Welcome, NameCoach!


red "HELLO my name is" name badge with IMPORTANT filled inNames matter. Pronunciation matters. 

W&L has adopted a new tool that allows faculty and students to record the pronunciation of their names to aid others in saying it correctly and listen to the recorded names of others: NameCoach

How it works: Students voice-record their names and instructors can access this information within their Canvas courses. Faculty and staff can also voice-record their name and add a link to their email signatures.

Want to get started? Read these how-to guides: 

Also, Director of Academic Technologies, Julie Knudson, will be offering a session about NameCoach during Fall Academy on Thursday, August 25, at 1:30 pm in Leyburn 109. Sign up at https://go.wlu.edu/fallacademy.

Have questions about NameCoach? Need help? Contact the ITS Information Desk at 540.458.4357 (HELP), email help@wlu.edu, or stop by the ITS Information Desk on the Main Level of Leyburn Library. We’re here to help.

“Strategies to Ensure Your Students Feel Heard” from The Faculty Lounge, brought to you by Harvard Business Publishing Education

cartoon female in red blouse with eyes closed, listening intently

Adapted from 6 Ways to Improve Your Listening Skills by Rebecca D. Minehart, assistant professor of anesthesia at Harvard Medical School; Benjamin B. Symon, faculty for the Debriefing Academy; and Laura K. Rock, assistant professor at Harvard Medical School

When our stressors increase, our executive functioning and cognitive flexibility are taxed, making it harder to give our students the full attention they deserve. We talk when we should listen. Prescribe solutions when we should ask for details. Lose the thread on conversations when we should be helping to find the focus.

The good news is, with practice, we can all be more effective listeners. Here’s how.

Determine your default listening style

Learning to listen well begins with understanding what type of listener you are. In our work, we’ve observed four distinct listening styles:

  • Analytical listeners analyze a problem from a neutral starting point. Example: You listen to two ExecEd students debate the relevance of a recent article to their industry, taking care to explore both students’ viewpoints before responding.
  • Relational listeners build connection and seek to understand the emotions underlying a message. Example: You notice a student’s voice quivers when they talk about an upcoming paper that’s due, so you consider whether they’re stressed and why.
  • Critical listeners judge both the content of the conversation and the reliability of the speaker themselves. Example: A student challenges you about a grade, so you listen to their reasoning to determine whether this is just about their GPA or whether it’s worth changing your viewpoint.
  • Task-focused listeners shape a conversation toward the efficient transfer of important information. Example: A student asking for a deadline extension attempts to offer a lengthy justification for the request, but you interrupt early to find out how long of an extension they’re seeking.

With these definitions and examples as a guide, ask yourself, Which style do I default to most?

Recognize when your default listening style is disruptive

Sometimes our usual listening style can sabotage our goals. Maybe you tend to use a task-focused or critical listening style so you can make rapid decisions. That’s great when there is time pressure, but it can backfire when a student needs more support.

Consider this scenario:

Student: “I don’t feel comfortable speaking in front of the class. Everyone judges me.”
Educator: “Of course no one is judging you! We all feel like that sometimes, but the best solution is to dive in and give it a try.”

Here, the student is displaying emotion, yet the educator is responding with a task-focused response, missing a valuable opportunity to acknowledge and explore what the student is expressing. The educator’s response is likely to make this student feel unheard and discouraged from sharing.

Recognizing this disconnect is a critical step in improving your listening skills.

Adapt your listening style to achieve mutual conversational goals

There are myriad reasons why we listen the way we do: to be efficient, to avoid conflict, to gain attention, to support, or simply to entertain. When those reasons are repeatedly (and perhaps unconsciously) prioritized, we shortchange other listening goals such as mutual understanding and greater connection.

If we can instead learn to shift dynamically between listening styles—by matching the speaker’s needs with the most appropriate listening technique—we may have more productive conversations.

Let’s go back to our example from above and instead use a relational listening style.

Student: “I don’t feel comfortable speaking in front of the class. Everyone judges me.”
Educator: “That’s a tough feeling to have. [Pause] Do you feel like talking about it?”

When a student expresses stress or fear, responding with validation and curiosity may allow you to capture valuable information and more effectively address the student’s needs.

Here’s another example scenario:

Student: “I’m scared about the midterm test.”
Educator: “I’m not planning on throwing any curveballs into the exam. But it’s normal to be nervous before a big test. [Pause.] What’s scaring you the most?”

What you learn from their response may change the way you approach that student’s learning in the future.

The impact of better listening

Experimenting with how we listen solidifies our active partnership in conversations. It expands the space for others to reveal what really matters to them and can allow us to get to the heart of the matter more deliberately. Through intentionally applying new ways to listen, we can build relationships, better understand others, and collaborate and problem-solve more effectively.

Are there culturally diverse image galleries?

Ever search for stock images and come up with, well, rather …. homogenized results like this?

visual results from a search for "woman" in a stock photography website that consists of young caucasian females

Not all women are young, white, thin, able-bodied, and beautiful. Nor are all couples of the opposite-sex, white, thin, able-bodied, attractive, enjoying a posh, upper-/middle-class lifestyle. I think it’s safe to say these search results aren’t reflective of diverse lifestyles, experiences, or communities.

If you’re looking for more diverse stock images, check out this list of image galleries to promote accurate and equitable representation, compiled by Kevin Kelly, EdD, in support of the Peralta Community College District Equity Initiative:



Save the Date! Perusall Exchange 2021, May 17-28

Perusall - Every student prepared for every class

Perusall is a social reading platform that allows students and instructors to collaboratively markup documents (PDF, EPUB, Word and Excel documents, source code files); video that is hosted on YouTube, Vimeo, Google Drive, or Dropbox; podcasts; and websites.

Students help each other learn by collectively annotating readings in threads, responding to each other’s comments, and interacting with one another.

Only 20-30% of students in the average classroom do assigned reading; in Perusall classes, > 90% consistently do the reading. Peer-reviewed, published, and patented research shows that Perusall works.

Incredible stuff, right? And there’s even MORE to be excited about!

From May 17-28, Perusall will host an asynchronous social learning conference with more than 50 sessions across a diverse array of disciplines that highlight innovative pedagogical approaches by instructors using the platform.

You will be able to pick and choose the sessions that pique your interest — whenever it suits your schedule — and engage with the presenters and other participants asynchronously using the Perusall platform.

At the end of the conference, presenters and participants will gather in a live session to continue the discussion.

Among the sessions currently scheduled are:

  • Perusall Pedagogy for Inclusivity and Active Learning
  • From Novice to Expert: Developing Students’ Metacognitive Reading Practices with Perusall
  • Just in Time Chemistry in Perusall
  • Small Teaching: Building Community in the Online Classroom
  • Analyzing the Breaks: Teaching Hip Hop History with Perusall

Sign up now!

We’ll be there. Will you?

Wall Street Journal: How to Teach Professors Humility? Hand Them a Rubik’s Cube

Sandy Roberson sent a note to professors at Furman University and Denison University in mid-December with a simple message.
“Failure is not an option,” she wrote on a discussion board frequented by a few dozen other academics.
Three weeks later, the veteran Furman accounting professor reconsidered and abandoned her assignment. She had been bested by a Rubik’s cube.
Ms. Roberson was among roughly 30 faculty members from the two schools who had signed on to a winter-break challenge: learn to solve the cube-shaped puzzle in five minutes or less, within six weeks. And, in the process, learn to become better instructors by being reminded what it’s like to be a novice.
“After you do something for a very long time, it just becomes second nature,” said Lew Ludwig. The math professor at Denison, in Granville, Ohio, runs the school’s Center for Learning and Teaching and coordinated the challenge with a counterpart at Furman, in Greenville, S.C. The schools are members of an organization for faculty development at small colleges. “The brain does not like new stuff,” he said. “Learning is hard.”
Amen to that!  Read the rest of this article by Melissa Korn.
Thanks to Senior Academic Technologist Brandon Bucy for sharing this great article AND these thoughts:
“I’ve always thought the expert-novice divide is one of the hardest things to get around when teaching.  We honestly forget how much we struggled in the past with a concept before mastering it, and can’t relate to our struggling students or really help them in a meaningful way except to encourage them to continue the struggle.  I think in a way it represents the internally chaotic nature of learning, that “learning” itself is somehow non-rememberable once you get through it.”

Digital Exit Tickets

What’s an Exit Ticket?

pink exit ticketAn exit ticket is simply a question posed to all students at the end of class/the week/unit of study.

Student responses provide you with immediate insight that you can use to assess students’ understanding, monitor their questions, or gather feedback on your teaching and, if necessary, adjust or adapt your instructional strategies.

In  Art and Science of Teaching/The Many Uses of Exit Slips, Robert J. Marzano suggests 4 different types of prompts for exit tickets:

Provide formative assessment data:

    • What was the big idea of today’s lesson?
    • What was the most important thing you learned in today’s class? Why is it important?
    • What is the most difficult question you have about what you learned today?
    • How could the knowledge you learned today be used in the real world?
    • What’s one thing you want to practice again?
    • What are you struggling to understand at the moment?

Stimulate student reflection/analysis:

    • What could you have done today to help yourself learn better?
    • What part of the lesson surprised you?
    • Which part of today’s lesson was most interesting?
    • I used to think but now I know…
    • What is something you weren’t sure about at the start of class but understand now?
    • Imagine a friend missed class today. How would you explain what we covered in 25 words or less?
    • If you were creating a quiz about today’s class, what are two questions you’d include?
    • How can you apply something you learned today to another class or subject?
    • How can you apply what you learned today to your own life?

Focus on instructional strategies:

    • How did the group work today help you understand the content? What are some things you’d like to see during group work in the future?
    • We did a concept map activity in class today. Was this a useful learning activity for you? Why or why not?
    • Did you value the group activity today? Do you think the activity or task would have been better done alone?
    • Which of the readings was most helpful in preparing you for class? Why?

Offer open communications:

    • What could I do differently to help you understand better
    • What is one thing you’d like me to explain more clearly?
    • What’s one change we could make to the way we learn in this class?
    • What’s one thing you’d like me to START doing in class?
    • What’s one thing you’d like me to STOP doing in class?
    • What’s one thing you’d like me to CONTINUE doing in class?

Ideally, exit tickets are no more than one or two short, open-ended (when possible) questions that take students less than 5 minutes to complete. 

Tools you can use to implement exit tickets

Microsoft Forms

Microsoft Forms example of an exit ticket form
Click this image to view this one question Exit Ticket form

Poll Everywhere

Poll Everywhere one question exit ticket survey

3 question Exit Ticket survey in Poll Everywhere

Need a Poll Everywhere account? Email the ITS Information Desk at help@wlu.edu or call 540.458.4357 (HELP).

Polling for Zoom meetings

  1. Enable Polls in Zoom
  2. Create a Poll
  3. Launch a Poll

Anonymous Ungraded Survey in Canvas

Exit Ticket survey in Canvas


My Ah-ha Moment! Flipgrid exit ticket
Click to view this Flipgrid exit ticket!

Do you use exit tickets in your class? Have they been helpful? If you have any thoughts to share, we’d love to hear ’em!

If there’s one tweet you need to read, read THIS one!

Thematically, it sounds as if instructors are embracing:

  • Zoom office hours in place of — or in addition to — face-to-face office hours
  • greater flexibility (soft deadlines/due dates, choices/alternatives in projects)
  • collaborative annotating of readings (Perusall, hypothes.is
  • open book and open note quizzes and tests OR shifting from tests to assignments/projects
  • scheduling “break days” into the syllabus
  • allowing themselves to be “real” (allowing pets to show up on camera)
  • actively checking in on how students are doing physically/emotionally/mentally 

This thread is pure gold. Many thanks to Professor Dennie for asking this great question!

BONUS: W&L Peeps You Should be Following on Twitter (If we’ve missed someone, please let us know!)


Taking time to connect with each student not only helps maintain relationships but also allows us an opportunity to gather important data to inform our assessment. It gives US feedback on the effectiveness of what we are doing. In a bricks and mortar environment, this would be equivalent to informal checkins through the day or the kind of personalised conversations we have when we confer with students individually and in small groups. 

By scheduling regular check-ins with our students, we gather data that can inform plans for ‘where to next’ for their learning.  

Check out this great resource  (.PDF) compiled from the audience of “Inquiry by the Fire” with Kimberly Mitchell, Trevor Mackenzie and Kath Murdoch.