Tag Archives: connections

STLHE 2012 Conference Reflections

I recently went to the annual conference for the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education. This year it was held in Montreal (last year in Saskatoon Saskatchewan, next year in Cape Breton Nova Scotia). It’s my favourite conference of the year because it’s relatively small (about 400 delegates), and everyone there is committed to improving teaching and learning in higher education. Some delegates are faculty like me, but many others are educational developers who work at places like UBC’s CTLT, others are graduate students, administrators, and so on. I always leave with a ton of great ideas ranging from the big picture to day-to-day implementation. If you follow me on twitter, you may have noticed my live tweeting. Like my earlier list, with this post I’m trying to collect and remind myself of the major ideas from this conference:

  • A deliberate method for implementing successful iclicker questions is called “Peer Instruction” out of the physics literature. Includes students reading ahead, then giving a mini-lecture, providing a tough clicker Q, students explaining reasoning to someone else, class discussion going through all options, mini-lecture, tough clicker Q (younger level to converge on answer, upper level to diverge). From Rob Cassidy. Seems similar to what I do normally, but reading about it could give me ideas for implementation.
  • Look up research on peer instruction by Weiman, Eric Mazur (Harvard), Derek Bruff (Vanderbilt), and contact Rob Cassidy (Concordia).
  • Graduate courses on university teaching exist at Guelph, McMaster, Dalhousie, SFU, etc. Fantastic contacts, including Erin Aspenlieder at SFU, Suzanne Sheffield at Dalhousie (for evaluation materials), Cynthia Korpan at UVic (made updated critical incident films, new head of TAGSA), Natasha Kenny at Guelph.
  • Idea gems about grad courses on university teaching (from Natasha Kenny): every moment is a teaching moment, the goal is that students leave the course knowing teaching is about *students* first and foremost, syllabus contained “how this course was changed based on last year’s feedback”
  • Based on Erin Aspenlieder’s lit review on how to train grad students to teach, what works is mentorship, practice with feedback, and portfolio development to promote reflective practice. What doesn’t work is single-event workshops — which is what grad students & faculty say they want!! To improve single-event workshops, need to follow up with participants to find out how they implemented the information. *This gives me impetus for Psych Dept TA Training follow-up.
  • Film the teaching in my Teaching of Psych grad class to facilitate reflection.
  • Make a Western Canada TA training conference! There are loads of us doing this work, and it could be a fantastic opportunity to network and improve.
  • Ways to evaluate impact of my Teaching of Psych class: Approaches to Teaching inventory (pre/post), midterm and end of term feedback, focus groups, course outlines, teaching philosophy statements with coding scheme (see Concordia crew including Rob Cassidy for their draft rubric that considers line-by-line).
  • I’d like to co-design a session for next year’s STLHE on integrating qualitative and quantitative perspectives. A meeting point that’s relevant to many educators is interpreting student evaluations of teaching (including one’s own, guiding others, and the research literature). To do this, I need to find an expert in qualitative research to co-facilitate this!
  • When guiding others to improve their teaching, start with two questions: What is your content? (to get them excited and to define parameters of the course), and What do you want students to know about it? (to guide creation of learning objectives, switch their thinking to learner-centred). — From Cynthia Weston’s lifetime achievement award address
  • Consider “luck-free” written portions of my exams: here are 10 questions, three will be on it, prepare as you wish (teams or individuals)
  • Build regular writing time into my professional life.

That is a rather odd collection, but they’re the ideas I want to make sure I keep. Many are related to teaching graduate students to teach, which I think is going to be a big part of my upcoming year.