The Science of Learning: Promoting Engagement in Hybrid Teaching
General description of the project
A series of trainings on Teaching for Student Engagement in the Hybrid Classroom were offered to faculty in the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley in preparation for the upcoming fall 2021 semester. This was a one-week professional development series intended to create a reflective and collaborative space where participants explored best practices for teaching and engaging students in learning in the hybrid classroom environment. Teaching conversations were facilitated by Instructional Designers and faculty members with experience teaching online and hybrid. Faculty testimonials about the sessions included “Seeing different styles of teaching and technology – I liked that we were able to talk to other faculty members and share. We never have the opportunity to talk and share. ” and ” the workshop provided me with different programs and methods to engage my students in the classroom and online. For example, embedding questions in my lecture. Creating discussions students can participate regardless of method.”
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all the workshops were run online via Zoom and Blackboard. New technologies for presenting materials were introduced to faculty: Jamboard and Miro board to promote virtual collaboration, connect thoughts, and share ideas. The use of technology supported didactic views of instruction: facilitators prepared lectures via electronic slideshows, web-based access to written materials and resources and offered synchronous lectures with opportunities for interaction. This was an opportunity for faculty to rethink how technology might help improve their hybrid classrooms and then create or redesign a student engagement activity for their hybrid classroom using, if possible, the new methodology.
Explain project results
The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) is the second largest Hispanic-Serving College Institution in the nation. These series of trainings on Teaching for Student Engagement in the Hybrid Classroom supported faculty efforts to design hybrid courses, develop curriculum, and teach in ways that build upon UTRGV students’ cultural and linguistic assets. This one-week workshop offered faculty an opportunity to reflect on how they would introduce the activity to students within the context of their hybrid course approach, how they will leverage the technology tools in the classroom to engage F2F and online students but also to think about how they could align a student activity to the learning objectives of the course through an equity conscious lens to impact student success in the classroom.
Why it should be considered best practice?
This year, 2021, the UTRGV Office of Student Success partnered with the Student Government Association to send a survey to all UTRGV students in order to get some additional feedback on students’ experiences in the classes during the spring 2021 semester. Some questions asked were about students’ overall satisfaction with their courses, as well as what helped them stay engaged in their classes, their modality preferences and what faculty could do to improve their experience in their online classes in the future. One of the most frequents themes in this survey (around 15%) involved responses about students’ perceptions that their workload had increased significantly in the move to online classes. When designing a hybrid course and migrating the content from the classroom to the hybrid format, there is a tendency to increase the number of required articles to read, videos to view, and assessments to take to compensate for the time that faculty are not meeting with students. In the same survey, Quite a few students expressed not understanding how their Blackboard sites are set up (made worse by the fact that they’re taking 5 classes online, with most courses organized differently. Still others asked for more help understanding their assignments and when things are due. Students tend to be disengaged when taking online classes that lack good design and organization.
These issues in online and hybrid teaching are not unique to UTRGV as students across the country are feeling similarly. These series of workshops tried to address these issues and encouraged faculty to collaborate and share ideas with one another to influence changes in teaching and improve their hybrid courses. This is faculty development initiative that can be replicated in any higher education institution since hybrid teaching and learning has become the norm in many higher ed institutions.
Highlights of your proposed presentation
1. PD provided opportunities to critically reflect on instructional practice
2. PD provided opportunities to dialogued with experienced colleagues that encouraged professional growth
3. PD encouraged faculty to incorporate more digital tools in their hybrid courses
4. PD provided best practices for student engagement in a hybrid classroom environment, support to facilitate teaching in classroom equipped with web-conferencing technology and integrate synchronous and asynchronous technologies in the course design.
The Evaluation Committee will evaluate submitted proposals based on the following criteria. Each area will be rated on a scale from 1 to 7 (1= non-satisfactory; 7 =outstanding), for a maximum of 63 points.