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Center for Teaching Excellence

Teaching Topics

Throughout the year, CTE offers a series of timely programs open to the entire SMU teaching community.  Topics range from the theoretical to the practical, from time-tested to ripped from the headlines.  The programs are presented by recognized experts from within the SMU faculty, and are designed to foster discussion about teaching and learning issues.  

Let's Play: Using Games as a Teaching Strategy
November 17
3:00 - 4:30 pm

Academic games provide a different approach to course material that help students apply content while having fun. In this session, we will discuss the research on teaching with games and test out a few games that faculty can use in class.


Academic Freedom from Wisconsin to SMU
Spring TBA

Academic freedom has long been a central tenet of higher education. From Wisconsin to Texas, critics question the need and importance of academic freedom in today’s universities. In this session, we will discuss the current landscape of academic freedom in U.S. higher education, the legal underpinnings, and how faculty can support academic freedom at SMU.

Sample of Past Programs

The Art of Leading Discussion

This session offers a unique set of ideas and strategies for getting the most out of a classroom discussion. In a discussion style format, attendees will have the opportunity to see first hand how to implement effective strategies that seamlessly carry a discussion from start to finish.

Topics covered will include different types of discussions, increasing student participation, sharing authority, using silence to your advantage, and responding to student comments. Participants will leave with a new toolbox of ready to implement discussion strategies.

Carrots & Sticks: Motivating Students to Learn

Do you struggle with getting students to do homework? Wonder how to get effective work out of groups, or encourage consistent progress on a semester-long project? Need new strategies to support critical thinking and encourage students to take risks?

Join seven award-winning professors from arts, humanities, social science, STEM, and professional programs to discuss successful techniques for dealing with these and other teaching issues. Guide your students from showing up to showing off subject mastery.

Get the Most out of Blackboard

This 90-minute session to help you use Blackboard more efficiently will be conducted in two rooms, one for beginners and one for intermediate users. If you would like to add materials to your Bb course during the workshop, please have your files available via electronic access (dropbox or other cloud site) or a flash drive.

This 90-minute session to help you use Blackboard more efficiently will be conducted in two rooms, one for beginners and one for intermediate users. If you would like to add materials to your Bb course during the workshop, please have your files available via electronic access (dropbox or other cloud site) or a flash drive.

Basics: Getting Started with Blackboard
FLW 103B (Fondren Library West, near the Help desk)

Beginning users will learn the basic Blackboard functions, including how to manage your course, add a syllabus, set up folders, upload content and help students keep track of their grades. You will get hands-on experience using the Content Editor, layout, and design functions. Learn to add content and customize your course. Minimize the time you spend in Blackboard while making your course attractive and interactive.

Intermediate: Increasing Student Engagement with Blackboard
FLW 103C (Fondren Library West, near the Help desk)

Intermediate users will learn about several improvements to Blackboard that can make courses more engaging, including Assignments, Rubrics, SafeAssign/Turn-it-in, Inline Grading, Discussion Boards, Blogs and Video Everywhere. Select and implement the appropriate Blackboard features for engagement and collaboration in each of your courses.

One Size Does Not Fit All:
Success in Courses with Online Components

The use of online components in higher ed runs the gamut from handouts on Blackboard to the flipped classroom to blended courses to fully online courses and even MOOCs. There is no one-size-fits-all model for all students and all disciplines.  Rather, faculty members should strategically consider which online techniques and technologies could best help their students succeed. 

Reflecting both on the speaker’s day-to-day teaching experiences and on his empirical studies of online outcomes, this session will explore the challenges and opportunities presented by various models, and will give attendees the opportunity to discuss these cutting-edge issues.

All the Content, Fewer Calendar Days

Normally our courses are a full semester long, but SMU provides opportunities for faculty members to teach and students to learn in settings in which the entire course may unfold in a matter of two to three weeks.  This presents both challenges and opportunities, as faculty use innovative methods to engage students in that intense environment.  Come hear from colleagues who have successfully taught in Taos, May Term,  J Term, and summer school: what creative teaching methods did they adopt? How did what they learned in the short-form environment give them ideas that opened up new possibilities for full semester courses?

This panel discussion, followed by Q&A, will provide ideas that we can all use.  And those who are inspired to want to try "condensed" teaching will have the opportunity to visit with representatives of SMU-in-Taos, May Term, J Term, and summer school about proposing new courses.

The Road to Tenure

SMU’s tenure policy provides that "tenure should be awarded only to those who are outstanding in either teaching or research . . . and whose performance in the other is of high quality." Departments and schools have policies that supplement these standards, but it is always clear that both teaching and research must be strong before tenure will be awarded.  This program provides information about tenure standards and processes.  It also shares important time management advice to help you be sure that short term deadlines don’t overwhelm longer term requirements for excellence in research as well as teaching.

SMU-in-Taos offers a venue for faculty to offer courses using the benefits offered by experiential learning. Research on teaching has shown experiential education can improve student understanding of course concepts. This session will examine the research supporting experiential education and how faculty can take advantage of the Taos campus to support undergraduate and graduate courses.

View the Presentations from the seminar:
Mike Adler
Sheri Kunovich
Andrew Quicksall