November 2019 | View the web version of this newsletter

Teamwork needs to be taught


Senior lecturer Shauna Jones (Beedie School of Business) noticed that her students had "this 'yuck' reaction" whenever she brought up the idea of team-based assignments—and yet, she says, "the ability to work effectively with others is one of the top skills that employers are saying they want in our graduates." The discrepancy prompted her to conduct an inquiry into how her Faculty uses and teaches teamwork. One finding was that many so-called group assignments require "minimal" teamwork for completion, leading some students to resent the requirement to work together. Another was that instructors often fail to explicitly identify—or support—development of team skills as a goal of group assignments. She concluded that teamwork needs to be taught, and students could benefit from in-class time, resources and feedback to help them master the skills of collaborative work. Read more about Jones's findings.

Try out the furniture


If you have strong opinions about furniture, SFU's Learning Spaces Design Committee would like to hear from you. The committee is inviting SFU community members to "come view, sit [on], and sample the future of classroom furniture solutions" as part of its myClassroom project to "transform our learning spaces into flexible, integrated and connected spaces" for students and instructors. Furniture samples will be set up at the Burnaby campus in AQ 4000 South, the James Douglas Safe Study Area (near Menchie's Frozen Yogurt), and Math West in the West Mall Centre on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, December 3, 4 and 5, between 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. Committee members will be there to collect your feedback. Help shape the future of learning environments at SFU!

TA/TM Stories: Three new podcasts explore the teaching experiences of grad students


A new podcast series produced by the Centre for Educational Excellence offers first-person accounts of life as an SFU teaching assistant or sessional instructor. Each episode in the six-part series features interviews with one or two graduate students (including Natalia Perez, geography, pictured). Episodes 1 to 3, released in early November, focus on "The Move from TA to Sessional," "Life in the Lab" and "The Experience of an International Student." The remaining episodes will be published in December. For faculty members, the podcasts provide insights into how they can help grad students succeed in teaching support roles. For grad students, they offer the reassurance that others have shared and overcome the same situations and insecurities they face, and they supply helpful tips and suggestions. Listen to the podcasts.

Submit your topics for the Teaching Matters Seminar Series


Every other Monday or so, faculty members and instructors from a variety of disciplines gather at the Burnaby campus to talk about teaching. Sometimes the focus is a teaching practice. At other times, a theme or journal article serves as the catalyst for discussion. The sessions are part of the Teaching Matters Seminar Series, and planning for Spring 2020 is underway. If you have a topic, project or practice that you would like to present, please email a short description of your idea to co-organizer Jackie Amsden at jamsden@sfu.ca by Monday, November 25. The organizing team is especially interested in presentations related to inclusive classrooms, experiential learning, interdisciplinary co-teaching, and TA/TM training. Find out more about Teaching Matters.


Monday, November 25: Pick up useful drawing and storyboarding skills in Teaching Visually I—a great addition to your teaching toolkit, whether you use a whiteboard, create PowerPoint slides, or make videos. No artistic experience needed!

Wednesday, November 27: Storyboards are a great planning tool for any production process. Sign up for Teaching Visually II and learn how to convert a storyboard into a finished asset for teaching. Plus, explore the use of a lightboard for instructional-video production.

Friday, January 10: Grad students—save the date for the 24th Annual Spring TA/TM Day. The Schedule at a Glance and the full program have just been posted.



5th Annual DEMOfest: Presenters bravely shared their successes and setbacks with learning technology on November 19 at the Diamond Alumni Centre. >>

Win a $10 coffee card!

To "proctor" an exam means:

a. To mark a set of exams.    b. To supervise the writing of an exam.    c. To plagiarize exam answers.    d. To skip an exam for medical reasons.

SUBMIT YOUR ANSWER BY NOVEMBER 25 for a chance to win a $10 coffee card.

The correct answer to last month's question was (a) Wild turkeys can fly for short distances, but domestic turkeys cannot.


FRI, JAN 17 | Application deadline | Instructional Skills Workshop (Wed–Fri, Feb 19–21)
| Application deadline | Rethinking Course Design: A Four-day Workshop for Faculty (Thu–Fri, Apr 30–May 1, Mon–Tue, May 4–5)


Teaching Matters Seminar Series | Up next:
The Great Debate on Student Evaluations | Mon, Nov 25 | Two faculty members debate the pros and cons of student evaluations of teaching—and you pick the winner

NEW. Teaching Visually I | Mon, Nov 25 | Learn basic drawing and storyboarding skills for visual storytelling

NEW. Teaching Visually II | Wed, Nov 27 | Learn to convert a storyboard into a finished asset for teaching and explore the use of a lightboard for video production

24th Annual Spring TA/TM Day | Fri, Jan 10 | SFU's biggest orientation event for teaching assistants and tutor-markers

Certificate Program in University Teaching and Learning | Fridays, Jan 10–Apr 3 | For grad students and postdocs. Gain skills, confidence and a teaching credential

Instructional Skills Workshop | Wed–Fri, Feb 19–21 | An internationally recognized lesson-planning framework

Rethinking Course Design: A Four-day Workshop for Faculty | Thu–Fri, Apr 30–May 1 & Mon–Tue, May 4–5 | Design or redesign your course in a supportive environment

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