RAMP-UP! at Rensselaer: T.E.A.S. Seminars
T.E.A.S. - Towards Excellence in Academia

Goal:   At the level of the individual, we aim to strengthen the networking ties among the women faculty and provide them with a forum in which they can discuss issues important to their professional development.

The Teaching Excellence in Academia Seminars continues to provide opportunities for women faculty to participate in open discussion focusing on specific topics. There is a half hour period before the topic discussions take place where women faculty can enjoy refreshments and network with one another.

"As a result of networking through TEAS, Debbie Kaminski offered me the opportunity to fund a grad student through her GK-12 Energy & Environmental NSF grant. This allowed me to take on a new PhD student this year. TEAS is the only place I've crossed paths with Debbie, so this most certainly made a very big difference for me, especially being pre-tenure and needing to have a track record with PhD students as one of my tenure criteria."
      - Dr. Miriam Katz, Associate Professor of Earth & Environmental Sciences

Past T.E.A.S. News

The 2009-2010 T.E.A.S schedule:

This social networking addition to our RAMP-Up program focuses on specific topics beneficial to the advancement of women faculty.

Our first T.E.A.S. of the year took place on September 16th with a warm welcome to our newly hired Vice President of Research, Francine Berman.  Dr. Berman gave a well rounded talk on the type of work she did in San Diego and focused on what she would like to accomplish at Rensselaer.  P.I. Debbie Kaminski also gave an overview of some of the initiatives RAMP-Up will be taking on in the coming year.  Also mentioned were a rundown of the upcoming TEAS from Co-PI Kristin Bennett.  Lastly, RAMP-Up Director, Angela McNerney gave an overview on the new initiative called Tech Valley Connect, a pilot program to help assimilate new PhD and professional hires and their families into the region by specifically focusing on dual career issues.


On Thursday, January 28th, 2010 at the Troy building, Dr. Franicine Berman gave a lecture focusing on the Information Age called "Riding the Data Deluge".


RAMP-Up would like to cordially invite you to the first 2010 T.E.A.S. - Towards Excellence in Academia Seminars to take place on Thursday, January 28th at Troy Building Room 2012 from 3:30 – 5:00 pm. Join us to celebrate the winning of the IEEE/ACM Ken Kennedy Award for Cyberinfrastructure Leadership by our own Dr. Francine Berman. Fran will talk on "Riding the Data Deluge." Refreshments will be served from 3:30-4:00 pm.


The Information Age has brought with it a deluge of digital data generated by cell phones, computers, sensors, satellites, scientific instruments, and other sources. This digital information, currently at the Exabyte level (10^18 bytes), drives virtually every area of research, education, commerce, entertainment, and modern life. While today's digital information has already begun to transform the world, the challenges of managing it, retaining it, accessing it over the long term, and sustaining it constitute some of the most difficult problems of our time. Solving these problems requires strategies that make sense from technical, policy, regulatory, economic, security, and community perspectives. In this talk, we focus on the opportunities presented by today's and tomorrow's deluge of data, and discuss the challenges of ensuring access to it for the foreseeable future.

Dr. Berman is an international leader in the development of Cyberinfrastructure and has written more than 165 articles, editorials, and reports spanning the areas of high-performance computing, grid computing, scheduling, programming environments and middleware, cyberinfrastructure, and digital data stewardship and preservation. She is a Fellow of the Association of Computing Machinery (ACM) and Senior Member of the IEEE.

On Wednesday, February 10th RAMP-Up hosted an all day seminar on Academic Leadership.

The return of Jane Tucker and Barb Butterfield from COACH was a success in terms of guiding women faculty through role playing scenarios. Women faculty from both Skidmore College and Union College join Rensselaer's women faculty at this event. The all day workshop encompassed the following aspects:

Development of leadership skills in problem-solving and leading change

Participants increased their leadership skills by understanding:
  • Effective and ineffective leadership characteristics

  • New research on trends in leadership skills and how this applies to academia

  • Provosts' rankings of leadership characteristics

  • Personal leadership strengths and development needs

  • Leadership negotiation and problem-solving

  • Personal leadership styles and how to lead change

  • How to use methods, such as Appreciative Inquiry, in addressing issues

Attendees selected a case to practice or select roles in a faculty meeting, with one person leading the meeting. Leaders and participants practiced leadership skills; got feedback from coaches; and discussed best techniques for leading successful meetings.

I recently learned about Vision 2020: An American Conversation About Women and leadership, a national project "dedicated to creating a decade of education and action to promote gender equality" and leading to celebration of the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment (see http://www.drexel.edu/vision2020)

The afternoon session, Coaching Women to be Effective Change Agents led participants in learning to change management approaches that can increase the success of efforts to bring about change in organizations through understanding. Some of these methods include:
  1. Elements that model and drive organizational change
  2. Styles of change behavior and how to approach each style
  3. The difference between changes and transition
  4. How to approach change in research groups, using a lab oratory case
  5. How to approach change in a department, using a departmental case
  6. Managing the presentation of change in a faculty meeting
  7. Power and the uses of power
Attendees learned how to engage sponsors and set up advisory groups to support and fund the change effort. They learned Appreciative Inquiry and practice building positive, driving coalitions .

There was a lively discussion led by Dr. Frank Wright on "How to get the scores you want from your classes IDEA evaluations on March 3rd from 2:30-4:00 in the Folsom Library's Fischbach Room.

IDEA: I Don't Even Appreciate
I will briefly describe the structure and intent of the IDEA Student Ratings of Instruction, identify Faculty Information Form common errors and explore the some of the claims associated with that feedback which can be found at Student Ratings of Instruction.

The IDEA Student Ratings of Instruction system, factors out extraneous circumstances, focuses on student learning of 12 specific objectives, and can be administered online or on paper. Research has shown there is no single, correct way to teach. As a result, The IDEA Center tailors each report to fit the instructor's selected learning objectives and offers recommendations for improvement based on our vast national database. In essence, IDEA builds in objectivity — while accommodating the creativity and artistry necessary to facilitate student learning.

What does it do?
Any assessment is only as good as the feedback it provides. The Student Ratings of Instruction system distinguishes itself by soliciting students' feedback on their own learning progress, effort, and motivation, as well as their perceptions of the instructor's use of 20 instructional strategies and teaching methods. In addition, the system surveys instructors regarding their overall goals and highlights for them in the analysis and report.

A focus on learning
The IDEA Student Ratings system looks at instruction in terms of its endgame. Rather than emphasizing teaching style or personality, the IDEA system focuses on student learning and the methods used to facilitate it.

A wealth of normative data
The Student Ratings of Instruction system is unique in its emphasis on using data-driven results constructively. In addition to measuring instructional effectiveness, the system draws upon a wealth of research from The IDEA Center's growing national database. This crucial comparative data provides a firm basis for identifying strengths and diagnosing areas in need of improvement, while factoring out variables beyond the instructor's control, such as student work habits, student motivation, and class size.

Useful and constructive reporting
Reader-friendly faculty reports not only summarize teaching success, but also provide insight on how to improve. These reports gain even more currency when combined across classes or years using the Group Summary Report. No other evaluation service offers such comprehensive, longitudinal reporting.