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Teaching Tuesdays: How I'm Teaching Now: The Show Must Go On[line]

The P3 Collaboratory is pleased to continue “How I'm Teaching Now,” a series highlighting the innovative pedagogical work being done by RU-N instructors.  Today’s contribution is from Dr. Lisa A. Scott (School of Public Affairs and Administration). 

I am a stage performer, not a film actress. I was okay with the transition to remote instruction, but when I was asked to teach an asynchronous class, I had no idea how much it would challenge me. The first time I taped myself giving my slide presentation, I must have recorded myself five times for each slide. Every time I got started, I would hear a mistake and start over again. I could not stop myself from telling my students how much I missed teaching them synchronously. I told them how self-conscious I was talking to . . . no one. 

I started the course with a student survey to help me learn about the people I would be teaching. The survey included questions about their commitments (outside of being a graduate student) as well as the challenges they face during this difficult time. Their responses helped me imagine the class as I recorded my lectures.  I was no longer lecturing to “no one”; I had an audience.

I used discussion questions to encourage engagement and low stakes applications of the materials. When I introduced theory building, I asked students to think of something they have a theory about, and then to explain their theory and whether they are using inductive or deductive reasoning. The example I provided was my belief that my dog knows what I’m thinking. The online discussion that followed was heartening. Examples ranged from theories about playing guitar to crisis management at the US State Department. 

When students provided their draft research topics, it felt like this low-stakes fun exercise led students to develop creative research topics. While their topics are evolving as the semester progresses, students are planning to study the impact of Black Lives Matter advocacy, historic preservation ordinances and land use models, the impact of minimum wage increases in Korea, discriminatory rental policies, as well as factors of successful implementation of a carbon tax. Even though I’m not their Capstone instructor, can you guess that I’ll be asking them to share their Capstones with me? 

While film acting is not my forte, I have been successful in curating short videos to supplement my recorded slide lectures.  A popular one has been How to Write a Literature Review in 30 Minutes or Less. Students have shared that they find these videos helpful. While open-sourced videos don’t replace my lectures or the readings, they do provide a livelier presentation of the material by people who have video teaching experience.  

After week 4, I polled students about their experience in the class and interest in a synchronous session. While only a few students were interested, I still offered a synchronous weeknight and a weekend session. In every slide presentation, I conclude with a slide about scheduling time with me to discuss their research projects and any questions they have about the material. My hope has been to support student learning via one-on-one meetings.

I added interim assignments to help me give students individualized feedback while they are in the process of developing their proposals. My written feedback seemed to spark students to schedule time with me.  By week 9, I have met with almost everyone in the class, typically using the Zoom whiteboard to help students visualize their research concepts.

This is my first semester using Canvas and it has helped me develop the course more like a tutorial. My Canvas homepage frames the overall learning and links to each module, resources, and even a 2-minute meditation that I call self-care for these difficult times. Each Module has an introduction with learning outcomes, slide presentations, videos, readings, and Discussion Group activities. I created Canvas Discussion Groups based on student research topics. I don’t enter any discussions, but I do provide private individualized feedback to clarify understanding as needed. 

While I have done my best to compensate for my own challenges being “on camera,” students know how happy I am to be performing live when I throw my hands up on Zoom and say, “YAY! Human contact!”

Author Bio:

At the School of Public Affairs and Administration, Dr. Lisa A. Scott teaches Applied Research Design, Applied Statistics, and Career Exploration in Public Service. She received her Ph.D. in Public Administration from NYU-Wagner and her B.A. in Mathematics from Goucher College. Dr. Scott is also a Nonprofit Management Consultant.

Would you like to share how you’re teaching now with the RU-N community? Interested contributors should email with the subject line “How I’m Teaching Now” and include 1) name, department, courses taught in 2020; and 2) a description of proposed essay topic in 2-3 sentences.


Below is a snapshot of upcoming pedagogical training opportunities available to Rutgers faculty and graduate students, April 7-14, 2021.

Featured Workshops and Webinars:

Brought to you by the P3 Collaboratory for Pedagogy, Professional Development, and Publicly-Engaged Scholarship at Rutgers University-Newark


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