Tuesday, November 24, 2015

How Do We Define Student Success in the Humanities?

I’ve been thinking a lot about the phrase “student success.” I like the way it pushes us to define our terms and ask questions about metrics: What does student success look like? How do you know that what you’re doing will make your students successful? How do you measure whether they are successful? We do better by students when we track them —that is, when we start to examine more closely how they are affected by what we teach and how we structure the university. Which course in a major has the highest failure and dropout rates? Why do students take longer to graduate in one major than they do in another? Why was the retention rate so much higher last year than the year before? When your major leads directly to a career — through licensure (as social work) or through a natural pipeline (such as criminal justice), it’s relatively straightforward to track students’ success. Did they get placements in social-service agencies? Are they working in law enforcement or elsewhere in the justice system? But as a dean of humanities and social sciences, I am well aware that postgraduate success isn’t so clear-cut for many degree recipients in my college. Which careers they will or should pursue is not so obvious. The humanities curriculum centers on content rather than practice. What does the content of a history curriculum add up to if you don’t want to be a history teacher? A chemistry major becomes a chemist. What does an English major become? (Yeah, we’ve heard it before: “a barista.”) Measuring student success means more than tracking retention and graduation rates: How successful have we been if a student graduates in four years and four years later is still unemployed? But success also means more than job placement. We don’t want to produce unhappily employed 25-year-olds whose work doesn’t draw on anything they learned as philosophy or theater majors. To try to wrestle with these questions, a group of folks from two- and four-year institutions in my region is getting together as a working group, focusing on student success in the humanities. It started because I’d been trying to get colleges together to host a national gathering of English department chairs. As I started canvassing interest in that event, I noticed that the department chairs and administrators to whom I was talking weren’t super enthusiastic about the idea until I started talking about its theme for the event — student success in the humanities.

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Small Changes in Teaching: The Minutes Before Class

Check out this Chronicle article, by James M. Lang, that outlines "3 simple ways you can set up the day’s learning before the metaphorical bell rings."

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Esri Story Maps

Everyone has a story to tell. Esri Story Maps allow you to combine maps, text, images, and multimedia content in an online environment so that you can tell your story. Join us for a demonstration session that will showcase some of the Esri Story Map templates that will help you get started on your story.

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A Shift in Being: Music, Improvisation, and Transformation

Come join Eric Edberg as he shares how embracing the process of free improvisation transformed his relationship with music making and eventually his performing and teaching career. This event is a continuation of ArtsFest.


Thursday, November 12, 2015

Learning Beyond Letter Grades: Exploring the Promise & Possibility of Assessment

Why do so many schools use letter grades? What do they tell us and fail to tell us about the learners? What is the relationship between letter grades, student learning, and assessment? Learning Beyond Letter Grades: Exploring the Promise & Possibility of Assessment (Session 2 of 3) Why do so many schools use letter grades? What do they tell us and fail to tell us about the learners? What is the relationship between letter grades, student learning, and assessment? This three-part course will allow participants to consider different ways to augment or enhance the common letter grade system by designing a variety of formative assessment or feedback strategies. We will examine the benefits and limitations of several options: peer assessment & workshopping, self-assessment, portfolio assessment, narrative assessment, authentic assessment, and competency-based assessment. In this ELI online course, “Learning Beyond Letter Grades: Exploring the Promise & Possibility of Assessment,” you will be invited to examine a variety of real world examples of learning organizations that use or support these different assessment models in place of or in addition to a traditional letter grade system. For more information...

Teaching Faculty Forum Resisting White Silence: Pedagogies of Risk and Refusal

What happens when the desire for a risky and disruptive pedagogy confronts the silence of white refusal? How, as teachers, do we create a “risky pedagogy” when white students and/or teachers demand safe space and their own ability to trust the “other” as a precondition for their participation? Come hear Rebecca and her students talk about these questions and more.


Teaching Roundtable Gradeless Writing Assignments/Courses

The WCC will host a roundtable discussion of the pros and cons of gradeless writing assignments/courses. This is a follow-up to the Asao Inoue workshop held in August. Several colleagues are currently implementing gradeless writing in their courses and they will provide reflection on their experience.