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CCRI Alumni Newsletter

CCRI Faculty Focus

Spring 2013 2nd Edition

Greetings from VP Lela Morgan ...

Lela MorganAs we come to the end of the spring semester, I want to congratulate you all on another productive academic year. More than 1,200 students – they’re still applying for graduation as I write this – will finish their degrees and certificates and continue on to another institution of higher education or enter the workforce. You all play such a big role in their success, and you should be proud of the work that you do for our students every day.

As we near final exams, I want to remind you about the importance of posting your grades by the deadline of noon on Wednesday, May 15, so that student financial aid is not adversely affected. This issue of Faculty Focus contains some helpful tips for posting your grades, as well an article about how we can make the process of grading students easier and better.

Our NEASC self-study process is ongoing as we move toward readiness for our site visit from the evaluation team next year. Please visit the website,, for developments.

Last, please consider attending the CITLA Spring Symposium from noon to 4 p.m. on May 23 at the Knight Campus in Warwick. The topic, "I Have to Do What?: Helping Students Understand the Culture and the Unwritten Rules of College," presented by instructor Amy Baldwin from Pulaski Technical College, is well-suited to our student population, many of whom are first-generation college students. This workshop will help you help your students to understand college culture and improve their skills. More information is included below. I hope to see you there!

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Mission of the College

ccri sealThe Community College of Rhode Island is the state’s only public comprehensive associate degree-granting institution. We provide affordable open access to higher education at locations throughout the state. Our primary mission is to offer recent high school graduates and returning adults the opportunity to acquire the knowledge and skills necessary for intellectual, professional and personal growth through an array of academic, career and lifelong learning programs. We meet the wide-ranging educational needs of our diverse student population, building on our rich tradition of excellence in teaching and our dedication to all students with the ability and motivation to succeed. We set high academic standards necessary for transfer and career success, champion diversity, respond to community needs, and contribute to our state’s economic development and the region’s workforce.

News from OES

The Office of Enrollment Services is pleased to announce that the new Rhode Island transfer website has added a translating component. This feature is located below the calendar of events. Additionally, Deborah Grossman-Garber, associate commissioner for academic policy and planning at the Office of Higher Education, recently expressed that the new site has received commendation from the new Rhode Island Board of Education chairwoman, Eva Mancuso, and from the Governor’s Office.

Student Ambassadors

Student AmbassadorsThe Student Ambassador Program is accepting applications for students who are interested in developing leadership skills. Student Ambassadors provide tours for potential students and their families, assist with greeting new and returning students, attend high school visits and college fairs and assist the Office of Enrollment Services with various events throughout the academic year.

If you know a student who would be a good candidate for the program, please encourage him or her to apply. Interested students can use the following link to download an application.  Click here to download an application.

Spring 2013 Final Grades: DUE by noon on Wednesday, May 15

It is imperative that faculty adhere to final grade submission deadlines so that student financial aid is not adversely affected. To facilitate a smoother grade submission process, a few changes have been made to the system:

A “Splash Screen” will notify you that a LAST DATE OF ATTENDANCE is required to be entered if you are assigning the following nonstandard grades: F, WP, WF, I .

The correct format for entering the last date of attendance is as follows: MM/DD/YYYY

The “IC” grade can only be assigned for a math lab course.

At the bottom of the screen, you will be required to click on a button indicating you have read and understand the policies listed. If you neglect to click this, you will not be able to proceed.

If you do not enter the last date of attendance in the correct format, you will not be able to proceed.

If you have incorrectly entered any grade or not entered the last date of attendance correctly and click the SUBMIT button, a box will pop up indicating errors. Refer to the top of the page for a listing of errors.

You MUST HIT the SUBMIT button to submit the grades. If you do not hit SUBMIT, the grades will not be entered.

Tip 1: Enter all standard (A, A-, B+, B, B-, C+, C, D ) grades first and hit SUBMIT. Then go back in (you will see the standard grades you had entered previously) and enter the nonstandard grades (F, WP, WF, I) along with the last date of attendance. Hit SUBMIT again.

Tip 2: Last date of attendance: If a month has only 30 days, you cannot enter 31 as the day. The system will not recognize this and will not accept the grade.

Information Technology

IT News Software for classroom use for Fall 2013

In an effort to ensure that every classroom is supplied with the software required to effectively teach our students, IT is beginning the process of collecting information concerning the names of the various applications and the versions needed to compose and load the software image for the Fall 2013 semester. Last year was a particularly successful process that involved faculty members confirming and suggesting those software packages needed and those no longer in use. Every year we try to guarantee that the first day of classes has no surprises and expected applications are present in each classroom and computer-based lab. Your assistance is extremely helpful in making sure we supply those tools that will ensure your success from day one in each teaching environment. [Read more]

Here are this issue’s articles:

  • Software for Classroom Use
  • An Email Retention Policy
  • One Source Email Archiving
  • Security Awareness
  • Help Desk! We Need Your Help!

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Distance Learning

Why I teach online

Kathleen Beauchene, Professor of EnglishIt seems almost impossible that I have been teaching online for over a decade. I have never questioned why I teach online. I do it for the same reason I teach on campus — for the students. The composition course in a distance-learning format gives students an opportunity to take a class that they may not be able to take otherwise, often enabling them to complete their degree requirements quicker. With the tools available in Blackboard, I also find that I can provide focused responses, complete with helpful links to resources. At the end of the semester, I have a complete record of all interactions for each student.

When I began teaching in the online environment I thought that I would have a diminished, impersonal relationship with my students and, therefore, would not experience the joy of teaching. However, I have been able to share laughs, meaningful discussions, and personal interactions. One of my students sums it up best when he writes: “The English classes I took at CCRI are really coming in handy for my new position, so that is what I wanted to share with you. Even though we never had the opportunity to meet in person, you were always an inspiration to me.” Teaching—online or otherwise—doesn’t get better than that.

~ Kathleen Beauchene, Professor of English

DL faculty pedagogy course to be offered again

The five-week fully online distance learning pedagogy course will be offered again during the first five-week summer session. Limited space is available with preference given to new DL faculty who are scheduled to offer a DL course in the Fall semester. Experienced DL faculty are welcome! All participants work with each other in this collaborative learning environment. In the course you will build a Blackboard course with activities, assessments, and plans for interaction and course management. You will be awarded CEUs and a certificate upon completion. For additional information and to register, please contact Maggie Burke.

Join the DL faculty forum

The DL Faculty Forum in Blackboard contains helpful documents for DL faculty and an active discussion board of topics related to teaching and learning online. Members receive periodic (weekly during the semester) mailings of DL updates and reminders. If you are teaching a DL section (600 or 700), scheduled to teach a DL section, or just interested in online learning, please e-mail Maggie Burke to be added to the forum.

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Important Notes for Faculty

Important Note Adjunct orientation module

Adjunct faculty members are recognized as playing a critically important role in providing quality education for CCRI students. We are providing an online resource to make your transition to CCRI a smooth and enjoyable experience while providing you with important information and support. Access orientation

Mentors for students

The Success Center offers mentors for new and continuing students. Discussions range from learning more about a particular discipline to learning how to navigate the college environment. If your are interested, please contact Deirdre Lavallee, coordinator of the mentoring program, at 401-825-1105 or

Centers for Instructional Technology

The Centers for Instructional Technology support the academic mission of CCRI by helping instructors in the use of technology to meet their teaching needs. Through consultation, workshops and information sessions, and by managing pilots of new instructional technologies on campus, Instructional Technology staff assist faculty in accomplishing a meaningful integration of technology into their teaching practice.

Instructional Support Team

CCRI's Instructional Support Team includes Gene Grande, Norm Grant and Yan Huang. Their focus is to support faculty in the use of Instructional Technology. Along with other members of the IT staff, they conduct workshops throughout the year just for faculty. In addition, the members of the team are available for individual appointments and small group workshops in the Centers for Instructional Technology (CITs) on all campuses.

The Instructional Support Team also supports the Liston Campus in Providence weekly during the semester. Schedules are posted in the Center for Instructional Technology or appointments can be made by contacting MaryAdele Combe.

Instructional Support Team contact information

Technology in the classrooms

All classrooms are equipped with standard technology. If you find that you need additional media, kindly request it by completing an online form at /it/forms/equipment/ or by calling 455-6111.

Most lecture halls and auditoriums are equipped with multimedia technologies, controlled by digital touch panels for projection source selection, screen and lighting control and microphone levels. Please contact Dolly Quigley at Ext. 6111 or the Help Desk at Ext. 1112 for user assistance.

Blackboard Support Center 

  • Knight Campus Room 2118, across from the Help Desk
  • Dial 1113 or 401-825-1113
  • Hours of operation are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.     
  • Hours adjusted during peak times at the beginning of a semester                                                   


NEASC LogoCCRI is scheduled for its 10-year accreditation visit in March 2014.

Standards co-chairs have submitted their final drafts of Description and Appraisal and Projections.  The document is currently being edited into "one voice"  and we hope to have it available for the CCRI community to review and provide feedback by Sept. 30.

Additional information and summary PowerPoints can be found on the CCRI NEASC website.

CCRI Governance

The Office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs has assumed the responsibility for gathering the college community’s suggestions and input on how to improve the current CCRI Governance system.

As part of the CCRI NEASC accreditation process, the vice president’s office along with representatives from a variety of college divisions have attempted to streamline the existing Governance document to make it more functional. Approved documents can be found on the vice president's website.

Vice President Morgan feels the input of the CCRI community was a vital part of the proposed process, which is targeted to be implemented in September 2013.

Voting on the proposed governance documents took place from April 22 to April 28. Of the 173 responders, 115 voted to approve the documents and 58 voted to disapprove.

The approved process will be piloted for one academic year and assessed at the end of that year.

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Center for Innovative Teaching, Learning and Assessment

CITLA Spring Symposium: Teaching the First-Year Student

Instructor Amy Baldwin from Pulaski Technical College will present a workshop titled, "I Have to Do What?: Helping Students Understand the Culture and the Unwritten Rules of College," from noon to 4 p.m. on May 23 in Room 4090 at the Knight Campus in Warwick.

"What are office hours?" and "What is a syllabus?" are common questions that instructors get when trying to help their first-year students acclimate to the culture of college. Many are the first in their families to enroll in college; others may come from a culture of origin that has different rules and expectations, and the faster they can learn the new rules of college, the more successful they will be in the long run. This interactive workshop provides participants with suggested content, active learning strategies, and meaningful and engaging assignments that can help first-year students learn the unwritten rules of college culture. The workshop will include the following subtopics:

  • Understanding college culture and expectations.
  • Building meaningful relationships.
  • Improving academic skills.

Participants each will receive a booklet that provides instructions and sample assignments for the college culture issues and unwritten rules covered during the workshop.

Please visit our website to RSVP.

April Teaching Tip from CITLA

Grading, like it or not

Teaching TipGrading is generally the least favorite part of teaching for most faculty. A quick Google search turned up a site called “5 things I hate more than grading.” Some folks couldn’t come up with five things worse than grading; most mentioned life-threatening illnesses or surgery without anesthesia. Why is it so awful? What can we do to make it better?

I think there are four main reasons why most of us hate grading:

  1. We don’t like to judge people. As instructors, we are both coaches and judges, and most of us got into teaching for the coaching part, not the judging part. Assigning a grade doesn’t really seem to help anyone learn; it just rates the amount and quality of their learning. Plus, since learning is such a complex task, assigning a single number or letter that summarizes the total learning (or lack thereof) seems inadequate and not particularly helpful.
  2. Grading policies are hard to formulate, and we’re never sure we have it right. We struggle to balance our grading criteria between fairness and rigor. We don’t want to be too easy (grade inflation alerts go off) or too difficult (complaints to the chair). Do we factor in improvement? Effort? Achievement alone? What about second language learners? The dilemmas just keep coming.
  3. Grading can make us question ourselves as teachers. Exams or papers that don’t meet our expectations are discouraging, even depressing. Sometimes we blame the students e.g. Didn’t they study? How did they get admitted? Sometimes we blame ourselves. Perhaps all semester you thought you were doing a great job (or at least a competent one) and now you are wondering if you’re meant for this profession.
  4. Grading can feel like a fight. Students complain, they challenge their grades directly, they attempt to cheat or plagiarize, they focus on the grades at the expense of the learning. It can feel like our job is to guard the tower of academe, defend ourselves and catch those miscreants.
How can we make it better?
  • Accept the role conflict inherent in grading, and make this explicit to yourself and your students. Separate out the coaching function from the evaluation function, and decide which one you are doing at a particular point in time. You might choose to only give comments without a grade or tell students “this is the grade you would get on this work right now” and then allow revision. You can give practice quiz or test questions with feedback before the real thing so that students (and you) get a sense of how they are doing and what their likely grade will be if they don’t do more.
  • Remember that grades are always subjective. You are an expert judge, but another expert judge in another context might have a different opinion. That’s OK. Establish your criteria and standards, communicate them to the students and use them to the best of your ability. Then move on.
  • Understand what grades mean to your students, and what an emotional issue they are for many of them. Talk and listen! Get student input on your standards and criteria, let them make suggestions and be very clear about what grades mean to you. Using rubrics or other grading schemes can help your students understand your grading decisions and lessen the complaining. You can even use rubrics for essays and share these with students. Obviously, you set the standards and criteria but you want your students to understand them fully and have some idea of WHY you are asking them to meet these criteria.
  • If your students are consistently failing to live up to your hopes for them, you will want to examine a couple of possibilities.
    1. Are your expectations unrealistic? Do students have the background and preparation to achieve at the level you are expecting, or do they need additional support? You may need to change assignments, provide additional support or look at course pre-requisites. I am not advocating “dumbing down” a course here - but often we do not realize how difficult a task really is – especially when it comes to reading college-level material and applying it.
    2. Are your evaluation tools sharp? Look at your assignment or your test questions, and get some input from a colleague and from some students too. Is it clear what you want them to do? Vague questions or assignments frequently lead to confusion and difficulty grading the resulting products.
    3. Are you requiring students to USE information before you assess them? If you lecture for several weeks and then give an exam, you have no idea if the students really understood anything you said until you start grading. And then it’s too late to do much about it. Ask students to demonstrate their understanding during class so you can check in on their learning. That way, you can catch errors and omissions while there is still a chance to make a difference. This doesn’t need to take a lot of time. Asking students to regularly write down questions they have at the end of class, using a brief exercise or asking a few clicker questions lets you spot check understanding. Once you have taught a course once, you will be able to identify the concepts students struggle with the most – why not create an extra exercise to reinforce those problem areas? (And warn the students about those sticky spots, so they can spend extra time where it’s needed.)

I don’t think there’s any way to make grading easy, but I do think we can take a bit of the sting out. After all, nothing makes you feel prouder than reading a really good run of student exams or papers and knowing that they got it. If we can increase the percentage of good work that’s being done, we’ll be doing the students and ourselves a great service.

Submitted by:

Carolyn Oxenford
Director of the Center for Teaching Excellence
Marymount University

Would you like to receive updates on CITLA events sent directly to your email? If so, please join our mailing list. Send an email to

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[Full Spring 2013 calendar]

Important Dates

  • May 4: Last day of classes
  • May 6: Reading day
  • May 6 - 15: Final grading now available
  • May 7 -13: Last week of weekend and evening classes
  • May 7 - 10: Final examinations
  • May 15: Grades due by noon
  • May 17: Commencement

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Items of Interest

Student Rating of Instruction reporting

Results for the Fall 2012 Student Rating of Instruction (SRI) are now available on the CCRI Web portal. Individual faculty members may now log on to their MyCCRI account.

  • Click “For Faculty,” go to the bottom right corner area titled Faculty Admin Tools
  • View Rating of Instruction Pilot Results
  • Select a term (Fall 2012)
  • If you do not find results for a class you know completed the SRI, please contact your department chair, as some departments may not have submitted all SRI for scanning yet.
  • Online SRI: You also will note that on the same Faculty Admin Tools menu, faculty may choose to enable online administration of the SRI for their classes. Please discuss this option with your department chair prior to signing up, as there are some specific requirements associated with using this option for non-distance learning courses. To be eligible to administer the SRI online, all students in your course must be sitting at a computer at the same time. If you teach in a room equipped with computers, you should be fine. Otherwise, you may reserve the electronic classroom in the Knight, Flanagan or Liston Campus libraries. Please contact one of the faculty librarians located on the campus where you wish to reserve the electronic classroom:
    • Brenda Andrade, Ext. 2489 (Knight)
    • Patricia Gorman, Ext. 7059 (Flanagan)
    • Dorcas Haller, Ext. 6085 (Providence)

SRI for distance learning courses are required to administer the SRI online and not via Bb. You can keep track of who has responded by checking your class roster. Once three students have completed the SRI, an indicator will be posted next to the student’s name thereby allowing you to encourage those students who have not completed the SRI to do so. Distance learning faculty may enable online evaluation by following the directions posted above.

Should you have any questions, please call the office of Dr. Peter Woodberry, dean of Business, Science and Technology, at Ext. 2147.

Students star in 'The Gondoliers'

Join us on the waterways of Venice for the Community College of Rhode Island opera workshop production of "The Gondoliers" starting May 3 in the Bobby Hackett Theater at the Knight Campus.  Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 3, and Saturday, May 4, and at 2 p.m. on Sunday, May 5. Tickets cost $10 for the general public and $8 for students, faculty, staff, senior citizens and children. Call 401-333-SING (7464) for reservations.

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Last Updated: 9/18/18