Monday, November 28, 2011

UWC Showcase: Real-World Applications

  • Connect a course topic from recent weeks to something real and lived in Wisconsin to encourage your students to recognize the relevance, value, and applicability of your course content.
  • Paul and Kirthi, in the end of their article, subtly point out the value of struggle in the learning process.  Consider the opportunities for struggle provided in your courses.  How do you initiate that struggle? Do you provide support during their process of managing such difficulty (a necessity for students to stick with the struggle and move forward)?  What do students gain at the other end of the struggle? 
  • Notice that Paul's example of his effective teaching is collaborative--a project developed with a colleague.  Do you collaborate with colleagues to develop effective learning activities?  To analyze and improve student understanding?  If not, reach out and make such connections with campus or departmental colleagues.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Engaged Learning Workshop: Final Questions

  1. What types of activities and/or projects would fit your course's learning goals best?
  2. What types of activities and/or projects would fit your teaching and research interests best?
  3. Think of a problem or question that would engage students in your class.  
    • What kind of project would best fit that question: in-class activity? Longer project?  Community-based learning?  Online simulations?
    • What resources would you need to develop that project?  Are they available?  If not, how might you obtain them (campus funding, collaborations, grant writing)?
    • What other barriers might there be to successfully implementing your idea?
    • Who might be a good collaborator on this project: another faculty member on your campus?  Someone in the community?  Someone at another campus?
  4. What excites you about your discipline?  How are you currently sharing that excitement with the students? 
  5. What hints or tips for engaging students can you share with your colleagues?  Please share them!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Respond to "Effective Teaching and Learning" Chapter

1. The first guideline states to start with questions about nature. Each discipline has specific central questions that form the core of the discipline. For one (or more) of your courses, think about what the central questions are that you want your students to be able to discuss, struggle with, and ultimately understand by the end of the course.

2. The next guideline provides suggestions for engaging students actively. How have you engaged students in your courses in the past? What worked? What didn’t work? For both questions, why or why not?

3. The guidelines suggest that STEM instructors “deemphasize the memorization of technical vocabulary.” Do you think this is a sound approach? Why or why not? Are there ways to introduce technical vocabulary without turning students off of science?

4. The chapter suggests that science teaching should reflect the scientific process as much as possible. Have you attempted this with your beginning students? How can we encourage curiosity and avoid dogmatism while giving students a foundational knowledge in the discipline(s)? And for those not in science fields, how do you teach in ways that reflect your disciplinary processes and require students to perform your disciplinary processes? In other words, how are you practicing your field’s signature pedagogies?

5. The last point in the chapter centers around a key struggle for anyone teaching an introductory course in a transfer institution: the notion that teaching must take its time. In our courses, we wish to take the time to ensure in-depth understanding of the subject, but we also must teach enough breadth of the topic so that students are prepared to go on to upper-level courses. How do you approach the breadth vs. depth dilemma in your courses? In other words, how do you balance the pressure toward “coverage” with the desire to “uncover” a few major ideas or principles that students will retain years from now?

Considering the Implications of (Dis)Engagement

Think about how you talk about a liberal arts education. 
  • When you discuss a liberal arts education with your students, advisees, and colleagues, what disciplines do you talk about?  
  • Do you explicitly include the STEM disciplines and their role in the liberal arts? 

Think back to your own college experiences. 
  • What inspired you to pursue your field of study? 
  • What type of institution did you attend? 
  • What surprises or obstacles did you encounter as you began your college career? 
  • How were you encouraged or helped in overcoming those obstacles? 
  • What type of peer network did you have? 
  • How much individual contact did you have with faculty? 
  • Who did you turn to when you needed encouragement or support in general? 
  • What aspects of the type of educational system you experienced would help your current students succeed? 
  • What aspects would likely turn your students away from your field, particularly those of you in the STEM disciplines? 
  • What types of obstacles do you observe your students facing that may be different than what you and your peers faced?