Faculty Center for Teaching
Past FCT Programs
2016 – 2017:
OPEN HOUSE + Wine + Cheese – While this wine & cheese event was a casual get together for faculty and staff members, we asked for suggestions regarding future directions and programming that FCT might pursue. There were delineated stations for that provided opportunities for participants to offer the FCT Board thoughts, wish-lists, and recommendations regarding the future work of the FCT. This information is invaluable as FCT works to meet a diverse range of needs of individual faculty members, groups of faculty members who work in collaboration, and the institution. Shortly after the event, we provided the community a detailed summary report of the input gathered.
Teachers Talking Diversity: Opening Session – A goal of this session was to advance ongoing community conversations about the complex circumstances that arise in classrooms and other campus environments involving issues of diversity. Discussion was initiated through the use of prompts suggested by Muhlenberg community members and from national resources on diversity in higher education.
In specific situations, how can a faculty or staff member effectively respond? For example:
- It appears that a student does not have the textbook or a laptop for use in the course. You suspect this may be because of financial constraints, but you're not sure. What should you do?
- Two students in your class get into a heated argument about a political issue and the tension in the room is escalating. Both students are members of underrepresented groups on campus. You need to exercise guidance in this situation. How should you respond?
Mental Health and the Classroom: Understanding Issues and Impact – a conversation facilitated by Chrysan Cronin (Public Health), Camille Qualtere (Languages, Literatures, and Cultures), and Mark Sciutto (Psychology). A simple truth is that mental health challenges are common in our classrooms (as they are in the world around us). Issues in the college student population, such as depression, anxiety, and eating disorders, are often major impediments to academic success. In a recent Wall Street Journal article, Andrea Petersen reported that nationwide “17% of college students were diagnosed with or treated for anxiety problems during the past year, and 13.9% were diagnosed with or treated for depression, according to a spring 2016 survey by the American College Health Association…. Counseling centers say they are also seeing more serious illnesses, including an uptick in the number of students coming to college with long psychiatric histories.”
In this session, we used classroom case studies to stimulate discussion about faculty/staff responsibilities, classroom management techniques, and appropriate professional responses when mental health-related behaviors manifest inside and outside of the classroom.
Background Knowledge and Working with International Students – This conversation was co-sponsored by the Faculty Center for Teaching and the Writing Program Committee and was facilitated by Mark Emerick (Education), Cathy Kim (Education), and Kim Nguyen (Director of International Recruitment and Support). Both FCT and WPC frequently receive requests from faculty asking for tangible strategies to improve their work with international students who are navigating immersion in American higher education culture, as well as continuing their work in second language acquisition. Anticipating a student's background knowledge - prior cultural and academic experiences - is essential to helping this student succeed in the classroom. Mark, Cathy, and Kim focused on the pedagogical importance of building, highlighting and activating background knowledge in all of our students. In addition, they offered suggestions for what faculty can do at the start of the semester to make their expectations clear to their students. They helped faculty identify efficient remedies for issues they are experiencing in their own classrooms.
Digital Brew – This session was co-sponsored by the Faculty Center for Teaching and the Digital Learning Team. This event was designed so that participants had an opportunity to gain hands-on experience with some of the digital technologies in use on campus. In addition, faculty from a variety of disciplines and digital learning collaborators were on hand to demonstrate how available technologies are being integrated into Muhlenberg courses. Whether one was a "digital beginner" or had some background with these tools already, participants came away from this event with new ideas for effectively integrating these technologies into their courses and their student-faculty research collaborations.
Teachers Talking Diversity: First-Generation College Students – This conversation was facilitated by Susan Clemens (History), Dawn Lonsinger (English), and Gregg Scully (Wescoe School). Nationwide, it is estimated that 30 percent of students enrolled in colleges and universities today are low income, first-generation college students. At Muhlenberg, for example, 17% of students in each of the last two incoming classes were categorized as first-generation. (This data was provided by the Office of Institutional Effectiveness and Planning.) There are many documented reasons that these students struggle to successfully navigate and complete college. In this session we explored issues that "first-gen" students encounter at Muhlenberg and discussed strategies to improve the undergraduate experience for this segment of our student population that take into account the social, emotional, and cultural aspects of their lives.
Campus Visit by Robin DeRosa – This event was co-sponsored by the Faculty Center for Teaching, the Digital Learning Team, and the Provost’s Office. Robin DeRosa is Professor and Chair of the Interdisciplinary Studies Program at Plymouth State University. Professor DeRosa, an advocate for Open Education, was at Muhlenberg to conduct a workshop (Working in the Open: Tools and Techniques to Open Learning) and give a public presentation (Open Education: Ownership, Access and the Place of Pedagogy). More information about Robin's work is available at https://robinderosa.net/about/.
Modes of Reading: Papers, Screens, and the In-betweens – This discussion was co-sponsored by the Faculty Center for Teaching and the Writing Program Committee.
This conversation was facilitated by Amy Corbin (Media and Communication), Alexandra Frazer (Psychology), and Daniel Leisawitz (Languages, Literatures, and Cultures). With the pervasiveness of digital devices, faculty and students now have many options with regard to modes used for reading, writing, and note-taking. This conversation focused on examining the pedagogical advantages, benefits, and limitations of these different modes from both faculty and student perspectives. Faculty facilitators shared classroom experiences, examples, and observations about learning patterns when different modes of reading have been woven into their courses.
Success!?!? Writing Effective Letters of Recommendation – This conversation was facilitated by Gene Fiorini (Mathematics & Computer Science), Chris Herrick (Political Science), and Beth Schachter (Theatre & Dance). Faculty and staff are regularly asked to write letters of recommendation for students applying to graduate school, for post-graduate awards, and for internships or apprenticeships. There is a wide range of possible letters one may be asked to write and these recommendations often play a central role in how far an applicant progresses in a competitive process. What makes for an effective letter of recommendation? How can faculty and staff improve their letters and how can we help develop student writing skills in these application processes? When does a person trying to write in support of an application actually risk negatively impacting a student’s chances? When and how can someone decline the request to write such a letter? Faculty facilitators shared examples and offered practical advice and suggestions for letter writers. They invited participants to bring questions and draft language they might like to “workshop” during the session.
Teachers Talking Diversity: Student Panel – At this final event of the year-long Teachers Talking Diversity series, a panel of seven Muhlenberg seniors shared their thoughts and reflections on questions of diversity explored during their time at the College. They commented on questions such as: How has your understanding of diversity changed in the last four years? What diversity conversations/actions left the most lasting impressions? What teaching techniques and pedagogical practices did you find to be especially effective with regard to diversity issues?
2015 – 2016
Open House + Wine + Cheese Event – This event was both a social get together for faculty as well as a venue in which to solicit suggestions regarding future directions and programming that FCT might pursue. There were delineated stations that provided aculty opportunities to offer the FCT Board thoughts, wish-lists, and recommendations regarding the future work of the FCT. This information was invaluable for FCT as the organization works to meet a diverse range of needs of individual faculty members, groups of faculty members who work in collaboration, and the institution. Shortly after the event, we provided the faculty with a detailed summary report of the input received and designed several future programs based on this information.
Examining Trigger Warnings – A conversation facilitate by Jim Peck and Kate Richmond. Over the last several months, in both scholarly and popular articles, significant attention has been devoted to the issue of “trigger warnings” in higher education. For faculty who teach courses that include disturbing, controversial or graphic content, “trigger warnings” (or disclosures that upcoming course content may cause distress) spark debates about perceived changes in the nature of teaching, of students, and of the professoriate. This session gave faculty the chance to discuss recent articles on this topic and share related experiences in Muhlenberg classrooms.
Stuck in the Middle of the Academic Ladder? – Whether a tenured Associate Professor, a recently-promoted Professor, a seasoned Lecturer or an experienced Adjunct, we consider "mid-career faculty" to be those who have moved past the entry/probationary level but are not nearing the end of their careers. Nationwide, many mid-career academic professionals report feeling "stuck" in career phases where they spend increasingly more time on leadership, mentoring, and administrative tasks, and ever diminishing time on advancing their own professional goals, both pedagogical and scholarly. Many, particularly those with family responsibilities, look for a life-work balance in the demanding setting of academic employment. While mid-career faculty often report becoming more passionate about their areas of academic interest, they also report being burned out by the nature of the overall workload.
Our conversation focused on issues and strategies for this segment of the Muhlenberg population. What is the situation for mid-career faculty here at Muhlenberg? What challenges do they face and how might those challenges be addressed by the individual and the community? Most importantly, if you are faculty member who is stuck, how can you get un-stuck?
Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Social – This event offered participants the opportunity to learn more about Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL). Muhlenberg College faculty have a long tradition of producing significant scholarship centered around effective teaching and student learning. As part of this social event, FCT invited a few faculty to highlight their recently published work in the SoTL, which recognizes teaching as a serious intellectual activity that encourages innovation, reflection, and the use of evidence-based pedagogies. Faculty participants included:
Jack Gambino and Mohsin Hashim (Political Science): In Their Own Words: Assessing Global Citizenship in a Short-Term Study Abroad Program in Bangladesh.
Linda McGuire (Mathematics and Computer Science): Proving in the Right Circles: A Collaborative Learning Activity to Develop and Improve Proof-Writing Skills.
Erika Sutherland (Languages, Literatures, and Cultures): Highlighting the human in the humanities: Teaching language for a new generation.
Teresa VanDenendSorge (Theatre and Dance): Building Humans and Dances: Exploring Cultural Relevancy as Teaching Artists
Campus Visit by Dr. Christopher Long (Co-sponsored by the Faculty Center for Teaching, the Digital Learning Team, and the RJ Fellows Program). Dr. Long is the Dean of the College of Arts and Letters at Michigan State University and a scholar of Ancient Greek and Contemporary Continental Philosophy. He is also a leader in exploring and constructing new practices and platforms for digital pedagogy, digital scholarship, and writing in public.
Lunchtime Discussion & Workshop: Constructing Academic Identities and Cultivating Communities of Learning with Digital Media
Evening Presentation: Tweeting the Liberal Arts
In this interactive evening presentation, Dr. Long explored (and performed) the possibilities of new technologies to contribute to a liberal arts education that prepares students to craft a meaningful life.
Scholarship Sharing Session – This session provided a space where faculty connected and learned about each other's scholarly lives. This community-building session invited faculty to share brief descriptions of their scholarship, current projects, intellectual aspirations, and the connections between their scholarship and their teaching.
Reading the Texts – A discussion led by Amy Corbin (Media & Communications and Film Studies), Ioanna Chatzidimitriou (Languages, Literatures, and Cultures), and Margo Hobbs (Art). This session highlighted effective strategies that help students understand what college-level reading requires and how reading a text is shaped by how a group expects to discuss it. We considered a broad definition of "texts" that includes visual art, performances, etc. A goal of this event was to help faculty identify and implement pedagogies that encourage students to read texts in meaningful and productive ways.
Strategies for Teaching and Discussing Issues of Power, Equality, Justice, and Academic Freedom – A discussion led by Carolyn Chernoff (Sociology & Anthropology), Irene Chien (Media & Communication), Kenneth Michniewicz (Psychology), and Beth Schachter (Theatre and Dance). This conversation focused on the issues mentioned in the title as related to faculty who teach courses and implement pedagogy that, by its very nature, fosters a complex set of student reactions.
Student Panel on Effective Teaching Practices Experienced at Muhlenberg – Six Muhlenberg seniors shared their thoughts and reflections on teaching techniques and pedagogical practices that they found to be especially effective during their time at the college. These students worked as learning assistants, writing assistants, and/or tutors throughout their Muhlenberg undergraduate careers. The student discussants (with respective majors) were: Spencer Bigelow (Biology), Adam Elwood (Neuroscience), Graceanne Ruggiero (Environmental Science), Lena Schneider (English), JoJo Tsacoyeanes (American Studies), and Ginelle Wolfe (Media & Communication and Psychology).
May Cluster Workshop – This workshop was an extension of earlier programs on this component of the general academic curriculum. Morning events included three panels on topics including effectively communicating cluster goals to students, developing and grading integrative assignments, and student reflections on their experiences in cluster courses. Later, faculty worked on cluster course development with their faculty partner and discussed cluster themes, course topics, disciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches, and shared learning objectives for courses.
2014 – 2015
Designing and Teaching MILA Courses – Muhlenberg faculty who have taught MILA courses shared their ideas about conceptualizing, planning, and teaching these classes.
Applying for Summer Grants – This event was co-hosted with the Faculty Development and Scholarship Committee (FDSC) and the Writing Program Committee (WPC). Representatives from each group outlined what makes for a successful proposal and addressed commonly asked questions.
Designing & Teaching Cluster Courses – Muhlenberg faculty who have taught cluster courses shared their ideas about connecting, planning, and teaching these classes. This session was designed for faculty who had not yet taught a cluster course, for those who have taught cluster courses and want to share in the conversation, and for those looking to revise a cluster they have already taught.
Student Collaborations – When we think about ways in which we collaborate with students, we often think about how students might work with us on research projects. Have you ever explored ways in which you might work together with students on teaching? Several faculty members (and some of their student collaborators) from different disciplines shared models where they have partnered with students on teaching endeavors.
Supporting our International Student Community – The international student population is increasing nation-wide and Muhlenberg is no exception. We have been fortunate to add increasingly greater numbers of international students to our community. In this discussion, a panel of faculty, students and support staff shared concerns and successes of our current programming, and answer questions faculty members have as we anticipate more international students each year.
Honors Programs at Muhlenberg: How can Faculty Get Involved? – Have you ever wondered how to have your course designated as an honors course? Or how to get involved by mentoring student projects? Or what the honors programs are all about? The Directors of the three Honors Programs at Muhlenberg (RJ Fellows, Dana Scholars, and Muhlenberg Scholars) presented information on each of the programs and how faculty can be engaged with the honors students in these programs.
Cluster Workshop (1 day) – This workshop was a follow-up to and extension of earlier programs on this new component of the general academic curriculum. Faculty worked on cluster course development with their faculty partner and discussed cluster themes, course topics, disciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches, and shared learning objectives for courses.
Inclusive Pedagogy Workshop: Race, Equity, and Higher Education – This the interactive session focused on race and equity in higher education with an emphasis on how these constructs cut across and inform academic and co-curricular spaces of an institution, as well as the impact that campus environment and climate has on student persistence and success.
Mellon Global Learning Workshop – This workshop aims to provide interested faculty the opportunity to learn about an array of conceptual frameworks that shape global learning in higher education in the United States, reflect upon the pedagogic assumptions and goals implicit in their own current approach to global learning, investigate models for course design that aim to take seriously the social, ethical, and affective complexity of global learning and compare their globally oriented courses, existing or imagined, to the parameters of Muhlenberg’s new HDGE requirement.
Sharing Insights from Small Group Grant Projects and other Scholarship of Teaching and Learning
New Directions in my Teaching: Presentation and Conversation with Pedagogical Grant Awardees
Applying for summer grants: a discussion
This session was co-hosted with the Writing Program Committee (WPC) and the Faculty Development and Scholarship Committee (FDSC). Representatives from each group outlined what makes for a successful proposal and addressed questions.
Talking about academic integrity at Muhlenberg
Faculty and staff representatives from the Academic Judicial Board helped lead an informal discussion about academic honesty at Muhlenberg. We talked about proactive strategies to minimize cheating and discussed faculty responsibilities with respect to the AIC.
Results from Fall 2011 pilot of online plagiarism tutorial
Model violation letter from faculty
Refining themes for cluster proposals
Click here for discussion guide adapted from Evergreen State's "Designing a Learning Community in an Hour"
Sharing insights from small group grant projects and teaching conferences
New Directions in my Teaching: Presentation and Conversation with Pedagogical Grant Awardees
High Speed Connections: Exploring Possibilities for Interdisciplinary Teaching
Sharing pedagogical development from FCT-funded experiences - This session highlighted recent course and pedagogical development work across campus, with colleagues who sought FCT support in the form of summer grants or funds to attend teaching conferences as well as those who participated in the May 2011 course design workshop sharing what they have learned. Project descriptions
Informal discussion of articles from The Teaching Professor - Faculty members came together to discuss recent articles from The Teaching Professor journal.
Teaching students with learning differences and disabilities - Wendy Cole and Pamela Moschini facilitated a discussion based on case studies to explore how we can best help students, navigate our responsibilities to an increasingly diverse student population, and meet our course or program goals. Case studies handout.
Greening our pedagogy: Ways to integrate sustainability theory and practice into courses across the curriculum - If a product, program, or action is to be labeled as sustainable, it must serve to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. This is best accomplished by encouraging or enhancing economic development; environmental protection and resource conservation; and human welfare including social justice, community enhancement, and public health. This program explored opportunities to integrate these aspects of sustainability widely across our curriculum including a more in depth look at the new Office of Campus Sustainability and how it can help support teaching. Handouts: Sustainability Resources and Ideas Kalyna Procyk, Office of Sustainability, Working definition of sustainability
Considering the “texts” of our courses and how to get students to “read” them - This program offered the opportunity to share strategies and challenges in student preparation, with an emphasis on reading texts. We adopted a broad consideration of the concept of “reading texts” to include musical scores, visual artwork, etc. Questions discussed included: What are the texts you use in a given course? Do you provide specific guidance to students as to how to read a text in preparation for class discussion, written response, etc.? What does that guidance look like? How do you gauge whether or not (or how well) students have read a text? Handouts: Questions for discussion, Information on student reading, AAC&U reading rubric, Additional reference (suggested by Mary Beth Kallen): Vandsburger, E. and R. Duncan-Datson. 2011. Evaluating the Study Guide as a Tool for Increasing Students' Accountability for Reading the Textbook. Journal of College Reading and Learning, 42(1).
Open forum for FCT - exploring the mission of FCT and ideas about what types of programs and support are most effective and enjoyable for our community. Handouts: FCT mission statement.
Responding to "Scientific Foundations for Future Physicians" - Curriculum Mapping Pre-Med Courses: This event was organized by Jane Flood, Christine Ingersoll, and Elizabeth McCain and co-sponsored by the science departments, interdisciplinary science, and the Faculty Center for Teaching. The organizers shared what they had learned at a recent PKAL/AAC&U conference, particularly at a session focused on the HHMI/AAMC report "Scientific Foundations for Future Physicians" (SFFP), and engaged colleagues in how proposed changes to the MCAT intersect with our curriculum.Teaching with technology - The goal of this workshop was to facilitate conversations about when and why to consider use of technology to confront pedagogical challenges. The workshop featured roundtable discussions on topics gathered from faculty input and focused on an exchange of views, ideas, and questions. Specific topics discussed were enhancing class discussions and group work, creating and implementing meaningful assignments and assessments, and campus support and services with the instructional designer and instructional technologist. Materials: Class discussions and group work session summary, Campus technology support and services summary
Information Literacy - Facilitated by Jen Jarson, Information Literacy and Assessment Librarian, with Kathy Harring and Amy Hark, this program explored information literacy, including understanding the concept, students' abilities in information literacy, and assignment ideas.
Connecting your course to the Community Garden - This program featured an informal discussion regarding how faculty and their courses could benefit from participating in Muhlenberg’s Community Garden.
Getting students to make meaningful connections - Led by Adam Clarke and Jim Bloom, this session explored how students make (or fail to make) connections between the concepts in our courses and experiences and ideas they encounter elsewhere: in other classes, while working on community projects, while traveling and studying abroad, when playing on an athletic team or writing and editing a student publication, with an eye toward designing courses and assignments that foster integration across our curriculum.
Making Connections Across Disciplines - Professors Esacove, Cate and Teissere presented their experiences team-teaching an interdisciplinary course called Bodies of Knowledge. They discussed their process of defining interdisciplinarity in relation to the learning goals they set forth for the course, how they assessed the course, their teaching strategies, assignments, evaluation and course structure.
Learning community on service learning, phase II - Eight faculty members along with Beth Halpern discussed ways to integrate service learning into the College’s institutional structure, address potential challenges related to partnerships, and ensure that our course-related relationships within the community are mutually beneficial.
New Contexts for Your Course: Connecting to Students’ Experiences - Led by Charles Anderson, this workshop focused on developing assignments and activities that faculty can use to meaningfully engage students with course material outside of class.
Making groups work - Led by Kimberly Heiman and Michael London, this program focused on facilitating understanding of the keys to effective group activities and assignments through an interactive group-based approach.
Course design workshop - A two-day workshop, facilitated by Dr. Barbara Tewksbury of Hamilton College, focusing on a course design process that involves setting overarching goals for students and developing assignments that help students make progress toward the goals. The workshop emphasized the development of courses that get students to think for themselves and transfer the skills and knowledge they have learned in a specific class to other contexts, whether academic or beyond the classroom.
Learning community on service learning, phase I - Organized by Lisa Perfetti and Beth Halpern, this program was primarily designed to support faculty members and community partners by providing a place to reflect on and learn about best practices of community- based learning.
Personal Boundaries -This program focused on handling issues such as what to do when students want to “friend” faculty and invite us into their social network, online or otherwise; how we should respond when students share information that we find overly personal; how to foster a supportive and comfortable learning environment in class while ensuring that students are treating the classroom space with respect; and how to balance expectations that Muhlenberg faculty should be friendly and available with our own need to have a private life away from students and campus.
Theory to Practice Learning Community - A summer learning community open to all faculty, academic support staff and student affairs professionals to explore the neuroscience research on learning and to apply these findings to revisions in classroom pedagogies.
Study Abroad - A round table discussion about student learning in short-term study abroad programs.
Choosing a Life of Teaching and Learning - Former Dean of the Wescoe School and currently a consultant specializing in emotional intelligence, Jim Brennan led this discussion about “lifelong learning”; what it is, how to inspire it in our students, and how we embody it.
Teaching with Technology - A workshop focused on how technology can help faculty to: save time, improve student learning, and make exploration of your teaching meaningful and enjoyable.