Professors, graduate students, and staff came together during the week of April 23, 2018 for the 2nd Annual UCI Teach Week to celebrate teaching and learning, hosted by The Division of Teaching Excellence and Innovation (DTEI). Attendees were able to participate in various workshops and discussions focused on effective teaching techniques, celebrate and recognize exemplary faculty and graduate students, and take a tour of the Anteater Learning Pavilion.

”The overall goal of UCI Teach Week was to get faculty and graduate students to engage with teaching in a novel way” said Brian Sato, Faculty Director for the DTEI. “We wanted to convey to the campus community the many resources available to them through the Division of Teaching Excellence and Innovation.”

Here’s a brief round-up of just a few of the week’s activities.

Monday

The first day of Teach Week kicked off with the Faculty Innovation Showcase, which Brian Sato described as “highlighting some of the really cool things some of our faculty are already doing with online education.”

Prof. Miryha Runnerstrom impressed the audience as she discussed how she integrated aspects of gaming and role-playing to engage students in her online public health class. Students were assigned a personal avatar for their particular role and had to stay in character throughout the course. “The students really liked it!” said Sato. “The course is so consistently full that they’ve had to expand the enrollment over the past few years.”

Tuesday

Day 2 started off with a lunch event where STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) enthusiasts gathered to discuss the benefits and pitfalls of active learning, an approach by which instructors use techniques to get students to engage more with the material. It’s a common misconception that active learning can’t be done in large lecture halls, so the professors were pleasantly surprised with what they found.

“The consensus for most was that it actually is possible to do active learning in these large courses” said Sato. “A lot of the techniques faculty shared were very small changes such as asking an iClicker question in class.”

Many of the attendees were skeptical. “They thought it would be a major challenge but they all were able to do it and said they would probably continue” said Sato.

Also on Tuesday, DTEI and the Office of Information Technology (OIT) shared tips and techniques for using Canvas effectively. Megan Linos, Director of Learning Experience Design and Online Education at DTEI, moderated the event. Sato noted that Linos and her group “will always be there as a resource if instructors have questions or need assistance.”

Wednesday

Wednesday began with a lunch event called “Making Group Work Work.” Instructors often find that students have a hard time doing group work. DTEI staff facilitated a discussion around strategies to help students to more effectively collaborate.

One suggestion was to give groups some structure. By providing roles to the groups, instructors can minimize student confusion about how to approach the project. Instructors could assign one student to be the leader, another to be in charge of taking notes, and another to be the designated speaker. In this way, students can hit the ground running and not spend time figuring out how to organize themselves.

Addressing the issue of shy students, Sato offered some first-hand advice to encourage participation: “Remember that everyone’s opinion is important; you don’t want to dominate the conversation.”

Thursday

Thursday kicked off with a lunch focused on graduate student success. They were given tips for writing an effective CV and learned about The Pedagogical Fellowship, a year-long program run by DTEI where graduate students learn teaching techniques, tips for designing a lesson plan, and how to prepare a lesson plan. Contact Danny Mann, Program Director for Graduate Student and Postdoctoral Scholar Instructional Development, at dmann@uci.edu for more information.

Thursday concluded with the Celebration of Teaching, a signature event moderated by Michael Dennin, Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning. The event showcased faculty from across campus for their excellence in teaching. Read more about it in our article covering the event.

Friday

On the last day of Teach Week, attendees enjoyed a tour of the much anticipated Anteater Learning Pavillion, which opens in Fall 2018. The state-of-the-art building features classrooms of various sizes and configurations as well as plenty of lounges and computer labs for students to use. Mobile chairs and computers in classrooms mean more opportunity for students to engage with and learn from one another.

According to Sato “The classrooms are specifically designed to facilitate active learning; in the smaller classrooms the chairs and tables can be moved around to facilitate group work.”

By all accounts, UCI’s Teach Week 2018 was a huge success. Visit www.dtei.uci.edu for more.

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