The Office of Faculty Development

March 2021 Tuesday Tips

2 March 2021:

Email subject line: "Tuesday Tip: Student Engagement Challenge 3"
Sent on behalf of Dustin Bakkie and the FDEV Team

Hello Chico Faculty! (hey, it's still Tuesday, right??)

I am so excited for Week 3 of the Student Engagement Challenge, as it has one of my favorite assignments that will work in ANY class. 

This week, we will focus on getting students excited about your material. We are going to help you create an easy assignment to implement that allows students to explore their connections with your content and your discipline.

The next Pillar of Engagement is Getting your students excited about learning. This one can be tricky, especially if you teach a required course that everyone has to take.

So, how do we get students excited about our content? First of all, the energy and excitement you bring to class and your content influence how your students feel about it. While this plays a huge role, a personal connection to the content DRIVES engagement. 

Challenge 3: Pillar 2 - Personal Course Connection - Time: 5-10 minutes to assign - As an assignment, this works synchronously or asynchronously. 

This week’s assignment is inspired by ideas in Flower Darby’s Small Teaching Online book, with just a slight twist. You can check her book out by clicking the link below - it's an excellent read for anyone wanting to make their online teaching more impactful. 

Access a digital version of Small Teaching Online(opens in new window), by Flower Darby. Chiara worked hard to get everyone access to it. Be sure to say thanks!

Ask your students to do one of the three following tasks:

  • Find Two Current Resources - Students find and post two current resources related to the recent course content or topics. These can be online news posts, blogs, podcasts, youtube videos, Tik-Tok, infographics, etc., as long as they are related to your class and informative. 

  • Find an Expert - Students find a leader in their chosen career path and reach out to them for a chat or curate a portfolio of the leader’s work they would like to learn from. 

  • Develop a Personal Learning Network - Students follow, subscribe, or connect to 3 individuals they can learn from and ask at least one content-related question they have. 

I have a ready-to-use Assignment Template (Google Doc) for you to use (It’s a google doc).

Take it up a notch: Have a google doc ready to go (or use Zoom Chat) at the start of class and ask students to share their resources, who their expert was, or someone in their learning network with a sentence or two about its relevance to the course and why they chose it. 

Just like that, you’ve helped students draw connections between course content and their interests. You have also given them avenues to pursue the content on their own and supporting them in chasing down their goals. That sounds a lot like Pillar 3… TWO FOR ONE BONUS!

This is one of my favorite assignments. Allowing student autonomy to navigate their interests surrounding your topics is always a hit! 

Dustin Bakkie 
FDEV Faculty Fellow
Lecturer, Kinesiology


If you’d like to comment on this or any other Tuesday Tip, visit the FDEV Blog(opens in new window).

9 March 2021:

Email subject line: "Tuesday Tip: Student Engagement Challenge 4"
Sent on behalf of Dustin Bakkie and the FDEV Team

Dear Faculty,

Wow. Can you believe it is the final week of the Student Engagement Challenge - and Spring Break is next week!? Kudos to you for all the care and compassion you show in serving your students. I hope you can find some time to serve yourself and get some rest over this break. 

The third and final pillar for building a strong foundation for student engagement is all about encouraging students to pursue their goals. One of my favorite encouragement quotes comes from John Maxwell. He says, “You should never forget that everyone needs encouragement. And everyone who receives it - young or old, successful or less-than-successful, unknown or famous is changed by it.” Inspired by this quote, I have an engagement challenge assignment AND A BONUS template you can use for an essential practice you should be trying in your classes around now. 

Challenge 4: Pillar 3 - Applying Content to Student Goals Time: 5-10 min to assign

As an activity, this challenge works well for asynchronous and synchronous classes - this one is a great discussion board or live discussion topic. 

  • Prompt: Challenge students to take something they have learned in your class and discuss how it applies to their future career goals. 

This prompt gets students to think about what they have learned and find relevance to their future goals. It can also help them identify transferable skills and see value in the content they might not have before. Having the opportunity to discuss with peers gives them the chance to encourage each other and see your course content through different lenses. 


BONUS Challenge: Feedback - Course Feedback Survey - send THIS SURVEY(opens in new window) to your students. (Be sure to edit it to the specifics of your class before you send it)

Asynchronous Version - You will need to edit the first couple of questions about meetings, but otherwise, the survey will work just fine for you.

Introduce it by saying something like this: “I am sharing a course feedback survey with you, and I would appreciate it so much if you were to take a few minutes and fill it out earnestly. I work hard to make this course as great as possible. Your input helps more than almost anything else. The survey is anonymous, and I will read every entry. I ask that you are honest but also constructive. Statements like “You're the WORST TEACHER EVER!!” tell me nothing. WHY am I the worst teacher ever? THAT helps me improve. Be sure to highlight positive and negative aspects of the course.”  - I like adding a dramatic statement like that. It cuts the tension and gets a few laughs. If it’s not your thing, go ahead and cut it. 

Knowing what is working and isn’t working in your class is CRITICAL to running a successful and engaging course. An ANONYMOUS course feedback survey can:

  • Allow students to voice opinions
  • Let them feel they influence the course - especially if they see you implement their feedback.
  • Highlight the useful parts of your course, alongside the ones that aren't working.
  • Take a bit of work off your shoulders in discovering how to improve your course. Students are smart! They want to enjoy the class and succeed, and they will have great ideas on how to make that happen.
  • Facilitate a better understanding of students. Students will often share personal information that they may not otherwise. 

I want to say THANK YOU SO MUCH for being a part of this challenge. You worked hard to increase engagement in your classes, and you should feel exceptionally proud of that. 

Stay tuned to the FDEV Podcast on March 25th, where Dr. Jamie Gunderson and the FDEV faculty fellows will recap and reflect on the challenge. If you haven’t already, mark your calendars for the Friday Forum discussion of this engagement challenge on March 26th (10:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.).


A Final Cheers,
Dustin Bakkie
FDEV Fellow
Kinesiology Lecturer

If you’d like to comment on this or any other Tuesday Tip, visit the FDEV Blog(opens in new window).

23 March 2021:

Email subject line: "Tuesday Tip: FDEV Teaching Guides"

Dear faculty,

I truly hope you had a chance to breathe and re-energize during Spring Break and dedicate some time to yourselves!

I want to use this Tuesday Tip to give you an update about and encourage you to explore our Teaching Guides page, because it has grown significantly since I originally introduced it in January.

The creation of this page was inspired by Vanderbilt University’s Center for Teaching, which offers a series of Guides(opens in new window) grouped into 5 different areas: Principles & Frameworks, Pedagogies & Strategies, Reflecting & Assessing, Challenges & Opportunities, and Populations & Contexts. I invite you to explore their website as they offer a variety of important resources.

Our Teaching Guides are grouped into 5 different areas: Assessment, Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion, Instructional Planning (in progress), Pedagogy, and Technology & Accessibility. One useful tool in the page is a search bar that allows you to narrow down your search and focus on topics that are more directly related to your needs, as opposed to having to browse through all teaching guides.

Thanks to our FDEV faculty fellows (Jamie Gunderson, Chris Crews, Dustin Bakkie, and Paul Bailey) we now have 20 teaching guides available, and we expect to have at least 50 by the end of the Spring semester. The teaching guides are built around principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL), so each of them offers information about research on the topic, ideas for practical application in the classroom, and a series of resources that you can explore (websites), listen to (podcasts), watch (videos), or read (more articles on the topic).

And if ULD is your bread and butter, I want to encourage you to attend tomorrow’s Go Virtual Community meeting (11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m., via Zoom(opens in new window)) because Jamie Gunderson will share her expertise and passion about UDL.

The FDEV faculty fellows and I really hope that you will find these teaching guides useful and we invite you to reach out to FDEV if you want to contribute to our repository.

Chiara Ferrari, Ph.D.
Faculty Development, Director
Campus zip: 026
Phone: 530-898-3094
Department of Media Arts, Design, and Technology
Campus zip: 504
Phone: 530-898-4647

If you’d like to comment on this or any other Tuesday Tip, visit the FDEV Blog(opens in new window).

30 March 2021:

Email subject line: "Tuesday Tip: Teaching & Storytelling"

Dear faculty, 

In high school, I had the pleasure to learn from a teacher of ancient Greek and Latin who was as strict and terrifying as he was intellectually stimulating, challenging, and incredibly dedicated to those disciplines. What I remember most about him was his endless love for the Classics and his ability to get students engaged through his storytelling skills (and Greek and Latin literature certainly offered many opportunities for fascinating stories). 

As I became an instructor, I’ve always looked at storytelling as one of the most engaging pedagogical practices to use in the classroom, and a technique that can help students relate to the material more strongly and directly. Storytelling: Bringing the power of stories to your teaching(opens in new window) provides some information about the benefits of using storytelling in instruction, while also offering some tips on storytelling techniques. Our University has unlimited access to Learning Through Storytelling in Higher Education: Using Reflection and Experience to Improve Learning(opens in new window), and lastly, “Reflections on operationalizing an anti-racism pedagogy: teaching as regional storytelling” (PDF) (2019) offers insights into using storytelling as a fundamental tool in anti-racist pedagogy. 

In relation to this topic, I am excited to promote our next FDEV Zine (to be released on Monday, April 5th), which will focus on teaching as a form of storytelling. I hope you will explore the resources above and you will enjoy our next Zine! 

Chiara Ferrari, Ph.D. 
Faculty Development, Director 
Campus zip: 026 
Phone: 530-898-3094 
Department of Media Arts, Design, and Technology
Campus zip: 504 
Phone: 530-898-4647

If you’d like to comment on this or any other Tuesday Tip, visit the FDEV Blog(opens in new window).