Friday, February 26, 2016

7 Things You Should Know about the 2016 Key Issues in Teaching and Learning

1 Academic Transformation Gardner Campbell, Vice Provost for Learning Innovation and Student Success, and Dean, University College, Virginia Commonwealth University Must higher education change? An overwhelming “yes” comes from various sectors: the Christensen disruption corner, various educational technologies (and the money following them), the “degree-completion agenda” that also goes by various names connected with “student success” (some little more than high-volume models of “get that C and get your degree”), and the drive toward “economic competitiveness” (a job upon graduation, U.S. market dominance). But another question also deserves our attention: Should higher education change? This latter question, sometimes overlooked, engages larger questions of value and meaning at the heart of the practice of schooling we call “higher.” In both cases, the primary agent of transformation, disruption, liberation, or commodification remains the computer, a mind-like invention that can turn relationships into automated transactions, as well as enlarge our capacity to store, retrieve, judge, share, and build on the products of human ingenuity.

 2 Faculty Development Norm Vaughan, Professor, Mount Royal University Faculty members in higher education are often overwhelmed with the competing demands on their time in the areas of teaching, research, and service. In order to overcome this issue, there has been a growing trend in faculty development to focus on the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) through a community of inquiry (CoI) approach. SoTL attempts to integrate teaching, research, and service through a process of scholarly inquiry into student learning, which advances the practice of teaching by making the findings of the inquiry public. Rather than undertaking this inquiry process in isolation, faculty members are being encouraged to participate in CoIs, which are composed of other faculty, students, and staff. These CoIs engage in active and collaborative research projects that investigate student learning across the disciplines.

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Research Faculty Forum with Daniel Scott, Advancing Therapuetic Platforms through Bionanotechnology

Come hear Daniel talk about the avenues through which pharmaceutically relevant treatment options are produced. These include the discovery and/or development of new pharmaceutically active molecules and improving current drug molecules by engineering the packaging and delivery of the drugs. 

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'A Trusted Network' for Scholarship

'A Trusted Network' for Scholarship DePauw is connecting with the Digital Liberal Arts Exchange--learn more about it and join the effort. A group of liberal arts colleges and research universities are exploring how they could share expertise and services through a Digital Liberal Arts Exchange, easing the burden on colleges to be jacks-of-all-trades and allowing them to specialize in what they do best. The initiative is being led by Michael D. Roy, dean of the library at Middlebury College. In an interview, he said he adapted the idea for the exchange from a “babysitter consortium” his and several other families used to participate in. Instead of trusting the safety of their children to high school students, parents would enlist other families in the consortium, he said. 

The DLAx aims to give researchers the confidence that their other children -- their projects -- are in good hands. Middlebury received a $46,000 planning grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support the project. “You need to have a trusted network,” Roy said. “Building on that idea, the notion of this planning grant is to explore what a trusted network would look like that would allow members of this consortium to collaborate in deep and meaningful ways in order to share expertise and services." 

The exchange is primarily meant to give digital humanities scholars support for projects that might not exist on their campuses, but the plan is for colleges to share more than the services provided by their libraries and centers of excellence. In the future, faculty members at one college could use the exchange to find a different college that offers application development support, for example, but also to host their digital projects and find a database of vetted speakers. 

The DLAx is in some ways a response to the pressure on colleges, universities and their libraries to offer a stream of new expertise and services -- and do it without significantly larger budgets. Roy said that development can be seen in job listings libraries post asking applicants who are comfortable with multiple coding languages, publishing platforms and digital research and teaching tools. “You need a small army,” Roy said.

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Thursday, February 18, 2016

Students Aren't Coddled. They're Defeated.

Sometimes I think the hardest part of teaching is balancing between what students want, and what they need. In my general education, first-year writing course, a few periods in I offer students a hypothetical. I tell them they can have an “A” in exchange for never doing anything. No classes, no assignments, no reading, no feedback, nothing. They just have to make sure not to tell anyone because we’d all get in a lot of trouble.[1] This past semester 80-85% of my students said they would take that deal. Their reasons?

 An “A” is an “A,” and “A’s” are good because they help their overall GPA. It would mean more time to dedicate to their other classes. They could sleep in later. They do not like English classes and would therefore dodge the unpleasantness of such a thing. They could check off a requirement without having to do any work. They could take 18 instead of 15 hours and be closer to graduation. They could pick up an extra shift at their job.

They ask, “What’s the trick?” This is when I tell them they won’t learn anything. They acknowledge this reality, but are willing to shrug it off for all the above reasons. When I drop the guaranteed grade to a “B” I only get about 50% of the class to bite. For 30% of them, the pain of the course will be worth it if they can get an “A” instead, but otherwise, no. Here is where we are tempted to lament the coddling of the “everyone gets a trophy,” “special snowflake” generation. They are spoiled and entitled. Swine unable to appreciate the pearls cast before them. I have a different take. Students are not coddled or entitled, they are defeated. We have divorced school from learning, and this is the result.

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How to Launch a Campus Innovation Center

Almost every week brings news of another campus opening an innovation center. Community colleges, liberal arts schools and research universities are all carving out intentional spaces for creativity and collaboration. Driven in part by the rapidly changing needs of employers, higher education is seeking to make its spaces more reflective of a work environment that places a premium on entrepreneurship. Most of these centers feature modern furniture, whiteboards and prototyping equipment like 3D printers. But architects and designers suggest university leaders ask themselves several key questions before getting too far into the process.

 Jill Goebel, design director and the Southeast region education and culture practice area leader for Gensler, an architecture, design, planning and consulting firm, thinks that there may be some confusion around the lexicon. "There are innovation centers, makerspaces, accelerators and incubators," she noted. "Sometimes the language is muddied because people use the terms interchangeably." 

But just because you create something that looks hip and cool does not mean that innovation happens there, Goebel warned. "There has to be a driving mission and vision behind it. We work with campuses on visioning sessions and interviews to unpack their culture and discover who is ready for it — what programs and leaders within the university have a willingness to be adaptive and go in and try things. You can't just plunk this in the middle of campus and think something is going to happen. It takes leadership."

 Brad Lukanic, executive director of CannonDesign's education practice, also starts his work with universities with a visioning exercise. Among the questions he asks is: As an institution, how interdisciplinary do you want to be? "Depending on what programs are involved or if the provost or deans are in the room, you get very different answers," he said. Other questions he asks include how the new center aligns with the strategic mission of the institution and who will be responsible for the curation of content. "One of the potential pitfalls is you make these spaces but there is no ownership in terms of who manages and operates it," he explained. "You have to look beyond day one."  

Lukanic said questions about the look and feel start with: Is it in a new facility or in a renovated facility? What do you want the front door and image to say? Is it about boundary crossing between departmental silos and interconnectedness? 

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Building a Bridge Between Engineering and the Humanities

Building a Bridge Between Engineering and the Humanities . . . Acquiring the habit of overcoming habitual perception is one process that brings engineering and the arts together. It is how great writers impart human experience in new ways, and it is how engineers innovate. Technology does not proceed along a preordained single path, as one might suppose from a textbook or problem-solving approach. Like literature, engineering sometimes works not by satisfying recognized needs but by creating the needs it satisfies. And that is also like literature: Tolstoy did not satisfy someone’s need for a novel called Anna Karenina. But Tolstoy did provide his readers with a glimpse into Anna’s inner life. Similarly, engineering thrives by going beyond the technical into the realm of its human users. 

More and more, engineering education is recognizing the importance of understanding devices, systems, and processes in terms of the people who use them. At the heart of human-centered design is empathy, and empathy is what literature, above all, is good at teaching. When you read a great novel, you identify with a character, experience what she is experiencing, follow her thoughts and feelings moment by moment from within. You do this with people of a different culture, age, gender, social class, nationality, profession, and religion. You do it with several characters in the course of one long novel, and not just once, but countless times, until it becomes a habit. Empathy creates better people and better technical innovations for people to use. 

So how do we ensure that more skillful innovators emerge from academe? Boosting enrollments in STEM is not enough. An educational system that merges humanities and sciences, creating whole-brain engineers and scientifically inspired humanists, fosters more than just innovation. It yields more-flexible individuals who adapt to unanticipated changes as the world evolves unpredictably.

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Friday, February 12, 2016

Fostering Student Agency at ILiADS 2016

Please join last year's participants for a discussion on opportunities to foster student agency through the Institute for Liberal Arts Digital Scholarship (ILiADS) and the Bucknell University Digital Scholarship Conference (BUDSC) on Mon., Feb. 15, at 11:30am - 12:30 pm in CTL/FITS (lower level of ROW). We will discuss how you can start or continue a digital scholarship project in addition to sharing strategies for submitting a proposal for the upcoming ILiADS deadline of Feb. 22. Bring your lunch and we’ll supply drinks and dessert! Please RSVP by Sunday, Feb. 14.

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Improving Rates of Success in STEM Fields

What would it take to dramatically improve the success rates of non-traditional students in STEM fields? One answer is a holistic, multifaceted approach that re-imagines every facet of the learning experience, from curriculum design to pedagogy, assessments, and support services. Without compromising standards or rigor, this new model pulls multiple levers known to improve student success. A prototype program – a B.S. in Biomedical Sciences -- launched in Fall 2015 at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, which serves the poorest and third poorest counties in the United States in one of the country’s fastest growing regions. Almost all students in the BMed program work full-time. Many also carry substantial caregiving responsibilities. Over twenty percent speak English as a second language and over ten percent are off the grid, lacking cellphone and Internet connectivity. Texas’s Lower Rio Grande Valley has an urgent need for health professionals. The nation averages about 240 doctors for every 100,000 inhabitants. In Texas, the figure is 170, and in the Rio Grande Valley, just 107. There are similar shortages of nurses and other health care providers. What elements define this prototype program?

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A Piece of the Learning Puzzle

. . . Later that day I read a recent article in College Teaching by Raymond Benton, Jr., a business professor at Loyola University Chicago. He writes about a teaching technique, developed in the 1970s by Elliot Aronson, called the “jigsaw classroom.” You may have heard of it but I hadn’t. It involves dividing students into small groups and asking each member of each group to learn about a different area or aspect of the day’s subject. For example, you could break up a reading into five sections, divide your class into groups of five, and then have each member of each group tackle one of the five sections. After giving the students time to work on their individual sections, you then form cross-sectional groups — uniting all the students assigned to section No. 1, all the students assigned to section No. 2. After those groups meet, students then return to their original groups and present their sections to each other, discussing the reading as a whole.

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Professors Can Learn to Be More Effective Instructors

Studies of faculty development efforts at a liberal arts college and a land-grant university suggest the programs can have an impact on student outcomes. Intuitively, it makes sense that professors who spend time developing their teaching skills will become more effective instructors -- and that that will eventually translate to better student outcomes. Practically speaking, though, the challenges of (and the variables involved in) tracing the effects of professional development on student learning are myriad. That’s probably why the research on the matter is patchy, relying largely on self-reported measures. But a new book based on data from two very different institutions purports to show that faculty members can learn to become more effective teachers. “Broadly speaking, faculty development has measurable impacts on teaching,” the book says. “Existing research and the current project confirm that faculty consistently self-report learning gains aligned with workshop goals at the end of these experiences.” Moreover, it continues, faculty members’ accounts demonstrate that they can look back at past development opportunities and describe changes in their teaching aligned with these goals. An analysis of subjects’ syllabi, assignments, methods and grading scales backs up those claims -- as does a review of student work. Faculty Development and Student Learning: Assessing the Connections (Indiana University Press) was written by William Condon, a professor of English at Washington State University; Ellen R. Iverson, director of evaluation at the Science Education Resource Center at Carleton College; Cathryn A. Manduca, director of Carleton’s Science Education Resource Center; Carol Rutz, director of the College Writing Program at Carleton; and Gudrun Willett, a cultural anthropologist at Ethnoscapes Global. The book is based on the Tracer Project, two parallel, multiyear studies of how faculty development impacted student learning at Carleton, a small liberal arts college in Minnesota, and at Washington State, a large land-grant institution. Despite their differences, the authors found similar outcomes at both institutions -- including that the benefits of faculty development are cumulative.

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8 MOOCs for Better Technology-Enhanced Teaching

Let 2016 be the year you revamp your understanding of technology-enhanced teaching or add a new skill for helping students learn. We've culled through hundreds of massive open online courses (MOOCs) that are starting in or after February 2016 to identify seven free courses for fine-tuning the instructional practices in your classrooms. Becoming a Blended Learning Designer Timeline: Starts February 22; runs for 5 weeks; requires 2-3 hours of work per week Hosts: the University of Central Florida and Educause, Platform: Canvas Network Description: This MOOC will talk you through the Blended Learning Toolkit, a free, open resource for institutions that want to develop or expand their blended learning programs. Why you should take it: You don't have to reinvent the wheel. If you're not already trained on teaching courses that blend face-to-face time with online elements, here's your chance to learn from the pioneers at UCF! Note: You can learn the BlendKit on your own, sans MOOC, and still get some real-time sessions with experts at UCF and other schools. Check the schedule here on the UCF Web site. (Taken by FITS staff and highly recommended) Teaching with Tablets Timeline: Starts February 29, 2016; runs for 5 weeks; requires about 3 hours of work per week Host: University of Northampton, Platform: Open Education, powered by Blackboard Description: Intended for educators from elementary school through higher ed, this MOOC will cover the use of iPads and other tablets for teaching and learning. Why you should take it: The eight instructors putting this course on from an officially designated "Changemaker Campus" promise to give you something new to try out from each session, including the use of digital storytelling and collaboration. Accessibility: Designing and Teaching Courses for All Learners Timeline: Starts February 22, 2016; runs 6 weeks Hosts: State University of New York Empire State College and SUNY Buffalo State, Platform: Canvas Network Description: Your chance to gain the knowledge and skills to design inclusive learning experiences, especially for students with disabilities. Why you should take it: Finally, somebody will explain what you need to know about Section 508 standards and Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 guidelines in a methodical and understandable way — and help you figure out how to apply Universal Design for Learning!

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Thursday, February 4, 2016

Teaching Faculty Forum with Michael Roberts - "What we learned from organizing and teaching the first interdisciplinary "Paradigm Shifts in Science" class"

Come listen to Michael Roberts (Psychology) describe the SM faculty process of organizing the "Paradigm Shifts in Science" course as well as the preliminary outcomes and conclusions from the pilot sections. He will also offer suggestions for faculty who are interested in offering interdisciplinary, team-taught general education courses.

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"Challenging Borders" GLCA Global Crossroads Grant Information Luncheon with Simon Gray and Gabriele Dillmann

The GLCA is hosting an information luncheon about the GLCA Global Crossroads grant on Thursday, February 25, from 11:30-12:30. Both Simon Gray, the grant’s GLCA Program Director, and Gabriele Dillmann, GLCA Consortial Languages Director, will be available to answer any questions you might have about your grant ideas and proposals.

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Professional Development Roundtable with David Harvey, Wayne Glausser, Bridget Gourley - "Evaluating Scholarly and Artistic Work in Personnel Reviews

Please join us next week for a conversation about the four types of scholarship identified in our Handbook: "Scholarly and artistic work shall be given full consideration in personnel decisions. In scholarship we recognize all categories identified by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching: the scholarship of discovery, the scholarship of integration, the scholarship of application, and the scholarship of teaching. [Boyer, Ernest L. 1990. Scholarship Reconsidered: Priorities of the Professoriate, Chapter 2. Princeton, NJ: The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.]

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