March/April 2015, Vol. 3, No. 10/11
Theme: Bottlenecks and Student Learning
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Bottlenecks and Student Learning
Teaching Tip - The "Mastery Mindset"
Publishing Opportunity: Teaching Naked Handbook
March Upcoming Events
Want to register for a Faculty Development Workshop?
SIGN UP HERE.
- Efficiently & Effectively Commenting on Student Writing - Webinar - Friday, April 10, noon-12:30
- How to Create Video/Audio Recordings for Learning -
Workshop - Wednesday, April 15,
6:00-9:00. CELT Faculty Commons (LSH 50)
- Blackboards Skills - Workshop - Wednesday, April 22, 6:00-9:00pm. CELT Faculty Commons (LSH 50)
- Decoding Your Discipline - Spring Learning Series Kickoff - Workshop - Saturday, April 25 9:00-12:00pm. Saint Mary's Event Center.
Teaching Tip - Helping Students Develop a "Mastery Mindset"
By Jane Littlefield
After reading Alex's article, I thought "how does one "become" a professional or know when "mastery" is achieved (or at least some level of it is reached)? Besides time, experience, energy, and a reflective aha moment one day, I'm not sure!
Help your students become professionals. Below are tips and tools for faculty to use in the classroom to encourage students to outgrow the "I'm but a Padawan" attitude, and guide them on their journeys toward (Jedi) mastery.
Publish your Pedagogy in the Teaching Naked Handbook
Here is an excellent opportunity to share your experience, expertise, and
tried-and-true practices without having to write an entire book chapter or
article! C. Edward Watson, PhD (Director, UGA Center for Teaching and Learning) and José Antonio Bowen PhD (President, Goucher College, Partners in Learning Fall Conference presenter), are inviting faculty to submit content for a Teaching Naked Handbook to be published by Wiley in 2016.
The handbook will contain "practical advice for faculty, but also lots of discipline-specific EXAMPLES of how faculty are flipping classes, preparing new pre-class assignments and assessments, using video or cognitive wrappers or designing new in-class activities."
http://tinyurl.com/teachingnaked2015 Learn more about the handbook and submit your proposal for a contribution!
Bottlenecks and the 1 in 20 Student
By Alex Urquhart
write an article for this newsletter, I begin with a topic. More specifically, I
begin with a problem that might resonate with faculty as identified by the CELT committee. This month’s "problem"
is the student that is only after the grade: the person in the class who cannot
connect his learning experiences to his own career development;
the extrinsic reward seeker; or the student who is not invested in her own learning
clockwork and if by Fortuna’s divine guidance, immediately after we identify
the topic, examples of this issue begin to trickle in around me. This time, that search for resonance quickly
turned from trickle to flood. I saw frustration, resignation, and even anger
from faculty. Emotions I am not used to seeing.
professor described a student who completely ignored his comments and in an almost abusive fashion contested the grade he received. The student only slightly
relented when the professor pointed out that the student was confused and
actually received an A and was just reading the point-total incorrectly. This
faculty member was upset by the way he was treated, but I sensed he was more
upset that the student did not care about the thoughtful and instructive comments provided. The student had only cared about the grade and
completely ignored the larger picture behind the grade, learning.
To be clear,
most of the stories professors have are of students working hard, often under
adverse conditions, and of gratitude and achievement. The contradictions to
this more common and positive narrative, however, seem to viscerally stand out
to faculty. They are an exception at the same they stand out as exceptional. Faculty
I spoke with, however, focused on the one negative voice instead of the 20
positive ones. This seems to always be the case. Faculty members always seem to
remember the student that does not care and the student who was insulting
instead of the 20 students who were positive.
I do not have a simple solution to this issue.
There is, of course, wonderful literature on using intrinsic motivators,
classroom engagement strategies, and creating community, but even faculty who
use these strategies—the very ones who shared these stories—were not immune to having these students. Therefore,
instead of offering a solution, I want to posit a new understanding. Instead of
thinking of the non-invested student as non-invested, perhaps the student is
highly invested just invested in the wrong things.
I say this because
when I delved deeper, the faculty with whom I spoke actually expressed evidence
to investment when discussing their "non-invested" students: long phone calls,
lengthy emails, and constant questions in class. In a student that loved their
class, I believe most faculty would call this evidence of investment.
I offer now, and one I would love to discuss further, is that these students
are invested; they are just invested in the wrong thing. They are invested in
being a student but only as a student. Rather than focusing on being a student,
faculty want, and rightfully so, their students to be focused on becoming a
professional within their chosen discipline. This is the frustration I believe
faculty were expressing to me, and it is one that is echoed in the literature.
Dressen-Hammouda (2008) and Jacobowitz (2014) argued the one of the most
significant transformations a student must make, especially in graduate school,
is that from novice (student) to one of disciplinary
master. It is in this transformation that students take ownership and identity
of a profession rooted in the production and application of knowledge as opposed
to merely its consumption. At schools like Saint Mary’s which deal with “newly”
created academic professional disciplines, Findlow (2012) argued that this transformation
is often more challenging but also more important. As such, faculty must take
an active role in not only instructing content, but fostering this new identity
if students are to be successful.
best way to think about this problem is to understand disciplinary mastery and identity
as a bottleneck to learning (Pace &
It is one of the harder things for students to learn but something that we as
faculty and professionals in our fields often take for granted. Perhaps the non-engaged
students just see themselves as students first, and we as a faculty need to do
more to engender the professional identity that we see as necessary. In other words, we need to do more to overcome
I have just
begun to think about this hypothesis. Luckily, Middendorf will be on campus
this month to further the discussion. If you are interested in discussing this bottleneck,
or another you find occurs in your classroom, you can register here for the upcoming
Decoding Your Discipline on April 25th.
Just keep in mind you must register by April 15th. I look forward to
seeing you there.
- Dressen-Hammouda, D. (2008). From novice to disciplinary expert: Disciplinary identity and genre mastery. English For Specific
Purposes, 27 (Special Issue in Honor of John Swales), 233-252.
- Findlow, S. (2012). Higher education change andprofessional-academic identity in newly "academic" disciplines: Thecase of nurse education. Higher Education: The International Journal of
Higher Education And Educational Planning, 63(1), 117-133.
- Jacobowitz, J. L. (2014). Cultivating professional identity& creating community: A tale of two innovations. University Of
Arkansas at Little Rock Law Review, 36(3), 319-331.
- Pace, D., & Middendorf, J. K. (2004). Decodingthe disciplines: Helping students learn disciplinary ways of thinking. San
Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.