SFU Newsletter

May 2021 | View the web version of this newsletter

A message from the AVP, Learning & Teaching

It's been a long year, and I will admit I am greatly looking forward to being safely back on our campuses. I miss having the opportunity for informal conversations most of all—the sharing of ideas that naturally happens when we see each other in the corridors or at campus events. Those conversations have helped to form my view of what we can do as an institution to strengthen our teaching community. While I've made some progress on the priorities assigned to me—for instance, I'm working with a subcommittee of SCUTL on re-imagining teaching awards—other ideas about celebrations of teaching and culture shift have been on a bit of a pause. I really look forward to engaging with and celebrating all you've done to support emergency remote teaching this past year sometime in 2021.

An important area that we haven't paused is the effort to build new methods of assessment into our tenure and promotion criteria. The new Collective Agreement between SFU and SFUFA requires us to dig into this work as it applies to summative teaching assessment. More importantly, this is such an opportunity for units to define their values around teaching and promote a positive culture around teaching, and I do hope that this is how you all will approach the work. And, of course, as we've struggled with the shift to emergency remote teaching, we have learned so much about how to support our students, including by taking advantage of the flexibility afforded by the online environment. Online and blended learning is the focus of CEE's 2021 Symposium on Teaching and Learning, happening next week.

If you haven't already, consider exploring what we've learned in our survey of undergraduates about transitioning learning back to our campuses. Although it's been a rough year, some aspects of online instruction have greatly supported student learning, such as students' ability to review recorded material at their own pace. As we look ahead to the fall, these insights into the student experience may be useful for your course planning.

Thank you for all you do, and I look forward to seeing many of you soon—and not just through a Zoom screen.

Elizabeth Elle, Associate VP, Learning & Teaching


Let's talk about teaching and learning

What will teaching and learning look like after the pandemic? That question will be the focus of SFU's 2021 Symposium on Teaching and Learning: Designing for Student Success in the Online and Blended Learning Environments on May 19 and 20. The virtual event will feature invited speakers from across Canada—including George Veletsianos (Royal Roads University), Sarah Elaine Eaton (University of Calgary), Nicole Campbell (Western University) and Martha Cleveland-Innes (Athabasca University)—as well as panel discussion, coffee hour and town hall sessions with opportunities to explore everything from "Faculty Resilience in the Post-Pandemic University" to "Academic Integrity: Lessons Learned from the Pandemic." Plan to attend!


Teaching assessment is moving to a multi-faceted approach

With the adoption of the 2019–2022 Collective Agreement between SFU and SFUFA, academic units will need to examine and update their criteria and processes for the assessment of teaching. There is a new emphasis on using multiple forms of evidence (including self-reflection and peer assessment in addition to student experience surveys) over multiple time points, as has been recommended by a number of SFU working groups. Internal conversations about what each academic unit values for effective teaching will kick off the required process for summative assessment and, together with any formative processes each unit creates, will help to build a positive culture around teaching. New resources to support the discussion are available on the CEE website, and workshops are in development. In May 2020, Senate charged the Senate Committee on University Teaching and Learning (SCUTL) with providing formative feedback on teaching assessment plans to academic units; draft assessment criteria can be sent to SCUTL at avplt@sfu.ca.

Blended courses aim to offer the best of both worlds

In January 2022, SFU will introduce a new Blended (B) course classification. The new course format is an outcome of SFU's Flexible Education Initiative and will include a combination of in-person and online components, with some in-person class time replaced by well-integrated, pedagogically appropriate online activities. As part of the initiative, the Centre for Educational Excellence (CEE) will offer a 10-week Blended Learning Design course this summer for faculty members interested in redesigning a target course for blended delivery starting in Spring 2022. Participants in the CEE course will receive a semester of collaborative support from CEE staff to build the blended course. Course participants will also receive exclusive access to blended learning experts, funding to present their work at conferences, and more. Expressions of interest can be submitted here.


Fri May 14

Summer 2021 TA/TM Day: The Teaching Orientation Program

May 19–20

2021 Symposium on Teaching and Learning: Designing for Student Success in the Online and Blended Learning Environments

Thu May 20

Application Deadline: CEE Anti-Racist Pedagogies Program: Healing from Racism Journey

Fri May 28

Application Deadline: Fall 2021 Certificate Program in University Teaching and Learning

Wed Jun 2

Breath, Posture and Pauses: Your Allies for Presenting Online

Fri Jun 11

Application Deadline: August Instructional Skills Workshops (Aug 16/17/19/20 OR Aug 23/24/26/27)

Wed Jun 16

Expressive Speech: Your Vocal Dynamism Matters

Wed Jun 30

Better Presentations: Building Confidence and Connections

March 24, 2021