Ignatian Pedagogy as Critical Pedagogy

inclusive teaching banner_FINALby Gina Merys, Associate Director, Reinert Center

Critical pedagogy is a philosophy of education and social movement that combines education with critical theory. First described by Paulo Freire, it has since been developed by others as an approach to inclusive teaching practices. Critical pedagogue Ira Shor defines critical pedagogy as:

“Habits of thought, reading, writing, and speaking which go beneath surface meaning, first impressions, dominant myths, official pronouncements, traditional clichés, received wisdom, and mere opinions, to understand the deep meaning, root causes, social context, ideology, and personal consequences of any action, event, object, process, organization, experience, text, subject matter, policy, mass media, or discourse.” (129)

With this definition in mind, I would like to highlight a brief exploration into the ways in which Jesuit education through Ignatian pedagogy can be seen as critical pedagogy, in the same ways that feminist, queer, postcolonial, and anti-racist theories have, too, given birth to their own strands of critical pedagogy. The excerpt below traces Ignatian pedagogical principles as parallel with and influential to, Freirean pedagogy (the “godfather,” so to speak, of critical pedagogies).

From, “Paulo Friere and the Jesuit Tradition: Jesuit Rhetoric and Freirean Pedagogy”:

Much like the Ignatian pedagogical paradigm, the problem-posing method and all of Freirean pedagogy moves through a learning cycle that sets as an ideal the process of moving through that cycle: context, experience, reflection, action, and evaluation. These terms are used with specific intention by Ignatian pedagogues, as each term encompasses many layers of meaning. […] Working not only as a means for judgment of the type, quantity, and quality of student learning by the teacher, evaluation also, perhaps more importantly, is a time for self-assessment by both student and teacher about the learning of the class in order to reenter the cycle at a deeper level of awareness. All of these specific terms, with their multifaceted meanings, must work in concert with each other within the complex web of the paradigm. When analyzed carefully, it can be seen that the learning cycle Freire sets up in his theories includes similar complex elements, beginning with a sharp and intentional awareness of context and moving to the core of his theories, praxis (action + reflection), and ending with a transformational experience that interpolates us to continue the cycle, going ever deeper into knowledge and naming (word) of the world.

We can continue noting the additional parallels in these two pedagogical approaches by reaching deeper into the rhetorical tradition of eloquentia perfecta and comparing it with Freire’s pedagogy of the wordEloquentia perfecta goes beyond just perfect eloquence in words. It calls us to use speech or communication that focuses on truth, accuracy, and comprehensiveness as a path into the world, especially used in order to stand for the silenced, excluded, or impoverished. We cannot forget Ignatius’s and the Jesuits’ preferential option for the poor. At the same time, as mentioned above, Freire’s concept of the word is action + reflection, or praxis. He states that to speak a true word is to transform the world (88). The idea that speaking (not to be confused with chatter) is the right of all, and that speaking evokes dialogue that has the capacity to change the world, which is to be transformed and humanized, especially for and from those whom have been silenced, excluded, or impoverished, parallels what the Jesuit rhetorical tradition has been advocating for centuries.

Thus, the Jesuit rhetorical tradition of eloquentia perfecta is “education as the practice of freedom.” It works together with cura personalis “as [opposition] to education as an act of domination—denies that a person is abstract, isolated, independent, and unattached to the world; it also denies that the world exists as a reality apart from people” (Freire, 81). Cura personalis, the Ignatian pedagogical paradigm, and eloquentia perfecta now carry the Jesuit rhetorical tradition, and with them the Ignatian educator, toward collaboration, in this case as teachers and students, in order to address the world through real education and real understanding of all of the world, including and especially those parts beyond the ivory tower. As educators who see the parallel approaches of the Ignatian and Freirean models, we are called to be and to teach our students to be what Superior General Hans Peter Kolvenbach has called “whole persons in solidarity for the real world,” beginning with how and what we teach in our classrooms and programs. With Kolvenbach’s statement, we must acknowledge that what we see as parallel pedagogical theories are actually intertwined theories in our contemporary educational reality. (244-45)

Through this lens, we can see the ways in which Ignatian pedagogy acts as another example of critical pedagogy, which places the multilayered tenants: context, experience, reflection, action, and evaluation, as well as the ideals of eloquentia perfecta and cura personalis, at the center of inclusive teaching practices meant to challenge students’ understanding of how and why they create the knowledge and skills they are called upon to do through their educational journeys.

Works Cited:

Pace, Thomas and Gina M. Merys. “Paulo Friere and the Jesuit Tradition: Jesuit Rhetoric and
Freirean Pedagogy.” Traditions of Eloquence. New York: Fordham, 2016. 244-45.

Shor, Ira. Empowering Education: Critical Teaching for Social Change. Chicago: University of Chicago
Press, 1992. 129.

This blog post is part of the Reinert Center’s 2016-2017 focus on Inclusive Teaching. To learn more about the year’s theme, and about programs and resources associated with it, see our webpage on Inclusive Teaching [LINK]. To talk with someone about how you can design and teach courses in more inclusive ways, contact the Reinert Center at cttl@slu.edu.

Two Questions for Starting the New Academic Year

Reinert Center typeset_icon_2014_solid_082214Debie Lohe, Director, Reinert Center

Last week, new faculty and students officially joined our community, and just like that, the campus is back to life. Personally, I love the start of a new term, a new academic year; possibility is a powerful thing, and fresh starts can be motivating.

If you’re new to teaching, or new to SLU, I invite you to learn more about what the Reinert Center does [LINK to Programs and Services] and how you can get involved [LINK to Events]. We’re eager to help you discover the right teaching choices for you.

If you’ve been teaching for a while (or longer than a while) and want to explore ways to reinvigorate your teaching, you might be interested talking with someone about new pedagogies [LINK to Consultations] or in applying for an Innovative Teaching Fellowship [LINK] to teach in our Learning Studio [LINK] next year. (The next Call for Applications will be issued in early September.)

If you’re interested in designing and teaching courses in inclusive ways, you may be interested in our theme for this year – Inclusive Teaching. Earlier this month, I shared a few initial thoughts about our approach to the theme [LINK]. All year, we’ll offer programming and publish web-based resources that focus on practical strategies for creating inclusive and equitable learning environments.

No matter what your level of teaching experience, I invite you to reflect on two key questions as you begin the new term:

What matters most to you this semester?

You can’t do everything this semester. What are the highest-value goals you have for your teaching? Your interactions with students? What actions will help you to keep those at the forefront of your work with students?

When will you reflect?

Seriously … when? Often, we intend to reflect critically on our teaching, but the time pressures of class prep and grading and meetings and scholarly work can push those good intentions to winter break. Take a moment now to schedule half-hour check-ins with yourself every few weeks. Consider what’s working for you and what’s not; identify small, concrete steps you can take to enhance your experience as a teacher this semester.

Write down your responses to both of these questions. Keep them in view as the term unfolds. Doing so will help you stay in touch with the good intentions you have here at the beginning, when possibilities still feel endless and realities aren’t yet preventing you from achieving them all.

Best wishes for reflective new term. We look forward to seeing you at a Reinert Center event soon.

A Review of Recent Articles from The Teaching Professor

The-Teaching-Professor-Newsletter-Cover-Imageby Sandy Gambill, Senior Instructional Developer, Reinert Center

The Reinert Center maintains an institutional subscription to The Teaching Professor newsletter so it is available for free to anyone with a slu.edu email address. Here is an overview of articles you may have missed this summer that might be useful as you plan for classes to begin next week.

Teaching a Course Students Don’t Want To Take

This is a collection of easy-to-implement strategies and tips to motivate students in courses they might be hesitant to take such as large survey courses that a student may not see as relevant or courses with a reputation for having difficult-to-master content.

Grading Advice for Those Who Grade A Lot
If you teach a course where your students produce work you need to grade on a regular basis, this list of recommendations for handling the workload could be useful.

Does Participation Promote Engagement?
This article presents the findings of two recent studies investigating the relationship between class participation and student engagement. It might be of interest if you are considering how or if to offer credit for oral participation.

Why Won’t They Ask Us For Help?
This article presents the results of a study investigating why students don’t come to office hours or delay asking for help until it is too late. It’s of particular interest at the beginning of the semester if you are looking for strategies to increase student attendance at office hours.

You can create your free account to The Teaching Professor by following these steps.
Go to  www.magnapubs.com/newsletters

  1. Click ‘Create an Account’

  2. Complete all fields under “Required Information” and then click the blue “Create Account” button

  3. You will receive an e-mail at the e-mail address you entered while creating your account

  4. Open the email used to register your account and find the new e-mail sent to you from Magna

  5. Click the link in that e-mail to complete your registration

  6. Enter your email or username and password (case sensitive) and select ‘Login’

  7. Select the “Group Subscriptions” tab at the top of the page

  8. In the red box, enter the Authorization Code: SLU7M2P4  (case sensitive)

  9. Select Activate to access the subscription

Acknowledging Difference on the First Day

inclusive teaching banner_FINALby James Fortney, Instructional Developer, Reinert Center

One of my early teaching mentors encouraged me to prioritize difference during the first class of the semester. “But, how?” I asked, with a heavy feeling of accountability. She told me I needed to reflect on my goals for the course and their relationship to matters of difference to answer that question. Instead of giving me specific strategies, she offered two guiding purposes for initiating a conversation about difference with my students. First, she said it was an opportunity for me to share with students my perspectives on difference. Second, and more importantly, she said it was an opportunity for my students to share with me their perspectives on difference. “Be prepared to listen as a way of acknowledging their voices,” she said. “Listen to their concerns, ideas, and questions. Write things down to process and return to later. Show them you care.”

Show them you care.

I always come back to that last point when designing activities and discussions for the first day of class. For me, how I show students I care about difference depends on the context of the course, the current discourses (e.g., cultural, political, social) shaping matters of difference for all of us, as well as my own critical commitments as a scholar and teacher. I show students I care about difference by being transparent with them about my thinking in each of these areas. It is important for me to find ways to create a classroom environment where difference can be acknowledged among everyone in the class. You may be wondering just as I did, “But, how?”

Deanna Dannels (2015) at North Carolina State University suggests three first-day action items to help set up this type of classroom climate:

  1. Use an icebreaker to highlight multicultural voices in the classroom, including your own.
  2. Discuss explicitly your view on discrimination (and put it in the syllabus).
  3. Model intellectual and multicultural curiosity and tolerance.

These are three effective strategies to acknowledge difference on the first day. They are applicable across a variety of disciplines and fields of study, and each can be designed to support specific goals you have for your course – even if the goals do not explicitly address difference. I agree with Dannels (2015), “Acknowledging difference is not a one-time ‘checklist’ item as a teacher. It can and should be an important part of every class you teach” (p. 154). However, it is up to you do decide how you will acknowledge difference with your students. Consider making it a “front burner” topic as you prepare for the first day of class this fall.

Show them you care.

Dannels, D. P. (2015). Eight essential questions teachers ask: A guidebook for communicating with students. New York: Oxford University Press.

This blog post is part of the Reinert Center’s 2016-2017 focus on Inclusive Teaching. To learn more about the year’s theme, and about programs and resources associated with it, see our webpage on Inclusive Teaching [LINK]. To talk with someone about how you can design and teach courses in more inclusive ways, contact the Reinert Center at cttl@slu.edu.

Inclusive Teaching: Reflections on the Reinert Center’s 2016-2017 Theme

inclusive teaching banner_FINALby Debie Lohe, Director, Reinert Center

Each year, the Reinert Center chooses a theme of broad interest to SLU educators, around which we focus programs and resources. This year, our theme is Inclusive Teaching. In what follows, I offer a few thoughts to orient you to the theme and provide a brief overview of how we’ll approach the topic.

So, what is inclusive teaching?

When we hear a term like “inclusive teaching,” we often think of other terms. For example, during a reflection on this topic last spring, members of the Reinert Center’s Advisory Board said the term brought to mind diversity, diversity education, cultural awareness, flexibility in teaching and learning, the challenging of assumptions, student agency and choice in assessments, equal access to education, social justice, universal design, interdisciplinary teaching and learning, and meeting the needs of all students, among other terms. As these terms make clear, the term inclusive teaching is itself broadly inclusive of a variety of areas of focus and of concrete teaching and learning methods.

For the purposes of our work over the coming academic year, we define inclusive teaching as:

The intentional use of course design and teaching methods to create equitable learning environments where all learners can be successful, regardless of differences in identity, background, and ability. This includes an explicit commitment to recognizing and reducing barriers and minimizing the potential for (accidental or intentional) exclusion.

We see inclusive teaching as a continuous commitment to be enacted, in small and large actions, across all aspects of “teaching,” relevant for everything from syllabus design to assessment methods, from instructional strategies to classroom layout. All the decisions we make about courses and how to teach them are implicated. At a Jesuit university, in particular, a commitment to inclusive teaching is one we should all strive to enact, every term, in every course. But like any other aspect of instructional development, the process of becoming an inclusive teacher is a developmental one: we’re all works in progress, continually learning, continually enhancing our practice. Hopefully, the Reinert Center’s focus this year will help to move all of us from our current practices (however inclusive they may be) to even more inclusive approaches.

What will the year look like?

In order to highlight particular aspects of inclusive teaching, we will examine different subtopics each month, beginning with questions about whom we may be including and excluding in our courses. Then we will move through concepts like implicit bias, stereotype threat, and micro-aggressions, culminating in considerations of privilege and power in the classroom, and what it might look like to share agency and decision-making with students. (Click here [LINK] to see the main subtopics for the year.)

All year, we will strive to highlight concrete, evidence-based strategies for reducing exclusion and enhancing inclusion.  So many of us have bought in to the idea that inclusive teaching is an important goal, but we often struggle to identify the practical steps toward creating inclusion in rich and meaningful ways. The good news? Research has shown time and again that the instructional strategies supporting inclusion are the same as those that are just plain good for learning. We don’t need to simplify or “water down” the goals of our courses to create equitable access to achievement and success. Indeed, inclusive practice can contribute to student success in academically rigorous courses.

We also will aim to expand instructors’ awareness of the many categories of “difference” we encounter in our courses (both online and on-ground); to deepen understanding of the potential impact of these differences on student engagement and learning; and to raise or deepen instructors’ awareness of the ways in which our courses may exclude different kinds of students, whether intentionally or unintentionally.

How will we do all of this? Primarily through focused workshops, panels, and other events [LINK] and through new web-based resources on our website [LINK] (short Resource Guides and annotated bibliographies; sample course materials; and targeted posts on this blog), some of which will be linked directly to events. Additionally, Reinert Center staff will be available to consult one-on-one [LINK] with instructors about how to apply principles of inclusive teaching in their own particular contexts.  Because we believe deeply that teaching is a situated act, not all strategies will be right for all instructors. It will be important to discern which are appropriate for your course, your students, your teaching styles.

Why this theme, why now?

There are many compelling reasons to focus our efforts on inclusive teaching at this time, including:

Dr. Pestello’s recent call for departments to identify concrete ways to make SLU more welcoming and inclusive for all,

An institutional commitment to an increasingly-diverse student body (which will likely mean more international students, more students from traditionally under-represented groups, more first generation college students, more non-traditional students, veteran students, students with disabilities, students from diverse economic and class backgrounds, and so on), and

A clear emphasis in the University’s strategic plan on diversity, inclusion, and student success, and a reinvigorated, campus-wide commitment to racial equity on campus and across our region.

Perhaps most pressing are the growing requests from faculty and others on our campus who feel both deeply committed to creating inclusive learning environments and at a loss about how to enact this commitment practically and effectively.

Closing Thoughts

On majority-white, majority-American campuses like SLU, it can be easy not to see “difference” in our classrooms. It is important to complicate our collective understanding of who the learners are in our courses and what the implications of these differences may be for student learning and engagement.

Of course, a theme like this one has the potential to highlight tensions, within our classrooms and within our teaching practice. One inherent tension is that of how to raise awareness of difference and promote inclusion (with a focus on what’s good for all students) without seeming to erase or minimize difference. It is important to state from the outset that, like culturally responsive teaching (about which you can read more here [LINK]), inclusive teaching is not “colorblind” or “gender blind” or “class blind.” On the contrary, inclusive teaching sees differences (as well as our own perceptions about differences) and seeks actively to ensure that differences do not become barriers to learning, implicitly or explicitly.

A theme like this one can involve a tricky balance – and it’s one we’ll grapple with together as we go through the year.  Please join us. This work is worth doing, and it takes all of us to move from inclusive classrooms to a truly inclusive campus.

Teaching Online: A 24 X 7 Job

15419366855_1b6f7b81f1_mby Sandy Gambill, Senior Instructional Developer, Reinert Center

When working with professors to develop online courses, the questions I get asked most often have to do with student contact.

      • How will I communicate with my students?
      • How will I keep this from becoming a 24 x 7 job?

These are certainly valid concerns, especially when research shows that teaching presence is a key factor in student satisfaction in online courses. Here are 5 tips to help you help you strike a balance between students feeling like you’re not available, and you feeling like you’re teaching seven days a week.

  1. Communicate in advance. Often we wonder how students will even know the course they signed up for will be conducted through technology such as Blackboard, much less when the course will be available. To help alleviate this confusion and get everyone on the same page, consider emailing the entire class a week or two in advance of the course beginning. You can do this through Banner or Blackboard itself without your course being open in Blackboard. Introduce yourself, remind students that they signed up for an online course, give them your contact information and the contact information for technical issues. This is also a great time to attach a syllabus if you have it ready. You can also list any books or materials needed, and tell them when you will have the course open in Blackboard.

  2. Consistency in course layout. My goal for online courses is always to make the technology somewhat invisible so students spend time working with course concepts and activities, rather than hunting for the information they need. It probably matters less how your course will be organized (for example, a content area for each week or unit accessible from the navigation bar or files organized in folders on the homepage) than that you choose a method, explain it to students and then use it consistently throughout the course. Consider creating a short narrated video, using a tool such as Tegrity, to walk students through the course organization during the first week of class.

  3. Take advantage of the technology to move communication from one-on-one to group. The Announcements tool in Blackboard is a good mechanism to assist with this. If one or two students email you asking the same question, chances are you’ll soon be hearing from others. The Announcement tool will let you post your answer in the Blackboard site as a permanent record, while at the same time allowing you to automatically email the announcement to every student in the class. If you are going to be unavailable for a short period of time, make an announcement so students will understand they can’t reach you.

  1. Create a schedule for each week. One of the great things about online courses is that the boundaries of time and space dissolve. This is also one of the drawbacks in that it can be difficult for students to manage their time. If you want students to work consistently in the course, interact with each other instead of using you as the sole authority, and avoid last minute deadline scrambles, consider creating a timeframe for the course that mimics a face-to-face course. For example, a new week will always begin on Friday at 6:00 p.m., with homework or assignments from the previous week being due at that time. A mid-week deadline, worth a point or two, is also a way to keep students working at roughly the same pace and interacting with one another in the course rather than waiting until the last minute. If the week begins on Friday at 6:00 p.m., what would you like students to have completed by Monday at 6:00 p.m.? Read material they might take a quiz over? Make an initial blog or discussion post?

    If you do not want to be available on Sunday or another day of the week, build that into your course schedule. Midnight or 11:59 p.m. has become a popular deadline for online courses. Consider if you want to have something due at a time you are not likely to be awake. How will students get help if they have issues?

  2. Offer virtual office hours and review sessions.  Setting up some synchronous sessions in an asynchronous course through a tool like Fuse is a good way to conduct review sessions or hold private or group meetings with students. Consider holding mandatory group or individual meetings (depending on the size of your class) during the first couple of weeks so students have an opportunity to meet you in person (virtually) and ask questions. For review sessions, ask students who can’t be online in real time to submit questions in advance to make sure everyone has their concerns addressed. You could then record the review sessions for students who are unable to attend.

If you would like to discuss how you might implement these tips or if you need other assistance in planning your online course, please contact the Reinert Center to set up an individual consultation.


Richardson, J., & Swan, K. (2003). Examining social presence in online courses in

relation to students’ perceived learning and satisfaction.JALN, 7(1), 68-88 (LINK)


Teaching Center Work as “After Pedagogy”: A Personal Reflection

00875cby Gina Merys, Associate Director, Reinert Center

Last Fall, I had the pleasure of reading After Pedagogy: The Experience of Teaching, by Saint Louis University’s own Paul Lynch, Ph.D. (Associate Professor in the Department of English), and to discuss it on a panel created in its honor. What follows here is an adaptation of my remarks.

What a thrill to read Lynch’s book and (re)visit the challenges faced by discussing/enacting composition pedagogy. As a former faculty member in an English department and director of a composition program myself, the questions Lynch raises in his book are essential to the ways in which I continue to think about pedagogy, especially as my work in the Reinert Center now calls me to grapple with and discuss the intricacies of pedagogy writ large.

When doing the pedagogical work of a teaching center, pedagogy is the ocean in which we swim, and the teachers with whom we work are tethered to a variety of coastlines of their own disciplinary viewpoints of the “whats” and “hows” of teaching in their fields. In many ways, the work of individuals in the teaching center is a fine balance of context work (situating teaching within very particular contextual situations), and theory-driven methodology (applying what we know about learning to a variety of situations). It is intricate work to be sure, and requires much of the same delicate navigation that Lynch outlines in his book.

Thus, when thinking about a larger agenda of acting in and through pedagogy, we rely on the idea, as Lynch puts it, that “pedagogy is not what we do when we enter the classroom or even while we are there. It is what we do after we leave” (xviii). We in the teaching center are “pursuers” of pedagogy, in that “we engage that which is occasioned by our students’ work,” as well as that of our colleagues’ students’ work (xviii). Though we all come to the teaching center as teachers, our primary work is to support others in their own endeavors toward teaching.  Perhaps because we are called to consider pedagogy as something that stands next to the principles of any particular discipline (while at the same time acknowledging how intertwined they are), it becomes an imperative to create moments for reflection about what happened previously that can be an occasion for discernment in future teaching situations.

Often, what is sought from the services of the teaching center, through individual consultations, workshops, and other services and events, is a magic solution. Something that is clean and easy to apply directly into whatever course we happen to be teaching at the time. Of course, I consistently disappoint, because there is no such thing as a magic solution. Learning is a messy endeavor fraught with the perils of being reliant on individual learners in a multitude of contexts.  In short, teaching is messy because learning is messy.

Thus, I have a particular appreciation of Lynch’s creation of an “after-pedagogy”, “a way to make a resource of our classroom experience” because when we bring to bear the lessons that arrive through the classroom, lab, clinic, and field, an “after-pedagogy” is a most-reliable place to begin (7). When I talk to people about their teaching the most frequent request I make is to, “tell me about your class and your students.” Daily, the Reinert Center staff has the opportunity to walk with teachers in a multi-varied experience of classroom ecologies that include not only students, but also patients, clients, and community partners as both teachers and learners as well. While we can rely on some concrete information we have about how the brain works and how learning often happens, it is not enough to take into account all of the variables that happen in a classroom—a living ecology of teaching and learning. Therefore, anything more static or prescriptive than an “after-pedagogy” as Lynch creates it, becomes disingenuous. I’m grateful to Lynch for creating a theory that describes the honesty and reality of discussing authentic learning that takes place in realistic settings.


Lynch, Paul. After Pedagogy: The Experience of Teaching. CCCC Studies in Writing and Rhetoric Series. Conference of College Composition and Communication of the National Council of       Teachers of English, 2013.

Book Review: Small Changes in Teaching

Langby Sandy Gambill, Sr. Instructional Developer, Reinert Center

Often when we think about course design or learning new teaching practices, it’s easy to become paralyzed by the seemingly enormous task. That’s why the recent James M. Lang series on Small Changes in Teaching in the Chronicle of Higher Education is compelling as a reminder that sometimes minor adjustments can make a world of difference. The Chronicle series is drawn from Lang’s recent book on the same topic.

In the series, Lang draws on current educational research to inform suggestions about practices ranging from changing what you’re doing the first and last five minutes of class  to specific strategies for helping students make connections between course material and the real world.

For example, think about what typically happens in the last five minutes of a class period. When do students begin leave taking behavior (packing up, looking at the clock, whispering?) Are you rushing to finish everything you needed to say that day? What would happen if you set an alarm to end five minutes early so you could review and summarize the day’s content?

Interested in discussing how you might utilize some of these techniques in your own teaching? We are here all summer at the Reinert Center and would love to meet with you. You can complete our form to request a consultation or call us at 314-977-3944.


The Culturally Responsive Teaching Academy Enters Second Year

crta_name-badge-iconby Debie Lohe, Director, Reinert Center

The newest members of the Reinert Center’s Culturally Responsive Teaching Academy (CRTA) convened last week for a four-day summer institute, the first commitment in the program. First piloted last year, the CRTA is a year-long development opportunity for SLU faculty and graduate student instructors who teach INTO-SLU Pathway courses and other courses with high concentrations of international students.

During the institute, participants were introduced to learning-focused course design methods and a range of cultural differences in higher education. The primary aims of the institute were to help instructors to better understand the ways in which their expectations for teaching and learning are culturally situated and to provide guidance and work time in which they could develop more culturally responsive course materials. (Read this blog post for more on the concept of “culturally responsive teaching.”)

Members of the Academy commit to attending the summer institute, a pre-semester meeting in August, and monthly meetings of the cohort during the academic year. Faculty participants are designated as Culturally Responsive Teaching Fellows; graduate student participants are designated as Culturally Responsive Graduate Fellows. All participants receive a small financial incentive for participation.

While the program was designed in response to the launch of INTO-SLU – with a focus on the particular needs of international and multilingual students – the framework for the Academy is rooted in broader research on learning-focused course design and instruction. Thus, the theories and methods underpinning the program create more inclusive learning experiences for a broad range of diverse learners.

If you want to discuss ways to create more culturally responsive courses, contact the Reinert Center at cttl@slu.edu.

Incorporate Active Learning Strategies Using Little Known Features of Campus Technologies

by Chris Grabau, Instructional Developer, Reinert Center

Incorporating active learning strategies into a course’s design can improve students’ recall of course information, improve academic performance, reduce cognitive load, and promote student engagement (Bonwell & Eison, 1991; Mayer & Moreno, 2003; Prince, 2004).  Although there are a number of University-supported academic resources available to faculty, knowing how to incorporate them as an active learning strategy can be difficult.  Below are three lesser-known features found within our University supported academic resources that may help faculty use active learning strategies in their course.

1. Configure Tegrity to record video of a presenter or to record in-class activities:  Image1Research suggests that lecture capture provides students deeper engagement with course material (Zhu, 2010).  While many faculty use Tegrity to capture in-class lecture slides, the program also has a built-in camera mode that offers an opportunity to foreground the instructor camera instead of a computer screen.  Recording video of the presenter allows an opportunity for instructors to do demonstrations or even capture classroom activities that students can review at a later date.  To use the camera option, start a Tegrity recording and open the option tray by clicking on the arrow on the left side.  Active Learning Strategies:  Use the camera to record role playing, student presentations, simulations, or panel discussion and other in-class activities.  Post the recording to the Blackboard course and have students blog, journal, or critique it.

2.     Distribute “view only” or “comment only” versions of Google Docs and Slides for student access:  image2Using Google Apps (Google Docs, Slides, and Sheets) can be an efficient way to deliver course materials to students. Prior to class, consider sharing versions of your slides or documents with students.  Distribute a link to “view-only” or “comments only” versions of files made with Google Docs and Slides.  To do so, select one of the options available in the share tab of any Google Docs and Slides.  Active learning strategies:  Use the “comment-only mode” to give students a chance to compare notes, find the muddiest point of a class lecture, or to peer review a document.

3.  Use Audience Tools in Google Slides to encourage classroom participation: image3 Tools like Poll Everywhere offer great opportunities to gather feedback and promote student interaction.  Google Slides now offers similar features through its newly released Audience Tools option. When used in an in-class setting, students can ask questions or post reactions to course topics introduced in Google Slides.  Instructors have the option to post student responses or to only display student feedback for themselves.  To enable “Audience Tools” select the “presenter view” options available within the “present” tab of the Google Slides.  Active Learning Strategies:  Use the Audience tool to poll students, ask for the muddiest point, offer a quick quiz, or provide an interactive discussion.

Consider giving some of these options a try and determine whether they complement your teaching style and course design.

If you would like to investigate how these and other technologies can promote active learning in your course, contact the Reinert Center for to schedule a consultation.

If you want to learn more about how these technologies work, or about other campus-supported technologies, visit the ITS website for more information.


Bonwell, C. C., & Eison, J. A. (1991). Active learning: creating excitement in the classroom. ASHE-Eric Higher Education Rep, 1. Washington, DC: The George Washington University, School of Education and Human Development.

Mayer, R. E., & Moreno, R. (2003). Nine ways to reduce cognitive load in multimedia learning. Educational Psychologist, 38(1), 43-52.

Prince, M. (2004). Does active learning work? A review of the research, Journal of Engineering Education, 93(3), 223-231.

Zhu, E. (2010). Lecture Capture: A Guide to Effective Use. Tomorrow’s Professor. Retrieved 26 February 2016, from http://Reis, Rick. “Lecture Capture: A Guide to Effective Use.”