Tuesday, November 24, 2015

How Do We Define Student Success in the Humanities?

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

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Small Changes in Teaching: The Minutes Before Class

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

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Esri Story Maps

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

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A Shift in Being: Music, Improvisation, and Transformation

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


Thursday, November 12, 2015

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

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

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

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


Teaching Roundtable Gradeless Writing Assignments/Courses

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


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.

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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 jeverage@depauw.edu 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.