Social Justice Series Digest

An important part of CATL’s programming is professional development opportunities that delve into the issues of equity, diversity, and inclusion. From workshops on HIPSmicroaggressions, and holiday observances, to a collaborative series with First Nations Studies faculty, our programming schedule has some exciting opportunities coming up. You can find a list of our current Social Justice Series programming below. Check back as we update it throughout the spring and summer as events develop.

Invitation: HIPs Workshop Webinar (Apr. 30, 2021. 10:30 a.m.)

Posted on behalf of Dr. Carleen Vande Zande, Associate Vice President, UW System Office of Academic Programs & Faculty Advancement

After a two semester delay, I am pleased to announce a HIPs Workshop webinar by Dr. Katie Linder titled, Implementing High Impact Practices Across Modalities, to be held on April 30, 2021 from 10:30 AM – Noon (CDT). Dr. Linder is currently an associate dean at Kansas State University’s Global Campus. Previously, she directed the award-winning Ecampus Research Unit at Oregon State University.

Workshop Description

The concept of High-Impact Educational Practices (HIPs) has been around for years, but the conversation about transitioning HIPs into online and blended/hybrid environments is just getting started. In this interactive workshop, Dr. Katie Linder, a co-editor of High-Impact Practices in Online Education, will guide participants through the steps needed to create an HIP implementation action plan that is applicable in face-to-face, blended/hybrid, and online classrooms. Participants will also learn more about the state of the research for HIPs and have the opportunity to discuss tips and strategies for incorporating various HIPs across modalities. Each participant will walk away with some new ideas for how to incorporate HIPs into a range of classroom settings as well as an increased awareness of how the constellation of HIPs can positively impact student learning across the modalities.

Additional details and registration information can be found at www.wisconsin.edu/hips-initiative/hips-workshop-webinar-2/. The registration deadline is Wednesday, April 28, 2021.

Please contact me if you have any questions about the workshop. Contact apfa@uwsa.edu if you have any difficulties registering.

A clock with books.

Pedagogies of Care: Rethinking Student and Professor Workload

Article by Jessica Van Slooten.

The phrase “pedagogy of care” started percolating in my brain late last summer as I crafted a full load of asynchronous online courses and wondered how to best care for the students in my classes—and myself. What would a pedagogy of care look like, and how best to put this care into action?

I found that other scholars of teaching and learning were using this language to frame a number of student-centered teaching practices. One fantastic resource is the Pedagogies of Care website https://sabresmonkey.wixsite.com/pedagogiesofcare created by the authors in the “Teaching and Learning in Higher Education” book series published by West Virginia University Press—folks like Kevin Gannon and UW System’s own Cyndi Kernahan, among others.

When I thought about where to start putting care into action, I decided that the first step was examining the workload in my courses for both students and myself. I wanted to acknowledge the real ways the pandemic shaped our individual and collective capacity for teaching and learning: increased competing demands outside of school/work, cognitive impact of ongoing stress and uncertainty, increased emotional labor that teaching during these times takes, among many other real impacts.

I mapped the most important values for me as a teacher. I decided to prioritize frequent communication with students to create presence and community in our asynchronous online courses. And, I wanted to prioritize timely feedback on student assignments. Given my course load and enrollment, this would only work if I had the space and time to do so.

To help figure out the issue of time, I consulted the course workload estimator 2.0, a valuable tool created by scholars at Wake Forest University. The creators of the calculator have figured out some estimations of how long it takes students to complete a variety of tasks. You enter information from your own course in the free, online tool, and it will estimate the time it takes students to complete these tasks. While the tool won’t work perfectly for all kinds of assignments, it does have some nuances that are especially useful for folks teaching reading and writing intensive classes; it recognizes different kinds of reading and writing and acknowledges that each kind takes a different amount of time.

When I first used the calculator, my courses were in the 12-14 hour/week range, and I wasn’t sure what to think. Was this acceptable? Too low? Too high? Rice University’s Center for Teaching Excellence includes an article “How Much Should We Assign? Estimating Out of Class Workload,” which provides advice for how to use a course workload calculator and make changes to your course. The authors claim that “there seems to be general agreement that the Carnegie Unit recommendation of two hours out of class for every credit hour […] is a perfectly reasonable expectation.” For a three-credit course, this would mean 6 hours of out-of-class work each week; adding in the time we would be in class if we were face-to-face brought the total to somewhere between 8 and 9 hours of work each week. Clearly, I needed to make some cuts to more courses to reach this level.

As I worked through how I would approach my class differently, I thought back to my first Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) research project in 2011. In that project, I hypothesized that weekly blog posts would help students in my Women’s and Gender Studies classes learn important disciplinary concepts like the social construction of gender and intersectionality. After analyzing the data, I discovered that it wasn’t the quantity or repetition of assignments that determined their learning, but rather the concepts themselves—some concepts were easier to learn than others. I swiftly cut the number of blog posts, retooled other assignments to highlight these tricky concepts, and everyone benefited with fewer blog posts to write, read, and grade.

With these two data points—the course workload estimator and my prior research—along with copious reading about the perils of having too many discussion posts in online classes, I set on another path, guided by my ethos of care.

To further determine what concepts and skills to prioritize, I turned to my prior SoTL research in threshold concepts. This framework was developed by Ray Land and Jan Meyer in the early-mid 2000s. Their research suggests that each discipline contains concepts that have a number of features: transformative, troublesome, integrative, irreversible, and liminal, among others. (This extensive introduction and bibliography includes a useful description of these features). Learning these concepts transforms student learning and understanding. I find this framework helpful in determining essential concepts that build the foundation of my classes. Threshold concepts can be incredibly useful when streamlining class content and assignments to align with a pedagogy of care.

Luckily, one of the textbooks I use is structured around the threshold concepts model, and I was able to use it as a map through that class. For my other classes, I prioritized a handful of concepts and skills and paired readings and assignments with those skills, including regular lower-stakes assignments, and longer projects with various checkpoints throughout the semester.

Admittedly, there are some challenges with this approach depending on your academic discipline. In the literature courses I teach, it can be difficult to choose readings that won’t surpass the ideal 8-9 hours of total student work/week range. I’m still learning how to make thoughtful adaptations to workload around reading—for example, we recently decided as a class to cut one novella from our reading list in the major authors class I’m currently teaching. There are only so many Jane Austen novels one can thoughtfully read and analyze in a 14-week semester.

Finally, the course workload estimator helped me in another way; cutting the number of assignments allowed me to provide more detailed and quicker feedback to students, one of the values I identified at the beginning of this process. Rather than simply filling out the online rubric and provided synthesis comments for the whole class, I now added several sentences of personalized feedback for each student. I used these comments to connect to their ideas, offer additional questions and possibilities, and steer them in the right direction, as needed. Students regularly shared that this personalized feedback was important to them, made them feel like I care about them and their learning, and helped them improve. My pedagogy of care has, for the most part, succeeded in allowing students and myself to continue to learn during challenging times. This framework will continue to be useful in the transformed post-pandemic world, as I anticipate teaching in a variety of modalities in upcoming semesters.


This blog post is based, in part, on materials presented during the UW-Green Bay 2021 Instructional Development Institute.


About Jessica Van Slooten

Jessica Van SlootenJessica is an Associate Professor of English, Writing Foundations, Women’s and Gender Studies, and Humanities as well as Co-Chair of the Women’s and Gender Studies Program. She has been actively involved in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SotL) to inform her own classroom practices. Her SotL interests include scaffolding student learning, designing meaningful assignmentsand assessing student learning in Women’s and Gender Study courses and programs at two- and four-year institutions.

A complex graph on a black computer screen.

Fearlessly Facing Challenges: Academic Research and the Pandemic’s Effects

Article by Terri Fredenberg-Holzman

A once in a hundred-year event, the COVID-19 pandemic brought the world to a halt. Researchers around the globe have grappled with how to maintain their research agendas while devoting more time to teaching, administration and assessment in an online environment. The workload pressures have tested new and seasoned faculty members alike. Just as the phoenix regenerates itself, so too will the research community. The faculty of the University of Wisconsin Green Bay “are to be highly commended for their tenacity, adaptability, and commitment to student success during the pandemic” according to a recent interview with Professor John Katers, Dean of the College of Science, Engineering and Technology.

Professor Susan Gallagher-Lepak, Dean of the College of Health, Education and Social Welfare summed up the major challenges faced by UWGB faculty during the pandemic this way. Expanded workloads were induced by the need to “transition teaching to more online and hybrid course modalities while providing concentrated technology support to students as they navigated learning electronically. The transition was made more difficult with the pressures of juggling their own children’s virtual learning at home or even worse, dealing with the devastation of family members who contracted COVID.” With all of these pressures faculty still found ways to build online versions of practical experiments, designed lab work that could be done virtually and flipped classrooms by asking students to watch videos and read specific texts before class so class discussions could be focused on active learning and problem solving. Other faculty members built new relationships even in the virtual world while others moved from concentrating on national networks to seeking out and cultivating more regionally based interactions.

The changes in teaching and learning brought on by the pandemic have detracted from much of the global research community’s ability to maintain pre-pandemic research agendas. Holes in time sensitive data sets, access to on-campus resources, limits on personal interactions, subject availability and socially distanced field work have all had an effect on research functioning and design. “The pandemic has even affected the availability of lab and trial supplies and enhanced competition for public resources across various sectors of the economy, with funders both public and private pouring millions of dollars into fighting the virus” writes Maria Cohut in her article “Shifting Goal Posts: Research in the Time of the Coronvirus” (2020).

Following a year of disruptions generated by the pandemic, the University and many sponsored research program offices have acknowledged the challenges by offering a variety of flexibilities. The University bolstered its support for faculty and staff during this COVID year by arranging remote work options, providing COVID leave hours, advocating for performance reviews that address the challenges of COVID and by extending the tenure clock by one to two years, when warranted. Encouragement is also coming from many sponsored research program offices. They recognize that sponsored research plans, timelines and capacity have likely changed. Some are allowing grantees the flexibility to reschedule grant activities, alter scopes of work, and move project end dates. Others are even allowing some flexibility in the expenditure of grant funds. For example, the National Institutes of Health released this statement. “NIH understands that many researchers may be unable to work as a result of or related to the effects of COVID-19. If a recipient organization’s policy allows for the charging of salaries and benefits during periods when no work is performed due to the effect of COVID-19, regardless of the funding source, then such charges to NIH grant awards will be allowable.” Still other federal and non-federal sponsors are now providing grant recipients the authority to extend their final budget period on previously approved projects and offering PIs an extension of progress report due dates.

As Dean Katers made clear, faculty and staff “are to be highly commended” for their resilience in the face of pandemic-related productivity gaps and the resulting upsets to research momentum over the past year. As the campus prepares to open its doors to students, faculty, and staff again, rest assured the sense of community will return stronger and more robust than ever. Research, scholarship and creative endeavors will thrive once more and the institution will cling even tighter to the core values that embrace community-based partnerships, collaborative faculty scholarship and innovation.

Please note if you need assistance communicating with your program officer on a currently grant-funded sponsored research project about changes to your scope of work, budget, or progress report, contact the Office of Grants and Research at ogr@uwgb.edu or (920) 465-2565.


About Terri Fredenberg-Holzman 

Terri is a grants and research program specialist in the University of Wisconsin, Green Bay Office of Grants and Research. 

Workshop: Microaggressions in Higher Education – Definitions, Impacts, and Interventions (Apr. 28, 2021. 12–1 p.m.)

What are microaggressions, and how might they affect our campuses and classrooms? Research tells us that microaggressions can affect individual students, staff, and faculty, as well as campus climate. In this presentation we will explore all of these issues together and consider potential strategies for coping with and/or addressing microaggressions in the classroom and beyond.

Register Here