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Sep 24, 2014

Building Global Competencies

This fall at Assessment Day, NYIT faculty members discussed techniques for building global competency by taking advantage of the diverse students we have in our classrooms. The Discovery Core includes the following description of global competency:

Students can identify interdependencies among cultures and are able to collaborate effectively, participating in social and business settings globally.
Upon graduation, students will be able to: 
  • Recognize the impact of the global interconnectedness of issues, processes, trends, and systems on their academic specializations and worldviews.
  • Practice well-researched oral, written, visual, and digital communication in its diverse cross-cultural forms.
  • Describe a complex global issue from multiple cultural perspectives and explain how those perspectives affect the treatment of the issue.
  • Employ effective and appropriate interaction and teamwork with people of different nationalities and cultures, demonstrating respect for social, cultural, and linguistic diversity.

NYIT faculty members described three challenges they frequently encounter and discussed strategies they have developed in response:

  1. Language issues: comprehension, communication (oral and written), cultural misunderstandings and values differences.
  2. Differences in learning styles and unfamiliarity with Western learning methods and norms.
  3. Students do not have a uniform set of prior learning experiences.

It can be challenging to learn everyone’s name, and some faculty members have developed strategies to do this. One faculty member asks students to write their names and seat locations on the white board in the classroom. Students then sit in the same seats for two or three weeks until everyone in class learns each others’ names.

In addition to learning each others’ names, students at NYIT learn about each others’ cultures. In some English classes, students are assigned stories or poems to read, for example, a story about Dublin in 1900. The students are then asked to rewrite the literature to reflect current times, issues and their culture in their respective countries. In media classes in Communication Arts, students bring in samples of media from their respective countries, such as newspaper articles, magazine stories, video, or social media. They introduce themselves and talk about their cultures and how the media operates in their country.

Our students have different levels of proficiency in English. A number of faculty make use of Zoom, VoiceThread, and the asynchronous discussion boards on Blackboard, so students have time to think and prepare what they want to say in advance - always helpful when communicating in a second language.

In the Senior Design course in the School of Engineering and Computing Sciences, students work in teams that are comprised of local and international students. The teams must stay together for one year; students do not have the option of picking team members. Students must speak English as a team although they may speak their first language when necessary to clarify concepts. Required weekly presentations aid students in practicing their oral presentation skills, and significant improvement is evident over the course of the year.

The ability to work as part of a team is essential in today’s world. Our faculty members build heterogeneous teams, so that students with different strengths can learn to work together effectively.

There’s an art to forming teams so that they work effectively. First, learn about the backgrounds of the individual students and assess their interest levels in different topics. Try to keep students with similar research interests together. At the same time, try to mix students with different skills so that they complement each other. Alternatively, if you want truly randomized groups, pick the teams by numbers.

Encourage groups to self-manage by establishing group rules. For example, allow students to determine what happens if someone doesn’t contribute, and to agree on an appropriate penalty if needed.

One way to add a global dimension is to assign projects that are set in context abroad. This strategy is especially effective when the setting is a region or culture in which no students belong, because all the students will then have to do research. You can also change the audience for presentations to one that is outside the students’ peer group. This encourages the students to think about what they know and how to present the material in a different market setting. At the end of a group project, some faculty require each student to make a self-assessments of his or her contributions.

Future Weekly Teaching Notes will share specific strategies for teamwork. If you have a strategy you’d like to share, or if you want to follow up on any of these ideas, please contact me at

Author: francine_glazer

Sep 17, 2014

Assignment Planning Guide and Questions

Here are some things to consider and questions to ask yourself when planning an assignment.

Assignment description: A brief overview (one or two sentences) about the assignment.

  • Why are you giving the students this assignment?
  • Which learning outcome(s) is it designed to measure?
  • Who is the (perhaps hypothetical) audience for the assignment: academicians, people working in a particular setting, or the general public?
  • What assistance can you provide to students while they are working on the assignment? For example, are you willing to critique drafts?
  • How will you score or grade the assignment? The best way to communicate this is to give students a copy of the rubric that you will use to evaluate completed assignments.

Learning outcome(s): (that the assignment is designed to measure):

Before continuing to plan the assignment, carefully consider what the students need to do to show that they have achieved the learning outcomes, and whether the time that it will take for the students to complete the assignment successfully is reasonable considering the workload of the course (and of the other courses in the current semester).

Assignment title:

What is the title of the Assignment? Instead of using a title of ‘Research Essay’ or ‘Final Project,’ the title of the assignment should convey, in some way, the expectations of the assignment. Is this an argumentative essay, a research project on Social Media Trends, a feasibility analysis, or a Business Plan?)

Assignment audience:

Who is the audience for the assignment? Are the students preparing it for you and/or for a class presentation? Alternatively, consider having the students present their work to an external audience. Often, you will see a dramatic improvement in the quality of the work. One example: studio courses in the School of Architecture and Design have a final review at the end of each semester in which students present their work to the course instructors, the Dean, and members of the school’s Advisory Board.

Assignment goals:

What do you expect the students to learn by completing the assignment? Double check: do these goals relate clearly to one or more of the learning outcomes of the course?

Design decisions:

  • What should be included in the completed assignment?
  • What readings, reference materials, and technologies are they expected to use?
  • How much time do you expect students to spend on this assignment?
  • Can they collaborate with others? If so, to what extent?
  • How should they format the completed assignment?
  • How much will it count toward their final grade?

Skills required to successfully complete the assignment:

This is especially important if you are requiring that the student use a technology tool or media for the assignment. If you are planning an assignment that requires the students to use technologies that they may not be familiar with, how will you prepare for the extra work that entails both from the students’ perspectives and yours? How will you guide students through the process? What supports will you put in place to ensure that the students have the skills so that they are able to successfully complete the tasks?

Resources for the assignment:

  • Will you give the students a list of resources that they can use to complete the assignment?
  • If research is involved, what level of credibility or professional standards will you require?
  • Will you accept reference materials from the open web or only the library databases?
  • How many sources do they need?
  • How are you supporting student learning about ways to avoid plagiarism?

Grading criteria:

  • What are your grading criteria?
  • Have you created a checklist or rubric that indicates the expectations of the grading levels? Have you decided what an A, B, C, D, and F “looks like”?
  • Is there an exemplar that you can show the students?


To follow up on any of these ideas, please contact me at This Weekly Teaching Note was adapted from a contribution to the Teaching and Learning Writing Consortium hosted at Western Kentucky University and organized by Seneca College and New York Institute of Technology.

Valerie Lopes, PhD
Professor/Coordinator, Teaching and Learning
Seneca College, Toronto, Ontario

Author: francine_glazer

Sep 10, 2014

Making the Most of “Reporting Out” After Group Work

Have you seen the following scenario take place? Students are engaged in some form of group work in class; think/pair/share, working through an assignment, or simply brainstorming ideas in small groups. The students may start out slowly, but soon they are actively engaged, everyone is sharing their ideas and the class is filled with energy.

Then, it’s time for “reporting out” the learning. Very quickly the energy is sucked from the room. Students don’t pay attention because they are busy thinking of what they will say, there is a lot of repetition, and some students simply tune out.

After observing this in several classes, including my own, I’ve come to realize that, as instructors, we often do not give much thought to the debriefing aspect of such activities. Yet this is where important aspects of the activity occur: students compare findings, learn additional insights, and recognize patterns in the concepts at hand. If we keep in mind the importance of reflection in actually learning from our experiences (Dewey, 1938), we recognize that the debriefing time of an active-learning group activity is where the class as a whole has a chance to reflect on their collective ideas and make meaning from the experience.

Here are a few suggestions about how to make debriefing time less about individual reports, and more about deepening the learning and making meaning from the activity.

  • Think through those 2–3 things you would really like students to get out of the activity and thus what is best suited for reporting out. The analytical or insightful aspects of an activity are better suited for sharing as a class than the repetitive or procedural aspects.
  • Don’t let the groups report out in a predictable order. As long as you’ve created a safe classroom environment, you can randomly choose groups to speak, and return back to previous groups, to keep them engaged in the discussion.
  • If the activity has multiple parts, discuss one aspect at a time. For example, “first let’s see what all the groups thought about the first question, then we’ll move on to the next one.”
  • Rather than asking each group to report in full, after the first group or two has a turn, ask the next groups to share only new ideas. Or have them compare and contrast their responses with previous groups.
  • To really get the reflection going, don’t have them report out at all. Perhaps as a group they fill out a concept map or matrix to turn in to you, and then the follow up discussion revolves around larger issues or application of the concepts. What insights did they gain from trying to create the concept map as a group? What disagreement occurred within their group? How would they apply their takeaways to a new scenario?
  • To deepen the learning even further, consider debriefing the process itself. Did they gain new insights by discussing this topic with others? Do they see the issue or concept differently now?

By viewing the reporting out aspect of a group activity as a distinct, yet vitally important, reflective component, we recognize it requires some thought and planning to fully maximize its benefits.


  • John Dewey, Experience in Education (New York: Touchstone, 1938).

To follow up on any of these ideas, please contact me at This Weekly Teaching Note was adapted from a contribution to the Teaching and Learning Writing Consortium hosted at Western Kentucky University and organized by Seneca College and New York Institute of Technology.

Bridget Arend, PhD
Director of University Teaching
Office of Teaching and Learning
University of Denver

Author: francine_glazer

Sep 03, 2014

Design Motivating Courses by First Identifying Why Students are (and are not) Motivated

When we think about how to motivate students, we might assume our students will be motivated by the same goals and values that motivated us, but often that is not the case. If we try to motivate students with the wrong incentives, students disengage from classes and assigned learning activities, avoid doing more than the minimal work needed to get by, fail to use mentoring and tutoring opportunities we create, do not employ effective study strategies we suggest, or behave defensively, feigning understanding and avoiding tasks they believe might challenge their ability to perform. In the long run, all of these behaviors undermine students’ ability to learn.

Ambrose et al. (2010) discuss three factors that influence student motivation in a course. No one factor is definitive; the three work interactively to determine student motivation. If we want to structure our courses to motivate students, we must attend to all three factors:

  • The value a student places on the learning goals.
  • Whether the student expects he/she can achieve the learning goals.
  • Whether the student perceives support in the class – does the student believe course activities and supportive resources will help him/her achieve the learning goals?

Ambrose et al. (2010) describe strategies instructors can use to leverage each factor and improve student motivation.

Establish the value of your learning goals

  • Connect course content and skills to student interests.
  • Create problems and tasks that address real-world problems.
  • Connect content and skills in your course with other courses in the curriculum and describe the connections repeatedly in your course.
  • Explain how skills students acquire in your course (e.g., writing clearly) will contribute to their professional lives.

Help students develop expectations that they can achieve the learning goals

  • Determine the appropriate level of challenge for students in your course and design assignments at this level. Assignments that are too easy sap motivation as much as do assignments that set unrealistic demands.
  • Create assignments and assessments that align with learning goals. Describe the relationship between learning goals and assessments in a rubric in which you describe the learning outcomes for an assignment and articulate your expectations for performance.

Create a supportive structure and communicate the role of this structure to students

  • Create early, short, low-stakes assignments to give students an opportunity to practice skills and develop confidence in their ability before they tackle a larger, high-stakes assignment.
  • Provide constructive feedback and opportunities to use it. Feedback should identify strengths, weaknesses, and specific suggestions for actions students can take to improve the quality of their work.
  • Describe effective strategies for learning course material and explain why these strategies work.
  • Stereotypes about “talent” depict academic success as a manifestation of an unchangeable characteristic and undermine motivation when students encounter an early set-back. Students cannot alter their “talent” but they can alter their work habits. Emphasize the value of variables students can control: hard work, good time management, and practice guided by constructive feedback for success. Give explicit examples of these strategies in action.


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

To follow up on any of these ideas, please contact me at This Weekly Teaching Note was adapted from a contribution to the Teaching and Learning Writing Consortium hosted at Western Kentucky University and organized by Seneca College and New York Institute of Technology.

Claudia J. Stanny, Ph.D.
Director, Center for University Teaching, Learning, and Assessment
University of West Florida
Pensacola, FL
(850) 857–6355 or 473–7435

Author: francine_glazer

May 07, 2014

Weekly Teaching Notes Index, 2013-2014

Below is a list of all the Weekly Teaching Notes from the 2013–2014 academic year, with direct links to each one. Weekly Teaching Notes will break for the summer and resume again in the fall.

At the Center for Teaching and Learning, we are here throughout the summer and are eager to assist you with your teaching, course design or redesign, scholarly writing, and preparing your reappointment/tenure/promotion portfolios. (All consultations are voluntary and confidential.) To make an appointment with us, please email Jea Ahn (instructional Designer, Old Westbury) at, Olena Zhadko (instructional designer, Manhattan) at, or me at We will be delighted to work with you!

Also this summer, we are offering our first summer book club. Here’s how it works: Once you let us know you’re interested, we will send you a copy of this summer’s book, Blended Learning: Across the Disciplines, Across the Academy. The book is yours to keep. We’ll each read the book independently over the summer, and then convene over lunch early in the fall semester for a conversation about it.

Register for the book club at by completing the online form at:

Course Design

Activities to Make Lectures Interactive

How Do We Know Our Students Are Learning?

Course Design Tip Sheet - Planning to Teach

5 Tips to Help Structure Courses to Engage Students

Beyond Bloom: Expanding our Ideas about Learning Objectives

Student-Faculty Interaction: A Key to Better Learning

Why Students Don’t Read: Strategies to Increase Student Preparation for Class

“What a Tangled Web We Weave” … or Not?

Novel Strategies to Encourage Careful Reading and Energized Discussions

Teaching with Technology

Teaching with New Media

Sometimes, You Really Need to Meet Face-to-Face

Catch Up on Missed Classes with VoiceThread

Blended Courses that Work

Bridging the Geographical Divide: Teaching in a DL Classroom

Found Metaphors: A Strategy of Applied Creative Thinking

Visualizing Data When You’re Not an Artist

Metacognition: Thinking about Learning

The Power of Tests to Teach

The ‘Gallery Walk’ as a Means to Making Metacognition Transparent

Help Students Learn from their Mistakes

Techniques to Help Students Think About Their Learning

Peer and Self-Evaluation of Participation in Discussion

Assessment: Demonstrating Learning

NYIT Faculty Talk About How We Know Whether our Students are Learning

Get Your Students’ Perspectives

Prior Knowledge Check

Dealing with Academic Dishonesty in the 21st Century

Learning Spaces

Space for Learning

Learning Spaces - Social Presence and Interaction

NYIT Faculty Discuss Learning Spaces: Physical, Virtual, Social, and Intellectual

Indices to Previous Years

Weekly Teaching Notes 2012–2013 Index–2013_index/

Weekly Teaching Notes: 2011–2012 Index–2012_index/

Weekly Teaching Notes: 2010–2011 Index–2011_index

Author: francine_glazer

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Matt Santamaria Matt Santamaria
Campus: Old Westbury
Major: Communication Arts
Class Of: 2017
Jeffrey Raven Jeffrey Raven, AIA, LEED AP BD+C
Associate Professor and Director
Department: M.Arch. in Urban and Regional Design
Campus: Manhattan
Jasmine Eldomyati Jasmine Eldomyati
Campus: Old Westbury
Major: Occupational Therapy
Class Of: 2015