February 2020 | View the web version of this newsletter

The unexpected benefits of a shorter syllabus


Hannah McGregor (assistant professor, Publishing@SFU) was convinced that the traditional "long and dense" course syllabus overwhelms students: "They just give them a skim and turn away." This semester she tried a new format, folding a single sheet of paper into a do-it-yourself "zine" complete with handwritten text. "It was great to see [students] actually read the whole syllabus," says McGregor. And because of its brevity, students asked more questions: "I think the fundamentally too-short syllabus really gets the conversation going." The constrained format also prompted her to simplify her course structure: “It reminded me that every element of the course can be rethought and that I need to resist the urge to think I know how everything should look.” Read more about her experiment.

Submit your proposal for SFU's 18th Symposium on Teaching and Learning


SFU's 18th Symposium on Teaching and Learning will take place on May 6 at the Burnaby campus. The theme will be "building bridges" for and between individuals, groups and organizations. It's a broad topic with room for everything from community-engaged learning to integrating Indigenous voices. All members of the SFU academic community are invited to participate. For full details, view the online Call for Proposals. The proposal submission deadline is Friday, March 20.   

Watch the video: Faculty members discuss SFU's new instructor-led online course model


On January 20, Sheri Fabian (criminology), Danielle Murdoch (criminology), Jessica Hunter (education) and Amanda Watson (sociology and anthropology) described their experiences with SFU's new instructor-led online course model at a session of Teaching Matters. They shared pleasant surprises ("I was struck by the quality of the discussion"), predictable challenges ("Whatever amount of time you think it's going to take, triple it") and useful tips ("Before you launch, practice answering your own discussion board questions"). Watch the full panel discussion on video (you'll need your SFU computing ID for access).

One button to reach them all: An easy way to connect with CEE

If you visit the Centre for Educational Excellence website, you'll see a new blue button labelled "How can we help you?" in the bottom right corner of each page. This button is a quick and easy way to reach CEE staff. Just input your request in the pop-up form and CEE will connect you with the person who can best support you. Try it out!


Friday, March 13: The Instructional Skills Workshop (ISW) is required for anyone planning to take the Certificate Program in University Teaching and Learning. Apply to the April ISW (Apr 22–24) by this date.

Friday, March 13: Come to Who Is SFU? A Conversation About Our Linguistic Diversity, the first of three new workshops on supporting multilingual learners.

Friday, April 3: What knowledge could you share with new teaching assistants and tutor-markers to help them thrive? Submit your presentation proposal for the 35th Annual Fall TA/TM Day (Sep 11) by this date.

Wednesday, May 6: Save this date for the 18th Symposium on Teaching and Learning: Building Bridges. It's all about connecting.



Talking shop at Teaching Matters: Every other Monday during the spring and fall semesters, a cross-disciplinary group of instructors meets to talk about teaching. Take a look. >>

Win a $10 coffee card!

Which one of the following activities is part of the INgagement programs designed to foster a sense of community at SFU's Vancouver campus?

a. Mariachi Mondays.    b. Tea Time Tuesdays.    c. Tai Chi Thursdays.    d. Ping Pong Fridays.

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

The correct answer to last month's question was (c) She invented the internet.


JOIN THE WAIT-LIST. FRI, FEB 21 | Application deadline | Rethinking Course Design: A Four-day Workshop for Faculty (Thu–Fri, Apr 30–May 1, Mon–Tue, May 4–5)

FRI, MAR 13 | Application deadline | Instructional Skills Workshop (Wed–Fri, Apr 22–24)

NEW. FRI, MAR 20 | Submission deadline | Call for Proposals: 18th Symposium on Teaching and Learning: Building Bridges (Wed, May 6)

NEW. FRI, APR 3 | Submission deadline | Call for Proposals: 35th Annual Fall TA/TM Day (Fri, Sep 11)

NEW. FRI, MAY 22 | Application deadline | Fall 2020 Certificate Program in University Learning and Teaching (Fridays, Sep 18–Dec 4)


Teaching Matters Seminar Series | A discussion forum for faculty members and instructional staff. Up next:
Classroom Strategies to Support Students' Personal Development and Well-being in a High-stakes Statistics Class | Mon, Mar 2 | How one instructor helps students thrive in a stressful environment
Using Fake People to Create Real Learning: The Use of an Online Simulation to Foster Experiential Learning in Quantitative Research Methods | Mon, Mar 16 | Learn about a virtual world that makes statistical analysis more real
End of Term Celebration | Mon, Mar 30 | Join teaching colleagues to celebrate another successful year of dialogue about learning and teaching 

NEW. Who Is SFU? A Conversation About Our Linguistic Diversity | Fri, Mar 13 | Consider the challenges and benefits of working within a multilingual community

NEW. Supporting Multilingual Learners: Inclusive Teaching Practices and Strategies | Wed, Mar 18 | Learn how to give feedback, increase class participation and more

NEW. Enhance Your Oral Communication Skills: Speaking Clearly and Confidently | Thu, Mar 26 | Learn exercises to develop more natural intonation and stress patterns

Instructional Skills Workshop | An internationally recognized lesson-planning framework. Up next:
April ISW | Wed–Fri, Apr 22–24

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

NEW. 18th Symposium on Teaching and Learning | Wed, May 6 | A dialogue about "building bridges." Save the date and submit a presentation proposal

ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS. Fall 2020 Certificate Program in University Teaching and Learning | Fridays, Sep 18–Dec 4 | For grad students and postdocs. Gain skills and confidence for your teaching roles

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