Co-created: Fall 2013

Resources below were co-created by participants in the Novice stream.


At the end of Day 1 feedback in our stream you said you wanted to talk more about icebreakers (and we made it so!) – we brainstormed a list of icebreakers that you use or know of. If you contributed one of these, please email me to describe it so I can add it to the collection (with attribution).

Teaching is like…..

Sentence “chain”

Four corners questions

The beach ball

Sociometry – who’s here?

Find someone who….

To see descriptions of some icebreakers contributed during the Institute so far (On common ground and Famous couples), visit


Definitions of Educational Development or Educational Developer

  • An educational developer educates educators about all facets of teaching and learning collaboratively and through praxis.
  • Teaching and learning specialists, catalysts and resources for teaching excellence; inspire excellence in teaching and learning
  • Who do we serve? Faculty, staff and students? Depends on the centre, institution and person.
  • Involves engaging faculty and empowering them in course design, effective pedagogy, successful practice and exposing them to new approaches/ideas in a collaborative context.
  • The words living process, facilitating self-reflection, and theory came to my mind:  An educational developer is someone who works with academics and supports them in their engagement in a living process of self-reflection and engagement in application of theory to practice. Also models best practice and encourages innovative teaching.
  • Promote and enhance the art, science and craft of teaching and learning.


Workshops, Programs & Resources

This list originated from our Active Listening activity “What do you offer and what have you heard of?”. Later in the Institute, participants organized the list into the following headings:

We also added the overarching heading of Format, and also decided that Content was also integral (as in, one could have that subset within any of these headings), and finally, that Integration of Technology really ran through everything:

Short-term seminars:

  • Teach your research; Research your teaching – involves pedagogy and teaching examples
  • Workshop for engaging PowerPoint – including technology support and active learning
  • Integration of international students into class, emphasis is on plagiarism, using role play amongst other techniques
  • Workshops for transitional graduate students and with faculty re: expectations
  • “Let’s talk teaching”, before term – faculty talk about effective teaching 

Multi-day workshops:

  • 2-day Course Design Institute based on Dee Fink especially outcomes
  • 3-day Instructional Skills Workshop (ISW)
  • Employee assistance program within a discipline, with flexible pathways
  • Self-led online workshops

Longer programs:

  • University Certificate Program for graduate students
  • Mentorship program for graduate students
  • Teaching Assistant Program including teaching certificates, intro and advanced with practicum, ISW
  • Facilitation program within a faculty and connected to practitioners re:  practices
  • International Educational Training Program – both online and face-to-face
  • Formative Peer Review of Teaching
  • Master’s Program re: pedagogy, class management, etc.
  • Editor and Learning Designer within a department – to help develop materials
  • Set up hybrid courses within a program, using champions
  • 1-year Faculty development scholarly program that starts with 2-day orientation, has online component and portfolio

Resources (including ways of communicating):

  • Web conferencing and blogging re:  technology use
  • Blackboard Learning System – templates for faculty to use
  • Tools and activities online within a department, translating into another language
  • Learner support videos
  • Templates for faculty development

Community of Practice (CoP):

  • CoPs for research, teaching and learning
  • Set up ‘contracts’ with faculty to determine key roles


Educational Developer Scenarios

“4th year students aren’t able to write a cohesive paper”

A faculty member comes to my office and says his fourth year Commerce students aren’t able to write a cohesive paper.

We talked about this one doing a combination of role play (with the two parts), with ‘goldfish bowl theatre sports’, where others could come up, tap them on the shoulder and replace them if they wanted to now take on that role, and also with ‘bubble over my head’ where each role also had someone standing behind them thinking out loud what they thought the person was thinking when they were speaking.

The kinds of things that we came up were for the educational developer to listen attentively and validate what is said, and the sentiments, because that is real. The faculty member may not have been fully thinking through all the reasons why they felt students were not succeeding, noting that they used the same material for the past many years. The educational developer asked non-threatening questions to the instructor, trying to see if there might be a way to tease out the factors, or have the instructor come up with a solution on their own (or think they had.)


… committee offers no support

Faculty PD needs assessment results presented to committee by new ED. Committee treats it like a thesis defence. Committee offers no support until new ED can prove themselves as competent. What to do next-except want to quit your job!?

  • Reflect back to the committee. Put the onus of responsibility to identify what they deem PD needs for faculty.
  • What type of committee is it?
  • Why is the committee so combative? Are they threatened?
  • How did that make you feel?
  • How can I help?
  • Use ‘active’ strategy to share the results so ED isn’t seen as ‘owning’ them.
  • Alice’s note: I would ask the committee to give a brief history of how this has worked in the past, and what exactly they mean by competent? I would likely be very familiar with my own job description before I asked these things, and in a neutral way, ask for clarification of any parts of the job that I felt were being ignored, or where I might be being asked to do work ‘above my pay scale’. It is also important to take a breath (hard to do) during a meeting such as this. For example, for the ways that the committee is treating it like a thesis defence, I would take a minute before answering, or I might ask questions back, or I might say that I will get back to them on it.


…recognized evaluation/ assessment methods…

As a programme coordinator trying to implement best practices in our courses, I have requested that we evaluate our students in a homogeneous way based on recognized evaluation/ assessment methods.  This colleague does not subscribe to these evaluation methods and refuses to adopt them.  What to do?

  • What do we mean by the term recognized evaluation/assessment methods?
  • Why does the colleague not subscribe to these evaluation methods?
  • Why does the programme coordinator assume that a homogeneous evaluation/assessment method is the ‘best practice’? What is the evidence for these methods? The programme coordinator should be sure to be able to explain or back this up, or explore it more so they can.
  • What methods does the colleague prefer? Why? Are they not valid?
  • Is it formative or summative or both (it was not formative, the scenario writer added). Would that change your request?
  • Who are your allies in the department?
  • We might ask what is meant by ‘good pedagogy’?
  • Consider ‘fierce’ conversation (note from Alice:  I am not sure exactly what is meant by this; can anyone help out?)


..faculty member is disruptive… Associate Dean asks for an update on them

New faculty participate in a robust professional development program for teaching and learning.  It is a mandatory component of their employment. The format is relaxed, collegial and the conversations are facilitated by one of the teaching and learning consultants.  Here’s the situation:  A brand new faculty member is quite disruptive, week after week.  They are combative and negative. As the teaching and learning consultants are faculty, they walk a fine line.  The Associate Dean of the negative faculty member has come to the teaching and learning consultant and asked for an update on them.  They are asking specific questions about behaviour, attitude and preparedness.  (Really there are 2 issues here – one the negative faculty and the other the inappropriate actions of the AD.) The negative faculty member is the situation I am more interested in.

  • Remove the person from the group and have a one-on-one conversation to ask what the issue is
  • Take them aside or quietly talk with them while the group is occupied and say “You don’t seem to be very happy here; is there something we can do to make this more useful/enjoyable for you?”
  • Speak to the AD outside and advocate for confidentially in the workshop process (that you actually don’t report on how someone is doing)
  • Ground rules for everyone. Maybe set guidelines for workshops with entire group before you start the day
  • Engaging/talking up the point with the group
  • Alice’s tip:  When speaking one-on-one with the person, I think it is important to say what you see in terms of actions, or how it may be affecting you or others, but not assume or attribute it to anything to do with feelings or motives of the person (since you don’t know). You could start out generally:  “How is it going for you?” (We never know all the things going on in someone else’s life or why they are acting as they are.) You could certainly point out that some of their behaviours or words (be specific) have resulted in a negative tone or atmosphere (“when you said xxx, I noticed that other participants did xxx) and ask more about that (do they know they are doing that?)


…take an existing course and create online?

An instructor that has been asked to take an existing course (face to face) and create an on-line course. They are absolutely devastated and have no idea where to begin.

The flipchart of ideas, or tips and solutions was done quite creatively, with images creative flipchart response


..if I put my slides online, does it make it an online course?

A faculty member is told to put her guided independent study course online. She comes for a consultation, but doesn’t appear to listen to anything she is told and keeps saying “so if I put my PowerPoints into the LMS, that will be an online course?” Repeated explanations and examples seem to have no effect. The consultant is frustrated and upset by the end and the faculty member is not persuaded that an online course is anything more than PowerPoints accessible online

  • Ask about current courses (to understand and respect her work now).
  • Fear of technology? Ask, “Are you comfortable with technology?” Emphasize that you can provide help and support.
  • Provide tangible examples of courses where this is done well
  • Plan to duplicate/achieve online courses.
  • Is it a question of time (lack of it?)
  • Adopt an empathetic approach.
  • Ask, “What is the purpose?”
  • Provide instructor with time to vent, then move forward.

A senior faculty member comes in for a consultation and they are in tears.

A senior faculty member comes in for a consultation and they are in tears. They bring a large stack of teaching evaluations, which they say are terrible. They are up for promotion and have no idea what to do.

  • We talked about this one as a group, and brainstormed how we might react, and try to help the person. We talked about the questions we might ask the person, such as:
  • “How many times have you taught this course and how have the evaluations been in the past?”
  • “Do you think there is the same relative percentage of negative comments/ratings as in other years? Why do you think that might be?”

It often turns out that the person is over-reacting and that this is not unusual at all, but they are thinking about their upcoming P and T process and that is what caused the tears and concern. It is important to listen actively to them, to validate their feelings (which of course are real) and to try to break it down into parts that you can tackle together.

[Note:  this was an actual scenario; the person did leave feeling better, agreed that this was a normal sampling of evaluations, and thanked me later when they were awarded promotion (of course they did that themselves, but they felt better)].


Dean wants you to make his vision/plan ‘come true’

Academic Dean presents his PD vision/plan written a few years ago when he was a faculty member himself. Three EDs have been in your position in the last two years. Not one stayed long enough to bring any change to the institution. The Academic Dean really believes you are the right fit and discloses that you, the new hire, have to potential to make his vision come true. You leave the office wondering…where do I even begin?

  • Ask what has been done to date.
  • Clarify the vision. Identify goals and priorities. Is the vision realistic?
  • Ask the dean, “What do you expect to see from the vision?”
  • What does it look like? Is there a time line?
  • “That’s very interesting. We need to creative priorities and a timeline after a new needs assessment.”
  • Need to understand the values of the institution – how things work.
  • What resources are available to support the newbie in the objectives?
  • Alice’s tip: I would ask the dean to summarize the kinds of things the previous EDs have done, and where he/she feels is a good starting point now. I might also show the enthusiasm that the dean obviously wants you to show, but also say that you want to work with them (so that it is not just them telling you do carry out ‘their’ vision but that you will work collaboratively.) It is possible the dean is doing this as some sort of ‘test’ and perhaps even wants you to say, “No, that is not a good vision,” but I doubt it. They may well be treating it as some sort of test to see how you will react. Aiming for a collaborative and tempered, step by step approach, during which you are also building rapport with the dean may be a good way to go.

instructor seeks consultation but does not implement any changes

A novice & sessional instructor has had it strongly suggested that he/she seek consultation with our centre, which he/she does often, but does not implement any changes.  For example, the instructor wants more interaction/engagement from students in the class but does not shift from using questions as the only ‘active’ learning strategy.

Because I know the department is concerned I work on not feeling more pressure for the instructor to implement changes; however, I worry that this seeps into my interaction when I ask the instructor how he/she might develop ways to increase interaction (the instructor has been exposed to and experienced different active learning strategies).

It might be that instructor is finding emotional/psychological support from the consultation process but not initiating any change.

  • How does the centre know changes have not been made?
  • Have the instructor select one strategy to implement. Work one step at a time.
  • Ask “Which of the changes we’ve talked about do you think would work for your class?” Try to make a ‘contract’ to try it and report back to you (gets them active and continues with emotional response.)
  • Could you have the instructor sit in on a another instructor’s class (who you have chosen because they do it very well) to see how active learning can work?
  • What has the centre done this far in working with sessional instructors? A variety of interventions?
  • Need to assess what the instructor knows and understands about ‘active learning strategies’, and the level of comfort around the strategies. You also need to more about the class – content, size, etc.).

Online forum – only a few students participate

A faculty is working with me on one session of his course which will be given online asynchronously. He is concerned about the lack of involvement of his second-year students in class and wants to make sure they will view the course material before working in groups on a 90-minute case study. The professor opens a forum on the learning management system (Blackboard Learn) and is ready to answer questions during the 90-minute period the day of the activity. Only a few students participate in the forum. He is not sure what to do for future improvement.

  • Might preparing a quiz for a pre-class reading be worth trying?
  • Ask about student level of comfort with the technology and timing.
  • Assigning a leader to be the first post can be a good way to get them started.
  • Assigning grades to engage and motivate students online.
  • Show them how to do this. Sometimes it is just a matter of not knowing how (might be applicable to instructor and possibly students too.)
  • Guidelines and expectations (do a needs assessment with students?)
  • Have you considered revisiting the expectations of the online course? (Was it always online, or moved from face-to-face, if the latter, did it work well that way?)
  • What does the professor do to engage students? Modeling questions/providing scaffolding to facilitate an activity might be just what they need.


Jigsaw and Debrief (Autopsy)

On Day 3, we did a Jigsaw activity involved 4 excerpts of readings on topics you said you were most interested to explore more.

After that, we debriefed the use of Jigsaw (or since it was so close to Hallow’s Eve, it was a Jigsaw Autopsy….) Here is what you contributed:

New connections between topics (theory and practice too)

Different interpretations of material with some commonalities

It was like a “speed-compare and contrast” session

Do this for yourself, since it relates to what we ask students to do

A mix of ideas and experience, focusing on the practical


Use of Reflection Cards

One day I placed a ‘reflection card’ on your table while you were away for a break. When you came back, you ‘discovered it’ and took a look. I used cards created by Lynn Gordon. There are other examples. These had an image and a catchy phrase, then on the other side, a bit more to explain what it was about.

I asked you to think about if the message on the card had anything to do with your work as an educational developer, and/or specifically what we have been doing in the workshop to date.

We talked about the value of the following attributes, activities and tips:

Reflection… Comfort zone (both staying inside, and leaving), Listen, Be patient, Know your rhythm, Big picture and how it relates to me


Creativity and its role and value in our work

After debriefing the reflection cards, we discussed the role and value of creativity in teaching and learning and in educational development work. Here is what the group came up with:

Rapport… Support… In the classroom… Flexibility

Playflection (Cassidy, 2013):  A variety of ‘creative’ items on display and demo also led to more discussions. We had play-dough (I talked about what I think is my coining of the term “playflection” that I tweeted at a recent conference on Teaching Graduate Students to Teach), molding clay, squishy balls to toss around (which we did for non-astounding educational developer tips one day), and a 6-sided cube with different words on it, in this case, about ways to incorporate story and narrative into your class or seminar.