Kirt Shineman, a faculty member in the Communications Department shared The Creative Classroom Project. He discussed the importance of designing a course that enhances student creativity and builds skills beyond understanding the course content. In his courses, students are assigned projects (like making a board game or a mix CD, etc.)  where they interact with the course material and apply it in new and meaningful ways. The creative classroom uses questions to guide the learning and draw upon students curiosity, multiple forms of documentation so students make something and represent their learning in a new way, a collaborative approach that builds relationships as well as solidifies learning, public sharing that helps to validate the work they do, and a prospective approach that allows them to continually learn throughout the process. Take a look at Kirt’s presentation and assignment handouts which include great rubrics. If you would like to see some examples of student work, stop by Kirt’s office!

Jason Serin, from the Chemistry Department, discussed his recipe for effective teaching. He talked about the importance of being truly vested in student success. This includes giving organized and thoughtful presentations, providing context for the content you are teaching, and helping students develop relevant skills which require moving beyond the lecture. He also talked about the importance of compassion for students and being available for them academically and beyond academics. By being available and flexible, Jason emphasized the ability to develop relationships that truly foster student success.

Julie Morrison, a Psychology faculty member, talked about the Immediate Feedback Assessment Technique, also known as the IF-AT, is a great way to test students that is also formative in nature. Students scratch off their answers and get immediate feedback regarding if their answer is correct. These forms allow you to give points for getting a correct answer on the second or third try. This means students can get partial credit for their answers and they get immediate feedback to reinforce the correct answers. Julie talked about some of the benefits of the IF-AT and used this quiz to help us learn more about the tool.

Polly Laubach, who teaches in the Psychology department and is the GCC Adjunct Faculty Representative, discussed two activities she uses to get students more involved. On the first day of class she has students line up alphabetically by their last name and then sit in that order. This allows students to get up and talk with each other, making them more comfortable in the class and with their peers. It also helps Polly to better take attendance and learn their names on the first day. On the second day she has them line up in alphabetical order by their first name. The students again get up and talk with one another. This also helps to not have them settle into their same seating positions.

Another easy to implement idea that Polly uses during student presentations, is having all students write comments about other student presentations. They make note of something interesting they said, something they could work on, and something they did well. Students then turn their feedback into envelopes with the presenters name on them. Polly can review the feedback, which is helpful in her grading, and then gives all of the feedback to the students.

Michael Holtfrerich, Chair of the Math Department, presented on the concept of frequent testing. Michael showed the data from his classes over a number of years and semesters. He found that his summer courses had better retention numbers because of the frequent (daily) testing. He transitioned that to his semester courses by having weekly quizzes. The student withdrawal rate dropped drastically and he has maintained the lower numbers over time. Learn more by looking at his presentation. Michael believes that the frequent testing helps students keep up with their work and stay on track in the course.

Carol Jenkins, a Sociology faculty member, talked about and showed her photographic essay assignment. In her intro course she asks students to present a photographic essay of a social problem that is important and meaningful to them. Students use 5-8 photos to tell the story of their issue. They present the issue, explain the issue, and offer some resolution or solution, all through their photographs. Carol brought many examples of these powerful essays. Students present and show their photo essays to the class. There are also awards and recognition for exemplary projects. Contact Carol ( for more information and permission to use the copywrited exercise.

The GIFT Exchange was a wonderful event and we hope to see you all next semester when we do this again!

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