Conversation #27: Civic Engagement

November 21st, 2014

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Download Conversation #27

Amy Koritz

A conversation with Amy Koritz of Drew University on teaching, learning and civic engagement.

Saying to somebody there’s a 20% poverty rate is very different from introducing them to somebody who is in poverty and hearing their story.

Amy Koritz is the director for the Center for Civic Engagement at Drew University and professor of English. As the director of the Center for Civic Engagement, Dr. Kortiz is integral to the development of sustaining partnerships between the university and the community. She is the co-editor of Civic Engagement in the Wake of Katrina and author of Culture Makers: Urban Performance and Literature in the 1920s.

Links for this episode:

New York Times Webinar

November 19th, 2014

by Karen Nichols:  I’m posting this message for anyone who may be interested.


Please join me, Emily Ryan, Education Manager with The New York Times, for a brief demonstration of the various academic resources from on Thursday, November 20th at 10AM PST / 1PM EST.

Learn About:

Academic resources inside that will support your courses
Examples of how others have incorporated into their curriculum
Special programs for core curriculum instruction and the study of leadership

Please feel free to register in advance and add this event to your calendar.

Click or copy/paste this link into your web browser:

To join the webinar on November 20th at 10AM PST/ 1PM EST simply click on the link below and dial into the toll-free conference line noted below.

Presentation Link:

Dial in:
United States: (888) 419-5364
Conference Access Code: 3977-6248

I look forward to seeing you online.

Emily Ryan
Education Manager

The New York Times
Sold by PCF, Inc.
(201) 560-2564

POD 2014 Leverage

November 13th, 2014

by Karen Nichols
I attended my first POD conference last week and the theme was Leverage.  POD is our faculty development organization and such a wonderful group of people. I returned with a number of ideas and tools, not only for online teaching, but teaching with technology and general faculty development best practices as well.

I’d like to share a couple of links with you.  You’ll be able to see the conference theme is well-used in a variety of ways.

One fun tool I learned about was 3M’s Post-It Plus app. If you use post-it notes in workshops or classes and the students have to affix them to a board in order to see the responses from the entire group, this nifty app will allow you to snap a photo of the post-it-filled board. It then digitizes each note and allows you to organize them and share the board with everyone else. Here’s a demonstration:

I’ll be sharing more goodies from the conference in upcoming posts. Meanwhile, let us know if you try this app or find something that interests you in the conference links.

Bb Tip #113: Get Feedback from your Students

November 11th, 2014

image showing person taking a survey

You can use Blackboard to get feedback from your students. The Survey Manager allows you to create anonymous non-graded surveys. You can get statistical analysis of the responses provided by your students as a whole but you cannot see how a student answered a particular question. Some examples of the types of uses for surveys are: seeking feedback on the effectiveness of active learning exercises, the need for clarification of course material, and/or seeking suggestions for course improvement.

Follow these steps to do it.

Making surveys available to your students is a two-step process. You must create the survey first and then deploy it.

Create Survey:

  1. Goto the [Control Panel] for the course, click on [Course Tools] to expand it and then click on [Tests, Surveys, and Pools].
  2. Click [Surveys].
  3. On the Survey Manager page, click [Build Survey].
  4. On the Survey Information page, enter the survey Name, Description, and Instructions.
  5. Click [Submit].
  6. On the Survey Canvas page, roll your mouse over [Create Question], choose the appropriate question type, and then enter your survey question. Click [Submit] to save the question. Repeat this step to add all of your survey questions.
  7. Click [Ok] to exit the survey creation process.

Deploy Survey:

  1. Turn Edit Mode ON.
  2. Navigate to the Content Area where you want the students to go to take the survey.
  3. Roll your mouse over [Assessments] and click on [Survey].
  4. On the Create Survey page, select the survey from the Add an Existing Survey box and click [Submit].
  5. On the Survey Options page, specify the survey availability and other settings.
  6. Click [Submit].

Analyze Results:

  1. Goto the [Control Panel] for the course and click on [Grade Center] to expand it. Click on [Full Grade Center].
  2. Locate the survey column in the Grade Center. Roll your mouse over the survey column heading and click on the arrow on the right of the survey column heading and then click on [Attempts Statistics].
  3. Review the survey results.
  4. Click OK at the bottom of the page to return to the Grade Center.

Download Results:

  1. Goto the [Control Panel] for the course and click on [Grade Center] to expand it. Click on [Full Grade Center].
  2. Locate the survey column in the Grade Center. Roll your mouse over the survey column heading and click on the arrow on the right of the survey column heading and then click on [Download Results]. This option allows you to compile the questions and answers in a spreadsheet to review offline.

Want more information?

Step-by-step instructions are available [PDF].
About Tests, Surveys, and Pools
Explore Blackboard’s On Demand Learning Center.
Try these Blackboard How-To documents.
Visit the Blackboard FAQs for additional blackboard information
or schedule a one-on-one session, email, or
call Janice Florent: (504) 520-7418.

Understanding Students’ Aversion to Textbook Reading

November 6th, 2014

Despite their importance, this is how many college students view their textbooks.

Despite their importance, this is how many college students view their textbooks.

Textbook reading is essential to a student’s success, not only during his/her undergraduate education, but well beyond. Yet, students’ compliance with class reading assignments is discouragingly low. Understanding why students don’t read is a prerequisite to putting strategies into place that strongly encourage students to view their texts as useful and helpful tools, and ultimately encourage reading. Understanding Student’s Aversion to Textbook Reading provides some literature-based insight into why students may not view their textbooks as the learning resources that they are, including reasons that are more under the control of the professor than the student. The presentation also offers some practical approaches to encouraging reading that address the specific reasons for students’ aversion to textbook reading.

Bb Tip #112: Interactive Rubrics

November 5th, 2014

image showing Bb rubric

Blackboard interactive rubrics will help you:

  • Increase Efficiency – Rubrics are built into the grading workflow. Rubrics click-and-score simplicity saves time.
  • Provide Consistent and Quality Feedback – Rubrics enable instructors to provide consistent evaluation and contextual feedback to students.
  • Promote 21st Century Skills – Rubrics make it easier to assign essay questions, individual and group assignments, blogs, wikis and discussion boards as assessment activities which foster critical thinking and collaboration.

Instructors can associate Rubrics when creating gradable content items, including blogs, journals, wikis, discussion boards, assignments, and short-answer, file-response, or essay questions in tests and pools. Rubrics can be associated with multiple items, and all associations can be viewed from the Rubric tool. Multiple rubrics can be associated with an item. Instructors can choose to have the rubrics visible to students at any time, only after grading has been completed, or not shown to the students at all.

image showing how to associate rubric with Grade Center content

When creating a rubric, instructors can assign weights to categories, allowing the same rubric to be used across multiple items with different possible points. Rubrics can be imported and exported for use across courses.

image showing how to grade using a rubric

Rubrics can be viewed from the Grade Center during the grading process. Instructors can interact with any associated rubric for grading in a grid or list view, and feedback can be typed for each criteria as well as the entire assessment. Grades calculated using rubrics can be overridden. When a rubric has been used for grading, a report is available to view the results of all content graded with that rubric.

NOTE: The Blackboard Rubrics tool is different from Turnitin Rubrics.

Want more information?

Using Interactive Rubrics
How to Create a Rubric (video)
How to Grade using a Rubric (video)
Explore Blackboard’s On Demand Learning Center.
Try these Blackboard How-To documents.
Visit the Blackboard FAQs for additional blackboard information
or schedule a one-on-one session, email, or
call Janice Florent: (504) 520-7418.

CAT Advice: Don’t Spend Too Much Time on Your Teaching

November 4th, 2014

What? The Center for the Advancement of TEACHING, is telling me to spend less time on my teaching?

We all know that Xavier is a premier undergraduate university.  This is largely in part due to the dedicated faculty who put teaching first in order to help students achieve their goals.  However, we as faculty have goals too, and some of those goals extend from the classroom.  It is our job to balance those goals and obligations so that each facet of our careers can thrive.  So to that end, what are the best practices, and easiest pitfalls, that new faculty can fall into?

Dr. Robert Boice, Professor of Psychology at SUNY in Stony Brook, NY, has done extensive research polling and following hundreds of faculty members across disciplines and institution types and then charting their success in the tenure and promotion process.  Overwhelmingly, the most common problem among faculty was not spending enough time on scholarly writing (proposals and papers) but that was linked hand-in-hand with being over prepared for their classes.  When faculty were reporting spending nearly 30 hours a week preparing for class, it is clear that some other aspect of their job was going to suffer for it.  However, not all faculty suffered from this lack of balance.  Boice identified 5–9% of new faculty as “quick starters,” who in their first few years were well on their way to promotion and tenure especially with respect to scholarship. Moreover, they also scored in the top quarter of peer and student ratings of teaching; so their scholarly success was not achieved at the expense of their students.

You can read a brief article from Chemical Engineering Education summarizing his findings here:

And if you think this might be helpful, you can find Dr. Boice’s book here (among other places):

However, at Xavier, it can be quite easy to quickly achieve a balance.  As I mentioned, one of our greatest assets, and your greatest resource, are our faculty.  Here are some tips to leverage the resources you have in order to prepare a better class, in a reasonable amount of time, leaving sufficient time for scholarship:

  • Ask for and accept help from senior faculty.  If someone has taught a course that is new for you, odds are they are happy to share their notes, slides, test, etc.  Certainly you will want to make the courses you teach your own, but there is no need to spend hours reinventing the wheel (or at least reinventing the diagrams on a PowerPoint slide).
  • Do not be afraid to protect your writing time. We all want to have “open door” policies to our students and be generally available to them, but that does not mean you need to be on call 24/7.  Do not fear your student evaluations suffering if you close your door sometimes to write.  As long as you are available without fail for your classes and office hours as promised, no one will fault you for attending to other parts of your job. (I personally was reluctant to do this years ago, and speak from experience that there was no negative effect on my student evaluations.)
  • Visit CAT. OK, you knew this one was coming.  There are many faculty resources here in CAT including a staff that is eager to help you, not only with your teaching, but with incorporating your teaching into your job as a well-rounded (and successful!) Xavier faculty member

-Stassi DiMaggio

The Goals of Freshman Seminar

October 31st, 2014

As many of us in Freshman Seminar begin planning our service learning projects for the spring, it’s important to remember that part of the purpose of service learning is to further the academic goals of the course. Keeping the two aspects of service learning in mind, meanigful community action and integration of the course’s curricular goals, helps to establish a strong purpose for the project and helps distinguish the project from community service. With this aim in mind, this might be a good time to take another look at what the academic goals of Freshman Seminar are:

  • To critically examine the interdisciplinary theme of social justice in relation to a liberal education;
  • To cultivate an understanding of self in relation to community;
  • To invest in Xavier’s mission to promote a more just and humane society;
  • To enhance your writing, reading, and speaking skills;
  • To develop competency in technological applications used on campus.

The first three goals here speak the most to service learning, although the last two can certainly be furthered through a good project as well. But while goals 2 and 3 seem to lend themselves naturally to service learning, I think it’s the first goal that really offers the most opportunity. It’s this idea of a critical examination that will most distinguish this experience from service experiences the students may have had in high school and through church groups. In fact I see as a worthy aim of service learning to simply convince students that there is a difference. The difference, of course, lies in how we apporach the social issues we choose to address, how we present them, how we discuss them, what we learn about them. Add to this critical examination of social justice the aspect of its relation to a liberal education, and many more avenues are opened to explore: Are endeavors such as these built into how we conceive of the purpose of a liberal education? From where does this idea come? From when? From whom?

One measure of success might be the degree to which our students become aware of ideas like these. But perhaps a better measure is the degree to which our students internalize these ideas, how much they buy in, how much their perspective changes from one in which they see the value of giving back and doing their part, to one in which they understand and empathize with those they help. Freshmen entering their second semesters often know everything, but what they know is that some people need more help than others and that helping them helps only them. Often what they don’t know is why some need more help, how helping them helps us all, and why it’s our responsibility to do so.

Jeremy Tuman

Midcourse Reviews for Online Classes Too

October 27th, 2014

CAT has just wrapped up our season of midcourse reviews. After piloting the online midcourse reviews last spring, we offered this service to all of our online instructors this fall during the same period as our face to face ones. In fact, the procedure is quite similar to the face to face midcourse review. We create a questionnaire on Survey Monkey for each instructor who requests the online midcourse review using the following three questions:

1. What is working in the online course (what is helping you to learn)?

2. What is not working(what is keeping you from learning)?

3. What are your suggestions for improvement?

We then send to the instructors the unique link for his or her students, along with a message from CAT explaining what the review is, why the instructor is requesting it and of course, the fact that the survey is completely anonymous.

We keep the survey open for a few days and once it’s closed, we create the midcourse review report which summarizes the student feedback and delete the survey.  We then meet with the online instructor either face to face or via videoconference and discuss the report.  Like the face to face midcourse reviews, CAT does not keep copies of the reports.

So, if you’re teaching online in the near future and would like to take advantage of this service, don’t worry! We’ll contact our online instructors each semester to remind you.


Bb Tip #111: Grade Center – Needs Grading

October 22nd, 2014

If you want quick access to items that are ready for grading, the Needs Grading page can help you determine what needs attention first and allows you to access it quickly. You can view all items ready for grading or for review on the Needs Grading page, where you can begin grading and reviewing or sort and filter columns to narrow the list. Student attempts are placed in a queue for easy navigation among items.

image showing Grade Center-Needs Grading

Alternatively, within the Grade Center you can easily see items that ready for grading because they will be identified by the “Needs Grading” indicator.

image showing student work with Needs Grading indicator

Sometimes instructors are expecting student work that is ready to be graded to have the “Needs Grading” indicator but instead the “Attempt in Progress” indicator is shown.

image showing student work with Attempt in Progress indicator

Listed below is an explanation of how the “Needs Grading” and “Attempt in Progress” indicators work:

When an instructor creates a wiki, blog, journal, or discussion board and chooses the Grade option, but does NOT check the box to the left of the “Show participants in “needs grading” status after every…” option, student attempts will have the “Attempt in Progress” indicator in Grade Center. These attempts will not be shown on the Needs Grading page.

Once a student has submitted their work, editing the item (i.e., wiki, blog, journal, discussion board) and checking the “Show participants in “needs grading” status after every…” box will NOT change the “Attempt in Progress” indicator for that student. However, the “Needs Grading” indicator will work correctly from that point forward for students who had not yet submitted their work before the “Show participants in “needs grading” status after every…” box was checked.

Because the “Attempt in Progress” indicator will not change for those students who submitted their work before the “Show participants in “needs grading” status after every…” box was checked, instructors should go into the Grade Center and enter a grade for those students.

Bottom line, in order for the “Needs Grading” indicator to be displayed in the Grade Center, instructors should set the “Show participants in “needs grading” status after every…” option BEFORE students start submitting their work.

Additionally, for student submitted work that has started but does not meet the minimum number set in the “Show participants in “needs grading” status after every…” option, the Grade Center entry will show the “Attempt in Progress” indicator.

Want more information?

Grade Center – About Needs Grading
Explore Blackboard’s On Demand Learning Center.
Try these Blackboard How-To documents.
Visit the Blackboard FAQs for additional blackboard information
or schedule a one-on-one session, email, or
call Janice Florent: (504) 520-7418.