Innovative Practices Spotlight

CAE Innovative Practices Spotlight


Dr. Alex DeCaria, Professor, Meteorology

The Center for Academic Excellence is recognizing a faculty member each month in the CAE Innovative Practices Spotlight to highlight his or her innovative classroom practices and outstanding contribution to Millersville University.

Dr. Alex DeCaria is being recognized in November for his exceptional use of SMART software in his Meteorology courses!

Please continue reading to learn more about Dr. DeCaria’s exciting experience and to learn ways to incorporate innovative practices into your classroom…


1. What innovative practice did you incorporate into your classroom?

I have been using the Smart software on the computer monitor to allow me to draw and annotate on the weather maps that I display from the internet.  I can then save the annotated maps as PDF’s and distribute them to the students after class to help them study.


2. When did you implement the new practice into your classroom?

I began doing this in Fall 2014, and have implemented it in all of my meteorology classes from the freshman to senior level.


3. Did the students willingly accept the use of the new practice? What were the reactions of the students?

The students have been very receptive.  They enjoy seeing the applications on a real weather map, and they also find the saved PDFs that I give them helpful.


4. How has the use of the new practice positively affected the classroom-learning environment?

The students seem more engaged (see comment in #5 below).


5. How has the use of the new practice affected student engagement in the classroom and the level of participation?

I think the students seem more engaged.  By seeing me annotate and illustrate concepts using actual weather maps rather than canned scenarios it holds their interest more, and they are asking more questions.


6. What challenges did you encounter when you were implementing the new practice?

The biggest challenge was learning how to use the software/hardware, and overcoming the technical glitches that invariably arise.  When this happens, instead of a nice, smooth classroom experience there is dead time as I try to figure out what is wrong.  Sometimes the calibration is off and so as I draw on the monitor the line will be offset by several inches, which makes it hard to use the system effectively.  But, once I learned how to calibrate the system this has not been an issue.


7. How did attending a CAE Professional Development or Information Technology session contribute to your learning and use of the innovative practice?

I would not have started using the Smart system had I not first attended a CAE training session.  I am very happy that I did attend and learn.  Using the Smart monitor has become an integral part of my teaching strategy.