March 6, 2018
Volume 2, Number 5
Excerpt: The Chronicle Teaching Newsletter
Student-Driven Course Design
Before welcoming its first full class of students in 2002, Olin College of Engineering worked with a couple dozen students who spent a year helping develop the curriculum before enrolling as freshmen.

Giving students a voice in what and how they would be taught was so successful that “we realized right away this is going to be one of the things that defines Olin,” says Robert Martello, associate dean for curriculum and academic programs. Today, he says, Olin offers students several ways to participate in course design.

Many professors at Olin regularly check in with students to see if assignments are meeting a course’s goals, says Mr. Martello, who is also a professor of the history of science and technology. That could take the form of a quick survey or poll, or a short discussion, he says.

When they create a new course or significantly revise an existing one, Olin professors often apply for summer innovation grants, which include money to hire student workers.
Olin also offers “student-led courses,” which evolved out of a paradox — students’ desire to take independent study in groups, Mr. Martello says. A small group of students choose a topic and act as teachers, creating and running the course with the support of two professors, one with pedagogical chops and the other subject-matter expertise. Students who take the course ultimately earn credit from professors, not the students teaching it. That said, student leaders — who need some prior teaching experience, such as serving as teaching assistants — do all of the work of teaching, under faculty supervision.

Providing feedback helps students because they examine their learning more closely than they otherwise might, Mr. Martello says. Professors, for their part, are better able to achieve their teaching goals when students have a clear sense of what they are. They also benefit, Mr. Martello says, from the new ideas students bring.

Olin is  not a typical college, and the way it has baked student input into the curriculum is unusual. Even so, professors at other colleges also work with students to design new courses or overhaul existing ones, and some colleges have formalized this approach. You can read about some of them in my forthcoming article on

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Manuscript Call - Kentucky Journal of Excellence in Teaching and Learning
Manuscript Deadline: March 25, 2018

The Kentucky Journal for Excellence in College Teaching and Learning is a peer - reviewed electronic Journal sponsored by the Kentucky Council for Post Secondary Education Faculty Development Group. The Journal is published by the College of Education, Eastern Kentucky University. General categories for articles include theory, research, and practice. In addition, the Journal will publish manuscripts containing book or media reviews, profiles, and commentary. The Journal targets the professional development of college and university faculty within the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Its primary goal is to enhance student learning by promoting excellence in teaching in higher education institutions in Kentucky. Its presence will also serve to further a national and international awareness of teaching and learning issues and best practices in higher education. For more information, please see their website:
Kentucky Student Success Summit 2018
The 7th annual Kentucky Student Success Summit will explore the theme "The Future of Undergraduate Education, The Future of Kentucky!
The conference is April 9th & 10th at the Marriott Louisville East, Louisville, KY.
For more information, visit
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:
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
How to Import a Course Package
Do you want to save time when re-building courses to offer them again?
If so, you can use the Import Package utility to copy course materials
from one course to another.

This YouTube  tutorial demonstrates how to import an existing course package into another course, and then select the material to copy. Email for additional information and on-campus support.
Consortium Article
Getting Started with Classroom Response Systems
Why use a Classroom Response System?
  • Figure out the pulse of the class especially in large courses
  • Increase participation from a range of students
  • Provide low-stakes assessment of learning before the real quiz or test
  • Improve engagement after 15-20 minutes of lecture
  • Test the waters-- especially helpful in class in classes with sensitive topics
  • Promote deeper learning by having students challenge each other
  • Start of each lecture to check for reading or prior knowledge and prime learning
  • Check for prevalence of particular misconceptions
  • Use Peer learning (Vote; turn to your neighbor; explain/defend position; re-vote; group discussion of the merits/limitations of the last standing answers)
  • End of each lecture period, to recap, summarize, or informally test for comprehension
Clarify how many Points will be associated with the Classroom Response System. Typically CRS participation accounts for 5% of the overall grade or a portion of the participation grade. Some faculty provide .8 point for responding and .2 point if they get it right
Remember Accessibility Concerns! Use a different method for timed quizzing. We strongly recommend the use of moodle or another way to distribute timed quizzes. Many of our students require extended time for accessibility reasons.
Our campus pilot data across many courses demonstrated anxiety was high for students who were asked to use Classroom Response Systems for quizzing, even when not an accessibility concern, diminishing their learning value.
Plan for Technology Glitches! If software fails, cancel CRS points for that day
Form a regular habit to back-up CRS data.
More Resources:
Submitted by:
Prof. Elizabeth Markovits
Mount Holyoke College Teaching & Learning Initiative
Ambassadors for Excellence in Teaching
Morehead State University