Center for Learning and Teaching

MAY 2017
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Heartfelt thanks to Frank Hassebrock, Director as he transitions to his new role to relax responsibly in retirement! 

Do (Will) You Assign Group and Collaborative Learning Projects in Your Courses Next Year?

 Evidence-based research has documented over several years the positive learning outcomes of small group, team, or collaborative learning assignments across disciplines. More recently, this type of pedagogical approach has been recognized as one example of a“high-impact educational practice” in higher education and is receiving renewed attention as an important learning goal independent of educational content. Steve Volk (Professor Emeritus and Director of Oberlin’s Center for Teaching Innovation and Excellence), has addressed several conceptual and procedural opportunities and challenges in using group work in his blog essay, Group Projects: It’s Better Together- But Only If You Plan. Additional resources (research articles, essays, examples, and applications) are available on MyDenison/Center for Learning and Teaching/Small Group, Collaborative, and Team Learning.

Summer: Time to Design (or Re-design) a Course and Syllabus?

The Center has provided a workshop, Integrated Course and Syllabus Design, over the past two January breaks that has been attended by over 40 Denison faculty. The workshop, created and presented by Frank Hassebrock, Kim Specht, and Cheryl Johnson, provides an introduction and tutorial on the Backward Design model developed by Dee Fink (Creating Significant Learning Experiences). If you missed the workshop, you can review several resources on the Center’s MyDenison pages: Developing Courses and Designing Syllabi. A brief article on Fink’s model and specific steps you can follow to implement the backward design process for your new or revised course can be accessed at this link.

Summer: Time for a Reading Group on Learning, Teaching, Curriculum, Mentoring, or Faculty Development?

The Center can purchase books and pay for lunch discussions if Teaching or General Faculty would like to meet this summer. Contact Frank Hassebrock or Jeff Kurtz (after May 15) with your ideas.

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

Research articles, presentation materials, and other online resources from the four-part workshop series presented by Denison faculty, administrators, and professional staff during spring semester are available on MyDenison/Center for Learning and Teaching/Learning, Teaching, and the Brain. These workshops were co-sponsored with the Academic Resource Center and the Dean of First-Year Students.

Pedagogical Practice Projects: Application Information for Fall 2017 are due August 1, 2017

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.  Contact Jeff Kurtz (Director, June 2017+) for the application form or more information; contact Gina Dow for applications or information on Pedagogical Practice Projects- Service and Experiential Learning (PP-SE), and for Ashbrook Faculty Mini-Grants on project-based learning in Licking County.

GLCA/GLAA Consortium for Teaching and Learning

This week’s posting to the GLCA Consortium for Teaching and Learning ( is by Steven Volk, Professor Emeritus of History at Oberlin College, Director of Oberlin’s Center for Teaching Innovation and Excellence (CTIE), and Co-director of our own GLCA Consortium for Teaching and Learning.  The Article of the Week that we present here is based on the talk he presented to the Claremont Colleges this month, “New Student Activism: Stops on the Road to New Solidarities.”

Steve examines student activism in a range of historical contexts with a focus on what responsibilities liberal arts colleges and their faculty have to foster constructive dialogue among their students on political topics in which polarizing differences that can easily bring reasoned discussion to a halt.  Steve writes: “My interest in student activism is a bit broader than the latest protest, although I’m quite interested in what Cornel West and Robert George have called an “illiberal” turn in activism that we have seen at Middlebury, Berkeley, Claremont McKenna, Hampshire, Smith, and elsewhere.  Unlike many journalists and bloggers, I’m interested in what such protests say about the moment in which we live, and, fundamentally, what these protests say about the role of the faculty and the tasks of teaching and learning at this moment. . . .

Click here to read his full posting, which includes several actions that colleges and their faculty can take to help ensure that liberal arts education helps its students to enhance their understanding through the consideration of perspectives beyond their initial convictions.

CENTER for learning and teaching - jeff-kurtz.jpg image #2 Jeff Kurtz, Director, Center for Learning and Teaching (2017+) 

Best wishes to Jeff as he begins a new role at Denison. Jeff has served on the Center’s Advisory Group and has been active in several faculty development programs and events related to learning and teaching, especially with respect to diversity, equity, and inclusive excellence for  promoting student success and high-quality learning. Please contact Jeff (after May 15) for future programs and resources. Thank you to all of my Denison colleagues for their involvement and support over the past few years as the Center has developed it programs, resources, and physical presence on campus.

 Book Recommendations (these books are available from the CfLT)

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Jane Dougan