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The following page is a two-column layout with a header that contains a skip navigation and other utilty links as well as the search CSUN function. Page sections are identified with headers. The footer contains update, contact and emergency information.

One Amazing Thing: Book Club Groups

Cover of "One Amazing Thing" shows three dried long-stemmed pink roses.

The Freshman Common Reading for 2012-2013 will be One Amazing Thing: A Novel by Chitra Divakaruni. Have you read the book? Are you ready for fall? Join CSUN faculty and staff colleagues for a book club meeting:

Discussion will include ways of engaging freshmen in reading this book. Free copies of the book and an assortment of light refreshments will be provided to all participants. Please RSVP.

"Getting Better as Teachers" (Thriving in Academe: the View from CSUN)

Cover of NEA Higher Education Advocate story "When Images Rule"

How hard is it to become a better teacher? And in any case, what are your first steps in improving on what you've already achieved as an instructor? Read L. Dee Fink's four-page micro-article (which includes "References and Resources", published in the January 2012 issue of the NEA Higher Education Advocate, and then join CSUN colleagues for a discussion that applies his advice to our work here at CSUN.

MAP and DPR: An Introduction for Faculty

Screen shot of a student portal account showing where to find links to MAP and DPR

By logging into the portal, our students can chart their progress towards the degree with DPR (Degree Progress Report). Using MAP (My Academic Planner), an interactive version of DPR, students can look ahead to see how future courses will match degree requirements. This workshop will introduce faculty to both tools, providing an overview that can be used to help students find answers to their questions. Find out what your students see and what you can learn from your own access to student records.

What Makes a Good Professor?

Student panel at Faculty Retreat discusing "What Makes a Good Professor"

Four CSUN students offered their answers to the question "What Makes a Good Professor?" in a panel at the January 2012 Faculty Retreat.

A quick summary: good professors offer a clear syllabus; consistent and engaging lectures; time for questions; multiple pathways for students to demonstrate achieved learning; enthusiasm for their subject matter; and a safe space for students.

Faculty questions focused on how to keep students from getting upset if they give the "wrong" answer (response: keep thanking them for participating); how to communicate caring beyond the classroom when faced with 80 students in each section (response: keep your office hours); how to form a community in an online or hybrid class (response: assign students to small groups; use email strategically); how to get students to visit during office hours (responses: require a midterm visit; avoid setting hours during prime time for classes [10-2]; but do not offer extra credit for office hour visits); how to teach when there is usually a very wide range of student preparedness and ability in each class (response: vary your teaching style; be flexible; offer extra challenges for more capable students); whether computers are a good choice for in-class note-taking (responses: yes; no; depends); and whether Moodle is a good thing (responses: yes, because it lets faculty upload materials for students to review later; but no, because viewing all 15 weeks' worth of material at once for multiple courses can be overwhelming, so consider allowing students to view one week at a time; and WIFI issues are an ongoing problem).

Stretch Composition: CSUN's New Freshman Writing Courses

Giraffe looking directly at the viewer and the camera, neck fully stretched.
(Photo of giraffe by Mila Zinkova. GFDL, via Wikimedia Commons.)

CSUN has a newly redesigned series of writing-reading courses for freshmen: Stretch Composition, which was first piloted at CSUN in Fall 2011. RSVP to join Anne Kellenberger (Writing Programs Coordinator, LRC) and Mary Riggs (CHS Stretch faculty member) for this overview of Stretch Composition:

Helping Students Read Difficult Texts

Blue folder labeled "WRAD"

Join CSUN colleagues for a workshop led by WRAD coordinator Sharon Klein (English and Linguistics) responding to this Tomorrow's Professor post as she highlights ways we can help students surmount the challenges posed by reading difficult texts. Participants are invited to bring a page or two of a representative "difficult text" from their own discipline.

More information: http://www.csun.edu/afye/Helping-Students-Read-Difficult-Texts.html

Teaching CSUN's Freshmen: Great Expectations

Cartoon of a small car crashing into a tree; the caption says,  "Crash Course in Truth"

Teaching CSUN freshmen for the first time this year? Been teaching them for a decade? All participants in this roundtable discussion (an updated version of a similar Fall 2010 workshop) will exchange successful approaches and strategies to teaching CSUN freshmen. Bring your own question or story to share. Expect to learn something new and useful.

Theories about Freshmen

New Student Orientration leaders read "The Glass Castle"

No matter what subject you teach, you must have noticed that freshmen sometimes seem like a breed apart from their older and wiser peers. Participants in this workshop will be introduced to classic student development theories (Astin, Chickering, Kohlberg, Perry, et al.) that help explain why freshmen pose special challenges in the classroom.

Learning Styles: Myth or Fact?

Pie chart showing percentage of each VARK learning style preference for a group of people

You've probably heard of VARK, the well-known learning styles classification system that assigns people to one of four categories (or a combination of them) based on their preference for handling information: Visual, Aural, Read/write, Kinesthetic. Recent scholarship, however, has argued that "There is no credible evidence that learning styles exist." What's the truth? Discuss the competing claims with other CSUN faculty and staff. (Pie chart from Wikimedia Commons.)