By Cynthia Rutz, Director, Valparaiso Institute for Teaching and Learning (VITAL)  Many of our students are struggling right now. Some are hampered by two years of lockdown and missed learning. Others have learning disabilities, whether diagnosed or not.  How can you help these students succeed in your classes?  Christina Hearne, Director of the Access & Accommodations Resource Center...
By Cynthia Rutz, Director, Valparaiso Institute for Teaching and Learning (VITAL)   Would you like to see VU become more sustainable? Then read on to learn about some green initiatives on campus. Alberto López Martín (WLC), VU’s first Faculty Development Fellow, has spent the last year working on eco-pedagogy with a faculty learning community co-led by Giosuè Alagna.  Alberto and...
By Cynthia Rutz, Director of Faculty Development, VITAL   We all know that  VU’s Writing Center exists to help students become better writers. But faculty often do not make full use of this splendid resource. In the following article, student writing consultant Maddie Henry gives us some tips about how we and the Writing Center can better help students improve their writing. Next, Writing...
By Cynthia Rutz, Director of Faculty Development, VITAL Do you ever wonder whether your tests, exams, and assignments are really developing the skills you want your students to learn?  What would you like them to retain five minutes after your class ends? Five months later? How about five years later?  Your colleagues Salena Anderson (English) and Mandy Brobst-Renaud (Theology) radically...
By Cynthia Rutz, Director of Faculty Development, VITAL   Like many of you, I have struggled to get my students to read for class.  I have tried daily reading quizzes, group presentations, even assigning questions for each reading. But nothing has worked as well as the free and easy to use app Perusall. Perusall is a free online collective reading and learning community where you can place...
By Cynthia Rutz, Director of Faculty Development, VITAL Putting students in groups during class improves engagement, retention of knowledge, and deep learning according to several studies (see list of further resources at the end of this article). Students learn better when they can build knowledge together or when a fellow student explains a concept in language they can understand.  In this...
By Cynthia Rutz, Director, Valparaiso Institute for Teaching and Learning (VITAL) As we know all too well, both faculty and students have been worn down by the pandemic. In particular, the mental health of our students has suffered. Even before COVID, the teen suicide rate had increased so much in the last decade that it is now the second leading cause of death among adolescents. In the first...