Pew FTLC: Mid-February 2024
Pew FTLC: Mid-February 2024
Grand Valley State University
Pew Faculty Teaching & Learning Center
February 16, 2024

Director's Note 

I was wrong. I initially dismissed The Art of Gathering by Priya Parker as a book about party planning. After having the book repeatedly recommended, I begrudgingly started reading it last week. It is quite good. Compelling arguments are made for upping our intentionality around the form and function of any kind of gathering and her examples include both classrooms and departmental meetings. Mea culpa. Please join me in taking a fresh look at how we spend time in community with others (and freely admitting when you have been too quick to judge).    

Nearly weekly, I am part of a conversation weighing whether a gathering should take place in person or via Zoom. While it certainly depends on the goals and the context, I have been underwhelmed by virtual and hybrid meetings of late. It was a chance encounter in an airport bookstore with a slim HBR volume, Leading Virtual Teams, that inspired some deeper thinking along the lines of the volume’s subtitle: Hold people accountable, build trust, and encourage collaboration. Last week, as I was organizing a stack of books in my office, I rediscovered a related gem, Engaging learners through Zoom: Strategies for virtual teaching across disciplines. This link takes you to a University Libraries eBook filled with highly practical activities applicable to virtual teaching as well as professional settings. Enjoy and do let me know if you try a technique or two. I am now more hopeful that we can bring the art back into online gatherings.  

We are important. The word “humanizing” is appearing frequently in my inbox of late, from a webinar featuring the authors of a recent study on humanizing STEM education, to John Warner’s call to maintain the human element of reading (in the face of AI, banned books, etc.), to a study exploring racial battle fatigue in the tenure and promotion process. One of my favorite occurrences was in a report from James Madison University about bias in student evaluations of teaching. Let me quote: “Collecting feedback from students in the middle of the semester enables students to be active agents in shaping their ongoing learning experiences and humanizes the relationship between students and faculty, rather than the current frame that treats the course and the faculty as “deliverables” and “products” to be evaluated.” I love this statement and it reminds me that it is Mid-Semester Interview About Teaching (MIT) time in the Pew FTLC. Details can be found below.  

On the subject of AI, one writer I have been following is Lance Eaton. I am certain that I have shared his growing collection of AI-related policies in the past. He was recently interviewed by Jeff Selingo (details in his NEXT newsletter) and again I quote: “You need two buckets to work with AI,” Eaton said. “You need a good understanding of what generative AI is and how it works, and you need expertise in the subject so you understand the limitations of any questionable outputs.” I share this statement because it points to the crucial role of critical thinking, problem solving, ethical reasoning, information literacy–essential elements of the liberal education provided by the talented and committed humans at Grand Valley.  

Changes are afoot. Speaking of amazing humans, the Pew FTLC is growing. We will share more in the coming weeks, but I wanted to mention that if you contact us, you may be greeted by our new Project Coordinator, Jenna Weatherwax. We are over the moon to have them join our team. Raquel Ramirez has moved into a new role as Program Manager. I am humbled by the expertise, energy, and excellence of these folks. We all look forward to supporting you in new and exciting ways in 2024. Speaking of which, we are making a change to the timing of our annual conference. The 30th Annual Fall Conference on Teaching and Learning will take place on Thursday August 15, 2024. The event will still be held at the Eberhard Conference Center. While the program is in development, I ask that you save the date. We plan to mark the 30th Annual in a memorable way.  

—Christine Rener

Winter 2024 MIT Requests Due Feb. 23rd!

MITs are a mid-semester evaluation technique that provide instructors with useful feedback from their students about their learning in a course. Conducted during the 4th to 9th week of the semester, a MIT takes roughly 30 minutes of class time wherein a consultant guides students through a three-step feedback process. MITs can be especially helpful for new faculty and faculty exploring a specific innovation or innovative approach. 

Request a Winter 2024 MIT Today!

For more information, visit our Mid-Semester Student Feedback webpage.

Have you activated your FREE NCFDD membership?

The start of a new semester is a great time to take advantage of the FREE online career development and mentoring resources GVSU's NCFDD Institutional Membership provides all faculty, academic staff, post doc, and graduate students.
Some of the tools available include access to the 14-Day Writing Challenge each semester, monthly Core Curriculum Webinars, monthly Guest Expert Webinars, multi-week course trainings and more!  Check out some of the upcoming Guest Expert Webinars listed below.
Learn more about this nationally recognized organization and activate your FREE institutional membership by visiting our NCFDD webpage.
Student-Centered Mentoring: Bridging the Gap Between Faculty and Students
Alejandra Durán Trinidad, Ph.D. Candidate & Dr. Melanie Morgan
March 19 from 2–3:00 pm

NCFDD Panel Discussion: What I Wished I Would Have Known: Transitioning to Department Chair

Joy Gaston Gayles, Ph.D., Julie Artis, Ph.D. & Kim Blockett, Ph.D.
April 23 from 2–3:00 pm


With apologies, we must cancel the upcoming April 1 round of Teaching Innovation Grants due to the depletion of funds for the fiscal year. Faculty were especially innovative this year! The next round of applications are due July 1. Please contact David Eick if you have questions or seek tips on submitting a strong proposal: 
Teaching first-year students seems more challenging than ever…. Pew FTLC invites you to a series of brown bag lunches on how to get them off to a strong start. 

Topics Include:
March 12: Combatting Student Disengagement
April 9: Topic T.B.A
May 7: Topic T.B.A.

While sessions are most relevant to faculty teaching and working with first-year students, ALL are welcome to join. Each session focuses on a different topic related to giving students a Strong Start at Grand Valley, so please register for ANY or ALL of the sessions. 

Please RSVP by emailing
Personnel Portfolio Workshop (Spring 2024)
April 29–May 31, 2024
New Faculty Orientation
August 7, 8 and 9, 2024
30th Annual Fall Conference on Teaching and Learning
August 15, 2024

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