepperdine University]

Undergraduate research is a dynamic learning practice that is increasing its breadth and prevalence throughout the United States, as more educators understand its potentially positive impact on student success, learning and skill development.  Employers and graduate schools are also looking to undergraduate research as evidence of individual, and independent, student achievement.  One of the best ways for students to showcase their undergraduate research is through formal oral and written presentation opportunities.  The yearly Southern California Conference for Undergraduate Research (SCCUR) is a highly affordable and accessible undergraduate research conference, which involves close to half of CSU’s 23 campuses. 

For the last three years, CSU southern California campuses hosted the event (CSU Los Angeles – 2007, Cal Poly Pomona – 2008, CSU Dominguez Hills – 2009).  On November 21, 2010, the conference was hosted by Pepperdine University in Malibu, California.  One of the largest SCCUR events ever, the 2010 conference attracted close to 1200 participants, with more than 400 from CSU campuses.  In 2011, and for the first time ever, SCCUR will be hosted by a community college: Mount San Antonio College in Walnut, California.  In 2012, SCCUR is projected to return to a CSU campus, CSU Channel Islands.

See more information concerning the SCCUR and the SCCUR 2010 conference.

Undergraduate Researchers
Undergraduate researchers learning from each other at the 2010 SCCUR event, through discussion of research posters. [Photo courtesy of Noel Moul, Pepperdine University]

Undergraduate researchers and their faculty mentors mingle over lunch at SCCUR 2010 at Pepperdine University.
Undergraduate researchers and their faculty mentors mingle over lunch at SCCUR 2010 at Pepperdine University. [Photo courtesy of Rheagan Martin, Pepperdine University]

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Director, Institute for Teaching & Learning
CSU, Office of the Chancellor, 6th Floor


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Teaching & Learning Tips

Unprepared Students: Promoting Success and Retention

 

Dr. Kathleen F. Gabriel, Professional Studies in Education, CSU Chico

Kathleen Gabriel

The suggestions below are excerpts from Kathleen’s popular book Teaching Unprepared Students: Strategies for Promoting Success and Retention in Higher Education (2008).

Having increased numbers of students that are unprepared for the academic rigors of college is a growing concern among many college professors.   Although teaching unprepared students can be a challenge, it can also be one of the most rewarding experiences of one’s teaching career.  Professors can make a significant difference for many unprepared students by using practices that will simultaneously engage all the students in class, while maintaining high standards and expectations.

In my book I discuss strategies and techniques that faculty can use to assist unprepared students, methods that can be helpful for everyone in your class. A few of them are presented here. 

Book: Teaching Unprepared Students

First:  Create a positive and inviting classroom climate

One of the most important conditions starts with conveying a positive attitude towards the at-risk students.  In his study, Blose (1999) concludes that actions of individual faculty members can make a difference in a student's success.  When faculty "treated the students as academically capable, and held them to high standards" in an environment of respect and integration, students (all students, even those who were admitted as underachieving or unprepared students) achieved an increased level of performance (p. 84). 

The first week of college is a key week for professors and students because it is during this time that we set the tone and academic climate for our courses.  During the first few class meetings, we meet our students, share who we are, present course goals and intended learning outcomes, and spell out class expectations and ground rules.  How these components are introduced to students helps to establish the classroom atmosphere that we want to develop throughout the semester.

One of the easiest ways to establish a positive classroom atmosphere is through a clear and helpful syllabus.   For at-risk students, a detailed written syllabus, made available as a hard copy and online, is essential.  Because asking for clarification can be challenging, particularly for at-risk students, if we appear cold or unapproachable in any way, most feel intimidated and likely will not come to us for assistance.  As we reach out to students, we are mindful to create a positive classroom atmosphere and convey our enthusiasm for teaching, while communicating our goals and intended learning outcomes for them in our course.

Second:  Invite students to participate fully in the course and use available resources

But we cannot create a positive classroom atmosphere alone. We need to partner with our students and share the responsibility for creating a positive class climate, and in order to do this, they must show up for class!

Being careful to avoid publicly identifying at-risk students, there are general actions we can take that will benefit the entire class but be particularly beneficial for at-risk students.   Giving pointers on how to learn, as well as strategies for  excelling in academics, is particularly helpful for at-risk or unprepared students.   Moreover, sharing where on campus they can receive supplementary help and support is critical. Simultaneously, students can be reminded that their success also depends on their working hard, actually using support resources, and that putting in a lot of time and effort on their schoolwork is essential. Pascarella and Terenzini (2005) note that “the impact of college is largely determined by individual efforts and involvement in the academic, interpersonal, and extracurricular offerings on a campus. . . [and] students . . . bear major responsibility for any gain they derive from their post secondary experience” (p. 602).  All students, especially those at risk, must understand the importance of their own commitment.

Some of us might not realize the extent of our impact on students.  As they struggle to catch up, we can help give them the support and confidence needed to stay on the road to becoming scholars.  One way to reach out is to have required individual “office” meetings several times during the semester in order to go over assignments and test results.  These can be face-to-face or logged-on.  The importance of these individual meetings is supported by Kuh’s (2007) recommendation for "early interventions and sustained attention" for at-risk students (p. 37).

Third: Engage students during class time by being a learner-centered teacher

More that any other instructional models, learner-centered teaching engages students in learning.  Briefly defined, learner-centered teaching focuses on how students are learning the material and applying it, as opposed to a more professor-centered approach, which focuses on the presentation of information, usually in lecture format. With learner-centered teaching, the focus shifts to the students and their learning process.  As learning-centered teachers, we ask the following types of questions: 

  • What will students be doing with the subject matter?
  • How can students practice what they are learning?
  • What kind of activities or projects can students do that will help them grasp the new information and integrate it with their prior knowledge?

Lectures, ideally, should be just one of many strategies used in a learner-centered environment.  One way to foster a learner-centered classroom is by interweaving assessment activities into our lectures.  By using assessment techniques with greater frequency, not only do we gain feedback on how our students are progressing, but students do, too.  Using formative assessments, those that are learning checks throughout the term, can have a powerful effect on student learning.   Moreover, although all students benefit from these assessment activities, at-risk students do so in particular because frequent assessment gives them feedback, which helps them monitor their own progress more closely. 

One example of a formative assessment technique is “write-pair-share.”  This strategy is easy to adapt for use at the beginning, middle, or end of class.  It involves four steps:

  1. The instructor poses a question or problem.
  2. Students are given a specific amount of time to write down their responses.  [Either I hand out 3x5 cards or ask students to use half sheets of their paper.]
  3. Students then pair with a classmate to discuss their answers.
  4. The instructor calls on a few students to share their answers with the entire class.

Typically, I ask students to write their name on these and pass them in so that I can award participation points.  I read the students’ responses and often write comments.  If you have too many students to do that for each card, use a sign (++, +, --) that indicates that the student is on or off track.   On occasion I write,  “Please see me for help during an individual office meeting” if the student really misses the point. 

By interweaving formative assessment techniques into class sessions, we can engage students and watch them apply, analyze, synthesize, and transfer course concepts. Furthermore, instructor and students get feedback on the learning process.  If students are not progressing, they can be encouraged to get tutoring or seek additional help before a summative assessment, one that is graded, is given.  Using such techniques can make a tremendous difference in helping unprepared students become competent college students.

Fourth: Provide a variety of ways that allow students to demonstrate what they are learning.

Having a variety of activities or projects that allow students with different types of learning preferences and strengths to demonstrate what they are learning will help unprepared students perform better in your class.  For example, in addition to tests, we can assign presentations, journals, and research or position papers that can be part of the graded course products.  Courses that have only two midterms and a final raise the anxiety levels of all students, and “afraid, anxious, and stressed students do not easily focus on learning objectives [or outcomes]” (Weimer, 2002, p. 126).

Another strategy we can employ for providing students with a road map for the successful completion of a project as well at its grading is a rubric, used for student-constructed assignments, such as papers, projects, presentations, exhibits, and portfolios. Rubrics often save grading time for professors, provide effective feedback for students, and promote student learning (Stevens & Levi, 2005).  Rubrics are especially helpful for at-risk and unprepared students since the rubric is distributed and discussed in class before students start an assignment.  Many unprepared and at-risk students are less sophisticated about analyzing an academic task.  Hence, a carefully crafted and communicated rubric helps to clarify what is critical for the completed assignment (and often the relative weight of components) so that students have a clearer understanding of their target.

Conclusion

Teaching unprepared students can be a challenge, but it can also be one of the most rewarding experiences of our career.  A positive classroom environment, encouraging students to fully participate in our classes, student engagement through learner-centered activities, and multiple assessment strategies are all elements that enable at-risk and unprepared students to develop academically.  Students who arrive at college unprepared can be successful and become academically competent in higher education with our support and encouragement.

References

Blose, G. (1999).  Modeled retention and graduation rates: Calculating expected retention and graduation rates for multicampus university systems. New Directions for Higher Education, 27(4), 69–86.

Kuh, G., Kinzie, J., Cruce, T., Shoup, R., & Gonyea, R. (2007, January).  Connecting the dots: Multi-faceted analyses of the relationships between student engagement results from the NSSE, and the institutional practices and conditions that foster student success. Retrieved from http://nsse.iub.edu/pdf/
Connecting_the_Dots_Report.pdf

Pascarella, E., & Terenzini, P. (2005).  How college affects students: A third decade of research (Vol. 2). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Stevens, D. and Levi, A. (2005).  Introduction to rubrics: An assessment tool to save grading time, convey effective feedback, and promote student learning. Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing.

Weimer, M. (2002).  Learner-centered teaching: Five key changes to practice. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

 

 

Events

February 25, 2011, (Friday)
1:00 to 4:30 p.m.
Designing Courses for Significant Learning with Dr. Dee Fink
Cal Poly, Pomona

Hosted by Cal Poly, Pomona's Faculty Center for Professional Development

Registration is free to CSU faculty.

For additional information, please contact:
Dr. Victoria Bhavsar, Center Coordinator
909/869-4640 or vbhavsar@csupomona.edu

April 12-14, 2011 (Tuesday - Thursday) 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily
14th Annual CATS Conference
Online via Elluminate

Sponsored by Community of Academic Technology Staff, a program of the
CSU Center for Distributed Learning

Proposals accepted through February 28, 2011; Submission form and
Track information
.
Registration opens March 1, 2011
Registration is free

Conference website under development -
get more information about CATS.

For additional information, please contact:
Abbe Altman
, CATS Program Manager
707/664-4341 or abbe@cdl.edu

April 15, 2011 (Friday)
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
1st CSU-wide Undergraduate Research Leadership Conference
CSU Channel Islands

Co-sponsored by the Division of Academic Affairs, CSU Office of the Chancellor
Registration opens Friday, March 15, 2011

Hosted by Dr. Sadiq Shah, Associate Vice President for Research and Sponsored Programs, CSU Channel Islands

For more information, please contact:
Dr. Elizabeth Ambos, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Research Initiatives and Partnerships
562/951-4706 or eambos@calstate.edu

April 16, 2011 (Saturday)
8:45 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
14th CSU Symposium on University Teaching, CSU Channel Islands

Co-sponsored by the Faculty Development Center, CSU Channel Islands and the Institute for Teaching and Learning, CSU Office of the Chancellor.
Submit proposals and register

For more information, please contact:
Dr. Ed Nuhfer, Center Director
805/437-8826 or ed.nuhfer@csuci.edu


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