Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Flipped Classroom Discussion Group: Assessment of Flipping

Join the monthly flipped classroom discussion group with different topics each session. This session covers data regarding the level of effectiveness of the flipped classroom.

Read Probing the Inverted Classroom: A Study of Teaching and Learning Outcomes in Engineering and Mathematics

Read Student Views on the Use of a Flipped Classroom Approach: Evidence from Australia 

Read Phil Hill - A response to USA Today article on Flipped Classroom research

Read Journal of College Science Teaching - Case Studies and the Flipped Classroom

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The Web Accessibility in Higher Education Project

The Web Accessibility in Higher Education Project
Rob Carr, Accessibility Coordinator, Oklahoma ABLE Tech, Oklahoma State University

The complex problem of ensuring that technology is accessible to people with disabilities touches nearly every aspect of a campus, from course material to enterprise systems for registration and financial aid to public web pages. Solutions to creating an accessible IT environment require a full campus effort. The Web Accessibility in Higher Education Project (WAHEP) works across 25 Oklahoma institutions of higher education to provide resources and help campuses meet these goals. In this process we have learned valuable lessons regarding campus leadership, collaboration, and expectations. These lessons can aid any higher education institution seeking to establish or grow a technology accessibility initiative.

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Seven Principles for Classroom Design: The Learning Space Rating System

Seven Principles for Classroom Design: The Learning Space Rating System - Malcolm Brown

Organizing your thinking when beginning a major classroom project, whether renovating or building from scratch, can be a daunting task. Like most construction projects, a wealth of considerations and details need to be taken into account, disagreements settled, and coordination established. Typically these are high-stakes projects, with substantial resources in play and much visibility. Beyond the construction project lurks the challenge of managing the institution's classroom "fleet," ensuring that they contribute to academic strategic directions and aspirations.


Over the past year, a pair of resources have become available for classroom management: the Learning Space Rating System and the FLEXspace project. In two closely related articles you'll learn about these resources, appreciate their complementary fit, and understand how they might assist you in working with classrooms on your campus.

Why a Rating System for Learning Spaces?
As its name suggests, the Learning Space Rating System (LSRS) is a tool that enables scoring a classroom's design to see how well it supports active learning. Why create a classroom rating tool? What motivated development of the LSRS?

Active Learning
According to the adage, there are few certainties in life. Yet some things are hard to doubt because of the copious evidence testifying to their existence. The same can be said about the value of active learning. A great body of evidence makes a strong case for the value of active learning compared to its transmission-based predecessor, lecture-based learning.

The National Academies Press book How People Learn, first published in 1999, summarizes learning research and makes a strong case for active learning, based on the constructivist model of how we build and maintain our knowledge about the world. Most recently, an invaluable meta-analysis has again shown how active learning is more effective across a variety of science disciplines.

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Teaching is Collaborative

It’s easy to forget because in the majority of the time I spend on my teaching work, I am physically alone. The preparation and the grading are solo pursuits, the solo-er the better when it comes to grading, since when I’m in the thick of a stack of essays and absorbed in the task, I’m in a kind of non-responsive void.

But a post last week discussing my grading method and philosophies drew a number of thoughtful and thought-provoking comments – many of which I agree with, a couple of which I find personally abhorrent – but all of which caused me to consider this aspect of my teaching practice more deeply.

I recognized the discussion as a kind of collaboration, at least it served that purpose for me. It allowed me to challenge and then clarify my own thinking, to put some of my unstated assumptions into explicit statements of personal pedagogical principle[1].

I realized something that should’ve been obvious, that whenever I am engaging in the duties of teaching, my actions are the byproducts of collaboration.

When I write an assignment, I am using the principles of design that Prof. Marlene Preston taught me during my time at Virginia Tech. When I am letting my enthusiasm for a subject loose on my students, I am collaborating with John Wood, the director of my graduate program who would shatter chalk on the board doing scansion and could move himself to tears reciting a poem out loud.

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Teaching Roundtable Moving Beyond the Checklist: Mindful Advising for Student Success

This session will explore the emerging trend of Appreciative Advising, a pedagogical approach to supporting student success. We will discuss ways to move beyond the checklist of degree and distribution requirements to engaging students in a reflective practice that encourages them to take responsibility for and make sense of their academic experience. We will discuss the advising framework, explore possible "advising syllabus" templates, and examine mindful strategies to support students in the advising process. (co-sponsored by the Advising Committee)

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Friday, February 20, 2015

Active Learning at Case Western University

As the educational landscape continues to evolve, many universities have incorporated active learning into the curriculum to engender excitement for learning and help students better engage in the learning process. In recent years, some schools have developed classrooms specifically designed to support and promote active learning; although research exists in this area, much remains to be learned.

In 2013, Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) developed an active learning initiative designed to help faculty use active learning instructional methods in two new learning spaces that were optimized for collaborative classroom learning with large movable computer displays, flexible furniture, shared writing surfaces. and so on. Through a yearlong Active Learning Fellowship (ALF), a group of 12 faculty members restructured one class each to include active learning techniques and thereby increase student engagement and success in the classroom.

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We don't need more STEM majors. We need more STEM majors with liberal arts training.

We don’t need more STEM majors. We need more STEM majors with liberal arts training.

In business and at every level of government, we hear how important it is to graduate more students majoring in science, technology, engineering and math, as our nation’s competitiveness depends on it. The Obama administration has set a goal of increasing STEM graduates by one million by 2022, and the “desperate need” for more STEM students makes regular headlines. The emphasis on bolstering STEM participation comes in tandem with bleak news about the liberal arts — bad job prospects, programs being cut, too many humanities majors.

As a chemist, I agree that remaining competitive in the sciences is a critical issue. But as an instructor, I also think that if American STEM grads are going lead the world in innovation, then their science education cannot be divorced from the liberal arts.

Our culture has drawn an artificial line between art and science, one that did not exist for innovators like Leonardo da Vinci and Steve Jobs. Leonardo’s curiosity and passion for painting, writing, engineering and biology helped him triumph in both art and science; his study of anatomy and dissections of corpses enabled his incredible drawings of the human figure. When introducing the iPad 2, Jobs, who dropped out of college but continued to audit calligraphy classes, declared: “It’s in Apple’s DNA that technology alone is not enough — it’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the result that makes our heart sing.”

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Fitting In On Campus: Challenges for First-Generation Students

Chris Reynolds will never forget his first day at the University of Michigan. He and his dad got up super early and drove nine and a half hours from Sellersville, a blue-collar factory town in Pennsylvania, to Ann Arbor.

"My father literally just dropped me off and then left," Reynolds says. His dad couldn't afford a hotel, so they took about an hour to unpack the car, said their goodbyes, and his dad drove off. Chris Reynolds was officially on his own.

He thought he was pretty prepared. He had a dorm room, a meal plan and a couple hundred bucks to last until he found a job. What he wasn't prepared for was how lonely and out of place he felt on campus.

People would ask questions: "What do my parents do?" or "Where did they go to college?" His parents didn't go to college. His mom was a housekeeper, and his dad was unemployed. Reynolds responses were met with "oh" and "OK."

"It was hard for other students to understand that for us to go to college we were taking a big risk," says Anna Garcia, Reynolds' friend and a senior at the school.

Like Reynolds, she's the first in her family to go to college. Garcia grew up in Lincoln Park, a blue-collar city near Detroit, about 40 miles from the campus.

"People in my hometown thought that I was really stuck up all of a sudden because I decided to go to Michigan, and they know that Michigan is a very prestigious college," she says.

Garcia and Reynolds met at a first-generation student support group on campus, which was nothing short of a lifeline in many ways. They found friends and people they could relate to. But Garcia says she could have used more help.

"I know of many students who have left after their freshmen year because they just felt they couldn't find their place on campus," she says.

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Thursday, February 19, 2015

Clicker Alternatives: Online and Smart Phone Apps for Polling Students

Interested in surveying students during class to measure their comprehension of material? Learn about alternatives to clickers, including free online and smart phone apps. Features of these apps will be compared. This session is timely in that clicker companies are moving away from physical clickers to online polling. Lunch will be provided.

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24 February 2015 Professional Development Roundtable Student-Faculty Research

Harry Brown, Amity Reading, and Michael Roberts will host a discussion about student-faculty research in the humanities and social sciences, drawing on lessons learned from the natural sciences.

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Thursday, February 12, 2015

Faculty Forum Tamara Beauboeuf Symmetrical Womanhood: Education, race and the rise of a 19th century alternative femininity

Please join us for a talk by Tamara Beauboeuf (Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies) about education-based femininity during the Progressive Era.

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Thursday, February 5, 2015

Why Students Resist Active Learning

By now, regular readers of this column know that I am an ardent supporter of active learning strategies. Pedagogical practices that are driven by what the students do in class, rather than by what the instructor does, are at the heart of my thinking as a teacher. Whether it's team-based learning, in-class writing assignments, or frequent testing (yes, testing is an active learning strategy!), I'm always on the lookout for approaches that draw students into taking a more involved role in the classroom.

And if last year's HERI Faculty Survey is anything to go by, more and more instructors are moving away from strict adherence to the lecture model and toward a pedagogy that is much more student-centered. Over the past 25 years, the number of teachers using such approaches as class discussions, small-group collaborative learning, group projects, and peer review in most or all of their courses has trended consistently upward. Correspondingly, the number of teachers who reported using "extensive lecturing" in most or all of their courses has gone slowly but steadily down.

Still, if you mention to your colleagues that you are thinking of integrating more of these strategies into your classroom, you'll probably hear dire warnings of student resistance, particularly in the form of poor student evaluations. It makes sense: One way of defining active learning is any teaching practice that compels students to participate. Whether it's asking a question and then calling on a student for a response, or dividing students into small groups and asking them to work on problems together, active learning forces students to break from the passive role of merely listening to a lecture and taking notes.

You may indeed encounter many students who are still used to doing schoolwork at home and using class time to sit and listen and absorb whatever the professor wants to communicate. Those students may not easily adjust to a course that asks them to work in class, too. For adjuncts and non-tenure-track instructors in particular, the fear of bad evaluations may be enough to make adopting such practices seem a risk not worth taking.

So how can we integrate these strategies into our classrooms with a minimum of student resistance? Here are a few tips to help ease the way.

Read the article Why Students Resist Active Learning

10 Things the Best Digital Teachers Do

Both of us came to digital teaching early but somewhat reluctantly. What we love most about teaching are the interactions with students, and 15 years ago we didn’t see clearly how adding digital tools would allow us to strengthen those interactions.

The truth is: Face-to-face teaching has no direct digital analogue. However, digital technology has helped us have different kinds of interactions, and with a much more diverse set of students. Likewise, using digital tools has allowed our students to interact with a global community.

The best digital teachers share certain perspectives on the use and abuse of technology in the traditional classroom or online; and most of those teachers have learned their techniques through experimentation and revision. Some of the best examples come from folks like Cathy Davidson, Bonnie Stewart, Dave Cormier, and Maha Bali, and can be found on blogs like Hack Education, Profhacker, and Keep Learning. We’ve also recently curated a collection of articles -- by these and other teachers -- on Hybrid Pedagogy into a Digital Pedagogy Primer. And the book we recommend most highly for getting started is Net Smart by Howard Rheingold.

Below are 10 things we’ve picked up from our dialogues with digital teachers.

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Pedagogy: Flipped Classroom Discussion Group: Preparing Students for Class

Join the monthly flipped classroom discussion group with different topics each session. This week's session focuses on materials for outside of class in preparation for student engagement in class.

Read Three Evolving Thoughts about Flipped Learning

Read Four Things I Wish I'd Known about the Flipped Classroom

Read Making Screencasts: The Pedagogical Framework

Read Making Screencasts: The Talking Head

Read Making Screencasts: The Working Example

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Three Evolving Thoughts about Flipped Learning

While specifications grading continues to unfold in class, I’m also still using and refining the flipped learning model. Recently I had time to reflect on how I’m implementing flipped learning in my classes, and I noticed that some of my thoughts on flipped learning have evolved over the last few years, including some breaks from things I’ve written here on the blog. Here are three of those thoughts that stood out for me.

What I used to think: Pre-class activity in a flipped learning model is about mastering content-oriented instructional objectives.

What I think now: Pre-class activity is for generating questions.

I attended a talk by Jeremy Strayer last year, and he said something that stuck with me: that the purpose of pre-class work in the flipped classroom is to “launch” the in-class activity. In flipped learning we certainly want students to pick up fluency with basic content and learning objectives prior to class. But I think Jeremy’s point is that content delivery shouldn’t be the primary purpose of pre-class work. Rather, it should be to prime the student intellectually to engage in whatever high-level tasks we have devised for the in-class meeting.

Read more here.