Category Archives: 1. The Scoop

Top 10 Tips for Teaching Online… Creating Inclusive Classrooms… Gender Stereotypes Hamper Women’s Confidence

Top 10 Tips for Teaching Online

Whether the Fall term is your first time teaching remotely or a repeat from the Spring, these reminders can help you create meaningful experiences for students.

  1. Use a break-the-ice activity to foster camaraderie early in the semester. A scavenger hunt/quiz about the syllabus is a great way for students to familiarize themselves with the demands of the class and meet their classmates.
  2. Greet students personally as they enter Zoom class sessions and when calling on individuals during class.
  3. Organize your course website so that readings, assignments, tests, and due dates are clear.
  4. Be professional and precise by checking links to ensure they are functional and eliminating typos and misspellings.
  5. Respond to student requests promptly and always use a kind tone of voice.
  6. Put students into learning groups that break out during class for discussions or teamwork and for peer support outside of class.
  7. Consider using a variety of media to communicate with students. Instead of sending an e-mail, try a short video or audio recording.
  8. Make yourself available during regularly scheduled Zoom office hours as well as before and after class, if possible.
  9. Contact students who disappear to encourage retention.
  10. Tie assignments, activities, and tests to learning outcomes.

Finally, know things will go wrong. Rely on your inherent passion for your subject when technical or other difficulties appear, and be kind to yourself.

From Faculty Focus

Creating Inclusive Classrooms

Equity in learning has become a buzzword in reaction to the unequal distribution of computers and highspeed internet access among various populations. But instructors at the University of Saint Joseph and Lafayette College developed a tool to help mitigate this situation.

They created a form called Who’s in Class?that allowed students to anonymously and voluntarily provide their instructors with information about their learning situation. Topics on the form included students’ status as first-generation college attendees, access to technology, outside obligations, demographic data, and disability issues. The form also allowed students to give their instructors information about other concerns that could affect their success in the class.

After receiving the forms, instructors finetuned their courses to adapt to what they learned about their students. When they realized not all students knew about available instructional support or had prior knowledge of course content, instructors addressed the situation. They also developed classroom guidelines with the students instead of for the students. Student reactions to the form at the end of the course included almost entirely positive comments, demonstrating that students felt that everyone mattered in the class and that the instructor made an effort to get to know each individual.

From The Chronicle of Higher Education

Gender Stereotypes Hamper Women’s Confidence

It’s well-known that women comprise over half the workforce and complete nearly 60 percent of advanced degrees but still earn less and obtain fewer leadership roles, especially in finance and technology.

Labor economists have found that part of this problem occurs from “occupational sorting,” by which men choose careers that net higher paychecks. Now new research from Harvard suggests that women may avoid these higher-paying careers due to gender stereotyping—the notion that men are inherently better in fields such as technology, math, and science.

But lack of confidence is the real enemy. Even high-achieving women in STEM fields lack the confidence that could advance their careers, the researchers found. They suggest that to maximize performance from females in male-dominated fields, leaders should give more recognition for women’s contributions.

Still, many women in STEM fields describe rampant discrimination and hostile work environments. Simple recognition for accomplishment for actual achievements, as the research proposes, is not enough to women in these areas to succeed at the same rate as men.

From Harvard Business School Working Knowledge


Be Yourself During Interviews… Coronavirus Changes Digital Etiquette… Isolation Can Be Good for Problem Solving

Be Yourself During Interviews

Many job seekers enter an interview planning to deliver what they assume the interviewer wants to hear. However, research shows this strategy often backfires and that instead, interviewees should simply be themselves.

Research has found that attempting to cater to an interviewer’s expectations is a flawed tactic primarily because no one can be certain about another’s preferences. In addition, trying to hide one’s own opinions and ideas is draining and leads to a diminished performance during the interview.

The researchers of a recent survey examined 379 working adults and asked them to prepare a video interview talking about themselves and a proposed job. Participants were divided into three groups: catering, authenticity, and control. Those showing authenticity—voicing their own opinions and preferences despite the potential unpopularity of those ideas—were more likely to land the job than job seekers in the other groups.

Shakespeare may have been onto something when he wrote “To thine own self be true.”

 From The Wall Street Journal

Coronavirus Changes Digital Etiquette

The pandemic has made reliance on digital communication the norm, and consequently, the rules of good online etiquette have become more critical than ever.

These tips will make communicating online more effective in meetings or conversations that take place over platforms from Zoom to Google Hangouts.

  • Avoid multi-tasking while in a work meeting.
  • Make eye contact as much as possible during video calls.
  • Appoint a call leader to keep the meeting on task.
  • Keep the microphone muted until you want to speak. Then raise your hand and wait to be recognized. Remember to turn on the microphone when you do
  • Create less formal get-togethers with colleagues outside of meetings. Doing so helps attendees to focus on the meeting agenda instead of catching up with one another, thus improving productivity.
  • Realize co-workers have other demands in their lives that affect their ability to respond to text messages or e-mails quickly.

The bottom line is that kindness is key, the article notes.

From The New York Times

Isolation Can Be Good for Problem Solving

The benefits of collaboration are many, from brainstorming to gaining insights from multiple perspectives. But working alone is also important, especially for problem solving.

New research suggests that constant communication among team members can reduce “collective intelligence,” or a team’s ability to solve problems together. Instead, short bursts of collaboration and longer intervals of solo thinking time seem to garner the best work from both high-and low-performers.

The researchers found that teams practicing continuous interaction did not allow top-performing individuals to maximize their creativity. In teams whose members worked in complete isolation, lower performers did not receive the benefit of others’ input and solutions, thereby pulling down the team’s effectiveness. The sweet spot that netted the best team output practiced intermittent communication—a combination of touching base while still allowing individuals time for solo contemplation.

This working style of implementing short but intense group sessions leaves members enthusiastic, able to hear one another’s ideas, and coordinate activity moving forward, all attributes of successful teamwork, the research found.

From BBC Worklife


Harvard Prof Says Hard Work Isn’t Enough… Cover Letter No-Nos… Making Slide Presentations Short and Effective

Harvard Prof Says Hard Work Isn’t Enough

Hard work alone is not always enough to succeed in the workplace, according to new research published by Harvard professor Laura Huang. Huang says that many times racial stereotypes, gender inequity, and just plain unfairness surpass doing a job well.

In her new book, Edge: Turning Adversity into Advantage, Huang identifies tips to further careers.

  • Know your strengths. Be aware of what separates you from others and adds value to an organization. Define your “circle of competence” and focus on what you do best.
  • Understand your limits. Know what you cannot do, but do not let those constraints define you. Focus instead on what makes you unique.
  • Surprise skeptics. The best way to overcome skepticism is to find commonalities, which Huang labels “points of connection,” and relate these shared ideas or experiences in a way that elicits a positive response: think storytelling.
  • Control how others perceive you. Be mindful of how others see you. If they have the wrong impression, guide them away from those incorrect notions by leading them to the real you.

From Harvard Business School

Cover Letter No-Nos

Since cover letters are critical for hirers to learn more about an applicant, experts suggest avoiding the following standardized phrases to avoid turning readers off.

To Whom It May Concern. The best choice is to address a cover letter to a decision-maker, but if a specific individual is impossible to locate, write “Dear Hiring Manager.”

Hope to hear from you soon. “Hope” suggests the possibility of not hearing from the hirer. Instead write “I look forward to speaking to you soon about the job opportunity.” 

I believe, I think. These phrases are unnecessary; why else would you write what follows? Write assertively, “I am the best fit for the position because of X, Y, and Z.”

Finally, a cover letter should never describe how a particular job will help the applicant or that the job seeker needs the job. No company is in business to help employees’ careers. Rather, the cover letter should explain how the applicants’ skill set will help the firm.


Making Slide Presentations Short and Effective

 Research has shown that people simply cannot listen and read slides at the same time, making long talks accompanied by wordy slides ineffective. However, a company with an odd name—PechaKucha, Japanese for chit chat—offers an antidote to long, text-heavy PowerPoint presentations.

Developed in Japan by two European architects some 15 years ago, PechaKucha (pronounced pe-chok-cha) was originally a slideshare presentation format. PechaKucha the company named itself after that format and was formed in 2018.

PechaKucha presentations use the 20×20 formula, a highly efficient narrative format that recognizes audience’s limitations and that has gained popularity over the last decade. It allows speakers no more than 20 slides that advance every 20 seconds, making the presentation last no more than six minutes and 40 seconds, similar to a YouTube slide show. The platform is used by students and businesses alike to drive a point home succinctly and effectively by cutting the copy and keeping the material snappy.

The app doesn’t offer users many options, which helps keep presentations short and more interesting. Slides may only contain images and a few words of text.