The Fall 2010 Focus On Student Learning Series (FOSL)

Each semester the CTL organizes workshops for staff and faculty to discuss topics related to student learning, pedagogy, and innovations in teaching and learning. This fall we were able to cover a wide range of subjects including academic advising, The Great Teachers Seminar, the Common Reading, and plagiarism.

Beginning in August with a discussion on “Ways to Incorporate the Common Reading”, instructors throughout campus shared ideas for using themes from this year’s text “Survival of the Prettiest”, by Nancy Etcoff in any course. COMM instructor and Debate Team coach, Joyce Webb planned to use the book with students in her Debate & Forensics 301 class as the foundation for developing a persuasive speech analyzing the themes of feminism. English professor, Heidi Hanrahan, said students in her classes are encouraged to write essays about the topics of the book and submit them for consideration in the University-wide essay contest. PHIL 100 instructor, Laura Neal said students in her classes would explore the index of the book to discover topics of interest to them and their course discussion. In the Math department, Chris Elmer’s upper level seniors would use “Survival” to write a technical paper and develop a math modeling project with research component.

The FOSL workshop in September dealt with the new “Portfolio” feature associated with the On-Line Catalog. Led by Bob Warburton and Tracy Seffers, Courses by Portfolio: Navigating the Online Catalog was well attended by numerous faculty academic advisors and helped to explain the benefits of the online portfolio feature. In the spring, the topic for the Advising Workshop will be to focus on the new version of Banner (Banner 8) and to aid in course planning that ensures the pre-requisite courses are in place.

In October, Mark Cantrell shared teaching tips and pedagogical insights gained when he attended the 18th annual WV Great Teachers Seminar in June 2010.  Many attendees gathered to hear about his experience, one which he said was highly beneficial and surprisingly enjoyable. With no set agenda, he and his fellow attendees shared inspirations, innovations, problems and laughs during the four day seminar. Cantrell said the state park where the retreat was held was peaceful and offered excellent opportunities for recreation and relaxation and the entire experience motivated him to “teach better, not harder.” He went on to say that the format works, “because you are all great teachers, sharing tricks, tips, advice and skills, so you all become a little greater for it by the end of the workshop.” For more information on the Great Teachers Movement visit: Shepherd faculty are encouraged to consider attending the WV seminar next summer. If you are interested or would like more information, please call x5461.

The final FOSL session of the semester was held in late November and addressed the issue of plagiarism and academic honesty. Teaching Students to Use Knowledge Responsibly asked how we can convey to students the importance of academic integrity and what to do if you suspect a student has plagiarized an assignment. Professor Heidi Hanrahan led the workshop, encouraging faculty to address the concept in each class from Day 1 and in written form within the syllabus. Some students may not know what constitutes as plagiarism or there could be cultural or generational differences in place that don’t match with university standards for acceptable work. Explain to students why you want them to submit original work, set an example in your own lectures and discussions and reassure students that they are capable of submitting excellent work and avoiding plagiarized content. Instructional technologist, Lauryl Lewis encouraged faculty to use the online software, TurnItIn, which Shepherd pays an annual licensing fee which makes it available to everyone on campus. By submitting student papers to the TurnItIn website, faculty and students can check work for authenticity. For more information on this resource, contact Lewis at x5059 or If you suspect a student of plagiarizing work, instructors have the option to fail the student for the assignment or the entire class and should notify Dave Cole as well as the Registrar to discuss further actions and which steps to take in confirming the violation. 

A series of new FOSL workshops dealing with online teaching are currently being planned for the spring semester. Stay tuned for more information! We hope you’ll join us for these engaging, highly valuable discussions.

Past topics are available on DVD for checkout from the Scarborough Library. Just ask a librarian at the front desk for the “FOSL Reserve” of a specific topic or date listed below:

November 2010: Teaching Students to Use Knowledge Responsibly (Plagiarism & TurnItIn)
October 2010: The Great Teachers Seminar
Sept. 2010 – Navigating the online portfolio tool – A workshop for academic advisors
Aug. 2010 – Ways to Incorporate the Common Reading
Sept. 2009 – The Scholarship of Teaching & Learning
Aug. 2009 – Ways to Incorporate the Common Reading
April 2009 – New Technology Showcase
March 2009 – Designing Lesson Plans for Every Learning Style
March 2009 – 3rd Annual Celebration of Student Learning
Feb. 2009 – Creating Capstone Courses
Oct. 2008 – Engaging the Millennial Generation
Sept. 2008 – Recognizing the Signs of Students in Need
Aug. 2008 – Ways to Incorporate the Common Reading
March 2008 – 2nd Annual Celebration of Student Learning
Nov. 2007 – Team Based Teaching
Sept. 2007 – Assessor Refresher workshop
Sept. 2007 – Tips for Top Tests



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