While Instructional Support's overall mission is faculty development and the enhancement of teaching and learning, its services primarily fall into one of three overlapping areas: active and integrative learning, student learning outcomes assessment, and instructional technology.
Active and Integrative Learning
Instructional Support supports the work of the Committee on College Teaching and Learning in its efforts to promote active, integrative learning at Niagara University. Instructional Support assists the CCTL in preparing for Niagara's annual Teaching and Learning Conference each January, as well as other activities of the committee. Instructional Support also offers programs for faculty each semester related to active, integrative, and student-centered learning, including workshops led by NU faculty and off-campus experts.
Student Learning Outcomes Assessment
Student learning outcomes assessment is our priority. Instructional Support assists individual departments, colleges, the General Education Committee, the Senate Outcomes Assessment Committee, and other programs on campus in establishing clearly articulated, assessable student learning goals and appropriate measures to gather high-quality data about student learning. We help faculty understand and meet Middle States and Niagara University requirements for assessment. Training or workshops in this area are available upon request; campuswide workshops on assessment are offered each semester.
Each semester, Instructional Support offers a variety of workshops, presentations, and tutorials related to instructional technology. The focus of these professional development activities is not simply furthering technological competence, but rather thinking critically and deliberately about the most appropriate and effective ways to use technology as instructional tools to enhance student learning. Instructional Support regularly offers Canvas Basics and Advanced Canvas training, workshops related to distance and online education, Microsoft applications, classroom response systems, and Web 2.0 (blogs, wikis, podcasting, social networking). Workshops offered each semester change based on demand; however, technology tutorials are always available upon request.
Center for the Advancement of Scholarship, Teaching, and Learning (CASTL)
Located on the first floor of St. Vincent's Hall in room 107, the Center for the Advancement of Scholarship, Teaching and Learning (CASTL) is Niagara University's working space and resource room for faculty development. The CASTL provides a warm and welcoming space for colleagues to meet, conduct conversations, and collaborate on everything from teaching and learning techniques to classroom management, and from what’s working (or not working) in class to designing a research project. Spread out work at the table; use one of fifteen computers. Or relax with a cup of coffee and take in the view of the Niagara Gorge. Our resource library contains a large collection of literature focused on higher education topics and current research. New at the CASTL are a selection of “Magna 20 Minute Mentor” videos available for viewing. The CASTL’s technology lab and SMART Board are available for faculty and staff training. A small conference table with a convenient whiteboard surface is available for meetings with visitors to the center and for the work of Niagara University's Faculty Learning Community.
Instructional Technology Support
The Center for the Advancement of Scholarship, Teaching and Learning is available for small group or one-on-one instructional technology tutorials. Dates and times for upcoming instructional technology workshops are available on myNU under "Instructional Support." If you cannot attend an upcoming workshop or have additional questions about Canvas or one of the other workshop topics, please feel free to contact our office to arrange a one-on-one training session in the Center for Instructional Support. Additionally, the center has a TurningPoint Classroom Response System "clicker" set that can be borrowed for classroom use. Please contact us or visit the center for more information.
Instructional Support maintains a resource library on active/integrated learning, assessment, instructional technology, and the scholarship of teaching and learning. All four of these areas focus on enhancing instructional ability. Please visit the Center for the Advancement of Scholarship, Teaching and Learning to browse through or to borrow our books, DVDs, or other resources. Books in the library can be reserved either by signing them out in CASTL or visiting our electronic library and emailing firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve your book(s). If requested through email, Instructional Support will send your book(s) through interoffice mail to your office.
Small Group Individual Diagnosis (SGID)
Instructional Support facilitates SGID sessions, an approach to gathering student feedback for faculty who are interested in improving their teaching. This is a unique opportunity to connect with your students and potentially improve student evaluations. SGID is an especially helpful tool for pre-tenure faculty or for those who would like to improve their teaching. Information gathered through SGID is not shared with anyone except the faculty member and the process is entirely voluntary.
How does SGID work? After a brief meeting between the faculty member and a facilitator from the Instructional Support staff, the facilitator visits the classroom at a time of the faculty member’s choosing (usually around midterms). After the facilitator observes the first half of class, the professor leaves the room to ensure an anonymous environment for student comments. The class is then split into small groups and asked to decide the three aspects of the class that they feel are the most valuable for their learning and the three aspects that they feel could use improvement. As a class, the students then discuss and choose the overall top three in each category. The facilitator then types the students’ comments and shares them with the faculty member either via email or in a face-to-face meeting.