Getting Formative Feedback on Student Learning

Now that we’re all settling into the rhythms of the semester, it might be a good moment to schedule a Facilitated Course Assessment (FAC). An FAC is a great way to gather some informal, formative feedback from your students about how your course is going.

This Faculty Hub service is facilitated as a dialogue between students and a Faculty Hub consultant. FACs are designed to provide instructors with specific, extensive feedback about student learning in their course. A 25-35 minute conversation takes place without the instructor present, which ensures student anonymity, creating an opportunity for open, honest dialogue about the learning experience. Read the Faculty Hub’s overview of facilitated course assessments for more information.

Read the Full Mid-September Update

Supporting Teachers & Scholars

Greetings from the team here at the Faculty Hub! We hope that the first weeks of classes have been going smoothly for you. We’ve enjoyed connecting and re-connecting with you as you’ve returned to campus, and we look forward to supporting you as teacher-scholars as the academic year progresses. Because we recognize both the joys and challenges that come with being a teacher-scholar, this newsletter highlights two teaching-related resources (support for challenging moments in the classroom and teaching squares) and a new service for your scholarship (academic writing coaching).

Read the September Faculty Hub Newsletter

A New Semester

We at the Faculty Hub are sending you best wishes for a smooth and successful first week of classes. As you return to the rhythm of the academic year, we thought we’d share a few options, ideas, and programs to help start the academic year with your well-being in mind.

The Faculty Hub Welcome Back Breakfast 

On Wednesday, August 24, please join us for our Welcome Back Breakfast for a bit of back-to-school sustenance. We’ll have goodies from Sub Rosa Bakery and fancy coffee to keep you going during the first week of classes. Feel free to drop by the Faculty Hub anytime between 8:30 and 11:00 a.m. (and if you can, join us for Morning Blend from 9:30-10:00 a.m.). This is a great chance to reconnect with or meet your colleagues as well as the members of Faculty Hub team–Andrew Bell, Kylie Korsnack, Jane Bise, and incoming director Kitty Maynard.

Teaching That Takes Your Well-Being Into Account

We recognize that the past few years have brought many challenges and changes in our teaching. Through these challenges, we have also learned some ways to design our courses to make them more manageable in the long term. This document offers some of the most useful tips that we’ve found thus far.

Many of the Faculty Hub programs (including the Morning Blend programs below) are intended to help you make the most of your valuable time and align your time with your priorities. Check out Time-Saving Effective Grading Workflow Strategies on August 23-24, Citation Management on September 13-14, and Boundary Setting on September 21.

Read the rest of this Back to School newsletter

Fall ’22 Preview Newsletter

I am honored to be writing the introduction for this first newsletter of the academic year, just a few weeks after I began my new position as the Director of the Faculty Hub. Since my arrival on campus, it’s become clear that the progress and accomplishments of the Faculty Hub under the leadership of Linda Boland with her dedicated and talented team of faculty developers—Kylie Korsnack, Andrew Bell, and Libby Gruner—and our coordinator—Jane Bise—have been nothing short of remarkable. Just as remarkable is the fact that the Faculty Hub was created through the efforts and engagement of University of Richmond faculty and the support of the University’s leadership.

The 2019 Teaching and Scholarship Initiative (TSI) committee report offered a vision for the Faculty Hub as “a focal point for campus-wide efforts to support student learning and scholarly and creative work through faculty development.” The visual metaphor put forward in the TSI report, that of a focal point, implies that the Faculty Hub is a place to look to for support, which it very much is. But it’s also a real place, a real point on the campus map. The Faculty Hub is your space, and we hope you’ll come here to take part in our programming, have a consultation with our staff about your scholarship or teaching, and utilize our workstations and teleconferencing spaces. The Faculty Hub is also a great place to gather with colleagues, hold committee meetings, find a quiet corner for writing or grading, or pick up a book from our lending library.

As the Faculty Hub builds on its strong foundation for faculty development on campus, we are committed to ensuring that we continue to support you effectively. I am most excited to get to know you, the faculty at University of Richmond, and to understand how the Faculty Hub can contribute to improving your professional life. I invite you to stop by the third floor of Boatwright Library at your convenience or to make an appointment to chat in person about anything that’s on your mind. We welcome your suggestions and involvement in our programs, and we’d love to find opportunities for you to come and share your expertise with your colleagues.

This newsletter provides a sneak peek of our fall programs. We’re starting the year with some offerings to support you as you return to campus, notably with upcoming Morning Blend sessions on aligning your time with your priorities. We’ve also bolstered our writing support this semester to help keep you on track with your goals. In addition, we’ll have two faculty cohorts that might be of interest—first a semester-long Inclusive Pedagogy Cohort, and next, the Digital Pedagogy Cohort, whose focus will be on experimenting on how to leverage an LMS (learning management system, i.e., Blackboard) in your classes.

For many of us, the beginning of the academic year, more than January 1 or the first day of spring, can represent a time for new beginnings. This year, in particular, the return to campus will be a time of coming together, reconnecting with colleagues and the campus community, and encountering a new generation of students—with all the promise and challenge that will bring. That being said, it’s important to acknowledge that the past few years have altered our annual rhythm dramatically and have brought change, stress, grief, and loss. Many of us are experiencing those mixed emotions as we prepare for this new academic year, and I hope that we will all tread lightly and gently as we return to campus with a renewed sense of the importance of connection and community support.

Kitty Maynard

Director of the Teaching and Scholarship Hub

Read the full newsletter here to catch up on upcoming events and check out some useful resources.

May Newsletter

Transitions
From the digging up of tulip bulbs to the reduced density of yellow dust on everything outdoors, there are plenty of signs that spring term is ending. As we transition from the academic year to summer, I’m remembering the past few weeks of celebratory events, from inauguration activities to research symposia and retirement parties, with the accomplishments of students, faculty, and staff continually recognized and celebrated. Each event marked a transition and provided a necessary pause for reflection and the creation of new memories.

One of the most memorable events of my spring term also served as a timely reminder of why we do what we do as faculty. This year, I was honored to attend the end-of-year celebration of the Department of Theatre and Dance – a wonderfully entertaining and memorable evening that included a costumed coronavirus (Johann Stegmeir) chasing a classroom teacher dressed in full personal protective gear (Anne Van Gelder), accompanied by pursuit and escape music and lighting! Interspersed with departmental awards and costume changes with comedic skits (Johann and Anne), several graduating students gave memorable and heartwarming speeches about their experiences at UR, describing the guidance, education, sense of community, and developmental support they experienced along the way. It was a poignant reminder, as we find all across campus, of who we are when we chant “we are…UR” – we are a caring and committed group of talented artists and scholars who can, alone and together, have remarkable impact on students’ lives. Messaging like this about the positive experiences of our students occurs throughout the year, but it becomes more meaningful when we hear it from the students who are themselves in transition, and reflecting on their last four years—the students who will graduate next weekend.

Sometimes we don’t hear those messages clearly, though, as we are in the midst of our own transitions, or are too busy to reflect. It can be helpful, then, to remember that these transitions are part of the academic year cycle and to try to find the necessary time to reflect, to remember, and even, if necessary, to re-boot.

Unfortunately, re-booting isn’t as simple as selecting the “restart” button on your computer when it becomes stuck or frozen. Re-booting is going to be a series of actions over time to address pace, routines, and priorities. Some delays may occur until prior commitments are resolved but, when the time is right, re-booting allows greater intentionality and better integration of well-being into our lives. Re-booting is a necessary practice to avoid errors and malfunction when you finally re-start your computer. Likewise, a re-boot seems particularly important in the transition to summer 2022 and we encourage you to reach out to the Faculty Hub as part of your re-boot when the time is right for you. Some of the opportunities in this newsletter may speak to your interests and we always welcome your feedback about supporting teaching and scholarship when the time is right for you.

Best wishes for your transition to summer,

Linda Boland
Associate Provost for Faculty, Director of the Teaching and Scholarship Hub, and Professor of Biology

Read the full newsletter here to catch up on upcoming events and check out some useful resources.

April Newsletter

A big part of what we do in the Faculty Hub is encouraging and facilitating faculty learning together. This month, we wrap up some of our semester-based and academic year-based faculty cohorts including those focusing on inclusive pedagogy (two groups this year!), digital pedagogy (one each semester), and professional development for early career faculty. These are just some of the groups that meet regularly with and within the Faculty Hub. Faculty who have participated in the cohorts will be present to connect with other faculty at the upcoming Celebration of Teaching on Thursday, April 14 at 3:30 p.m. We invite all instructors to join the festivities! RSVP here. Please also let us know if you have a small group that we can help support. For example, some faculty have been gathering in the Faculty Hub to write together. More information about writing space is available in this newsletter. Also, a small group has been gathering from time to time over the past two academic years, to explore alternative assessment practices, including ungrading – a process that capitalizes on the benefits of formative feedback to guide learning and with adherence to a growth mindset. To understand why some faculty find this to be a transformational teaching and learning experience, please see Libby Gruner’s article in The Conversation and reach out to the Faculty Hub if you would like to learn more! In these and other activities, our goal has been to facilitate faculty-faculty learning and community building while also offering individualized faculty professional development support. In this month’s newsletter, we invite you to explore the opportunities and services we offer; as always, please reach out to us if you have unmet needs that we can discuss with you.

The Faculty Hub Team

Read the full newsletter here to catch up on upcoming events and check out some useful resources.

March Newsletter

March has long been a favorite month of mine, partly because of the excitement of March Madness, the NCAA’s marketing term for the final tournament that crowns championship teams in men’s and women’s basketball. March Madness is the pageantry of a three-week event of “one-and-done” games with non-stop media coverage. The “madness” is the amazing, last-second winning shots, the underdogs sometimes coming out on top, and the incredible individual performances and teamwork. It is, despite all the analytics and prognostications, a period of unpredictability, and it repeatedly exposes raw human emotions, from extreme exhilaration to intense disappointment.

Madness was also a subject of study of the late neurologist Oliver Sacks (1933-2015), a passionate optimist and humanist who turned clinical case studies into narratives that reflect underlying positive aspects of the human condition. Sacks’s stories about madness juxtaposed disturbances of the mind with features that many would consider desirable, such as explosive energy and creativity. His writings remind us that we experience positive and negative at the same time: successes alongside disappointments, winning shots as well as the ones that don’t make it.

The time period after spring break has always felt like madness to me as we begin a sprint to the finish with numerous projects to supervise, theses to review, letters of recommendation to write, and celebrations to attend. This year, I want the madness of March to retain a sense of optimism so that we appreciate how hard we have worked individually and collectively and how far we have come. Shining moments for students will abound and there will also be many opportunities to recognize the achievements of the faculty in the next two months. Beginning with the annual Faculty Accomplishments Reception this week and including a new Celebration of Teaching next month, congratulatory events remain important for supporting one another. Beyond the culminating works we will celebrate, we also recognize that the shining moments surface daily in all of the ways that faculty work impacts others – on the stage, in classrooms, studios, and labs, and for those who read, view, or experience our work. As the semester continues, the Faculty Hub hopes to learn more about the sources of your explosive energy and creativity and ways that we can support you as you continually grow as a teacher and scholar. Our March newsletter highlights some of the opportunities we are offering, and we look forward to helping you navigate the madness!

Linda Boland
Associate Provost for Faculty, Director of the Teaching and Scholarship Hub, and Professor of Biology

Read the full newsletter here to catch up on upcoming events and check out some useful resources.

February Newsletter

Welcome to February, that short, bleak, month into which we pack the celebration of two presidents, four hundred years of Black History, and the hearts and flowers of romantic love. It’s the longest stretch of the semester without a break, and if you began the semester already tired, as I did, it may all just seem like too much.

The Faculty Hub held two sessions on sustainable teaching recently, and we listened as we also discussed recovering our joy and purpose, boundary-setting, and finding efficiencies. What we heard is what you probably already know: that the past five semesters have both created and exposed enormous challenges to our conventional teaching practices. We simply cannot go on as before and be either equitable or sustainable.

So we invite you to think with us as we focus this month on the twin challenges—and promises—of equity and sustainability. On February 11, we welcome Dr. Bedelia Richards, founder of RaceTalk LLC and Associate Professor of Sociology, for a facilitated conversation on creating an inclusive environment in the classroom. Learn more and register here. Dr. Richards draws on her research and teaching practice to offer sustainable and effective practices for building trust and supporting all students, especially those with marginalized identities. We are also happy to welcome Dr. Janelle Peifer, Assistant Professor of Psychology, as our newest Faculty Hub Associate. You can read more about Dr. Peifer elsewhere in this newsletter; she’ll be working with us to facilitate conversations on building affective capacity for avoiding and dealing with microaggressions. Both faculty and students have been asking for these conversations and we are delighted to be able to offer them.

We also invite you to continue to think with us about how to make our own practices more sustainable. Whether that’s “bundling” Zoom appointments and working from home sometimes to avoid a commute, or streamlining assessments and feedback to be both more timely and more efficient, we’d love to talk about solutions that work. You may also find some of them in our Morning Blend archive—a sustainable approach to faculty development, with 10-15 minute recorded presentations and tip sheets on a variety of topics for you to access on your own time. (Or, of course, join us live on Thursday at 9 am (over Zoom) or Friday at 10:30 in the Hub for the newest offerings!)

Finally, sustainability is a matter of equity: we cannot serve our students if we don’t take care of ourselves, and of the environment around us. And our students deserve to see us setting boundaries and taking care, so that they, too, learn these important skills for themselves. I hope we can work together, not only during this short month but every month, to raise our awareness of how sustainability and equity are linked—to slow down, take a deep breath, and focus on what really matters.

Libby Gruner
Coordinator for Faculty Development in Teaching, Faculty Hub, and Professor of English 

Read the full newsletter here to catch up on upcoming events and check out some useful resources.

Call for applications: Spring Semester Faculty Hub Associate

Faculty Hub Associate: 

The Faculty Hub invites applications for a one-semester position as Faculty Hub Associate to work closely with Faculty Hub staff in creating and facilitating a series of workshops and/or discussions on a focused topic related to inclusive pedagogy. If you have an expertise or interest in specific topics related to ensuring inclusive classroom environments, we invite your application to serve as a Faculty Hub Associate for the spring semester of 2022. In this pilot program for a one-semester appointment, the Faculty Hub Associate will receive a stipend of $2,000 upon completion of the work.   

Eligibility and Time Commitment: 

We invite applications from all University of Richmond tenured faculty or non-tenure track faculty with similar teaching experience (minimum six years) who have expertise to advance faculty professional development in one or more of the following areas:  universal design for learning, facilitating difficult conversations in the classroom, anti-racist pedagogy, avoiding or handling microaggressions in the classroom. 

The Faculty Hub Associate will be expected to: 

      • Work with Faculty Hub staff to plan, develop, and facilitate three or four one-hour discussions in faculty-facing workshops or conversations during Spring 2022. 
      • Produce an additional deliverable for the Faculty Hub, such as a brief video, podcast, blog post, case study for discussion, or other resource to guide faculty development.  
      • Commit to regular planning sessions with Faculty Hub staff during Spring 2022.  

Application Instructions: 

Applicants should complete this brief application and upload their CV as part of the application process. 

Deadline: 

The application deadline is December 8, 2021. We will schedule brief interviews with applicants to assess the potential impact of the proposed work, the ability to complete the work in one semester, and the opportunity of the work to expand faculty development opportunities in the Faculty Hub. 

 

Faculty Hub Associates Project: Teaching Quantitative Data Literacy by Kristine Grayson

When I started teaching in the Biology Department, I was enthusiastic to incorporate active learning with data into my classroom. My ideal activities asked students to use data and graphs to draw conclusions from studies that tested biological principles. Unfortunately, I kept running into student discomfort with very basic data skills such as organizing, summarizing, and graphing that resulted in short activities becoming lengthy and frustrating. To help students acquire data literacy skills, I started scaffolding data tutorials into most of my classes alongside biology concepts.

While this worked well, I wanted more time to engage students in thinking deeply about the presentation of data in biology and society. And I was anxious to advance my own knowledge, as my graduate training was not keeping pace with the tools now used by many in my field. I decided to invest more time in using Program R and learning pedagogical approaches for building student enthusiasm for coding. I just needed a nudge of confidence and support, and the pilot year of the Faculty Hub Associates program came at the perfect time to explore approaches for teaching data literacy at UR.

As I learned from the experiences of others, I’ve collected and curated materials for low stakes ways to build data skills in students across disciplines. Some of my favorite resources include:

Initiatives in Data Analytics and Data Science highlight the investment on campus for building student data skills. These include the quantitative data literacy general education requirement, the proposed interdisciplinary Data Science & Statistics Minor, strengths in Digital Humanities and Spatial Analysis, and the recent purchase of a high-performance computing cluster and webserver. Courses that build student skills in programming and data analysis are already available across disciplines, and these initiatives strengthen the programs and resources that prepare students for a data-rich world.

For biology students, the increasing availability of environmental and public health data makes learning skills in exploration and visualization vital. My colleague Angie Hilliker and I developed a new upper-level biology course to address this need called Data Visualization and Communication for Biologists (syllabus).

As we explored topics in data visualization, we introduced students to Tableau and Program R and it was the first time either of us taught with these tools. While it was great to give students exposure to multiple platforms, doing both well was hard and we’ll likely shift more towards Program R when we offer the course again. There are pros and cons for including Program R in undergrad biology courses due to the time needed to develop confidence and independence with coding and it really helped to have an entire course focused on these skills. Our students were highly enthusiastic about learning data skills, and reported valuing the tools they learned for their future careers.

Thank you to the Faculty Hub for supporting my exploration of new skills and pedagogy. Despite being mostly virtual, I really valued spending time at the Hub with Linda Boland, Ryan Brazell, Kylie Korsnack, Andrew Bell, and Jane Bise as well as fellow Hub Associates Libby Gruner and Kristine Nolin. I explored several other new teaching approaches during my time in the Hub, including social annotation tools to increase student engagement and accountability with course readings (Perusall was a game changer for having students show up to class having done the reading). I am grateful for the support of the Biology Department and chair Krista Stenger for developing a new course and especially to Angie Hilliker for teaching with me.