Focus on Teaching and Learning

This series is a collaborative effort between Institutional Effectiveness and the Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence and aims to build your skills and knowledge while engaging in conversation and discussion with colleagues. Connect your work with the workshop topic and leave with concrete ideas for incorporating it into your classroom experience.

Strategies for Building Classroom Community

A Cross-disciplinary Conversation with Pulitzer Prize-Winner Marcia Chatelain

Faculty and students alike benefit from a vibrant classroom community. On February 9, 2024, CTLE and IE cosponsored a moderated conversation with Dr. Chatelain followed by Q&A with Syracuse faculty colleagues addressing these questions:

  • What can community building look like in your classroom?
  • How can it help you as well as your students?
  • What practical steps can you take to make it happen in your course?

The session’s Zoom recording can be accessed here:

Session Slides

Learn More

The Students Consulting on Teaching (SCOT) program offered by the CTLE that was mentioned during the session.

Marcia Chatelain’s approach to community building, you can watch a 2022 talk she gave at Wake Forest University here. A time-line of the major topics is provided below.

  • 00:00-02:52– Introducing Dr. Marcia Chatelain
  • 02:52-06:31 – Lessons from COVID on classroom relationships
  • 06:31-13:03 – Theory of teaching: what is teaching?
  • 13:03-01:01:03 – Steps to closing the gap between teacher’s intellectual commitment and student’s intellectual curiosity
  • 01:01:33-01:20:32– Q&A

    Prior Session Materials

    Jump to Section

    Fall 2023 Sessions: Pathways to Deep Learning Series

    1. Universal Design for Learning: Putting Theory into Practice One Step at a Time

    • Thursday, September 28, 2023 (Via Zoom)
    • Friday, September 29, 2023 ( In-person)

    Behind the dream of instructors to see all students reach a high level of learning in their courses lies the principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL). After a brief presentation of the three UDL principles: provide multiple ways of 1. Engagement, 2. Representation and 3. Action & Expression, participants will take steps toward trying out 1-2 small, practical UDL strategies. Through minor changes in your course, these strategies have the potential to enrich learning and yield strong results. We will focus primarily on the first principle of providing multiple ways of engagement to equip instructors with tools to increase student engagement in this particularly challenging post-COVID period. 

    The three principles of UDL: 1. Provide multiple means of engagement: the "WHY" of Learning; 2. Provide multiple means of representation, the "WHAT" of Learning; and 3. Provide multiple means of action and expression,  the "HOW" of Learning.
    The three principles of UDL: engagement, representation, and action and expression. CAST (2018). Universal Design for Learning Guidelines version 2.2. Retrieved from

    The session’s Zoom recording can be accessed here:

    Session Slides


    2. Pathways to Deep Learning with BrYan Dewsbury

    We were pleased to welcome Bryan Dewsbury for Fall 2023. Bryan Dewsbury is an Associate Professor of Biology at Florida International University where he also is an Associate Director of the STEM Transformation Institute. He is the Principal Investigator of the Science Education And Society (SEAS) program, where his team conducts research on the social context of education. He is a Fellow of the John N. Gardner Institute and the RIOS (Racially-Just Inclusive Open Science) institute. He is a co-author on the book ‘The Norton Guide to Equity-Minded Teaching’ and author of the upcoming book ‘What then shall I teach? – Rethinking equity in higher education’. He is the founder of the National Science Foundation (NSF) funded Deep Teaching Residency, a national workshop aimed at supporting faculty in transforming their classroom to more meaningfully incorporate inclusive practices.

    Session recordings, articles and presentation slides that were shared for the sessions will be available soon.


    Beyond Inclusion: Education for Civic Participation and Engagement

    Wednesday, October 11, 5:00-6:30 p.m.

    In this talk participants re-examined the role that a liberal, inclusive and equity-minded higher education can play in creating and sustaining a socially just society. participants also considered the behaviors, attitudes, mindsets and strategies that create classrooms where students are prepared to be active participants in an evolving democracy. Agnostic to discipline, this pedagogy asks us to reconsider teaching as a humanistic enterprise, and as an explicit cultivation of developing empathetic and agentic students. Strategies for our own relearning and consideration were also discussed.


    We Teach Students – Balancing Content and Civic Building in Inclusive Instruction

    Thursday, October 12, 2:00-4:00 p.m.

    In this workshop participants used a course design template to examine more carefully the ways in which course content and practices that promote critical consciousness and social awareness can be balanced. Workshop participants explored ways in which current models of content coverage can be examined and retooled to achieve broader, more potent outcomes from the college course.

    Spring 2023 Sessions: Spark Up Your Syllabus Series

     1. Telling the Story of Your Course: How and Why to Communicate the Design of a Course to Students

    Friday, February 10, 2023

    Have you ever wondered if students read your syllabus? Do you field questions from them that suggest maybe they don’t absorb it as fully as you would like? The first lunch and learn session of the Spark Up Your Syllabus series, explored options for authoring syllabi as dynamic documents to convey your course design, considered how different groups of students experience syllabi, and came away with activities you can use to engage students in diving deep into the story of your course.

    The session’s Zoom recording can be accessed here:


    Session Slides

    2. Setting the Stage: Making the Story Better with Course Learning Objectives

    Friday, March 24, 2023

    Clear and transparent learning objectives helped students make connections between course expectations and learning experiences. During the session, faculty leveraged the Learning Outcomes & Objectives Framework – A Crossroad between Bloom’s and Fink’s Taxonomies to create holistic learning objectives. Faculty also explored how to utilize a learning outcome generator to write statements using three key aspects – performance, condition, and criteria.

    The session’s Zoom recording can be accessed here:


    Session Slides

    3. The Plot Thickens: Spark Student Engagement in Course Activities and Assignments

    Friday, April 14, 2023

    With the stage set, it is time for the story of your course to unfold. This session explored the value of and strategies for aligning the course learning objectives you authored with your teaching and learning activities. Faculty panelists Katie Cadwell, Associate Teaching Professor and Chemical Engineering Undergraduate Program Director; Megan Oakleaf, Professor and Library and Information Science MS Program Director; and Amy Schmidt, Citizenship and Civic Engagement Program Coordinator provided concrete examples of the strategies they have employed. Participants were encouraged to fill out the story line of their syllabus by clearly communicating to students the “what, how and why” of ways they are expected to demonstrate their learning throughout the course and ways to pique student’s interest by connecting assignments not only to the course and curriculum, but to the world they live in.

    To access the session’s Zoom recording log in to using your NetID and password.

    Session Slides

    Katie Cadwell shared her presentation slides:

    Fall 2022 Sessions: Empowering Student Learning and Motivation

    We were pleased to welcome Dr. Saundra McGuire for two virtual sessions for Fall 2022. Dr. Saundra Yancy McGuire is the Director Emerita of the Center for Academic Success and retired Assistant Vice Chancellor and Professor of Chemistry at LSU. Please find session recordings, articles and presentation slides for the sessions below.

    Teach Students How to Learn:  Metacognition is the Key!

    On September 23, 2022, Dr. Sandra Yancy McGuire presented an interactive session on how to teach students to learn. 21st Century students come to college with widely varying academic skills, approaches to learning, and motivation levels. Faculty often lament that students are focused on achieving high grades but are not willing to invest much time or effort in learning. The session focused on the importance of helping students acquire simple, but effective, learning strategies based on cognitive science principles. Attendees engaged in interactive reflection activities that allowed them to experience strategies that can significantly improve student success by transforming students’ attitudes about the meaning of learning.

    Presentation Slides


    Session Recording

    Click the video bottom below to access a Zoom recording of the session. You will need to log in to Kaltura using your netID and password to access the video.

    Video link

    Increasing Student Motivation:  Strategies that Work

    On October 28, 2022, Dr. Sandra Yancy McGuire presented an interactive session on motivating today’s students to actively engage in learning activities which proves to be challenging for some faculty. Very often Gen Z students do not respond, as did students in the past, to extrinsic motivators such as bonus quizzes and extra credit assignments. However, as James Raffini presents in 150 Ways to Increase Intrinsic Motivation in the Classroom, when the psychoacademic needs of students are met in creative ways, student motivation soars. This presentation engaged faculty in a discussion of addressing student needs for autonomy, competence, relatedness, self-esteem, and enjoyment in order to significantly increase student motivation.

    Presentation Slides

    Session Recording

    Click the video bottom below to access a Zoom recording of the session. You will need to log in to Kaltura using your netID and password to access the video.

    Video Link

    Fall 2021 Sessions: Adapting Teaching and Learning During a Pandemic

    The fall 2021 sessions took place in in-person, synchronous and asynchronous formats. Please find details and recordings for the sessions below.

    Pandemic Teaching and Learning Strategies: What Do We Keep and Why Do We Keep It?

    Colleagues participated in a facilitated dialogue centered around these questions:

    • What teaching-related experiences from the pandemic should inform how we approach teaching and learning this fall?
    • What is our rationale?

    The session was offered virtually twice on Friday August 20, and Friday August 27, 2021.

    Here are some of the resources and tools shared during the session:

    I’ve got mid-course feedback: What do I do with it?

    Mid-course student feedback is powerful. Sometimes it is powerfully good. Sometimes it is a little anxiety-producing. Would you like to learn from what students are telling you without the angst?  Join colleagues in a session where you read and reflect on student feedback privately and share and discuss possible course adjustments together in space and time. Participants will follow a guide for analyzing the feedback, reflecting on it, and planning how to use it to enhance student learning as the course continues. CTLE and IEA staff will be available to help you in this process.

    The session was offered in person twice on Wednesday October 13, and Thursday October 14, 2021.

    Session resources:

    Engaging Students in Assessment Process

    On November 5, 2021, faculty engaged in conversations on capturing student voices and providing opportunities for students to actively participate in the assessment process is mutually beneficial to both faculty and students. The session explored the benefits and strategies of engaging students in the assessment process. A zoom recording of the session is here:

    Our panelists, Austin Zwick and Mona Eikel-Pohen shared their presentation slides and other resources:

    Presentation slides:

    Mona Eikel-Pohen also shared a link to exit ticket questions (samples)

    Other session resources:

    Getting the Most Out of Mid-Course Feedback

    Asynchronous session now available!

    Requesting and responding to student feedback are integral to creating engaging educational experiences. Students are best at voicing what it’s like to be a learner in your course, and what small changes you can make midway to deepen their learning. Learn more about how the CTLE can assist you in gathering and using student feedback, as well as how you can use the University’s new course feedback platform, EvaluationKIT, to gather input from your students.

    Spring 2021 Sessions: Fostering Learning and Faculty-Student Engagement

    Learning and Relationships in (and Beyond) Our Courses

    Presented by Peter Felten, executive director of the Center for Engaged Learning and assistant provost for teaching and learning at Elon University

    On April 23, 2021, Faculty engaged in conversations and focused on practical, research-informed approaches to cultivate educationally powerful student-faculty and student-student relationships in our courses. A zoom recording of the session is here:

    Peter shared his presentation slides and mentioned several resources throughout the session:

    • Learning and Relationships (*.pdf)
    • Graham & McClain (2019), American Ed Research Journal 56:6.
    • Parkman (2016), Journal of Higher Education Theory and Practice 16:1.
    • Connecting in College: How Friendship Networks Matter for Academic and Social Success by Janice M. McCabe
    • The Privileged Poor: How Elite Colleges Are Failing Disadvantaged Students by Anthony Abraham Jack
    • Relationship-Rich Education: How Human Connections Drive Success in College by Peter Felten and Leo M. Lambert

    Engaging Faculty in Meaningful Discussions on Student Learning

    Featuring Anne Mosher, Associate Professor & Provost Faculty Fellow for Shared Competencies & High Impact Practices

    On March 3, 2021, Anne Mosher shared practices that worked for her department to discuss student learning collaboratively. Anne discussed how she transferred her expertise in geography and civic education to mapping program-level student learning outcomes and course learning objectives which resulted in revising student learning outcomes. A Zoom recording of the session is here:

    Anne shared her presentation slides:

    Experiences in Student Engagement: A Panel Discussion

    Featuring  Doug Yung, Associate Teaching Professor, Biomedical & Chemical Engineering;
    Kay Stearns Bruening, Associate Professor, Nutrition and Food Studies; and
    Mona Eikel-Pohen and Catherine Nock, Assistant Teaching Professors, Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics

    On February 5, 2021, panelists Doug Yung, Kay Stearns Bruening, Mona Eikel-Pohen and Catherine Nock discussed strategies that they are using to enhance student engagement in multiple teaching modalities and their respective fields. In the discussion, Doug shared practical examples of the use of gamification to improve student engagement in his courses. Kay discussed how she incorporated reflective learning in a medical nutrition therapy lecture-lab course to enhance student engagement and develop meta-cognitive skills. Mona and Catherine shared brain breaks and breathing techniques/tips they used in their courses to keep students focused and engaged in the new learning environment. The session opened for questions from participants and concluded with responses from panelists. A Zoom recording of the session is here:

    Doug Yung, Kay Stearns Bruening, Mona Eikel-Pohen and Catherine Nock shared their presentation slides and other resources:

    Presentation slides:

    Links to Articles and other resources:

    Fall 2020 Sessions: Exploring Creative and Alternative Assessments

    No Google, No Guessing: Designing Authentic Assessments

    Featuring Jonathon French, Assistant Professor, Chemistry and Jason Wiles, Associate Professor, Biology

    On October 16, 2020, Jason and Jonathon discussed the challenges associated with transitioning into mixed-delivery instructional mode, and how designing assessments for student work can be even more challenging for mixed-delivery and online than for face-to-face instruction. The presenters shared authentic assessments examples that they have developed and deployed for students and ways to encourage strong performances and academic honesty. A Zoom recording of the session is here:

    Jonathon French shared his presentation slides:

    Being a “Responsible Employee”: Supporting Our Students

    Featuring Christina Percoski, Training and Development Specialist, Office of Equal Opportunity, Inclusion, and Resolution Services

    On September 1, 2020, Chris discussed roles and responsibilities of faculty members when becoming aware of sexual or relationship misconduct in our campus community. The discussion included helpful suggestions to navigate discussions with students in a supportive way and recent changes to the Title IX federal regulations and policy. A Zoom recording of the session is here:

    Chris shared her presentation slides and handouts as well:

    Creative Assignments and Alternative Assessment

    Featuring Meredith Martin, Assistant Teaching Professor, Psychology

    On April 7, 2020, Meredith shared how she engages in creative design and how she considers the needs of all the students in the classroom. She and participants both offered strategies to welcome all students to the classroom and make a big class feel small. A Zoom recording of the session is here:

    Meredith shared her presentation slides and a number of her assignments as well:

    Spring 2020 Sessions: Cultivating Inclusive Classroom Practices

    Dialogues on Diversity: A Panel Discussion on Inclusive Classroom Practices

    On March 6, 2020, faculty engaged in a panel discussion with colleagues, Shiu-Kai Chin, Megan Elizabeth Cartier, and Mona Eikel-Pohen about what they have tried, what worked, and what they will try next in relation to inclusive classroom practices.

    How to Make Group Work “Work”

    On February 4, 2020, faculty engaged in a world café to experience the benefits of dynamic group interaction from a student perspective.

    Fall 2019 Sessions: Real-Time Learning Assessment Strategies

    The Fast and the Formative: Strategies to Gauge Learning in the Moment

    On October 29, 2019, faculty explored various strategies for finding out what students are learning as they learn it.

    Teach the Students You Have

    On September 25, 2019, faculty explored strategies for designing course objectives with current students in mind.

    Spring 2019 Sessions: Using Rubrics for Effective Course Design

    Ready, Set, Rubric

    On March 26, 2019, faculty engaged in conversations about the benefits of rubrics, different types of rubrics, and how to evaluate the quality of rubrics.

    Design, Align, Save Time

    On February 26, 2019, faculty learned how to think through their course design to align your program outcomes, course objectives, activities, assignments, and assessments.

    Back to Section List