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Teaching Matters Series

The Center for Engaged Teaching and Learning is pleased to announce a new format, as of fall 2014, for the Teaching Matters Series, a series of workshops and colloquia that address various pedagogy related topics. With this new format both faculty and graduate students can attend the workshops, as well as obtain certificates of participation. We encourage both new and experienced instructors alike to attend these interactive workshops.

There are three different certificates to earn: "Mastering the Classroom with 1st Generation College Students", "Developing Teaching Strategies", and "Improving Teaching by Assessing Learning". Each certificate represents participation at one practicum. Each practicum consists of four, one-hour workshops. At each practicum, participants will be introduced to strategies and concepts that will help them improve their student learning. Portions of each practicum will be dedicated to addressing how participants can apply the various strategies and concepts in their own classrooms. Ultimately, these workshops are designed to be mildly theoretical and highly practical, and can be applied to any discipline.

Participants may choose to attend an entire practicum (four hours, four topics) and earn a certificate, or they can choose to attend one topic within a practicum and forego a certificate. Participants can earn the certificate only by attending all four workshops within a practicum on the same semester.

There is one Certificate track for faculty and another one for graduate students/teaching assistants. The faculty track is presented by CETL staff member Anali Makoui, PhD in Applied Physics, and from time to time by various UC Merced faculty members. The graduate-student track is presented by graduate students in the Center's Instructional Internship program, under the support and guidance of Dr. Makoui.

Food and drinks will be provided. Unfortunately, we cannot accommodate special diets at this time.

We request that, if and when possible, you attend the workshop(s) within the track that is designed for you. However, we understand that scheduling conflicts may prevent you from doing this from time to time, and therefore, with the exception of the workshop(s) designated with an asterisk, participants are welcome to attend the practicum/workshop of their choosing.

For any questions or comments regarding the Teaching Matters Series, please contact Anali Makoui at amakoui@ucmerced.edu.

Below is a detailed list of each of the three practicums that we will be offering during the fall and spring semesters of each academic year.

Mastering the Classroom with 1st Generation College Students:

The topics covered in this four-hour practicum will help new and experienced instructors start the semester on the right foot, by introducing effective methods of developing, establishing, and maintaining essential "classroom hygiene" practices. This set of workshops are especially important because they address numerous topics that can be taken for granted by someone with experience in an academic environment, e.g. instructor, but are often foreign to first generation college students, who comprise a large percentage of our campus' student population.

Setting Expectations - This workshop gives an overview of our campus' unique student population make up and, as well as addresses how to best prepare our student population for success in the classroom. We will also discuss strategies for effective communication between instructors and students and for creating an optimal educational environment in the classroom.

Classroom Challenges - This workshop addresses how to best handle a number of common, and not-so-common, disruptive behaviors and situations that can arise in the classroom and in interactions with students during office hours, etc.

Grading Effectively - This workshop addresses best practices when grading academic work, including large numbers of material, as well as introduces, and provides examples of, rubrics for a range of different disciplines and scenarios, from grading laboratory work, to essays, to computer programing languages and more.

The TA Role and the Instructor of Record: Communicating Effectively** - TAs and IORs need to work together in order to provide the best learning experience for the students, and to keep headaches to a minimum. This workshop is designed to help you set and practice appropriate, timely, and professional forms of communication, it provides you with a checklist of points to cover during meetings, and it presents best practices if a conflict has already arisen. **This is the only workshop where we strictly adhere to our request for the attendees to participate in their corresponding track, i.e., faculty must attend the faculty track and graduate students/TAs must attend the graduate student/TA track.

Developing Teaching Strategies

In this four-hour practicum we shift our focus to one of the most important and fundamental skills that all university-level instructors hope to teach their students: critical thinking. We will examine the theories behind the teaching of critical thinking, and become familiar with practical methods of implementing active learning strategies to encourage critical thinking, applicable to both large and small classes, as well as cover best practices for each class size.

Critical Thinking - In this workshop we will explore the various definitions of critical thinking, introduce theories about the teaching (and learning) of critical thinking skills and familiarize ourselves with one model of teaching, using a modified socratic method, to encourage the indpendent practice of critical thinking in students.

Active Learning Strategies - What is learning? Is it understanding, memorizing, analyzing, a mixture, or something else? We will explore these questions, introduce Bloom's taxonomy, talk about different learning styles (and the theory and controversy behind them) and introduce an array of different active learning strategies to suit different learning styles and levels.

Best Practices for Large Classrooms - Here we present some advantages and disadvantages of teaching a large class, show results of studies that explore students' perception of large classes, and introduce best practices for instructors of large classes, especially to address survey-identified "problem areas" of large class dynamics. These will be practical and time-saving tips, drawn from both personal experience as well as relevant literature.

Best Practices for Small Group Discussion - This workshop will present strategies that will create a classroom environment conducive to discussion, will help the instructor prepare his/her students to participate actively in discussion, and will prepare the instructor to lead and assess a discussion.

Improving Teaching by Assessing Learning

In this four-hour practicum we start by exploring the term “learning outcomes”, and going over the basics of backwards design and assessment; the topics addressed at this workshop can serve as the foundation for lesson and curriculum planning. We then move on to the basics of rubric design. After a short lunch break, we will continue with a workshop that will cover some of the most common, and not-so-common, ways of assessing an instructor’s teaching - very important when putting together a teaching portfolio. Here, we will also cover how to interpret UCM’s end-of-semester (student) evaluations. We will finish with a workshop dedicated to composing a teaching philosophy, a.k.a., teaching statement - one of the most important components of a teaching portfolio, and one which is almost always required as part of a complete academic job application.

(Backward) Lesson and Curriculum Design - Here we unpack the term "learning outcomes" and use it as the basis to designing a learner-centered curriculum which includes relevant assessments.

Designing Rubrics - This workshop presentes the basics of designing effective rubrics. Though the majority of the workshop is dedicated to designing rubrics for the purposes of grading, the principles can be applied to any assessment activity, such as teaching improvement, career advancement, program/departmental assesment, etc. Samples for these will be available upon request.

Instructional Assessment and Student Evaluations - In this workshop we discuss the possible definitions of "teaching effectiveness", present an overview of the different sources of data for evaluating an instructor's teaching effectiveness, present research findings about student course evaluations, and go over how to read and interpret our campus' end-of-semester course evaluations These principles are the foundation of an effective teaching portfolio, an often necessary component for both academic job applications, as well as promotional opportunities.

How to Write a Teaching Statement - As the title suggests, this workshop is dedicated to composing a teaching statement (a.k.a. teaching philosophy) - one of the most important components of a teaching portfolio, and one which is almost always required as part of a complete academic job (promotion) application. This workshop is designed such that the attendee will leave with at least a skeleton for an effective teaching statement in hand.