Skip to main content


Focused on imaginative, effective teaching, cafe dialogues draw faculty from a range of disciplines, inviting colleagues to learn from each another by sharing essential and emerging tools to nurture and challenge students. Cafe helps facilitate an education that allows students to address real-world problems and serve not only their community, but also the world as competent, conscientious, and compassionate individuals.

October 2022

October 2022

April 2022

February 2022

January 2022

December 2021

May 2021

Find helpful resources from previous CAFEs or faculty development events you might've missed

Wednesday, May 11 CAFE: Teaching & Technology Projects Share Out 

Lee Panich (Anthropology), C.J. Gabbe (Environmental Studies), Beatrice Ruhland (Chemistry & Biochemistry), Grace Stokes (Chemistry & Biochemistry), and Hoda Mirafzal (Chemistry & Biochemistry) will share their research projects supported by the Teaching and Technology Innovation Grant. Learn more about their research design, the planning process, and the outcomes that enhance teaching and learning (as well as further innovation!). We also talk more about the Teaching and Technology Innovation Grant, the application process, project eligibility, and more!

Watch the recording here!

Thursday, January 27: "Transitioning Back to the Classroom & Student Engagement"

A virtual CAFE about managing the transition back to the classroom next month (pending COVID restrictions). Steven Suljak (Chemistry & Biochemistry), Kieran Sullivan (Psychology), Jes Kuczenski (General Engineering), and Lisa Davis (Communication) will share their ideas about the upcoming pivot, the challenges they anticipate, and the strategies they will use to encourage student engagement and support well-being for faculty and for students. Faculty in attendance will also have the opportunity to talk more about these topics and share ideas.

Monday, November 8: "Assignment Design Matters: How Redesigned Assignments Can Improve Student Learning"

Assignments play a critical role in student learning and they provide the basis for assessment of student learning. Many of us make small tweaks to our assignments all the time, but what happens when faculty take on assignment redesign based on evidence-based strategies to make them more equitable, successful, and engaging for students? Join us to hear from four colleagues who very intentionally redesigned their course assignments, soliciting feedback from colleagues or students along the way. Some used resources from the Success in Writing, Research and Information Literacy project (SWIRL) at SCU, others drew upon suggestions from the Transparency in Teaching and Assignment Design project (TILT). And others have also made use of resources from SCU’s HUB Writing Center. 

C.J. Gabbe (ESS), Matt Gomes (English), Barbara O’Brien (Child Studies), and Erin Schwartz (Biology) will walk us through their process of assignment redesign, sharing how and why they made the changes they did, and what impact it had on students. Spoiler alert: the before/after versions tell a really interesting story about the benefits of transparency in teaching!

Wednesday, October 20: "Bringing Online Innovations to In-Person and Hybrid Courses"

Are you curious about how faculty are making use of technology in their transition from remote instruction to hybrid or in-person environments? Learn more about what tools and resources SCU faculty used in their teaching in 2020-21, and why they are working today!

Friday, October 15: "Restarting Your Research"

Now what? And how? Faculty research agendas have been disrupted since March 2020: labs, archives, studios, fieldwork, travel, conferences, grant funding, teaching online, and childcare–all difficult, complicated, or curtailed. So how’s it going now? Or how do you wish it was going? Join us for this faculty panel discussion of current challenges as well as strategies for moving forward, getting (re)started, and reengaging with your work.

Panelists included Ed Maurer (Civil, Environmental, & Sustainable Engineering), Korin Wheeler (Chemistry & Biochemistry), Naomi Andrews (History), Sanjiv Das (Finance), and Marco Bravo (ECP). This panel and discussion was moderated by Eric Tillman (Chemistry & Biochemistry; Associate Vice Provost for Research).

Friday, September 17: "Teaching with a Mask: Voice and Speech Refresher"

Are you wondering what it will be like to teach while wearing a mask? Will your students be able to hear you? How can you keep your voice strong over the course of an hour (or longer)? If you’re having these questions (and worries…), you’re in good company. Led by Kimberly Mohne Hill (Theater and Dance), learn more about how to best use your voice while wearing a mask. She demonstrated exercises to stretch the body, improve breathing, and tune up projection and articulation muscles. 

Thursday, April 15: "Guiding Students in Inclusive and Effective Group Work"

This CAFE explores ways that faculty can help students achieve more effective, satisfying, and inclusive experiences when they engage in teamwork for large (or small) course assignments. With some purposeful strategies in assignment design and messaging, faculty can guide students toward a much more inclusive, productive, and meaningful experience working with peers. Join us as Ariel Schindewolf (Modern Languages & Literatures), Heather Turner (English), and Amy Eriksson (Communication) share their approaches to group work.

Thursday, January 14: "Designing Engaging Synchronous Zoom Sessions"

Join us to hear how faculty are making their synchronous Zoom sessions more engaging for students. Drs. Missy Donegan (English) and Juan Montermoso (Leavey School of Business) will share their experiences in teaching online during the Fall Quarter. You'll get a chance to chat with faculty colleagues about what's working with your class and the lessons learned from misadventures with Zoom (we all have some!). You'll walk away with new ideas for connecting with your students over Zoom.

Thursday, February 11: "Strategies for Teaching and Facilitating Learning Through Asynchronous Experiences"

How can you engage students in meaningful learning when you’re not meeting face-to-face for every class session? Join Sofia Kotsiri (Economics), Dawn Hart (Biology), and Justin Boren (Communication) to hear about some of the strategies they’ve found effective. 

Tuesday, February 9: "SCU Student Well-Being and Mental Health during COVID-19"

Join Dr. Jill Rovaris, Director of Cowell Center and her colleagues from the Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) Staff to learn more about how SCU students are coping with stress, anxiety, and depression. They will discuss the trends they’re seeing in students’ mental health and well-being, and share an update on the resources available to students at SCU.

Thursday, January 28: "What’s Working Now: Course Assignments and Assessment Approaches"

Join us for a conversation with colleagues Stephanie Hughes (Environmental Studies and Sciences), Christelle Sabatier (Neuroscience and Biology), and Lisa Whitfield (Psychology) as they share their approaches to assignment design and assessment of student learning in the online environment.

Among the topics: Replacing tests and quizzes with weekly homework assignments; moving from a curve-based grading system to contract grading; developing a project using ePortfolios; engaging students as individuals and groups to use more than one modality in completing projects; and strategies for scaffolding student work.

This CAFE is the third in a series, "Learning with our Colleagues: SCU Departments’ Anti-Racist Teaching Initiatives," and features Amelia Fuller (Chemistry and Biochemistry), Natalie Linnell (Math and Computer Science), Virginia Matzek (Environmental Studies and Sciences), and Brian Thorstenson (Theater and Dance).

Stream this session

Mini-Grants: Building an Evidence-Based Anti-Racist Discussion Toolkit for Santa Clara University

Ambient belonging: how stereotypical cues impact gender participation in computer science

Monday, February 24: "Facilitating Team-Based Projects Your Students Won’t Hate"

Are your efforts to get students to work in teams met with groans? Classroom-based team experiences can be a great way to teach students how to work effectively and interdependently to produce a deliverable, which are essential skills in today’s workplaces. However, effective teamwork is challenging and does not happen on its own. In this workshop, Esther Sackett, an Assistant Professor in Management and Entrepreneurship and an expert in team dynamics, will share evidence-based strategies for engaging students in effective team processes, including goal setting, conflict management, and communication. Participants will have an opportunity to experience a team-based exercise firsthand and will leave with tools for providing the structure students need to have more successful and positive teamwork experiences in the classroom.

Related DRT Page:

Tuesday, October 20: "Inclusion as a Jesuit Value: What About the Classroom?"

Dr. Chatelain, a distinguished scholar, teacher and strategist from Georgetown University, is a noted speaker on race and history in the US. She has worked on Georgetown’s recent response to its history of slavery. She will join us for this session on inclusive pedagogy and Jesuit education. Learn more here about Dr. Chatelain’s scholarship, teaching, podcasts and media appearances, follow her on twitter, or see her on this recent panel: Chronicle of Higher Ed: Race, Class and Academic Life.

Wednesday, October 14: "Inclusive Teaching with Dr. Bryan Dewsbury"

Dr. Bryan Dewsbury talks more about inclusive teaching strategies within STEM fields. Learn more about Dr. Dewsbury’s work here, follow him on twitter, or check out his latest talk.

Thursday, November 12: "Learning with our Colleagues: SCU Departments’ Anti-Racist Teaching and Initiatives"

Many departments are currently engaged in thoughtful, productive work on anti-racist teaching, curricula, department culture, hiring, evaluation, and more. Please join us as faculty colleagues from English, Anthropology, and Neuroscience tell us about that work in their disciplines.

Wednesday, November 18: "More Learning with our Colleagues: SCU Departments’ Anti-Racist Teaching Initiatives"

We continue the discussion from the previous CAFE about the work done on anti-racist teaching, curricula, department culture, hiring, evaluation, and more with colleagues in Art and Art History, Education, and English.

Wednesday, April 10: "Institute on Teaching Excellence / ACUE: What We’ve Been Learning"

Last fall we introduced a new opportunity: a nationally recognized course on teaching practices with ACUE (Association of College & University Educators). 30 SCU colleagues participated in this program this year–learning to apply evidence-based practices on topics such as student engagement, course/assignment design, civility in the classroom, active learning across the disciplines, inclusive teaching practices, efficient and equitable grading and more.

Join us for this special CAFÉ as participants CJ Gabbe (Environmental Studies and Sciences), Allia Griffin (Ethnic Studies), Sofia Kotsiri (Economics), Laura Nichols (Sociology) and Robert Shanklin (Philosophy) share what they are learning from this year’s inaugural Institute on Teaching Excellence. And consider whether you are interested in participating in the future. 

Tuesday, May 7: "Let’s Talk about Grading"

Grading, by many accounts, is one of the most challenging part of teaching–not just because of the time it takes, but its toll on our emotional energy as well. In this CAFÉ conversation, we’ll discuss how we handle this part of our job–how we approach grading in a way that’s fair, transparent, supportive of learning; how we communicate our grading philosophies to students; what the role of ungraded student work is in our courses. Share new approaches to grading you have tried (e.g., contract grading, “tokens,” “bundles”), and how that’s worked out.

You might find a few of these resources provocative and helpful in your work:

Tuesday, May 21: "Creating a Classroom Culture of Academic Integrity"

Navigating cases of student academic integrity can be challenging. Join us for this session as we discuss what a culture that discourages cheating looks like. Get tips from faculty peers across the disciplines on how to cultivate and reward integrity of all kinds in our students and ourselves. Our backdrop will be scholarship such as this 2017 article that helps us understand academic integrity in the context of other teaching and learning challenges.

Thursday, January 24: "Using Midterm Student Feedback to Improve your Teaching"

Invite students to respond to the course part way through the term. Why do this? Lots of reasons, including:

Get focused feedback on particular issues, assignments, activities.Reflect on how to improve student learning experiences in the course well before it’s over.Demonstrate your concern for student learning. Make course learning goals and your teaching values more transparent in discussions of student feedback.

Join us as Angela Holtzmeister (Classics), Andrew Ishak (Communication), Mona Musa (Math/Computer Science), and Christelle Sabatier (Biology/Neuroscience) talk about how (and why) they take a moment to gather feedback and respond to students partway through the quarter. You’ll leave the session with several tools to choose from—all of which you can use in your course immediately and integrate with Camino.

Here are some of the research and practice in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning on this topic:

Wednesday, February 20: "Using 'Design Thinking' to Reimagine Teaching, Transform Learning, and (maybe) Change the World"

Regardless of our disciplines, we are teaching college students who will hold multiple jobs and require proficiency in skills and knowledge that cut across majors. Design thinking offers one approach to helping students develop core abilities that help them develop their to promote collaborative problem solving, project-based learning, and students’ abilities to address real-world challenges. Survey data shows that while college students are eager to apply their knowledge and skills, many of their courses do not offer these opportunities. But for faculty using a design thinking approach in their courses, this real-world engagement with ill-defined problems is precisely how they’re engaging students.