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Preparing to Teach @ VCU Workshop Series

Jan. 7-9, 2014

Greetings from the Center for Teaching Excellence at VCU! The Preparing to Teach (PTT) @ VCU Workshop Series - scheduled on the Monroe Park campus from Tuesday, 1/7/14, through Thursday, 1/9/14 - aims to introduce VCU faculty to a larger conversation about teaching and learning, with a specific emphasis on the resources and services available via the CTE, and to offer participants practical, hands-on guidance on how to be as successful as possible within (and outside of) the classroom.

Depending on your prior experience with teaching at other institutions or at VCU, please feel free to design a path through the PTT workshop series which suits your particular needs. If you will be teaching in the college classroom for the first time, or if you have never benefited from any teaching preparation programs, you may want to plan to attend as many of the workshops as possible, in particular, the very first session on Teaching and Learning @ VCU.

The first session on each day is an introductory session designed to help acquaint participants with some of the key issues related to teaching and learning that will be addressed in more depth over the course of the day and the series. The second session of each day is designed to guide participants into a more in-depth engagement with the issues, as well as introduce and exemplify some of the best practices for addressing these issues in constructive and meaningful ways. The third session is designed to help participants begin to understand how these issues and practices are related to one another so that they can better integrate and apply what they have learned in a way that helps them become more successful. Each of the three session types will be highly interactive, including opportunities for discussion and development. Participants will leave each session with a better understanding of the issues that shape teaching and learning, as well as practical techniques and strategies that will help them better realize their instructional goals and objectives.

By the end of the PTT sessions, participants will be able to:

  1. better understand the educational landscape at VCU (i.e. classrooms, students, resources, technology);
  2. make more informed decisions about their teaching, course development and student learning;
  3. incorporate some of the techniques, strategies and guidance provided during the workshops into their teaching practices and courses; and
  4. better understand the range of resources, programs and services offered by the CTE in support their teaching, learning and professional development at VCU

Zachary G. Goodell and Jeffrey Nugent
Co-Directors, Center for Teaching Excellence
Virginia Commonwealth University
(804) 828-4470

Click on any of the titles below for detailed descriptions and to register.

Location and directions

Academic Learning Commons

Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2014

  • Teaching and Learning @ VCU
    9:00am – 9:50 am | Academic Learning Commons, room 4100
  • This session is intended to serve two purposes. First, we want to provide an introduction to Teaching and Learning in general, and the instructional culture at VCU. There are many forces that are shaping the teaching mission of higher education including, but not limited to, the competency movement (i.e. teaching skill development in addition to subject matter), technology, as well as the ever expanding diversity of our students and the experiences with which they bring to the learning environment. Secondly, we want to learn about you and the unique contribution you?ll invariably bring to the VCU community. What are your interests? What do you need to be successful? What are your thoughts about teaching and learning in general? What do you think are some of the most useful resources, methods and/or approaches for helping students maximize their opportunities for success? Ultimately, what we learn from you in this session will help inform what we do in the subsequent sessions.
    Register for this workshop

  • How People Learn and High Impact Practices
    10:00am - 11:50am | Academic Learning Commons, room 4100
  • Although the context in which teaching and learning takes place varies quite a bit depending on class size, course level, the nature of the discipline, and even the architecture of the room among other things, the science devoted to how humans learn reveals some consistent findings that can inform our teaching and course design. Fifty years of research in neuroscience, cognitive science, and education all converge on several key factors that have been found to contribute to both deeper and more durable learning. The purpose of this session is to distill these findings into manageable pieces and to explore practical applications of these findings in our teaching and course / lesson design.
    Register for this workshop

  • Learning by Design
    1:00pm – 4:00pm| Academic Learning Commons, room 4100
  • This afternoon session is designed to help faculty participants begin to incorporate a variety of strategies and practices mentioned in the morning sessions in a way that is both integrative and practical. The primary focus of the session is how to create and sustain a learning environment that supports and encourages deeper student learning and engagement. In the past we have offered several one-hour workshops on inclusive teaching, creating a learning-centered course, syllabus and classroom, as well as how to best engage students in their learning. This year we want to address these same issues in a more integrative approach that we hope will be more helpful to you as you prepare for your spring teaching assignments. We believe that an integrative approach is more realistic in terms of how we actually experience teaching and learning in our courses. We have found that time well spent at the beginning of a course on the planning, communication strategies, and organizational aspects will often translate to less time spent at the end of a course dealing with questions about grades, extra credit, or just general frustration and anxiety.
    Register for this workshop

Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014

  • Introduction to Teaching with Technology
    9:00am-9:50am | Academic Learning Commons, room 4100
  • Technology continues to shape the teaching and learning landscape in higher education. An array of software tools, learning management systems, and web-based resources have opened new opportunities for collaboration, content creation and learning that were unimaginable only a short time ago. With an ever increasing set of options, selecting technology tools that best support specific instructional practices and learning goals can be challenging. This session is designed to provide participants with an introduction to the technology resources available at VCU to support teaching and learning. In addition, participants will discuss perspectives they have about the role technology plays in teaching and learning. Faculty members should leave this session with a better sense of how to make decisions to use technology in their teaching, and where they can turn for resources and support as they continue exploring.
    Register for this workshop

  • Getting Started with Blackboard
    10:00am-11:50am | Academic Learning Commons, room 4100
  • Blackboard gives faculty and students ways to access course materials and engage students on a class website. This session will prepare you to begin effectively using Blackboard 9.1 to enhance your class. Topics include organization of course materials, linkage to other web resources and customization to have Blackboard match your instructional needs. The intent is to make Blackboard work for you, giving you and your students convenient access to your course content, as well as a web platform for learning. The web tools embedded in Blackboard can open new doors to designing and offering learning-centered courses.
    Register for this workshop

  • Teaching and Learning in the Digital Age - Using technology to enhance and extend studen
    1:00pm-4:00pm | Academic Learning Commons, room 4100
  • With the digital landscape of learning, the more traditional ways of teaching our courses are being reconceptualized. During this session, we will explore teaching strategies that engage students through the use of digital tools and social networks both in class and between classes. These include polling technologies like clickers to surface student thinking or assess students? prior knowledge. Web collaboration processes such as wikis or blogs can increase collaboration within a class. Online communication tools and social networks can extend the discussion of issues started in class and support the sharing of student writing and media presentations, as well as support the logistics of fieldwork supervision, observations, and group projects happening in the community. Screencasts can be used by faculty or students to develop multimedia enhancements to course content. This session is designed to provide participants with a research-based rationale for creating and using digital media for active learning.
    Register for this workshop

Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014

  • Introduction to Scholarly Teaching
    9:00am-9:50am | Academic Learning Commons, room 4100
  • Scholarly teaching is a powerful concept that defines and guides the practice of some of the most successful faculty in the profession. At its essence, scholarly teachers takes an informed approach to decision making with respect to instructional design, delivery and assessment. They identify a problem or opportunity in the context of a course; they review the literature and/or discuss with colleagues in order to learn more about the issue; they make an informed decision about how to best address the issue; they implement and assess the change; and then they revise based on feedback. Participants in this workshop will be able to identify the skills and strategies necessary for becoming a scholarly teacher.
    Register for this workshop

  • Testing and Assessment
    10:00am-11:50am | Academic Learning Commons, room 4100
  • Two major approaches for understanding what our students learn are (formative) assessment and (summative) evaluation. This workshop is designed to help you find a balance between these two approaches which would be appropriate for their disciplines and teaching contexts. We will explore how to link assessment/evaluation mechanisms to course learning outcomes; how to integrate Classroom Assessment Techniques (CATs) into your courses; how to develop or adapt rubrics for assessment/evaluation; and strategies for providing more meaningful feedback on students` work. By the end of this session, participants will be able to: identify the defining qualities of formative and summative approaches to characterizing student learning; integrate assessment and evaluation more seamlessly into your teaching; and develop more meaningful opportunities for students to both give and receive feedback during your courses.
    Register for this workshop

  • Documenting and Communicating Your Practice
    1:00pm-3:50pm | Academic Learning Commons, room 4100
  • This session builds on the foundation provided during the previous sessions and extends our thinking in directions that explore ways we can document and share our efforts toward strengthening our teaching, continuing our professional growth, and reaping the benefits of our intellectual work. Stated interrogatively, what kind of evidence would you use to convince your colleagues, supervisors and students that what you?re doing with respect to your teaching is actually contributing to your students? learning? Moreover, how can you make the case that what you are doing is both deepening your students? learning--allowing them to transfer and apply it to novel situations, as well as making it more durable so that it is retained over longer periods of time. During this session, we will explore ways to document our instructional efforts, as well as ways to present our work to others; whether it be to our students on the first day of class, or in the form of syllabus adjustments, or to our colleagues in the form of informal presentations or more formally through journal publications. The underlying assumption that is at the heart of this session is that if we are going to take a scholarly approach to our teaching, then in addition to experimenting with our teaching practice and learning what works and what does not, we should share what we have learned so that others might benefit from our work. This is a highly interactive session that challenges participants to identify what they can feasibly do in their respective contexts, while pointing to directions for future development.
    Register for this workshop

Location and directions: Academic Learning Commons


Virginia Commonwealth University | Center for Teaching Excellence
Last modified: December 10, 2013
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(804) 828-4470