Advice for return to in-person instruction v1.2 (aka Winter Quarter 2022)

From the Instructional Support and Innovation Committee 

As we plan for teaching in Winter Quarter, the Instructional Support + Innovation committee (IS+I) wanted to share some observations and advice for structuring your courses to keep some of the advantages of flexibility while ensuring that our students are motivated to take full advantage of being back on campus and instruction being in person.

Distributing student office hours across the term

This is one of those 'doh - how did it take me decades to notice that?!' ideas.

This term, I have the pleasure of guiding 500 students through an introductory research methods course. I am working with 6 graduate student TAs. Each TA is contracted to have 2-3 hours per week of office hours. One of those is spent on administration / email / etc.

Peer Tutoring (a silver lining to remote instruction)

With our shift to remote instruction, a real silver lining has been a change in the way we can offer peer tutoring. I have recruited undergraduates to be peer tutors on the instructional team for years. They help with some administrative tasks, help to run exam viewing sessions, and offer peer tutoring. The peer tutoring was never really practical face-to-face. They didn't have a space to offer it. It was awkward.
Enter Zoom and remote instruction - ta dah! - now they have a space to meet and everyone is OK with remote meetings.

Giving extra credit in Canvas

Extra credit refers to points that are not required. They benefit the students who complete them but do not hurt the students who do not complete them. There are a number of ways of adding extra credit to student grades in Canvas.

Option 1. Extra credit on existing assignments.
This is a very easy way to grant extra credit. If an assignment is worth 10 points and you want to give an extra credit point, you can simply enter 11 points for the students who earned the extra credit.

Emergency Campus Closure - Instructional Plan

Case Study:
How to accommodate students completing a lower-division course during an impending campus closure in response to COVID-19.
My campus leadership informed students that

My new nightmare

A new instructor called at 8:12am the other morning absolutely beside himself. He had walked into his 8am class with Midterm 3 ready to distribute to the students. All was fine, so far. It was not until he and the TA were handing out the exams that they realized that Version C was printed with the correct answers in bold font.
He realized that

Please don't "protect your GPA"

Teaching at a competitive state university, I see a lot of freshmen arrive on campus with a 4.0 (or higher!!) grade point average (GPA*) from high school. This has ceased to impress me because so many of them report that they earned that GPA by 'protecting' it. They tell me that they would only enroll in classes when they knew they could earn an A. They tell me that they would drop a class if they were earning anything less than an A.

Timing Tricks

Here are some ways to time in class that aren't too gimmicky or obnoxious

1. Three minute break: have students request music and play a song. Announce the genre and name of the student who made the request.

2. Discussion time - use powerpoint animation to move a dot from one place to another.

Final Grade Pleadings

Students seem to believe that instructors have an amazing power and can make special accommodations one-on-one. The requests for 'grade bumps' range from flippant to tragic.

Here is a recent response to a more tragic request.


Piazza a useful tool for advanced stats class

Just received some feedback from a lecturer enjoying watching her students use Piazza in an advanced stats class. I do not use this tool in lower-division classes as students perhaps don't have the content knowledge that they need in order to guide each other to answers.

Students sharing course material

Darn those digital files - they are so easy to share. There are a few websites that encourage students to post documents in order to gain access to other’s documents. These documents can be your syllabus, their notes, or your exam keys.

The sites tend to turn a blind eye to what is posted, but are very responsive to requests to take things down. In your spare time, you could search for your class / your name / your material and see if there is anything egregious out there.
Here are two to start with: