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Great ideas from Great Ideas

Our annual Great Ideas for Teaching and Learning Symposium produced a lot of great ideas for “Teaching the Whole Student”. Our keynote speaker, Dr. Tracie Addy, provided this holistic framework for us to think through as we consider how to “Teach the Whole Student”

  • Academic: What strengths do learners bring in their knowledge, skills, and experiences? What are growth areas? How can I design an environment that supports their growth?
  • Socio-Psychological: How do social and psychological factors (e.g. identity, attitudes, etc.) impact how my learners experience class? How can my classroom be a space where such factors are acknowledged? 
  • Physiological: How do the biological states of my learners influence their learning in my course (e.g., tiredness, infirmity, hunger)? How can I ensure that I am aware of these states when I teach? 
  • Spiritual: What gives my students purpose, meaning, and energy? How can my course bring these aspects out in my learners? 

During afternoon sessions, faculty and staff shared strategies for teaching the whole student. A few highlights include:

  • Emily Meredith (Biology) offered an engaging method for connecting students more deeply with course content and each other. All students read the same article before a remote class meeting; then Dr. Meredith breaks them into smaller groups with each group annotating and explaining a different figure from the article before presenting that data to the class.
  • To ensure students comprehend the nuances of mathematics in an entirely online course, Kathrine Johnson (Math) has Statistical Methods students sign up for synchronous, team-based quizzes where they can ask her for assistance when they hit a roadblock to understanding. 
  • Gail Shuck (Linguistics) reduces her students’ assessment anxiety by giving them three options for an assignment where they must analyze and interpret data. The students may turn in a traditional paper, record a screencast of a PowerPoint presentation with voiceover, or record a conversation with a classmate.

In two students panels, Boise State students shared their experiences with supportive teachers, and with classroom approaches that helped them to feel included. A few of the core takeaways from the session included:

  • Even in the largest classes, there are things instructors can do to help students feel connected, such as building in time for students to break out in pairs to briefly discuss and reflect.
  • It’s an act of courage to seek out help, and it’s much easier for students to do it when they don’t have to make the first move. Panelists expressed deep appreciation for instructors who have been proactive in reaching out.
  • During the pandemic, students have seen more flexibility and compassion from their instructors. The panlists universally expressed the hope that this will continue beyond COVID.

Missed the symposium this year? You can still check out the asynchronous content from the event, available on our website! And, our presenters shared far more wisdom than we can capture in a single blog post, so keep checking back here to learn more, as we will be sharing some of that content via the CTL’s blog and newsletter. As always, be sure to check out the CTL Events page for upcoming Workshops and other opportunities to engage around pedagogy.