Wednesday, December 10, 2014

What Are They Learning? And How?

In my previous column, I wrote about the importance of tailoring your teaching to your students. In particular, I advocated listening to students, canvassing them to learn about their prior knowledge, their misconceptions, their associations. As a few readers pointed out in the article’s comments, such advice is perhaps more easily offered than followed.

The idea of starting a discussion by asking students what they know, and don’t know, about a topic gets more and more difficult as class sizes go up. In a lecture hall with 200 students, opening class by asking, “now what do you all know about pre-industrial America?” may not be the most effective strategy. Class time, as well, is an issue. Most instructors have a lot of ground to cover over the semester, and not enough time to handle it all. Adding in time for informal chats about students’ prior knowledge and current understanding may feel impossible.

So how do we respond to our students’ needs in a way that leaves room for other pedagogical priorities? What we’re looking for here are practical ways to elicit and make use of quality student feedback. We want to learn from students the information—about what they knew beforehand, what they've learned from us, and what they still don’t understand—that will help us teach more effectively. Providing students with ways to give us that information not only helps us tailor our teaching, it helps them become more aware of themselves as learners. That, in turn, can help them better achieve their goals.

Read the article What Are They Learning? And How?

For help with implementing these strategies, please contact

How Rural Schools Paid for Students' Home Internet to Transform Learning

Like many districts serving low-income populations, it was fairly easy for Piedmont City School District officials in Alabama to find funds for devices. District officials wanted to leverage technology to open up opportunities for the 1,240 students in this rural community, so they started sending devices home with kids in grades 4-12 in 2009 through a program they call mPower Piedmont. However, lack of access to the Internet after school and in kids’ homes became a major obstacle to learning with those devices.

At first, teachers tried to work around Internet limitations, letting students download what they’d need for work at home before they left school. Teachers also helped students find places in the community that had free Internet, like restaurants. Downloading content worked for some things, but it didn't allow students to truly take advantage of digital tools, like interacting with peers, accessing flipped instruction or conducting online research, said Matt Akin, Piedmont’s superintendent, in an edWeb webinar.

“It was really not fair to say this homework requires Internet access, and if you don’t have it, go to McDonald’s,” Akin said. “But it was the only option that we had.”

At first, to compensate for disparities in Internet connections, many local businesses cooperated with the district and allowed students to use the Internet at their establishments. However, it was difficult for students without independent transportation to get themselves around town. Late one night, when Akin was leaving the middle school, he saw students sitting on the steps of the school trying to use its Internet. That’s when he knew they needed to devise another solution.

Read the article How Rural Schools Paid for Students’ Home Internet to Transform Learning.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Crossing Borders, Bridging Generations...stories of mixed-heritage people and families, cultural hybridity, race, ethnicity and identity

The Brooklyn Historical Society is creating a digital collection of oral histories of people with mixed-heritage. The collection will be complete in January 2015 and will eventually offer a free curriculum.


Dignity in Retirement is Not Too Much to Ask

Interesting Chronicle piece about the challenges and benefits of faculty retirement.


Why a college degree shouldn't be a commodity

On a recent episode of NBC's prime-time drama Parenthood, Drew, the lovable grandson in need of a haircut, struggled with an age-old decision: declaring a major. Coming from a low-income, single-parent household, he felt obligated to choose a practical course of study--economics--that would guarantee him a paycheck. Forget his passion for the arts. He, like so many students, had the bug placed in his ear that college is strictly a means to an end.

Of course, getting a job is critical, especially in the era of five-figure student loan debt. There are tons of kids just like Drew, for whom a solid job after graduation is key to financial security for them and their families. And the government, perhaps in recognition of this reality, has called on colleges to do more to prepare students for the workforce. But that agenda is increasingly overshadowing the point of an education beyond being a direct pipeline to a job.

In its latest Survey of Young Workers, the Federal Reserve said educational programs should be aligned with the needs of the labor market for students to get the most out of their education. That's the sort of philosophy that underpins the Obama administration's push for students to pursue degrees in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Graduates with STEM degrees are indeed more likely than their peers to have a job, according to a recent Census Bureau report.

Meanwhile, policymakers are deriding liberal arts studies as having little value. President Obama took a shot at the humanities earlier this year, when he said Americans would be better off pursuing a skilled trade than an art history degree.

It's true that liberal arts majors don't always have an easy career path, but researchers at the Association of American Colleges and Universities found that over time they are employed at the same rates and can earn similar salaries as people with professional degrees.

Read the article Why a college degree shouldn't be a commodity here...

Thursday, November 20, 2014

In the Classroom, One Size Does Not Fit All

. . . If you really want to make sure that all students have the chance to maximize their learning, you need to tailor your teaching to the ones sitting in front of you. That means finding out how much they know about a topic, trying to discover how they learn best (and encouraging them to discover for themselves), and figuring out how the particular group dynamic in your class affects learning. It may also mean diverging from the usual way you do things.

So the next time you stand in the front of a classroom, instead of starting the way you usually do—however you usually do—begin instead by talking with your students. Ask them about their experiences with your subject before they enrolled in your course. Ask them what they think about the syllabus topics that you haven’t gotten to yet. Try to uncover their misconceptions, confusions, and prejudices. Take a little time, in every class period, through formal or informal means, to really listen to your students, and let that shape how you teach . . .


Campus and Classroom Climates for Diversity

The most recent issue of Diversity & Democracy (Fall 2014, Vol. 17, No. 4) has a selection of articles on campus climate and diversity. Diversity and Democracy is published by the Association of American Colleges and Universities. 

Read the article...

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Demystifying the MOOC

New York Times piece about the benefits and limits of MOOCs, based on data from institutions around the world.


Cheating Lessons: A conversation about academic dishonesty

This teaching roundtable will review current Academic Integrity policy and practice as well as engage in discussion about proactive ways to address academic honesty. The session will conclude with a brief highlight of James Lang’s book, Cheating Lessons which is the selected text for a Spring Prindle reading group. See link to read about Lang's work.



Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Extended Studies Roundtable Structuring Assignments: Challenges and Opportunities of Teaching Block Courses on and off campus

A panel of Extended Studies faculty will start the session and then we'll open up to a broader exchange on structuring assignments for block courses. Lunch will be provided.


First-Year Seminar Faculty Discussion

Monday, October 27, 2014 at 4:00 p.m. at the Prindle Institute, Room 152

You are invited to participate in a discussion about grading standards. Please bring at least one essay that you either have already graded or one that you need to grade. Wine and snacks will be provided.

RSVP to Jean Everage

No Place for Introverts in the Academy?

Fascinating Times Higher Education (THE) article about the way university expectations compel otherwise introverted students to become vocal performers in the classroom.


Even Techies Limit Their Children's Screen Time

Sure, using tablets and computers can have upsides for children. They can provide, education for one, or just plain old entertainment value.

But we know there are downsides, too. NPR reported just last week on a study indicating screen time can negatively affect children's ability to read people's emotions.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends "screen-free zones" at home. No more than one to two hours of entertainment media a day for kids, and none for kids under two.

So how do people who work for big tech companies, like Google or Yahoo, approach this with their own children?

Manoush Zomorodi, host of WNYC's New Tech City, tells NPR's Melissa Block that most people who work in the tech industry do regulate their children's screen time. Zomorodi's full show on techies and parenting comes out Wednesday.

Interview Highlights

On the late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs as a low-tech parent

That is what Nick Bilton wrote about recently in The New York Times. ... So Nick and I got together to sort of swap stories about how technologists deal with their kids and screens, and Steve Jobs is really just the jumping-off point. So many people in tech are not worried about making sure that their kids learn to code. They put very strict limits on the very gadgets and software that they spend their days developing.

Read the full article here.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Modern Technology and Ancient Manuscripts

Caitlin Rajala FP’15 and Julia Spector ’16 were in the British Library in London this past summer, holding in their hands manuscripts worth more than an original van Gogh painting. They were written in Aramaic between the fifth and twelfth centuries, and the students’ job was to select the items most suited to a groundbreaking project they’ve been working on for more than a year.

They’re applying new technology to ancient manuscripts, using software to compare stylistic details in individual scribes’ handwriting. The software program measures elements of a scribe’s handwriting style—such as how rounded letters are and how tight or stretched out a phrase is—then compares the measurements against those in other documents scanned into a database.

The results can uncover relationships between historical documents and yield clues about when and where they were written. Analyzing script at this level of detail wasn’t possible until recently. A Five College faculty-student research team developed and refined a handwriting analysis tool that is unlocking the manuscripts’ secrets.

Rajala and Spector are an integral part of this team led by MHC’s Michael Penn, William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of Religion, and Smith College computer science professor Nicholas Howe.

Penn says the students have been involved in every single aspect of the project, which is supported by MHC, Smith, and the Mellon Foundation. “They are getting a type of mentorship that graduate students might get, but in reality even they don’t often get,” he says. “And the students constantly push the project in directions I never could have foreseen and make discoveries I would not have. It’s been fantastic to collaborate with them at that level.”


The Future is Now: Harvard's Teaching and Learning Technologies Program Webinar

In this webinar, learn more about Harvard's vision for leveraging technology to transform teaching and learning in residential, hybrid, and online courses and programs. We will discuss our migration from a custom course platform to Canvas learning management system, our plans to extend core platform functionality through LTI tools, our engagement strategy and partnership with Harvard's teaching and learning community, our initial work cultivating an open-source developer community, and more.

Read the article Teaching and Learning Technologies: A Harvard IT Strategic Initiative

Managing Advising Appointments

Just in time for advising for the coming term, join FITS for a lunch discussion on Managing Advising Appointments to learn how to set up online appointment sign-up slots for advising sessions or office hours. 


Read the article How To Create and Reserve Appointment Slots

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Teaching Roundtable To The Humanities and Beyond: Forging a Culture of Multidisciplinary Undergraduate Research

MacInnes will present on the benefits of encouraging undergraduate research, scholarship, and creative activity in the arts and humanities.


Faculty Forum Pascal Lafontant Understanding Your "Inner Fish" Heart

Come listen to Pascal Lafontant (Biology) discuss recent, award-winning student research completed in his lab on cardiac regeneration, cardiac remodeling, and vascularization.


Thursday, October 2, 2014

Stop Blaming Students for Your Listless Class

Chronicle article that outlines how the use of games as a teaching methodology has the potential to break the long history of student disengagement in college learning

Read more

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Using Technology to Aid At-Risk Students

In ʺUsing Technology to Support At-Risk Students' Learning,ʺ a review of more than 70 research studies, the Alliance for Excellent Education and the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education offer some ideas. The report's main takeaways for how technology can benefit at-risk students: focus on interactive learning and student creation, rather than rote memorization and testing, and provide a combination of teachers and technology, rather than using programs to replace in-person instruction. As Bob Wise, president of the Alliance for Excellent Education, explains, ʺReplacing teachers with technology is not a successful formulaʺ--rather, districts must make a plan for how technology can assist educators before bringing it into the classroom.

Read the article Using Technology to Aid At-Risk Students

Teaching Roundtable Small Flips: Small Steps in Flipping of a Class

Flipped classrooms have received attention in educational articles, but flipping an entire course can seem daunting. This lunchtime discussion will cover strategies for small steps in trying out flipping, including a day’s worth of activities or parts of a course. The pros and cons of flipping will also be discussed as well as the relationship between flipped classroom and blended learning.


Read more articles...
Bloom's Taxonomy Flipped
Flipping the Classroom
Southern Blend
What is a Flipped Classroom? (You're probably already doing this!)
Four Things I Wish I'd Known about the Flipped Classroom
Microflipping: A Modest Twist about the Flipped Classroom
7 Things You Should Read about Flipped Classrooms
6 Myths of the Flipped Classroom

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Surprising Secret to Better Student Recall

Last spring, a new study showed that students who took notes in longhand did substantially better on conceptual questions than those who took notes on a laptop. The results were, perhaps, not that surprising—until you consider that the laptops in the study had Internet access disabled.

It wasn’t that the laptop note-takers were more distracted. That may indeed be a valid concern with personal technology in the classroom, but it was not what Pam Mueller of Princeton University and Daniel Oppenheimer of the University of California at Los Angeles set out to measure. Rather, their study suggests there are real differences between the utility of taking notes by hand and on a computer.

When students take notes on a laptop, the study concluded, the ease of data entry makes them more likely to transcribe everything the professor is saying. Students who take notes in longhand, in contrast, cannot write fast enough to get everything down and so must be selective. It is precisely that process—of summarizing, thinking about what’s most important, predicting what might be useful down the road—that helps those who take notes on paper. Students who use laptops end up with neater, more easily searchable notes, but they may be denying themselves the opportunity to do the upfront processing that is a crucial factor, it seems, in long-term retention of class material.

Read the article...

Faculty Forum "In Search of the Aryan Seed: Intimate Labor and Affective Economies"

Come listen to Mona Bhan (Sociology/Anthropology) discuss her research on the Brogpas, a minority ethnic community trying to situate itself in the complex mix of race, religion and nationalism of modern India.


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Professional Development Roundtable Scholarly Publishing and DePauw's Open Access Policy

The DePauw faculty approved an open access policy last spring. What does that mean for you and how does it work? Join Rick Provine and Bruce Sanders from the Libraries for some information about open access, the process and our policy.


Top Colleges that Enroll Rich, Middle Class and Poor

New York Times analysis of the colleges that do the most to attract and support middle class and poor students.

Read the article...

The Case for Conversational Writing

As the author argues, ʺThis discussion is actually part of a larger debate about what constitutes good writing. I always tell my first-year composition students, when I’m trying to correct all the misconceptions about writing they’ve picked up in high school—you can’t use personal pronouns or start a sentence with a conjunction, etc.—that the only reasonable standard for good writing is what good writers actually do. How many of our best nonfiction writers, the ones who are widely read and have a genuine impact, write in an academic style? Virtually none.ʺ

Read the article...

Want to Take Group work to the Next Level? Give Team Tests.

Short Chronicle of Higher Education piece about the benefits of ʺteam-based learningʺ and team test-taking.

Read the article...

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Teaching Roundtable Collaborative Writing in the Classroom

This session will demonstrate and discuss how collaborative documents online can help students develop their writing skills, provide peer reviews, and incorporate instructor feedback. Bring your writing-class challenges for discussion.

Writing-intensive courses provide opportunities for students to practice writing as well as sharing it with others. Collaborative writing spaces are one avenue through which students can develop writing skills. This session will demonstrate and discuss how collaborative documents online can help students develop their individual skills through small group writing assignments. Moreover, online documents can facilitate feedback within a text from peers and the professor, including the new suggestion feature within Google Drive. Faculty members are encouraged to bring their writing-class challenges for discussion.

Staging Encounters: Assessing the Performance of Context in Students’ Multimodal Writing. Read the article here (access on campus only).

Perelman, Foucault, and Social Networking: How Facebook and Audience Perception Can Spark Critical Thinking in the Composition Classrooms. Read the article here.


Tuesday, September 2, 2014

When Whites Just Don't Get It

New York Times op-ed piece about Ferguson and the ongoing affects of race in the US.

Read the article...

Is Your Student Prepared for Life?

New York Times op-ed piece on the need to provide career training to undergraduates, starting in the first year of college.

Read the article...

Don't Email Me

A Salem College faculty member last semester took an uncompromising approach to curbing syllabus and inbox bloat: Why not ban most student emails?
“For years, student emails have been an assault on professors, sometimes with inappropriate informality, sometimes just simply not understanding that professors should not have to respond immediately,” Spring-Serenity Duvall, assistant professor of communications at Salem College, wrote in a blog post last week. “In a fit of self-preservation, I decided: no more. This is where I make my stand!”
Duvall’s frustration is shared by many in academe -- or anyone with an email account -- from faculty members beset by questions they have answered both in class and in writing to students inundated by university email blasts. This spring, when Duvall taught at the University of South Carolina at Aiken, she adopted a new email policy to cut down on emails from students telling her they would be late, or would miss class, or would have leave early, or any of the countless others that could be handled face-to-face. Instead of wasting class time on walking her students through an increasingly complicated flowchart diagram of when they could and could not email her, Duvall stopped the problem at its core: No emails -- unless you’re scheduling an in-person meeting.

Read the article...

Young Minds in Critical Condition

Liberal learning depends on absorption in compelling work. It is a way to open ourselves to the various forms of life in which we might actively participate. When we learn to read or look or listen intensively, we are, at least temporarily, overcoming our own blindness by trying to understand an experience from another’s point of view. We are not just developing techniques of problem solving; we are learning to activate potential, and often to instigate new possibilities.

Yes, hard-nosed critical thinking is a useful tool, but it also may become a defense against the risky insight that absorption can offer. As students and as teachers we sometimes crave that protection; without it we risk changing who we are. We risk seeing a different way of living not as something alien, but as a possibility we might be able to explore, and even embrace.

Read the article...

Monday, September 1, 2014

National Center for Academic Transformation (NCAT) Fall Webinar Series

The National Center for Academic Transformation (NCAT) is pleased to announce that it will offer four free webinars on course redesign in the coming months. During fall 2014, we will incorporate our popular Getting Started on Course Redesign seminar into this webinar series, and we will also offer a number of discipline-based topics.

 Getting Started Webinar on September 16, 2014 at 1 pm EST

 Getting Started on Course Redesign is a webinar for those of you who are thinking about beginning a large-scale course redesign project. This two-hour-long webinar will provide participants the opportunity to learn about how redesign efforts have begun at both four- and two-year institutions. NCAT Redesign Scholar Michelle Miller from Northern Arizona University will describe how their redesign of Introductory Psychology got started and how they resolved problems that arose. NCAT vice president Carolyn Jarmon will give examples of what has been experienced by two-year institutions in a variety of academic disciplines as they began their redesigns. The agenda includes plenty of time for discussion to help you think about how to get started.

 Discipline-based Webinars: October, November and December of 2014 

 Each hour-long webinar will feature an NCAT Redesign Scholar, the project leader of a highly successful course redesign, describing the redesign project with a particular focus on its distinguishing characteristics. After a presentation, the lead faculty member will be available to answer questions and provide additional specifics about the redesign. The following topics and speakers are planned:
  • October 14, 2014 at 1 pm EST: Redesigning The Economic System at Buffalo State College presented by Bill Ganley, featuring the effective use of undergraduate learning assistants in an introductory economics course. 
  • November 11, 2014 at 1 pm EST: Redesigning Developmental Math at Manchester Community College (CT) presented by Marcia Jehnings, featuring the use of modularization in the Emporium Model, a proven approach to learning developmental mathematics.
  • December 9, 2014 at 1 pm EST: Redesigning Fundamentals of Biology at Salisbury University presented by Ron Gutberlet, featuring engagement of students individually and in groups.
You must register for each webinar, but there is no registration fee. Go to to register for one or more of these webinars. 

 Videos of Prior Webinars

 Videos of the following prior webinars may be accessed at
  • Redesigning General Psychology at Frostburg State University
  • Redesigning Computing and Information Literacy at Arizona State University
  • Redesigning developmental math at Cleveland State Community College, Chattanooga State Community College and Northwest-Shoals Community College
  • Redesigning American History and European History at SUNY Potsdam
  • Redesigning Principles of Chemistry at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore
  • Redesigning statistics at Niagara County Community College
  • Redesigning Developmental Reading at Northeast State Technical Community College
  • Getting Started on Course Redesign: examples of how redesign efforts began at both four- and two-year institutions.
  • Redesigning General Psychology at the University of New Mexico
  • Redesigning College Algebra at the University of Central Florida
If you have questions about this webinar series, please contact Carolyn Jarmon, NCAT vice president, at We look forward to seeing you online!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Why I'm Asking You Not to Use Laptops

I am far from alone in asking students not to use laptops (or phones) in class. Some of my colleagues, though, seem surprised that I don’t get pushback from students about this policy. I like to think it has something to do with my taking the time to explain my laptop policy for the class and then working hard to keep up my end of the contract.

Let me explain. On the first day of class, students and I spend the first 30-40 minutes learning something new about how language works (in order to set the tone for the class), and then we go over the syllabus. When we get to the laptop policy, I pause and say, “Let me tell you why I ask you generally not to use laptops in class.” And here’s the gist of what I say after that:

Read the article...

Clients, not Customers

Chronicle piece about the benefits of approaching students as clients, with all the attendant problems. Comments are no doubt more intriguing than the actual article.

Read the article...

College textbook forecast: Radical change ahead

Article in University Business about the shifting terrain of textbook publishing, with a focus on the problems of cost and possible future business models.

Read the article...

Teaching Roundtable Warren Rosenberg, Wabash College

Walking on Eggs: Handling Difficult Discussions

Warren will lead faculty in a conversation about how to negotiate difficult discussions and situations in the classroom.


Friday, May 2, 2014

Everyone Should Teach Writing

Most of my faculty colleagues agree that Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC), in which the task of teaching writing is one assigned to all professors, not just those who teach English or composition, is an important academic concept. If we had a WAC playbook, it would sound something like this: students need to write clear, organized, persuasive prose, not only in the liberal arts, but in the sciences and professional disciplines as well. Conventional wisdom and practical experience tell us that students’ ability to secure jobs and advance in their careers depends, to a great extent, on their communication skills, including polished, professional writing.

Writing is thinking made manifest. If students cannot think clearly, they will not write well. So in this respect, writing is tangible evidence of critical thinking -- or the lack of it -- and is a helpful indicator of how students construct knowledge out of information.


Libraries Navigate the Messy World of Discovery Tools

As researchers (students and faculty, alike) turn increasingly to Google for their searches, university libraries - and the companies that provide the software they use - are having to rethink how they organize information and structure searches. Many are considering turning to the Google-like one-stop search box. While this structure has the benefit of elegance and simplicity, it also runs the risk of inundating researchers with loads of irrelevant results - a particularly vexing problem for those of us teaching young researchers how to gather the best information possible.

This move also impacts the very nature of research itself, how we find information, and how we use what we find. As the author of the article states: "The big question is how these emerging tools are influencing research. Scholars have begun several studies to find out. The work is important because "unlike almost anything that libraries have done before," the rollout of one-stop search tools is 'really intentionally trying to change the way people do research,' says Michael Levine-Clark, associate dean for scholarly communication and collections services at the University of Denver Libraries. "That’s bound to change what people find."


Will Digital Humanities Disrupt the University?

Some 10 percent of humanities scholars currently self-identify as digital humanists, which is either an alarmingly large encroachment or a too-modest development, depending whom you ask. As such, digital humanities is the consummate academic hot-button topic: Everyone has vehement opinions, but few actually know what they’re talking about.

So what is “DH,” as the academic cool kids call it (and yes, “academic cool kids” is a misnomer)? Should everyone writing a Chaucer dissertation learn how to code, and if so, why? Will DH be the Facebook of the academy—or its

The field itself isn’t actually new. According to Roopika Risam, assistant professor of English at Salem State University and co-founder (with Richard Stockton College assistant professor Adeline Koh) of the project Postcolonial Digital Humanities, it is the current incarnation of humanities computing, which has been around since computers were the size of a room.


Faculty Achievement Event

Thursday, May 8, 2014 at the Social Center, Inn at Depauw, beginning at 4:00 p.m. The annual gathering to celebrate the scholarly and artistic achievements of DePauw's faculty.

2014 May 8 The Flipped Classroom: a free webinar from Inside Higher Education

On May 8 at 2 p.m. Eastern, Inside Higher Ed presents a FREE WEBINAR, with editors Scott Jaschik and Doug Lederman who will explore a range of ideas and opinions about the flipped classroom.

The idea of the “flipped classroom” has taken off in higher education in recent years – and it is used to describe a wide variety of teaching styles. What they have in common is that they largely replace the lecture. For material that might have been delivered in lecture format previously, online instruction is provided in advance of the class. This allows for time in class to be used in different ways – group work, discussion and other forms of highly engaged participatory learning become the norm.

Discussion of the flipped classroom thus is a mix of teaching with technology – and teaching without technology. It’s about pedagogy, learning and the role of the instructor. And in an era in which educators and policy makers alike want to promote student learning and achievement (not just showing up in class), the flipped classroom has become a key strategy.

Read up before you participate! Visit their website  to download The Flipped Classroom, a compilation of news articles and opinion essays, the latest in Inside Higher Ed's series of booklets on hot issues in higher education.

Inside Higher Ed's The Flipped Classroom webinar is made possible with the support of Adobe. Your registration information will be shared with the company.

Read The Flipped Classroom


Thursday, April 24, 2014

Oft-repeated complaints that our students can't read long and complicated materials may not be as accurate as the observation that they simply don't want to.

A Washington Post article by Michael S. Rosenwald said that researchers were finding that the habit of scanning and skinning material online was changing the human brain and hindering people’s” ability to read long, complex and dense material. Cognitive scientist Daniel Willingham, a professor at the University of Virginia, is highly skeptical. Instead of rewiring our brains, which are not likely to have the capacity to evolve so quickly, it is more plausible that our relationship to content is changing. In other words, oft-repeated complaints that our students ʺcan't read long and complicated materialsʺ are probably not as accurate as the observation that they simply don't want to. It's not brain function at fault but, rather, the will. The counter-argument suggests that the internet provides us with so much opportunity to find other information that we are less willing to put up with something that doesn't interest us or that we find disagreeable. The problem is social, not biological.


Facebook in the Back of the Classroom

We all know just how frustrating it can be to look across the students in your classroom and see clear evidence that many of them are paying more attention to the latest Snapchat message or texting their sibling at another school. But what are we to do? Should we rail about incivility? Should we demand a technology-free classroom? Should we punish them for their insensitivity with pop-quizzes or calling on them when we know they haven't been listening (that great cinematic trope)? Or should we accept the technology and it's capacity to distract? Should we even embrace it? A recent column in Inside Higher Ed seeks to open up a discussion about good tactics for dealing with what many of us feel is an unwelcome intrusion into our pedagogy, but which others feel offers new opportunities for teaching our material in innovative ways.


Faculty Forum with Francesca Seaman - The Truth of the Poetic Experience: A Vital Confrontation with History, Dino Campana

This presentation will discuss the question of poetry as a fundamental experience of loss and of displacement through a brief analysis of the works of the Italian 20th century poet Dino Campana. Placing Dino Campana’s works within the norms of a literary movement is an uproductive procedure, yet the influence Campana exerts on the poets who came after him, is incalculable. He does not propose norms for the use of poetic language, nor does he model an imitable rhetoric. On the contrary, he declares useless all ideologies, all thought that conforms itself to a system, or that reduces life of an individual to a paradigm. His works stand alone in the literary tradition, so we cannot measure Campana’s affect as a poet in as much as his works are taken as a point of reference. The relevance of Dino Campana arises from a new meditation on poetry, a lesson that questions the power of images, the coexistence of life and poetry, the violent search for an absolute, and the ethics of a poetry of freedom.


Friday, April 18, 2014

AAC&U GEMs: Exemplar Practice

AAC&U GEMs: Exemplar Practice

I promised . . . to write-up an exemplar practice of how digital tools and practices can help support students in their journeys through GenEd. (This article also discusses assessment of flipped classroom learning.)

A while back, I wrote about my early experiences as a member of the Digital Working Group for the AAC&U General Education Maps and Markers (GEMs) initiative and promised that I would do my homework for the group in public. Today I will make good on that promise. The homework is to write-up an exemplar practice of how digital tools and practices can help support students in their journeys through GenEd. As I said in my original post, I think this is an important initiative. I invite all of you to write up your own exemplars, either in the comments thread here or in your own blogs or other digital spaces.

The template for the exemplar is as follows:
Evocative Examples of Digital Resources and Strategies that can Improve General Education: What are these cases a case of?

Brief Description of practice:
In what ways is the practice effective or transformative for student learning? What’s the evidence? How do we know? (If you can tie the practice to any of the outcomes in the DQP and/or the LEAP Essential Learning Outcomes, that would be great.)
How does the practice reflect the digital world as lived student culture? What are the skills and content associated with the digital practice or environment? How does the practice deepen or shape behavior of students with digital tools and environments with which they may be variously familiar? What does it take to make the practice work? What is the impact on faculty time? Does it take a team to design, implement, assess? What are the implications for organizational change?
How is it applicable to gen ed (if example doesn’t come from gen ed)?
Are there references or literature to which you can point that is relevant to the practice?


Writing Better Grants

Bert Holmes (UNC - Asheville) will speak about writing more effective grant proposals.

Changes to NSF Directorates

Bert Holmes (UNC - Asheville) will discuss changes to the NSF directorates.


Extended Studies Workshop

FDC, CTL, and the Winter Term Committee will be holding a workshop on the specifics of building syllabi and co-ordinating with other courses during Winter Term. Both on-campus and off-campus courses will be covered. Individuals are encouraged to come with specific questions and ideas.


Sabbatical Lunch

The Dean of Faculty and the Chair of FDC will hold a meeting for any faculty members eligible for leaves in 2015-16 and 2016-17. The meeting will be focused on providing the necessary information for applying for and managing sabbaticals and pre-tenure leaves.


Chairs Workshop

The Dean of Faculty will be holding a workshop for acting chairs on how to deal adequately and appropriately with legal issues that departments and/or individuals might face.


Friday, April 11, 2014

"In union there is strength" or "Too many cooks spoil the broth"?

In this session we will be looking at the positives and negatives of group work, group projects, and group presentations. Please feel free to bring group assignments that have succeeded as well as those that you want to tweak.


STEM Brown Bag Discussion

Discussion of issues affecting STEM education.


Thursday, April 10, 2014

Group Work that Works

Too often we ask our students to work in small groups in class only to find that they rush through the prompts too quickly (in order to get to socializing). The result is, at best, mediocre class discussion. The flaw, though, may not be with the students but with the design of the assignment. This article provides a model for what effective group assignments in class might look like, focusing on problem solving and decision making. According to the article, four elements that should be part of every group assignment are: significance, specificity, similarity, and simultaneity.

Read the article...

Students Can Transfer Knowledge if Taught How

One psychologist described it as education’s holy grail. Another called it ʺthe very measure of learning itself.ʺ

They were talking about the transfer of learning. Such transfer occurs in its most cognitively valuable forms when students draw on something they learned in one context, ideally by generalizing its core principles, and apply it appropriately to a situation that is far different from the original.

For example, a student in a military-­history course might learn about a general who attacked by dividing his army into many small groups so they could safely move through terrain infested with land mines. In a biology course that student might learn how a doctor treats a tumor by using many low doses of radiation to damage the tumor while preserving the tissue. The underlying strategy was the same.

While it is a longstanding goal, transfer of learning has gained renewed appeal as critics press institutions to prove the worth of a college education.

Teaching students to transfer their knowledge, say many faculty members and administrators, is also imperative in a world in which troves of information are a mouse-click away. If professors continue to see themselves as dispensers of content, they will have little of lasting value to offer.


Academic Publishing Waiver Raises Concern

Faculty authors who contract to write for the publisher of Nature, Scientific American and many other journals could be signing away more than just the economic rights to their work, according to the director of the Office of Copyright and Scholarly Communications at Duke University.

Kevin Smith, the Duke official, said he stumbled across a clause in the Nature Publishing Group’s license agreement last month stating that authors waive or agree not to assert “any and all moral rights they may now or in the future hold” related to their work. In the context of scholarly publishing, “moral rights” include the right of the author always to have his or her name associated with the work and the right to have the integrity of the work protected so that it is not changed in a way that could result in reputational harm.

Read the article...

Friday, April 4, 2014

Can Writing Be Assessed?

Can Writing Be Assessed?

Read the article...

Extended Studies Workshop: Building a Traveling Academic Community

Building a traveling academic community.


Teaching Roundtable Mike Sinowitz: The Thesis-Driven Essay, A Debate and Discussion

The quest for a thesis forms the center of much instruction in academic writing.  Professors demand it; students find it as elusive or mystifying as Benjamin Braddock found his future (“plastics”).  Despite these struggles, the thesis-driven essay has typically been seen as central to academic writing.  Some faculty, in recent years, have been moving further away from this type of writing or exclusively assigning this type of writing.  The essay, as genre, did not start this way; in fact, in its original forms pioneered by Montaigne in the 16th century, it tended towards being experimental and some times, as in Montaigne’s--as the origins of the word suggest--a try at something or sometimes just plain full of tangents.  The focus of this gathering is to debate the relative merits of this kind of writing for our student, as well as to discuss some other forms of essay that might also have important roles to play within the academic setting (and perhaps beyond).


Faculty Forum Dan Gurnon: The first person ever cured of HIV and other amazing tales of science

Stories of biochemistry for the non-specialist, plus a discussion of non-traditional teaching tools including computer animation and physical models.


Monday, March 31, 2014

Microaggression is the new racism on campus

The current debate about microaggression and privilege on college campuses is in danger of creating a Catch-22 in which no discussion of diversity can be safely undertaken. McWhorter suggests that the notion of microaggression is potentially as counterproductive as accusations of outright racism and he exhorts us to begin our discussion from a place that doesn’t just simply foster endless conflict.

Read the article...


"Walking on Eggs"

Recent debates about privilege and micro-aggression on campus (and across the nation) resonate with discussions about diversity and inclusiveness that have been ongoing for decades. In his 1995 article “Walking on Eggs,” Wabash College professor Peter Frederick argues for teaching styles that are holistic, cooperative, connected, caring, and interactive. Pulling from the work of bell hooks, Frederick attempts to provide a guide not only to the issues that confront us in the classroom but to the practical approaches that we might incorporate as a way of moving forward. “As hooks suggests, putting the ideas - and practice - of democratic inclusion, multicultural content, and of students themselves, with all their untidy confusions and emotions, at the center of our pedagogy, is truly ‘transformative’.”

Read the article here.


Classroom Climate: Building Inclusive Classrooms

This roundtable/workshop is designed to respond to recent debates on campus around the issue of privilege and micro-aggression. We will build from Peter Frederick’s article “Walking on Eggs” as a way to begin imagining what we might do to improve classroom climate and to ensure the most inclusive and “transformative” educational experience possible for all of our students.

Read the article here.


ELI Spring Focus Session Faculty Engagement and Development: Effective and Innovative Practice

More than any other core mission in higher education, teaching and learning is the focus of change, innovation, and strategic re-imagining at the institutional level. As new teaching and learning options proliferate almost daily, faculty engagement and development is of fundamental importance to institutional success. Faculty development improves practice and manages change by enhancing individual strengths and abilities, as well as organizational capacities and culture. How is the teaching and learning community rethinking its approach to this task? What innovations are we seeing in faculty engagement and development, given higher education’s re-examination of its teaching and learning mission?

ELI Spring Focus Session Program some sessions only 15-20 minutes long, so please take a look at the schedule.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Teaching in the Economy of Information Abundance

The widespread availability of mobile technologies and the increased ability to access vast amounts of information has dramatically changed the practice of teaching. How do we adapt to an information economy built on abundance and speed when we were trained in an era of scarcity? Shawn McKusker suggests that this new information economy holds the promise of making us more flexible and dynamic teachers. Instead of "devaluing" the role of the teacher, McKusker argues that "the new economy of information has freed teachers from their role as 'font of knowledge' and allowed them to become chief analyzer, validity coach, research assistant, master differentiator, and creator of a shared learning experience."

Read the article Teaching in the New (Abundant) Economy of Information

Your PowerPoint May Be the Problem

Ever wonder why your students can't remember what you say in class? Maybe it's not you. Maybe it's your PowerPoint. Rebecca Schuman explains in one PowerPoint presentation why PowerPoint is becoming a scourge of higher education.


STEM Brown Bag

DePauw's science and math division has begun a discussion regarding STEM general education learning goals. Join us for this ongoing informal discussion of science and math education.


Chair's Workshop

There will be a Chairs' workshop on this coming Monday, March 17 from 11:30 to 1:00pm in UB 231/232. We will be discussing Program Assessment and Long-Term Planning.


Blogs and Publishing

Nicholas Kristof's recent article in the New York Times raised the question of why academics seem to have abandoned their roles as public intellectuals. But there are numerous examples of scholars using blogs and other online forums to disseminate knowledge. What does this mean for the future of academic publishing?  This roundtable will address a number of questions that deal with the value and possibilities of blogging and online forums as sites for scholarly output. Do they count? Why or why not? How do we assign value to these forms?


Thursday, March 6, 2014

A Liberal Arts College That Gets It Right

A recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education highlights the challenges that Davidson College, a traditional liberal arts college, faces in a time of accelerated expectation and high expense. The author profiles the college's president as she grapples with balancing the traditions of the college (and the liberal arts in general) and changing expectations of students. The author concludes:

ʺWe expect much, perhaps too much, from liberal-arts colleges these days. We ask them to represent goals and ideals that many institutions of higher learning have abandoned or never represented in the first place. Four years is a small amount of time to fully ground people in the complex traditions of philosophy, art, science, history, and literature. Eighteen-year-olds are free to make choices that are understandably pragmatic when tuition is dear and jobs are hard to come by.ʺ

Read the article A Liberal Arts College That Gets It Right

What I Learned in College

A recent article in Inside Higher Ed details a program at Evergreen State University which requires students to write and revise (throughout their 4 years) an academic statement, pushing them to think about how all their college experiences are integrated and the kind of goals they have in choosing their paths. This approach asks students to come to terms with the values that they bring to their education, and to re-assess those values at regular intervals. It asks the faculty and the college as well to see students in a different light. As one faculty member states in the article:

“They need faculty to help them learn how to think about how their education will interface with the world. Students tend to be both practical and idealistic. They want to their education to matter in practical ways: to help them develop skills, funds of knowledge, and conceptual connections that will demystify the world and help them learn how to navigate and change it. But they also want their education to matter in ethical ways: to help them understand the implications of knowledge, and to better face the unpredictable but certain-to-arise dilemmas, personal and political, that they face as a function of simply being human.”

Read the article What I Learned in College

Extended Studies Information Meeting

In light of the recent developments regarding changes to Winter Term and Extended Studies, FDC is hosting some additional events this semester to help people think through the process of developing these types of courses. The very first of these meetings will take place on March 13 at 11:30 in Julian 147. This will be a time to hear from you all about what your specific pedagogical concerns and what would be the most helpful kind of panels/speakers/meetings for FDC to schedule in order to address those questions and concerns.

There is no need to RSVP for this first event. Lunch will be provided.

Faculty Forum: Market Aims and Managerial Responsibility

There is an attractive elegance in linking the methods of business ethics with an understanding of the market and its institutional purpose. Recent scholarship at the intersection of political philosophy and management captures this elegance by arguing for variations on a position that grounds standards of corporate conduct upon the normative presuppositions of markets. Thusly construed, there are two basic categories of responsibilities that corporations and their managers possess: to refrain from actions that would undermine the basic conditions of free and fair contracting; and to refrain from profit seeking that results from the exploitation of failures in the market, such as information asymmetries, negative externalities and imperfect competition.

This paper critically examines the aspirations of this literature by embracing its basic method but questioning how well it understands the institutional aims of the market. It is undoubtedly the case that markets are endorsed for their tendency to improve welfare through the efficient allocation of goods and services. Markets, however, also reflect a mode of design as to how particular goods and services are produced and distributed. Allocation through the market, in other words, is a governance choice about which goods and services are to be produced and distributed according to the norm of competitive, self-interested exchange. In this respect, the market is not only an institution with the general aim of improving welfare but also an institution that expresses decisions about what goods are—and to what extent—effectively realized through the market’s internal norms of competitive, self-interested exchange. It is argued that this governance aim of markets give rise to special responsibilities for certain firms in certain industries based on the social goods provisioned within certain markets. This implication is explored through an examination of the moral problems faced by the pharmaceutical industry and the responsibilities that pharmaceutical firm managers possess with regard to biomedical research, pricing and public health.


Teaching Roundtable: Collaborative Information/Data Collection during Class

Friday, March 14, 2014 from 11:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. in Julian Room 135

Regardless of your discipline, the collecting of information or data from student collaborations has been made easier through various online resources. One way in which student labs can be made more relevant and engaging is by having the entire group work to produce a communal dataset; each student or student group runs an experiment in parallel, then the data are aggregated for the entire class. This provides a larger sample size than any individual can achieve on his or her own in a reasonable time, and illustrates the replicability of experiments as well as the importance of larger datasets for greater statistical power.

The problem can come with getting all of the data in one place and giving students access to it. Simple methods, like entering the numbers on a grid on a board, work well, but Google Docs allows for real-time entry of data in a standardized format, and can even allow for real-time representation of the data in graphical format, providing instant, ongoing feedback on the progress of the lab exercise.


Thursday, February 27, 2014

A Response to Kristof

In a recent New York Times piece, Joshua Rothman responds to Nicholas Kristof's admonition of the academy. Kristof suggested that academics have all but abandoned public discourse about the most pressing issues facing our world. "We have done this in part", says Kristof, "by secluding ourselves in the arcane world of disciplinary jargon." Rothman, though, suggests that the issue is not that the academy is marginalizing itself, but that the whole system that produces scholarly knowledge is changing. A shrinking and increasingly competitive market for academic positions has had the effect of encouraging writing and research aimed at ever smaller, more powerful groups. As Rothman writes:

Often, an academic writer is trying to fill a niche. Now, the niches are getting smaller. Academics may write for large audiences on their blogs or as journalists. But when it comes to their academic writing, and to the research that underpins it—to the main activities, in other words, of academic life—they have no choice but to aim for very small targets. Writing a first book, you may have in mind particular professors on a tenure committee; miss that mark and you may not have a job. Academics know which audiences—and, sometimes, which audience members—matter.

Kristof may want professors to get back in the game, but the stakes of that game have changed, and not necessarily for the better.

Click here to read Why is Academic Writing So Academic?

A Call to Embrace Silos

In his recent book, ʺIn Defense of Disciplines: Interdisciplinarity and Specialization in the Research University,ʺ Prof. Jerry A. Jacobs questions whether the celebration of interdisciplinarity represents a threat to expertise within disciplines. While he doesn't question interdisciplinary work, per se, he does want to defend disciplines. ʺInterdisciplinarity depends on strong disciplines,ʺ he said in a article from Inside higher Ed. In the course of his book, Jacobs stresses the level of interdisciplinary work already happening (so questioning the need to build new programs), as well as the administrative imperatives that foster interdisciplinary programs on campus. While his book is focused largely on the implications for research universities, we at liberal arts colleges might also benefit from such discussions focused not only on our research, but our teaching as well.

Click here to read A Call to Embrace Silos

STEM Brown Bottle Discussion

DePauw's science and math division has begun a discussion regarding STEM general education learning goals. Join us for an informal discussion of science and math education at the Flutter Duck.

2014 March 5 GLCA Luncheon

Greg Wegner from the GLCA will present information about The Expanding Collaboration Initiative. The Great Lakes Colleges Association (GLCA) Expanding Collaboration Initiative is a professional development program launched in 2013 with major funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Its purpose is to support collaborative curricular initiatives involving faculty and key professional staff who share common academic interests. The Expanding Collaboration Initiative provides financial and program staff support for the development of multi-campus communities of practice, allowing them to share expertise, develop joint programs, bring new perspectives to current courses, and engage in new realms of thinking and creativity involving one or more academic disciplines.

For more information, click here..


Friday, February 21, 2014

Flipping the Classroom and Maximizing Class Time

Do you wish to engage students more during class time? Do you wrestle with how to overcome electronic distraction in the classroom? Do you want to create an environment that enables students to dive deeper into course content, and, thus, holds them more accountable in preparing for class? The flipped classroom might be the answer. Henning Schneider will discuss how he flipped a class for three semesters to provide students a more hands-on experience in an introductory course. Learn about the potential of the flipped classroom as well as its challenges. Discover whether flipping one class session or an entire course would fit with your teaching and student learning.

Lunch will be provided.



Read additional material...

Thursday, February 20, 2014

10 Common Misconceptions About the Flipped Classroom

What have you heard about the flipped classroom? That it’s just the latest education fad? That it only works for certain academic subjects? It’s not uncommon to come across references in the web media to poorly informed and misconstrued ideas like these.

Given the value and many benefits inherent in this powerful form of blended learning, it is important that these misconceptions be addressed. For example, ʺIt must be judged as being either 'right' or 'wrong'ʺ Flipped instruction is another tool in the teacher’s digital tool box, not a definitive “do” or “don’t” idea.

Read the article...

"Scrambling the Classroom"

As the discourse of a “flipped” classroom begins to take root in the academy, some worry that we may be trying to replace one rigid approach with another. While the notion of shifting course “practice” (what was traditionally “homework”) into the classroom has a great deal of merit, a classroom model of “all practice, all the time” could become equally as rigid and stultifying as a pure lecture model. Pamela Barnett, writing in “Inside Higher Ed” argues instead for changing the discourse away from “flipping” (an exchange of one thing for another) to “scrambling” – a combination of practice, lecture, and feedback enabled through creative uses of available technologies that blur the lines between homework and classroom work. As Barnett suggests: “The scrambled classroom enables a variety of approaches for the face-to-face environment as well. Class meetings in this model could include short lectures which introduce new concepts or address misconceptions that were revealed by online assessment. Direct instruction can then be mixed with active engagement, giving students the opportunity to practice new skills like applying, evaluating or synthesizing course concepts. Ideally, students will have opportunities to collaborate with each other. Students can also take advantage of the instructor’s presence as a responsive facilitator, as they wrestle with new ideas or skills.”

Read the article "Let’s Scramble, Not Flip, The Classroom"

Thursday, February 13, 2014

NEA Public Webinar on the Psychology of Creativity

Join this discussion with Dr. James C. Kaufman, president of the American Psychological Association?s Division 10: The Society for the Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts. Kaufman is Professor of Educational Psychology at the Neag School of Education at the University of Connecticut. The author of more than 25 books, Kaufman is internationally known for his research on such areas as everyday creativity, creativity assessment, and creativity and mental health.

This is the latest public webinar hosted by the NEA Interagency Task Force on the Arts and Human Development, an alliance of 17 federal departments, agencies, divisions, and offices that encourages more and better research on how the arts help people reach their full potential at all stages of life. The NEA and the Interagency Task Force periodically host public webinars to share compelling research, practices, and/or funding opportunities for research in the arts and human development. Task Force members include representatives from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Education, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, and other agencies and departments.


 * Nadine Kaslow, President, American Psychological Association and Professor and Vice Chair for Faculty Development in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Emory University School of Medicine (via recorded webcast)
* James C. Kaufman, PhD, Professor of Educational Psychology at the Neag School of Education at the University of Connecticut
* Sunil Iyengar, Director of Research & Analysis, NEA, will moderate the webinar



Dissecting the Classroom

Several researchers in British Columbia and Virginia are attempting to move beyond the tradition of relying on largely anecdotal evidence to assess teaching. Instead, they are developing observational rubrics designed to generate data about techniques that work and to attend to subtle disciplinary differences in classroom management. As the Chronicle of Higher Education reports, ʺscholars are beginning to fan out through campuses to study the subtle dynamics of the classroom. Some are doing so for scholarly reasons, hoping that they can distill teaching to its essential parts and identify which methods produce specific types of learning. to gather data that paint a picture of an individual professor’s practices, which can be compared with the norms of a discipline or type of course and then be used to improve his or her teaching.ʺ Not everyone appreciates or welcomes these new efforts, but supporters say they offer an opportunity to get a far clearer and more detailed picture of what actually goes on in classrooms.


A Different Approach to Assessment

The faculty and administration at Sarah Lawrence have adopted an assessment tool that stems from the culture of the college rather than adhering to standardized, nationally formed tests which some find to be inauthentic measures of student learning. According to a recent article in Inside Higher Ed, the faculty and administration developed six ʺcritical abilitiesʺ that they felt all students should possess and then developed criteria for evaluating. As one faculty member noted, “It’s impossible for standardize testing to actually evaluate the real dynamic intelligence of students...This is not about cookie cutters. We are individuals.” According to the article, the system seems to working well and has been endorsed by the college's accreditors.

Read the article Rejecting the Standardized Test...

Teaching Roundtable - First-Year Seminar

Wednesday, February 19, 2014, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. in Union Building Room 231/232.

This session will feature 3 faculty colleagues who taught first-year seminars in the fall discussing their experiences, reflecting on what worked and what they might change, and offering advice for folks who will be teaching first-year in the near future. After short presentations, we'll open it up to Q & A and open discussion.

Read article Barbarians at the Gate...


Friday, February 7, 2014

Faculty Forum: Jacob Hardesty, "The Jazz Problem: The Victorian-Modern Tension in 1920s Secondary and Tertiary Schools"

This presentation examines adult perceptions toward the impact critics believed jazz would have on young people in the 1920s and how educators responded to that fear. Despite a general dislike among both groups, university faculty and administrators allowed students more agency to shape the cultural life of the school than their secondary school colleagues, who sought to minimize young people’s exposure to jazz. Still, critics’ arguments at both levels aligned in their constant references to racial identities in music and female sexuality. Female students at both levels were viewed as particularly vulnerable to jazz’s “sensual rhythms” while also seen as guilty of provocative dressing, antagonizing still extant Victorian sensibilities. Among white critics, the case against jazz belies deeper fears about encroaching blackness through explicit and coded racialized language.


Chairs' Workshop: Mentoring Colleagues

Chairs' workshop on mentoring departmental colleagues.

There will be a Chairs' workshop on Monday, February 10 from 11:30 to 1:00pm in UB 231-232. Lunch will be provided. We will be discussing how we mentor our colleagues (both junior and senior) as department chairs and within our departments. The Dean of Faculty will share resources on the topic, but the workshop will be built around sharing experiences and ideas with each other as a start to improving our mentoring efforts.


The Importance of Hands-On Lab Courses

This study argues that including a hands-on laboratory experience in an undergraduate curriculum produces gains in both student grades and retention.

A recent study in mBio argues that including a hands-on laboratory experience in an undergraduate curriculum produces gains in both student grades and retention. At the center of this study is a lab program known as Sea-Phages which began in 2008 and now includes 73 institutions. The program is sponsored by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. While the researchers found that the cost of such lab experiences can be higher than more traditional lab courses, the benefits of these ʺmore authenticʺ experiences can outweigh those costs.


Free Speech and Social Media

To what degree are faculty, staff, and students free to speak their minds on social media?

A recent blog post in Inside Higher Education raises the question of how safe faculty, staff, and students are when they communicate via social media. Recent examples coming from the University of Kansas and the Colorado State University - Pueblo raise the question of just how much leeway our institutions have (and should have) in monitoring and intervening in speech over social media and email.

Is Free Speech at Risk? Read article