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Active Learning Fellows Preparing to Launch

The Active Learning Fellows Planning Team would appreciate faculty input to gauge interest in an Active Learning Fellows program. Please take a moment to fill out this short survey.


Congratulations Katie Cramer!

Dr. Katie Cramer, Program Chair of Middle/Secondary English Education, was this year's Academy for Effective Teaching Award winner. Each year's winner gives an on-campus lecture about some aspect of teaching, and in case you missed Dr. Cramer's talk in late January, you can watch it here. Congratulations Dr. Cramer!

Mark Your Calendar for Pre-Tenure Club

Dr. Gery Markova, Associate Professor and Director of Faculty Advancement, wants to remind all pre-tenure and non-tenure track faculty of the upcoming meetings for the Pre-Tenure Club.  All meetings are held in Clinton 300 or 326 and will offer snacks and coffee/tea. Mark your calendars for the spring meetings:

  • Thursday, January 30, 1:00pm
  • Wednesday, February 12, 10:00am
  • Tuesday, February25, 1:30pm
  • Wednesday, April 1, 1:00pm
  • Tuesday, April 14, 10:00am

Join Your Peers for Writing Fridays

Need some motivation and support to keep on track with your writing? Join Dr. Gery Markova and others for Writing Fridays in Clinton Hall Room 326.  Each session begins at 10:00am with 1.5 hours of writing. There is a break for lunch together (lunch is provided), and then another 1.5 hours of writing in the afternoon. Upcoming dates are:

  • February 7
  • February 28
  • April 3
  • May 1


Advice from Dr. George Dehner

Welcome to "Peer Insights," a new column where we print peer-to-peer advice from successful instructors around campus. We reached out to Dr. George Dehner, Associate Professor of World and Environmental History, for this inaugural offering.  Here is what he had to say:

"I have two pieces of advice for other professors.  First, challenge students to do richer work. Although they may grumble at first, students appreciate the value of the material they gather to write their research when that material is hard-earned.  Many students come to the university with dexterity at conducting online searches for material.  But if you drive them into the stacks,  they can discover deeper and richer research materials. You will find this is worth your effort and theirs.  In the end, they will begrudgingly admit how much more there is to know when they improve deep-dive research skills.

Second, prepare a syllabus, but don’t make it a straightjacket. A good syllabus should provide a roadmap of the material you will cover and the expectations you have for the student.  But be prepared, and embrace, the diversions that come your way as you teach your class.  Some of the most valuable experiences you and the students will have is when the course veers off in unexpected directions.  Rather than avoiding this diversion to keep on track with the syllabus, build in flexibility to capture these detours, and let them serve as connectors to the course content."


Fall In Love With Teaching

Samantha Corcoran, 2019-20 Tilford Fellow and Engineering Educator, loves teaching.  We asked her to share thoughts about her teaching journey, and this is what she had to say:

"What has made me fall in love with teaching is having different opportunities to pursue my passions and share them with the students. According to my StrengthsFinder results, context is one of my strengths and I make sense of the present by learning about the past. I enjoy history from all eras and have worked to incorporate historical context into the engineering subjects I teach and as I create new courses.

For my interest in history, I worked with Dr. John Dreifort in the History department to create a First Year Seminar course on the Innovations of World War II. This combined engineering and history for a unique look at the inventions made in WWII. We went on field trips, built a radar system in class, and met a WWII veteran who flew in a B-29 bomber. This was the most fun I’ve had teaching yet, and the students had fun because they could see our passion for the subject. 

Find ways to incorporate your hobbies and interests with your teaching so that you too can fall in love with teaching!"


Teaching Techniques for Large Classes

Do you teach a large enrollment class? If so, you may be facing some challenges that feel a little daunting.  The University of Kansas Center for Teaching Excellence provides a good online resource for large-class teaching.  If you would like to reduce student anonymity, improve interaction, incorporate writing, and effectively assess in large classes, this resource is for you.

Surviving Difficult Classroom Moments

In-person classes can be dynamic and exciting. But sometimes a moment can feel like it has gotten out of control. Students can sometimes become upset about course content, remarks made by their professors, or even another student's clothing or attitude. 

According to the Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning at Harvard, successful professors should focus on how they respond to these moments rather than worrying about having the "right" response. "Wrong" responses communicate indifference or hostility to the student experience, but a well-considered response can support student learning even through difficulty. Consult this brief article from Harvard for ways you can prepare for future rough moments.

Keep Up With International Student News!

Are you interested in what is going on with our international students  but unsure how to to learn more? Fai Tai, Associate Director of International Student Recruitment in the office of International Education keeps a network of interested faculty informed with the comings and goings of international students.  If you would like to join this network, email Fai at


Save Time, Subscribe to Some Discussions

One of the easiest ways to stay up-to-date on what is happening in your course discussion boards is to subscribe! Subscribing means that you will be notified by email after each post by your students. Subscribe to the Ask Your Professor discussion board to ensure you are aware when a student has posted a question to you, or subscribe to a graded to discussion forum to be notified when you have student work that is ready to be reviewed. Since each forum can be subscribed to individually, you can ensure that you are being alerted immediately of all new posts coming in. Simply go to the individual discussion forum you want to subscribe to, and use the "Subscribe" button in the top ribbon. And don't worry, if you become overwhelmed with emails, it's just as easy to "Unsubscribe."

Never Too Early to Evaluate Your Course

Early Course evaluations are a way to gauge how the semester is going for you and your students. The good thing about it is that you have still time to make changes to your teaching. Research shows many benefits and positive impacts of early evaluations including you can gear it to assess specific behaviors instead of the standard evaluations like SPTE, it empowers students, and most of all, the evaluations go directly and anonymously to the instructor (Huston, 2009; Keutzer, 1993).

You can do this early evaluation in a traditional paper-pencil way, or use online evaluation. Blackboard has a Survey tool (almost same as the test tool) that keeps students responses anonymous; it shows who responded to the survey or not, though. What is cool about that is that you can use it as a Extra Credit work for your students; you get the feedback to improve your teaching, and your students get extra points while their response is kept anonymous. If you need help creating the Survey, send us an email at

Another Update on Friendly Audits

In the November Issue of Teaching Today, you probably read that the 2018-2019 Friendly Audit letters would be sent to instructors in January 2020. If you’ve been eagerly awaiting one since then, don’t worry, they are still on the way. Friendly Audit letters will be sent during the week of Spring Break. 


University Libraries is Your Resource

Do you want to learn about new pedagogical approaches but need the flexibility to do so on your own time? The University Libraries offers resources to help you do just that. You can access our online offerings (and let us suggest you consider Applying the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Beyond the Individual Classroom) or if you prefer to browse the stacks, head to the LB2300-2430 range on the third floor of Ablah Library where you will find books such as How to Be a Happy Academic (LB1778.C535 2018). Want to browse a journal? College Teaching is an interdisciplinary academic forum for issues associated with teaching and learning. As always, if you need help, just ask!

Meet Librarians; Eat Snacks

University Libraries will have an open house in the C-Space at Ablah Library on Friday, February 14 from noon-1:00pm. You will have a chance to get to know librarians from Research and Instruction, Technical Services, Special Collections, and University Archives. Light refreshments will be provided.


How to Write a Good Alt Tag

As you know by now, Policy 8.11 requires all course content at WSU to be accessible. As you work toward this goal in your own classes, you will eventually need to create "alternative text," better known as "alt tags" for the pictures and other images you use in your courses. 

We in IDA often get the question, "what makes a good alt tag?" and unfortunately, there is no definitive answer because context matters with images. But we can offer a few guideposts to keep in mind, and if you would like to learn more, this article from WebAIM will go into more detail.

  • Use the phrase, "decorative image" or tick the "decorative image" box if available, for any images that are purely decorative and not content-bearing.
  • Keep it short. Use the fewest words possible to describe the image. You don't need to say "image" for example as that is redundant.
  • Consider the surrounding text. Does the image illustrate a concept that is otherwise fully described in surrounding text? If so, your alt tag can be very short. 
  • Consider the image's content and how you are using that content. For example, many professors may have a class with an image of a dog and cat sitting together. In a business class it might be used to illustrate negotiation with a rival. A biology class might want to highlight species differences. It might be an image of someone's pets used in an introduction to the course. A good alt tag takes all of this into consideration and only communicates what is needed for the image's current use.

This Year's Required Accessibility Training

Each year, faculty and instructional staff are required to take accessibility training. The deadline to complete training this year is March 31, 2020.  This year's training is available online through myTraining and is called “Wichita State Accessibility Exceptions Procedures." There will also be a few in-person opportunities announced soon.   This year’s training covers the process for requesting an exception to the Accessible Content Policy (Policy 8.11).  


ITS Keeps you Up-to-Date

ITS provides great resources for WSU faculty, so make sure you are taking full advantage of everything they have to offer. This month, we want to highlight ITS applications resources and training. From the Office Bytes blog to free software downloads for home use, their index of services will walk you through all the ways to signup, download, and get on board!