Teaching Hub

Last Week’s Teaching in 2020 – Episode 7

gray background with text saying last week's teaching in 2020UA faculty describe their experiences teaching during the 2020-2021 academic year. Share your ideas and experiences here, and your entry could be featured in the next episode.

Anonymous Surveys to Make Adjustments for Spring 2021

“Listen to students” is part of my teaching philosophy. I’ve used Blackboard’s “survey” tool since 2015 for pre-term, mid-term, and post-term surveys. I now realize that I should have added some questions this fall. The shift to hybrid and/or remote teaching was an opportunity for me to consider asking different questions.

For example, I adapted these from a Facebook group on “pandemic pedagogy” to talk about the role of silence in teaching and learning:

  1. Did the amount of talking change over the course of the semester? (Y/N)
  2. Why do you think that is?
  3. How often did you choose to talk during our zoom sessions?  (Likert)
  4. What “work” does not talking do for you? (short answer)
  5. What invites you to talk? (short answer)
  6. How often did you feel hindered from talking during our zoom sessions? (Likert)
  7. Were there certain parts of our zoom sessions where you felt this way? (short answer)
  8. What kept you from talking? (short answer)
  9. What makes it uncomfortable for you to talk? (short answer)

I think it would be useful to run this as a pre-term survey next semester, casting the questions as reflections on Fall 2020. I could learn plenty from listening to their experiences and adjust my pedagogy during Spring 2021, and then see what students tell me in mid- and post-term surveys.

Everyone Benefits from Netiquette

Even before 2020, many courses involved a fair amount of online participation (e.g. discussion forums). And since higher education often involves teaching people how to revise their commonly-held preconceptions – across all our disciplines and professions – with civility – there also needs to be guidelines for online decorum. Here is what I came up with for my course:

As the majority of this course will take place online via text, please observe the following code of conduct:

  • NO YELLING (aka all caps)
  • Keep in mind that your tone may not be construed in the way that you intend. For instance, what you intend as a joke or sarcasm may not come across that way. Therefore, I am going to implement a Reddit rule: when you are kidding or being sarcastic, use /s at the end of your statement (you will come across this in my PowerPoints).
  • Don’t be a troll. Playing devil’s advocate is good. Stirring the pot just to upset someone and cause a reaction is not good.
  • Be civil. We are going to be discussing some fairly sensitive topics. Keep in mind that your experiences are not necessarily someone else’s experiences.

And while we’re on the subject of how to interact with myself and your classmates, a few more things:

  • Accept that you have bias because everyone has bias about something. This does not make you a bad person. Intentionally treating someone horribly based on your biases is another thing. But simply having bias does not make you a bad person.
  • I am not trying to indoctrinate you. I am simply presenting information. It is up to you to come to your own conclusions.

Questions about this series? Contact Nathan Loewen at nrloewen@ua.edu