Share your strategies

There are many wonderful things happening on our campus to engage students, promote learning, and support retention and success. Please share your ideas by posting here in “leave a reply”.

For example, you might include a specific assignment, discuss how you use it, then share it’s impact on student learning and engagement.

Please remember to include your contact information so that colleagues can reach out to you. We’ll also use strategies shared in weekly CETL emails to the campus.

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CETL Weekly – Inclusive Practices

September 18, 2017

I believe that to make genuine strides towards increased inclusion you must find partners.  None of us can do this work on our own. – Lisa Friedman

Hello.  For many years, I’ve looked forward to the mindset list from Beloit College. This list identifies common experiences for students entering their freshman year and graduating in 2021 (see Certainly, it’s an eye-opener and each year I seem to be a little farther distant from the “reality” of these traditional-aged students.  At different conferences, I’ve heard this list used as a common foundation to understanding students. Yet the list leaves out a lot – the unique perspectives students bring, based on their lived experiences in their families, communities, and larger societies.

Related to our Yellowjacket theme this month, Jumpstart, is the concept of inclusion. How do we understand and value the perspectives of each student on/in our campus (both face-to-face and online). Building community is an early part.  Earlier this month, I shared ideas about learning about students and promoting engagement, including aspects of collaborative learning.

Inclusion comes through thoughtful, deliberate conversations with ourselves and one another about course content, messages, intention, and other aspects. Moore, Brantmeier, and Broscheid completed scholarship of teaching and learning research to help instructors examine their courses.  In their research, three themes or areas emerged: inclusion and course content, text (i.e. frame and tone), and sub-text (i.e. implied assumptions). Ideas for each are shared at and While their research focuses on syllabi, it can be applied to marketing materials and handbooks as well.

  • This Thursday (9/21) from 11:30 a.m. – 12:50 p.m., Jerel Benton, Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusivity will help us consider concrete strategies for inclusion in “Facilitating an Inclusive Classroom”. He will share ideas on course content and how to utilize multiple perspectives; ways in which to broaden our perspectives on students and check assumptions; and foster conversation about next steps. We’ll be using Zoom in this session!  If you are off-campus, consider joining us via this web-conferencing technology. Light refreshments will be served.

Here’s our unabashed marketing for Zoom – we love using it in CETL: The CETL in collaboration with Technology Services has configured a media cart ready for Zoom with all needed equipment. The cart is capable of serving a variety of media communication needs including Zoom web-conferencing, web-casting, and even lecture capture. The cart is stationed in the CETL Office Suites and can be set up to be used in the CETL conference room with several different configurations depending on your intended use and the size of the group participating.

  • For more information, please contact Del Wright in CETL OR attend Del’s session on Lecture Capture next Thursday (9/28) from noon – 12:50 p.m. in Swenson 2005.

Coming up next week:
We have two collaborative learning groups meeting the week of September 25.

  • The Well-being Community of Practice meets Wednesday, September 27 from noon – 12:50 p.m. Our first meeting’s topic is Mind full or Mindful. Mindfulness is maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, emotions, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment. Come learn how to experience a variety of mindfulness research-backed impacts, including reduction in stress, improvements in job satisfaction, emotional regulation, and focus. Randy Barker and Mimi Rappley-Larson will facilitate our learning and conversation.
  • Faculty and staff interested in advancing undergraduate research, scholarly, and creative activity (URSCA) both in the classroom and beyond are invited to attend the first meeting of the URSCA Peer Network on Thursday, September 28 from 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. in the CETL conference room. This meeting will focus on sharing experiences and challenges, and participants will provide input to develop a list of topics for future meetings. Whether you are an experienced mentor or looking for tools and resources to get started, the Peer Network will have something to offer. For more information, please contact co-facilitators Julie O’Leary and Cheong Soon Gan.

Please note that the Green Zone training on 9/27 has been postponed until November 7.

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CETL Weekly Update – Collaborative Learning

September 11, 2017

Alone we are smart. Together we are brilliant.  ~ Steven Anderson, Educator

Collaborative learning can be a critical aspect to higher education, both for students and staff. As we learn together, we experience changes in perspective and understanding that learning alone cannot bring us.

Collaborative learning is much more than group work.  It requires interdependence and mutual accountability between group members as they seek to solve problems, engage in challenging tasks and meet group goals (Scager, Boonstra, Petters, Vulperhorst & Wiegan, 2016; available at   Meaningful interactions with peers are known to increase critical thinking and cognitive restructuring.

Technology can help build collaborations, between educators and students and within peer networks.  Shared lockers and discussion boards can promote ease of communication in groups and grades (including assignments with feedback) can help students assess their own progress and determine needed steps and support.

  • This Tuesday, September 11, Stacy Leno, Learn@UW-Superior process consultant and Tom Tu, instructional designer will facilitate a session on Learn@UW-Superior (also known as D2L) from noon  – 12:50 p.m. in Swenson 2020. This Best Practices session will be an overview of the Content, Dropbox, and Grades tools. They will show how to find the tools, some best practices for getting started, and discuss why using these tools are beneficial for both instructors and students. Due to the limited time, this session will be more informational than hands-on.  If you would like to attend a more hands-on training, watch for our 4 hour sessions in August and January.

Our communities of practice and peer network bring opportunities to create new relationships with colleagues in the goal of learning together and facing challenging experiences and/or situations. While these groups don’t include the more formal structure of collaborative groups in the classroom, they do encourage promotive interaction (i.e. encouragement of one another and support to achieve goals).

  • Our first community of practice meets this week with the Global Awareness and Inclusivity group, facilitated by Jerel Benton, Director of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion and Lynn Amerman Goerdt, social work faculty and Global Awareness Coordinator.  The group will meet Wednesday, September 13 (2nd Wednesday of the month) from noon – 12:50 p.m. in the CETL conference room (Swenson 2074); light refreshments will be provided. The goal of this first session is to welcome one another and develop the agenda for fall.
  • Our next community of practice, Well-being: Research and Practice, meets on Wednesday, September 27 (4th Wednesday of the month) from noon – 12:50 p.m. in the CETL conference room (Swenson 2074); light refreshments will be provided. Facilitated by Randy Barker, counselor at the Student Health and Counseling Center and Mimi Rappley-Larson, social work faculty,  the first meeting’s topic is Mind full or Mindful. Mindfulness is maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, emotions, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment. Come learn how to experience a variety of mindfulness research-backed impacts, including reduction in stress, improvements in job satisfaction, emotional regulation, and focus.
  • In collaboration with Undergraduate Research, Scholarship and Creative Activity High Impact Practice, we’re launching the URSCA Peer Network.  Facilitated by Cheong-Soon Gan, history faculty and Julie O’Leary, URSCA coordinator, this network will focus on building our campus capacity for URSCA as group members support one another in their endeavors and skill development. The first meeting is on Thursday, September 28 from noon – 12:50 p.m. in in the CETL conference room (Swenson 2074); light refreshments will be provided.

If you have any questions about the above communities of practice, please feel free to contact one of the facilitators.  CETL emails throughout the semester will share information about the group and their work.

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CETL Weekly Updates – Jumpstart!

September 5, 2017
Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do.   ~ Pele

I believe that this is one of the best weeks of the year – the return of students to campus for the semester.  All the planning for the semester mixes with excitement and anxiety as to what will come.  From reflections by colleagues and students, it seems this is true whether we’re returning for the umpteenth semester or starting for the first time.  Our campus theme this month is Jumpstart!

For many of our students, campus life (the constellation of courses, co-curricular activities, living with others in res halls and apartments) can have quite an impact. The W-curve helps frame the trajectory for these experiences. Developed by Gullahorn and Gullahorn in the 1960s and expanded over the years, the W-curve includes stages when experiencing culture shock. “Culture shock” as defined by Merriam Webster (2017) is “a sense of confusion and uncertainty sometimes with feelings of anxiety that may affect people exposed to an alien culture or environment without adequate preparation”. International students,those who are first generation college students (nearly half of our students), and students from many other backgrounds can be affected by this phenomenon. While the W-curve does not fit all, it is a common model used in the United States to understand students’ college experiences. (See more at

The first stages of the W-curve are excitement and hope.  Students begin the semester with anticipation for what is to come. As the semester sets in with homework, studying, work and co-curricular responsibilities, students may begin to doubt that they belong and can effectively face the challenges in front of them. Homesickness can exacerbate things. You likely have seen this  – the student who was active in the first week or two of classes now seems to have disappeared or is unengaged.

We know that connecting with students during this time is most critical. If they receive support and encouragement, they can persist, helping them adjust and adapt to the new environment.  Obviously, over time this can lead to growth and success in all areas – academic, personal and professional. Strategies we’ve seen reflected on our campus inside and outside the classroom and discussed in the literature are:

1.       Promote the student-instructor connection.  Use activities that promote rapport between you and the student.  Significant research shows that one of the strongest predictors of student success is the relationship with faculty/instructors.

2.       Enhance students’ self-belief. Help students see that there is not a “college gene”; it’s not something you can just do (the fixed mindset) – it takes hard work and determination (this is the growth mindset). An assignment during the first week of class that provides an opportunity for students try new skills and receive meaningful feedback from you, is just one idea of how to do this. For ideas on what to say to promote self-belief, see the growth mindset feedback tool at

3.       Create learning experiences that are active and collaborative.  Active learning in groups can promote shared experiences and the ability to struggle and succeed together. Active learning stretches their skills and abilities and promotes healthy brain development.

These are three ideas; there are many more.  Explore for additional strategies and background information.

We know that there are many great strategies happening on our campus, inside and outside classrooms.  We would love to hear your ideas!  Please subscribe to the CETL blog and leave a reply in the “Share Your Strategies” area.

Last week, I shared the activities that the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning has planned for this semester.

Our events calendar with information on our Communities of Practice and new initiatives

Travel grant application (for travel to conferences related to teaching and learning), which is due on Monday, October 2.

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Welcome Back!

Welcome to Fall 2017!  It’s been a productive summer in the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning. As you prepare for this fall, a few ideas:

  1. Consider how to engage your students in your course, by inviting them as learners and clarifying expectations. We have many first-generation students attending UW – S, and even those who have family members with college degrees struggle with learning the context of a new place, new instructors, and new courses. Maryellen Weimer utilizes a memo to her students to set the tone for her classroom which is inviting and creates accountability for students.
    See –
  2. Review the newly revised Student Attachment, to be included in your syllabus. Newly revised, it provides students with information in three areas: programs supporting students’ identities and characteristics, academic integrity, and campus policies. – 2017-18 Syllabus Attachment for students
  3. Review the syllabus template. Dean Yohnk shared in an earlier campus email that this template is being piloted this fall and required for use in a year. UW – S syllabus template, pilot release Aug 2017

 Please feel free to contact our CETL staff for questions or consultations.


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Wow – it’s the last week before finals. At this point in the semester, I experience an odd time divergence.  Are we really at the end of this semester?  It’s a good time to reflect on learning, growth and change, including celebrating the many accomplishments of campus community members.

In CETL weekly emails, I posted information from Mary Ellen Weimer, and I think it’s worth sharing again. Mary Ellen posited her ideas on end-of-the-semester reflections.  I believe her questions can help us as we prepare for the final weeks of classes, and help us to consider our own growth as teachers, learners, and campus members:

  • What do you think you will remember about Spring 2017 in five years?
  • Are there students you will remember? Others you hope to forget?
  • What were the best and worst moments in your courses or co-curricular work with students?
  • How did your relationship with students begin, evolve and end?
  • In your work, what seemed new and exciting and what needed work?
  • If you could change one thing about your teaching and their learning next semester, what would it be?

The full article is available at

Classroom evaluations

Additionally, I invite those teaching in the classroom to review ideas on how course evaluations can be more productively used to help us evaluate and develop courses.  Too often, we ask questions such as, “Was the instructor prepared” or “Did the instructor conduct classes in a way which held your attention and interest”.  Shadiow and Weimer (2015) pose questions that can be used to help deepen our understanding of student learning, including:

  • the approach I took to my own learning that contributed the most for me was…because…
  • the biggest obstacle for me in my learning the material was… because…
  • a resource I know about that you might consider using is…because…

The full article with a lot of ideas is at  If you’d like to work on a course evaluation that is more productive and includes ideas related to inclusivity, please contact me at or x8486.

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Congratulations to our Scholarship of Teaching and Learning scholars!

On Wednesday, April 5, our three 2016-17 scholars presented their Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Homegrown projects. Congratulations to Mary Churchill, Cade Mansfield and Amanda Zbacnik!

What is scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL)? As shared by David Voelker, SoTL is serious scholarship to promote the practice of teaching. In the Center for Excellence in Teaching and  Learning, we think of SoTL as the cornerstone of our professional development.  SoTL provides us with knowledge on our students, how they learn, and interventions and activities to promote deeper learning. SoTL can also assist us in developing theories to frame our teaching and learning activities.

The SoTL Homegrown Program began in 2012, and has resulted in more than 20 scholars completing projects. Each scholar develops a project specific to their discipline and background within a community of learners/colleagues. Drs. Hilary Fezzey, Associate Professor in English and Brent Opall, Assistant Professor in Business (now at UW – Eau Claire) guided the projects beginning with a workshop in May 2016. Participants designed their projects and implemented them in Fall 2017 with data analysis following.  Findings are presented in a poster session in the spring, as reflected below.

We are accepting applications for our new group of scholars until April 16, 2017.  Please contact for more information, or go to

Dr. Mary Churchill, Associate Professor, Educational Leadership

Dr. Cade Mansfield, Assistant Professor, Psychology

Dr. Amanda Zbacnik, Assistant Professor, Educational Leadership

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