October 2018 | View the web version of this newsletter

Aligning teaching practice with the research

Megan Barker

Megan Barker, a lecturer in Biological Sciences, is familiar with the research: “We know that students who engage in active learning outperform those who do not by whole letter grades and that the drop-out rates are significantly reduced.” However, a recent study she co-authored, based on observation of more than 2,000 post-secondary STEM classes across North America, determined that instructors still spend 75 percent of class time lecturing, and students spend 87 percent of class time listening. Barker has implemented a number of active learning approaches in her courses and offers this suggestion to faculty members who want to explore new teaching practices: “Talk to your colleagues about your teaching the way you would talk about your research.” Read more about her study and her own classroom experiences.

Student perceptions of the SFU learning experience

They value professors who take the time to connect. They appreciate hearing about their instructors’ personal experiences and research. And they wish for greater variety and transparency when it comes to assessment. Students who participated in a series of focus groups organized by the Teaching and Learning Centre and Student Engagement and Retention expressed clear opinions about their SFU learning experience and offered constructive advice for improving what goes on in SFU classes. The full report, which identifies seven recurring themes and also summarizes relevant student survey results and demographic information from Institutional Research and Planning, is now available in a PDF format. Read about the seven themes and download the report.

Five years on top—and some good news about student satisfaction

Surrey new building

For the fifth year in a row and the 10th time in 11 years, Simon Fraser University is the top-ranked comprehensive university in Canada according to the 2019 Maclean’s rankings. The announcement on October 11 was accompanied by a positive profile of the university and initiatives like the soon-to-be-completed sustainable energy engineering building at the Surrey campus (right). One of the most encouraging numbers is buried in the details: SFU’s student satisfaction rating moved from 12th place last year (out of 15 universities in the category) to sixth place this year. The satisfaction rating is based on student responses to an online survey, and SFU’s leap coincides with the introduction of a new question asking students to “rate how well their university is making Indigenous histories, cultures and languages visible on campus.”

Learning and discussion opportunity: “Reconciliation Through Indigenous Education”

The UBC Faculty of Education will be running a free six-week “Reconciliation Through Indigenous Education” MOOC from October 23 to December 4 (register here). A concurrent facilitated discussion group will be offered for SFU faculty members and instructional staff who take the course and wish to talk about the implications for their course design and teaching. The group will meet on three Thursdays (Nov 8 & 22, Dec 6) from 3:00 to 4:30. For details and to join the group, contact TLC educational consultant Janet Pivnick at jpivnick@sfu.ca or 778.782.9997.

Mark your calendar

Oct 19: Grad students, don’t miss this application deadline for the Spring 2019 Certificate Program in University Teaching and Learning (Jan 11–Apr 12, 2019).
Oct 19: Deadline to apply to the special Instructional Skills Workshop (Nov 10–12) for CPUTL applicants. 
Oct 26: Become a more engaging speaker. Attend the Expressive Speech: Vocal Dynamism in the Classroom workshop with TLC voice and presentation specialist Sanders Whiting.
Oct 26: Join Sheri Fabian (Criminology) to learn about university policies and faculty responsibilities related to academic dishonesty at The Dark Side of Teaching: Academic Integrity Exposed.
Nov 16: Join SFU alumnus Jennifer Thomas for Beyond “Diversity” and “Inclusion”: Anti-oppressive Course Design and Justice-centred Pedagogy.

This month in pictures

Teaching Large Classes 2018 New Faculty Orientation 2018 New Faculty Orientation Faces of the SFU teaching community: “Teaching Large Classes” and the 2018 New Faculty Orientation >>

Bonus Points Challenge. Win a $10 coffee card!

When did Maclean’s magazine begin ranking Canadian universities?

a. 1919    b. 1967    c. 1991    d. 2000

SUBMIT YOUR ANSWER BY OCTOBER 22 for a chance to win a $10 Starbucks or Renaissance coffee card. The correct answer to last month's question was kinesiology.


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View all scheduled events


Oct 19 Application deadline | Spring 2019 Certificate Program in University Teaching and Learning (Jan 11–Apr 12, 2019)
Oct 19 Application deadline | Instructional Skills Workshop (Nov 10–12; special offering for CPUTL applicants)
Jan 18 Application deadline | Instructional Skills Workshop (Feb 20–22)


Teaching Practice

Effective Teaching Series (next session: The Dark Side of Teaching: Academic Integrity Exposed) | Oct 26, Nov 16, 23 | Details

Teaching Matters Seminar Series (next session: In-class Quizzes and Top Hat Technology) | Oct 29, Nov 19, 26 | Details

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

JUST POSTED. Discussion group: Reconciliation Through Indigenous Education | Nov 8 & 22, Dec 6 | Email for details

JUST POSTED. Instructional Skills Workshop (for CPUTL applicants) | Nov 10–12 | Details

Spring 2019 TA/TM Day | Jan 4, 2019 | Save the date!

Spring 2019 Certificate Program in University Teaching and Learning | Jan 11–Apr 12, 2019 | Details

JUST POSTED. Instructional Skills Workshop | Feb 20–22 | Details

Rethinking Course Design: A Four-day Workshop for Faculty | Apr 25–26, 29–30, 2019 | Details

In-class Observation | By appointment | Email for details

Technology & Media

DEMOfest 2018: Flexible Education | Nov 21 | Details

Canvas Training and Consultation | By appointment | Email for details

Creating and Using Graphics | By appointment | Details

Designing for the Blended Learning Experience | By appointment | Details

Drawing for Visual Communication | By appointment | Email for details

Voice & Presentation Skills

Private Voice Sessions | Sep 17–Dec 3 | By appointment | Details

Expressive Speech: Vocal Dynamism in the Classroom | Oct 25 | Details

Better Presentations: Building Confidence and Connections | Nov 8 | 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 (temporarily in Discovery 2 | TLC on Twitter | Teaching and Learning News blog