June 2 and 3 | Virtual Institute

This year the Summer Institute on Teaching will be offered as a virtual conference over two days each with a keynote session and multiple sets of concurrent sessions.


Facilitators used this Google Drive folder to share materials with attendees. 

10:30AM – 10:40AM | Introduction to SIT 2020

10:40AM – 12:00PM | Derek Bruff keynote session

Derek Bruff, director of the Vanderbilt University Center for Teaching and a principal senior lecturer in the Vanderbilt Department of Mathematics, will present the keynote for the institute.

12:00PM – 1:00PM | Lunch break

1PM – 1:50PM | Afternoon Sessions

Designing a podcast project to enhance students communications skills | Stefanie DeVito, Anne McDuell, Amanda McCollom,
and Jennifer Sykes

  • Understand how a podcast project can enhance student communication skills both within their discipline and communication to the general public.
  • Explore the main objectives of a podcast project, and potential rubrics for grading.
  • Consider how various podcast project formats can fit the needs of various courses, of all disciplines and sizes.

Our podcast science communication project was designed to compliment scientific posters in our lab curriculum in integrated biology and chemistry by introducing students to the significance and skills required to communicate science to the general public. This project also gives students autonomy over their own learning by allowing them to explore and choose a relevant topic of interest to them, which has been shown to increase student engagement. Collaboration with Delaware Museum of Natural History increased student interest in the assignment and provided a real-world application of effective science communication skills. Prior to the assignment, museum educators visited the classroom and discussed best practices of communicating complex information to non-scientists. Museum staff then returned to listen to students’ podcast practice presentations and provided constructive feedback. Student feedback indicates they enjoy having autonomy over the topic and style of their podcast. We found that student confidence in their science communication skills to both a general audience and other scientists increased throughout the course of the semester, after completing the podcast and poster assignments.

Perusing Perusall: Get students to read more while you grade less |  Vickie Fedele

  • Participants will become familiar with the benefits of using Perusall, “the only truly social e-reader.” Participants will also practice completing and creating Perusall assignments so that they will be able to use this valuable–and free!–tool the very next time they teach.

I have been using Perusall in my classes since I learned about its existence at last June’s Better Teachers Institute, where Eric Mazur, one of Perusall’s creators, demonstrated this valuable tool. With Perusall, which is free,* instructors may post text online (from files, websites, or textbooks) and ask students to annotate the text with their questions and comments and respond to their peers’ as well. After students complete the assignment, their annotations are then graded automatically with an algorithm that instructors can adjust according to their needs. (I have found Perusall’s grading to be very reflective of what my own would have been.) Instructors may also download a “confusion report,” which indicates the concepts in the text that students struggled with the most. At the Better Teachers Institute, Professor Mazur pointed out that this tool encourages students to read more** because Perusall makes reading and learning a social activity rather than a solitary one. He also noted that Perusall facilitates peer instruction (i.e., students post and answer each other’s questions about the text) and just-in-time teaching (i.e., instructors may learn in advance what to emphasize in class via the confusion report). I have found Professor Mazur’s observations to be spot-on, and I have also used Perusall as an in-class activity to promote classroom engagement.

*Students must purchase any textbooks through Perusall, which offers them at lower prices than most other outlets.
**According to Perusall’s website, “Only 20-30% of students in the average classroom do assigned reading; in Perusall classes, >90% consistently do the reading.”

Risky Business: Reducing anxiety and increasing creativity in the classroom | Nicolette Bragg, Jessica Jones, and Shailen Mishra

  • Write alongside students in class to practice vulnerability in the classroom space as bell hooks advocated.
  • Give feedback to student’s writing via in-person conferences so that the assessment process is humanized to an extent.
  • Creating and maintaining clear spaces for risk.

Being ambitious or taking risks is viewed as a constructive factor in the learning process. When teachers design courses, develop assignments, create a rubric, or assess students’ learning, they value and encourage students to take risks. But risk-taking is also accompanied by anxiety for students, as the pressure to get a better grade and maintain a high GPA have intensified for students, as have rates of students reporting anxiety on college campuses. So how to mitigate such anxiety and create a supportive environment for students? In this workshop, we’ll share three particular teaching activities from our respective experiences. In return, participants will get an opportunity to discuss and reflect on their own classroom practices, and develop strategies to reduce student anxiety and increase creativity. The objectives of the workshop will be to reduce student anxiety, enhance dialogue between student and instructor, develop innovative and holistic practices to increase student creativity and engagement, and identify the barriers to taking risk within the classroom space.

Design pedagogy learning community | Anna Wik, Katya Roelse, Erin Sparks, Kelly Cobb, and Jon Cox

  • It will be part informational and part open discussion.

Participants will learn about the development and goals of our specific design faculty learning community and how they may create their own, understand the unique challenges of design studio instruction and critique experience, see how our peer observations fit into our dossiers for promotion and tenure, and hear about other outcomes we are developing from this community.

1:50PM – 2:00PM | Break

2PM – 2:50PM | Afternoon Sessions

From experiment to journal paper | Arild Hestvik

  • Learn the entire path from scientific question, to experiment and data analysis, to a submission-ready paper written in professional format.

This talk demonstrates how to utilize a computer classroom by having students run a reaction time experiment from cognitive psychology on themselves as subjects, then get all the individual raw data from all participants back to themselves. They learn how to organize, summarize and visually describe the results using pivot tables in Excel. One particular useful feature is that they analyze the data from their own performance in the experiment, and compare their single-subject data to the class mean. This is an effective way to teach students basic concepts of descriptive statistics in a real, hands-on, and personal way (they are looking at their own data), as well as the relationship between single subject data and the average of groups, and what the mean represents. We then use the same data to illustrate and teach about statistical inference. Finally, students learn how to write up the experiment report formatted according to the American Psychology Association standards. We emphasize that they should add their own critical interpretation of the findings and whether theoretical/moddel predictions are borne out, and whether they have other, personal interpretations (encouraging students to not be afraid to offer their own insights and critiques). Whereas most students have taken some statistics courses, this is typically the first time they apply what they have learnt on data that they have a personal and vested relationship to. In summary, the method teaches students not *what* is known, but *how* knowledge (their own) can be acquired, and how to use statistics to understand measures of the world.

Approaches and assessment for digital pedagogy | Kayla Abner and Alex Galarza

  • Participants will learn about assignments that use websites, data visualizations, and data curation.
  • Participants will then learn techniques of evaluating multimodal assignments and use this knowledge to create a preliminary grading rubric.

Our goal with this session is to give examples of what a digital scholarship project in the classroom might look like and share tools for assessing those projects. In a workshop format, attendees with create a grading rubric for a data visualization (includes network analysis, digital mapping), data curation, or website project.

Unraveling the failure mindset for teaching assistants and undergraduate students in STEM | Deborah Lichti

  • Describe failure mindset.
  • Compare and contrast the differences of experimental failure between teaching assistants and undergraduate students in the laboratory setting.
  • Use this information to begin recognizing the failure mindset in your own classroom.

Students struggle with failure throughout their academic career because they feel that scientists do not fail and this can reduce retention in STEM. In laboratory courses, teaching assistants guide the students through the laboratories but sometimes students do not come to an answer the TAs expected which can result in students thinking they failed. TAs need to help the students through these situations. The goal is to discuss how students and teaching assistants determine failure based on scenarios and discuss methods for teaching assistants and instructors to help guide students through these situations. If people attend from other disciplines, then we can also discuss examples of “failure” and how best to handle the situation.

How specifications grading can change college assessments | Mark Serva

  • Attendees will consider how to adapt specifications grading to an existing course.

Specifications grading uses bundled tiers to determine final grades. It also works to reduce (or ideally eliminate) partial credit. Students instead are assessed solely on what they complete. The approach has considerable advantages over traditional grading, including increased grading reliability and validity, lowered levels of student/faculty stress, and decreased grade inflation.

sit 2020 FAQs

Will sessions be recorded?

We will record the keynote address in the morning. In order to encourage open dialogue between participants and presenters we will not record the concurrent sessions.

How do I join these sessions?

The URL for each Zoom session will be posted on the SIT website. Participants will need to sign in to the Zoom application using their UD credentials to access the meeting.

Who can join these sessions?

SIT is open to anyone who teaches at UD including faculty, staff, and graduate students.

Will I get a certifying letter as I have in the past?

Participants who attend the keynote and both concurrent sessions will receive a letter from the Faculty Commons partners certifying their attendance.

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