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..

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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.

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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.

Speakers:

 * 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

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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. Others...seek 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.

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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...

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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