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DCAL Headlines

Here are just a few notes about upcoming events and projects at DCAL and other items of interest to teachers. Navigate the site's resources at the left and above. For more news, see DCAL News.

Upcoming Events

Teaching Before Tenure, 12:00pm - 1:30pm, Thursday, November 13, 2014

It is clear that we put time and energy into developing our research in preparation for tenure review, but we also spend a lot of our time designing and teaching courses. Does teaching time compete with research time? Join us for a discussion over lunch with three recently tenured colleagues, Sol Diamond (Thayer), Ekaterina Pletneva (Chemistry), and Jeffrey Sharlet (English). Though this discussion is aimed at pre-tenure faculty, all are welcome.


Teaching Science Seminar, 12:30pm - 2:00pm, Friday, November 14, 2014

Science Outreach at Dartmouth - Impact on Students and Faculty: Since 2007, when Dartmouth's Office of Science & Technology Outreach was established, Dartmouth has undergone a culture shift that parallels changes in expectations for researchers across the US. Created to support faculty in outreach increasingly required by funding agencies, one goal of the office was to create and sustain an infrastructure and relationships that would make outreach "plug and play" for Dartmouth PIs, making their proposals competitive but not not requiring them to create outreach programs from scratch. In this session we will present data we have collected about the impact of outreach at the institution, and discuss the value of outreach for Dartmouth as background for a more general discussion of the future of outreach at Dartmouth.



2014 Active Learning Institute

December 8 (9-4 pm)
December 10 & 11 (9-1 pm)

ALI can help you revamp an existing course and provide you with the tools you need to address whatever challenges you face in teaching. The goal of ALI is to make your teaching easier, more efficient, and more effective.

Participants in ALI will learn to
• Understand the cognitive science principles that underlie active learning
• Incorporate active learning strategies
• Use peer review to improve student learning
• Structure small groups
• Craft assignments that meet your goals
• Explore using technology (such as clickers, smart pens, Canvas, wikis, blogs)

Questions about ALI? Contact

The Gateway Initiative

The Provost's Office, in collaboration with the Dartmouth Center for the Advancement of Learning (DCAL) and Academic Computing, is excited to offer a new opportunity to support the redesign of certain courses.

Called the Gateway Initiative, this effort is aimed at enhancing learning and classroom pedagogy in 'gateway' courses, i. e. courses that are required for entry into the discipline and have large enrollments by necessity, but not by design.  In such classes, course content is very often delivered in a traditional lecture format.  Yet a growing body of research over the past decade (see link below), in particular from the fields of cognitive psychology and education, has shown that other pedagogical approaches, sometimes in combination with technological innovations, can be significantly more effective than the traditional lecture format, evidenced by improved learning outcomes, retention, and student satisfaction.

For more information, and to learn about the application process and deadlines, please go to the Gateway Initiative page.

Open Classrooms: Visit a colleague's course and have a lunch on DCAL

We have a diversely talented teaching faculty at Dartmouth and we can learn a great deal from each other. DCAL will get this informal network started by setting up a system for visiting colleagues' classes, not for evaluation purposes, but for sharing and learning from each other.  We'd like to open windows into our courses and classrooms by making visiting simple and inspiring.

DCAL will support class visits by

  • offering recommendations for the process of planning visits
  • funding a luncheon for pairs of instructors who have completed a visit
  • scheduling an end-of-term luncheon discussion for participants in class visits

We want this process to be simple, unencumbered by elaborate evaluation schemes and rubrics, but we have supplied some recommendations and documents on our website that might help you make the most of your visit.

Please note that you need not schedule two visits, one for each participant's course, to qualify for the luncheon reimbursement. Each class visit qualifies both participants for a lunch on DCAL. Librarians, educational technologists and other staff who support learning at Dartmouth are also eligible as visitors, but you must arrange the visit with the course instructor.

For detailed information and procedures, please see

Dartmouth Centers Forum Theme for 2013-14: Body Politic(s): Health, Wellness, and Social Responsibility

Each academic year the DCF chooses a theme upon which to base its programming. The 2013-2014 Dartmouth Centers Forum theme is Body Politic(s): Health, Wellness, and Social Responsibility. Amidst a climate of global uncertainty, there is no more critical issue than taking care of ourselves and each other. From international dialogue to local organizing, the DCF looks to engage our entire community through this issue. 

Some questions that align with our theme:

  • How does one grapple with stark disparities in international health care?
  • What is our "bystander responsibility" when we see unhealthy behavior?
  • How does our political system impact our health and wellbeing?
  • Does caring about faraway health problems even make a difference?

DCAL is a member of the DCF and will highlight events related to the theme.  The DCF has created a focus for each term that will help students, staff, and faculty explore elements of the theme. For more information on these topic, see the Current Theme page.


Flipping the Classroom

How 'Flipping' the Classroom Can Improve the Traditional Lecture.  It may not have the gee-whiz factor of high-tech innovation, but changing expectations for what happens in class may prove to be a bigger advance in teaching.  Read more at The Chronicle of Higher Education website.

Worth Listening to or Reading

From American RadioWorks: "Don't Lecture Me" featuring Eric Mazur (Physics, Harvard) and Joe Redish (Physics, U Maryland) by Emily Hanford. We have known for years how ineffective even the best and most entertaining lectures are for student learning. Now you can hear that again right from the mouths of some of the best lecturers ever. Follow this link for detailed information, an mp3 link and a transcript.

From Faculty Focus (10-19-2011): "Grading Practices: Liabilities of the Points System," By Maryellen Weimer, PhD. Does grading really motivate learning or something else? Try this link.

Grants to Attend Conferences on Teaching and Learning

DCAL makes grants of up to $1000 to support attendance at conferences and programs devoted to the applicant’s professional development as a teacher. Please review the DCAL Mission statement before applying; these principles will guide the application approval process. Successful applicants will be asked to contribute to a DCAL professional development event in the year following the grant. First-time applicants are especially encouraged to apply for this opportunity to attend programs and conferences.

These funds are for travel, lodging, registration and other costs of participation. A faculty member in good standing may apply for one grant per fiscal year. To apply for a DCAL mini grant, please contact to request an application. The application must be completed and returned to DCAL for approval before the event. If you are approved for the grant, you will be required to submit original itemized receipts for reimbursement after the event has taken place.

Applications for events held during Dartmouth’s fall and winter terms should be received no later than November 1st; those for events held during spring and summer terms no later than March 16th.

Minimizing Disruptions to Your Courses Caused by Flu

Flu season has arrived.  For information about conducting classes during flu season, please visit our page on managing interruptions caused by flu.

Syllabus Template

A syllabus template is now available on the DCAL website. We hope that this template will give you some ideas and make developing a syllabus for your course a bit easier. Please modify the template as needed to make your own personal syllabus and let us know if you have comments/additions. was created by two social psychologists and professors who sought to offer a resource for faculty, staff, and students regarding stereotype threat. This website offers summaries of research on this topic and discusses unresolved issues and controversies in the research literature on the phenomenon. Included are some research-based suggestions for ameliorating negative consequences of stereotyping, particularly in academic settings.

Physics Professor Eric Mazur Switched from Lecturing to Active Learning

An excerpt from "Using the 'Beauties of Physics' to Conquer Science Illiteracy": A Conversation with Professor Eric Mazur of Harvard University (New York Times July 17).

Q. When you teach Physics 1b, do you give "fantastic performances?"

A. You know I've come to think of professional charisma as dangerous. I used to get fantastic evaluations because of charisma, not understanding. I'd have students give me high marks, but then say, "physics sucks." Today, by having the students work out the physics problems with each other, the learning gets done. I've moved from being "the sage on the stage" to "the guide on the side."

More News

Last Updated: 11/17/14