SFU CEE Newsletter - Learning and Teaching This Month

August 2019 | View the web version of this newsletter

Can you spot the differences?


You may have noticed—or maybe not—that we've updated the name and banner of this newsletter and made a few other tweaks to reflect the merger of SFU's teaching support units into the Centre for Educational Excellence (CEE, pronounced "see"). That's just one of many steps as we move toward CEE's public launch on October 2. To learn more about the changes SFU is making to enhance the teaching-related support it provides to faculty members, instructional staff and academic departments, read this interview with Elizabeth Elle, associate vice-president, learning & teaching.

How one lecturer is using podcasts to make course concepts more real


Just last year, criminology lecturer Danielle Murdoch had never even listened to a podcast. Now podcasts are a regular part of her CRIM 241 online course, and Murdoch is a big fan of the audio format. What prompted the change—in addition to the encouragement of her teaching assistant—was the immediacy of the medium. In CRIM 241, the challenge is to introduce Canada's criminal justice system to students for whom that world is a distant reality. The podcast she selected was "produced in a prison, by two prisoners and a prison volunteer," giving students an inside view of life in a correctional institution: "I think actually hearing the voices of the people affected by correctional services humanizes the realities of incarceration and enhances my students' learning." Murdoch is already making plans to produce her own podcast, and she has tips for other instructors who are curious about the medium. Read more about her experience.

Don't say this to your class—a student shares his experience


Recent cognitive science graduate Jonathan Waldie recalls a professor who introduced new course concepts by telling the class how easy and logical they were. "Well," he says, "it might have been logical, but it wasn't easy—not for me. And every time he said that, it deterred me from asking for help." Waldie has no doubt that the professor's words were intended to reassure his students, but the self-doubt and shame they generated prompted him to share his experience with faculty members at a session of Teaching Matters last spring. He also offered alternative messages that he feels are more effective in boosting students' confidence. Read more about Waldie's thoughts on motivating learners from a student's perspective.

Sessional instructors can now be included in online course evaluations

Beginning in Fall 2019, academic departments that use SFU's online Student Evaluation of Teaching and Courses (SETC) system will have the option of including sessional instructors in the end-of-term evaluation process on a course-by-course basis. Previously, the system could be used only for faculty members. One important note: the evaluation forms used for sessional instructors, who belong to the Teaching Support Staff Union (TSSU), will differ from those used for faculty members, who belong to the SFU Faculty Association (SFUFA). Specifically, the forms for faculty members contain four sets of questions (instructor-selected/created, department/school-level, Faculty-level, and university-wide), while the evaluation forms for sessional instructors will include only instructor-selected/created questions and university-wide questions, at least until the university and the TSSU have completed a review of the additional questions. Read more about the new option.

Teaching assessment: Get the final version of the TAWG report

On August 9, SFU's Teaching Assessment Working Group released the final version of its final report. The document, titled "Strategies to Value Effective Teaching," recommends "ways to review teaching practice that are consistent, flexible and robust, and that are useful and usable to faculty, chairs, tenure and promotion committees (TPCs) and deans." It incorporates community feedback received since the release of a draft version in April 2019. Download the final report.


Friday, September 6: Grad students—don't miss the Fall 2019 TA/TM Day, SFU's premier orientation event for teaching assistants and tutor-markers. No need to register—just drop in. Check out the schedule.

Monday, September 9: Faculty members and instructors—connect with your teaching colleagues at the Teaching Matters Seminar Series fall kick-off and social featuring an introduction by Elizabeth Elle, associate VP, learning & teaching.

Friday, September 13: Application deadline for the October Instructional Skills Workshop (Oct 12–14). Earn an internationally recognized teaching credential in three days.

Wednesday, October 2
: Reserve some time in the afternoon to attend the public launch and open house of the Centre for Educational Excellence. Tours, presentations, refreshments and more! Stay tuned for details …

Friday, October 4: Application deadline for the November Instructional Skills Workshop (Nov 9–11). Earn an internationally recognized teaching credential in three days.

Friday, October 11: Proposal submission deadline for the 24th Annual Spring TA/TM Day (Jan 10, 2020). Do you have knowledge or information that could help up-and-coming teaching assistants and tutor-markers thrive? Submit a proposal to lead a session.



President's Employee BBQ (to be accurate, this happened last month): They came for the food and stayed for the conversation >>

Win a $10 coffee card!

According to Institutional Research and Planning's "Fingertip Statistics," how many undergraduate students (full-time and part-time) were enrolled at SFU in 2018–2019?

a. 23,497    b. 27,105    c. 29,904    d. 31,222

SUBMIT YOUR ANSWER BY AUGUST 30 for a chance to win a $10 Starbucks or Renaissance coffee card.

The correct answer to the June question was "Dava Sobel."


SEP 13 | Application deadline | Instructional Skills Workshop (Oct 12–14)

OCT 4 | Application deadline | Instructional Skills Workshop (Nov 9–11)

OCT 11 | Submission deadline | Call for Proposals: 24th Annual Spring TA/TM Day (Jan 10, 2020)

OCT 18 | Application deadline | Certificate Program in University Teaching and Learning (Jan 10–Apr 17, 2020)


34th Annual Fall TA/TM Day | Sep 6 | SFU's biggest orientation event for teaching assistants and tutor-markers

Teaching Matters Seminar Series | Up next:
Back to School Special & Welcome Social | Sep 9 | An informal reception for faculty members and instructors
Helping Weak Students Succeed | Sep 16 | Discuss what does and doesn't work
WeBWorK: Online Homework with Automated Grading | Sep 23 | Learn about this web-based quiz tool

Instructional Skills Workshop | An internationally recognized lesson-planning framework | Up next:
October ISW | Oct 12–14
November ISW | Nov 9–11

Visit the Centre for Educational Excellence website to see how we can support your learning and teaching activities.