UTLC Newsletter

Teaching Tips:

And, just like that, the semester is over! After you finish up with submitting final grades, we hope that you’ll consider joining us for one – or both! – of our upcoming summer institutes to help you get things in order and planned for what needs to get done for the fall. In two weeks, we have our general Course Design Incubator, but we kick things off next week with our online learning symposium, TOPPS. In the spirit of online learning, today’s tips focus on facilitating more productive online discussions:

  • Structure and Purpose. As with most things with online learning, it is much more difficult to correct details on the fly for discussions. Since forums can become increasingly chaotic as enrollment grows, it is important to keep two things about the structure of online discussions in mind: (1) pedagogical purpose and (2) clear expectations for civil discussions. In the first case, you are more likely to get productive discussions if you articulate why discussions are important for student learning. It helps to promote genuine engagement if you can relate discussions directly to the overall assessment of course learning outcomes, rather than simply stating that discussions are a required part of the course. Clarity of purpose can be as important for productive online discussions as clear technical instructions for things like deadlines or how to respond to a post.
  • Structure and Expectations. The second important aspect of structure is setting expectations for the interpersonal dimensions of participating in class discussion forums. It will not come as a surprise to anybody that the internet does not provide us many positive models for digital discourse. It should not be assumed that your students will know how to engage with fellow students in the online environment, so it is important to detail appropriate etiquette and best practices for participation. Also – as much as we may wish we didn’t have to – it is important to include the consequences for uncivil or antisocial behavior.
  • Visibility. If participation and engagement continue to be an issue – as they often are – then consider how frequently you are visible as an instructor in discussion forums. Instructors both model high-quality participation and demonstrate that the activity is meaningful. Regular check-ins are preferable to intermittent flurries of responses, in terms of improving student participation through instructor visibility, so try to squeeze in a post or two as regularly you can.

Dr. Kristen Betts, the keynote for this year’s TOPPS, is an expert on online discussions and feedback, and everyone at our office is looking forward to learning from her next week. We hope that you’ll join us by signing up for TOPPS here before registration closes tomorrow. Some sessions are full, but most of them still have spots open! If you cannot make it next week, then consider signing up for our Course Design Incubator for an institute that focuses on course design more generally.

Check out more here: Past Teaching Tips


We need your input!

The UTLC will soon be building on the Teaching Tips format to include a podcast focused on more in-depth responses to the common questions and concerns faced by UNCG faculty. If you have something in mind that you want the UTLC to address, we invite you to send topics or specific questions to us at tio@uncg.edu, and stay tuned for the first episode of the podcast!


Library Tips

This semester, we add some tips from UNCG Libraries to our regularly scheduled programming! These tips are designed to help you better use the resources available through the libraries to achieve your teaching and learning goals. Did you know that UNCG’s Martha Blakeney Hodges Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA) has an extensive online World War I Pamphlet Collection? As this month is the 101st anniversary of the United States’ involvement in the Great War, we would like to bring this collection to the forefront! These pamphlets were issued by governments of US allies and contain information ranging from first-hand accounts of wartime conditions, battle maps, photographs, and brochures that involve soldiers’ postwar rehabilitation efforts. These online primary sources are well suited for class projects that involve the history of World War I, government efforts to sway public opinion on the homefront to support the war, and the psychology of conflict. Please contact SCUA if you would like further information about how to incorporate this wonderful collection into your class curriculum.


Mark your calendar – key upcoming UTLC events:

Coffeehouses The UTLC:TIO Coffeehouses are open to all faculty each month. Coffeehouses are meant to bring faculty members together for a quick cross-campus conversation. No specific topic is identified. There is no need to register for the UTLC Coffeehouse – drop in as your schedule allows! No sign up required. In the Faculty Center from 9am to 10am on the dates listed below.

Fall 2018

Spring 2019

September 9, 2018 February 6, 2019
October 3, 2018 April 3, 2019
November 7, 2018

Brown Bag Lunches Drop-in discussion sessions with colleagues. You bring your lunch, and we bring the snacks and coffee. There is no need to register for Brown Bag Lunches – feel free to join or leave at any time as your schedule allows! No sign up required. In the Faculty Center on the dates listed below.

  • September 18, 11:30am-1:30pm – HIPs, Easing the Transition for First-Year Students
  • October 15, 10:30am-1:00pm– Hybrid course design
  • November 14, 11:30am-1:00pm– HIPs, Capstones and Signature Work
  • February 12, 12:00am-1:00pm– HIPs, Integrated and Applied Learning
  • March 13, 12:00am-1:00pm– HIPs, Common Read and Characteristics of First-Year Students
  • March 19, 11:00-2:00pm– EDI

Biergartens Join us on the third Thursday of each month for Biergarten in the Faculty Center! We will be serving up snacks and beer (as well as good ol’ water) to get the semester started off right. Stop by to enjoy the shift away from summer with friends and colleagues.

  • October 17
  • January 16
  • February 20
  • March 20

Early Fall Events

September 10: The Spark of Learning with Sarah Rose Cavanagh The Teaching Innovations Office, in collaboration with the Title III Intentional Futures Grant, is excited to welcome to campus Sarah Rose Cavanagh, author of The Spark of Learning: Energizing the College Classroom with the Science of Emotion, on the morning of Monday for a visiting lecture and workshop. In the meantime, you can find out more about her book here!


Important opportunities are available!


  • Faculty Funding Application – Global Engagement Course Development Award

For 2017-18, Global Engagement has up to $50,000 in Global Engagement Course Development Award funding available for faculty to create or revise courses incorporating the four Global Engagement SLOs. Awards range from $500 (revised course) to $1,000 (new course or series of courses). The Spring 2018 deadlines to apply are January 19 and March 16. It is our goal that by supporting faculty as they incorporate more global themes into their courses, students will graduate from UNCG with the skills necessary to thrive in an increasingly global world. Please visit globalqep.uncg.edu/faculty/grants.htm for more details on available awards.


  • URSCO Student Travel Grants

The Undergraduate Research, Scholarship and Creativity Office has limited resources to support student travel to disseminate results of scholarly inquiry at conferences/exhibitions. Support can include costs of travel, room, board, and registration. The maximum request amount is $500. Requests are due by the 1st of each month, with award announcement by month’s end. Funds are distributed as a reimbursement upon the completion of travel and presentation.


  • Opportunities for faculty in the Office of Research and Engagement

Click here for a list of deadlines, events, and upcoming workshops with the Office of Research and Engagement.


  • STEM Faculty: Call for Participation in Faculty Incubator on student growth mindset and self-regulation

Do you wish you could actually do something in your classes to improve your students’ learning, motivation and self-regulation? Join STEM colleagues in a RISE-sponsored Faculty Incubator to develop and try out teaching methods that cultivate a growth mindset, student self-regulation, and promote the use of good learning techniques. We will meet 6 times in the Spring semester on Wednesdays (time TBA based on participants’ availability). Each faculty participant will receive a $300 stipend. Dr. Sara Heredia will engage the group of faculty in the Plan, Do, Study, Act (PDSA) problem solving framework, which is widely used to identify and test solutions to classroom problems. Identify and solve a current issue that is meaningful to you while learning a process you can continue to use in the future! If you are interested in joining the incubator, or would like to learn more about it, please contact the facilitator, Dr. Sara Heredia (TEHE), at scheredi@uncg.edu.