On this page:
New Faculty Resources
New faculty are encouraged to visit Campus Resources for New Faculty to gain a broad view of available institutional resources.
Developing your Syllabus
Whether you are developing your syllabus for the first time or are revising it in preparation for the start of the term, take some time to implement strategies to make your syllabus more readable, accessible, and inclusive.
The Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) offers individualized consultations to support you in designing your syllabus and implementing inclusive practices.
Technology for Teaching and Learning
Your NetID and Password serve as your primary credentials at UMass Amherst, giving you access to all UMass services including SPIRE, email, the campus networks, and more. SPIRE is used for managing most aspects of courses (class roster, schedules, email my whole class, grades). For questions about your NetID or help with any UMass technology contact the IT Help Desk.
As a faculty member you will have either Microsoft Outlook or Google Gmail as your email account. Regardless of the email platform you are using, you do have access to all of the Microsoft 365 applications including OneDrive, Teams, and Office 365. You also have access to Google Workspace including Google Slides, Google Drive, and Jamboard.
UMass has many other technologies available for faculty including Zoom, iClickers, and Echo360. CNS faculty can request a Moodle course space to post syllabi and other course materials and to easily communicate with enrolled students.
Learn more about the technology resources for teaching updated for the 22-23 academic year.
Campus Resources for Faculty
- The Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) provides consultations and resources for teaching faculty including guidance on how to create an inclusive syllabus.
- Library services available for faculty include both print and electronic course reserves, customized library workshops, and resources on copyright, plagiarism, and information fluency. Connect with your departmental Library Liaison to learn about the resources and expertise available in the libraries.
- The Instructional Design, Engagement and Support team (IDEAS) provides support for existing instructional technologies and can help you explore emerging instructional technologies and alternative course modalities including fully-online and flexible learning strategies.
- The Assistive Technology Center (ATC) offers faculty and students instruction, training, and support for assistive technology for teaching and learning. The ATC offers access to scanning equipment, optical character recognition software, document and screen reading software, voice recognition software, text enlargers, and other assistive technologies.
- Visit the Office of Disability Services Faculty Handbook to access the Accommodations Statement to include on your course syllabus and learn more about the accommodation process and common classroom accommodation requests.
Support for CNS Lecturers
CNS acknowledges the many contributions of CNS lecturers and has created services and opportunities to enhance their professional success.
This presentation from Brenda Barlow, Assistant Dean CNS, provides an excellent overview of different strategies available to support students. It is also extremely helpful to provide links in your syllabus and/or in your course space to academic and student support inks to other learning resources as appropriate for the course.
Academic Support Strategies
- Fill out a Student Support Request
- Notify the CNS Advising Center
- Submit an Academic Alert (instructions at the top of the page, link to submit towards the bottom)
- The Maroon Folder is an excellent resource for faculty to assist with recognizing and helping students needing support or experiencing crisis or distress.
Academic Alert Initiative
The UMass Amherst Academic Alert initiative partners with instructors and advisors to connect undergraduate students with the resources needed to meet the rigors of college-level academic work and expectations. Through a coordinated referral network, students are guided toward resources that support mastery of course content and academic skill development.
- Program overview and instructor resource guides Academic alert is a campus wide initiative supported by the Office of Undergraduate Student Success.
- How to Submit a Referral Quick one minute video walking you through the steps to submit a referral.
- CNS Advising Center The academic deans and advisors are here to answer your questions about how to best support your students.
Tools to share with students
- Student Support Resources - This links you to all the campus resources to support students (CCPH, UHS, Dean of students, CNS support etc.).
- Student Success Toolkit - Workshop series on time management, test taking & study strategies and quick Study Skills Tips
Are you interested in more active learning opportunities and assignments for your students? Are you tired of assignments where the work your students do is just discarded after it's used to assess their progress and understanding? Community and Citizen Science projects offer opportunities to involve your students in real, ongoing research where their contributions advance our understanding of the world. Your class's participation can be tailored to fit your pedagogical goals, and the variety of projects out there offer options from an online task that can be measured in minutes to designing an entire course around contributing to a project.
Learn more about Citizen Science and explore some projects in action:
- National Phenology Network
Course-Based Undergraduate Research Experience (CUREs)
CUREs is an approach to provide opportunities for a wide variety of undergraduates to gain research experience and practice scientific thinking. Studies have shown that undergraduates engaged in scientific research report a higher likelihood of persistence in STEM and greater sense of independence, but the traditional method of conducting research, by working with a mentor in their research laboratory, is limited both because of limited resources in research labs and limited time by faculty. By developing research-projects that can be conducted in laboratory courses, more students can be exposed to this high-impact practice while not increasing the workload of the respective faculty.
To learn more:
- View the Fall 2021 STEM Education Institute seminar: A CURE for undergraduate research projects: A community supporting faculty to introduce research into their laboratory courses.
- Visit CUREnet.
- Read A Guide to Course-based Undergraduate Research. This title is available through the UMass Libraries.
Synchronous and Asynchronous Engagement Strategies
Visit the Synchronous and Asynchronous Engagement Strategies document for recommendations on sharing workload and time considerations with students, course design strategies to help with information overload, engagement strategies for both Zoom and Moodle, and student success strategies to incorporate into remote and online courses.
The CNS Keep Teaching site was designed in Spring 2020 to provide guidance for working remotely, best practices, tools and technologies for remote learning, recommendations on how to offer exams online and suggestions for maintaining academic integrity in the submission of online work, and other helpful resources.
Designing Your Course for Flexibility
- Record or broadcast classroom lectures/activities if/as appropriate
- You can check in SPIRE to see if your classroom is Echo360 enabled, or you can view the full list of Echo360 enabled classrooms.
- If using Echo360 remember to request an Echo360 space to store your lectures.
- Some classrooms have been outfitted as “hybrid” spaces to more easily allow for the use of Zoom.
- You could also consider using your own laptop (with the built-in camera or a plug-in video camera) to record the class using Zoom or the personal version of Echo360.
- The Digital Media Lab does have microphones, video cameras and other equipment you can borrow for recordings.
- Whenever you use Zoom use the automatic captioning feature. You can also turn on captioning in both PowerPoint and Google slides. The captions may not be perfect but you can always edit them in your Echo360 or Zoom recordings.
- Use Moodle to supplement the course. Post your syllabus, schedule, links to videos, assignments, etc... Enable students to access Moodle course materials 2-3 weeks in advance. Remember that you can control access to items in Moodle by using the Restriction settings and enabling an availability date.
- If you have Library materials you would like students to access consider incorporating Digital Course Reserves into your Moodle or Blackboard course space.
For support with any of these instructional technologies or strategies CNS faculty are encouraged to contact //firstname.lastname@example.org">April Bellafiore, Director of Multimodal Education.
College of Natural Sciences