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A conversation between Richie Gebauer (Cabrini University) and Jay Todd (XULA) on intentionality and college readiness.

Richie Gebauer is the Executive Director of the First Year Experience and Student Transitions, as well as the Faculty Director of the IMPACT (Leadership) Living and Learning Community, at Cabrini University in Radnor, Pennsylvania. During his tenure, Cabrini's Living and Learning Communities program has expanded to fifteen Learning Communities (comprised of both living and learning communities and non-residential learning communities), which include a special commuter Learning Community, a learning community designed for men of color, and several non-residential learning communities designed to assist academically underprepared students.

Jay Todd studied writing with Frederick and Steven Barthelme and Mary Robison at the Center for Writers at the University of Southern Mississippi. His fiction has appeared in journals such as Southern California Review, Chicago Quarterly Review, Fiction Weekly, and 971 Magazine. Since 2007, he has been a member of Department of English at Xavier, where he teaches American Literature, Freshman Composition, Modern English Grammars, and The Graphic Novel and Social Justice. From 2007 to 2010, Dr. Todd served as Xavier's Writing Center Director. From 2010 until 2015, he served as QEP Director, managing Xavier's Read Today, Lead Tomorrow initiative. In 2015, he became the Center for the Advancement of Teaching and Faculty Development's first Associate Director for Programming. As Associate Director for Programming, Dr. Todd assists in providing high-quality, relevant, evidence-based programming in support of CAT+FD's mission to serve faculty across all career stages and areas of professional responsibility.

Dr. Todd is a member of the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi, the Association for Interdisciplinary Studies, the Popular Culture Association, and the Louisiana Association for College Composition.

Links for this episode:


Coming soon!

As I sit in my CAT-FD office I wonder what to focus on for my first blog. An idea finally comes to me – how did I “get here.” Not physically, but what stirred my interest in the Faculty in Residence – Service Learning position. What path did I take?

I start thinking back to how I first became involved in service learning. It was via a FaCTS (Faculty Community of Teaching Scholars) group, the focus of which was sustainability. To be quite honest I don’t know whether my interest in FaCTS stemmed from the stipend offered or an authentic interest in sustainability (or service learning for that matter). In any event I applied, taking what was perceived as a different approach to sustainability. I was teaching Positive Psychology at the time (I am also teaching Positive Psychology this semester) and wondered whether students might be considered a sustainable resource. One could argue that students endure a great deal throughout the semester. There are ups and downs, failures and triumphs, and certainly many challenges. To succeed students must persist, with what could be argued as, dwindling resources. How might students sustain their personal resources and psychological well-being?

In Positive Psychology service learning required students to select an area of themselves that they desired to strengthen, with inspiration coming from the twenty-four character strengths developed by Peterson and Seligman (2004). Students completed the Values in Action (VIA) survey to determine the relative ranking of their 24 strengths and selected a strength to focus on throughout the semester.

How did service learning come into play? Example strengths include optimism, forgiveness, and bravery. Qualities that many senior citizens display. Thus the idea was that senior citizens would serve as role models and mentors for change. The service learning project grew from there, with students visiting senior centers every week – interacting, sharing, and just hanging out with seniors. Reflection was an essential component of the project, with students submitting a weekly service-learning journal consisting of general reflections/observations and requiring students to apply specific course concepts to their experiences and interactions with seniors.

The course and associated service learning project was time consuming, challenging, and required a great deal of monitoring and organization. The results were incredibly rewarding. Meaningful connections were made, in depth discussions occurred, and greater understanding of course concepts facilitated. Thus, while I may not have been initially interested in service learning for service learning sake, through this and subsequent projects I have certainly come to understand the many benefits of service learning, how it enriches student experience, and the importance of creating a service-learning project that is pedagogically sound.

I look forward to serving as the CAT-FD Faculty in Residence – Service Learning. My initial goals include learning more about service learning (at XU, on other campuses, and empirical findings associated with service-learning), ensuring that service learning projects are pedagogically sound, streamlining the process of developing service learning courses and projects, and continued incorporation of service learning in my courses. I anticipate that my goals in this role will evolve, look forward to working with the XU and greater New Orleans community, and am excited to take this journey of discovery.


Peterson, C., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2004). Character strengths and virtues: A handbook and classification. Washington, DC, US: American Psychological Association; New York, NY, US: Oxford University Press.

Note: This post written by Dr. Elizabeth Manley (Department of History).

Do you need a quiet space to write on campus? Looking to take a writing lunch? Have some planned writing time but keep getting distracted? Come by CAT+FD and take advantage of our new writing room!

CAT+FD Faculty Writing Room

Over the summer, we repurposed an old office in CAT+FD as a dedicated faculty writing room. The room, located just off the reception area, is a space solely for scholarly writing and research. It is an email-, social media-, and grading-free zone, where you can get away for an hour (or six!) for some focused research and/or writing time. Sit in an armchair and do some reading, spread out on the big farm table to get some words on the page, or simply contemplate a new (or old) project.

CAT+FD Faculty Writing Room

It’s totally up to you! Here’s what one visitor has to say:

The writing room was the perfect place for me to go and shut myself off from the world to get my conference presentation completed. The room is comfortable and the staff was very attentive offering drinks and snacks as I worked. I will definitely use this space again when I just simply need to get
work done without disruptions!!

Celeste R. Parker, SLP.D., CCC-SLP
Director of Clinical Education, Department of Speech Pathology

Further, we are building a library on writing productivity (for online suggestions see the new Writing and Research Productivity resources on our wiki), as well as working to fill the space with plants and nurturing vibes.

We have refreshments, quiet, and (hopefully) writing inspiration. Come by, grab a coffee and a snack, and get down to writing! We look forward to seeing you soon!

CAT+FD is pleased to welcome two new members to our staff this Fall!

Dr. Harish Ratnayaka joins us as the new Faculty-in-Residence for First-Year Faculty. In addition to supporting CAT+FD activities and initiatives, Harish will lead the programming for first-year faculty. This includes new faculty orientation, serving as a CAT+FD mentor to first-year faculty, and organizing the new faculty "brown bag" series.

Harish is from the Biology Department, and his research interests include plant ecophysiology. He studies the way different environmental conditions affect plant function. He is especially interested in how light-dependent and carbon assimilatory processes adjust in response to environmental stress, and how useful phytochemicals are elicited during such adjustments.

In addition, we welcome Dr. Lisa Shulte-Gipson as the Faculty-in-Residence for Service Learning. In this role she will work in close partnership with staff in Student Affairs to provide services to faculty incorporating the pedagogy of service learning into the curriculum and promoting civic engagement through meaningful community participation. In addition, she will serve as the CAT+FD liaison for implementation of the new core.

Lisa, a social psychologist by training, is interested in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. Within this realm her past research has focused on community engagement and techniques associated with positive psychology (e.g., gratitude journals) as enhancing well-being, effects of motivation on performance, and effects of assuming responsibility for one’s learning on performance.

We in CAT+FD are enthusiastic about their contributions!


Technology promises productivity and even happiness — but does it deliver?

With so many apps and options for accessing information and communicating, it’s more important than ever to be highly selective and intentional in our choices.

Maintaining Focus in a Fragmented WorldJoin us as we explore the ideas and practices put forward in Cal Newport’s provocative new book, Digital Minimalism.

Learn about the concepts of digital minimalism and how to implement them.

Date: Saturday, September 14, 2019
Time: 10:00 AM - 2:00 PM
Location: Mellon Seminar Room - LRC 532B

Lunch will be served. Participants will receive a copy of the book.

Open to all Xavier faculty and staff. Limited number of seats — register today!

A conversation between David Kreiner (University of Central Missouri) and Elizabeth Yost Hammer (XULA) on the science of time.

Headshot of David KreinerDavid Kreiner is Chair of the School of Nutrition, Kinesiology, and Psychological Science at the University of Central Missouri, where he has been on the faculty since 1990. He completed a B.A. in Psychology and Ph.D. in Human Experimental Psychology at the University of Texas-Austin. He teaches courses in General Psychology, Cognitive Psychology, and Advanced Statistics. Research interests include cognitive psychology, particularly in language processing and memory, as well as scholarship on the teaching of psychology. He often collaborates with students on research projects and has co-authored publications and conference presentations with undergraduate and graduate students.


Elizabeth Yost Hammer is the Director of the Center for the Advancement of Teaching and a Kellogg Professor in Teaching in the Psychology Department. She received her Ph.D. in experimental social psychology from Tulane University. She regularly teaches Introductory Psychology, Research Methods, and Freshman Seminar. Her research interests focus on the scholarship of teaching and learning, and she has contributed chapters to several books intended to enhance teaching preparation including The Handbook of the Teaching of Psychology. She is a co-author of the textbook, Psychology Applied to Modern Life. Dr. Hammer is a past-president of Psi Chi (the International Honor Society in Psychology), and served as Chief Reader for Advanced Placement Psychology. Her work in the Center for the Advancement of Teaching includes organizing pedagogical workshops and faculty development initiatives. She is a member of the American Psychological Association, the Society for the Teaching of Psychology, and the Professional and Organizational Developers Network.

Links for this episode


...continue reading "Conversation #85: David Kreiner on the Science of Time"


D2L (the company that owns Brightspace) uses Continuous Delivery to update our Brightspace system. The Continuous Delivery model gives us regular monthly updates allowing for incremental and easily integrated changes with no downtime required for our Brightspace system.

Our Continuous Delivery update occurs on the 4th Thursday of each month. D2L provides release notes to help users stay up-to-date with the changes.

Here are a few updates in the August 2019/20.19.8 release that were added to our system this month:

1) Activity Feed – Visual improvements

The following changes are visible in Activity Feed:

  • When selecting between Message and Assignment posts, the chosen option is now underlined to better indicate the post type.
  • Field names have been added to improve accessibility.
  • The post type icon has been removed to provide more authoring space when creating posts.
  • Once a post is published, the new layout makes more efficient use of screen space.

Before and after view of Activity Feed
Before and after view of Activity Feed

2) Assignments – Spell check for annotation notes

When assessing submissions with the built-in annotation tools in Assignments, text within the comment annotation is now checked for spelling mistakes.

3) Brightspace - Improvements to course notifications

To improve the delivery of course notifications in Brightspace Learning Environment, the Notifications option, available from the username on the minibar, includes the following changes:

  • Added a Summary of Activity option for receiving email notifications about the summary of activity for each course. Options include: Never, Daily, or Weekly (default).
  • Removed the following Customize Notifications options: Allow past courses to send me notifications and Allow inactive courses to send me notifications. Learners can now only receive daily email digests for current and future courses.
  • Removed the following SMS notifications for Instant Notifications: Content - content item created, Content - content item updated, and Content - content overview updated.

The new Summary of Activity option in Notifications
The new Summary of Activity option in Notifications

4) Brightspace Learning Environment – Supported browsers

New clients can no longer access Brightspace Learning Environment using Microsoft Internet Explorer. If users attempt to access Brightspace Learning Environment using Internet Explorer, an unsupported page appears. The unsupported page contains links to download supported browsers and a link to the Community End of Life communication. Users cannot log in to Brightspace Learning Environment using any version of Internet Explorer.

When a user tries to access Brightspace Learning Environment using any version of Internet Explorer, a retro pop-up dialog box appears. The text in the retro pop-up dialog box has been updated to include the January 2020 end of life date information. Users who had previously dismissed the pop-up will see it again following the August update if Brightspace is accessed using any version of Internet Explorer. The pop-up can be dismissed again and will not reappear with subsequent updates.

5) Email – Add images to messages

When composing email messages, users can select Insert Image to add pictures from their computer, a URL, or Manage Files. Images are inserted in place, attached to the email, and display in place for the recipient. The Insert Stuff button is no longer shown in Email, as it has several workflows that are incompatible with the external email experience.

6) Intelligent Agents - Release Condition Re-evaluations

Intelligent Agents now re-evaluate the status of release conditions at the moment of triggering to determine whether a user has completed a particular release condition or not. Previously, Intelligent Agents retained release condition information from users, even if users no longer triggered the retained release condition.

If you are interested in getting more information about these and all the August Continuous Delivery updates, refer to the Brightspace Platform August 2019/20.19.8 Release Notes.

Additionally, refer to the Brightspace Release Notes for Continuous Delivery Releases, for details about current, past, and to preview upcoming continuous delivery updates.

Want more information?

View current, past, and preview upcoming Continuous Delivery release notes
View all the Brightspace training recaps
Brightspace Known Issues
Request a sandbox course
Sign-up for Brightspace training sessions
You can find Brightspace help at D2L's website.
Join the Brightspace Community.
Try these Brightspace How-To documents.
Visit our Brightspace FAQs for additional Brightspace information
or schedule a one-on-one session, email, or
call Janice Florent: (504) 520-7418.

Note: Are you doing something innovative in Brightspace or perhaps you've discovered a handy tip? Share how you are using Brightspace in your teaching and learning in The Orange Room.

Did you know you can get CAT+FD events in your electronic calendar? Use this LINK and you can get workshop listings automatically in your Google Calendar, iCal, or whatever system you prefer.

That might also make it just a little easier to remember that we are continuing our popular mid-week meditation series, now entering its fourth year. It starts this Wednesday, August 21st!

Read on for details... ...continue reading "Put a Little Quiet in Your Calendar"

push pin

The My Courses widget (on the My Home page) uses tile-based images to make finding your courses easier. Users can choose which courses they see in their My Courses widget by pinning and unpinning courses.

  • Pinning a course makes it appear in the My Courses widget.
  • Unpinning a course makes it disappear from the My Courses widget.
  • Pinning a course also makes it rise to the top of the Select a Course list and on the My Courses widget.

Search through all of your courses and manually pin and unpin courses to ensure that your most relevant courses are visible on the My Home page.

Follow these steps to do it.

To pin/unpin a course, you should:

  1. From the Minibar, click Select a course (i.e., the waffle icon).
  2. Select a Course

  3. Type the name of the course that you want to pin or find it by searching in the Search for a course field or scroll down to find the course.
  4. Click the Pin icon beside the course. The pinned course will move to the top of the Select a Course list and to the first position in the My Courses widget.
  5. pin/unpin course

Note: To unpin a course click the Pin icon beside the course.

If you want to completely change the order in which your courses are displayed, unpin all of them and then pin them in the order you want them to appear. The most recently pinned course will always appear first.

Want more information?

Pin courses to the top of the Select a Course list
How to Pin Courses (pdf)
How to Reorder Pinned Courses
View all the Brightspace training recaps
Continuous Delivery release notes
Brightspace Known Issues
Request a sandbox course
Sign-up for Brightspace training sessions
You can find Brightspace help at D2L's website.
Join the Brightspace Community.
Try these Brightspace How-To documents.
Visit our Brightspace FAQs for additional Brightspace information
or schedule a one-on-one session, email, or
call Janice Florent: (504) 520-7418.

Note: Are you doing something innovative in Brightspace or perhaps you've discovered a handy tip? Share how you are using Brightspace in your teaching and learning in The Orange Room.

Orange Room logo

Our new resource, The Orange Room, is a community where instructors can learn from each other about efficient and innovative ways to use Brightspace. The Orange Room is a place where educators can share tips, suggestions, knowledge, and expertise to help colleagues use Brightspace to improve their teaching and to inspire the next generation of learners.

Initial contributions to The Orange Room include Sr. Juliana Haynes' story about how she used Brightspace to automate assignment collection and simplify grading of the assignments using the annotation tools and interactive rubrics. You will also find Brightspace tips from Drs. Tia Smith and Elizabeth Yost Hammer.

screenshot of Sr. Juliana's story in the Orange Room

Are you doing something innovative? Have you discovered a handy tip? We invite you to share how you are using Brightspace in your teaching and learning in The Orange Room.

Want more information?

The Orange Room
View all the Brightspace training recaps
Brightspace Known Issues
Continuous Delivery release notes
Request a sandbox course
Sign-up for Brightspace training sessions
You can find Brightspace help at D2L's website.
Join the Brightspace Community.
Try these Brightspace How-To documents.
Visit our Brightspace FAQs for additional Brightspace information
or schedule a one-on-one session, email, or
call Janice Florent: (504) 520-7418.