This page contains Frequently Asked Questions that people who teach at UTEP often have. We hope this page is helpful to you and invite you to submit suggestions of other questions you have that may be of broad interest to the UTEP teaching community. Click on the question below to see its answer.
CLICK HERE for link to "Reasons to raise focus on teaching even in an environment emphasizing research" by Dr. Larry Lesser.
What other conference is so affordable and yet provides an opportunity to experience such high-quality presentations (from people in and out of your discipline) and contribute a peer-reviewed paper of your own to help document your efforts in teaching (as well as get valuable feedback from attendees)?
See http://cetalweb.utep.edu/sun/ for more information about the conference!
The CETaL website offers archived material from recent FFRs (see FALL FACULTY RETREAT drop-down menu under “PROGRAMS”), many workshops (see “WORKSHOP MATERIALS” under “RESOURCES” in the right sidebar menu), and many Sun Conference presentations (see http://cetal.utep.edu/sun/index.php/past-conferences/sun-conference-2014).
A growing collection of such podcast videos are available on CETaL's TEACHING TOOLKIT or the AT website. It may also be helpful to identify a faculty member who uses the technique of interest and ask to sit in on a class meeting. This may be facilitated by contacting CETaL or posting an appropriate request or offer on the CETaL virtual bulletin board.
And, beyond videos on individual techniques, here is an honest, compelling longer video of a UTEP faculty member's overcoming his resistance to change and undertaking an overall process of transformation from replicating traditional methods he had experienced to developing a more effective, student-centered approach: giraffe-award
UTEP’s P&T guidelines recognize as legitimate the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (as well as the other three types of scholarship in Ernest Boyer’s model) and, as of January 2014, when you enter a publication into Digital Measures, you have the opportunity to classify its scholarship type so that UTEP can readily track this important work. For information and resources on SoTL, please see http://cetalweb.utep.edu/index.php/scholarship-of-teaching
A conventional research lecture is not necessarily evidence that a candidate will be successful in engaging students, especially students who may be taking an introductory course or a course for nonmajors. Consider building into the itinerary an hour where the candidate teaches the regular topic of someone's class, or even just does a 20-minute mini-teaching on a favorite topic of her/his choice to a group of students (not necessarily an intact class, but perhaps to a club or group of students assembled around a seminar or lunch table). Consider having required application materials include a Teaching Statement, a letter of recommendation addressing teaching ability/potential, and evidence of effectiveness from any prior teaching.
7. How do I write a “teaching and learning component” in my grant to help demonstrate “broader impact”?
There are many activities related to teaching and learning that can be included in your research grant and which have the potential for broader impacts. Below is a list of things you could propose to do. The list (courtesy of Dr. Lourdes Echegoyen, director of the Campus Office of Undergraduate Research Initiatives) is not exhaustive, but will probably get your creative juices going.
Much increased focus on online education in both the Legislature and the UT System has directed this educational delivery mode as a way to introduce efficiencies in higher education. At UTEP, a survey of students taking online courses (with 1012 respondents) indicated that most of our students take online courses for the flexibility in time and space that is afforded by this modality of learning in well designed courses. In addition our graduation data indicate that approximately 30% of our graduating class has taken at least one online course as part of their curriculum. Given UTEP’s mission of access and excellence, a targeted and planned increase in the number of quality online courses, certificates and programs can dovetail with and enhance our mission.
If students need technology help for an online course they are taking, they should contact the HELP Desk: Calling from on-campus: x 4357 (HELP); Local phone number: (915) 747-5257 Or visit the Student Technology Center in the University Library, Room 300. Students can also visit an on-campus lab such as the ATLAS lab located within the Undergraduate Learning Center (room 202 UGLC building) for additional technical assistance. They can also contact the Blackboard Support Center at http://bbcrm.edusupportcenter.com/ics/support/default.asp?deptID=8318
10. What is an appropriate way to serve students who have lots of content gaps in their preparation (or who took prerequisite classes a decade or two years ago)?
This will vary by discipline. With mathematics, UTEP students can be helped to fill in those gaps and come up to speed by the tutors at MaRCS (http://math.utep.edu/marcs/) or find topic-specific help at websites such as http://www.khanacademy.org/ or http://www.sosmath.com/. With writing, UTEP students can be helped (online or in person) by the Writing Center (http://academics.utep.edu/writingcenter) and UTEP faculty may find it helpful to visit http://www.cmu.edu/teaching/solveproblem/strat-cantwrite/index.html.
If you suspect that some of your students are struggling to understand your lectures because their first language is not English, here are some strategies (courtesy of Dr. Rey Reyes) for helping them get the most out of your class:
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You are wise to be seeking feedback early enough in a course to be able to make timely adjustments. Consider asking a peer or mentor to sit in a representative class meeting to do this. Your College’s Associate Dean or College’s past teaching award winners may also be valuable resources for this purpose. You can solicit feedback from your students on your own at any time, of course, such as through the use of "minute papers."
CLICK HERE for link to
CETaL has a formative evaluation process that can be administered anonymously online. Another effective technique is having a third-party person conduct a focus group interview of the students (with you out of the room) about their experiences of learning in your class, with the responses relayed to you later in anonymous form.
First, resist any initial reaction to discount student feedback. We faculty are the content experts, but we all have room to improve how students learn that content. Any theme that gets expressed by a large number of your students means there is something that is worthwhile to work on, even if it turns out to be more of a matter of perception – you may notice a big difference in the future by changing how you set up and package your instruction, how you word your syllabus, how you communicate with students from different cultural backgrounds, etc. Now that UTEP has moved to collecting student ratings online, you have the opportunity to find out this feedback earlier than was previously possible, and can make even more timely improvements in your teaching.
Student narrative comments are often the most helpful part of the data you receive from them – look for patterns and trends and make some simple tabulations and category groupings of this data. The quantitative ratings can be better interpreted by taking into account context. Such context could come from general educational literature which indicates, for example, that student ratings tend to be slightly higher in higher-level courses, in smaller classes, and in less quantitative disciplines. More specific local context could be obtained by asking your chair or college for how your ratings in those classes compare to departmental and college averages. College norms by term are available at http://admin.utep.edu/Default.aspx?tabid=58051.
Finally, be aware that the literature on faculty evaluation generally recommends multiple sources of data rather than relying on only one source. Such additional sources of data might include your own reflections, curriculum development, innovative pedagogies used, documentation of student learning, CETaL workshops attended that calendar year (Karla G. Ramirez firstname.lastname@example.org can send you a written confirmation of this), example artifacts/lessons/projects, and observations/ratings (ideally, using a systematic approach or protocol) by colleagues or a chair. For resources on peer observations, please see http://cetalweb.utep.edu/index.php/peer-observation.
16. Because my teaching is still a work in progress, can any feedback I get from CETaL be kept confidential?
First everyone’s teaching is (or at least should be) in a state of ongoing growth. Unless otherwise explicitly agreed to by all interested parties, CETaL feedback is considered formative and confidential, in compliance with the “Ethical Guidelines for Educational Developers” published by the Core Committee of the Professional and Organizational Development Network in Higher Education. CETaL will not disclose to a third party the results of any formative assessment or consultation (or even the topic of such a consultation) that you request, subject to the usual legal exceptions (e.g., potential suicide, murder, gross misconduct). You, of course, are free to choose to share the feedback with others as you wish.
CETaL does not do summative evaluations of teaching. That role is the jurisdiction of your department chair and/or departmental evaluation committee.
18. Can CETaL suggest a form that can be used to do a peer observation of a faculty member’s teaching?
A resource book is available at http://academics.utep.edu/LinkClick.aspx?link=UTEP+Peer+Observation+Booklet.pdf&tabid=58396&mid=129801
CLICK HERE to access a form that Harry Meeuwsen and Larry Lesser compiled/refined in fall 2013 to hit the sweet spot between informative nuance (i.e., beyond a yes/no checklist) and streamlined efficiency in implementation.
As listed at the CETaL website, UTEP now has many dozens of faculty who have received rigorous teaching awards and/or served as a CETaL Fellow and most of these faculty have indicated willingness to be contacted for such purposes. There is a handbook by the University at Albany available at http://www.albany.edu/academics/mentoring.best.practices.chapter1.shtml to support the mentoring process. Also, see http://cetalweb.utep.edu/index.php/faculty-mentoring Finally, keep in mind there are many other key people on campus that can be quite helpful to you such as Associate Dean of Students Ryan Holmes, Reference Instruction Librarian Angela Lucero, Graduate Professional Development Director Isela Ocegueda, and Academic Technologies Associate Director Steve Varela.
Typing “teaching philosophy” into the search bar on the CETaL homepage yields many specific examples and general advice is available at:
“Decoding the Disciplines” (contact Ivonne Santiago), “Liberating Structures” (contact Arvind Singhal or Lucía Durá), and “Teaching Large Classes” (Brad J. Cartwright). Interested in starting a new one or finding out who else at UTEP is interested in exploring a particular topic? Post a note on the CETaL “bulletin board” or CETaL Facebook page
Several UTEP faculty such as Dr. Arvind Singhal (e.g., his chapter in the 2012 Sage book Public Communication Campaigns) have experience using edutainment for social change, outreach, or education. CLICK HERE for an article by Dr. Bill Robertson (a.k.a.
The CETaL Council of Fellows is a prestigious advisory and participatory group that works with the CETaL director on conceptualizing and executing various events related to teaching and learning for UTEP faculty and graduate student instructors, especially the Sun Conference. Fellows are individuals who are enthusiastic about and dedicated to teaching and learning and who:
Other possible contributions a Fellow could choose to make include:
24. Living not far from New Mexico State University, I wonder: are its teaching workshops (several hundred each year) open to UTEP faculty?
Yes! See http://teaching.nmsu.edu/events/ to register for an upcoming workshop, view an archived past workshop, etc.
The topic may be addressed on another teaching center’s website (e.g., http://www.cmu.edu/teaching/solveproblem/step1-problem/index.html), or you can submit your suggested FAQ item to us at http://cetalweb.utep.edu/index.php/contact.