Please attend our Faculty Resource Workshop, April 18th, 1-2:30pm, on Developing Critical Thinking in the Multiple Choice Format

Center for Teaching Excellence Faculty Workshop

Event Date:
Thursday, April 18, from 1:00-2:30pm

Event Location:
M.D. Anderson Library, Room 306 (Faculty Senate Offices)


The Critical Multiple Choice:  Developing Critical Thinking with Multiple Choice Format
This workshop provides a hands-on forum to help you design and evaluate multiple choice questions so that they engage your students’ critical thinking abilities.
We will cover basic principles of effective question design, as well as novel approaches that focus on fundamental pedagogical goals.

Please bring some of your own multiple choice questions to use in the workshop, and we will provide feedback and discussion on the best strategies to develop effective questions in your field.

For RSVPs or questions regarding this workshop, please contact Prof. Jim Garson at garson@Central.UH.EDU.



Thanks for Attending our “Art of Managing Graduate Students” New Faculty Workshop, 2/19/13

The session’s moderator, Dr. Tamara Fish, the CTE’s TA Coordinator, kicked off the event by introducing the speakers, which included Dr. James Zebroski (English), Gordon Taylor (Engineering Technology) and Victor Gallardo (Engineering Technology).

Dr. Zebroski’s remarks were organized around the topics of “working inside the institution–teaching”; “working inside the institution–research”; and “working outside or on the edges of the institution.” Here are a few of the highlights:

  • “I try to see TFs less as advanced students and more as junior colleagues (as cheesy as that may sound).”
  • “Set up a support apparatus or better use the one you have”; stakeholder conferences; coordination; anticipate pragmatic teaching concerns of new teachers.
  • encourage your grad students to attend and present at national conferences; attend with them, mentoring them there, and then debrief afterwards.
  • Set up voluntary groups, and FEED THEM.  Feed them some more.
  • Collaborate with wherever possible: write an FDIP grant that employs them, or use them for research, or co-teach informally with them.

Because Taylor and Gallardo work so closely together as Lab Managers for ET, they gave a joint presentation about the issues that they encountered in their work with TAs.  Here are their highlights:

  • To provide consistency of expectations with performance and outcomes, it’s necessary to communicate at the outset the department’s policies, rules, and expectations for students in the course.
  • Their lab students really benefited from a hybrid style of instruction, because it allowed them to review online materials (such as the CTE instructional modules) at their leisure, then discuss them in face to face groups or review as needed.
  • The differing cultures of students coming from different parts of the world or with experiences from different disciplines or universities made teaching more complicated at the graduate level.  Clear, consistent expectations communicated early and then reiterated throughout the semester were the only ways to address those potential misunderstandings.
  • Each semester was organized like a project that had to be reverse engineered from the final deadline back through the sequence of assignments and deadlines.

Finally, Dr. Tamara Fish noted that grad instruction was a “liminal space” where students could work together but which also might inspire anxiety, resistance, or anger.   She asked attendees to consider their TAs as apprentice faculty who would benefit from being introduced into the complexities and pleasures of academic work, even with all its institutional constraints.  As faculty, we helped to model for our students the nature of academic work.

After a lively discussion of professional dress, and the difficulties of teaching and professionalizing those not directly imitating our career paths, discussion broke up around 2:30.

If you have further thoughts on this topic, or would like CTE to address other topics of interest to you or your department, please email me at or hit REPLY on the blog.


Thanks to all who attended our 9/18/12 New Faculty Forum, “The Culture of Teaching at UH”

We had about 15 faculty from a variety of departments on campus attending our session yesterday, and I was pleased to hear that so many of the faculty in attendance had prior experience teaching before coming here–either as graduate TAs, adjuncts, or visiting faculty elsewhere.  I am also grateful to Sandy Coltharp of HR and Holly Hutchins of the Commission on Women for sponsoring this brown bag event.

During this session, I drew upon the CTE’s Instructional Modules in Reflection and Engagement, as well as the Saroyan and Amundsen book discussed earlier at our TA Orientation, to introduce faculty to the notion of reflective teaching practices.

One of the highlights was our discussion of the question, “What do you wish you or your students had known when they arrived in college?

This got a number of interesting responses:

  • Buy the text book the first week!
  • Read as much as you can now–you will never have the resources later
  • Success in college requires a different level of study and discipline than success in high school.
  • Be more open and interested in the world around you!
  • Connect your actions in class with your overriding goal.
  • Understand why you are taking the class, and what you hope to learn from it.
  • Or, to put it another way, understand what the course is going to do for you, and how you are going to use it?

This brought forward an important observation from the group: as teachers, understanding who the students are–their backgrounds, their struggles, their aspirations–makes it easier for you to explain things to them in a way they can understand.

This is one way that exploring students’ prior knowledge (their motivations, attitudes, and dispositions towards your subject matter) at the beginning of the semester can help you immeasurably towards communicating with them for the rest of the term.

So what do you wish you had known, either as a student or as a brand-new faculty member, when you arrived at a new college?


Please attend our upcoming CTE Faculty Brown Bag Workshop, Friday, 9/28, 12-1:30, 306 MDA Library

For further information, please contact Jim Garson at

See you there!

Please Fill Out Our End-of-Year Survey for CTE Faculty Workshops

Dear colleagues,

On behalf of the entire CTE Board, I would like to thank all of you for participating in our faculty workshops this year, and ask that you please fill out the following survey about our workshops this past year.

It should only take about 5 minutes, and will provide us with invaluable feedback for improving our workshops in the coming year.

We also provide a comment box if you would like to suggest additional topics or make other kinds of suggestions for existing or new CTE activities and programs.

Here is the link:

If you found any of our workshops helpful for your teaching, please let your colleagues know about our programs and activities.

Thanks for your support, and see you next year,

David Mazella
Director, UH Center for Teaching Excellence

CTE Website:
CTE Blog:

Please join us for a faculty workshop on the future of teaching, Friday, March 30, 1-2:30pm

Please attend our “Making Technology Work For You, Not Against You” workshop this Friday, 2/24, 1-2:30

For more information, please contact Frank Holt ( or James Garson (

See you then,