Center for Faculty Excellence

CFE Scoop (Newsletter)

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Vol.1: December 2017

In this issue: 

  1. Welcome to the CFE Scoop!
  2. Backwards Design: What is it, how can I use it?
  3. Dissertation/Thesis Book Camp: Spring 2018
  4. Upcoming Workshops
  5. Other Important News


Welcome to the first edition of the Center for Faculty Excellence (CFE) newsletter “The Scoop”. The CFE provides activities and opportunities to assist faculty in developing their teaching and their career. We will produce one newsletter each month of the regular year and one in summer. Each edition will start with a short article on teaching. Updates on other CFE programs, grant opportunities and events will be provided. Other news relevant to faculty will also be included. We hope you benefit from this method of information distribution, the aim of which is to reduce the frequency of emails we are sending. Please send feedback about the newsletter to Thank you for your support.

~ Dr. Joanne E. Goodell, Director, CFE.

Backwards Design: What is it, how can I use it?

Backwards design is a method of curriculum design that was first outlined by Jay McTighe and Grant Wiggins in their 1999 book “Understanding by Design”. Their work was based on the assumption that the purpose of teaching is to develop students’ understanding of the content, and that curriculum needs to be designed with that goal in mind. The basic outline of UBD starts with defining the learning goals and outcomes you want your students to achieve at the end of the learning period, whether that be a single 50-minute class period, a 15-week semester, a four-year degree, or a general education program. Dr. Goodell, the CFE Director, has recently worked with four groups of faculty to facilitate conversations about backwards design and program assessment. The process begins with faculty reviewing and revising the learning goals and objectives of the program, and then designing new assessments and rubrics based on the objectives. If you, your program or department would be interested in engaging in this process, please send an email to Dr. Goodell.

For more information about backwards design, visit this web page.

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Dissertation/Thesis Boot Camp: Spring 2018

Consider attending this Dissertation/Thesis Boot Camp if you want to:

  • finish your thesis quickly
  • get some expert advice on your draft
  • learn writing strategies that will help you beyond the dissertation or thesis (for articles, grants, and so forth).

It will be held from Thursday, February 8 through Monday, February 12, 2018.  More details (such as location and links to online workshops closer to the date) can be found at this Writing Center link.

Dissertation Boot Camps have been helping graduate students for over a decade at various universities across the country.  One of the most successful is at Stanford, where a large number of participants said that their writing strategies improved and that they could use what they learned in future situations (Lee & Golde, 2013).  

Central to this workshop experience is learning that graduate students should not write alone:  advanced writing, such as a thesis or journal article, requires expert direction.  It is an apprenticeship.  While many graduate students do receive their advisor’s help on the content, they lack the knowledge of how to complete a large writing project on time.  Our Writing Center staff and the Graduate Resource Center staff offer specific strategies to help regarding both the activity of writing and the life balancing required.  We will also be raffling off the use of library carrels for this time period to enable graduate students to have uninterrupted time. Each participant will also be offered individual tutorials concerning his or her specific project.  With the workshops, individual tutorials, private space, and dedicated time to write, graduate students will emerge with a set of specific strategies that will endure in their professional lives (where they will write often).


Works Cited

Lee, S., & Golde, C. (2013). Completing the dissertation and beyond:

Writing centers and dissertation boot camps. The Writing Lab

Newsletter, 37(8), 1-5.

Faculty are kindly requested to share this article with their dissertation or thesis students.

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Upcoming Workshops

All workshops are held in RT 401,  from 11:30 am  to 12:30 pm, and include lunch. Upcoming workshops include:

  • 1/23 Veterans 101
  • 1/25 COSHP & COE Workshop: Managing and Resolving Student Problems
  • 1/30 Beyond the Research Paper: Alternative Assignments and Easy Assessments
  • 2/1 Using New Teaching Evaluations in P & T Reappointment
  • 2/6 Preparing for Reappointment
  • 2/8 Using Copyrighted Materials in the Classroom and Online
  • 2/13 Starfish Tricks and Tips 2.0

Coming to one of our workshops also helps faculty and graduate teaching assistants gain access to the Center for Faculty Excellence Workshop Community on Blackboard, which is quickly becoming a valuable resource for them. 

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Other Important News

· Call for TEA Proposals

· Have news to share? Our deadline is on the 24th of each month. Send us brief (200 words max) articles via email at:

· Provost’s Teaching Summit 2018

· Spring Book Discussion begins soon!

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