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New to UMass    |    Enhancing Your Teaching    |    Enhancing Your Research    |    Enhancing Your Mentoring

Enhancing Your Teaching

TEFD Online LIbrary

TEFD has been developing a multimedia library of resources to help faculty adopt student-centered teaching practices.  These resources are available for now in Moodle until the new TEFD website launches in 2017.  New faculty should already be enrolled.  Otherwise, click here to request enrollment in the Moodle site.

Click the questions below to view information frequently sought by new faculty.

How do I know what to put into a syllabus?

The UMass Amherst Office of Academic Planning & Assessment (OAPA) has created a very handy Syllabus Construction Tool designed to help faculty prepare their syllabi.

What resources on multiculturalism and diversity in teaching does the CTFD provide?

One of the strengths of TEFD is to provide consultations as well as resources (both print and video) on multiculturalism and diversity in higher education. The TEFD library contains an extensive collection of articles covering topics such as course design, knowing better who our students are, and professional growth and development. For a selection of recommended articles, please see the attached annotated bibliography.

Does TEFD recommend any resources on online teaching and learning?

Yes. The UMass Amherst Office of Academic Planning & Assessment (OAPA) has created a detailed guide on how best to approach and conduct online learning.

Are there any sample department/course-level TA handbooks here at UMass Amherst?

Yes. For a sample of a very good UMass Amherst TA training tool, please see Dr. John McCarthy’s Linguistics TA Handbook.

What resources are available on campus to help my students with their learning?

The Faculty Guide from the Provost’s Office contains detailed information on all learning support services on campus. Three areas, in particular, that support a large number of students are:

  • The Digital Media Lab is a space on the 3rd floor of the W.E.B. Du Bois Library where students have access to materials to produce high-quality multimedia, from a green screen video room and pro-audio sound recording booths to specialized workstations and collaboration space. Outfitted with 27" iMacs and dual Mac/PC workstations, this space also includes an instruction area where students can take workshops on developing multimedia projects.
  • The Learning Resource Center provides peer tutoring in both study skills and academic subjects.
  • The Learning Commons is a space on the lower level of the W.E.B Du Bois Library that brings together academic, technology, and library support.
  • The Writing Center provides one-on-one consultations to students on their writing projects, providing feedback and strategies at any stage of the writing process. The Writing Center also supports faculty in designing writing assignments and in-class writing activities.
  • TEFD’s online library has a series of videos on Teaching Students To Learn, with focus on peer editing, taking notes, and preparing assigned readings. New faculty should already be enrolled.  Otherwise, click here to request enrollment in the Moodle site.

Is there a place I can go to work on my courses, research and writing?

UMass Amherst Teaching Commons, located on the 26th floor of the W.E.B. Du Bois Library is a space for faculty to collaborate or work individually, equipped with computers and presentation equipment, on-site assistance, faculty service referrals, comfortable seating, and a fantastic view. The Teaching Commons is a collaboration between the Institute for Teaching Excellence & Faculty Development, the Office of Information Technologies/Academic Computing, and the University Libraries.

If I want to use multimedia in my teaching, what resources exist across campus?
  • Instructional technology services are provided by several units on campus, including the following units that may be of immediate interest to new faculty. Academic Computing offers a variety of resources, including:<
    • Academic Course Web Sites. Many faculty use web sites to complement their in-class teaching. UMass Amherst supplies the Moodle interface for this purpose. Information on building your course website with Moodle is available online.
    • Instructional Media Lab. The lab provides consultants who will help you utilize web technologies in your teaching, including scanning pictures/slides, using image files, putting video on the web or on DVDs, and creating PDF files.
  • Information on the instructional technology available in classrooms across campus can be found online. In addition, there are 11 computer classrooms. You can reserve one of these classrooms for a single session or a semester. Classrooms get filled far in advance, so make your reservations early.
  • Academic Media Instructional Services (AIMS) provides equipment delivery, technical support, and consultation services for faculty and staff using classrooms and auditoriums on campus.
    • Multimedia equipment (e.g., video/data projectors, DVD/TV combos, overhead projectors) available for faculty and staff to support classroom instruction
    • Installation, repair, and maintenance services for AV equipment in auditoriums & technology-enhanced classrooms
    • Demonstrations, support, and consultations on effective use of AV equipment
  • As of Fall 2011, the UMass Amherst began supporting i>clicker as the campus' main Audience Response System (ARS). For more information about the ARS or to receive a demonstration of the technology, visit the UMass Amherst Information Technology website or email UMass Amherst IT.
  • UMass Amherst also provides an Online Web-based Learning homework system (“OWL”).
  • Both TEFD and Academic Computing through the Office of Information Technology offer workshops and one-on-one consulting to support your instructional technology needs.
  • UMass Libraries’ Course Reserve & Media Support Services
    • Place CDs and DVDs on reserve in the W. E. B. Du Bois Library for 3 hour loan.
    • Streaming Reserve offers instructor specified on-demand streaming of library owned media is available for remote access to audio and video materials that are part of the course curriculum.
    • UMass Amherst faculty and staff may book UMass and Five College films, videos, and DVDs in advance, for classroom use or for showing in a library viewing room.

How do I manage my course(s), e.g. roster, schedules, grades, etc.?

The SPIRE system allows you to undertake all of the activities related to managing your courses each semester. You will receive a SPIRE login through your department. If you do not, you can generate a SPIRE login by using the “Forgot My Password” function on the SPIRE logon page. To learn more about managing your class rosters, schedules, grades, and more, please visit the SPIRE Faculty Center.

How do I put course material on reserve?

You can take advantage of either physical or digital curriculum services to reserve library materials for your students:

  • Materials made available on 3 hour loan at the W. E. B. Du Bois Library include: Library-owned and/or instructor personal copies of books, DVDs and CD media (including faculty provided textbooks).
  • Place password protected, digital curriculum materials accessed via the libraries’ e-reserve system including documents, persistent links to library databases and subscription services, streaming audio and video. The library provides scanning and copyright processing for these services.
  • For more information, contact UMass Amherst Libraries Circulation/Reserves Department.

How do I get started with using Open Educational Resources?

Open Educational Resources (OER) are educational materials and resources offered freely and openly for anyone to use and under some licenses to re-mix, improve and redistribute. The University Libraries provide a guide to OER, with information for learners, educators and Open Access advocates.

For subject-specific resources, contact your Library Liaison.

What is the University’s policy on academic dishonesty? What are my options if I suspect a student has cheated?

If you suspect a student of academic dishonesty, contact the Ombuds Office within 10 days of your suspicion. For a more detailed overview of your options, see the Ombuds Office’s quick reference guide for faculty or the full text of the Academic Honesty Policy.

UMass Amherst also has a subscription to Turnitin, a plagiarism prevention service that detects textual matches between student papers and other documents available in electronic form on the internet, in subscription databases, and in databases of other student papers. For more information on this software, visit the University Libraries’ page on Plagiarism Prevention at UMass Amherst, or contact

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