Academic Senate discusses student engagement in HyFlex classes at last meeting of semester


The CMU Academic Senate discussed how to increase student engagement in online/HyFlex classes at its Nov. 11 meeting - the final Academic Senate meeting planned for the semester.

Academic Senate Chairperson Katrina Piatek-Jimenez said transitioning to online or Hyflex classes has reduced student participation in classes and is hindering professors' ability to teach. 

"It's sometimes very hard for instructors to talk to a sea of nothing," Piatek-Jimenez said. "You sometimes feel like you're just talking to your computer."

Student Body Vice President Brett Houle polled student opinions on online engagement and presented the findings to the senate. 

Some suggestions that came from the student senator include making verbal participation in class a participation grade, using interactive learning games like Kahoot and utilizing Webex break-out groups. 

Webex break-out groups are where students separate into smaller groups and are encouraged to have engaged in discussions. In order to keep students engaged in the group, one student can act as a facilitator and report their progress to the class.

"Faculty can't be fully successful in their jobs if students aren't there participating too," Houle said. "Professors can't be in every break-out room, there can always be one student invested in making sure conversation is happening."

Other business 

  • Senators passed a resolution that encourages faculty to not schedule assignments, exams or faculty meetings during the Spring 2021 wellness days. The resolution does not apply to a-synchronous online classes.
  • Nine new candidates were elected to various committees including four students to the Excellence in Teaching Award Committee and the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee.
  • Nominations are now being accepted for CMU faculty in the 2021 Distinguished Woman in Higher Education Leadership Award, nominations are due by Nov. 13th.
  • The Academic Senate and E-Board meeting schedule was adjusted to not include meetings on wellness days in the Spring semester.
  • The search for the Dean of the College of Science and Engineering will be starting the second round of virtual candidate interviews, dates and times to be announced.

Academic Senate meetings a held over live-stream and recorded available to all students for free on the CMU website.