The Academy for Teaching and Learning http://blogs.baylor.edu/atl Inspiring a Community of Learning Mon, 14 Apr 2014 21:52:34 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://blogs.baylor.edu/?v=3.8.3 SET – No More Waiting in Silence: Leading the Discussion-Oriented Class http://blogs.baylor.edu/atl/2014/03/27/set-no-more-waiting-in-silence-leading-the-discussion-oriented-class/ http://blogs.baylor.edu/atl/2014/03/27/set-no-more-waiting-in-silence-leading-the-discussion-oriented-class/#comments Thu, 27 Mar 2014 20:26:10 +0000 http://blogs.baylor.edu/atl/?p=1880 Continue reading ]]> In Case You Missed It

Dr. Sarah Walden led a Seminar for Excellence in Teaching titled: No More Waiting in Silence: Leading the Discussion-Oriented Class. What follows is a condensed version of Dr. Walden’s hour long talk on the discussion based class.

The First Day

Dr. Walden cautions against approaching the first class day as an interrogation. Instead, she recommends more of an organic exchange, accomplished by deciding beforehand what you want the class to know about you and what you want the class to know about each other. Walden suggests favorite movies, favorite quotes, and hidden talents as good first day topics. She also suggests revisiting this exercise regularly during the semester in order to build and sustain the sort of rapport necessary for the discussion oriented class. The most important thing, she says, is to get to know your students while allowing them to get to know you.

Assuming Students Know How to Prepare

Walden names the ill-prepared student as one of the biggest obstacles for the discussion-based classroom. She urges professors to include their expectations in the syllabus. Encouraging preparedness begins before you ever see a single student, says Walden.

One mistake new instructors make is assuming that students even know how to prepare, Walden says. She advises instructing students in how to read for discussion. Instructors might also think about giving students questions ahead of time. This will add structure to discussion without making the class feel too dictated and monotonous. A similar technique Walden recommends is writing a list of topics on the board to be covered the next class session.

Getting Started

Another difficult aspect of discussion is getting started. Walden offers a few examples of ways to generate discussion. She encourages instructors to incorporate variety and be flexible in order to best engage students and hold their interest. Her advice is to utilize 2 or 3 different discussion prompting exercises per class. Along with lecture, she recommends student generated discussion topics, short passage reading, blogging, arts and crafts, social media, in class writing and group work.

Maintaining a High Level of Discussion

The key to maintaining a high level of discussion amongst your students, says Walden, is to be engaged yourself by responding to student answers with follow-up questions. Walden again sites knowing your class as key. She encourages using the information you learned during introductions and subsequent discussions to call on specific people by name, matching their interests or previous comments with the topic at hand.

Staying on Topic

Another difficult aspect of discussion is keeping students on track. Dr. Walden suggests a few strategies: 1. Instruct students to always consider why their comments are relevant and challenge them to make connections; 2. Ask follow-up questions and direct students to further explain their answers 3. If other students agree with off topic conversation, ask them to connect the digression back to the topic at hand.

Final Thought

Walden describes discussion as an effective tool to utilize in the classroom when it has structure and an element of spontaneity and when the instructor is authentic, trustworthy, and flexible.

]]>
http://blogs.baylor.edu/atl/2014/03/27/set-no-more-waiting-in-silence-leading-the-discussion-oriented-class/feed/ 0
SET – Course Trailer http://blogs.baylor.edu/atl/2014/03/26/set-course-trailer/ http://blogs.baylor.edu/atl/2014/03/26/set-course-trailer/#comments Wed, 26 Mar 2014 21:55:20 +0000 http://blogs.baylor.edu/atl/?p=1864 Continue reading ]]> The ATL (hosted by graduate fellows Nate and Phillip) led a SET focused on the fascinating “behind the scenes” dynamics of making a course trailer for professors and departments here on Baylor’s campus.  If you have never seen or heard of the course trailers being offered by the ATL, check out the webpage and think about how your course or department might benefit from a great opportunity to be SEEN by the student population: https://blogs.baylor.edu/atl/course-trailers/

Nate and Philip divulged the in’s and out’s of making a course trailer from budgeting to equipment, as well as some of the difficulties to over come such as funding and man hours. It is their goal to cast the professors, departments and Baylor in a positive light, as well as advertise for the student’s benefit. Imagine being able to watch a video about a class and get insight into the learning environment before registering?

You may be wondering, how does a department or faculty member benefit from a course trailer? As Nate put it, course trailers are “useful and practical” tools for advertising beyond the course catalogue. Professors have a unique opportunity to showcase their personality and passion for their discipline. Trailers can include interviews with professors and students, tours around the facilities and commentary on the general topics covered and learning outcomes.

If you think you may be interested in a course trailer for your class, department of even laboratory, contact Nate and Phillip at the ATL for scheduling. Interview questions will be presented ahead of time for ease of interview. This is a great opportunity to showcase your class, increase attendance, and get the word out!

]]>
http://blogs.baylor.edu/atl/2014/03/26/set-course-trailer/feed/ 0
SET: Course Trailers http://blogs.baylor.edu/atl/2013/10/09/set-course-trailers/ http://blogs.baylor.edu/atl/2013/10/09/set-course-trailers/#comments Wed, 09 Oct 2013 21:17:30 +0000 http://blogs.baylor.edu/atl/?p=1799 Continue reading ]]> The ATL (hosted by graduate fellows Nate and Phillip) led a SET focused on the fascinating “behind the scenes” dynamics of making a course trailer for professors and departments here on Baylor’s campus.  If you have never seen or heard of the course trailers being offered by the ATL, check out the webpage and think about how your course or department might benefit from a great opportunity to be SEEN by the student population: https://blogs.baylor.edu/atl/course-trailers/

Nate and Philip divulged the in’s and out’s of making a course trailer from budgeting to equipment, as well as some of the difficulties to over come such as funding and man hours. It is their goal to cast the professors, departments and Baylor in a positive light, as well as advertise for the student’s benefit. Imagine being able to watch a video about a class and get insight into the learning environment before registering?

You may be wondering, how does a department or faculty member benefit from a course trailer? As Nate put it, course trailers are “useful and practical” tools for advertising beyond the course catalogue. Professors have a unique opportunity to showcase their personality and passion for their discipline. Trailers can include interviews with professors and students, tours around the facilities and commentary on the general topics covered and learning outcomes.

If you think you may be interested in a course trailer for your class, department of even laboratory, contact Nate and Phillip at the ATL for scheduling. Interview questions will be presented ahead of time for ease of interview. This is a great opportunity to showcase your class, increase attendance, and get the word out!

]]>
http://blogs.baylor.edu/atl/2013/10/09/set-course-trailers/feed/ 0
Cross Cultural Development in the Classroom: A discussion with Dr. Laker http://blogs.baylor.edu/atl/2013/09/30/cross-cultural-development-in-the-classroom-a-discussion-with-dr-laker/ http://blogs.baylor.edu/atl/2013/09/30/cross-cultural-development-in-the-classroom-a-discussion-with-dr-laker/#comments Mon, 30 Sep 2013 16:34:40 +0000 http://blogs.baylor.edu/atl/?p=1776 Continue reading ]]> On Friday, Sept. 20th, The Academy for Teaching and Learning sponsored a breakfast and discussion session titled, “Engaging Students for Cross-cultural Development in the Classroom.”  The ATL partnered with Baylor’s Campus Diversity Committee and Baylor’s Academy for Leader Development and Civic Engagement to bring in a guest speaker for the session.  Dr. Jason Laker, Chair of the Department of Counselor Education at San Jose’ State University, led us in considering how Baylor might expand its efforts to become a place that models multi-cultural appreciation for our students.

After breakfast and casual conversation, Dr. Laker addressed issues such as how the language we use shapes cultural perception (ex:  What do we mean when we use the term ‘diversity’?), how efforts to change harmful social behaviors can actually “rigidify” or reinforce those behaviors (he calls this “bad dogging” groups or individuals), how professors can create more open class environments (we should make ourselves vulnerable as teachers so that students may also become vulnerable), and how the Baylor community can increase diversity across campus (Baylor should identify and analyze what currently contributes to cross-cultural development on campus and multiply those efforts). 

Twenty-one guests representing a variety of departments and programs from across campus participated in the two-hour session.  Program directors, associate professors, assistant professors, lecturers, and graduate students represented ten departments, including Modern Foreign Language, Curriculum and Instruction, Chemistry and Biochemistry, Journalism, English, Educational Psychology, Religion, Physics, Classics, and Philosophy; four programs, including the Baylor Interdisciplinary Core, the Academy for Leader Development and Civic Engagement, the Academy for Teaching and Learning, and the Semester Study Abroad Program; and four schools, including the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Social Work, the Honors College, and the School of Education.  We hope that this broad range of attendees will allow the ideas of the seminar to reach an even larger campus population.

The Academy for Teaching and Learning plans to further research and compile lists of activities that will increase cross-cultural development in the classroom, and to provide participants with a link to these teaching materials.  We will additionally extend Friday’s conversation by offering a Seminar for Excellence in Teaching (SET) this November titled, “Discussing Difficult Social Issues in the Classroom.”   To register for that seminar, click here.

We are committed to cross-cultural development and appreciate the support that the Campus Diversity Committee so graciously provided us in the form of a Diversity Enhancement Grant.  The grant contributed to Dr. Laker’s honorarium.

 

]]>
http://blogs.baylor.edu/atl/2013/09/30/cross-cultural-development-in-the-classroom-a-discussion-with-dr-laker/feed/ 0
Dr. Heidi Bostic http://blogs.baylor.edu/atl/2013/07/29/dr-heidi-bostic/ http://blogs.baylor.edu/atl/2013/07/29/dr-heidi-bostic/#comments Mon, 29 Jul 2013 16:08:42 +0000 http://blogs.baylor.edu/atl/?p=1610 Continue reading ]]> Involvement with the Baylor Fellows has first and foremost provided a supportive space for risk-taking and fellowship with some extraordinarily talented teachers. We all need opportunities to break free from our usual habits and normal routines. I have been so inspired by the passion and creativity of this group of professors. I never thought I would be so moved by watching videos on theatre history narrated by a colleague’s dog. Having fun while invigorating our teaching with fresh perspectives is what the Baylor Fellows program is all about.

]]>
http://blogs.baylor.edu/atl/2013/07/29/dr-heidi-bostic/feed/ 0
Dr. Chris Blocker http://blogs.baylor.edu/atl/2013/07/29/dr-chris-blocker/ http://blogs.baylor.edu/atl/2013/07/29/dr-chris-blocker/#comments Mon, 29 Jul 2013 14:57:27 +0000 http://blogs.baylor.edu/atl/?p=1603 Continue reading ]]>

In the footsteps of Galileo. As a pioneer in visualization, Edward Tufte (2006) recounts how – upon seeing the satellites of Jupiter – Galileo sketched hundreds of annotated and scaled images. This year as a Baylor Faculty Fellow, I wanted students to mimic Galileo as they discovered new facets of consumption and the marketplace for the first time in my principles of marketing course. To do so, we found inspiration to visualize from scholars like Tufte as well as authors, bloggers, and cultural creatives like Dan Roam (Back of the Napkin), David McCandless (Information is Beautiful), Mike Rohde (Sketchnote Handbook), Grant McCracken (Culture and Consumption), and Pixar, to name a few.

Three essentials helped make our visualization journey a real treasure this semester.

First, visualization needed to be a key learning objective. Thus, one of our five course objectives was: “to learn and play with visualization and graphic story-telling techniques to analyze problems, create solutions, and communicate more powerfully.” Students needed to know from the beginning that whether the results were good, bad, or ugly, we were committed to visualizing in class.

Second, we needed a creative landscape. Several advocates within the Casey Computer Center in the Hankamer School of Business at Baylor came to the rescue by spearheading an effort to paint the back of the classroom with white-board paint.  My students and I were rewarded with several hundred feet of free space to doodle, model, and visualize to our heart’s content. Along with having enough colored markers for everyone in the 50+ person class to “hold the conch,” this space provided the creative “servicescape,” we needed to visualize.

Finally, we attempted to strike a balance between exploratory and guided intake of visualization. As such, we engaged in organic, free-flowing visualization at various points in class, structured assignments to teach visualization techniques to the rest of the class, as well as insights from experts. As an example of the latter, we brought in speakers such as Dr. Alden Smith to discuss the intersection of linguistics, symbols, and branding and Raymond Blanton (PhD student) who is an expert in visual rhetoric and media to convey how images powerfully shape consumer culture.
By the end of the course, we practiced a host of visualization approaches, including class graffiti, story-boarding, mind-mapping, radar diagramming, flow-charting, perceptual mapping, 3D modeling, and geo-spatial modeling. Along the way, we found the use of technology very helpful. Often times, we would sketch things on an iPad, project the visual, and then annotate for all to see. We also attempted to make use of platforms like Google Sketch-up, Dropbox, Twitter, and Pinterest to create and share our activity.

Students seemed invigorated by our focus on visualization as exemplified in this note I received:

I think what made me really enjoy this class was the visualizations. We did so many of them that it is hard to pick the best one, but i think that all the visualization we did on the walls were my favorite…Overall, I think that visualization in this class was imperative to my learning…I would keep that for next year!”

(See http://pinterest.com/chrisblocker/visualization for additional student quotes and class examples)

In the end, although there were several misfires along the way, I saw a greater level of creativity, engagement, and learning than I have seen in years in this course.

 

]]>
http://blogs.baylor.edu/atl/2013/07/29/dr-chris-blocker/feed/ 0
Course Makeover Workshop http://blogs.baylor.edu/atl/2013/06/01/course-makeover-workshop/ http://blogs.baylor.edu/atl/2013/06/01/course-makeover-workshop/#comments Sat, 01 Jun 2013 23:29:49 +0000 http://blogs.baylor.edu/atl/?p=1582 Continue reading ]]> The Academy for Teaching and Learning hosted a course makeover seminar series for faculty this past week. Teachers from all corners of campus converged in the Baylor Sciences Building to revamp classes old and new. You may wonder, why change what works? Reasons for attendance were many, ranging from taking over a new class and wanting a personal touch, as a response to student critique on evaluations, needing a change in the class dynamics or size and even help transitioning from the workforce into the classroom as a teacher. There was certainly a wide range of backgrounds represented with one common goal: student learning.

The larger group broke down into smaller working groups to discuss a number of topics, including “what qualities make a good course”? The qualities that this group deemed important were engagement (by the instructor AND the students), teamwork, small class sizes, a sense of community, respect for each other, preparation and knowledge and incorporation of various teaching methodologies. This veteran group of teachers has clearly seen the good and bad of classroom dynamics and they know what to strive for come fall.

In addition to the qualities that make a good course, how can we as teachers strive to design a great course ahead of time?  Topics touched on were organization and structure, incorporation of media and an incredibly important one: striving to have the capacity to ask students questions they WANT to answer!

One way in which teachers can revamp a class is to start with the syllabus and course plan. Both of these documents should be clear and concise. The more detail the better. Course plans should include goals, objectives, and according to one sample course plan from Dr. Hanks in the English Department, “motivators” and “reinforcement” are also important components when thinking about how to engage students. The more time, effort and attention to detail in these preparatory months before the class begins, the better the class with flow and the more actively the instructor can engage the students.

Overall, this was a motivated group of teachers who attended in hopes of improving their classes for their students. It shows a great deal of humility and confidence to say there is a problem with my class, and ask colleagues how they would suggest fixing it. Even more, as a graduate student attending this seminar, with no experience, and no class to “fix”, I was given an unbelievable amount of respect and credit. My opinion was valued as anyone else’s. Baylor is lucky to have such fantastic and motivated teachers. If any faculty member is thinking about a course make-over, even something seemingly simple, this seminar can help open your eyes to different teaching methods, help connect you to your peers and ultimately help you achieve engagement and learning in the classroom.

]]>
http://blogs.baylor.edu/atl/2013/06/01/course-makeover-workshop/feed/ 0
Q&A with Ed Burger http://blogs.baylor.edu/atl/2013/06/01/qa-with-ed-burger-2/ http://blogs.baylor.edu/atl/2013/06/01/qa-with-ed-burger-2/#comments Sat, 01 Jun 2013 23:26:29 +0000 http://blogs.baylor.edu/atl/?p=1577 Continue reading ]]> In case you missed it, the Graduate School sponsored an open discussion with Dr. Edward Burger for all interested graduate students seeking to benefit from Dr. Burger’s incredible teaching expertise. Dr. Burger is a Robert Foster Cherry Award winner for teaching and Baylor has been blessed by his passion and enthusiasm for mathematics and teaching since naming him with this prestigious award in 2010.

The discussion, led by Dr. Burger, was primarily guided by graduate student questions pertaining mostly to teaching feats and failures. It was an experience in picking the brain of a truly great teacher and getting some of the most valuable feedback a teaching assistant could ask for.

Question:  What do you wish you had known prior to your first teaching job?

As teachers we need to change our perspectives. We need to acknowledge the reality of students, which is that they may end up forgetting everything you just taught them. So, why are we teaching then? To transform lives!

Question: What is the “quality of failure?”

Failure is actually a learning tool! Dr. Burger allows 5% of the final grade for each class he teaches to be based purely on failure. Imagine having the freedom to fail and more importantly explore WHY you failed at answering a question correctly. He even goes a step further and encourages students to design wrong answers on purpose. Students solve problems incorrectly, switch papers and then determine what was wrong about each other’s. By doing this, students can examine the process of getting a wrong answer and tease out the meaning of a mathematical problem rather than just arriving at a correct answer.

Question: Will we have a place in the classroom with the shift towards online learning?

We as teachers need to offer students more than just content. If they want content alone, then online learning is for them. If they want to learn HOW to think, if they want to learn BEYOND the content, then a teacher in a classroom is exactly what they need.

Question: How can we get students more engaged in the classroom?

Let go! Give up some control, and realize there is no correct place that students must be on any given day.

Question: In light of the previous question, what about the need to fit a lot of information into a 16 week period?

The educational system as a whole can benefit from curriculum reform. As graduate students we do not have the ability to change the curriculum, but we need to keep in mind that when we get to that point there is such a thing as TOO much material. Dr. Burger suggests: why not teach half the information, but twice as in depth?

Dr. Burger was gracious enough to field random and off the cusp questions for an hour, these were just a sample. He is truly a gifted person and has a unique ability to always think “outside the box”. If the educational system is changing with online and non-traditional techniques, we need his sort of mentality to change with it and creatively tackle the challenge of teaching and learning in the future.

 

 

 

]]>
http://blogs.baylor.edu/atl/2013/06/01/qa-with-ed-burger-2/feed/ 0
Wakonse Teaching Conference http://blogs.baylor.edu/atl/2013/06/01/wakonse-teaching-conference/ http://blogs.baylor.edu/atl/2013/06/01/wakonse-teaching-conference/#comments Sat, 01 Jun 2013 23:09:42 +0000 http://blogs.baylor.edu/atl/?p=1573 Continue reading ]]> In case you missed it, the Wakonse Teaching Conference was held in Marble Falls, Texas this spring and joined educators from all over the country in efforts to revamp, recount and review their teaching methodologies. A few Baylor graduate students were lucky enough to attend, sponsored by the Graduate School.

Both large and small group discussions focused on topics ranging from reflection, classroom dynamics, collaboration, evaluations, and designing better questions for examinations, to name a few. This was an intensive weekend spent solely on teaching and becoming a better teacher.

One noteworthy talk concentrated on the Marzano and Kendall theory of taxonomy in teaching. In general, this is a step-wise way to teach which begins with information retrieval, then moves to comprehension, analysis and finally culminates in knowledge utilization. The goal of utilizing this hierarchy in one’s classroom is ultimately higher learning, where we as teachers can begin to focus on what is important for our students- not simply memorization but ultimately utilizing and applying information.

Another important talk from the weekend with a great take away message, focused on reflection. Reflection can be thought of as deep thought, introspection, mirroring, and examination. Overall, reflection can show us how we are doing in the classroom. This particular presenter began her teaching career in a class that was previously taught by a great and notorious teacher at her university. She had big shoes to fill to say the least. Her first semester did not go very well. With some feedback from students exclaiming the class was “too hard” and the material was taught “too fast”, she was struggling for a solution. She utilized reflection to pinpoint a number of problems in her classroom including lack of time, lack of student grasp on prerequisite information and low participation and engagement. Her solution? Cut out unnecessary information, be more efficient and implement course mapping to determine if students are getting surface information or have reached the knowledge utilization level of learning. In other words, with the use of reflection she was able to pinpoint problems, brainstorm how to fix them, and ultimately implement new strategies in her classroom to improve learning. In the end, she flipped her classroom and dramatically improved the learning environment.

In a weekend filled with discussion and reflection, I have taken away a lot of lessons on how to be a better teaching assistant and a great future faculty member. I intend to always incorporate personal experiences into my teaching, be approachable for students whenever possible, reflect on the questions I’m asking and HOW I’m asking them and consult with colleagues. In short, the best teachers are always learning and changing, and that is a secret I’ve been told is behind excellent teaching- flexibility to change and motivation to always be a learner.

 

]]>
http://blogs.baylor.edu/atl/2013/06/01/wakonse-teaching-conference/feed/ 0
Plug in at the ATL! http://blogs.baylor.edu/atl/2013/03/25/plug-in-at-the-atl/ http://blogs.baylor.edu/atl/2013/03/25/plug-in-at-the-atl/#comments Mon, 25 Mar 2013 22:53:37 +0000 http://blogs.baylor.edu/atl/?p=1507

]]>
http://blogs.baylor.edu/atl/2013/03/25/plug-in-at-the-atl/feed/ 0