Spring 2023 Sparkshops

Learn, Reflect, Renew, Refocus

Sparkshops are 20-minute mini-workshops that focus on small teaching interventions that instructors can apply to improve student learning. They are meant to start exploration of a teaching-related topic with continued support from the CTL as requested. Join us for Sparkshops to spark your teaching and the learning of your students!

Each Sparkshop provides:

An introduction to an evidence-based teaching practice

Potential reasons faculty might incorporate the practice in their course

Description of how the practice can be implemented, supplemented with a guide

An opportunity to request more information or support for implementation


Session Registration Below!

Resources Log into Box

Anonymous Feedback

*Note: Sparkshop sessions will be recorded and may be made publicly available by CTL. If you have privacy concerns, do not turn your video on, mute yourself, and feel free to change your Zoom name to a pseudonym. If you would like to ask a question privately, you may do so by addressing your chat question to the moderator only (and not to “everyone”). Each Sparkshop session will be shared on the CTL website.

BLOG - Transparency in Learning and Teaching: Begin with SMARTE and SMARTER Student Learning Objectives.

SPRING Sparkshops

12 noon - 12:20 PM

May 19, 2023 - Interactive lecturing: Small steps for using Universal Design for Learning principles (UDL) to promote student learning.  There is more to lecturing. Interactive lecturing provides a framework for applying the three principles of UDL namely multiple means of engagement, multiple means of representation, and multiple means of expression and action. Join CTL to discuss small steps for using interactive lecturing to implement UDL principles and promote learning for all your students. 5/19 - SESSION Registration 

Recorded Sessions

As a reminder, complete the Session Sign-In & Evaluation (above) so we can track your attendance.

April 21, 2023 - Rebranding participation: Strategies for redefining, implementing, and assessing participation as collaborationParticipation is critical to student learning success. Traditionally, participation is defined by how much a student says and how often they speak. This participation format benefits a few dominant talkers who account for over 75% of the verbal comments made in class. Join CTL Sparkshop to discuss strategies for redefining, implementing, and assessing participation as collaboration.

February 24, 2023 - Emphasizing learning over grades: Tips for implementing equitable grading practicesGrades tend to support a fixed rather than a growth mindset. Students often refer to themselves as A, B, or C students based on the ranking effects perpetuated by grades. What can instructors do to refocus students on learning and decenter grades? Join us to discuss equitable grading practices that emphasize student learning success.

January 27, 2023 - Warming up the cold call: Tips for encouraging inclusive participation in class discussionsCold calling facilitates the inclusion of a broad range of voices in discussions. However, the practice is associated with increasing the potential for student discomfort and anxiety. Join us to discuss strategies for warming up the cold call to support inclusive participation while respecting student autonomy.

November 18, 2022 - Just-in-time teaching: Tips for using background knowledge probes to pre-assess students' knowledge. Ever wondered how to ascertain what students already know or do not know in order to determine the appropriate starting point of instruction in relation to an upcoming learning material? We will discuss evidence-informed tips for using background knowledge probes to collect data about students' existing knowledge and understanding of the learning content. 

October 14, 2022 - Openings and closings matter: Tips for making the first and last few minutes of class effective and reflective. Ever wonder how to grab students' attention as soon as they enter your class and engage them in reflecting on their learning before they leave? The opening and closing bookends of a class session present a powerful opportunity to focus students' attention on the learning material. We will discuss evidence-informed tips for leveraging students learning success during the opening and closing minutes of class.

May 20, 2022 - Using Rubrics to Support and Assess Student Learning: Best Practices. Do you want to know how to use rubrics to support transparency in assessments and enhance student learning? Join Funmi Amobi and Weiwei Zhang for an informative discussion on how to help students understand the expectations for successful performance, how their current work relates to the expectations, and what they must do to close the gaps.

May 10, 2022 - Engaging Students in Cooperative Learning in STEM Classes. Want to know evidence-based conditions and strategies for engaging students in productive cooperative learning experiences? Participate in the cooperative learning workshop!

April 15, 2022 - Demystifying Peer Observation of Teaching: Formative and Evaluative Models and Processes. Do you want to know how to harness the benefits of peer observation of teaching to improve the quality of teaching and promote student learning success? Join Funmi Amobi, Weiwei Zhang, Cub Kahn, and Cheridy Aduviri for an enlightening discussion of best approaches to implementing formative and summative peer observations.  

February 18, 2022 - Engaging students in learning through problems: Design and implementation strategiess.  Want to develop your students' skills to identify, analyze and solve real-world problems? Problem based learning (PBL) engages students in conducting research, integrating theory and practice, and applying knowledge and skills to analyze and solve authentic problems in the discipline. Join Funmi Amobi and Weiwei Zhang to discuss the strategies for designing, implementing and assessing PBL.  

January 21, 2022 - Engaging students in successful cooperative learning experiences: Conditions and strategies.. Want to know how to help your students attain the academic and social-emotional benefits of cooperative learning? Putting students in groups and instructing them to work together does not automatically produce cooperation. Real cooperation will only develop under certain conditions. Join Funmi Amobi and Weiwei Zhang to discuss the conditions and strategies for engaging students in productive cooperative learning experiences.

November 12, 2021 - Increasing student participation in whole-class discussion: Procedures and strategies. Discussion promotes critical thinking and communication skills. It helps students become co-constructors of knowledge and understanding. Getting all students to participate equally is clearly a challenge in whole-class discussions. Facilitators (Funmi Amobi & Weiwei Zhang) will briefly share evidence-informed procedures and strategies for increasing active participation in whole–class discussions. Participants will discuss discipline-based discussion practices.

October 15, 2021 - Engaging Students through effective questioning: Strategies and tipsQuestioning is central to teaching. University teachers pose many questions during a class to check students’ understanding, and promote critical thinking. Facilitators (Funmi Amobi & Weiwei Zhang) will briefly share evidence-informed strategies for using Bloom’s revised taxonomy, different question types, and effective questioning techniques to support student engagement and learning success. Participants will discuss discipline-based questioning practices.

May 14, 2021 - Engaging Students in Large-Enrollment Classes: Successful Practices. Teaching large-enrollment courses can be challenging when it comes to creating interaction that promotes student engagement. Yet, they present pedagogical, technological and active learning-driven opportunities to energize students and facilitate their learning. Funmi Amobi (CTL), Erica Woekel (CPHHS) and Demian Hommel (CEOAS) will discuss strategies for helping faculty address the challenges associated with teaching large classes, and present successful practices for engaging students in large-enrollment courses.

April 23, 2021 - Engaging Students on Zoom: Attention supports. Do you ever wonder: How do I grab students’ focus on learning right from the beginning of class and maintain their attention throughout the entire class period? Funmi Amobi (CTL) and WeiWei Zhang (AT) will discuss how to apply evidence-based pedagogical practices coupled with applicable Zoom and Google tools to engage students in synchronous class sessions.

March 12, 2021 - Assessing Student Learning: Getting Students Motivated to Complete Pre-Class Reading Assignments. Are you concerned that students are not meeting course expectations for completing pre-class readings and assignments? Join us for a lively discussion of evidence-based approaches to making assignments transparent, and consequently maximizing student motivation to complete coursework.

February 12, 2021 - Using Diagnostic and Formative Assessment Strategies to Promote Student Learning and Engagement.  Have you ever wondered how to capture your students’ thinking about an upcoming topic before they even get to class and how to actively engage them in learning throughout an entire class period? Join us for a lively discussion of evidence-based diagnostic and formative assessment methods to focus students’ minds and attention on learning.

January 8, 2021 - Assessing Student Learning: Making the Alignment of Student Learning Objectives and Assessment Transparent. Have students ever asked you the following questions: “Why do we have to take this test?” “How is this group work project relevant?” To preempt these incidents, join us for a lively discussion of evidence-based strategies for implementing visible alignment of student learning objectives (SLOs) and assessment methods.

December 11, 2020 - Assessing Collaborative Group Work: Have your students ever expressed concerns about free-riding by some group members in a group project?  We will discuss effective strategies for using confidential peer evaluations to grade group work fairly and equitably.


November 12, 2020 - Implementing Successful Collaborative Group Work: Are you concerned about how to design a successful multifaceted and multiphase group project in your course? Worry no more. We will discuss workable structures and strategies for planning, implementing and monitoring group projects. (link to resources - no recording)

October 16, 2020 Transparency in Teaching and Learning: Begin with SMARTER Learning Objectives:  Have your students ever asked the ‘Why’ question? Why are we learning this? We will discuss how to answer the question preemptively before class, by using SMARTER learning objectives to make your teaching and student learning more transparent. (link to resources - no recording)

Facilitator: Funmi Amobi, Instructional Consultant and College Liaison

The Center for Teaching and Learning

Please contact me at [email protected] to set up a Sparkshop.