Drop in and join us for rich conversations on teaching and learning! Registration is not required. Sparkshops are *45-minute mini workshops on evidence-based teaching practices. They are designed to be delivered to groups of instructors during informal gatherings or departmental meetings. Sparkshops are meant to start exploration of a chosen topic with continued support from the CTL as requested.

*Please note that the duration of sparkshops can be adjusted to 15-20 minutes to accommodate a department meeting’s schedule.

What are the Goals?

  • To provide a brief introduction to a teaching-related topic and to “spark” interest in learning more.
  • To facilitate reflective conversations around teaching and learning.
  • To support scholarly teaching and promote student success.

Sparkshop offerings are:

  1. 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.
    Scheduled 10/16/20
  2. Implementing Successful Collaborative Group Work/Projects: 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.
    Scheduled 11/12/20
  3. Assessing Collaborative Group Work/Projects: 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.
    Scheduled 12/11/20
  4. Using Classroom Observation and Reflection to Improve Your Teaching: You don’t have to wait until a formal teaching evaluation to get feedback on your teaching. All around you are practitioners of best practices of teaching. We will discuss the procedures and strategies for setting up a peer-to-peer informal classroom observation, determining what to observe, and conducting a productive post-observation dialogue and reflection on teaching and learning.
  5. Framework for Engaging Students in Synchronous Sessions--Interactive Lecture: Can active learning really exist in a virtual learning environment where physical student-to-student interaction is absent? Yes, it can. We will discuss evidence-based strategies for combining engaging focused presentations with active learning activities to promote student learning with focus on the three components of class planning pre-planning, process, and close. 
  6. Elevating Student Engagement in Breakout Room Discussions--Three Steps: Have you ever wondered how to get my students to engage productively in meaningful discussions in breakout rooms? We will discuss three step-by-step strategies for maximizing student engagement in breakout rooms.
  7. Assessment Brief--Rethinking Assessment in the COVID-19 Era: The pivot to remote instruction in response to the Covid-19 pandemic has upended conversations about how to remake the assessment of student learning. We will discuss five key principles of assessment, and evidence-based practices of redesigning assessment methods to emphasize assessment as and for learning rather than the current focus on assessment as a summative measurement of learning.
  8. Getting Students Motivated to Complete pre-Class Readings and Assignments: Transparency Matters: Are you concerned that students are not meeting course expectations for completing pre-class readings and assignments? We will discuss a three-step approach to making assignments transparent, and consequently improving student learning.
  9. Teach Transparently--Mapping Your Course for Alignment: A course map provides a template to align assessments and instruction to learning objectives for the purpose of facilitating student success. A misaligned course design is a leading cause of poor teaching and learning experiences. We will talk about basic principles of course design as a precursor to the discussion of how to map a course. A course map exemplar will be presented. 
  10. Questioning Reconsidered—Engaging Students as Critical Questioners: Questioning and instruction go hand in hand in all modalities. The prevailing teacher-initiates, student-responds, teacher –evaluates (IRE) recitation approach relegates students to the role of question answerers. We will discuss how to use the strategies of think aloud, student self-questioning and reciprocal peer-questioning to bring out the best in students as critical thinkers and independent learners.

Facilitator: Funmi Amobi, Instructional Consultant and College Liaison. Please contact me at to set up a sparkshop.