on faculty - Faculty Center

a newsletter for those who teach
at brigham young university
Volume 13, No. 2 • Spring/Summer 2005
o n f a c u l t y
brigham young university faculty center
communities of practice
reading strategies
ferpa for faculty
to improve the university
meaningful maxims
the ordinary elements of
scholarly excellence
Kelly Patterson (Political Science)
[At the recent Spring Seminar sponsored by the Faculty Center, Kelly Patterson reflected
on an article about Olympic swimmers and achieving excellence in scholarship. Olympic
swimmers? Research? Writing? Publishing? Read on. —Ed.]
In a thought-provoking article,1 Daniel F. Chambliss examines some of the features that
separate Olympic swimmers from swimmers at lower competitive levels. He outlines
what he calls “quantitative and qualitative differentiation.”
A quantitative differentiation simply means doing more of something. A qualitative
differentiation pertains to what is actually being done. Chambilss found that Olympic
swimmers spend about as much time training as do non-Olympic swimmers. However,
the Olympic swimmers are qualitatively different in a few areas like technique (e.g., they
spend more time honing it); discipline (e.g., they schedule practices, they attend those
practices faithfully); and attitude (they genuinely like what they are doing). He notes
that “athletes move up to the top ranks through qualitative jumps: noticeable changes in
their techniques, discipline, and attitude” (73–75).
Therefore the lesson, I believe, for us as scholars—and Chambliss points this
out—is that the number of hours we work on our scholarship will not necessarily result
in dramatic improvements without some change in our qualitative habits (74–75).
Get feedback. One of the most important qualitative habits scholars can develop is
showing their work to others. As you pursue your scholarly career at BYU, actively seek
out criticism of your work. Show your work to colleagues in your department and college
(or send it to colleagues at other schools). Nothing creates improvements in your work
better than feedback from others.
Be engaged. Rubbing shoulders with individuals who do excellent work will improve
your own. Consider helping to create an academic and intellectual environment in your
department by suggesting visitors you’d like to come to campus. When visiting scholars
come, be sure to spend time with them. Make time to read their papers—if not to learn
their theories and findings, then to assess their methods. This ability to engage ideas and
methods and to critique and evaluate research design will make you more self-critical of
your own work.
4450 Wilkinson Student Center
Provo, UT 84602-2700
(801) 422-7419
Find department support. You do not need to work toward excellence alone.
Engage your department chair and colleagues in discussions of what excellence is and
how it is routinely recognized in the department. Ask your chair specifically what kinds
of resources exist to help you achieve that excellence. Although I cannot speak for current administrators, my greatest delight in my six years as chair was seeing junior faculty
succeed. I cannot remember even 1 percent of the memos I wrote during my time as
chair, but I can tell you much about the junior faculty I mentored, including details of
their publications.
Fax (801) 422-0223
[email protected]
Editor: [email protected]
(continued on page 2)
Stay connected. Stay connected to your disciplines
and to the important debates and methods they are
examining. At BYU we can easily get distracted by a
series of other responsibilities, concerns, and worries.
Nevertheless you can succeed. Faculty members here
are doing it. You know who they are. They are eager
to talk about their research and ideas. They are a little
less connected to the gossip in the department. They
are your exemplars, your mentors. They can model for
you the “ordinary elements of scholarly excellence” that
can result in extraordinary success. Now is the time to
launch the scholarly dimensions of your careers and to
ingrain the habits of good scholarship in your daily routine.
Seek divine guidance. Finally—and I know that
this point is obvious to most of you—do not be afraid to
ask for help from your Heavenly Father (see Alma 34:24–
25). I sincerely believe that we merit such help and
inspiration. If we seek this help to move our disciplines
forward, to bless the lives of our students, or to enhance
the university, then I know we will receive it.
To summarize the major point: You can achieve
excellence in scholarship. You do not need to spend
10 hours a day on it (although there will be times).
I do, however, encourage you to make the pursuit of
excellence in scholarship a part of something you do
everyday. The qualitative improvements you can make
do matter. In the words of Chambliss, “Excellence is
mundane. Excellence is accomplished through the
doing of actions, ordinary in themselves, performed
consistently and carefully, habitualized, compounded
together, added up over time” (85).
1. “The Mundanity of Excellence: An Ethnographic
Report on Stratification in Olympic Swimmers”
(Sociological Theory, 1989, 70–86).
focus on faculty spring/summer 2005
communities of practice
The Faculty Center provides logistical support for and
facilitates interdisciplinary “communities of practice”
seeking to improve teaching and learning, pursue a
particular interest, or explore collaborative possibilities.
Recently the Faculty Center has worked with a community of practice focused on service-learning. Among
other projects, this group is compiling materials to be
posted on the Faculty Center Web site. Those interested
in this service-learning community of practice may contact [email protected], [email protected], or
[email protected]
Others wanting to form a community of practice
may contact [email protected] Another community is in the formation stage. Tim Gardner (Marriott
School) invites BYU colleagues to join the Faculty
“Classics” Book Club.
The primary purpose of the Faculty “Classics” Book
Club is to bring together BYU faculty from various disciplines to read and discuss classic literature, which may
include anything from The Iliad to The Adventures of
Huckleberry Finn to “wannabe classics” like the recently
published Brick Lane: A Novel.
A secondary purpose of the book club is to promote
networking among faculty members in different departments and colleges. The book club will meet monthly
beginning October 6th.
Come to the initial meeting to get acquainted, set
ground rules, and plan future meetings. Also, please
bring a list of books you consider “classics” that you’d
like the group to consider reading together. For more
information, contact Tim Gardner at [email protected]
or 422-1484. First meeting details:
Thursday, October 6th, 11:30 a.m.–1:00 p.m.
Faculty Center Conference Room, 4450 WSC
Bring a brown-bag lunch; drinks provided.
intro to “strategies. . .” (p. 3)
On the following page is a useful resource, “Reading
Strategies to Increase Learning.” Most BYU faculty
would like their students to increase their abilities to
“read for learning.” With that goal in mind, page 3
is designed to be photocopied for distribution to students. These reading strategies were compiled from
materials from the University of Manitoba Student
Resource Services, with input from BYU Associate
Professor Nancy Christiansen (English.)
reading strategies to increase learning
1. A
ccess prior knowledge by asking yourself, “What do I already know about this topic?”
2. S et a purpose for your reading by asking yourself, “What are my reasons for reading this (building up background
knowledge, preparing for an exam, writing a paper)?”
3. M
atch your purpose with a specific reading strategy such as:
• Skimming to get the gist of the material
• Reading for main ideas
• Finding the central argument (i.e., position and evidence for position)
• Evaluating the argument
• Memorizing details
4. B
efore reading the actual assignment, enhance learning by:
• Reading the introduction
• Reading the table of contents
• Reading each major heading
• Reading the first sentence after the heading
• Reading the graphs, charts, and illustrations
• Reading the summary
• Noting if there is an index
5. F
ormulate questions to guide your reading by turning headings, subheadings, theses, or topic sentences into questions.
Also ask, “What are the writer’s purposes?” “What are the reasons and evidences for the writer’s conclusions?”
6. Read actively by:
• Underlining and marking your text (unless you’re using a library book!)
• Answering guide questions
• Outlining
• Taking notes
7. M
onitor your comprehension continually and avoid difficulties by:
• Slowing down
• Reading aloud
• Rephrasing in your own words
• Looking for missing pieces
• Putting all the concepts together
• Taking a break
8. P
ut the ideas from the text into your own words by reciting
aloud and/or making notes/explaining concepts to yourself or
9. Review by:
• Summarizing
• Concept mapping (e.g., drawing diagrams to illustrate
the relationship of concepts)
• Answering hypothetical test questions
10. A
pply what you have read by asking yourself, “How does this relate to other topics in this course or in other courses?”
“How does this relate to my life?”
3 focus on faculty spring/summer 2005
protecting students’ academic privacy
The first batch of midterms has come and gone, and
now you’re ready to return your students’ term papers.
Although it would be easy to put the graded papers in a
box outside your office, you know there are guidelines for
student privacy and you want to follow them. So can you
put the graded papers in a box outside your office or not?
The answer is no, not according to FERPA, the Family
Educational Rights and Privacy Act.
What is FERPA, anyway? FERPA is a federal statute
enacted by Congress in 1974. It is designed to assure
students’ access to their own educational records and
to protect their privacy. FERPA’s complexity can be a
bit daunting, but if you can navigate some legalese, this
article will be helpful in understanding your responsibilities related to FERPA.
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act
(FERPA) prohibits disclosure of educational records or
personally identifiable information without the express
consent of the student.
But what does it mean to you as a teacher at BYU?
The following FAQs may be helpful.
In the Classroom and Course
Q. May I leave graded work outside my office for
students to pick up?
A. No. It is a FERPA violation to leave graded
work where others can view it or to return graded
work by having someone other than the student pick
it up. For example, you cannot allow students to search
through a stack of other students’ graded papers to find
their own or to pick up work for another student.
What CAN I do with students’ graded work?
There are several options for returning student
work. Here are a few ideas:
• At the beginning of the semester, students
can sign a form allowing work to be
returned in a common box. (Students who
opt out of this arrangement would need
another process to retrieve their work.)
• Students can submit their work in an envelope labeled with only their name. The
instructor can seal confidential information (e.g., the work with the grade and the
teacher’s comments) inside this envelope
and leave it out for students to retrieve.
• A secretary or another department worker
can return papers from a common stack,
provided no student sees another’s graded
material in the stack.
4 focus on faculty spring/summer 2005
• Handing back work during class is appropriate as well, provided no student sees
another’s grade.
• Assignments, term papers, etc., submitted
through the Internet can be graded and
easily returned confidentially through the
Q. May I post students’ scores or grades?
A. No, you may not post scores or grades in such
a way that any student’s individual performance can
be identified by a third party. You cannot post scores by
name, Social Security number, or student ID number.
What CAN I do?
You may post scores and grades by using a PIN or
code created especially for your class and known only
to the student and you, the instructor. However, even
this may be problematic in a small class or under other
circumstances in which a third party might easily match
a student to a grade. For example, even posting grades or
scores by PIN but in alphabetical order is inappropriate
because it would be easy for someone to match a student
to a grade. (That is, everyone would know that Alicia
Alvarez’s grade was first on the list and that Zachariah
Zimmerman’s grade was last.)
Q. May students evaluate each other’s work in
A. Yes, students may evaluate each other’s work
in class as long as it has not yet been graded by the
Before continuing, two common terms in FERPAspeak (“directory information” and “non-directory information”) need explanation. BYU has a list of directory
information—that is, information that can be released
without student consent. Directory information may
be provided to others. It includes but is not limited to
the following:
student’s name
e-mail address
place of birth
major and/or minor
dates of attendance
class standing (sophomore, graduate student, etc.)
degrees received, etc.
Non-directory information, on the other hand,
cannot be released to the public without prior student
consent. Anything not included in directory information
(e.g., grades) is considered non-directory information and
cannot be released without the student’s written permission.
For a complete list of what is included in directory
information, visit http://saas.byu.edu/catalog/20052006ucat/graderec.aspx and scroll down to Access to
Educational Records—FERPA.
Q. May I use student work as an example for others?
A. You may not disclose a student’s non-directory information in any public setting without the
student’s express written consent. For example, you
cannot use a student’s work as an example in class if
doing so would reveal the student’s name or grade on
the work. If the work does not have a name or a grade,
it may be used as an example. Also, you may not use
one student’s application form as an example in showing
other students how to fill out the form.
teachers/employers to communicate their opinions
of a student’s performance, personal traits, etc. (e.g.,
punctuality, creativity).
Parental Rights
Q. May I talk to another faculty member about a
student’s work?
A. You may discuss a student’s non-directory
information with another faculty member as long as
there is a legitimate “need to know.” If discussing a
student and his or her work is necessary for the faculty
members to perform their jobs (e.g., discussing how to
help a common student who is failing), then it is
permissible to do so.
Q. What are a student’s parents entitled to know?
A. Parents do not automatically have rights to
university students’ educational records unless they
have written consent. Parents must have a signed
release from the student to access any educational
information, including progress in a course.
Can educational information ever be released to
a parent or family member without a signed release?
If the student is a dependent, the parent must show
a copy of last year’s tax forms claiming the student as
a dependent and fill out a form (Dependency Exception
Under FERPA, available in the BYU Records Office) to
gain access to the student’s educational record. The
form then becomes part of the student’s academic file.
[Note: A spouse or any other person can only have
access to a student’s record if the student has signed a
written release; this includes a family member acting on
the student’s behalf when the student is on a mission,
doing Study Abroad, etc.]
Letters of Recommendation
Q. How does FERPA affect my writing of letters of
recommendation for students?
A. If the letter of recommendation is to include
any non-directory information (see p. 4), the
student must give written permission. This written
permission must include what information the student
is releasing, who has permission to release the information, to whom the information should be released,
and why the student is allowing the information to be
released, along with a date and the student’s signature.
Note: If the recommendation will not include protected
(non-directory) information, no written permission
is needed. Neither is written permission required for
In summary, despite FERPA’s detailed recitation
of rights and sanctions, it is student-friendly, legally
necessary, and very important for ethical good practice
in higher education. FERPA assists the university in
respecting students’ privacy by providing specific guidelines about when teachers (and others) can and can’t,
should and shouldn’t share information about students
and their academic work.
If you have questions regarding FERPA and its
implications for you and your students, contact Jearlene
Leishman ([email protected]) at the Records Office,
B-150 ASB, 422-4530, or visit http://saas.byu.edu/depts/
focus on faculty spring/summer 2005 5
to improve the universit y
meaningful maxims on teaching and learning
After more than 30 years of teaching, Professor Terry Olson (School of Family Life; former Assoc. Director of the Faculty Center) has
gained valuable insights about building quality student-teacher relationships and creating an inviting learning atmosphere in the classroom. Here are some aphorisms he has developed that reflect his ideas on teaching and learning. —Ed.
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invites your written response or any short piece on other topics of interest that will improve the
university. Submissions (up to 500 words) should be sent no later than Friday, August 19, 2005 to Lynn
Sorenson, Editor, focus on faculty, [email protected]
focus on faculty is an occasional newsletter
­published by the Faculty Center for all teachers at
Brigham Young University (full- and part-time faculty, student instructors, and teaching assistants).
Its ­purpose is to serve as a medium for exchanging
ideas about teaching and scholarship and for sharing information about faculty development activities. Editor Lynn Sorenson welcomes your ideas,
­contributions, and comments. Past issues of focus
on ­faculty are available in PDF format at www.byu.
byu faculty center
David Whetten, Director
Professor of Organizational Behavior
Lynn Sorenson, Assistant Director,
Instructional & Faculty Development
Trav Johnson, Assistant Director,
TA Development &Assessment of Teaching
Muriel Allen, Secretary
James Faulconer, Associate Director
Professor of Philosophy
Jane Birch, Assistant Director,
Faculty Development
Bryan Bradley, Faculty Development Coordinator,
Assessment of Student Learning
Dani Dunaway, Editorial Assistant
Produced by BYU Publications & Graphics
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