Teaching Through the Coronavirus, Together: Associate Faculty, Faculty Incentive Plan, Faculty Development Updates and Focusing Your Feedback

Saturday, April 11, 2020 – 11:45 a.m.

A Message from Wendi Dew, Assistant Vice President, Teaching and Learning and Isis Artze-Vega, Vice President, Academic Affairs

Thank you for all that you’re doing to support your students and one another. We continue to hear about and be inspired by your efforts. From sharing insights with and learning from one another, to joining your students in Q&A discussion boards, regularly checking in with them by phone and through engagement hours, and using new technology tools like Speedgrader (see below) for the first time, you never cease to amaze us.

We’re also glad many of you are giving yourselves and your students ample grace, recognizing that, as our colleagues at Delta College put it, the appropriate goal this term may be “teaching enough.” Given our longstanding commitment to learning-centeredness, our Valencia version of “teaching enough” necessitates that we focus on the aspects of teaching known to be most correlated to student learning. This communication does just that, reminding us that feedback and learning are inextricable, and sharing a few suggestions for providing targeted feedback to students this term.

We also include important updates on faculty development courses and extended deadlines for Associate Faculty Certification, Faculty Incentive Plans and the Endowed Chair application process.

Focused Feedback: The What and the How

“Goal-directed practice coupled with targeted feedback are critical to learning,” affirm Ambrose et al. (2010). In fact, this tenet is one of seven research-based principles for smart teaching delineated in their book “How Learning Works.” “Key features of effective feedback are that it (a) communicates to students where they are relative to the stated goals and what they need to do to improve and (b) provides this information to students when they can make the most use of it,” the authors explain. At the same time, given our unique circumstances, you may worry about the time it takes to provide feedback. Wiggins (2012) acknowledges this concern and reminds us that “‘no time to give and use feedback’ actually means ‘no time to cause learning.’” With that in mind, here are suggested areas of emphasis for your feedback and approaches to streamlining your process.

What might you focus your feedback on? 

It’s never a good idea to provide feedback on everything, but this semester, in particular, focused feedback is essential. You’ll recall that in the first communication in this series, we recommended that you isolate the learning outcomes you will prioritize during the rest of the term. Students will need very clear evidence before finals week about how they have mastered or are progressing in each critical learning outcome. They will also need your guidance on how to close the gap between their current and desired performance.

Your feedback might also point students to additional assistance; for instance, the newly developed Keep Learning website and our fully online tutoring, with extended hours.

Finally, don’t underestimate the power of a few encouraging words, care and compassion. Show your students you have faith in their ability to succeed, as this belief is known to be an important source of student motivation.

How might you best provide your feedback remotely?

Canvas offers a variety of tools to help you provide feedback. Within the Canvas Gradebook, for instance, you can leave text and attach files, video and/or audio feedback through SpeedGrader. One of our faculty colleagues, who shall remain nameless, told us SpeedGrader has “rocked his world.”

The document viewer within SpeedGrader lets you leave annotated feedback directly on student submissions. Both Classic Quizzes and New Quizzes also enable you to share general feedback once students submit their quiz or feedback comments relevant to their question responses.

Adding rubrics to assignments in Canvas not only clarifies your assessment criteria; it can also save you a great deal of time. Online teaching scholars recommend using rubrics to “speak for you,” so that you can conserve your time for individualized comments (Ko & Rosen, 2010). When used in the grading process, rubrics are easily accessible within SpeedGrader.

Another way to make your feedback process more focused, equitable and streamlined is to use your students’ performance on individual assessments or their current course grade to draft messages to students in select groups. For instance, you might send praise and a keep-it-up message to those who are demonstrating mastery, and send encouragement and resources to students who may be struggling. Whole-class feedback is another time-saving strategy, and it can be shared via Canvas announcements.

To continue learning about how to provide focused feedback, join our faculty colleagues, Lisa Macon, professor, software development, and Michael Robbins, professor, English, for a 3 PD-hour course during which they will guide you in developing a feedback strategy plan. In the Valencia EDGE Search bar, look for “ASMT2910” to register for a Selected Topics session of Online Feedback: Making the Transition on Saturday, April 11, 2020, or Tuesday, April 12, 2020. Also, in this resource, Wiggins distills the research and breaks down seven keys to effective feedback.

Two New Grade Options: Do students know what grade they’re earning in your class?

As described in a recent communication from Stanton Reed, Faculty Association president, and Kathleen Plinske, executive vice president and provost, we have introduced two new grade options this term in response to the widespread and varied disruption caused by COVID-19, and to minimize negative impact on students’ GPAs. Students have the chance to make a course-by-course determination on whether to 1) unenroll from a course in the spring term and retake the course in the future, and/or 2) elect into an optional satisfactory/unsatisfactory grading system. The deadline for students to elect these options is Friday, April 17, 2020, at 10 p.m., so they will need your guidance and a clear sense of their grades in your class, as soon as possible, in order to make an informed decision.

It’s important for students to know what grade they’re currently earning in your class for several other reasons: Grades influence how students study, what they focus on and their involvement in the course (Walvoord & Anderson, 1998). It’s also common for students (especially first-year college students) to have an unrealistic or inaccurate sense of how well they’re doing in a given course, or how much work is required to improve a grade. As such, finding out their current or projected course grade can prompt students to re-think their study behaviors, seek out assistance, etc.

If you had preset calculations in Canvas prior to the term, you’ll want to reflect on the extent to which your grading system still works. If you have not yet used the Canvas gradebook or want to learn more about exporting final grades to Banner, it’s not too late; join your colleagues for a 1 PD-hour Zoom course LTAD2910 Selected Topics: Using the Canvas Gradebook on Wednesday, April 15, 2020, 9 -10 a.m.; Thursday, April 16, 2020, 6 – 7 p.m.; or Friday, April 17, 2020, 2 – 3 p.m.

When communicating with students about their current or projected grade in your course, keep in mind that students from disadvantaged backgrounds often interpret bad grades as proof “that they do not belong in this strange culture of higher education” (Nilson, 2015, p. 9). Again, you have the opportunity to offer them a powerful counter-narrative, helping them view grades as measurements of their coursework at a given point in time and within circumstances often beyond their control, not as absolute judgments of their belonging, worth or intelligence.

*Reminder: The deadline to submit grades is Monday, April 27, 2020, at 9 a.m.

Updates on Faculty Development and Deadlines for Associate Faculty Certification, Faculty Incentive Plan, and Endowed Chair Application

We greatly appreciate your patience and understanding during the suspension of our Faculty Development courses while we focus on supporting faculty new to online teaching. We also recognize that these cancellations, coupled with our broader disruptions, may have an impact on your progress toward Associate Faculty Certification, the Faculty Incentive Plan and Endowed Chair application process. As such, we have made the following changes to requirements and deadlines. Click on the buttons below for details:

Faculty Development and Teaching/Learning Academy (TLA) Programming 

A focused set of Faculty Development/TLA courses for full-time and part-time faculty will be offered for the remainder of spring and summer terms. Within the next two weeks, we will share a revised schedule for the following:

    • LCTS1110 Teaching in Our Learning College sessions (essential for initial Associate Faculty Certification)
    • Digital Professor Certification courses (offered as stand-alone courses for faculty members in progress as well as in two-week, five-week, and 10-week cohorts)
    • A variety of just-in-time, faculty-led sessions focused on effective online teaching practices and technology topics
    • Preparation experience for faculty new to the course peer review process
    • Course peer review timelines for faculty members in progress

In order to maximize our focus on support for online teaching and learning, all other types of professional development will be cancelled/postponed. This includes the difficult decision to cancel this summer’s Destination program. Although upcoming professional development offerings may look different than we are used to, there will be no shortage of opportunities to continue to learn and grow, and our commitment to equity-minded practice will continue to guide our efforts and programming.

TLA Timeline and Reporting Schedule

The current timeline and reporting schedule will be amended. Faculty in the tenure process will receive an email regarding these changes next week.

If you have any questions, please contact a member of the Teaching and Learning team.

To turn back to the topic of feedback for a moment, it’s not just your students who benefit from your feedback. Your input on this new teaching-focused communication has been invaluable — thank you! Please do keep the ideas and requests for future editions coming.



  • Ambrose, S. A., Lovett, M., Bridges, M. W., DiPietro, M., & Norman, M. K. (2010). How learning works: Seven research-based principles for smart teaching.
  • Ko, S., & Rosen, S. (2001). Teaching online: A practical guide. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin.
  • Nilson, Linda B. (2015). Specifications Grading: Restoring Rigor, Motivating Students, and Saving Faculty Time. Stylus.
  • Walvoord, B. E. and Anderson, V. J. (1998). Effective Grading: A Tool for Learning and Assessment. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
  • Wiggins, G. (2012, September). Seven keys to effective feedback. Educational Leadership, 70(1), 10-16.


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