Is Grade Inflation at UW Affecting How Our Students Choose Their Courses? – Greg Mayer

gradeinflationI once had a student in a class I was teaching tell me that although he found my course interesting, he was dropping it so that he could instead take another he thought would be easier. He was concerned that my class, being offered by the Faculty of Mathematics, would lower his overall average, and might affect his chances of getting into a pharmacy school after he graduates. His decision was made after only my second lecture in the first week of the semester, and I am still wondering to what extent he made the right choice. Continue reading Is Grade Inflation at UW Affecting How Our Students Choose Their Courses? – Greg Mayer

Customizing Web Feeds – Scott Anderson

Web feeds are essentially a way for you to “subscribe” to receive information from a given site or organization. New content is delivered directly to you instead of having to check sites for updates. For instance, you can “subscribe” to this blog so that any new posting is delivered to you automatically. Often they’re called RSS feeds (RSS = Really Simple Syndication), but another common format is Atom. This is great for getting updates or news from sites or organizations, but one challenge can be the sheer volume of information. Finding relevant information can be like trying to drink from a fire hose. Continue reading Customizing Web Feeds – Scott Anderson

Multi-modal Learning at Home and Abroad! – Lynn Long

bicycle1Last Tuesday, numerous brave souls trekked through blustery weather to attend the January Seminar in Learning Innovation & Pedagogy (SLIP). The focus of this session was, “The Ethics of On-line Teaching” and our discussion centered around several pertinent articles which had been selected by participants beforehand. One article of particular interest was, “Ethical Considerations in Providing Distance Education in the Light of Massification”. In this paper, Michael Sankey and Rod St Hill of the University of Southern Queensland highlight the movement of their facility towards on-line, multi-modal learning in response to an increasingly diverse student population. Continue reading Multi-modal Learning at Home and Abroad! – Lynn Long

Mechanical Aids to Learning! – Mark Morton

02sept1930cropped-thumbnailInstructors have been urged to adopt new educational technologies for a long time: see the newspaper article below from the September 2, 1930 issue of the London Times. My favorite passage: “One of the difficulties of bringing together the teacher and the machine is that the former is not usually mechanically-minded. He is accustomed to working with his mind, and is shy of having to manipulate knobs and wheels and switches which may go wrong.” Continue reading Mechanical Aids to Learning! – Mark Morton

Announcing a Research Conference on Teaching and Learning at UW – Trevor Holmes

cte_logo_powerpoint-largeOpportunities and New Directions: A Research Conference on Teaching and Learning will happen Wednesday, May 6 2009.

Proposal abstracts are invited from our own community and beyond, and are due Friday January 30, 2009.

The Teaching-Based Research Group (TBRG), in association with the Centre for Teaching Excellence (CTE) at the University of Waterloo and supported by Geoff McBoyle, AVPA, invites you to participate in a one-day conference of research on teaching and learning. We welcome anyone interested in this scholarship to join us for an exciting opportunity to network with like-minded colleagues from multiple disciplines and to engage in conversations about new research, work in progress, and emerging ideas.

The full call for proposals is here.

Starting 2009 with a revised Mission Statement – Trevor Holmes

CTE staff “retreated” for a couple of days last October, and one of the results was a collaboratively revised Mission Statement:

The Centre for Teaching Excellence provides leadership in advancing skilful , informed, and reflective teaching.

Three teams of staff members then fleshed out what each adjective really means, and we all came together to finalize language that would then go more “public”:

Skilful teaching involves what we as teachers do, say, or make happen in order to improve learning. Skilful teaching can be learned and taught, acquired and honed. A skilful teacher also recognizes when and why to modify an approach.

Informed teaching involved openness toward new ways of approaching teaching, and a willingness to adjust practice based upon what we learn by listening to students and through discussions with colleagues. Informed teaching is scholarly. It draws on current research and contributes to disciplinary practice in higher education.

Reflective teaching is an iterative process that involves developing an awareness of what we do as teachers, why we make the choices we do, and how our choices impact students’ learning. By examining and sharing our successes and challenges with the larger teaching community, we contribute to an ongoing dialogue about teaching and learning, and extend our own learning and development as teachers.

Feedback on our new Mission Statement is welcome — as always, you can use the Comments feature of this blog to comment publicly, or you can send comments and suggestions to our Director, Dr. Catherine Schryer.

Techne and Teaching: Is Teaching an Artful Science or a Scientific Art? – Catherine Schryer


The other day during a discussion someone mentioned that teaching was obviously a techne. From the context of the discussion they seemed to mean that teaching consisted of a set of consistent practices. Just by chance, my research group and I had done a lot of investigation into the history of the term techne. We had been investigating teaching and learning practices in healthcare situations and noted the novice practitioners were often rigorously tested on their knowledge of specific facts and terms while at the same time their mentors sometimes talked about moving beyond facts and negotiating situations of uncertainty. We also tied these two conflicting observations into the debate around medicine as either an art or science. Continue reading Techne and Teaching: Is Teaching an Artful Science or a Scientific Art? – Catherine Schryer