By Jose Herrera, April 27, 2021
According to the Center for the Advancement of Faculty Excellence, this year’s Wall of Celebrating Outstanding Opportunities for Learning four winning courses embody what it means to be innovative, student-enhancing and successful.
The Wall of COOL is an online resource that celebrates and recognizes Cal Poly Pomona faculty members whose courses use innovative teaching methods and contribute to student success.
This year’s winners are celebrating teaching methods in early child development, English, finance and kinesiology instruction.
These courses impacted students through innovative methods of teaching, that had to navigate through the virtual learning environment brought on by the global pandemic.
According to Richard Feldman, multimedia developer in the eLearning department, the selection process goes through three rounds of evaluation. The first round goes through CAFE, the second through student assistants and the last round is evaluated by past winners of the Wall of COOL.
“We score the different courses on how innovative they are, how good is the student engagement and we give important credit on the basics of good pedagogy,” Feldman said. “It gives us a chance to work with the faculty too. If some faculty aren’t selected, we provide feedback. We’ve had plenty of instances that they end up reapplying and winning the following year.”
This year, the Wall of COOL recognized a course taught collaboratively by three faculty members. Early Childhood Studies professors Eden Haywood-Bird and Giselle Navarro-Cruz and CPP Reference & Instruction Librarian Sally Romero were all recognized for their Early Childhood Clinical Practicum courses: ECS 4100/A & ECS 2100/A.
The courses involved students using Zoom for “Story Time” and provided different days and times for children and their families to tune in.
Navarro-Cruz explained that their course emphasized the innovative aspect of the award.
“We worked between two departments to create an approach to instruction that would support ECS students, young children and families in the community,” Navarro-Cruz said. “It provides an example of how to design a course that supports students learning, collaboration within departments and support for the community.”
Haywood-Bird added that the strong partnerships among colleagues and students’ willingness to embark on this experimental method of learning is what resulted in success.
Haywood-Bird said, “I think this award demonstrates that CPP students are nimble and flexible if faculty are there to support and guide.”
Romero believes the Early Childhood Studies Department is a prime example of what can be achieved when facing obstacles. In this case, they overcame students not being able to visit elementary schools for in-person interaction with children.
English and Modern Languages Professor Olga Griswold earned recognition this year for her Language and Society courses’ organization. Griswold sorts all of her students’ required material into Blackboard folders, breaks up her lectures into shorter videos and never sets weekend deadlines.
“I think what got me recognized is everything is well paced, and my entire course is consistent,” Griswold said. “I try to organize everything, and I learned a lot of it from CPP’s CAFE and eLearning department.”
Professor of Finance and Real Estate Ekaterina Chernobai was recognized for implementing a mode of teaching that even students who are not enrolled in her course have complimented.
Chernobai simplified the course material into a series of videos that can be found on
her Youtube channel. With her first video posted back in February 2018, her channel has since gained over 1,300 subscribers and garners anywhere from 300 to 2,300 views per video.
“I’ve gotten emails from random students reading, ‘Hey professor, I don’t have you for a class and, you don’t know me, but I passed my course because of your videos. Thank you so much,’” Chernobai said.
Chernobai explained that her videos thoroughly break lessons down step-by-step and that she animates and designs her PowerPoint slides from scratch.
Activity courses at CPP have felt the lack of face-to-face interaction the most. Despite this, faculty members like RoseAnn A’ Jontue, a lecturer in the Kinesiology & Health Promotion Department, found a way to give insightful lectures and content.
Jontue’s Stretching Activity course received praise by CAFE and students for taking a course that relies heavily on face-to-face interaction and making it successful online.
“When I would walk into my activity courses, I was the content, and now I had to put it on a screen,” Jontue said. “I have taken multiple workshops through CAFE, worked with people from Studio 6 and learned a lot in regard to design and Blackboard.”
For the 15 weeks her class would have met, she created 30 different items of content corresponding to each class meeting. Jontue provided physical activity in video form for the lesson, an explanation of the science behind the activity and an evaluation portion which consisted of a quiz.
Jontue also made efforts to maintain engagement with her students and would check in with them on how they were doing and how the course would help them.
“What the students wrote in the middle of the semester and end of the semester is what made me want to continue,” Jontue said. “A common theme was: ‘During this time this course helped me physically and mentally’ or ‘During this time this course saved me.’”
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