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Grades are Good for Students

–Guest column by Nicholas Aranda ’21

Cs & Ds get degrees—so goes the adage about college grades.  But most students carry with them deep anxiety, on-going anticipation, and determined dedication when it comes to grades, especially midterms.  Midterm grades provide students with an opportunity to reflect, revise, and adapt to the functions of academic life.  Knowing their midterm grade is a benefit to students, and not knowing their grade is certain to give any student cause for concern; however, some students are impacted more than others when grades are late, not posted, or rarely updated—these students, like first generation students and those on performance-based scholarships, depend on grade information to maintain good academic standing.

Around midterm week, I check my grades like clockwork.  Prior to midterms, checking my grades in Worldclass allows me crucial insight to gauge the levels of focus, energy, and dedication I need to allot to each of my courses.   However, when a professor fails to update Worldclass, or misses the deadline for posting midterm grades altogether, a looming anxiety sets in: I am unsure of my standing, my performance, where I need to improve, or what I am doing well.  In short, I am unsure how to navigate my combined schedule and divide my intellectual capital when a professor neglects to post grades.   

Even if professors post a midterm-grade in Webadvisor, if that professor does not routinely update the Worldclass gradebook, I am still unsure about how to interpret my grade.  A midterm grade of B or C can confuse students who can’t check daily grades, weekly assignments, and test/exam scores to better understand how that midterm grade was calculated.  Put another way, midterm or final grades are just as inscrutable and worrisome as non-posted grades if I don’t understand how to interpret my grade.

Like myself, many students rely on updated grades to determine how best to navigate and balance coursework, extracurriculars, student-involvement, family-life, jobs, and private concerns.  Faced with these challenges, first-year and first-generation students are more likely than their seasoned peers to have trouble deciding what to prioritize. This has a counter-intuitive effect on student wellness and student academic performance: anxiety about grades is unlikely to result in better academic performance, in fact—it’s likely to hinder it.

This should be a concern for professors also.  I am more likely to improve in-between assignments when I am able to make changes to my work based on faculty-posted grades.  Posted-grades allow me the power to ask questions, seek tips for improvement, and compare notes with my peers.  Keeping an accurate gradebook ensures that faculty are getting the most thoughtful and capable work from their students.

If professors maintain course gradebooks, students will be better able to divide their emotional labor, improve their academic performance, and focus their energies to navigate the college-experience successfully.

Need help with Worldclass Gradebook? Nicole Marcisz from ID&T has prepared this handy guide: D2L_Gradebook

Zoom in for class on snow and flu days

On Monday, before it snowed enough to close campus, I ran in to a faculty colleague in Clarke hall. We commiserated about the weather for a few minutes, and then she lamented that several of her students had contacted her saying they couldn’t make it to class due to the snow.

It was snowing.

“I choose to believe them,” she said, a choice I fully support. But that doesn’t have to be the end of class for those snow-bound students. We often think about zoom as a tool for online courses, but zoom can work very effectively for synchronous, on-campus classes as well.

Last spring, in fact, I gave a workshop in which half the participants were in a room with me, and the other half were participating online, through zoom. Zoom allowed me to share informational slides with both groups, and even let me put the online participants into small groups, just as I was did with the in-person participants. Zoom even has a whiteboard option.

To get started, you will need:
Access to the internet and a camera, microphone, and speakers. When I facilitated the workshop, I just used my laptop and connected it to the classroom projector.

A zoom account. You can create a free account at Or you can request a pro account from ITS using their ticket system.

Note that with a free account, your group session is limited to 40 minutes. That does not have to be a drawback in a longer class. Just let everybody take a 5 minute break, end your meeting, and then ask the online participants to sign in again. The 5 minute break will also help your students retain information.

You also need Nicole Marcisz’s Booklet on using zoom. Nicole is an Instructional Designer in ID&T and has developed this booklet to help faculty adopt zoom.

One additional useful tool is the Personal Meeting Room ID, which can sometimes be more convenient than scheduling individual meetings.

So the next time the weather (or a flu epidemic) makes it difficult for your students to get to class, consider using zoom.
Better yet, consider it ahead of time and plan accordingly.

–Your friendly, neighborhood CETL Director.

Thank a Teacher (or librarian, tutor, coach, advisor. . . )

I wanted to send my own thank you–to MarCom for helping spread the word about the Thank a Teacher program.

So far, we have collected and distributed well over 200 thank you notes, and we still have not finished recording the piles. With MarCom’s help, the word got out to some of our online and graduate students as well.

Interestingly, one person submitted a note, but did not write down a recipient. So I hope all of you take this anonymous, unknown thank you note as your own:

Picture of handwritten thank you note that reads: Thank you for always helping me with any questions I have had and always making sure I always knew what to do in class.

And again, thank you for all you do for Regis students.

Now that email is back. . .

When I ask faculty about what resources they most need, the two most common responses are time and money. While I don’t have extra funds and I can’t offer you a time-turner, I can share some best-of-the-web suggestions for taming the least satisfying time-consumer in our lives: email.
And since cybergeddon imposed an email hiatus on us, this is a good time to establish good email hygiene–before your inbox becomes unmanageable again.

1. Set a Schedule

Schedule a time each day to manage your email and honor your schedule. Think of your email schedule like office hours: you set a block of time once or twice a day to respond to your email and let people know. Resist the urge to constantly check email outside of that timeframe. You can even post your email availability in your signature:

Shannon L. Reed, Ph.D. (pronouns: Any, said with respect)
Professor and Director, Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning
Office of the Provost
(303) 964-XXXX | |
I respond to emails every weekday 9:00-10:00 AM and 4:00-5:00PM

2. Open it Once

If you don’t have time to respond to your email, don’t open it. Instead, wait until you have time, and then respond, delete, or save.

Respond: If you can, keep your emails brief. If the email requires a long answer, it is probably better to pick up the phone (Hey! they work now!) or schedule a meeting.

Delete: This is hard, but it can be done. If you really do not need to respond, and if you really are not going to take action, just delete the message.

Save: Outlook allows you to save email messages as appointments, files, tasks, and it also allows you to flag messages for follow-up.

3. Use Outlook Efficiently

There are some useful shortcuts that can make managing email faster and easier. In Outlook you can drag and drop messages into your calendar, attachments into your email message, and one email into another.

Check out 6 Best Outlook Hacks You Need to Know in 2019 and
Top 10 Microsoft Tips to Maximize Efficiency.

4. Use the 5 Sentence Rule

Make a policy that all of your emails will be 5 sentences or less. The site offers a tagline to add to your emails.

5. Be an Email Ninja

These guidelines for being an email ninja can also help you tame your inbox and reclaim your time.

A last comment on emailing students

Of course it can be much harder to follow this advice when emailing students. It might be easy to delete an email from your department chair or from your friendly, neighborhood CETL Director, but it is harder to keep a schedule and to be brief when students email us in a panic or with lengthy questions about assignments or grades. In those cases, if you need to craft a long email, consider whether it might be better for them and more efficient for you to set up a meeting to talk, in person if possible, or by zoom or phone if not.

Ultimately, managing email can be a form of mindful self care. Set boundaries, give yourself permission to take breaks and to delete messages, and honor your commitments to your own time.


Color Me Happy

Self-care for the Tech-less

J o i n u s f o r C o l o r i n g i n t h e L i b r a r y F i r e p l a c e
l o u n g e : C o l o r s a n d P e n s P r o v i d e d !

Tuesday, September 17 – Thursday September 19

9 AM – 4 PM

(Snacks and Ice Cream Available intermittently)

Words of Wisdom for Surviving the “Incident”

Guest column by Lynetta Mier

Things I have learned during week 3 of limited technology at work.

1) Email is a crutch and we should all use it less. In fact, I would be ok if it never returned into my life.
2) I need research. At one point in my career I was burnt out from laboratory work. Now, research is energizing once again. It’s really hard to be denied time in the lab and exploring data with students indefinitely.
3) Teaching is easy with limited technology. In fact, I may be better in the classroom due to the limited technology. Limiting distractions and keeping my focus is key to enjoying myself in the classroom.
4) I like the spontaneous conversations with colleagues that the lack of email has brought about. I need to remember to leave my office more frequently.
5) Backing up files in multiple ways is very important. My job is doable because I did not rely on campus resources for my only file storage system. Without access to my files, I would be much much more tired and much angrier.

Open Classroom Week is Coming: September 23-26

Stay tuned for a schedule of in-person and online classes that will be open for faculty visitors during the week of September 23-26.

Open Classroom Week provides opportunities for faculty to visit one another’s classes–online and face-to-face. During this week, a number of Regis faculty will open their classrooms to their colleagues, creating opportunities for conversations about teaching and learning across disciplines. This week is a great opportunity to explore new pedagogies, check out technologies and materials, and reflect on our own practices.

Teaching WITHOUT Technology

Wondering what to do without your powerpoint files? You can ask the students to come up with the content—and the questions. Here are some suggestions:

Concept Mapping.

Ask students to get in small groups and create concept maps of the content they are supposed to learn for the day (on big sheets of paper, or using Padlet or Ask them to share their concept maps with one another and identify gaps or areas of questions.

For more information on concept mapping:

Group Brainstorming.

Group students in 4-5s

Each group gets chart paper and a felt pen


1. Brainstorm everything you know about… (course, concept etc) on a large sheet of paper

2. Get up and view all the other groups ideas. You can add ideas that you did not list on your sheet. (faculty also reads)

3. Add anything else to your list. 

4. Flip the paper and now create X number of questions you have about (course, concept etc.)

5. Get up and view all the other questions. Find a question to which you don’t know the answer. Stay at that paper. (faculty also reads)

Have a few students read out a question and ask the students to answer. (Ideally there will be different answers, depending on the topic) 

This could be preparation for a quiz, a formative assessment of student learning, or a baseline for faculty to get a sense of students’ attitude, knowledge or skills. It could also be used to start an in depth discussion on one of the questions. 

Flipping your lesson with dice.

Prepare a stack of content-related questions prior to class. Sort the questions by level of difficulty. Then, during class, ask each group to roll a die. The number they roll corresponds to the question their group must answer. For example, if they roll a 1, then they get a level 1 or “easy” question. If they roll a 6, then they get a level 6 or “very challenging” question.

More information on active learning strategies for the flipped classroom:

Library & Information Services Alternative-tech Solutions

UPDATE: The Library’s website is up. They have information about open access resources and a phone number for faculty on their website:

Due to the cyberattack, many Regis Library resources and services are unavailable at this time. Please know that the faculty and staff of the Regis Library are on-site at the Dayton Memorial Library on the Northwest Campus ready to assist patrons. Patrons can access print journals, magazines, and newspapers on site, and can check out books from our collection. In addition, the Regis Library recommends the following online resources to help satisfy your information needs during this disruption in service:

Local Public Library Systems: you can access online databases, submit Prospector book requests, and place interlibrary loan requests after successfully creating an account with either system listed below. Please note that you will need to abide by the rules and policies associated with the library system whose services you access. 

Denver Public Library – Any Colorado resident or student in-state attending a Colorado college or university may obtain a free Denver Public Library Card.

Jefferson County Public Library: – Your ID doesn’t need to list a CO address, but new registrants must have an address in Colorado. Closest branch libraries are located in Arvada, Wheatridge, and Edgewater.

Public databases and search engines: the search engines and database listed below allow researchers to search for and identify journal articles and academic publications. However, options to access the full-text document may be limited in some instances. When full-text is not available, try using the interlibrary loan service from one of the public library systems listed above.

Directory of Open Access Journals: DOAJ is an online directory that indexes and provides access to quality open access, peer-reviewed journals.Given that all journals listed in the directory are open access, users should expect to be able to access the full-text document for any article that appears in one of the journals listed. a product from Cornell University, provides open access to 1,583,147 e-prints in the fields of physics, mathematics, computer science, quantitative biology, quantitative finance, statistics, electrical engineering and systems science, and economics.

Google Scholar: apublic search engine specific to academic publications. When available, look for links to the full-text document on the right hand side of the search results page.

ERIC (Education Resources Information Center): a public database from the US Department of Education. The database indexes a wide range of academic journals related to the field of education and publications from the US Department of Education.

PubMed: a public database that comprises more than 30 million citations for biomedical literature from the MEDLINE database, life science journals, and online books. Citations may include links to full-text content from PubMed Central and publisher web sites (often paywalled).

University repositories: many colleges and universities archive faculty publications in open online institutional repositories. Examples include the DASH (Digital Access to Scholarship at Harvard), DSpace@MIT, and the Knowledge@UChicago repositories. A good way to search for and identify university repositories is to limit your Google search to the .edu domain, as in this example (notice the use of the site: .edu limit to narrow the scope of the search to academic sites). You may wish to also consult the list of open access disciplinary specific archives listed on the Open Access Directory project from Simmons University.

How to get along without your university’s LMS and other tech tools.

28 August 2019, Dropbox, Google Drive and Google Docs–all of these are useful tools for teaching. But they also carry some responsibilities for ensuring we protect students’ data and their right to privacy. There are two relevant policies: GDPR and FERPA.

To be in compliance with FERPA:

What you CAN do:

1. You can share files and reading materials with students through DropBox or Google Drive.

2. You can ask students to turn in assignments using DropBox. The file request feature allows students to send you files without sharing their work with other students.

Please Don’t do any of these:

1. Send any student grade information through text or private email.

2. Discuss students with colleagues via text or private email.

3. Ask students to publicly share any information that might reveal their grades, their location, their course enrollment or schedule, and other personal academic information.

To be in compliance with GDPR:

1. Ask for your students’ consent to collect their data. For example, if you are asking students to provide you with their personal email address or phone number so that you can add them to a shared Google folder or a platform like, ask for their consent first. Keep in mind that some of these platforms allow students to sign up or access information without giving you their personal information. If students do not want to share their personal email, you might encourage them to create a free email account (gmail, yahoo, etc) just for use at school.

2. If you collected students’ email addresses or other personal contact information (separate from university systems like Worldclass or Webadvisor), make sure you permanently delete all of the student data you have collected at the end of the term.

Please also keep equity and accessibility in mind:

Some of our students do not have smart phones or data plans. Those students have no easy way of accessing the internet right now. If you are distributing materials or collecting assignments electronically, please be sure to include additional options for those students.

If you have questions about making sure your electronic materials are accessible, you can contact CETL at

Use the Discussion space below to share how you’re teaching without technology!

Alice Cassidy's In View Educational Development

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