New CTL Workshop:  WTF:  Way(s) to Fail

Are your students paralyzed by being wrong? Do they not take risks in the classroom for fear of getting a bad grade? The science of learning tells us that we learn best from our mistakes. How can we develop a culture of supportive failure for our students to enhance their learning?

Please join the CTL for a virtual workshop on embracing the pedagogy of failure in your classroom, WTF:  Way(s) to Fail. This interactive workshop will be led by Lydia Eckstein, Amelia Finaret and Lisa Whitenack of Allegheny College on Wednesday, March 20 at 4:00 pm (Eastern).

The goal of this workshop is to offer specific strategies for incorporating failure into teaching, course activities and mentoring. In advance of the workshop, please identify a particular course in which you already incorporate elements of a pedagogy of failure or in which you want to try it.  At the end of this workshop, you will have actionable strategies to incorporate some of these practices into your specific class. Here is a brief primer to prepare you for this engaging workshop: WTF: Way(s) To Fail! A Primer (or read the full article: Teaching the Inevitable: Embracing a Pedagogy of Failure).

Sign up here for this online event (a Zoom link will be sent the day before). 

[Note: you might also be interested in the “Instructional Ecology” podcast out of Midlands Technical College in South Carolina. Their 4th season is all about “Facing Failure,” seeing failure as a crucial part of learning to learn. You may also want to check out their guide for sharing “failure stories” with students.]

Teaching and Learning

Questions in Class, Covert Retrieval, and Cold Calling (Megan Sumeracki, Learning Scientists, February 22, 2024): The author reports on an experiment she conducted with one of her students that indicated the benefits of asking questions during class and having students covertly retrieve via cold calling.

Gluing Higher Ed Back Together (Phyllis Worthy Dawkins, et al, Inside Higher Ed, February 22, 2024): Nine members of the National Learning Community Collaborative argue that now is the time to invest in learning communities.

Questioning as a Foundation for Pedagogy (Nupur Samuel and Anna CohenMiller (Inside Higher Ed, February 22, 2024): Asking questions about teaching practices can help embed equity, inclusion and justice into the curriculum.

Teaching Excellence Through Mindful Reflection (Shawn R. Simonson, Megan Frary, and Brittnee Earl, Faculty Focus, February 21, 2024): Reflective teaching is examining one’s beliefs about teaching and learning, thinking critically about one’s teaching to find evidence of effective teaching as well as identifying potential areas for improvement.

Building Community, Collaborative, and Cognitive Classroom Culture (Courtney Plotts, Faculty Focus, February 19, 2024): The ACCCE (Academic, Collaborative, Cognitive, Community, and Ethnic and Intersectional Culture) model is a framework for applying culturally responsive teaching practices for meaningful learning outcomes.

Teaching Students How to Study (Stephen L. Chew, Teaching Professor, January 16, 2024): A good overview on the topic. (Thanks to Lew Ludwig’s weekly “Tuesday Teaching, Tech & Tidbit” for the tip.

Evaluating Teaching

Evaluating Teaching: Can We Get Beyond the Banality of SETs? (Steven Volk, After Class, February 20, 2024): SETs (student evaluations of teaching) are fairly well known not just for their biases, but for their general uselessness. Some suggestions for revising how we evaluate teaching indicate that they aren’t about the numbers, but about the possibility of continuous improvement of teaching and learning.

‘A Culture of Fear and of Pandering’: What Readers Told Us About Teaching Evaluations (Beth McMurtrie, Chronicle of Higher Education, February 21, 2024): Instructors find them marginally useful at best. Administrators say they help identify outliers.

More on Generative AI

What Psychologists Need to Know About the Evolution of Generative AI (Zara Abrams, American Psychological Association Trends, January 1, 2024): Psychologists are exploring how this new technology can simplify or amplify their efforts—and leading the charge to bring behavioral insights into the creation and deployment of generative AI tools

Free Speech and Academic Freedom

Indiana University Is Where Academic Freedom Goes to Die (Alex Lichtenstein, Chronicle of Higher Education, February 22, 2024): Hypocritical admins tout free speech even as they censor a Palestinian artist.

Indiana Bill Threatens Faculty Members Who Don’t Provide ‘Intellectual Diversity’ (Ryan Quinn, Inside Higher Ed, February 21, 2024): One critic says a bill passed by the state Senate would mandate “a system of surveillance and political scrutiny.”

College Leaders Crack Down on Student Protests (Jessica Blake, Inside Higher Ed, February 19, 2024): MIT, Stanford and Brown have taken tougher steps to restrict and punish student protesters, prompting criticism by free speech advocates and the demonstrators themselves.

Harvard Last in Free Speech? Don’t Trust FIRE’s Rankings (Ryan D. Enos, Chronicle of Higher Education, February 16, 2024): The claim that Harvard is last in free speech is based on an arbitrary and misleading methodology from FIRE’s free-speech rankings which make sense only if you are interested in generating headlines by criticizing America’s most prominent colleges.

Hidden Cameras Aim to Expose DEI Efforts in Texas Colleges Despite Ban (Marcela Rodrigues, The Dallas Morning News, February 15, 2024): What happens when it becomes illegal to talk about diversity.

Indoctrination, Self-Censorship, and Other Charges Against Higher Ed

What Is ‘Indoctrination,’ Anyway? (Julie A. Reuben, Chronicle of Higher Education, February 20, 2024): Bringing politics into the classroom isn’t necessarily wrong. [Read along with Is “Indoctrination” Even Possible? (Timothy Burke, Eight by Seven, February 22, 2024): The idea of trying to be some kind of scrupulously neutral figure who never even hints at their working point-of-view on any issue is synonymous with being a bad teacher—you are surrendering a vast range of possible connections and tensions that would be highly productive if you carried them with you.]

How Bad Is Academic Censorship, Really? (Shai M. Dromi and Samuel D. Stabler, Chronicle of Higher Education, February 20, 2024): Not so bad…really.

Extra Credit Reading

Does the SAT Really Help Colleges Find ‘Diamonds in the Rough’? (Francie Diep, Chronicle of Higher Education, February 22, 2024): Some elite colleges say it does, but not everyone is so sure. [Read along with Yale to Require Standardized Test Scores for Admissions (Stephanie Saul, New York Times, February 22, 2024): Officials said test-optional policies might have harmed students from lower-income families.]

Does Higher Ed Lead to a Living Wage? It Depends (Katherine Knott, Inside Higher Ed, February 21, 2024): About 71 percent of for-profit colleges failed to pass the high school earnings threshold (150% of the poverty line), compared with 14 percent of public institutions and only 9 percent of private nonprofits.

Why Most Educated People in America Fall for Anti-Semitic Lies (Dara Horn, The Atlantic, February 15, 2024): At Harvard and elsewhere, an old falsehood is capturing new minds. [For the House Republicans’ escalating battle against Harvard, see: House Committee Subpoenas Harvard Leadership (Emma H. Haidar and Cam E. Kettles, Harvard Crimson, February 16, 2024), and House GOP Hits Penny Pritzker and 2 Others with Subpoenas in Harvard (Bianca Quilantan, Politico, February 16, 2024). Higher education experts say the unprecedented action should put other institutions on notice as congressional Republicans flex their muscles overseeing colleges and universities. And, while you’re in the mood, you might want to read Jewish Identity With and Without Zionism (Gideon Lewis-Kraus, The New Yorker, February 15, 2024), discussing new books on histories of the conflicts among Jews over Israel.]


“The Future of Writing: Creating the Playbook for Human-AI Colaboration” (February 28, 1:00 PM ET). Sponsored by Grammarly for Education and Higher Ed Drive.  What role should writing play in student learning across the curriculum? Which aspects of effective writing need to be preserved for human effort vs. left to AI, if anything? How can human writers of all varieties find the optimal balance between human effort and AI effort in their writing? Register here.

“Keeping Low-Income Learners on Track” (February 29, 2:00 PM ET). A Chronicle of Higher Education virtual forum on learning strategies for supporting low-income students and improving retention rates on campus. Register here.

“Building Civil Campus Conversations” (March 5, 2:00 PM ET). Controversial speakers or protest can lead to conflict on campus. A Chronicle of Higher Education webinar discussing ways to de-escalate controversy and promote inclusivity. Register here.

“The New Landscape in Higher Education”: A Conversation with Dr. Mary Wright and Other Higher Ed Leaders on the Future of Educational Development (March 13, 3:00-4:30 ET). A panel will discuss Wright’s book, Centers for Teaching and Learning: The New Landscape in Higher Education. Register here. 

On the Bookshelf

Andrew Pettegree, The Book at War: How Reading Shaped Conflict And Conflict Shaped Reading (Basic). Claudia Roth Pierpont has written a wonderful article based on Pettegree’s book and other similar studies at the New Yorker (From Homer to Gaza, The History of Books in Wartime, February 19, 2024).

Have a short article or some news related to teaching and learning at your institution that you’d like to share with colleagues? Send your contribution along to us. Also, please email Colleen Monahan Smith ( if you have colleagues who would like to receive this weekly report.

Steven Volk (, Editor

GLCA/GLAA Consortium for Teaching and Learning
   Lew Ludwig (
Colleen Monahan Smith (

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