Teaching Academy Resources
There are an extraordinary amount of resources to support you, your students, and your specific teaching concerns this fall!
Learn more about:
- UMass Offices That Support Teaching
- UMass Offices That Can Support Your Students
- Navigating the Fall 2020 Reopening Plan
- Other Resources From Around the Web
There are many UMass resources to support your teaching!
Office of Professional Development (Graduate School)
OPD offers regular workshops for graduate students and postdocs to prepare them for success in the classroom. Their offerings on teaching include topics such as active learning strategies, classroom management, interpersonal communication with students, streamlining class preparation and grading, and course design. In addition to supporting those teaching right now, OPD also helps prepare graduate students and postdocs for careers as teachers and faculty in higher education.
CIRTL@UMass (Graduate School)
The Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching, and Learning (CIRTL) is a network of research universities with the shared goal of helping graduate students and postdocs strategically position themselves for careers in college and university teaching through a series of comprehensive online workshops and courses. The UMass CIRTL chapter also leads in-person workshops and learning communities on topics in evidence-based and inclusive teaching for the UMass campus, and offers opportunities for evidence-based teaching projects.
Office of Inclusion and Engagement (Graduate School)
OIE aims to cultivate an inclusive environment through which graduate students from all backgrounds can thrive and succeed at UMass Amherst. Their recent series, Empowering Future Leaders for an Inclusive Academy, was an initiative aimed at preparing graduate students and postdocs to be change agents in academia.
There are two offices that can support your use of technology in the classroom: the Instructional Design, Engagement and Support group (IDEAS) and the Instructional Media Lab. They offer one-on-one help (over email or Zoom) and workshops focused on technologies like Moodle, Blackboard, VoiceThread, and Echo360.
Center for Teaching and Learning
The Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) organizes a variety of events and often partners with OPD on programming to jointly serve faculty, postdoc, and graduate student instructors. Their website also offers additional teaching resources, such as another series of pedagogical videos.
Library Support for Teachers
The Libraries are here to help you prepare for the fall semester; here is specific information on:
Writing Center Support for Teachers
The Writing Center can support you as you work with your students on writing! They can help you make decisions about how to make your writing instruction as smooth and productive as possible. You can request a consultation to talk about time management around grading, advice for working with multilingual writers, or how to organize peer feedback activities.
UMass Offices That Can Support Your Students
Dean of Students Office
DOSO is concerned with the overall wellbeing of your students. In particular, they can serve as a single point of contact within the University for students and their families in time of crisis. There is a simple online form to request assistance from the Dean of Students Office for a student. There are many reasons to request assistance: if a student has excessive absences, is not responsive to instructor outreach, has become withdrawn, reports a medical condition of concern, or shares stressful personal information. It is not not your job to counsel students, but you are the main contact between the student and the university. By sharing information with DOSO, we can find students who may need help and get that help to them faster.
Learning Resource Center
The LRC is the tutoring center at UMass. Their academic support programs are for all residential undergraduate students, not just those who are struggling academically. Peer Tutors, Supplemental Instruction (SI) Leaders, and ExSEL Leaders are model students trained to assist their peers in achieving academic success, and often offer support targeted at large-enrollment introductory courses.
Writing Center Support for Student
The Writing Center will work with your students at any stage of the writing process. Encourage (but please do not require) your students to make a one-on-one appointment with a writing tutor at any stage of the writing process.
Your Students' Privacy
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) is the primary law that protects the confidentiality of students’ records in academic environments. Learn more about how to protect your students privacy with this tutorial from IT.
Navigating the Fall 2020 Reopening Plan
What is a Quality Online Course?
UMass has created the University Quality Standards for Fully Online Courses. You can make sure that your course is following these guidelines, whether you are a teaching assistant or instructor of record. For more guidelines and best practices in enacting these standards, check out this new guide that provides best practices, tips for TAs, and technology advice.
Questions about Teaching and Learning in Online Courses?
The Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL), Instructional Design, Engagement and Support group (IDEAS), Information Technology (IT) and the Libraries have collaborated in developing resources to support online instruction. These resources are open to all faculty, instructors, graduate student teaching associates and assistants. Visit the University Quality Standards: Flexforward to Online Teaching to access all resources including:
- Course Design modules to help in the planning and (re)design of courses.
- Moodle course that provides support in fully utilizing the features in Moodle for online instruction that supports student learning and a range of teaching strategies.
- “Keep Teaching” advice that will give teaching assistants (and instructors) great ideas for strategies for discussions, group work, welcoming students, and more!
- Access to IT and Library resources.
CTL/IDEAS/IT/Libraries is also sending out a weekly update with announcements and teaching tips for fall instruction; if you have not been receiving the email please submit a request through the Quality Online Course Design Help to be added to the distribution list.
Looking for Answers to Specific Questions?
You may use the Quality Online Course Design Help request form, monitored jointly by CTL, IDEAS, IT, and Libraries.
Wondering about Student Evaluations?
Forward FOCUS (Feedback on Course Understanding and Skills) is an end-of-course survey developed by the UMass Center for Teaching and Learning. It is customizable and is available to send to your students through Moodle and Blackboard. If you are the instructor of record in spire, you will also have to opportunity to opt into the standard Student Response to Instruction (SRTI) survey.
Other Resources From Around the Web
There are many online pedagogical resources that will inspire instructors with best-practices for learning. For example, Faculty Focus regular publishes short articles on effective teaching strategies for the college classroom and The Chronicle of Higher Education has an advice section that also often publishes on pedagogy and teaching as a career.
National Center for Faculty Development & Diversity
The NCFDD provides online professional development and mentoring tools to help everyone succeed in academia. UMass Amherst has an institutional membership, which means that much of the programming is free to you as a member of the UMass community (be sure to indicate your UMass Amherst affiliation when you create an account). They offer live and on-demand webinars. Check out their resources aimed at graduate students and postdocs.
Blog Posts about Teaching College
There are many online pedagogical resources that will inspire instructors with best-practices for learning. For example, Faculty Focus regularly publishes short articles on effective teaching strategies for the college classroom and the publications The Chronicle of Higher Education and Inside Higher Ed both have advice sections that often publish on pedagogy and teaching as a career. Each of these sites offer a weekly newsletter.
Some of our favorite books on pedagogy include:
- Small Teaching (2016) by James Lang
- Small Teaching Online (2019) by Flower Darby & James Lang
- Student Engagement Techniques (2020) by Claire Major & Elizabeth Barkley
- Collaborative Learning Techniques (2014) by Elizabeth Barkley, Claire Major, and K. Patricia Cross
- Engaging Ideas: The Professor's Guide to Integrating Writing, Critical Thinking, and Active Learning in the Classroom (2011) by John C. Bean
We have linked to the publisher’s webpage, but all of these are available electronically from the UMass library.
Student Workload Estimator
As you are planning readings and assignments, you may be wondering how much work to assign. The expectation for students is that they spend 1-3 hours outside of class per credit hour. This Student Workload Estimator tool (developed by Rice University) can help you estimate the workload for different types of assignments - if you plug in the number of pages of reading or writing, it will estimate the time it will take the average student to complete the work.