CITL Teaching and Learning News: February 13, 2024

Feb 14, 2024, 11:47 AM
CITL Teaching and Learning News February 13, 2024
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Instructor Voices

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The Hidden Curriculum: Breaking Down Barriers to First-Generation Success

The University of Illinois has seen a large increase in the number of first-generation students as part of our undergraduate population, making up 24% of our 2023 first-year population. What does this mean for our work in the classroom? One of the struggles for students with first-generation or similar backgrounds is coping with the “hidden curriculum,” or the unstated mechanics, behaviors, and norms of higher education that are familiar to those from a college-attending family. Think about it: if you or your family had no experience with college, what would the phrase “office hours” sound like to you? Perhaps it’s when the instructor is in their office, or it sounds like a doctor’s visit. Often, there are norms and concepts that we take for granted that our students know, but without the social capital, they may feel lost in a sea of change, new surroundings, and lack of community. Helping students navigate that hidden curriculum is a great way to connect with them and ensure they succeed in your classroom and beyond.

Kristine McCoskey, the Director of Scholar Support Programs for I-Promise, leads a panel discussion of first-generation students' experiences, struggles, and successes at the University of Illinois. One of the students' recommendations is to question your assumptions about what your students know about the norms of higher education and to make yourself available for students to seek help when needed.


CITL Announcements

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Register Now for the Spring 2024 MCOT Cohort

CITL's Master Course in Online Teaching (MCOT) is a deep dive into online teaching strategies that go beyond earlier summer teaching institutes. Prior participation in an instructional development series is optional, but professional experience with university-level instruction is strongly encouraged. MCOT provides social learning and networking opportunities with a supportive interdisciplinary learning community.

The MCOT Canvas Course includes four live Zoom sessions scheduled for Wednesdays from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. beginning March 20. Certificates will be presented to those who complete all course requirements. Register here to join the spring 2024 cohort.

Free Data, Analytics, and Survey Consulting Services and Workshops Available for Spring 2024

Do you or your students need help with data, troubleshooting code, statistical analyses, or survey research? Consulting is available to anyone on campus on the following programs: Stata, SAS, SPSS, R, Python, Qualtrics, and Alchemer. For open consulting hours, visit our CITL Data Analytics Services website. Drop-in hours on Zoom and in person (220 Main library): 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. Monday, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. For up-to-date hours, please check our virtual drop-in and in-person hours webpage.

Workshop registration is now open for faculty and students! Come learn how to use SPSS, SAS, STATA, Python, R, and Qualtrics.

All services are free through a partnership with CITL, the Library of Scholarly Commons, and Tech Services.

AI Assist in Advising, Teaching, and Career Prep at Grainger College of Engineering, University of Illinois

The Grainger College of Engineering at the University of Illinois is using generative AI to enhance education. In a recent interview with Professor Jonathan Makela, the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs, he discussed how an advising chatbot is being used to support students 24/7. This innovation aims to make support more accessible and reduce the workload of human advisors. Learn more about this pioneering use of AI in education!


Workshops and Events


Spring 2024 Faculty Workshop Series on Teaching & Learning, #2: A Reflective Teaching Philosophy Statement for Promotion and Tenure
Wednesday, February 14, 11:30 a.m. - 1 p.m.
Location: Room 182, Armory Building (east side hallway, first floor)
Registration Link
Host: Cheelan Bo-Linn (CITL)

Canvas Open Office Hours
Recurring: every Thursday, 11 a.m. - 12 p.m.
Host: CITL Instructional Support Team

Spring 2024 Faculty Workshop Series on Teaching & Learning, #3: Opening the Classroom Door: Join Us for Opportunities to Observe Exemplary Teachers (Introductory Session)
Wednesday, February 21, 10 a.m. - 11 a.m.
Location: Room 182, Armory Building (east side hallway, first floor)
Registration Link
Host: Cheelan Bo-Linn (CITL)

Spring 2024 Faculty Workshop Series on Teaching & Learning, #4: The Art of the Enhanced Lecture (Part II): Active Teaching = Active Engaged Learning by Our Students
Wednesday, February 21, 11:30 a.m. - 1 p.m.
Location: Room 182, Armory Building (east side hallway, first floor)
Registration Link
Host: Cheelan Bo-Linn (CITL)

CITL Faculty Book Club: Digital Literacy Made Simple - Strategies for Building Skills Across the Curriculum 
Thursday, February 22, 11:30 a.m. - 1 p.m.
Zoom (Registration Link)
Host: David Favre (CITL)

Spring 2024 Faculty Workshop Series on Teaching & Learning, #5: Strategies for Helping Students Learn How to Learn Better
Wednesday, February 28, 11:30 a.m. - 1 p.m.
Location: Room 182, Armory Building (east side hallway, first floor)
Registration Link
Speaker: Shelly J. Schmidt, Professor of Food Chemistry, Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition
Host: Cheelan Bo-Linn (CITL)

2024 Annual Faculty Retreat "The Evolving, Engaged Learner in a Digital World"
Thursday, February 29, 8:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.
Location: Illini Union
Registration Link
Host: Cheelan Bo-Linn (CITL)

Stay tuned for this semester's events! Bookmark the CITL Event Calendar for all upcoming workshops and the Training Services (formerly FAST3) Calendar for additional training opportunities.


UDL Tip of the Month


3 Strategies for Removing Threats and Barriers

Removing threats and barriers to learning with Universal Design for Learning (UDL) involves incorporating teaching strategies and classroom activities to better meet the needs of all learners. Examples of barriers to learning may include a poorly constructed syllabus, little or no opportunity for collaborative work, learners’ lack of background knowledge in content, learners with second languages, lengthy exams, or one-shot, high-stakes, end-of-semester projects. There are some specific ways to implement UDL to remove these threats and barriers for learners and achieve the same learning outcomes. Try not to overwhelm yourself by attempting to implement all of these at once. Start small and gradually; try one or two strategies at a time. Understand this is an iterative process requiring self-reflection and evaluation: What worked, what didn’t, and why. The author and expert Thomas Tobin calls this “Plus One” Thinking in his book Reach Everyone Teach Everyone. Keeping a Plus One approach in mind, the following strategies offer examples of how to reduce or eliminate threats and barriers to learning.

1. Implement Engaging Learning Options.

Offer a variety of activities to support different interests and learning preferences.

This strategy reduces barriers to learning because it allows learners to choose content-related topics, projects, or activities that align with their strengths and course requirements. This also reduces threats and fosters a sense of community through collaborative learning opportunities. When learners share their perspectives and experiences, they gain a deeper understanding of the subject matter and become expert learners.

2. Diversify Representation in Your Presentations and Lesson Content.

Present information in multiple formats, such as text, audio, video, and graphics.

This strategy reduces barriers to learning by providing options for learners who use screen readers and other text-to-speech assistive technologies to access content. Interactive design bolsters learning, as does using different formats to present content, such as video, visuals, infographics, and gamification. Available tools like the Canvas built-in accessibility tool, built-in accessibility checkers for Office formats like Word and PowerPoint, and Adobe Acrobat’s PDF accessibility checker can help you ensure the content you author is accessible to diverse learners. SensusAccess converts inaccessible documents to a wide variety of more accessible alternate media formats, including audiobooks (MP3 and DAISY), e-books (EPUB, EPUB3, and Mobi), and digital Braille, as well as tagged PDF. EquatIO, a tool for making math content accessible, is available for free from the UIUC Webstore.

3. Address Action and Expression by Varying Testing and Assessment Methods.

Use a combination of written assignments, oral presentations, or multimedia projects.

This strategy reduces barriers to learning because scaffolded assessment methods, including formative and summative assessments, provide learners with different ways to demonstrate their learning progress and achievement. These can be high-stakes or low-stakes assessments. Variability in learners' cultural, linguistic, and disciplinary backgrounds affects their performance on different assessment types.

The strategies provided are by no means exhaustive. If you’re looking to enhance the accessibility and inclusivity of your course and teaching, CITL's Universal Design for Learning (UDL) Team is here to help. You can reach us at Tune in next month when we look at UDL strategies for fostering expert learners.

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