Weekly "Teaching and Learning Tips" -- Collectively Supporting Learning

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Tip Table of Contents:

Dr. Micaela Szykman Gunther working with wildlife students in the field

Tip #23: Connecting to Community Using the Library’s Special Collections

Contributed by Carly Marino, Library


On Thursday, March 1st from 3-5pm the Library is celebrating the grand opening of the new Humboldt State University (HSU) Special Collections, a premier research center for the study of Northwestern California. Special Collections is an interdisciplinary laboratory for students to learn how to use primary source material and conduct original research by investigating archival maps, photographs, diaries, and manuscript collections documenting the history of Humboldt County.  Every semester, thousands of HSU students use these collections to explore Humboldt’s communities and their own place within it.


Why encourage students to conduct research in Special Collections?


  • Researching a local topic can help students learn about the community in which they live. Feeling connected to Humboldt County can help fuel a student’s desire to stay at HSU.

  • Students develop information literacy skills and learn how information is found, produced, and evaluated. Students can see the entire research process demonstrated in the collections housed in Special Collections, from data sets and research notes to the editor’s comments and the final published article.  


  • Students can engage in inquiry-based research and formulate research questions  based on their own experiences in the community or based on the primary sources found in Special Collections.

  • By participating in semester-long projects and internships, students can work to digitize material and design digital exhibits. This type of work encourages students to become empowered content creators.


How can you incorporate Special Collections in your course?





Association of College and Research Libraries. (2015). Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education.  


Bahde, A., Smedberg, H., Taormina, M., & Yakel, E. (2014). Using primary sources: Hands-on instructional exercises. Santa Barbara, CA: Libraries Unlimited.

Hinchliffe, L., & Prom, C. (2016). Teaching with primary sources. Chicago, IL: Society of American Archivists.  


Tip #22: Inspire Your Teaching and Your Students’ Learning Through Facilitated Feedback

Contributed by Kim Vincent-Layton, Center for Teaching and Learning

Mid-semester may not seem like the time to make changes in your classroom, but it is actually the perfect time to inspire your passion for teaching through facilitated student feedback. The mid-semester evaluation (MSE) is facilitated by a trained graduate student who elicits anonymous feedback from your students as they discuss how the class helps them learn and how it might be enhanced/improved to help them be more successful. Students who provide feedback that results in course changes have been shown to experience improved attitudes about the course and/or instructor (Keutzer, 1993).  

Consider the many benefits to faculty and students

  • Discovery of favorite aspects of a course
  • Empowers the student voice in their learning experience
  • Insights for timely course adjustments that impact students’ experience
  • Allows for risk-taking in teaching
  • Improves end-of-the-semester evaluations (Cohen, 1980; Murray, 2007)
  • Improves learning and class climate through work with a trained facilitator and the CTL
  • Only takes 20-30 minutes of class

Feedback from HSU faculty who have participated in MSE

  • This service [MSE] was helpful to understand the needs of my students while maintaining a rigorous course with quality assignments. For instance, I made changes to a homework assignment that I had introduced in the Spring 2016 semester for my Learning and Motivation courses. This new assignment was inspired by comments from the student evaluations from the previous semester. The changes I made to the assignment were well received, as evidenced through my student evaluations. It is important to students that their instructors acknowledge their thoughts and suggestions as it empowers them to take a more active role in their own education. This in turn may make students more invested in the class. I was happy that my students noticed and appreciated my efforts to work with them, as one student’s evaluation comment says, “Dr. Sanchez is a  teacher that is really open to feedback from her class. Throughout the year she allowed her students to provide feedback and she listened. I noticed that she would change some of the class structure to help the flow. She has done an amazing job!” (Spring 2016).” - Mari Sanchez, Psychology

  • "The mid-semester evaluation process was very user-friendly, informative, and felt like class time well spent. It was helpful to get student feedback when there is still time in the semester to respond and make changes. In response to student feedback through these evaluations, I now write more on the whiteboard, talk more slowly, and hold review sessions before each exam. These evaluations are nice in that you feel compelled to make changes and respond to the critiques because the students know you heard their feedback and expect to see some adjustments.” - Lucy Kerhoulas, Forestry and Wildland

  • “Mid-Semester Evaluations helped me to see the students’ perceptions on course strengths, weaknesses, and needs. Once I had it, I incorporated them into my next half of teaching and finally my overall evaluation was 4.5 out of 5.0. Therefore, MSE is really important to instructors to get the feedback from students early and then improve the teaching the next half of the semester.” - Buddihika Madurapperuma, Environmental Science Management

Interested in an MSE this semester? We are excited to co-inspire with you! Please contact the CTL at ctl@humboldt.edu and provide your department, course name, enrollment, days/times course meets, and preferred time(s) for an MSE facilitator to come to your class.



Cohen, P. A. (1980). Effectiveness of student-rating feedback for improving college instruction: A meta-analysis of findings. Research in Higher Education, 13(4), 321-341.

Keutzer, C.S. (1993). Midterm evaluation of teaching provides helpful feedback to instructors. Teaching of Psychology, 20, 238-240.

Murray, H. G. (2007). Low-inference teaching behaviors and college teaching effectiveness: Recent developments and controversies. In R. P. Perry & J. C. Smart (Eds.), The scholarship of teaching and learning in higher education: An evidence-based perspective (pp. 145-200). Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Springer.

Tip #21: Supporting Our Multilingual Students

Contributed by Contributed by Tyler Bradbury, Center for International Programs

It isn’t always evident if our students speak English as their primary language, but we can be sure that there are multilingual students in our classes. How can we enhance our teaching so that we are making lectures and materials accessible for these students? The good news is that many of these strategies make materials more accessible for ALL students!

Quick and easy ways to help students:

  • Provide instruction that appeals to multiple learning styles.

  • Be sure to have visual references and cues such as presentation slides, notes on the board, or lecture notes that can be annotated by the students. This helps students keep up with the lecture and information.

  • When showing video, use the CC option to provide English subtitles.

  • Instead of full class discussions, consider small group discussion where students feel more comfortable speaking up and asking questions. International students especially can be self-conscious of their ability to make themselves understood (because of language or pronunciation).

  • Ask yourself if there is a reason for a time limit on your Canvas quizzes. Could the time-limit be increased or removed altogether?

  • Allow for resubmission of essays for improved grades.

  • If there are comprehension problems, don’t speak louder, slow down and speak clearly.

Tips that may challenge you and your teaching:

  • If you have a large group who speaks the same primary language, consider encouraging group discussions in their primary language.

  • For international students, do your research and be aware of the cultural teaching styles they are accustomed to. Find out if collaborative learning, class discussion, and freely questioning the instructor are styles they have experienced before or if they need help adapting.

  • Increase your formative, low-stakes, evaluations, don’t rely solely upon structured quizzes and exams to give you an idea of how students are grasping materials.

  • Reflect on how imperfect English affects your grading and if it should.



Creese, A., & Blackledge, A. (2010). Translanguaging in the bilingual classroom: A pedagogy for learning and teaching? The Modern Language Journal, 94(1), 103-115.

Lightbown, P., & Spada, N. (2013). How languages are learned (Fourth ed., Oxford handbooks for language teachers).

Tip #20: Learning as a Journey: Early, Low-stakes Assignments

Contributed by Kim Vincent-Layton, Center for Teaching and Learning

Should we be giving students more tests? Well, yes, and no.  In order for assessments of learning to be effective, they must be “frequent, early, and formative” (Tinto, 2012). Offering opportunities for students to practice and receive critical feedback right from the start helps to guide their learning. Given that early, low-stakes assignments influence future performance, rather than past, we can understand where our students are before and during their learning. This in turn helps us in creating opportunities to further grow their self-efficacy by identifying misconceptions and gaps. This approach has many benefits to both instructor and student.

Benefits for Students

  • Motivates and increases class attendance
  • Opportunity for active and reflective evaluation and control of their own learning (Nicol & Macfarlane-Dick, 2006)
  • Opportunity to translate prior knowledge/experiences to course topics (Kift, 2009)
  • Increases engagement, specifically for those who might be at risk for failure or withdrawal
  • Builds skills and confidence with specific, timely, feedback that empower them to make adjustments (Kuh, Kinzie, Schuh, & Whitt, 2010)
  • Increases opportunity for practice, recall, and retention of information
  • Increases self-efficacy
  • Opens communication with the instructor that can lead to more meaningful conversations and connections
  • Fosters deep learning (Bain, 2014; Nilsen, 2010)

Benefits for Faculty

  • Personalizes the learning experience by modifying instruction based on students’ learning
  • Opens communication with your students that can lead to more meaningful conversations and connections
  • Connects to bigger course concepts to help student scaffold their learning
  • Identifies students who may need additional support, e.g., students on academic probation, students not attending class, students who would benefit from other support such as writing, etc.
  • Referral support using our early alert system, Skyfactor MapWorks
  • Directs students to additional resources if needed
  • Contributes towards helping students not only be successful in their courses, but also make significant progress toward their degrees

Examples of Low-stakes Assignments

  • Drafts
  • Peer review
  • Group work
  • Quiz
  • Discussion
  • Self-assessment
  • Quick Write
  • Muddiest Point
  • Journal/reflection

Examples at HSU

  • Initial map quiz (assesses prior knowledge and provides practice) - Brittany Sheldon, Art. “On the first day, when I asked my 42 students in 104K if any of them knew anything about Africa or African art, one person raised their hand. This is nothing against them - it's the usual response. So today they are going to get a blank map of Africa and they are going to fill in all the countries they know. (they won't be graded, but will receive attendance/participation credit). Then they will have map labeling components on their midterm and final so they can see the progress they've made.”

  • Clicker Quizzes (regular, ongoing practice with feedback) - Chris Harmon, Chemistry. “I do a clicker quiz every Friday that consists of five multiple choice questions. Students get two minutes per question (timed) and the quiz is open discussion/open notes. We do this for the last 20 minutes of class and discuss the results afterwards.

  • Practice and Reflection - Whitney Ogle, Kinesiology. “I have two assignments due in the first week of class for KINS 484: Motor Learning and Development.  The first assignment is a baseline handwriting assignment where students test their ability to write with their non-dominant hand.  This is part of an ongoing assignment throughout the semester where the students receive a 1 for turning in the assignment or a 0 if they do not turn in the assignment.  This semester, I gave the students time in class to complete the assignment so they all received a 1/1 for the assignment, starting the semester with a 100%.  The other assignment is a one-page reflection where they find a picture of themselves and describe the senses they were using to complete the task and classify the task and environment.  I enjoy this assignment because I get to learn more about the students, the students typically do well on the assignment, and it helps the students feel embodied in the course content.”



Bain, K. (2004). What the best college teachers do. Cambridge: Harvard UP.

Kift, S., (2009), First year curriculum principles: Program coordinator checklist, Articulating a transition pedagogy. http://www.csu.edu.au/student/transition/deliverables/5.htm

Kuh, G. D., Kinzie, J., Schuh, J.S., and Whitt, E.J. (2010). Student success in college: Creating conditions that matter. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Nicol, David J., & Macfarlane‐Dick, D. (2006). Formative assessment and self‐regulated learning: a model and seven principles of good feedback practice. Studies in Higher Education, 31(2).

Nilson, L. B. (2010). Teaching at its best: A research-based resource for college instructors. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Tinto, V. (2012). Completing college: Rethinking institutional action. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

Tip #19: Got Rubrics?

Contributed by Christine Dobrowolski, Kinesiology

Have you ever wished for a simple and systematic grading system that provides clear expectations for students, yet saves you time when grading? Here’s a solution for you, the rubric tool in Canvas! Creating rubrics in Canvas is easy, and utilizing rubrics in SpeedGrader makes grading efficient.

Rubrics positively influence student learning, improve student performance, support self-directed learning, and contribute to effective assessment (Wolf & Stevens, 2007). sample rubric

Advantages of Using Rubrics

  • Rubrics set clear expectations for students
  • Rubrics help students monitor their progress
  • Rubrics allow students to recognize their strengths and weaknesses
  • Rubrics allow instructors to recognize the strengths and weaknesses of a class
  • Rubrics help instructors identify areas that need more instructional time
  • Rubric save instructors time when grading

Creating a Rubric in Canvas

To create a rubric, start by going to an assignment you’ve created, scroll down and click “+ Rubric”. Or, in a discussion, click on the gear icon and select “add rubric”. Fill in the criteria and descriptions for the assignment and click save to finish. You can use the same rubric for similar assignments or modify a template rubric to fit a variety of assignments.

SpeedGrader allows you to use rubrics to assign grades, view and sort submissions, and easily move from one student submission to the next. Within SpeedGrader you can provide annotated and written comments, create video feedback, and use the speech-to-text recognition tool.

Tips for Canvas Rubrics

  • Write out your criteria and descriptions in a text document; cut-and-paste text into the rubric.
  • If using multiple rubrics, create a template rubric and rename for each assignment.
  • Use descriptive titles for criteria; include details in the ratings descriptions.
  • Clearly delineate between ratings.
  • Check “use this rubric for assignment grading” when finished; you can still write free-form comments.



Allen, D. & Tanner, K. (2006).Rubrics: Tools for making learning goals. CBE Life Sci Educ, 5(3), 197–203.

Panadero, E., & Jonsson, A. (2013). The use of scoring rubrics for formative assessment purposes revisited: A review. Educational Research Review, 9(1), 129-144.

Wolf K, Stevens E. (2007). The role of rubrics in advancing and assessing student learning. The Journal of Effective Teaching, 7(1), 3-14.

HSU Quality Learning and Teaching (QLT) Best Practice Guide. Assessment and Evaluation of Student Learning (2.4).

Tip #18: Rock Your First Day of Class!

Contributed by Kim Vincent-Layton, Center for Teaching and Learning 

What do you remember from a “first day of class” as a student? Did you know that the first day of class sets the tone for the rest of the course (Nilson, 2003)? As you enter your classrooms on the first day, consider some of the following tips to set the tone for the learning space.

Communicate prior to the first day of class

  • Send an email that welcomes students and invites their energy to the learning environment. Include a brief ‘welcome video‘ to help them get to know you before class begins
  • Offer an online Syllabus Quiz, a brief overview of the course, expectations, materials, etc., so that students already have a sense of what is expected on the first day and can jump right into an icebreaker

Create an inviting, inclusive classroom

Be authentic and get to know your students

Establish expectations and requirements

  • Describe the learning outcomes (what do these really mean to the student?)
  • Share expectations of you as instructor
  • Provide opportunities for feedback at regular intervals to help students know where they are ‘at’ in their learning


Desrochers, C. G. (2008). Making your first class meeting truly first class! CSU Institute for Teaching & Learning.

Lyons, R., McIntosh, M., & Kysilka, M. (2003). Teaching college in an age of accountability. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

Nilson, L. (2003). Teaching at its best: A research-based resource for college instructors (2nd ed.). Bolton, MA: Anker Publishing.

Tip #17: The Inclusive, Learner-Centered Syllabus

Contributed by Lisa Tremain, English and Janelle Adsit, English

Consider the difference: the policy-oriented syllabus versus the learner-centered syllabus.  An inclusive, learner-centered syllabus sees this text as the start of a conversation that will continue throughout the semester. The syllabus is the students’ invitation to participate in that conversation. Rather than a mere statement of course policies, the syllabus becomes a highly motivating way to open the semester. In order to build a learner-centered syllabus...

Use inviting and affirming language.

  • Consider the student audience. Using the second-person “you” in your syllabus, e.g., “In this class you will work collaboratively to investigate….”

  • Emphasize positive over punishing language with phrases such as “I encourage you to…” or “One of the best ways to engage yourself in this course is to…”

  • Help students to envision their success in the course. Use language that already assumes their success. This should include describing your role as instructor, and what you will do to foster student success. It can also depict students as actively shaping their learning experience (e.g., “The texts I’ve selected for you to read can inform the projects you create this semester.”)

  • Include a simple “preferred name and gender pronouns” statement, such as “you will have the opportunity to let our classroom community know your name and gender pronoun and anything else you would like to share.”

Example from a 100-level history course syllabus:

Policy-oriented Syllabus

Learner-centered Syllabus

Course Objectives: Each student in the class is expected to achieve the following learning objectives. You must demonstrate knowledge and skills based on the following...

How You’ll Know You’re Learning: We’ll use the following course objectives to focus our work together. The following learning objectives are a way of describing and naming what you learn this semester…

Build from what students already know or expect.

  • The syllabus is a teaching tool. As you would with any other assignment or exercise, build from what the students already know and be explicit about what you want them to achieve.

  • Consider the fact that many college students experience “impostor syndrome,” where it is difficult for them to visualize or believe in their success.  This means that they might demonstrate or assume a passive role. Use the language of the syllabus—such as active verbs—to counteract impostor syndrome.

  • Don’t overwhelm your audience. A syllabus should be easy to navigate. It’s a document that students will use for reference throughout the semester, and it should be easy for them to find the information they need when they need it. Throughout the document, use a conversational tone, and avoid terminology that students will not know on day one.

  • Pose interesting questions, and explain the “so what? factor” of the course. Use the syllabus as an opportunity to explain why the course content matters. The syllabus is the first opportunity to get students excited about the course. A learner-centered syllabus will leave students eager to get started.

Example from a 100-level history course syllabus:

Policy-oriented syllabus

Learner-centered syllabus

Course Description: This course emphasizes the major political, social, economic and intellectual developments in the United States from the Civil War to the present.

A Bit About the Course: You’ve probably studied U.S. history before, exploring the major themes, events, and people who have shaped this country. Your other history courses may have been focused on certain historical facts. Facts have an important place in this course, but I expect that you will find our time together to be different from your previous history courses in useful and challenging ways.

Assess your syllabus before distributing to students.

  • Consult with former students to provide feedback and shape language that aligns to their understanding and experience of the course.

  • Consider having former students write a letter to the next class—providing their peers advice and ideas about what to expect from the course. Use these students’ letters to inform what you say in your syllabus.

  • Join or create opportunities for informal peer-to-peer feedback within or across majors to discuss syllabi design with a focus on inclusivity and learner-centered language.

  • Consult resources such as this syllabus self-assessment or this syllabus rubric guide.

Strategically present and engage students with your syllabus on the first day of class.

  • Do not read the syllabus to your students. Instead, design an interactive activity that helps students engage the syllabus. For example, have students read through the syllabus as an early homework assignment and come to class with three “takeaways” and two questions.  Have students teach takeaways to each other and hold a discussion that fields students’ questions about the syllabus.

  • Let your syllabus model what you want students to do as thinkers in the class.  For example, point out that parts of the syllabus (e.g. the schedule or components of assignments) may be revised. This models both flexibility and revision; both are skills we want our students to be able to employ as learners.

  • Explain your syllabus policies in terms of your own boundaries and needs. For example, “Work that is submitted late is very difficult for me to manage, in terms of my work load. Because of this, I ask that you not submit late work, and I’ll need to deduct X number of points if work is submitted late.”

  • Identify what in the syllabus is negotiable and up for discussion. Use the syllabus to prompt a discussion of community agreements among all members of the course.


Tip #16: Finals Week – The Home Stretch!

We have arrived at FinalsWeek! As our students gear up for this last push, consider passing along the Academic and Career Advising Center’s Finals Week Tips and Resources and the link to the HSU Library Brain Booth where students can take a ‘brain break’ between finals. Here at the CTL we are particularly proud to look back on our first 15 weeks of Teaching and Learning Tips. We’ve covered everything from resources to supporting students of concern to introducing inclusive teaching strategies in the classroom. As you begin course planning for the spring, consider incorporating Semester on a Page or reflection exercises into your classes. For these and more, see the CTL Tip archive.

Have a wonderful, restful break! And as always, let us know how the CTL can support your work!

Tip #15: ‘Tis the Season for Grading!

Contributed by Mario Torres, Academic Technology

As we wrap up the semester, you may find yourself dealing with last minute grading questions. The Academic Technology team has been hard at work creating HSU specific Canvas guides to make your final grading process as smooth as possible. Below is a link to a compilation of Canvas grading resources. If these guides don’t meet your grading needs, please feel free to contact the campus Canvas support team: at@humboldt.edu or (707) 826-4461.

Have you tried using Canvas SpeedGrader?

As an instructor, SpeedGrader allows you to view and grade student assignment submissions in one place using a simple point scale or complex rubric. You can use SpeedGrader to:

  • Sort submissions by student and hide student names for anonymous grading
  • View submission details for each student, including resubmitted assignments
  • Use rubrics to assign grades  
  • Leave feedback for your students
  • Track your grading progress and hide assignments while grading
  • View submissions in moderated assignments


Tip #14: What Are Inclusive Teaching Strategies?

Contributed by Dr. Ramona Bell, CRGS and ODEI

Inclusive teaching strategies refer to any number of teaching approaches that address the needs of students with a variety of backgrounds, learning styles, and abilities. These strategies contribute to an overall inclusive learning environment, in which students feel equally valued. “Even though some of us might wish to conceptualize our classrooms as culturally neutral or might choose to ignore the cultural dimensions, students cannot check their sociocultural identities at the door, nor can they instantly transcend their current level of development… Therefore, it is important that the pedagogical strategies we employ in the classroom reflect an understanding of social identity development so that we can anticipate the tensions that might occur in the classroom and be proactive about them” (Ambrose et. al., 2010, p. 169-170).

Some benefits of inclusive teaching are:

  • You can connect with and engage with a variety of students.
  • You are prepared for “spark moments” or issues that arise when controversial material is discussed.
  • Students connect with course materials that are relevant to them.
  • Students feel comfortable in the classroom environment to voice their ideas/thoughts/questions.
  • Students are more likely to experience success in your course through activities that support their learning styles, abilities, and backgrounds.

How can you teach inclusively?

Be reflective by asking yourself the following:

  • How might your own cultural-bound assumptions influence your interactions with students?
  • How might the backgrounds and experiences of your students influence their motivation, engagement, and learning in your classroom?
  • How can you modify course materials, activities, assignments, and/or exams to be more accessible to all students in your class?

Resources (Contributed by Cheryl Johnson, ODEI)


Ambrose, S. A., Bridges, M.W., DiPietro, M. & Lovett, M.C. (2010). How learning works: Seven research-based principles for smart teaching. San Francisco, CA: Jossey Bass.

Armstrong, M.A. (2011). Small world: Crafting an inclusive classroom (no matter what you teach). Thought and Action, Fall, 51-61.

Hooks, b. (1994). Teaching to transgress. New York, NY: Routledge Press.

Kaplan, M. & Miller, A. T. (Eds.). (2007). Special Issue: Scholarship of multicultural teaching and learning. New Directions for Teaching and Learning, (111).

Warren, L. (2006). Managing hot moments in the classroom. Retrieved from: http://isites.harvard.edu/fs/html/icb.topic58474/hotmoments.html

Salazar, M., Norton, A., & Tuitt, F. (2009). Weaving promising practices for inclusive excellence into the higher education classroom. In L.B. Nilson and J.E. Miller (Eds.) To Improve the Academy. (208-226). Jossey-Bass.

Tip #13: Supporting Students Before and After the Break

Contributed by HSU Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS)

Support starts with the guideline: “Assume nothing”

  • Don’t assume the student went anywhere for the holidays.  If they did go home, don’t assume it was necessarily a positive experience.
  • Holidays can be very mixed for our students.  Some go home to happy loving families and others go back to more difficult scenarios—homes where they experienced trauma or neglect….or back to parent/s that have very different political views that can feel negating of a student’s very identity (e.g., LGBTQ) or life’s passions (e.g., environment, civil rights/social justice).
  • Some students have no home or don’t have the finances to travel.  They may feel “stuck” here and “abandoned” by their friends who have left for the holidays. Others may welcome the quiet time and see it as a chance to catch up on their studies and Netflix binge watching.

It takes patience, understanding, and adjustments for these transitions. Here are a few things you might consider to support your students (and you!):

Before leaving for break

  • Suggest they start a day or two before the break is over to reset and get back into the swing of their routine (set alarms!)
  • Find time for socializing/reconnecting with friends before classes are back in session
  • Take a moment to go over their schedule/planner for the last few weeks
  • Write a few goals for the last few weeks of the semester

Returning from break

  • Send a class announcement in Canvas or email at the end of the break that lets students know that you are looking forward to seeing them and that they only have three weeks left
  • Offer an opportunity to ease your students back into HSU life, e.g., routines, invite to office hours to reconnect, tell students that you care about their wellbeing, leave room for students to have their own unique experiences
  • Recommend the student practice good self-care and engage in routines.  If someone is having trouble adapting back to campus, it is not the time to stop going to class or to come home to an empty fridge or ignore sleep.
  • Remind students to finish strong, e.g., motivational activity in groups to reconnect to peers, self-reflective activity
  • Provide an opportunity for students to review previous academic achievements and provide feedback


Tip #12: Reflection Facilitates Deeper Learning

Contributed by Loren Collins, Academic and Career Advising Center

HSU currently has thirteen Service Learning courses serving in our community this semester if you include three of our newest Service Learning courses that are piloting a community based portion.  As we are entering the final third of the semester the assignments in these courses are beginning to turn to reflection and requiring students to connect the content of their courses and the meaningful experiences they have had in the community.

Reflection is a core component of all Service Learning because it facilitates the deep connection between meeting a community need, the content of a course, and the personal growth and learning for the student involved.  For example, Mitchell (2008) captures the power of reflection in learning about issues related to social justice when she talks about how simple service can become a deep learning experience when you connect it to critical analysis and engagement.  A student serving food at a food pantry learns a lot about the structures of inequality and social justice when they begin to reflect upon the conditions that lead to the need for food pantries in the first place or reflect on their own positionality as a service provider faced with community needs. Combined with relevant course content, this kind of learning carries impact and reflection serves to drive it down deep.

Of course, reflection is not just for Service Learning or for topics related to social justice.  It can be a valuable teaching tool for any learning experience and applied to any type of course content.  Please see the attached “Reflection Collection” activities for getting started with reflective activities in your own classroom.  If you have great activities of your own we invite you to share them with us at CTL.

Contributed by Loren Collins, Academic and Career Advising Center

Bloomquist, C. (2015). Reflecting on reflection as a critical component in service learning. Journal of Education for Library & Information Science 56(2). 169–72.

Mitchell, T. D. (2008). Traditional vs. critical service-learning: Engaging the literature to differentiate two models. Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning 14(2).

Mitchell, T.D. (2014). How service-learning enacts social justice sensemaking. Journal of Critical Thought and Praxis 2(2). 6.

Teaching and Learning TipTip #11: Do We Really Know Our HSU Students?

Contributed by Kim Vincent-Layton, Center for Teaching and Learning

What if it were true that HSU seniors….

  • Spent an average of 15 hours per week preparing for class
  • 60% received prompt and detailed feedback from faculty
  • 82% rated their educational experience as “excellent” or “good”
  • 8 out of 10 reported that they experienced high-impact practices (pedagogy, hands-on, service learning, capstone, etc.)
  • About 64% seniors and 78% of first year students indicated they 'never' or 'sometimes' discussed course ideas, concepts or other course related things outside of class with faculty
  • Over 90% are Millennials/Generation Y (born between 1980-2000)

What if it were true that HSU faculty...

  • 64% spent between 1-4 hours per week on improving their teaching
  • About 37% are Baby Boomers (born between 1943-1964), about 38% are Generation X (born between 1965-1979) and about 25% are Millennials/Generation Y (born between 1980-2000)

If these were true...what does this mean and how might we think about learning and student engagement in new ways? Come find out about these and other important data to bust the myths and corroborate the findings this Friday, November 3, in Goodwin Forum 9:00 - 11:00 am. Dr. Lisa Castellino, Associate Vice President of the Office of Institutional Effectiveness, will share the findings from HSU’s participation in the 2017 Faculty Survey of Student Engagement (FSSE) (perceptions of instructional staff) and how this contextualizes the student responses to the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE).

Did you miss the NSSE presentation in September? Watch the recording: NSSE Presentation by Dr. Lisa Castellino

Teaching and Learning TipTip #10: Tips on Advising Student Athletes

Contributed by Duncan Robin, Athletics

Your advice could impact a player’s eligibility and their career.

Did you know? There are over 400 student-athletes at Humboldt State in any given year. That’s over 5% of our student population. Student-athletes are enrolled in over 37 different majors and participating in over 60 options/concentrations. On average, student-athletes have higher GPA’s and better outcomes than other students.

Why do Student-Athletes have better outcomes on average? To remain eligible to play, they must keep progressing towards degree, and maintain acceptable GPAs despite traveling for 20-30 days a term, and participating in their sport for up to 20 hours per week. Athletics also runs study halls that are mandated for many athletes.

Tips on advising student-athletes:

  • Please keep major contracts up to date with the registrar’s office.
  • Make sure students are enrolled in at least 12 units each term.
  • Units must be degree applicable as described on their DARS.
  • Remember, these students must pass at least 24 degree-applicable units a year.
  • If you anticipate a shortfall in units, please help them find a summer option.
  • Please fill out mid-term, student evaluations.  These are critical for advising athletes.
  • Contact Athletics with any questions.  The NCAA requirements are numerous!
Teaching and Learning TipTip #9: Low Tech Ways to Implement Universal Design for Learning into Your Classroom

Special Announcement: Join the Center for Learning & Teaching (CTL) Celebration, October 26th 3-5pm, Library third floor. Find out more about the CTL, be part of the future vision, and meet all the partners in this fun event with food and prizes.

Contributed by Jayne McGuire, Kinesiology and Recreation

You may have heard about Universal Design for Learning (UDL) as a framework for learning that reduces barriers for students who experience disabilities.  If so, you are definitely on the right track. UDL, which was developed to improve and optimize teaching and learning for all people, is based on scientific insights into how humans learn.  The UDL guidelines focus on three brain networks: Engagement, Representation, and Action & Expression.  When these networks are activated, learning is optimized.  UDL is often associated with technology, but there are plenty of low-tech ways to activate each of these network.  Here are some ideas for each area:


  • give students choices
  • vary assignments so that the opportunities remain fresh and exciting
  • build in opportunities for reflection
  • look for ways to apply your content to daily situations
  • create a learning environment where student feel safe and willing to take risks


  • present information in several different ways
  • look for content in current media
  • highlight big ideas
  • always start with a review
  • clarify vocabulary

Action & Expression

  • use active learning strategies every class
  • provide opportunities for student to share what they understand with each other
  • engage students in goal setting
  • teach students how to monitor their progress
  • consider having student complete a grading rubric when turning in assignments

Explore UDL further with these links:

Teaching and Learning TipTip #8: Did You Receive (and are you wearing) Your "1 in 10" Button?

Contributed by Cassandra Tex, Student Disability Resource Center

October is Disability Awareness Month and the Student Disability Resource Center (SDRC) created and distributed buttons to help raise awareness to the fact that approximately 1 in 10 individuals is living with a disability.  That’s right…approximately 10% of the population have a disability which means that you, as a member of the HSU community, can expect that approximately 10% of our students will have one or more disabilities.

Not All Disabilities Are Visible

When thinking about disabilities, most people think of individuals who are blind and use a white cane or individuals who use wheelchairs.  However, not all disabilities are apparent or visible.  In fact, many if not most, disabilities are non-apparent which means that you will not know if an individual has a disability simply by looking at them.  Psychological, learning, and health-related disabilities are non-apparent disabilities and are the disabilities with which the majority of students with disabilities at HSU are living.

Things You Can Do

Faculty, here are things you can do to ensure that you are meeting the needs of all of your students, including students with disabilities:

  • Consider structuring your curriculum, activities, and assignments using the principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL).  See the UDL tip next week!
  • Notify the Bookstore of your textbook adoptions for the upcoming semester before the established deadline
  • Ensure the documents you create such as your syllabus, PowerPoint presentations, exams, etc. are accessible
  • Ensure videos used in your classroom or posted in Canvas are captioned
  • Ensure documents posted to Canvas or instructional-related websites are accessible (i.e., text-based PDF files…not image-only PDF files )
  • Speak clearly while facing the class (do not lecture while facing the whiteboard or screen)
  • Ensure the accessible furniture provided in each classroom (height-adjustable table and chair) is easy for students to access and not moved to the corner “out of the way” or to a different classroom altogether
  • Consult with the SDRC if you have questions or concerns about accommodating a student with a disability

We Would Like to Hear from You

In our SDRC spring survey, an overwhelming number of you asked for training and resources to assist you in supporting students with disabilities.  Please look for an upcoming survey to let us know what specific resources and trainings you'd like. We appreciate your feedback!


Teaching and Learning TipTip #7: Creating Significant Learning Experiences by Engaging Career Aspirations in the Classroom

Contributed by Loren Collins, Academic and Career Advising Center

Last year, more that 15 majors and 30 classes included career exploration, field-specific research of job opportunities, resume development, informational interviews and/or mock interviews within their courses. More than 300 students participated in practice interviews and more than 400 participated in creating resumes related to their fields of interest.  This is a result of the innovative work of a number of our colleagues here at Humboldt State. Over the past few years faculty have been experimenting with and designing lesson plans that integrate career preparedness into their syllabi and coursework. HSU is ahead of the game for the time being as faculty are dedicating a little bit of time and effort toward helping students translate their experience in the classroom to their future aspirations. What makes HSU unique is the scope of our project and our approach to custom designing our career education to fit each participating major.

In Creating Significant Learning Experiences, Fink (2013) presents a taxonomy for significant learning experiences and states that for learning to occur there needs to be a lasting change in the learner that is important to their life.  Fink outlines six kinds of significant learning:

  • Foundational Knowledge

  • Application

  • Integration

  • Human Dimension

  • Caring

  • Learning how to learn

We can address at least five of these areas by simply leading students through activities that require them to explore their future aspirations, career opportunities and requirements, and how their education connects to real life scenarios.  These kind of classroom activities helps our disciplines speak directly to student interests and the underlying concerns they have for their future.  Faculty that have implemented these kinds of assignments have significant returns on these investments and cite that students often become more committed, confident, and purposeful in their chosen pathways.

The CAHSS Career Curriculum Committee has drawn on the work of 8 members of CAHSS Faculty and staff from the Academic and Career Advising Center to provide you with resources that can help you easily integrate these kinds of experiences in your own courses.  We also encourage you to share with us any of your own activities and innovations.


HSU’s Academic and Career Advising Center and the College of the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences’ Career Curriculum Program: http://www2.humboldt.edu/acac/curriculum

Fink, L.D. (2013). Creating significant learning experiences: an integrated approach to designing college courses. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

McDow, L.W. & Zabrucky, K.M. (2015). Effectiveness of a career development course on students’ job search skills and self-efficacy. Journal of College Student Development 56(6), 632–636.

Mills, A.G. & Sutera, J. (2012). Case Studies of curricular approaches. New Directions for Student Services 2012(138), 75–90.

Folsom, B. & Reardon, R. (2003). College career courses: design and accountability. Journal of Career Assessment 11(4), 421–50.

Teaching and Learning TipTip #6 Design Your Learning Through SkillShops

Contributed by Sarah Fay Philips, Library

Pick up a new skill, learn about a new technology, and help prepare yourself to reach your personal, academic and professional goals.

Co-Curricular Learning

SkillShops are 50-minute drop-in workshops focused on introducing and developing a wide range of skills and are designed to support learners through the encouragement of play, discovery, and social interaction. During the 2016/2017 academic year, HSU SkillShops attendance topped 1,600 and included 22 partners from across campus who facilitated workshops. Although SkillShops began as a program by the Library, it is now a cross-campus collaboration that offers students, staff and faculty an engaging personalized and professional learning experience.

Each SkillShop is assigned to one of five themes: Personal Growth, College & Study Skills, Leadership & Career, Technology & Digital Media and Finding & Using Information. This next week will include SkillShops on a wide range of topics including:

Students, faculty, and staff are invited to design their learning by attending a relevant SkillShop! Visit the full calendar to pre-register or view the calendar for the next two weeks.

Integrate SkillShops as a Class Assignment

You can assign students to attend SkillShops to develop their understanding of topics needed for your class or discipline. You can also work with us to have specific SkillShops offered at a time in the semester that coincides with an assignment. Interested in how you can use SkillShops for your class or to help your students? Contact us with any questions, requests or ideas you may have: skillshops@humboldt.edu. If you are planning on offering extra credit to your students who attend SkillShops, you can have them track their attendance and get a snapshot of their learning by having them fill out a worksheet asking them to reflect on what they learned at the workshop and how they will use their new skills.

Online SkillShops

This semester we started offering online, asynchronous SkillShops. All students, faculty and staff are invited to enroll in these SkillShops through Canvas:

  • Getting Started with WordPress
    You'll create a basic blog with your first post and About page in this online SkillShop.

  • Getting Started with Camtasia
    In this online SkillShop you will create a short screen capture with several edits to enhance your video.

  • Research Basics
    Learn how to get started with searching in online databases. You will create a short bibliography of the sources you find.

SkillShops Leaderboard

Check out the SkillShops Leaderboard where students, faculty and staff vie for the top spot! Attending a SkillShop earns you 100 points. Creating a digital project about a SkillShop earns you up to 200 points. Sign up to compete on the Leaderboard now!

Skilled Learners

A Skilled Learner takes 5 SkillShops in a semester in at least three different categories (Personal Growth, College & Study Skills, Technology & Digital Media, Leadership & Career and Finding & Using Information). Once you have completed the 5 SkillShops you can apply for the Skilled Learner Certificate. Your name is added to the Library website. In the semester you complete the certificate you and your fellow Skilled Learners are invited to a party to celebrate your accomplishment.

Share Your Expertise

SkillShops are facilitated by faculty, staff, administrators and student leaders on campus. Contact skillshops@humboldt.edu if you have questions or ideas about sharing your passion and expertise for a topic as a SkillShop.

Teaching and Learning TipTip #5 Supporting Our Students Through Challenging Times

Though the situation continues to be fluid and quite confusing, we wanted to send along information on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) for this week’s teaching and learning tip.  Please see these helpful student resources provided by Tessa Pitre and Laura Hahn in the English Department, and the Scholars Without Borders Program at HSU:

Our role in supporting our students is to help them navigate this difficult time – to acknowledge and help them manage the anxiety they are likely feeling.  In a message to faculty last week in the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, Dean Lisa Bond-Maupin noted “the complexities of our students' needs and experiences.”  She went on to give some excellent advice as to managing these complexities:

I understand as a long-time faculty member myself how difficult it can be to determine how to best support our students within our roles and in our classrooms. I wish someone had told me that it is okay to let students know that I am not sure how best to be there for them - that I don't fully understand what they are going through or what the answers are - AND that I care about what they are experiencing.

Other notable activities to be aware of on campus include Scholars Without Borders in the Multicultural Center.  They are a great resource, and will also be providing free DACA renewal legal help.  

Finally, look for the October 3rd First Dialogue in the Diversity Dialogues Series, Defending DACA: A Dialogue on What Now?

Resources for Faculty

Teaching and Learning TipTip #4: Helping Students Learn How to Learn

Contributed by Kim Vincent-Layton, Center for Teaching & Learning

Did you know that the brain is not fully developed until about age 25 (Giedd, Blumenthal, Jeffries, Castellanos, Liu, Zijdenbos, Rapoport, 1999)?!  How can we support this development in our college students and what are some of the optimal conditions for learning? Brain-based learning is a fascinating science of understanding how we learn. When one begins to understand how they learn, they can then understand how to most effectively adapt and transfer to new contexts for successful learning (Bransford, Brown, & Cocking, 2000). According to Doyle, 2011, the human brain is designed to explore and learn. This is made more effective with practice. Practice over extended periods of time helps our neurons become stronger and faster, because these make permanent connections/memories in our brain that later help us to transfer this knowledge to new learning (Doyle & Zakrajsek, 2013).

What helps our students learn (Doyle & Zakrajsek, 2013):

  • Sleep is vital - 7.5-9 hours of sleep per night is ideal (memories are made during sleep)
  • Exercise improves learning (also improves motivation)
  • Multi-sensory learning increases probability of retaining information
  • Practice, practice, practice (“the more work your brain does, the greater the number of connections established”)
  • Real-life, meaningful and authentic learning induces dopamine, which has been shown to help learners retain new information
  • The brain is social; we evolved to collaborate with others
  • Feedback is a key element in creating a growth mindset (mindset: understanding a learner's belief in their own abilities/traits to learn) (See Mindset: How You Can Fulfill Your Potential by Carol Dweck)


Look for upcoming CTL Teaching & Learning Tips on: Metacognition, Mindset, and Transference


  • Bransford, J.D., Brown, A. L., and Cocking, R.R. (2000). How people learn: Brain, mind, experience, and school. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press.

  • Doyle, T (2011, March). How Brain Research Findings are Changing Our Understanding of Learning. Keynote presentation at the Lilly West Conference Series on University Teaching and Learning: Evidence-based Teaching and Learning, Pomona, CA.

  • Doyle, T., & Zakrajsek, T. (2013). The new science of learning: how to learn in harmony with your brain. Sterling, VA: Stylus.

  • Giedd, J. N., Blumenthal, J., Jeffries, N. O., Castellanos, F. X., Liu, H., Zijdenbos, A., Rapoport, J. L. (1999). Brain development during childhood and adolescence: a longitudinal MRI study. Nature Neuroscience, 2(10), 861–3.

Teaching and Learning TipTip #3: Academic Concern for a student?

Contributed by: Tracy Smith, RAMP

Use the HSU Early Alert software platform, “Skyfactor Mapworks”!! Check out the Camtasia video links below to see how to access our early alert system, Skyfactor Mapworks, and how to notify the Mapworks Central Coordinator about an academic concern you have for a student (the student must either be an advisee or current coursework student). The coordinator will contact support personnel and let them know the referral exists. The author of the referral will receive an email indicating when the referral has been closed (coinciding with verified attempts to contact the student of concern or verification of interaction regarding the note of concern).  Referrals are visible to professional advisors, RAMP Mentors and faculty advisors; please use professional, and non-judgmental language and recognize this system is not designed for issues of concern addressed by the Dean of Students and the CARE system.

Questions? Please contact Tracy Smith, Director, Retention through Academic Mentoring Program (RAMP), and Skyfactor Mapworks Central Coordinator, 826-5251, tracy.smith@humboldt.edu

Teaching and Learning TipTip #2: Semester on a Page

Contributed by Su Karl, Learning Center

The beginning of the semester can be overwhelming for both students and faculty alike. Semester-on-a-Page can help you and your students plan out the semester before you get in too deep. The at-a-glance calendar includes important university deadlines and can be downloaded as a PDF or Word document. Encourage your students to add major class deadlines and exams so that they have a visual of how the semester lays out--and can plan accordingly. (Faculty also find it useful to plan out their semester too!)

Fall 2017 Semester-on-a-Page can be found on the Learning Center's website under the "Handouts" page: http://www2.humboldt.edu/learning/handout-index.

Teaching and Learning TipTip #1: Explore Your Center for Teaching & Learning (CTL)

Welcome to the new Center for Teaching and Learning!

The Center provides opportunities for learner-centered, culturally relevant experiences through campus and community partnerships. The CTL is HSU’s commitment to inspiring and innovating teaching excellence.  You will find a variety of programming throughout the year that supports continuous learning.

This is the first Teaching & Learning Tip in a series of weekly tips that you will receive as we launch Phase I of the Center. In these tips, you will find out about all things ‘teaching and learning’.

Explore the CTL Website:

  • Find a resource
  • Engage in one of the many programming events - check out the Events Calendar
  • Request a consultation with CTL staff and/or drop by the CTL on the third floor of the Library
  • Send feedback to the CTL - what would you like to see?
  • Submit a tip! Take a look at the T&L Tip Submissions.

We are excited to be on this teaching and learning journey with the campus community and look forward to all that we can do together