This UCI Teach Week, professors, graduate students and staff came together the week of April 23 for a celebration of teaching and learning. They participated in various workshops and discussions focused on effective teaching techniques, celebrated and recognized diligent and dedicated staff members and grad students, and finished off with a tour of the Anteater Learning Pavilion.
“The overall purpose of teach week was to get faculty, graduate students, staff… engaged with teaching in a way that maybe they weren’t normally” said Brian Sato, lecturer in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry at UCI. “Just maybe one tip they pick up or one resource that existed on campus that they didn’t know about before…the other was really to highlight the resources available to faculty from the DTEI (Division of Teaching Excellence and Innovation).”
The DTEI hosted Teach Week to help faculty, grad students, and staff interested in teaching to learn new teaching techniques. It aimed to highlight the resources across campus that facilitate learning and the multitude of talented staff available to assist. Visit dtei.uci.edu to learn more!
The first day of Teach Week kicked off with the Faculty Innovation Showcase, which Brian described as “showcasing some of the really cool things some of our faculty are already doing with online education.”
One lecturer, Miryha Runnerstrom, impressed the audience as she discussed how she integrated aspects of gaming and role plays to engage students. Students were assigned a personal avatar for their particular role and had to stay in character throughout the course. Brian Sato explained “the students really liked it! This course is consistently full and they’ve had to expand the enrollment over the past few years.”
Day 2 started off with a lunch event where STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) enthusiasts gathered and discussed the benefits and pitfalls of active learning, an approach by which instructors use techniques to get students to engage more with material; active learning can be as simple as using an iClicker question or as complex as large group projects. 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 Brian. “A lot of them 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 and they couldn’t do it, but they all were able to do it and said they would probably continue to.”
Also on Tuesday, DTEI and OIT (Office of Information Technology) co-presented some tips on using Canvas. Attendees came with questions about transitioning from EEE.
Megan Linos, Director of Learning Experience Design and Online Education at the DTEI, headed the event. Brian reported that she essentially wanted to convey: “this isn’t a one-time thing; we’re here as a resource if instructors have questions or need assistance…her group is here to help with that.”
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 for students to more effectively collaborate.
One big takeaway was for instructors to give groups structure. By providing roles to student groups, they 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, Brian 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 kicked off with a lunch focused on graduate student success. Grad students were given tips for writing an effective CV and learned about the Pedagogical Fellowship program, a year-long program run by DTEI where grad students can learn teaching techniques, tips for designing a lesson plan, and how to prepare a lesson plan. Contact Danny Mann at email@example.com for more information.
Thursday concluded with the Celebration of Teaching, emceed 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.
On the last day of Teach Week, staff came together for a tour of the much anticipated Anteater Learning Pavillion. 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 Brian Sato “the whole design is geared around active learning. The classrooms are specifically built to facilitate active learning; in the smaller classrooms the chairs and tables can be moved around so you can form groups.”
The pavilion will be ready for Fall 2018 classes.