Center for Learning and Teaching

APRIL 2017

What Do the Best College Teachers Do?

Over the past four years, participants in the Center’s Early-Career Faculty Learning Community have read, discussed, and contextualized Ken Bain’s What the Best College Teachers Do (2004) in monthly meetings over the academic year. A summary of Bain’s research on teaching excellence provides these answers to the question of teaching excellence:

Know their subject matter well.
Prepare for their teaching sessions as serious intellectual endeavors, as important as research and scholarship.
Expect more from their students.
Understand and study how people learn.
Put a lot of preparation into their teaching.
Create a natural critical learning environment.
Treat students fairly.
Check students’ learning progress and evaluate efforts often.
Seek comments and feedback from students.
Help students learn outside of class.
Engage students in disciplinary thinking.
Create diverse learning experiences.

A review of Bain’s book is available from Journal of Higher Education and an essay by Bain is available from AAC&U. Our EC-FLC has been facilitated by Linda Krumholz, Katy Crossley-Frolick, and Frank Hassebrock; a complete set of materials and resources for this year’s meetings are available on the Center’s MyDenison pages. (Five lucky faculty will be randomly selected to receive a copy of Bain’s book- send your entry to hassebrock@denison.edu before April 8).

Reception and Celebration of the Center for Learning and Teaching

A brief program of remarks on the current and future roles of the Center and recognition of faculty recipients of the 2016-2017 Pedagogical Practice Projects will be held in the Center on Wednesday, April 12, 4:30-5:30. Refreshments provided!

Pedagogical Practice Projects: Application Information for Fall 2017 will be Forthcoming!

PPP offers continuing full-time faculty an opportunity to design, implement, and evaluate a pedagogical innovation that represents a significant change in teaching practices or pedagogical approach.  Proposals that are selected following review by the Center’s Advisory Group provide a stipend and travel expenses for a conference presentation of the project. Application information for Pedagogical Practice Projects- Service and Experiential Learning, and for Ashbrook Faculty Mini-Grants will also be announced in April.

Workshop Series on Learning, Teaching, and the Brain: Developing a Tool-kit for Supporting Denison Students

The fourth workshop in the series will be held on April 13, 11:30 to 1:15, in the Center for Learning and Teaching (lunch is provided) and will address: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders: Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Learning Accommodations. The presenters for this workshop are Sanda Gibson (Counselor, Whisler Center for Student Wellness) and Jennifer Vestal (Director, Academic Resource Center).

This workshop will provide an overview of the ADHD brain and executive function skill development, the DSM-V criteria used for diagnosing ADHD, and will identify behavioral symptoms observed in college students with ADHD.  Treatment plans and use of medications as part of ADHD treatment will be reviewed. The presenters will share data (and the discrepancies between sources) related to Denison’s population of students with ADHD, trends in reasonable accommodations, and offer professional tips as well as “What do you wish your faculty knew about how you learn?” responses from current Denison students with ADHD.

Encouraging Difficult Classroom Discussions in Complicated Times

The Provost’s office and the Center sponsored a meeting on March 8 on Teaching in Today’s Political Environment: A Faculty Conversation which was facilitated by Linda Krumholz (Department of English). A recent article by Brooke Barnett, Deandra Little, and Shannon Lundeen published in INSIGHT into Diversity Magazine provides additional examples of the teaching and learning strategies that were discussed at our meeting, including:

1) Draw on your disciplinary expertise: (“when we connect the work of our discipline to pressing issues of the day, it helps our students better understand that the concepts are applicable outside of the classroom and have practical import for public intellectual work”)

2) Set up the best conditions for class discussions and small-group work: (“How will we challenge each other in respectful ways that invite discussion rather than shit it down? How will our group work together when we disagree?”)

3) Address offensive comments as a teacher: (“Reminding students of the agreement that the classroom is a place for practicing intellectual arguments can help separate the ideas being expressed from the persons expressing them.”)

4) Make yourself vulnerable: (“You might invite a colleague to visit your classroom and offer feedback on how well students are engaged and learning.”)

You can read the description of examples for each point in the article which ends by stating that “worldwide political shifts, changing demographics, and increased instances of hate, as well as responsive activism, suggest the need for an increased focus on diversity and inclusion on college campuses. Just as we, as faculty, need to keep abreast of content and new technology, we must also create classrooms that are accessible, equitable, and learning-centered and be attuned to the need to help students be civic-minded.”

GLCA/GLAA Consortium for Teaching and Learning

This week’s posting to the GLCA/GLAA Consortium for Teaching and Learning is a video presentation of a major collaboration involving faculty and students from three nations.  Deirdre Johnston, Professor of Communications at Hope College in Holland, Michigan, USA, and Dagmar Kusá, Professor of Political Science at the Bratislava International School of Liberal Arts (BISLA) in Bratislava, Slovakia, described a program developed in conjunction with Rima Rantisi at the American University in Beirut, to study and experience Narratives of Peace, Conflict, and Justice.  Through readings, reflection, and interaction with one another, each worked to achieve better understanding that would allow them to deconstruct myths, stereotypes, and prejudices both within and beyond one’s own setting – race relations in the U.S., the treatment accorded to the Roma in Europe, and religion and tribe in Lebanon. Next they traveled with their students to South Africa – where narratives of peace, conflict, and justice also presented themselves in sharp relief. Don’t miss the video presentation of their compelling journey, featured on the home page of the GLCA/GLAA Consortium for Teaching and Learning (http://glcateachlearn.org).

Find news of the GLCA/GLAA Consortium for Teaching and Learning on Facebook and Twitter:  Like our Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/glcateachlearn/), and follow us on Twitter (@glcateachlearn). If you have pieces that you would like to submit, they can be e-mailed to the project directors:  Gregory Wegner (wegner@glca.org) or Steven Volk (steven.volk@oberlin.edu).

Book Recommendations (these books are available from the CfLT)

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Jane Dougan