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​2015-2016 Teaching Circles
10 circles were funded this academic year. 

AAC&U LEAP Project: Dissemination of Transparency Methods in HIPs at UHD
Circle Contact:​ Connie Kang (Assistant Professor, Natural Sciences) 
Circle Contact Info:, 713-222-5378
Additional Members: John Kelly, Creshema Murray, Rachna Sadana, Adriana Visbal

Circle Description: The members of this teaching circle have participated in the AAC&U national project on transparency and problem solving. After the team attended the summer institute on general education in June 2015, the team came up with a disseminate plan of action to promote the practices of transparency teaching at UHD. This effort by the team has led to faculty training workshops and campus wide efforts to increase transparency in several initiatives. Highlights include (1) design and implementation of training workshops in collaboration with CTLE on transparency teaching and signature assignment design; (2) recruitment of upper administrators and staff to attend the AAC&U project meeting, whose involvement has promoted and solidified UHD participation in the new phase of the AAC&U project; (3) publication of the UHD experience in AAC&U's peer review journal. To learn more about transparency in teaching and other initiatives, please visit for our collection of artifacts.

Circle Artifact(s): 

Bringing Quality Matters to UHD Non-Majors Online Biology Courses
Circle Contact: Mary Jo Parker (Lecturer, Natural Sciences) 
Circle Contact Info:, 713-221-8471
Additional Members: Rachel Hudspeth, Sanghamitra Saha

Circle Description: By using QM standards to refine and bring quality to the UHD Online Human Biology 1310 course, the numbers of D, F, and W grades were targeted to decrease, thus providing a high quality non-majors learning experience for both UHD undergraduates and external candidates from other universities. The Teaching Circle team was to bring lessons learned from the Biology 1310 QM review experience to align the sister course known as Environmental and Population Biology 1312 online. These courses are offered as service learning courses to all UHD majors as part of the core learning experience.

Circle Artifact(s): 

Democratic Deliberative Dialogue as Pedagogy
Circle Contact: Windy Lawrence (Associate Professor, Arts & Humanities) 
Circle Contact Info:, 713-221-8472
Additional Members: Ashley Archiopoli, Raquel Chiquillo, Jonathan Chism, Beth Secor, Jerome Socolof

Circle Description: Faculty in this Teaching Circle project designed curriculums in their courses to allow students opportunities for "democratic learning." The Democracy Imperative defines "democratic learning/education" to "describe experiences that teach the knowledge, principles, and practices valuable to a democracy as both a form of government and a culture." They differentiate "civic learning" from "democratic learning" by noting that civic learning, "while extremely valuable, are often apolitical or separate from learning for and about democratic governance and culture (e.g., volunteerism, service learning)." After participating in these initiatives, faculty report that students were able to refine their communication skills, practice collaborative decision making and public reasoning skills, enhanced their ability to engage in critical analysis, and exposed students to the need for personal integrity and a sense of public purpose.

Circle Artifact(s):​ 

Fostering Engagement in the Adjunct Classroom
Circle Contact: Stacie DeFreitas (Associate Professor, Social Sciences) 
Circle Contact Info:, 713-221-8921
Additional Members: Stephanie Babb, Andrew Pavelich

Circle Description: The goal of our Teaching Circle was to support the many adjunct faculty in the Department of Social Sciences. We have done that in a variety of ways. First, we restructured the new hire letter and developed a commitment letter for adjuncts to sign that clearly articulates the expectations of the department. Second, we facilitated Teaching Circles so that adjunct professors had their classes observed and received feedback, in addition to observing the courses of others. We also created a Survey for the adjuncts to assess their job satisfaction with the hope of making changes to improve job satisfaction. Finally, we developed a collection of six video presentations on topics that adjuncts wanted more information about. These videos are a valuable resource to adjuncts and other faculty. With all of these efforts, we have made strides to improve the teaching of all of the adjuncts. Without the funding from the CTLE, many of the adjunct faculty may not have participated in our endeavors.

Circle Artifact(s): ​ 

Fostering Engagement in the Organic Chemistry Classroom
Circle Contact: Tyra Hessel (Associate Professor, Natural Sciences) 
Circle Contact Info:, 713-221-8485
Additional Members: Robin Jose, Hamida Qavi

Circle Description: The organic chemistry teaching circle was formed with the purpose of increasing student success in the organic chemistry classes by fostering engagement. To this end, team-based learning was utilized in the lecture classes where groups of students worked on problem sets while in the classroom. Samples of problem sets are provided as an attachment. Faculty members for both lecture and lab developed videos that the students watched prior to attending class. The purpose of the videos in lecture was to free up time during lecture so that the students could work on problems together. (The link to the videos that were used in the lectures is as follows: Course code: MXBZWEL.) For the laboratories, the purpose of the videos was to increase the time that students had to complete the laboratory experiments. The links for the lab videos are and A survey for the lecture class was conducted at the end of the fall 2015 semester, and 64% of the students surveyed indicated that the video-taped lectures helped with their learning, while 88% indicated that working in groups, the team-based learning, helped with their learning. With respect to the laboratories, a survey indicated that 84% of the students believed that the pre-lab videos were helpful. In addition to the surveys that were conducted for the lab classes, pass rates were also calculated. The results indicated that from fall 2014 to fall 2015, before and after implementation of the pre-lab videos, the pass rate for organic I lab went from 61% to 95%. Likewise, from spring 2014 to spring 2016, again, before and after the implementation of the pre-lab videos, the pass rate for organic I lab went from 59% to 70%. These results show that the use of the pre-lab videos increases student success. The videos for both lecture and lab will be refined, and the lecture professors will continue to conduct research on this type of teaching model.

Circle Artifact(s): 

Fostering Student Engagement with Computer Tablets
Circle Contact: Gabriela Bowden (Assistant Professor, Natural Sciences) 
Circle Contact Info:, 713-222-5313
Additional Members: Meghan Minard, Sanghamitra Saha

Circle Description: This teaching circle (TC) was composed of three Natural Sciences faculty members who taught Freshman Seminars for the during the Fall of 2015. The courses being taught by these members were: ‘Biology of Food,’ ‘The Biology of Women,’ and ‘The Microbiome: Strangers Amongst Us.’ We met every other week for one hour to discuss and develop strategies to foster student engagement and active learning in the Freshman Seminars. We designed in-class, group activities that promoted student engagement with the use of electronic tablets. The students used the tablets in the following activities: taking group pictures in ‘Padlet’, accessing the library quiz after their AR tour, using ‘Socrative’ for students to post their introductions and to have them answer questions related to the topic under discussion or for a quick poll. We also used ‘Padlet’ for posting students opinions on a particular topic or assignments. For example, while teaching Mitosis and Meiosis, students were instructed to answer assigned questions after watching an animation: In addition, the tablets were used in ice-breakers, accessing the internet to find information related to our class projects, accessing GatorSync to input project hours, and accessing the IDEA website to administer the end-of semester student survey. The goals of the teaching circle were to: (1) design and implement in-class, student group activities that incorporate the use of electronic tablets in the classroom, (2) provide concrete guidelines for the implementation and the assessment of the activities, and (3) share the group activities with other faculty members through the Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence. Our expectation was that students would find using tablets in class to be very engaging and that the long term effects of such experiences would increase student retention and graduation rates. While it is too soon to assess the latter expectation, we found that students did enjoy using tablets in class and found them a helpful resource. We utilized our TC funds to purchase apps from iTunes to use on the tablets, and for travel to the American Society for Microbiology Texas Branch meeting and participated in the Educational sessions.

Circle Artifact(s):​  

Fostering Teamwork in Online Communication Courses
Circle Contact: Elizabeth Hatfield (Associate Professor, Arts & Humanities) 
Circle Contact Info:, 713-221-5515
Additional Members: Ashley Archiopoli, Lucas Logan, Creshema Murray

Circle Description: The proposed teaching circle included faculty representing the four main areas within the communication studies program at UHD: corporate communication, health, interpersonal, and public communication. This group's goal was to create online group projects that support the university's recent core assessment goals. For communication studies, our core assessment area is teamwork, developing students' abilities to work productively with others toward a common goal. This teaching circle focused on developing and implementing successful group projects that satisfy the teamwork requirement in the online environment. Each instructor developed or updated a group activity for one of their online courses each semester. Working together, the group discussed best practices throughout the year at regular meetings and adapted their projects to improve outcomes. The deliverables for this teaching circle include four improved group projects prepared for the online environment that can be used by other members of the Department of Arts and Humanities.

Circle Artifact(s): 

Motivation & Learning Strategies Interventions in Freshman Barrier Courses
Circle Contact: Adriana Visbal (Lecturer, Natural Sciences) 
Circle Contact Info:, 713-221-8284
Additional Members: Lea Campbell, Eszter Trufan, Elizabeth Villegas

Circle Description: The main goal of the project was to utilize the College Student Inventory (CSI) questionnaire to identify at risk groups in 4 freshman barrier courses and employ intervention strategies based on individual student's profiles with the goal of improving pass and retention rates. A portrait of students' affective skills including motivation, study habits, coping mechanisms and receptiveness to support services was obtained and compared to student's performance in the first semester of the project. The high dropout proneness (HDP group) from the CSI questionnaire proved to be the best identifier of students at-risk of failing these barrier courses. This group was targeted in the second semester of the project and seemed to respond best to one-on-one interactions with instructor. Utilization of the Mid-year Assessment (MYSA) allowed for a direct comparison pre-and post-interventions and demonstrated an increase in students' confidence in math and science, increased confidence in study habits and improved attitude towards educators. The project allowed instructors to test specific interventions and determine which ones work best for which groups of students. The project also generated CPHS approval of a study that is open for data collection for the next 9 years. We believe further data collection may confirm results of HDP group and may serve as a useful tool of targeting at risk students with the newly created mentoring program.

Circle Artifact(s): 

Online Research Methods is Psychology Re-Envisioning
Circle Contact: Susan Henney (Associate Professor, Social Sciences) 
Circle Contact Info:, 713-221-8163
Additional Members: Kristen Capuozzo, Melissa Raymundo, Laura Spiller, Erlanger Turner

Circle Description: The focus of this Teaching Circle was on developing resources that could be used by any faculty or adjunct teaching Research Methods, but within a "template" Blackboard course that is focused primarily on online learning. The "template course" model is one that is highly scalable and sustainable over time. Once the template course is built, faculty will be responsible for maintaining and updating the course. One of the benefits of the template course, particularly when a standard textbook is adopted, is that there is a "built-in" revision motivation for the course whenever the textbook is updated. Another benefit of the efforts of this Teaching Circle has been the development of a variety of technology-rich lectures; these will be engaging and useful to students and represent exactly what the UHD psychology faculty want their students to know about research methods.

Circle Artifact(s): 

Writing in the Disciplines
Circle Contact: Katharine Jager (Assistant Professor, English) 
Circle Contact Info:, 713-222-5347
Additional Members: Heather Golz, Susan Henney, Claude Rubinson, Dagmar Scharold, Eszter Trufan

Circle Description: Our teaching circle was multidisciplinary, bringing together faculty from English, composition and rhetoric, sociology, chemistry, and social work. We met multiple times over the course of the semester, reading and discussing selected chapters of Bean's Engaging Ideas. Most productively, five of the six participants submitted drafts of their most "frustrating" assignments and our circle worked to troubleshoot aspects of these assignments so as to produce more effective student writing and to reduce faculty grading time. We include drafts of our assignments and then the revised versions produced after extensive discussion with the WID Teaching Circle. We workshopped Drs. Scharold, Golz, Jager, Rubinson and Trufan (the artifacts reflect this order). 

Circle Artifact(s):​ 

Last updated 12/13/2018 5:00 AM