Seminar on College Teaching | Teaching and Learning Collaboratory | The Open Academy | SUNY ESF
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e s f home link - e s f college of environmental science and forestry

ESF College-wide Seminar on College Teaching Fall 2019 — Monday 2:55 - 3:50 PM
240 Gateway Center (Teaching & Learning Center)
EFB 797 and FOR 797

Join us!

Note: Alternative meetings may be scheduled collaboratively in lieu of the regularly scheduled class time.

Course Purpose

The purpose of this course is to enhance the teaching practice of graduate students planning a university career. Course content and methods also apply to graduate students planning a professional career and intending to teach college courses part time, as well as to those who plan to work in non-traditional and informal educational contexts.

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Course Description

Seminar on College Teaching and Learning is a one-semester one-credit seminar for graduate students who are currently teaching or who anticipate teaching full or part time in a college or university. This seminar will examine processes and strategies designed to enhance the teaching and learning process.

College Teaching and Learning will introduce you to learning and instructional theory as well as to selected concepts and strategies of instructional planning, delivery, management, and evaluation. Some emphasis will be placed on instructional delivery strategies.

Content and examples will focus on higher education. Nevertheless, this seminar is pertinent for those who may have to identify instructional and training needs, plan or acquire training programs or materials, and evaluate training effectiveness as part of their managerial or professional duties in a variety of non-profit, government, or private business contexts.

College Teaching and Learning recognizes the increasing interest and need within the academy to developing the teaching skills of the future professoriate in addition to research and service abilities.

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Areas of Learning

The chapters in the required course text, The New Professor’s Handbook: A Guide to Teaching and Research in Engineering and Science (Davidson and Ambrose), other material in this course guide, reading recommendations made during the seminar, and material from guest participants will serve as parameters within which most participants will operate. Individual areas of need and interest that exist or surface can be addressed in personal learning contracts.

Several study areas noted below provide a framework and the basis for in-class presentations and related learning activities. Guest presentations and participation in selected teaching experiences supplement such material. Additional topics can be added to the list based on learner experience and need.

  • Historical context of college / university teaching
  • Characteristics of student learning
  • Planning a course
  • Traditional and emerging teaching and learning approaches
  • Current and emerging learning technologies
  • Assessment and evaluation, including exams and assignments
  • Current and emerging trends in post-secondary teaching and learning

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Competency Expectations

At the completion of this seminar, given active participation, you should be able to:

  1. Demonstrate an awareness of the literature and resources related to post secondary teaching and learning;
  2. Describe the characteristics of student learning;
  3. Demonstrate selected instructional methods;
  4. Demonstrate an enhanced ability to plan, manage, and evaluate teaching / learning experiences; and
  5. Demonstrate awareness of some of the trends and emerging issues related to post-secondary teaching and learning.

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Our Approach

The teaching and learning process employed in this course is based on the premise that adult students are mature learners who flourish in settings where considerable independence is expected and permissible. Thus, the process is a dynamic one that actively involves you in determining personal needs, potential, and capabilities. At the same time, I also assume that learners develop this independence at differing rates. Some of you will be ready for considerably independent learning and will use the course requirements and the in-class learning activities as vehicles for enhancing or supplementing personal learning. Others will require considerable guidance, at least initially, in setting goals, establishing learning activities, and evaluating individual progress. Obviously, the nature of a one-credit seminar limits some of the flexibility, but it is my hope that you can find ways of having the experience maximize your ability to be a successful scholar and educator.

Perhaps the best way to learn about teaching and learning is to plan and teach students while critically reflecting upon the process. To be successful in such planning, it is typically essential to dialogue and collaborate with colleagues. In this seminar, you will have an opportunity (individually and/or as a team) to plan and lead a seminar session(s) on a particular topic(s) that has been identified as important. Our approach is topical with specific related readings indicated for each session. The instructor, seminar participants, and occasional invited guests will share fully in presentation and discussion leadership.

College Teaching and Learning requires a commitment to attend and actively participate so that participants may raise relevant questions and insights, contribute examples from their own teaching and learning experiences, and critique seminar readings and materials. The experience and expertise of participants will enrich and enliven the seminar and will contribute to the further development of future offerings.

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Evaluation and Feedback

Evaluation and feedback are integral parts of any learning system whether a semester-long course, an intensive summer or weekend experience, or a personal learning endeavor. Evaluation is a tool for measuring personal progress toward individual or course goals. In addition, a formal institution like SUNY ESF requires that grades be established as marks for transcripts and degree completion.

Thus, in terms of feedback, it is my expectation that the communication process will indeed be a two-way street. Feedback should reflect not only how well the class objectives are being met, the effectiveness of the instructional facilitation, and the extent to which your individual needs are being fulfilled, but also the quality of student contribution and involvement. Consequently, your oral and written feedback, relative to the questions or concerns you may have, more information you need, and any evaluation you have of the process, the content, or me, will be welcome at any time.

I will use several approaches throughout the course to help in this evaluation and feedback. In addition, I provide evaluative feedback, if appropriate, through comments, advice, and resource suggestions in response to most submitted materials. Hopefully, these efforts will provide you some modeling regarding evaluation possibilities.

Personal evaluation and validation will come through a self-evaluation, peer evaluation, and instructor evaluation feedback process. I will use the ESF grading system’s plus and minus feature as a means of adjudicating for major differences in terms of learners’ participation and/or the quality of any submitted learning products.

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Required Materials

  • Teaching and Learning STEM: A Practical Guide. Felder and Brent. 2016. CA: Jossey-Bass.

Additional materials will be distributed in class or provided through the course web page.

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Course Requirements

Following are the suggested core seminar requirements.

Learning Activity no. 1: Active Seminar Participation and Leadership

Your active participation in seminar activities, including appropriate study, through presentations, discussions, seminar leadership, reflection on your growth, small group work, and any evaluation activities is key to a productive course experience. In this seminar, you will have an opportunity (individually or as a team) to plan and lead a class session(s) on a selected topic(s) and an out-of-class practicum(a) (refer to the guidelines for seminar leadership below).

Objective: To facilitate your growth through contributive group membership and active learning participation.

Learning Activity no. 1A: Introduction to Online Learning Best Practices

The Open SUNY Course Quality Review (OSCQR) is a rubric and process that addresses both the instructional design and the accessibility of a course. You will be introduced to the OSCQR rubric, and have the opportunity to evaluate an online course using this rubric. This exercise is designed to engage you in dialogue about accessibility and instructional design, and how these dimensions of an online course relate to effective and satisfactory student learning. You will be expected to interact with the online course as a student, but with a critical eye towards design and accessibility. We will engage in a discussion over the course of a few classes as we explore various aspects of the rubric, online teaching and learning, and principles for good practice that are generalizable across all instructional settings.

Learning Activity no. 2: Readings

To be a member of this seminar requires you to complete the assigned readings prior to each session. This is your "price of admission." References included in this syllabus, bibliographies in your texts, the texts themselves, and your own literature searching activity through ESF's and Syracuse University’s online databases, and the World Wide Web should be primary means or sources for identifying this knowledge base. You also should consider magazines, books, and journals directly related to your specialized area of interest or professional work if they contain material related to teaching and learning.

At a minimum, this reading effort should include the text required for the course, additional assigned readings, other related books and articles as they pertain to your professional specialization, and some familiarity with sources listed in the bibliography.

Objective: To facilitate your acquisition of a broad-based comprehension of related literature.

Learning Activity no. 3: Peer and Self-reflection

Complete a self-diagnosis of your seminar participation and leadership and participate in a peer feedback process. Refer to the guidelines for seminar leadership below.

Objective: To facilitate your ability to diagnose, articulate, and meet student learning needs.

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Grades will be based on three criteria:

Criteria Percentage
Quality of preparation and participation 50%
Self-assessment of seminar leadership 20%
Peer-assessment of seminar leadership 30%

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Katherina Searing, Assistant Dean
ESF Open Academy
SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry
office: 235 Gateway Center (ESF Open Academy)
phone: 470-6817
office hours: by appointment


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Learning Activity #1 - Seminar Leadership Guidelines

You should consider the following when you prepare to assume a formal seminar leadership role:

  1. In consultation with the instructor and other seminar participants, select and schedule a topic for which you will plan and lead a class session either individually or as a team.
  2. For your session you should plan and prepare a learning activity, ideally one that entails an active participation / application exercise. Your presentation/learning activity should appropriately match the nature of the content, the learning objectives, and the learners. In any event, you are encouraged to go beyond merely "talking about" your topic and should demonstrate good teaching and learning practice. While a traditional presentation-followed-by-discussion approach can certainly represent good learning design and is permissible, participants are encouraged to explore and employ alternative methods, formats, and approaches. These may include, for example, cooperative learning, case study, games, simulations, or other active learning and experiential approaches.
  3. Your seminar session planning and preparation should be reflected in a "class session plan" or "lesson plan" that you share with the instructor and other seminar participants in advance of your scheduled session(s). While session plans will vary widely, all should include an outline of content as well as a description of methods, that is, a plan for what you will teach and how you will teach it. Your plan should address, for example, the following questions:
    1. What assumptions are you making about your students/participants?
    2. What is your learning objective(s) (outcomes) for this session? How does this session (and these objectives) relate to the larger course or program goals?
    3. What are your plans for helping students/participants achieve these objectives? That is, what is your Instructional Strategy? This should include (as appropriate):
      1. Pre-instructional Activity, e.g., what will you ask students/participants to do in preparation for this session (e.g., self-assessment, pre-test, reading, study questions)?
      2. Information Presentation (e.g., concepts, principles, procedures, examples/non-examples….)
      3. Learner Participation / Activity (i.e., application/practice in recalling, applying and finding concepts, etc. -- with feedback).
      4. Assessment and evaluation, i.e., how will you determine if your learning objectives have been accomplished?
      5. Follow-through Activity (i.e., post-instruction)
      6. Media and Materials (e.g., print, digital, PowerPoint, worksheets)
    4. How will you determine the extent to which your plan worked -- or better, which aspects of it were most successful?
  4. You should use the assigned reading(s) as the basis for your seminar session preparation and your presentation/learning activity (refer to both your course calendar and the list of additional readings in this course guide). Your seminar session should help you and other participants to summarize, compare/contrast, critique, and extend the core reading, along with other resources you may identify. The collegial exchange of information and dialogue with your graduate student and faculty colleagues (in and out of class) are important aspects of this seminar experience.
  5. You should distribute study questions and other pertinent material to seminar members at least one week prior to your seminar session.
  6. You are expected to appropriately use handouts, worksheets, and presentation resources. Media (video, PowerPoint presentations, etc.) may, of course, be used. You may arrange these additional resources through Instructional Technology Services (8 Moon / 470-6727) and/or your department office well in advance of your session.
  7. Following your seminar session,

    (A) Each seminar participant and the instructor are expected to provide positive, friendly, and constructive written feedback to you that reflects their perspective of your seminar leadership and their participation and learning. The Seminar Leadership Feedback form distributed in class may be used for this purpose OR you may design and distribute your own. This is due NO LATER THAN the next class meeting.

    (B) You are then expected to critically reflect upon, summarize, and synthesize both your own (an example self-assessment form is provided) and your colleagues’ feedback. After your analysis, synthesis and evaluation, a copy of your final (typically 1 – 3 page) self-assessment should be shared with the instructor. Generally, peer- and self-assessments should address the following:
    • What worked pretty well (i.e., you would not change next time)?
    • What things did not go so well during this particular class (and how might you approach this differently next time)?
    • What did you learn as a result of this experience?

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Students with Learning and Physical Disabilities

SUNY-ESF works with the Office of Disability Services (ODS) at Syracuse University, who is responsible for coordinating disability-related accommodations. Students can contact ODS at 804 University Avenue- Room 309, 315-443-4498 to schedule an appointment and discuss their needs and the process for requesting accommodations.Students may also contact the ESF Office of Student Affairs, 110 Bray Hall, 315-470-6660 for assistance with the process.To learn more about ODS, visit accommodation forms must be in the instructor's possession one week prior to any anticipated accommodation.Since accommodations may require early planning and generally are not provided retroactively, please contact ODS as soon as possible.

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Academic Dishonesty

Academic dishonesty is a breach of trust between a student, one’s fellow students, or the instructor(s). By registering for courses at ESF you acknowledge your awareness of the ESF Code of Student Conduct ( ), in particular academic dishonesty includes but is not limited to plagiarism and cheating, and other forms of academic misconduct. The Academic Integrity Handbook contains further information and guidance ( Infractions of the academic integrity code may lead to academic penalties as per the ESF Grading Policy (

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Selected Teaching/Learning Resources