Synergia | Teaching

Jill Manske, Professor of Biology/Coordinator, University of St. Thomas Two-Year College Initiative
Mentoring matters. A lot. But only about 25% of students report that they receive it. Perhaps this is because not all of us know how to do it. And - if you will permit me to go out on a heretical limb - not all of us do it well, at least not all the time. Myself included. So now what?
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Dr. Susan Callaway, Associate Professor of English / Director of the Center for Writing
The time is right to examine assumptions about student academic support, particularly the role a writing center takes in the life of a university.
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Announcing the University of St. Thomas Inclusive Classroom Institute. The institute is open to all faculty and offers opportunities to build awareness, gain understanding, and implement new pedagogical strategies to improve the learning climate for all students. Faculty have the option of working toward Inclusive Classroom Institute certification.
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Dr. Ann Johnson, Director of the Center for Faculty Development, Professor of Psychology
St. Thomas faculty share inclusive excellence statements as they work toward building an inclusive classroom and certification in the Inclusive Classroom Institute.
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Dr. Erika Scheurer, Director of Writing Across the Curriculum/Associate Professor of English
We’re all feeling increasing pressures on our time (another meeting, anyone?). On these occasions, I find it helpful to consider the relationship between the effort we expend on a pedagogical practice and the value of the outcome.
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Laura Hansen, Research and Instruction Librarian
Do you use RefWorks? Do you encourage your students to do so? For those not in the know, RefWorks is an online citation management tool we subscribe to here at St Thomas for the use of faculty and students alike. Over the summer, a “New RefWorks” was rolled out, and all users will need to migrate their accounts to it this fall from what we’re calling “Legacy RefWorks,” or have their accounts automatically migrated in January 2017. Continue reading for some highlights of the New RefWorks, or find out more about on Getting Started subject guide.
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Disability Resources Office
The purpose of a disability statement is to help students feel more comfortable in approaching the disability resources office about their disability and to facilitate arranging accommodations in a timely manner. Please add the following disability statement to your syllabus.
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Dr. Artika Tyner, Associate Vice President for Diversity & Inclusion
Toolkit of resources from the Office for Diversity and Inclusion.
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Image shows different elements of an accessible document such as headings, tables, and hyperlinks. A text version describing the image and how to format a document for accessibility can be downloaded here: https://courseweb.stthomas.edu\fdc\Accessibility\AccessibleSyllabus\AccessibleVersionSyllabus.docx

Center for Faculty Development
Doing whatever we can to include all students in our classrooms, whether face-to-face or online, is part of our mission to advance the common good.
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For three years, Bethany Timmerman has been helping undergraduates develop critical thinking, reading, writing, and discussion skills in St. Thomas' English department. Looking for extra support, guidance, and incentive to put her new ideas into practice, Bethany applied for and was awarded the Adjunct Professional Development Grant in Fall 2015. The grant includes an opportunity for faculty to work with instructional designers to help plan for and achieve teaching and learning goals.
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Newsroom - University of St. Thomas

To help professors keep up with a changing educational environment, the Center for Faculty Development (FDC) fosters strong communication among professors through the Open Classroom Project.

The Open Classroom Project encourages professors to learn teaching techniques by observing each other in the classroom. FDC director and psychology professor Ann Johnson said the idea came about partly because she took a French class, and discovered she learned a lot more than language skills.

“I was just blown away by how much I could learn from my colleagues by just sitting in class and watching how they teach,” Johnson said. “Even though we teach very different subjects, I really picked up a lot of good ideas, and it was just very inspiring.”

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Newsroom - University of St. Thomas

Fifteen plastic, purple swivel chairs fill a Murray-Herrick Campus Center second-floor classroom on a Tuesday afternoon. A St. Thomas faculty member works her way through a slideshow in the hour-long class, calling for participation and feedback at different points.

“Does anybody have an example they would be willing to share?” she asks about 10 minutes in. A few seconds of silence drag out. “Hmm, quiet group.”

A hand reluctantly makes its way into the air, and a comment that kicks the conversation forward follows. Over the next 50 minutes the room flits from lecture and questions to general and small-group discussions, gaining momentum and openness before it adjourns at hour’s end.

This scene plays out countless times each semester across St. Thomas, but this session was noteworthy in that the 15 chairs weren’t filled by students. They were filled by faculty members, who – in this particular workshop – were being schooled on how better to gain and understand formal feedback from students.

Teachers being taught is a common theme for the Center for Faculty Development (FDC), which, through its wide range of offerings, supports faculty in becoming better at everything they do.

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Midterm break offers an opportunity to gather student feedback and make minor course corrections before the end of the semester.
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Cynthia Sarver and Michael Wilder, Instructional Designers
Though it seems as if we’re just getting started, midterm grading will be upon us before another issue of Synergia crosses your desktop. This feedback lets students see how they are faring in courses, activating, if need be, a network of support to help them get back on track before the semester’s end. But midterm grading can also provide faculty with a valuable opportunity for reflecting upon how they are faring as teachers.
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Inaugural Course Design for the Common Good workshop a success. Twenty faculty from across St. Thomas came together on campus and online during the frigid weeks of January 2016 to re-imagine their courses and refresh their assignments for Spring semester. ‌
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Dr. Ann Johnson, Director of Faculty Development, Professor of Psychology‌‌
As you know, at colleges and universities across the country students are pressing administrators and faculty to confront racism and privilege within their institutions and classrooms. UST students have spoken up, and across our campus plans are being made now to create conversation and training opportunities for staff and faculty. In Faculty Development we are devoting all of Spring semester to providing avenues for faculty to examine implicit bias, recognize and deal with microaggressions, and build skills for guiding difficult classroom conversations.
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In their December 11, 2015 email to faculty and staff, Drs. Sullivan and Plumb encouraged the St. Thomas community to "...support our multicultural student groups by participating in cultural heritage events on campus, visit the Faculty Development website for resources on how to promote inclusion in the classroom, critically examine your worldview by taking one of the Harvard Implicit Association tests, and create a learning community where a robust exchange of ideas occurs on the complexity of 21st century social justice challenges."
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