May 10, 2018
Volume 2, Number 9
Data Mining for a Better Yield
As the end of the semester approaches, the course evaluations will be collected. The purpose of these is to gather information concerning teaching skills and effectiveness in the classroom. They are part of the evaluative process for faculty. However, they may not be gathering the information that you really need to make effective changes in your courses.

This semester, consider passing out an additional evaluation which is closely aligned to your course. With the long summer ahead to revamp courses, getting data from your students is the perfect place to begin.

Put together a series of questions that help you understand what is really going on in your classroom. Ask questions such as: How often did you read the text book before coming to class? If you didn’t read it, was it because you knew it would be reviewed in class? Did you read the text because we had a quiz at the start of class? Did you read the text because we had discussions over the content?

Or turn the question around and ask:
  • Would you read the textbook if you knew that you were going to have to contribute to a discussion about it?
  • Ask questions that discuss activities or projects assigned in class:
  • What were your two favorite assignments (Units, lectures, activities) this year?
  • Did you learn course content from the Puppet project?
  • What project (Discussion, activity, reading, assignment) stands out as the most effective for learning content?
  • Did you feel that online discussions helped you learn the content?
  • Did you feel that the grading process was fair and equitable? Can you make suggestions for improvement?

By focusing your questions on specific projects, activities, and assessments, you have a better means of gathering pertinent data. This summer, analyze what you have learned and make minor adjustments to your fall syllabus. If you have a particularly popular instructional strategy or assignment, analyze what makes it effective and apply the concepts to one of your lesser activities. You don’t have to rewrite your entire curriculum, but by redesigning only one unit at a time, your will be able to address content, instruction, and assessment at a deeper level. Your course improvement will be ongoing and you won’t be overwhelmed. Within a few semesters, students will be clamoring to take your courses.

– Kim Nettleton, College of Education
Conference Call - Pedagogicon
Deadline to Register: May 11, 2018
Conference Date: May 18, 2018

This regional conference is sponsored by the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education. It is held annually at the Richmond campus of Eastern Kentucky University. This year's conference theme is Student-Centered Teaching and Learning. Proposals for group and/or individual presentations are due by February 1 st . For more information, please see their website:
School Librarian Symposium
On  June 15   th , Camden-Carroll Library will be hosting its 10  th  annual School Librarian Symposium, a one-day professional development workshop for Kentucky’s K-12 school librarians.
Information for registration and session proposals can be found here:
Kentucky Convergence Conference
Save-The-Date: October 17-19, 2018

The 2018 Kentucky Convergence Conference will be held October 17-19 at the University of Louisville Shelby Campus. The call for proposals will be issued in spring 2018. This year’s theme is “The Next Reality: Doing it Farther, Faster, and Better.”

Convergence is the single event that brings together professionals in information technology, academic libraries, online learning, and instructional design from all the public and private colleges and universities in Kentucky and the surrounding states. Sponsored by Kentucky post-secondary institutions and private sector partners, Kentucky Convergence is a conference that emphasizes innovations and best practices in the fastest-growing areas of higher education. For more info:
Blackboard Buzz
Overview of Exam Functionality
Students needs to master both the course content and learning management system when taking an online course. Consequently, it is important for MSU students to understand how the exam feature functions in Blackboard. This includes knowing how to:

  • locate the master page with exam times for each course;
  • locate exams within each course;
  • understand how the timer works for timed tests;
  • save answers; and
  • contact someone if there are problems.

This YouTube video demonstrates how Blackboard’s exam feature
works. Email for additional information
and on-campus support.
Consortium Article
Playing Games in the Classroom: Reacting to the Past
Instructors looking for innovative ways to actively engage students in course content while
strengthening their students’ ability to debate, work collaboratively, and increase empathy may want to consider running a Reacting to the Past Game in the classroom.

Reacting to the Past is an immersive game-based pedagogy in which students take on the roles of individuals living in historical conditions as they work to deal with specific historic events and resolve problems. These games do not occur online nor do they use a game board. The game itself is played in the classroom through debates, discussions and staged events and is supported by game manuals published through the Reacting Editorial Board.

Although the majority of published games are linked to the humanities, several are suitable for STEM classes. (A complete list of games can be found here.) I used two of games, Modernism and Traditionalism: Art in Paris, 1888-1889 and Greenwich Village 1913: Suffrage, Labor and the New Woman in an American Art History course and found that most of the students engaged enthusiastically and naturally in the game play.

The materials necessary to play the game are readily available and comprehensive. They include:

  1. A game book (purchased by the students), which contains a summary of the historical situation, describes the game and the players, and provides primary source materials.
  2. An instructor’s manual, which provides detailed information on how to facilitate the game, assessment strategies, grading rubrics and class handouts.

Although I found the game books and manuals to be very user friendly, facilitating a game is not necessarily an easy task. You may want to consider attending one of the Reacting to the Past Conferences or Workshops where you will have a chance to play the games yourself and attend sessions on assessment strategies and facilitation techniques. The Reacting Facebook Group provide a useful discussion forum for both new and veteran Reactors.

Things to consider: Reacting Games do take a considerable amount of class time. The Modernism and Traditionalism Game required ten class (1hr 15 min) sessions. Although many games provide alternative, shortened versions, including any game requires a restructuring of the class schedule and assessments. Class size is also a consideration: the number of players varies per game, but most are suitable for classes sizes of 15 -20 students.

Benefits: I found that students really took ownership of their roles and worked extremely hard to make sure their characters succeeded. They did a great deal of research beyond what was required and continued to discuss the ideas presented in the game long after the game, and even after the semester, had ended. SoTL studies assessing the effectiveness of Reacting across disciplines indicate that Reacting students show an increased ability to understand multiple viewpoints, discuss controversial issues and also developed better speaking skills.

Assessment studies, along with other publication on Reacting, can be found here.

Submitted by:
Sarah Glover, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Art History
Interim Executive Director, Center for Teaching Excellence and Learning
Bradley University
Ambassadors for Excellence in Teaching
Morehead State University