Thursday, December 10, 2015

Teaching Undergraduate Science Majors How to Read Biochemistry Primary Literature: A Flipped Classroom Approach

Reading scholarly articles is a crucial information literacy skill for undergraduate science majors. In previous years students were required to read scholarly articles and to write a summary report in an upper-level biochemistry course. Students expressed difficulties in reading scholarly articles and identifying the appropriate information needed. To remedy the situation, an integrated approach to teaching information literacy skills was developed and implemented.
The biochemistry course at our institution is typically comprised of students majoring in Chemistry and Biology, with varying degrees of prior training in information literacy skills. Some have no previous experience with reading scholarly papers, while others have written several review articles in other science courses. The class meets twice a week for a 75 minute lecture. Unfortunately, the content-rich nature of this course precludes extensive student training by library staff.
A flipped information literacy session appeared to us as the best possible solution to accommodate the different information needs and prepare students for the research assignment within a limited amount of time. The methods of flipped classrooms have been implemented in various disciplines (Bull, Ferster & Kjellstrom, 2012; Engin & Donanci, 2014; Findlay-Thompson & Mombourquette, 2014; Forsey, Low, & Glance, 2013; Hantla, 2014; Strayer, 2012; Youngkin, 2014) and in library instruction sessions (Arnold-Garza, 2014; Datig & Ruswick, 2013; Lemmer, 2013). Through the flipped method, students gain the foundational knowledge and skill sets needed prior to the class meeting. This allows the faculty members to select a few topics that warrant discussion, lessening the time spent in lecture and engaging students in learning through interactive activities during the lecture period. Read article...

How Would You Answer These 9 Reimagine Education Questions?

Congratulations. You are at a conference. You’ve been asked to do a 15 minute video interview. You have been given the questions before the interview. How would you answer? . . . Question 4: Is there an innovation/idea/movement/methodology that excites you in terms of the future of education? Yes. A liberal arts education.
A liberal arts education is based on the idea that the most important part of an education is learning how to learn. In our liberal arts schools we explicitly focus on developing skills in communication and collaboration. Integrity, self-reliance, and independence of thought are all essential elements to a liberal arts education. A comfort with risk taking, and the ability to make a positive impact on our community’s and the world. These will be the skills that will be essential in the cognitive economy of the 21st century. Read article...

Student Course Evaluations Get an 'F'

NPR piece about the viability of course evaluations.

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Friday, December 4, 2015

What's Next in Active Learning?

Many universities have implemented active learning classrooms (ALCs) or are currently planning these spaces. The University of Oklahoma has seen three years of increasing investment in ALCs through dozens of projects. Learn how OU has addressed frequently asked stakeholder questions and discuss the potential questions of tomorrow. View event details...

The High School/College Writing Classroom Disconnect

I believe there is a disconnect between writing as it is taught in secondary education and what happens in the college composition classroom.
I know I am not the only instructor who believes that the early part of the semester (and beyond) involves a kind of “deprogramming” of some beliefs and habits that have been inculcated prior to students arriving in college. As a rule (to which there are exceptions), many students come armed with a series of writing “rules” that are meant to be followed, or else. Essays are five paragraphs long, and should never contain “I,” “you,” or “we.” Some have been told that each paragraph should be limited to 5 (or 7 or 9) sentences, and that all concluding paragraphs start with “In conclusion.”
These rules are not purposeless. They can help give writing shape, and can guard against some of the worst excesses that writers of any age and experience may indulge in[1].
And when it comes to the kinds of high stakes standardized assessments students are primarily subjected to, writing to these rules is a veritable necessity.
I do not mean my criticisms as an indictment of the necessary, difficult, deeply unappreciated work of primary and secondary educators. To the extent there is a disconnect, I think it is the fault of higher education which has done very little to communicate the purposes and processes of the college writing classroom to the larger world. I don’t think we do it particularly well even inside our own college and university communities.

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How, and Why, You Should Have Students Assess Themselves

As the end of another semester approaches, a teacher’s mind naturally turns to evaluations. This term, in addition to having students fill out the standard forms about your course, why not ask them to evaluate themselves as well? There are many reasons to have students complete self-evaluations at semester’s end, but perhaps the best is that the exercise encourages metacognition. I’ve written before about metacognition — essentially “thinking about one’s thinking” — particularly in the context of getting students to consider their approach to our courses as they progress. But metacognition is a significantly valuable tool at the end of a course, when there are so many opportunities for self-reflection. At that point, students have been working on the same subject for more than three months; before they move on to other courses, and other professors, give them time and space to reflect on what they’ve done, and how they’ve done it. A self-evaluation is a great way to get students to assess how they approached the course with an eye to improving their learning strategies in the future. It can also help cement the particular skills they learned in your course — in effect, they remind themselves of the skills they’ve acquired, and may be more likely to put them to use in the future. Additionally, asking students to reflect on their own practices during your course may make them better equipped to evaluate your teaching in a way that accurately reflects how much they’ve learned.
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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.

Read the Article...

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."

Read the Article...

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.

Read about Esri Story Maps

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.


The Future of the University: Speculative Design for Innovation in Higher Education

This essay proposes five models of innovation in higher education that expand our "Ideas of the University," envisioning educational start-ups in the spirit of entrepreneurial experimentation. The author seeks to realize each of these feasible utopias as a way to disrupt higher education. As I write this, the university reportedly is in crisis. Depending on who you listen to, the crisis results from inequality between the administration and faculty, students required to shoulder more and more of the financial burden of their education, decisions made on the basis of profit-seeking, students driven by vocationalism — or universities gone academically adrift. Whatever the causes, "disruption" is the most commonly recommended solution to the university's ills, probably involving technology. Philosopher of higher education Ronald Barnett observed: Ideas of the university in the public domain are hopelessly impoverished. "Impoverished" because they are unduly confined to a small range of possible conceptions of the university; and "hopelessly" because they are too often without hope, taking the form of either hand-wringing over the current state of the university or merely offering a defense of the emerging nature of "the entrepreneurial university." On the one hand, our ideas about innovation in higher education focus too narrowly on technological disruption. On the other hand, those resistant to innovation and disruptive change in higher education long for a return to a perceived Golden Age of the University as imagined by Wilhelm von Humboldt or John Henry Newman. Our visions for the future of higher education thus fall between Luddism and technological disruption. This essay proposes five models of innovation in higher education that expand our "Ideas of the University." I am inspired by the 1920s and 1930s, when there was a general spirit of experimentation in higher education in the air, with the founding of Black Mountain College, Bennington, the Great Books at St. John's, the Experimental College at Wisconsin. The founders of these experimental colleges, such as John Andrew Rice and Alexander Meiklejohn, had a "start-up mentality." These educational entrepreneurs imagined a university different from what currently existed, grounded in a deep philosophy of higher education. I do not believe in one singular "Idea of the University," but rather a multitude of ideas. This article envisions five such educational start-ups in the spirit of entrepreneurial experimentation. Read the article...

Who's in First (Generation)

The term "first generation" tends to be thrown around a lot by educators and policy makers. But what does the term mean? Does a first-generation college student come from a home where neither parent earned a college degree? What if at least one parent graduated college? What if their parents attended college but didn't graduate? Does it matter if it's a biological parent that attended college or some other adult residing in their home? New research from the University of Georgia's Institute of Higher Education, presented last week at the annual meeting of the Association for the Study of Higher Education, explores whether different definitions of "first generation" change (a) how many such students there are and (b) our understanding of how they fare in higher education. The answer to the latter question: not really. Regardless of how they're defined, first-generation students enroll and graduate at lower rates than do other students. But the definition has an enormous impact on the size of the population of students, the researchers found. Read the article...

Engaging Alumni and Students Using Online Education Technology

Key Takeaways -Small, undergraduate liberal arts colleges can take advantage of technologies used in massive open online courses offered by larger research universities to create small, private online courses. -Colgate University designed a SPOC using MOOC technologies with the goal of engaging students and alumni through interactive online activities. -Students who used the interactive capabilities of the course demonstrated engagement with the course materials, answered comprehension questions that affected their test scores, and developed relationships with alumni online. -Alumni who participated in the course's online activities reported feeling reconnected with their alma mater through their involvement in the course's academic setting. Declared "The Year of the MOOC," 2012 saw expansion and heightened interest in massive open online courses offered by top-tier research universities.1 Despite focusing on a wide variety of topics, all MOOCs share several features: open and free registration, publicly shared curricula, social networking mechanisms, and facilitation by leading experts in the field.2 To date, the expense and intensive labor necessary to design, implement, and support a MOOC have meant the institutions most suited for MOOC production are large, research-based universities. Small, undergraduate liberal arts colleges, in contrast, do not have the same resources.3 Consequently, liberal arts colleges have not been major players in the MOOC movement to date. Furthermore, liberal arts colleges emphasize high faculty-student ratios, the expectation of time-intensive student-faculty interactions, and more hands-on teaching styles. Small liberal arts colleges also often have a loyal alumni community that is strongly motivated to engage with the students and can serve as an invaluable educational resource for them. The effective integration of alumni into the campus community often has multiple additional benefits for the institution. The fundamental philosophical and practical differences between small undergraduate liberal arts colleges and major research institutions raise important questions regarding the use of online educational technology; in particular, how can online platforms benefit students in a liberal arts setting, and how can MOOC technology serve the liberal arts institution? In this article, we describe an experiment conducted at Colgate University (table 1) adapting MOOC technologies and methodologies to enhance connections between Colgate students and alumni, and to construct a learning environment compatible with the ideals of a small college. Read the article...

Friday, November 6, 2015

What Colleges Might Lose by Banning Yik Yak

In an effort to curb harassment on college campuses, 72 women’s and civil-rights groups from across the nation recently announced a campaign to enlist the federal government to shut down applications like Yik Yak, which they claim foster an environment of exclusion and hate. For those unfamiliar, Yik Yak is a social-media app, described by many as an anonymous version of Twitter. It requires no user name or log-in information, and users, thanks to geolocative technology, engage only with others in the vicinity. People are able to create their own yak, comment on other people’s yaks, and "upvote" or "downvote" content. I agree that college administrators (and researchers) need to pay more attention to what is happening on forums like Yik Yak, but shutting them down will not alleviate the larger problem of deep-seated misogyny, racism, and homophobia on college campuses. As a 2013 study that I conducted with Andrea Press demonstrates, the sexism that circulates on forums like Yik Yak is not a new phenomenon. Closing Yik Yak’s window will likely open the door for a similar app waiting to take advantage of the displaced network of users. Yik Yak should work with colleges to identify users who spew particularly hateful or defaming speech, and colleges should care that students on their campuses are doing this. However, my research demonstrates that harassment via Yik Yak is rare. Users attest that "the community" does a good job of regulating what they qualify as derogatory speech. Given these findings, organizations need to stop focusing on "shutting down" technology easily replaceable, and rather use forums like Yik Yak to better understand the broader cultural problems within their communities. I don’t mean to diminish the hurt and isolation students feel when they witness extremely racist, sexist, or damaging content, but focusing solely on harassment and explicitly derogatory content undermines two more pressing problems: the content that persists and the protests hidden from view.

Read the article...

Conversation with the Speaking and Listening Consultants

The S Committee (John Berry, Eric Edberg, Andrew Hayes, Ken Kirkpatrick, and Pam Propsom) would like to invite you to a lunch event where Speaking/Listening Consultants will talk about their training as well as their experiences working with your students. DATE: 11/17; TIME: 11:30 to 12:30; PLACE: ARC (115 Asbury). If you regularly send students to the Speaking/Listening Center, it will give you the opportunity to meet the peer consultants who have been helping your students. If you haven't incorporated using the Speaking/Listening Center into your courses, it will introduce the process. If you have a feeling that one of your students might be a good consultant in the future, you can see types of students we are looking for. In order to plan for lunch, please RSVP to Jean Everage at by 5 pm on Friday, Nov. 13.

Many Colleges Now See Centers for Teaching with Technology as Part of 'Innovation Infrastructure'

In the past few years, many colleges have expanded the scale and scope of centers that support teaching and learning with technology, as part of an effort to build a new “innovation infrastructure” for instruction. That’s according to the results of a new survey of directors of academic-technology centers at 163 colleges and universities, released last week at the annual conference of Educause, an organization that supports technology on campuses. One key change has been the creation of new or redefined administrative jobs at colleges intended “to lead their academic-change initiatives.” And the survey found that several colleges have reconstructed their centers for teaching and learning to focus more on student success than just on faculty development, working more often across various departments such as student services and academic affairs. Read the article...

Forging Ahead in the Radical Middle

In higher ed, it’s easy to lament the downside of tech—texts replace talk, representation stands in for life. There are real pitfalls to an excessive reliance on technology, but our investigation of its benefits should not founder on them. But what if we at universities considered tech’s potential to expand and enrich human experience? Can new technologies help to overcome standardization, overspecialization and the relentless routine of industrial production? Can we, in the digital age, imagine an integrated, perpetually creative, self-driven life? And if we talked more about this, could skeptical faculty find a way into the conversation? Read the article...

Professional Development Roundtable, Cindy Babington, Evaluating and Placing in National Context: DePauw's Admission Program

Determining how best to build a class requires the gathering and analysis of much data. Vice President for Admission and Financial Aid Cindy Babington will discuss with participants the art and science of building a class while sharing national data and data about DePauw's admission efforts.


Friday, October 30, 2015

EDUCAUSE and the Technologization and Corporatization of Higher Education

There are 307 vendors at EDUCAUSE 2015. There could have been more. According to the EDUCAUSE website, "Booth space for EDUCAUSE 2015 is sold out.” Every year I come to EDUCAUSE, and every year the Exhibitor Floor seems to get bigger. The booths seem to get flashier. The presentations get louder. The screens are bigger. The colors are brighter. The swag gets fancier. And every year higher education gets more expensive and less accessible. Each year the excitement about educational technology as a business seems to increase. And year year the states cut back how much money that that send to their public institutions of higher learning. Each year the vendors at EDUCAUSE promise to solve the challenges that our schools face if we can only find the right platform, the right service, and the right company. And each year the number of full-time tenure-track faculty positions decline, and the number of contingent faculty increase. Each year the new technologies on display at EDUCAUSE hold out the hope of improving outcomes while lowering costs. And each year we return to our campuses certain in the knowledge that technical solutions to social and political challenges will prove to be inadequate. Each year we marvel at the new cloud-based and lightweight systems that will allow us to consume technology as a service, enabling us to focus on our core competencies of teaching, research, and service. And each year we realize that edtech companies have locked us into proprietary standards and platforms that can’t easily integrate with other systems. Each year we hear from our vendor partners how they have increased the features and capabilities available without raising prices. Read the article.

'It's Not You, It's Them', I Told Myself

When I was lecturing in China back in 2005, I was surprised at how many students had cell phones in class. I shouldn’t have been. Cell phones, even in that pre-iPhone era, were a good way for the Chinese to stay in touch when their landlines were far from adequate. A lot of those phones were out in people’s laps while I was lecturing. I was a guest in China so I said nothing. Then in 2006, when I was teaching on a Fulbright in Romania, I had an interesting intercultural moment when one of my students wanted to take a call in the middle of a midterm exam. Of course, it was only a few years later that those situations started popping up in my own classes stateside. Attention spans wandered. Phones came out. I got upset. I changed the way I lectured in order to make sure that I was looking out at the classroom the whole time I was talking. I figured that would make it less likely for students to reach for their phones since they knew I would see them. It didn’t. At first, I thought the problem must be me. I’d gotten old and boring. Then I heard the same complaints from all over my university and all over academia: Student attention spans have disappeared! Ban cell phones now! Like everyone else, I did precisely that. Heck, I still do precisely that (and I’ll explain why in a moment), but ultimately that kind of syllabus language was just a bluff. I wasn’t going to throw anyone out of my classroom for something that petty, so rather than invoke a feeble threat, I started explaining to students how distracting their phones were when I was trying to talk and then hoped for the best. Read the article

Learning Beyond Letter Grades: Exploring the Promise and 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? This three-part course (November 5, November 19, December 2; 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.) 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, click here.

Teaching Roundtable Institute for Liberal Arts Digital Scholarship Showcase

Rebecca Alexander and Tamara Stasik along with student researchers, YaTing Yang and Hannah Bradley, will share their collaborative work from this past summer on "Mapping as a Tool for Educating Communities about Poverty, Fostering Local Structural Transformation, and Enabling Political Action" and "Re-Evaluating the Place of the Commonplace Book," respectively. Discussion will focus on their participation in the Institute for Liberal Arts Digital Scholarship, a week-long workshop held at Hamilton College during which teams (faculty member[s], students, technologists, librarians) concentrated work and effort on a faculty project. On hand for the discussion are Rebecca's other team members, Beth Wilkerson and Veronica Pejril as well as Tamara’s, Brooke Cox and Jin Kim. 

Please RSVP today for lunch.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Women's Groups Urge Colleges and Government to Rein in Yik Yak

By Peter Schmidt October 21, 2015 Washington Seventy-two women’s and civil-rights groups on Wednesday announced a campaign to enlist the federal government in pressuring colleges to protect students from harassment via anonymous social-media applications like Yik Yak. The groups have sent the U.S. Education Department a letter calling for it to treat colleges’ failure to monitor anonymous social media and to pursue online harassers as a violation of federal civil-rights laws guaranteeing equal educational access. Read the article...

Teaching Roundtable "Helping Students Write with Q"

Come hear Rich Martoglio, Director of the Q-Center, lead a faculty discussion on integrating Q with student writing.


Yes, Colleges Do Teach Critical-Thinking Skills, Study Finds

Report: “Does College Teach Critical Thinking? A Meta-Analysis” Authors: Christopher R. Huber and Nathan R. Kuncel, both of the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities Publication: Review of Educational Research, a journal of the American Educational Research Association Summary: Educators, policy makers, and employers all want colleges to teach students critical-thinking skills, but are colleges succeeding in doing so? To answer that question, the study’s authors analyzed 71 research reports published over the past 48 years. Their conclusion: Yes, despite arguments to the contrary, students’ critical-thinking skills do improve in college. The difference is comparable to a student whose critical-thinking skills start at the 50th percentile and, after four years in college, move up to the 72nd. Read the article...

Teaching Faculty Forum Peggy McIntosh "Seeing Privilege: The Surprising Journey Continued"

Come hear Peggy McIntosh (Wellesley Centers for Women) talk about privilege and its implications in the classroom. Her talk is part of the American Whiteness lecture series.


How to Teach in an Age of Distraction

This is an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education by Sherry Turkle on how to teach in an age of distraction.

Read the article...

Campus Visit of GLCA Director of Program Development

Please join us for a lunch with Greg Wegner, GLCA Director of Program Development, who will describe important new initiatives as well as continuing opportunities for faculty professional development through the GLCA’s consortial programs. 

RSVP on the CTL calendar or by email invitation.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Teaching Students to Evaluate Us Better

I’ll admit it: I like my students, and I want them to like me, too. Such is the humiliating plight of just about every grad instructor, adjunct, and professor I know. Our professional pride -- and, for many, our professional survival -- now hinges in part on what our students have to say about us at the end of the term. The reason they get asked, and the reason we listen, is that they know something we don’t. As the chief witnesses to our teaching, our students are often better equipped than anyone else, including ourselves, to know how we’re doing and what we can do better. Alas, when the vessels of this precious knowledge sit down to fill out their end-of-course surveys, far too few of them realize they are performing a sacrament of university life. Based on the evaluations I’ve read (of other instructors, naturally), students are shockingly cavalier in the opinions they express, and the results don’t amount to much. On the whole, student evaluations are a notoriously poor gauge of "teaching effectiveness," and they reflect some of the ugliest parts of university culture. Study after study finds that women, non-white instructors, and non-native English speakers have a harder time getting respect from students in these surveys. On top of all that, student evaluations show a depressing pattern of actually punishing instructors for their commitment to student learning and academic integrity. (Check it out here and here, and let the chills run down your spine.)
Read Teaching Students to Evaluate Us Better

Teaching Faculty Forum Real-time Storytelling: Following the Journey to the Thin Places

Through a Google Hangout, Melanie Finney will present on her current sabbatical project on dialectical perspectives of grief and identity, including her current work in Ireland. Melanie will also discuss her development of the Journey to the Thin Places: Exploring Ireland's Places of Healing, a blog documenting her research process. Please RSVP for lunch. RSVP

Is Moodle Filling DePauw's Needs

Join members of the Library and Academic Technology Committee for a discussion of what DePauw's current needs are in a learning management system. Is Moodle filling our needs? If yes, what do we like about it? If not, what else would we want in such a system? Or is the era of the learning management system passing? Gathering feedback from faculty members is important as this year we begin to assess the options available to DePauw in the future. Please RSVP. RSVP for Monday, October 12, 2015, from 11:30 am-12:30 pm in Julian 135 RSVP for Wednesday, October 14, 2015, 4:00 - 5:00 pm in Julian 300

Professional Development Roundtable Almonds, the California Drought, and What You Can Learn from First Year Writing Assessment

Come learn about the recent assessment of 578 writing samples from the class of 2019!


When Schools Overlook Introverts

When Susan Cain published Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking nearly four years ago, it was immediately met with acclaim. The book criticizes schools and other key institutions for primarily accommodating extroverts and such individuals’ “need for lots of stimulation.” Much to introverts’ relief, it also seeks to raise awareness about the personality type, particularly among those who’ve struggled to understand it. It seems that such efforts have, for the most part, struggled to effect much change in the educational world. The way in which certain instructional trends—education buzzwords like “collaborative learning” and “project-based learning” and “flipped classrooms”—are applied often neglect the needs of introverts. In fact, these trends could mean that classroom environments that embrace extroverted behavior—through dynamic and social learning activities—are being promoted now more than ever. These can be appealing qualities in the classroom, of course, but overemphasizing them can undermine the learning of students who are inward-thinking and easily drained by constant interactions with others. Just last week the University of Chicago library announced that in response to “increased demand,” librarians are working with architects to transform a presumably quiet reading room into a “vibrant laboratory of interactive learning.” One writer on Top Hat, a popular online resource for educators, argued in a post last month that “cooperative learning strategies harness the greatest part of human evolutionary behavior: sociality.” And earlier this month, Cal State University, Dominguez Hills, promoted their installation of “active learning classrooms” with “multiple desk formations” in which “professors must change their mindsets” because “the lectures should be designed to learn by doing.” Hamoud Salhi, a professor and acting associate dean, explains, “This project is not just about changing the classroom environment; it is also about changing how instructors approach teaching" ... Introverts “feel at their most alive and their most switched-on when they’re in quieter, low-key environments.” This growing emphasis in classrooms on group projects and other interactive arrangements can be challenging for introverted students who tend to perform better when they’re working independently and in more subdued environments. Comprising anywhere from one third to about half of the population, introverts sometimes appear shy, depressed, or antisocial, when that’s not always the case. As Susan Cain put it in her famous TED Talk, introverts simply “feel at their most alive and their most switched-on and their most capable when they’re in quieter, more low-key environments” . . . Many of my own high-school students regularly request extended sessions of silent reading. Some prefer learning with the fluorescent classroom lights off, instead relying on the softer sunlight coming in through the window. Some admit to enjoying the opportunity to work in a quiet room and are eager to write about certain prompts for as long as I let them. I used to think their ubiquitous earbuds were feeding their need for stimulation; now I wonder if they’re sometimes blocking out the noise.
Read When Schools Overlook Introverts

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Declining Student Resilience: A Serious Problem for Colleges

A year ago I received an invitation from the head of Counseling Services at a major university to join faculty and administrators for discussions about how to deal with the decline in resilience among students. At the first meeting, we learned that emergency calls to Counseling had more than doubled over the past five years. Students are increasingly seeking help for, and apparently having emotional crises over, problems of everyday life. Recent examples mentioned included a student who felt traumatized because her roommate had called her a “bitch” and two students who had sought counseling because they had seen a mouse in their off-campus apartment. The latter two also called the police, who kindly arrived and set a mousetrap for them. Read more...

In the Mind of a Student

Imagine if schoolteachers and college professors were immediately able to identify how each of their students learns, what learning style works best for each child and what new topics he or she is struggling with. Research faculty members at the University of Wisconsin at Madison are hoping that this can be the future of education. Their research uses a combination of psychology and computer science to determine how best to optimize teaching for individual students. This means teachers and professors will be able to immediately know what subjects students are struggling with and be able to address those needs, instead of teaching an entire class of students with ranging difficulties. Jerry Zhu, an associate professor of computer science at Wisconsin, has dubbed this technique “machine teaching,” a flip of machine learning, or when computers recognize patterns during data analysis in computer science or statistics. Instead of the computers recognizing a pattern, an equation that represents a student’s mind would be punched into the computer, which in turn would tell the teacher the student’s specific learning style and needs in the classroom. But Zhu said that those equations have yet to be developed, and it will be years before they will be created, an effort he says researchers in both computer science and psychology are working toward achieving. Read more...

Teaching Faculty Forum Digital Liberal Arts Discussions: Fostering Close Reading

Helping students develop skills in close reading can be a challenge. Join Pedar Foss, Kayla Birt, and Donnie Sendelbach for a demo and discussion of resources available to assist with close reading, including annotation, mark-up, and search tools. An overview of appropriate file formats to assist with close reading will also be covered.

Please RSVP for lunch.

Research Faculty Forum Matthew Oware "We Stick Out Like a Sore Thumb: Underground White Rappers' Hegemonic Masculinity and Racial Evasion"

Come hear Matthew discuss his research on hegemonic masculinity and racial evasion.


Designing Learning Spaces with Learning Theory in Mind

Monday, October 5, 2015

Join Malcolm Brown, EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative director, and Veronica Diaz, ELI associate director, as they moderate this webinar with Scott McDonald. From K–12 schools to institutions of higher education, there is an increasing emphasis and investment in developing spaces to support student learning. Space is becoming the hidden technology in learning that can support face-to-face student interactions, as well as how digital tools can be blended into face-to-face contexts. This webinar will draw on contemporary theories of learning and research on learning spaces to offer design principles for learning spaces. Learning spaces are often taken for granted as simply a place where the learning happens, but this webinar will lay out the case that space can play as important a role in supporting new kinds of teaching as other technologies. Design principles will address and provide examples in the areas of engagement, activity, flexibility, and access. For more information on the webinar, click here.

No RSVP is needed.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Getting Them to Read Our Comments

Most of the time we think of teaching as something that only happens within classroom walls. But in fact, most of us do our teaching in a variety of environments now. Meeting with students in our offices, exchanging emails about their work, interacting online through a learning management system or course blog — all of that is teaching. Writing comments in the margins of a student’s paper is a form of teaching, too, one with great potential to spark learning. Far too often, though, that last kind of teaching can feel like a one-way conversation. Research seems to suggest that the feedback we provide on student work has minimal effect on their future work. It’s worth asking: Are our students even reading the comments we leave on their papers? And if they do read them, do they think about them long enough and deeply enough to actually learn from them? Many instructors I know worry that their students look at returned work just long enough to find out their grades, and then shove the papers into their bags to be forgotten forever. Consequently, many of us write our comments with a grade-centered approach in mind: Our feedback is there to justify the grade in case the student complains. It’s a paper trail, rather than a constructive document aimed at helping students improve. Some have blamed that state of affairs on our tendency to correct — to focus our efforts retrospectively, on what students did wrong, rather than on how they might improve. Instead, we should recast our feedback as “feedforward,” and focus on making suggestions for future practice. That is sound advice. But perhaps as important as what we’re writing on student work is when we’re writing it.
Read Getting Them To Read Our Comments

The Unwritten Rules of College

. . . As an increasingly broad and diverse cross section of students enters higher education, knowing those rules matters more than ever. Without them, students stumble. They might miss the point of a paper, drift during discussions, or feel overwhelmed or aimless. But all students can thrive, Ms. Winkelmes says, if the tacit curriculum is made plain. When teaching is what she calls "transparent," students better understand the rationale for assignments and how they’re evaluated. New research on several campuses shows that students taught that way are more confident academically and feel as if they belong in college, which helps predict whether they succeed and remain enrolled. The data suggest one practice in particular — giving assignments — that, done transparently, has a significant effect on students. Here at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas, where Ms. Winkelmes is now principal investigator of the project Transparency in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, she has distilled that finding into a straightforward protocol. Professors who have signed on to the project consider three questions when creating assignments: what, exactly, they’re asking students to do (the "task"); why students have to do it (the "purpose"); and how the work will be evaluated (the "criteria"). Then the instructors explain those things to their students. That’s it.

Read The Unwritten Rules of College

New York Times/The Education Issue: Is College Tuition Really Too High?

Interesting NYT piece about the costs and benefits of college tuition.

To read more, click here.

Teaching Roundtable Rethinking Classroom and Learning Spaces

In preparation for Asbury and Roy O. West Library renovations, we are hosting a session to examine examples of classroom and learning spaces on other campuses. Discuss with your colleagues thoughts on how to maximize student learning through renovated spaces. 

Please RSVP for lunch.

Re-Imagining Learning Spaces: Design, Technology, and Assessment Learning Space Rating System Building Community with FLEXspace: The Flexible Learning Environments eXchange Room to Experiment

Professional Development Roundtable Navigating ADA Accommodations in the Classroom

A relaxed and honest discussion of the impact of ADA Accommodations in the classroom.


Teaching Roundtable Online Learning Alternatives for Student Polling and Strategies for Managing Distraction

Join Tim Cope, Hilary Eppley, and Jin Kim for a demonstration and discussion of "Online Learning: Alternatives for Student Polling and Strategies for Managing Distraction." After a brief overview of polling platforms by Jin Kim, Tim and Hilary will show how they have been using PollEverywhere and Socrative to assess students' learning in their courses. Session includes a discussion of strategies to manage distraction. 

Please RSVP for lunch.

5 Ways to Use Live Online Polls in the Classroom (K-12 but useful for higher ed) Digital distraction in the classroom Helping Students Learn in an Age of Digital Distraction Understanding Digital Distractions to Improve Teaching and Learning

Teaching Roundtable Using "They Say/I Say" in FYS Courses

Are you using or have you used "They Say/I Say" in your FYS or W courses? Would you like to know how others are using this book in their courses? Come join the Writing Program for a lunch discussion about integrating "They Say/I Say" into your course content. Bring examples of assignments you have used with this book.


Thursday, September 17, 2015

My Love-Hate Relationship With TurnItIn

I’ve fully embraced the benefits and strictures of being a professor in the digital age. In both my online courses and live ones, I have come to rely upon our online classroom portal to disseminate course information, post reminders, log grades, and to serve as the primary method by which students turn in their papers. I don’t know if it is necessarily sounder to do everything electronically, but it’s a system that’s been honed course after course and seems to work well for both sides of the lectern. Still, there are aspects of it that trouble me. Every paper turned in to my class Dropbox gets automatically run against TurnItIn’s plagiarism-detection tool. I detest plagiarists; they are the bane of my professional existence. I’ve done my best to stamp out plagiarism with antiformulaic assignment prompts, rotating exams, and gentle reminders through the semester that committing plagiarism invites the devil into your soul. Still, I get students who, either from Machiavellian overconfidence or through abject laziness, plagiarize. And so if asked, I’ll not pretend otherwise — I love TurnItIn. It’s painless, effective, and just as important, already there for me to use. It saves me some relatively significant number of hours each term, agonizingly Google-searching the paper of an unremarkable student who has suddenly turned into David Foster Wallace on the final exam. And when I am forced to pursue an instance of academic dishonesty, it provides a nice, tidy, official-looking report that tends to convince students of the authority and weight behind the meeting we are currently having. So I use it, happily. But recently I got an email from a student concerned about TurnItIn on dual grounds. The student was nontraditional, and this was his first college course in some years. He was concerned first about accidentally plagiarizing, and wondered (na├»vely, but completely understandably) if TurnItIn let students run their work through free to make sure this didn’t happen. Second, the student didn’t like the idea of being forced to surrender his work to a company that would make money from it. He was articulate, respectful, and tentative. Read more...

University of Georgia Bets $4.4 Million That Small Classes Can Bolster Learning

The University of Georgia, seeking to improve the classroom experience of its undergraduates, has begun a faculty hiring spree to reduce enrollments in hundreds of courses. The university will hire 56 full-time, teaching-focused lecturers and professors over this academic year. It is one of several recent efforts at the research-focused institution to improve its educational environment. Others include the creation of a series of freshman seminars and the requirement that incoming students participate in a hands-on learning experience. "It’s a piece in a larger puzzle," said Rahul Shrivastav, vice president for instruction. The addition of instructional faculty represents only a 3-percent increase to the university’s full-time teaching staff, but it is notable for its focus. Other institutions have announced large, multi-year hiring campaigns in recent years, but they typically aim to bolster research capacity. In cutting down class sizes, Georgia took a strategic approach, Mr. Shrivastav said. Administrators examined data to find the courses that students most frequently dropped out of, withdrew from, and failed. Consulting with deans and department heads, the academic leaders further zeroed in on courses with the worst bottlenecks that stymied student progress. A slate emerged of 319 courses across 81 majors, including introductory courses in business, chemistry, mathematics, and political science. "There could have been 100 more," Mr. Shrivastav said. Students this semester are enrolled in 120 new, smaller sections of nine courses. Some sections, like "Legal and Regulatory Environment of Business," were halved, going from 140 to about 70. Others experienced comparatively modest trims, like "Calculus I for Science and Engineering," from an average of 39 students to 29. Most of the new sections across departments now have between 23 and 30 students. There was no ideal class-size target, just the governing principle that smaller is better. The goal, Mr. Shrivastav said, was, "Let’s try for really small courses where it will be a more personalized, more interactive experience." Read more...

TEACH Act Update: The Path to Voluntary Guidelines for Accessible Instructional Materials

In November 2013, the Technology, Equality, and Accessibility in College and Higher Education (TEACH) Act was introduced in Congress. The bill was intended to foster the development of voluntary accessibility guidelines for postsecondary electronic instructional materials and related technologies. The higher education community, however, expressed concern that the way the act sought to accomplish this would likely prevent it from doing so, to the detriment of both students with disabilities and the institutions that seek to serve them. Starting in the fall of 2014, major higher education associations, including the American Council on Education (ACE) and EDUCAUSE, began working with the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) and the Association of American Publishers (AAP) to develop a legislative proposal that could achieve the shared goal of all three communities—generating sustained progress in the accessibility of postsecondary electronic instructional materials. This webinar will address the progress the groups have achieved in developing draft legislation, including its core elements, as well as its likely path through the legislative process.

For more information, click here. For Software Accessibility Suit, click here.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Teaching Faculty Forum Karla Erickson (Sociology, Grinnell) "Institutional Whiteness and Mentoring"

In this talk, Erickson discusses her experiences with making whiteness an object of curiosity and investigation in a liberal arts setting.


Thursday, September 3, 2015

Professional Development Roundtable From Trigger Warnings to Title IX: Sensitive Topics on Syllabi and in the Classroom

In this roundtable session, members of the Title IX Team will facilitate conversation over the inclusion of warnings about sensitive material in the classroom and on syllabi.


Friday, August 28, 2015

The Trouble With Collaboration

Chronicle article on the potential problems of collaborating on research writing.


Research Faculty Forum, Erik Wielenberg "Secular Humility"

Come join us for the first Faculty Forum of the academic year. Here's how Erik describes his talk: 

“Humility is typically seen as a central virtue in the main monotheistic religious traditions. Outside of such traditions, however, humility’s status is more contested. Drawing on work in philosophy and positive psychology, I try to describe a trait that (a) merits the title ‘secular humility’, (b) is a virtue, (c) has some important similarities with humility as understood in the Christian tradition, and (d) requires neither belief in anything like the God of Judaism, Christianity, or Islam nor the existence of such a deity. I also offer a solution to the humility paradox, which goes like this: if humility is a virtue then it’s a trait everyone should have. But truly amazing people have nothing to be humble about so they can’t – and hence shouldn’t – be humble.”


Friday, May 1, 2015

Wearable Teaching? College to Experiment with Apple Watch as Learning Tool

Even before the Apple Watch was released, professors and pundits began speculating on whether it and other wearable devices might play a role in college classrooms. On Monday researchers at Pennsylvania State University’s main campus announced that they would be among the first to test the device’s usefulness in the classroom.

The experiment will begin this summer, with eight Apple Watches the university purchased for the project. Penn State plans to expand the research to more students in the fall. We caught up with Kyle Bowen, director of education-technology services at Penn State, to hear more about the project, and his thoughts on the possible role of wearables in teaching and learning. Following is an edited version of the conversation.

Q. I understand a professor there will be experimenting with Apple Watch to measure student learning this fall. Can you briefly describe that project?

A. What we’re looking at in this particular research is how can we use wearable technologies like the Apple Watch to help students think about and reflect about how they learn. We know what the hallmarks are of engaged students: There are years of research that help us understand what an engaged student is and what they look like. But one of the challenges you have is how do you capture those types of activities in a Fitbit-like way — something that is very simple and easy to interact with, to think about reflectively how it is that you’re learning. We’re looking at the Apple Watch as a reflective tool to capture how the students are reacting with their classmates, how they’ve been interactive with their material, how they’re learning and using that to self-inform the student in a number of different ways.

Q. Can you paint a picture of what that will look like for one of the students in this experiment?

A. How it works is, the student will wear the watch and on kind of a random interval the student will get sampled from a series of questions, and will receive a question like, “Have you studied with a classmate recently?” Or, “How much time have you spent studying recently?” Or, “Have you applied something recently from another course to your current class?” So that will be the first step … capturing that piece of information. And we’d have a series of questions like that throughout the day, and when the student would get that question, they could kind of respond to it, or dismiss it and answer it another time. Additionally, the student could … provide a voice feedback, so they could talk to us into the watch about how they've been studying. And we can convert that and actually do some textual analysis after the fact.


College for the Masses

Interesting NYT article on the benefits of four-year college over community college for marginal students. Read the comments to explore the diverse views on the subject...and the problem of a bachelor's degree for the masses.


The Numbers Behind the Broadband 'Homework Gap'

Since the dawn of the internet, there’s been much talk about the digital divide – the gap between those with access to the internet and those without. But what about the “homework gap”?

In recent years, policymakers and advocates have pushed to make it easier for low-income households with school-age children to have broadband, arguing that low-income students are at a disadvantage without online access in order to do school work these days. Later this year, the Federal Communications Commission is expected to begin a rule-making process to overhaul the Lifeline Program, an initiative that subsidizes telephone subscriptions for low-income households, so that it would also cover broadband.

In 2013, the Lifeline program provided $1.8 billion worth of telephone subsidies for qualified low-income people. The FCC has not yet provided estimates of how much it would cost to add broadband subsidies to the program, but the debate will undoubtedly focus on overall program costs and how many households would be covered.

How big is the homework gap? A new Pew Research Center analysis finds most American homes with school-age children do have broadband access – about 82.5% (about 9 percentage points higher than average for all households). With approximately 29 million households in America having children between the ages of 6 and 17, according to Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey data, this means that some 5 million households with school-age children do not have high-speed internet service at home. Low-income households – and especially black and Hispanic ones – make up a disproportionate share of that 5 million.


Faculty Achievement Program

Come celebrate the achievements of your colleagues. The program will start around 4:00 pm. Food (heavy hor d'oeuvres) and drink provided, in the hallway, outside the entrance to Social Center B.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Faculty Panel Digital Storytelling Assignments

Sheryl Tremblay, Rebecca Alexander, and Caroline Jetton will discuss the use of digital storytelling assignments in their courses. These faculty members will share the goals of and approaches to digital storytelling assignments along with ideas for student engagement and development. Lunch will be provided.


Read more articles:

Edudemic: Teacher’s Guide to Digital Storytelling

Center for Digital Storytelling

State Library of Queensland Digital Storytelling Manual

University of Wollongong Digital Storytelling Libguide

Microsoft: Digital Storytelling in the Classroom

Digital Storytelling Resources at DePauw

Don't Rely on Grades Alone

How can you motivate people to do something they wouldn’t normally do? It’s a difficult question, and clearly one that’s near the heart of teaching.

All the knowledge, preparation, and pedagogical techniques in the world won’t help you in the classroom if you can’t convince students to come along with you. Particularly if you, like many faculty members, are moving away from a lecture-heavy model of teaching to one that makes more use of class discussion and group work, you need your students to be motivated to learn. Student-centered teaching depends on quality student participation, which in turn depends on student motivation.

Most of the time, our main weapons in the fight to motivate students are the grades we give out. To be sure, grades also exist to give an accurate picture of student performance. But grades typically exist as both rewards and punishments to nudge students into approaching the course the way we think they should.

Think about the way you construct your syllabi. You’ll devote a higher percentage of the final grade to assignments you think are more important or difficult. You’ll assign regular quizzes if you want to make sure students come to class prepared. You’ll threaten to dock their essay grades if they turn their papers in late. That’s how we tackle the idea of student motivation in higher education: Students understand the rules of the game, and if they fail to follow them, their grades (and presumably their future prospects) will suffer.

The tricky thing is that, while it’s easy to come up with any number of carrots and sticks to prompt students to do better, decades of research have shown that such so-called extrinsic rewards and deterrents are not particularly effective tools. In fact, in many studies, subjects who were offered extrinsic rewards to complete a complex task actually performed worse than when they weren’t given rewards.

When grades are the main driving force behind our students’ motivation, instead of trying to master the material for their own benefit and assimilate it into their prior knowledge, students figure out what’s expected of them to attain a good grade and act accordingly. In addition, if we want students to develop a lifelong interest in a subject, extrinsic motivators are problematic; after graduation, when the rewards for learning are gone, the interest disappears.

Read more

Friday, April 17, 2015

My Nomadic Class

My course this past semester began like so many others: 14 students and I arrived every Tuesday and Thursday morning in an uninspiring space of concrete-block walls and fluorescent lighting, with few windows and fixed desks all facing forward, ill suited to the discussion-based, flipped format of the class. So, a couple of weeks into the semester, we decided to go nomadic.

We had pedagogical reasons for doing so. The course focused on how the built environment both reflects and affects our ideas about the world around us, looking at how philosophical concepts, cultural constructs, and social, economic, and environmental constraints help shape the spaces that human beings inhabit . . .

Unexpectedly, the continual change in learning environments also helped the students learn the material. Certain ideas became associated with particular locations, and recalling a space seemed to help the students remember a concept. We talked in class about how students in pre-Gutenberg Europe learned to mentally construct “memory palaces” as a mnemonic device to help them remember information attached to objects and spaces in their imagined structures.

Read the article My Nomadic Class

Digital Liberal Arts Discussion Group: Telling Stories with Maps

Join the monthly digital liberal arts discussion group for an examination of telling stories by mapping information. The session discusses visualizing research and information in new ways to spark further inquiry. Google Maps Gallery and Story Maps provide some ready-to-use resources while faculty and students can now upload simple spreadsheets to create visualization in New Google Maps. Lunch will be provided.


Read more articles:

Visualizing Geography: Maps, Place, and Pedagogy

7 Things You Should Know About Visual Literacy

Visualization across the disciplines

Spatial and Mapping Pedagogy

Introducing Digital Humanities Work to Undergraduates: An Overview

Story Maps Gallery

Google Maps Gallery

Teaching Roundtable Dave Berque "Discussion of Pedagogical Best Practices for Extended Studies Curricular Courses

This session is designed for faculty and staff who have recently taught in the Extended Studies program, or who may do so in the future. We will present a draft of a "Best Practices Pedagogical Guide for On-campus and Off-campus Curricular Extended Studies Courses". This guide has been developed based on a survey of faculty who taught Winter Term 2015 courses. Attendees will have the opportunity to discuss best practices and to provide feedback to improve the guide.