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Center for Teaching Excellence


Graduate Teaching Assistant

Pedagogy Workshops and Events

In our effort to help keep faculty at the forefront of the ever evolving understanding of how students learn and what types of best practices good teachers should engage in, the CTE offers workshops and events that give faculty the building blocks they need in order to engage their students and design good courses that foster student learning.

Click on the "+" sign next to each event to see description.


August 2017

The USC Division of Information Technology (formerly University Technology Services) will host the annual BEST Institute from August 22–23. BEST (Blackboard Educational Software Technologies) provides faculty and instructors the opportunity to explore new technologies and broaden their skills in Blackboard, VoiceThread, i>Clicker and more! Sessions will be held across the Columbia campus during the two-day conference. Be prepared to meet and interact with colleagues while learning to take your classroom instruction to a different level.  More Information

The USC Division of Information Technology (formerly University Technology Services) will host the annual BEST Institute from August 22–23. BEST (Blackboard Educational Software Technologies) provides faculty and instructors the opportunity to explore new technologies and broaden their skills in Blackboard, VoiceThread, i>Clicker and more! Sessions will be held across the Columbia campus during the two-day conference. Be prepared to meet and interact with colleagues while learning to take your classroom instruction to a different level.  More Information

College classrooms are intended to be places where students learn to engage in reasoned discussion about complex issues and learn from others' perspectives. In fact, research has demonstrated that engagement with controversial topics can enhance students' learning and critical reasoning skills. Many faculty members are reluctant, however, to include discussions of controversial topics in their courses because of the challenges that can arise if disagreements become emotionally charged. 

Join facilitator Nicole Fisk for an interactive session that explores strategies for fostering productive classroom discussions. Topics will include identifying course content that may provoke controversy, setting discussion guidelines, introducing sensitive topics and establishing a civil, inclusive classroom environment in which issues are discussed respectfully. The session will end with an open question-and-answer session and a discussion of issues that have arisen in attendees' own teaching.  Register

September 2017

Research has demonstrated a strong connection between effective reading habits and academic success.  And yet, if you are like most college instructors, you probably have students in your classes who try to get by without doing any of the assigned reading, who read only very superficially, or only right before the exam.  Alternatively, you may have students who struggle to even glean the main points from a reading assignment. What are the most effective ways to deal with the challenge of students who don’t—or can’t—read? Join facilitator Michelle Hardee for an interactive workshop that will explore recent research on the reading process, discuss reasons why students find academic reading so daunting, and share hands-on strategies for designing assignments that encourage students to become more motivated, effective readers. The workshop will end with an open question-and-answer session and discussion of challenges participants have faced in their own teaching.  Register

Writing is one of the most difficult tasks that every student must face in college. Mastering the skills and conventions of university-level composition can be frustrating for undergraduates. This workshop will explore strategies that instructors can use to empower their students to engage the writing process and  to effectively employ compositional principles in writing assignments.  Register

Information Literacy is popular buzzword but do your students really know what it means? Do you feel like your students do not know how information is created and disseminated? Do your students struggle to identify source types? Do your students have difficulty locating credible sources? Do they have a hard time knowing when to cite their sources? The way in which information is created and disseminated is evolving at a rapid pace and coupled with this is the increasing need to ensure students have information literacy skills that will help them to succeed in academic and lifelong learning pursuits. 

This workshop will cover the changing concept of information literacy and the ways in which information literacy encompasses more than a discrete set of library skills.  We will look at information literacy through the lens of disciplinary contexts as well as focus on strategies to use when developing assignments and other course materials that integrate information literacy in a meaningful way for students.  Register

October 2017

Even the most experienced speakers and most talented teachers get nervous about public speaking, but we all want our class lectures and activities to be more effective. This workshop will share practical strategies to help you plan and deliver more engaging, organized and dynamic lectures. Participants will have the opportunity to briefly practice and receive constructive feedback about their presentation style.  Register

A student's cell phone buzzes while you're lecturing. The other students look at you expectantly as the student checks it and sends a text in front of you. In a classroom discussion, a student uses charged language and other students become visibly distressed. Grades have been posted, and an upset student sends you an email challenging his final project and class grade. What do you do in these situations? How do you handle other challenging classroom disruptions? This seminar will provide examples of scenarios that can (and will) happen, along with the best (and worst) ways for handling and defusing situations, and best practices for ensuring these scenarios do not occur during your teaching.   Register

All USC faculty, instructors and graduate teaching assistants are invited to participate in the seventh annual Oktoberbest: A Symposium on Teaching. Join colleagues from across USC campuses for this free one-day symposium focused on sharing best practices in teaching.

The Oktoberbest Schedule for 2017 includes a wide variety of workshops on topics ranging from active learning and online course development to critical thinking and integrative learning. The event will include lunch with our keynote speaker, Jose Bowen, a choice of Concurrent Sessions presented by your colleagues at USC and a closing reception featuring door prizes and traditional Oktoberfest fare. Oktoberbest is free to all who teach or support teaching at USC, but is not open to the general public.  Register

Discouraging plagiarism and cheating behaviors is a responsibility of all Carolinians—students, faculty, and staff.  This session will focus on trends related to academic misconduct and how instructors can develop a culture of integrity within their classroom environment. Concrete strategies on how to prevent and how to respond to cheating behaviors will be shared during this interactive workshop.  Register

November 2017

Active learning is a student-centered approach in which pre-planned activities are used to engage the student as an active participant in their learning. Techniques such as think-pair-share, one-minute paper and other such exercises have been shown to improve student learning and retention of material and can enhance the presentation format of a course. However, active learning strategies can be difficult for new instructors to implement because they require preparation and skills in guiding and moderating the learning activity.  In this workshop, we will examine the three fundamental principles of learning integrated into active learning techniques, explore the planning system necessary to incorporate them and attendees will actively participate in numerous active learning techniques applicable to a wide range of classroom settings. Join us to learn helpful tips on what you can do, how to do it, and why active learning in the classroom is important to student learning.  Register

The ability to ask "good" questions - thought-provoking, critical thinking, at a deeper level of thinking - and the application of this technique in discussion sections and courses, is often an overlooked and underdeveloped skill of instructors. With experience, what instructors find is that even discussion sessions take significant planning and preparation as well as practice. In this workshop, effective methodologies and best practices for asking good questions, techniques and styles for leading and facilitating classroom discussions as well as directing student responses will be addressed and modeled. Instructors at all levels of teaching and experience are welcome!  Register

Many of our instructors tell us that they wish they’d been provided guidance in developing a syllabus before they taught their first course. In this workshop, we’ll begin to develop a syllabus for the course of your choosing. We will discuss the importance of learning outcomes, and participants will interactively craft one as we discuss their role in the syllabus. Using the backwards design model and the development of a thoughtfully designed learning outcome, you will then create a quality learning activity or assignment, formulate the appropriate assessment, and finally, determine your most effective method for teaching that activity. Other tips and advice for syllabus development, along with examples of good and bad syllabus construction, will be discussed with other participants in a small group setting.  Register