Summer Institute recap

CTLT’s annual Summer Institute is a week-long series of interactive workshops that focus on the fundamentals of teaching and learning issues. The Institute is open to all UBC faculty, staff and students who are interested in a variety of topics from refining syllabi to creating inclusive classrooms. Workshops provide an opportunity for participants to network with their peers, share their experiences and engage with new ideas. Here’s a  summary of some of the Institute’s most popular workshops.

Developing Course Goals and Learning Objectives

Presenters: Dr. Jonathan Verrett and Sue Hampton

This year’s Summer Institute was kicked off with an engaging session on how to accomplish a course design that is cohesive with learning outcomes, lead by Jonathan Verrett and Sue Hampton. Learning objectives are integral – without one, it’s difficult to effectively design a course. Using the alignment model, Hampton and Verrett explained how objectives, assessment and activities are interconnected and demonstrate evidence of learning. The session elaborated on learning outcomes as ‘what a learner knows or can do as a result of learning’ and the importance of varying levels of learning outcomes. Through program level, to course level, to lesson level, learning outcomes are important tools for both students and instructors to ensure that both teaching and learning is on track with the course goals. Participants were introduced to a template to create precise learning objectives, a formula of action verbs, subject and context. After crafting their own, participants shared their learning objectives with their peers for critique. Language is crucial in turning broad course goals into specific learning objectives, as well as effectively communicating learning objectives to students.

Welcome to Designing Participatory Activities – Using Active Learning

Presenters: Dr. Joseph Topornycky and Dr. Katherine Lyon

Joseph Topornycky and Katherine Lyon lead participants through an engaging session on the use of active learning in the classroom. When faculty design participatory activities for their course, students are able to engage in the material beyond the lecture. Participants learned the importance of ‘alignment’ in their courses: how objectives, activities and assessment are all balanced. Through reflecting on their own experiences in the classroom, participants were able to engage with their peers and share their unique disciplinary perspectives on active learning. This was achieved through different interactive activities using post-its and flipcharts that asked participants to think individually about different active learning scenarios and then share to their thoughts with the group. These activities lead into a collective discussion on what criteria to consider when using active learning. This includes: considering the time, holding students accountable, narrowing the focus of the learning goal and understanding the classroom climate. Lyon and Topornycky emphasized that active learning is about forming connections between what the students already know and what the instructor is trying to teach them. In order to achieve this, ask yourself: What am I trying to accomplish? What’s the context? What’s the class like? What do they need to connect what they already know to what I want them to learn? By the end of the session, participants were ready and eager to be bring their newfound knowledge of active learning into action.

Working with TA’s Effectively: Saving Everyone’s Time!

Presenters: Dr. Judy Chan and Dr. Sandra Brown (Faculty); Dr. Shaya Golparian and Geri Ruissen (TAs)

Both faculty members and teaching assistants were able to gain insight on how to achieve great working relationships through this dual workshop lead by Judy Chan, Sandra Brown, Shaya Golparian and Geri Ruissen. Chan and Brown lead the faculty members through the workshop, while Golparian and Ruissen lead the TAs. After the first workshop was complete, both faculty and TA groups merged to share what they had learned and work through different scenarios together. The first workshop helped to debunk myths about TA work contracts and different union rules. Through the interactive iClicker classroom quizzing device, participants could anonymously respond to questions like ‘how many hours is a full TA appointment’ or the number of vacation hours and sick leave allotted to TAs. Participants were also asked to reflect on positive TA/Faculty relationships, as well as critical incidents. These different anecdotes were then taken to the merged discussion and shared among TA and faculty discussion groups. The newly merged groups were able to work together to draft TA agreement documents and discuss the types of logistics and communication that needed to be included. They also tackled different scenarios on TA/Faculty relationship issues and worked to effectively resolve them. Participants gained a deeper understanding of the importance of a positive working relationship and different tools to achieve it.

Introduction to designing inclusive learning and teaching environments

Presenters: Dr. Christina Hendricks, Dr. Afsaneh Sharif, Dr. Jenny Peterson

The Introduction to designing inclusive learning environments workshop, lead by Christina Hendricks, Afsaneh Sharif and Jenny Peterson, helped faculty members engage with the ideas of diversity in the classroom and accessibility. In order to design inclusive classrooms, it’s important to understand exactly what that means. Participants shared their thoughts of what inclusive course design means to them and why it’s important to care about inclusive learning and teaching. Inclusive learning is about incorporating diversity into the overall curriculum, as well as creating a safe learning environment for students. In order to further engage with the idea of inclusive classrooms, Hendricks, Sharif and Peterson lead the groups through the activity ‘Accommodation or Redesign?’ Using different ‘personas’ of students with different needs, groups were challenged to think critically about how they could remove barriers and design their courses to increase accessibility for students with diverse needs, with less emphasis on separately accommodating for the needs of individuals. Faculty were also encouraged to design courses in a way that fewer students would need to approach them with accessibility concerns – because their accessibility needs would have already been met through inclusive course design. It was an eye-opening experience for many participants – many shared that they hadn’t thought of this before and were eager to make their classrooms more inclusive in the future.

We look forward welcoming you to the Winter Institute. Stay tuned for details.