June 2018 | View the web version of this newsletter

The powerful impact of educators who care

Kevin Lam

“Higher Education: Handle with Care.” That was the theme of BCcampus’s Festival of Learning 2018, held in downtown Vancouver at the end of May. SFU biology lecturer Kevin Lam (right) attended the three-day event and was particularly moved by the words of Monique Gray Smith, an Indigenous author who used a moment from her own past to demonstrate the powerful positive impact educators can have on their students and encouraged educators to consciously cultivate community within their classes. “Monique’s talk really blew me away and changed my perspective on my role and responsibility in the classroom,” said Lam, who is now considering ways to foster connection in his introductory course of 400+ students. Read more about Gray Smith’s experience and Lam’s response.

What student evaluations of teaching are—and aren’t—good for

Philip B. Stark

On April 26, Philip B. Stark from the University of California at Berkeley visited SFU as part of the Teaching Assessment Working Group (TAWG) Speaker Series to argue that “Student Evaluations of Teaching (Mostly) Do Not Measure Teaching Effectiveness.” He presented compelling evidence of gender bias and outlined other issues that have prompted him to express concern about the use of student evaluations for tenure and promotion decisions, particularly when used in isolation. However, he also suggested that such evaluations can be worthwhile when properly implemented and employed and concluded by proposing a number of complementary practices to measure teaching effectiveness. Read a summary of his presentation and watch the newly posted presentation video.

A new grant program to enhance the student learning experience

The university has made it a priority to “significantly enhance the student experience at SFU” both inside and outside the classroom. Thanks to the newly announced Faculty Inquiry Grants: Student Learning Experience program, faculty members can now receive grants of up to $6,000 “to assist them in enhancing the student learning experience in their courses and programs.” The funding is provided by the Office of the VP Academic through the Student Experience Initiative and will be administered by the Teaching and Learning Centre in partnership with the Library and the Centre for English Language Learning, Teaching and Research. The first application deadline is July 31, 2018. Find out how to apply.

In case you haven’t heard …

Elizabeth Elle

After a long and thorough search, the university has appointed Dr. Elizabeth Elle, currently professor and chair of the Department of Biological Sciences, to become SFU’s inaugural associate vice-president, learning and teaching. The five-year appointment was announced on May 28 and will take effect on September 1. In revealing the decision, VP Academic Peter Keller highlighted Elle’s extensive administrative background and her “collaborative leadership and experience in supporting learning and teaching excellence.” Congratulations and best wishes, Elizabeth!

Take part in these activities 

EXPRESS YOUR INTEREST: Join the wait-list for an Instructional Skills Workshop (Aug 15–17 or 22–24 or 27–29)—a few more spaces may become available. PREPARE FOR FALL: Build your lecturing and presentation skills by booking a Private Voice Session with the TLC’s voice specialist. Learn techniques to improve your breathing, clarity, vocal projection and more. ANSWER THE CALL: Interested in sharing and discussing your teaching stories with faculty colleagues? The Teaching Matters series is inviting SFU faculty members to submit topics for its Fall 2018 program. Contact Jackie at jamsden@sfu.ca for details.  

This month in pictures

Rethinking Teaching Hope Power Gary George A gathering of peers, a walk in the forest, and a day at the Library >>

Bonus Points Challenge. Win a $10 coffee card!

What colour are the gowns worn by SFU undergraduates during Convocation?

a. Blue    b. Black    c. Red    d. Mustard yellow

SUBMIT YOUR ANSWER BY JUNE 18 for a chance to win a $10 Starbucks coffee card. The correct answer to last month's question was 1819. Congratulations to our winner, Amy Chen from the School of Interactive Arts and Technology!


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View all scheduled events


Act now Join wait-list | August Instructional Skills Workshops (Aug 15–17, 22–24, 27–29)
Jun 20 Application deadline | OER Grants summer funding round
Jul 31 NEW. Application deadline | Faculty Inquiries Grants: Student Learning Experience


Teaching Practice

WAIT-LIST. Instructional Skills Workshops | Aug 15–17 | Aug 22–24 | Aug 27–29 | Details

NEW. Fall 2018 TA/TM Day: The Teaching Orientation Program | Sep 7 | Details

NEW. Teaching Dossiers for Graduate Students and Postdoctoral Fellows | Nov 6 | Details

APPLICATIONS OPENING IN JULY. Certificate Program in University Teaching and Learning | Spring 2018 | Stay tuned

Technology & Media

Canvas Training and Consultations | By appointment | learntech@sfu.ca

Creating and Using Graphics | By appointment | Details

Designing for the Blended Learning Experience | Upon request | Details

Voice & Presentation Skills

Private Voice Sessions | May 31–Aug 30 | By appointment | Details

Click to find out how the Teaching and Learning Centre can support your work

Course and curriculum planning    |    Canvas and learning technology support    |    Educational media creation and training    |    Workshops and programs    |    Voice and presentation skills    |    Teaching practice and discipline-specific consulting

tlcentre@sfu.ca | 778.782.3910 | Education Building, EDB 7560 | TLC on Twitter | Teaching and Learning News blog