15 posts categorized "Learner Centered Teaching"


VIDEO: 6abc Highlights Students, Faculty at USciences Research Day

6abc showcased the diversity and growth of research pursuits at University of the Sciences during its 12th Annual Research Day and 27th Annual John C. Krantz, Jr., Distinguished Lecture on Thursday, April 10. Research Day recognizes and highlights the research efforts of faculty, as well as undergraduate and graduate students, to encourage and promote communication and collaboration among researchers.
USciences distinguishes itself by offering undergraduate students the opportunity to conduct research early in their academic careers. The diverse research activity that was on display spanned several aspects of the University’s scholarly pursuits, including:
  • Determining occupational therapists’ role in working with pediatric cancer patients
  • Discovering the personality traits that cause adolescents to kill
  • Using yoga to improve quality of life for patients with anorexia nervosa
  • Identifying predictors of successful post-secondary transitions for autistic students


The Biggest Mistakes Transfer Students Make

Viggiani_aimeeChoosing which college to attend is a huge decision for students. Whether they’ve earned their associate’s degrees from community colleges and ready to move on to earn their bachelor’s degrees, or currently enrolled in four-year schools that aren’t the right fit, one-third of all students transfer at least once before earning a degree.

Aimee Viggiani, associate director of transfer admissions, was recently featured in two articles which provide helpful tips for transfer students. She said, "All too often, students wait until too late in their college careers to ask why a certain class didn't transfer. Even if you don't need the credit right away, you may need it in the future. So ask transfer credit questions as soon as possible."


Learning and Living the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in Real Time

This fall, masters and doctoral students in the Department of Health Policy and Public Health at University of the Sciences are examining the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) as it evolves in real time.

MetrauxIn the seminar course led by Steve Metraux, PhD, associate professor of health policy and public health, graduate students meet weekly to discuss topics such as the politics that led to the passage of the ACA, how the ACA fits into the history of healthcare reform in the United States, the legal and constitutional aspects of the ACA, and the nuts and bolts of the ACA.

A range of experts, both from the USciences faculty and from the greater Philadelphia region will join the seminar to lead discussions and explain how the ACA impacts particular facets of health and health care.

But beyond that, the seminar will seek to capture history-in-the-making by following the day-to-day events related to the ACA as its key component, the insurance exchanges, start their open enrollment.

Issa_Portrait“Watching the biggest health policy story in years unfold week by week adds a new dimension of excitement to studying policy,” said Dr. Metraux. “This seminar seeks to provide students with the tools not only to understand how we got here, but also to assess how such policy might likely unfold.”

Amalia M. Issa, PhD, professor and chair of health policy and public health, added, “Our students are going to be on the front lines of healthcare delivery and shaping policy. They need to have an understanding of the Act, apply their critical thinking skills to the issues, and evaluate the impact of the ACA on addressing current and future problems in health systems.”


PCP Student Gains Worldview of Pharmaceutical Industry

SEP group picture

Grace Chun PharmD’16 recently traveled overseas to participate in the International Pharmaceutical Student Federation’s annual World Congress event. Here’s what she had to say:

International Pharmaceutical Student Federation (IPSF) is the only international advocacy group for the student pharmacists. IPSF aims to promote public health through wide range of global networking and initiating global health campaigns, such as World AIDS Day and World Tobacco Day. Along with close collaboration with the International Pharmaceutical Federation, IPSF holds official relations with the World Health Organization, as well. The largest meeting for the IPSF members is the annual World Congress, a conference for the pharmacy students and pharmacists from all around the globe.

This year’s 59th annual World Congress was held in Utrecht, Netherlands, from July 30 to Aug. 9. The experience as a U.S. participant at the conference was truly an asset because I broadened my scope in the pharmacy practice. At the conference, I have participated in the international patient counseling event, attended career exhibitions, and engaged in memorable networking experiences.

The highlight of the World Congress was the international night where the students gathered to express their cultures and customs through dance and delicious pastries. I was able to taste Sake from Japan and amazing chocolates from Belgium. I also learned lovely traditional Sweden dance to exciting “Gangnam Style” dance from Korea.

World Congress does not only comprise of symposiums and general assemblies but consist of true international gathering to embrace each other’s cultures. Only those who attended IPSF World Congress can understand the meaning of international pharmacy experience. It was fortunate for me and Dana Lee to participate in a great experience to represent the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy. I wish I could engage more PCP students to engage in international pharmacy, as I was able to broaden my horizon. I was able to see how the government in Denmark works closely with pharmacists to improve healthcare systems, and also experience how Switzerland pharmacists work together with physicians to improve patient-care.

I have come to understand the meaning of “viva la pharmacie” thanks to this conference, and only those who attend the conference will be able to experience this motto to the fullest. As the newly elected Pan-American Regional Office (PARO) Secretary, I will continue to serve IPSF and carry out the motto, “viva la pharmacie!”

Student Exchange Program at PCP: One of the assets of IPSF is the Student Exchange Program, which allows students to explore pharmacy practice in different countries. After careful and objective analysis of each applicant, the member association of IPSF organizes the exchanges by finding the practice sites. The practice sites include community pharmacies, wholesale companies, pharmaceutical industry, government or private health agencies.

PCP is one of the few colleges of pharmacy that can host SEP students in the United States. As of last year, PCP was approved as one of few host sites in the U.S. This year was the second annual student exchange program held at PCP to allow an international student to have a chance to experience what pharmacy means outside his or her country’s practice.

On July 7, Thibault Ali, a student from Strasbourg, France, came to our institution for a month to experience community, compounding, and industry pharmacy experience through our APhA-ASP/IPSF chapter. He began his stay with a tour around USciences and a luncheon with the faculty members.

He was able to experience community pharmacy at Sunray Pharmacy, and compounding pharmacy at The Art of Medicine. Thibault also had an industry experience at Johnson and Johnson and learned about medical information and drug products. He experienced industry rotation with other sixth-year pharmacy students at PCP.

Not only he experienced pharmacy practice, he was exposed to American culture as he visited the Philadelphia Phillies game with Dr. Melody, Shakespeare play with Dr. Earl, and many other Philadelphia’s attractions with fellow IPSF members. This program not only allowed Thibault to gain an insight to pharmacy practice in the U.S., but allowed our chapter to acknowledge new ideas from understanding Thibault’s country’s practice.

Special Acknowledgement: I would like to acknowledge Dr. Hussar for advising and supporting World Congress to allow PCP students to broaden their horizon in the field of pharmacy practice. Also, I sincerely thank Drs. Schwartz, Earl, Melody, Decker, Blustein, as well as all the preceptors, professors, and dedicated IPSF members who gave tremendous support to successfully achieve Student Exchange Program at PCP. 

Someone said, “The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” The teachers may come in many forms but the professors whom I worked together for IPSF projects were all in a single form: the inspired.


Setting right tone at course beginning

Faculty have preferred ways to conduct their classes and have individual policies.  However, these practices and policies differ from one instructor to another and students do not know your policies unless you explicitly inform them.  On the first day of class and on the course page in your learning management system ( i.e., BlackBoard), you might address the following issues, among others:

1.  Do you prefer to finish your presentation of new material before students ask questions or can students interrupt with questions any time?

2. What kinds of student collaboration are encouraged, acceptable and what is not allowed.  We often give mixed messages that students can interpret differently.  For example, if they can collaborate on project work, such as labs, you need to tell them if they can also collaborate on the written reports coming form the projects, such as lab reports.

3.  What is your policy about how material is to be handed in- must be on paper, in your drop box in the learning management system or emailed to you through the university email?

4.  Do you allow students to come late to class or prefer that they skip the class?      

5.  What reference citation style will you accept for their writing?

6. How should they contact you if they need to see you outside of office hours?

7. What is acceptable in terms of how formally or informally students send you electronic messages and in what medium would you prefer to receive them?

There are many others.  As you think of the answers to these questions, you might start developing an information sheet that you can attach to all course shells on your course page in your learning management system.  You can add more ideas to this list over time.

When students know these policies and practices, they are more likely to get off to a good start in your course and not violate rules unintentionally.



USciences faculty win teaching awards

The Teaching and Learning Center of the University of the Sciences recognizes teaching excellence through giving awards.  Five faculty members won Bright Idea Awards for innovative teaching and three adjunct faculty members won awards for excellent teaching.


The Bright Idea Award winners were selected by a panel of department chairs as the most innovative.  The winners along with a dozen of their colleagues presented at a competitive poster session on educational innovations in May, 2011.  Over seventy faculty, administrators, and staff attended the poster session.  Abstracts of these projects, along with all of the other posters may be found at the Center’s website at www.sciences.edu/teaching.

We are happy to recognize the following faculty who won the Bright Idea Award for their projects:

  • Lora Packel, of  Physical therapy “The impact of hearing versus seeing feedback on written assignments”
  • Lindsey Curtin, Laura Finn, Michael Cawley of Pharmacy Practice , “Impact of computer based simulation on learning objectives in mannequin based simulation” 
  • Grace Earl,  of Pharmacy Practice “Evaluating the quality of online discussion forum posts to improve teaching methods that promote critical thinking in pre-professional students”


Students, faculty and chairs can nominate adjunct professors for recognition as an outstanding adjunct professor.  Adjunct professors teach one or two courses in their specialty while holding other full time jobs or doing other things.  The deans selected the winners from among the many nominations. We are pleased to announce this year’s adjunct professors:

  • Sergio Guerra – Biology – Forensic Anthropology
  • John Muccitelli – Chemistry
  • Nicholas Spring – Pharmaceutical Business


USciences faculty present on teaching

Eighteen University of the Sciences faculty made 15 presentations at four, peer –reviewed and competitive conferences. (for example, at the Lilly-East Conference, USciences faculty made 8 presentations. Competition was especially keen to present at this conference as there were over 259 submissions.) Peer reviewed Conference Presentations made by faculty on Scholarship of Teaching and Learning topics. The Teaching and Learning Center helped to fund the faculty to attend these conferences.

• Jeanette McVeigh, Finding the right resources for your scholarship of teaching and learning Pa Library Association conference

• Pam Kearney, Jennifer Pitonyak and Phyllis Blumberg short course presentation on learning centered teaching at American Occupational Therapy Association

• Anne Marie Flanagan, What Will Students Think of Next?, Association for Core Texts and Courses (ACTC)

 • Alison M. Mostrom, Are IF – AT Practice quizzes Superior to Tradition Paper Practice Quizzes presented at The Teaching Professor Conference

 • Andrew Peterson, Phyllis Blumberg, and Alison M. Mostrom Keeping Your Teaching Fresh: Are Teaching Mentor Relationships for you? presented at The Teaching Professor Conference

 • Phyllis Blumberg, Keeping Teaching Invigorated through Self-assessment and Scholarship of Teaching/Learning presented at The Teaching Professor Conference

• Jeanette McVeigh, Finding the Research on Teaching and Learning. Presented at the Lilly-East Conference

USciences faculty: skillful teachers

>During 2010-2011, the Teaching and Learning Center of the University of the Sciences offered or cosponsored 81 different educational events for the faculty. Overall 79% of the full time faculty participated in at least one of them. Therefore, USciences faculty may be some of the best trained teachers at universities in America. 64 (35% of the total) full time faculty presented their ideas through Teaching and Learning Center venues. For more information on the presentations go to the Center’s website www.usciences.edu/teaching.


Test reviews to benefit students and teachers

Develop very challenging multiple choice questions that you can use as a review for the students.  These questions should go well beyond factual but involve the highest levels of cognitive processing that you want your students to be able to do.  This review should take place almost a week before the test so the students have time to study appropriately. You can administer these questions in a variety of ways, but the most important part is for you to be able to collect the answers to see where students struggled. 

  • You can put them online and be sure the computer can record how many tries it took each student to get the right answer and which alternatives they selected.
  • You can use IF-AT (scratch- off) answer sheets.  Here collect the answer sheets to see where there were multiple attempts to get the right answer
  • You can use clickers and look at the distribution of selected answers

These challenging questions should motivate the students to study harder and concentrate more on the higher levels of cognitive processing.  You can determine what topics the students had the most difficulty and offer additional help with these topics.  You could put this additional help online, refer them to resources or ask the supplemental instructor to focus on them.


Thoughts on student group work

People who employ our graduates consistently tell us that the ability to work effectively in groups is a necessary skill to succeed in their jobs.  For this and many other good reasons more faculty are incorporating small group work into courses.  It is important to use the groups appropriately for effective learning.  Here are some guidelines supported by research to consider for group work:

  • The faculty member should assign groups in beginning level classes on the basis of previous performance (divide the class into upper and lower half) and randomly assign students to groups within the top half and separately within the bottom half) and also checking to see that diversity is spread among the groups, but avoid groups that have only one person of color or non-traditional student, if possible.
  • Allowing students to make their own groups often results in like minded and like motivated people to work together
  • Create some accountability for individual’s work within the group.  This often involves peer assessment of effort, ability to work with others, meeting others expectations, etc.  These peer assessments should impact on any group or final grades.
  • Spend time on group process.  Ask the groups to develop their own expectations of each other, even creating a group contract.
  • Tell the students that they should try to resolve differences among themselves, but that the instructor is available if necessary. 
  • Ground rules can include the ability of the instructor to fire a student from a group given sufficient cause, and the instructor can also reorganize groups if necessary.


Melanie Oates uses the following approach for graduate/professional level classes to allow groups to self select in upper level courses.  However, the selection becomes a mock job interview process.  Every student presents their qualifications to the class.  The Project Managers then submit closed bids for the students that they wish to “hire”.  Eventually, all of the students are placed in “jobs”.

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