Category Archive: Academic Leadership

Apr 25

UNG at the 2017 USG Teaching and Learning Conference

On April 5-7, 2017, the University System of Georgia (USG) hosted the USG Teaching and Learning Conference at the Georgia Center for Continuing Education in Athens, Georgia. Faculty, staff, and students gathered to share their research, experiences, and other work related to Best Practices for Promoting Engaged Student Learning. Irene Kokkala, Director of Distance Education & Technology Integration (DETI), is a founding co-director of this system-wide conference.

The University of North Georgia (UNG) was well-represented with forty-five UNG faculty, staff, and students chosen to present their work at the conference. Their presentations highlight UNG’s commitment to academic excellence and contribute to the teaching and learning communities of UNG and USG.

The following faculty and staff presented their work at the 2017 USG Teaching and Learning Conference:

“A Tale of Two Labs: Adapting Field Biology Labs into Online Formats”
Eleanor Schut

“Addressing STEM Undergraduate Deficiencies Reading and Writing Scientific Literature Using a Learning Community”
Evan Lampert and Steve Pearson

“An Integrated First-Year Cohort Experience”
Tom Cooper, Alison Hite, Phillip Mitchell, Nathan Price, and Robert H. Scott

“Biology Boot Camp: A Peer-Assisted, Active Learning Program Designed to Increase Student Engagement and Promote Critical Thinking in Biology”
Cathy Whiting

“Building Meaningful Bridges: Innovative Approaches to Learning Communities”
Rosaria Meek, Lance Bardsley, Dan Cabaniss, and Michael Kemling

“Cheating on Online Exams: How to Recognize, Foil, and Prevent It”
Margaret Williamson, Katherine Kipp, and John Williams

“Conditional Feedback: Using Google Drive to Encourage Revision Effort”
Matthew Horton

“Empowering Faculty, Staff, and Students: Applying Growth Mindset to Writing Instruction”
Diana Edelman and Jim Shimkus

“Engage Me! Free or Low-cost Web-based Technology to Interact and Engage Students in Your Classroom and online Courses”
Jim Wilkison and Ching-Yu Huang

“Excel Spreadsheets as a Tool for Teaching and Learning Quantitative Courses Online”
Christine Jonick

“False Assumptions: the Challenges and Politics of Teaching in China”
Laura Getty

“Heightened Critical Thinking: Requiring a Prospectus and Annotated Bibliography in the Research Paper Process”
Donna Gessell

“Ideological Exploration: Responses to Zakaria’s In Defense of a Liberal Education”
Tanya Bennett

“Implementation of a Biology Resource Center” (Cancelled)
Jeanelle Morgan

“Innovative Publishing: Developing Low- and No-Cost Textbooks with UNG Press”
Bonnie Robinson and Corey Parson

“Learning to Talk/Talking to Learn: Using Critical Dialogue to Promote Critical Thinking Learning Communities”
Patrice Prince with students, Chelsea Belezaire, Alexis Schubiger, and Sarah Williams

“Problem-Solving in the Literature Classroom: Creative Responses to Literary Texts”
Leigh Dillard and Macklin Cowart with student, Callie Bryant

“Research Tools for SoTL”
Rebecca Rose

“Spark and Sway”
John Williams

“SoTL Communities of Practice for Research on Teaching and Learning”
Mary Carney and Laura Ng

“The Process of Building OER Materials that Promote Student Engagement” (Listed in email from Marie Lasseter)
Patty Wagner

“The Research Consultation: Teaching Students Critical Thinking Skills Outside of the Classroom”
Virginia Feher, Sean Boyle, Randall Parish, and Karen Redding

“Using a Collaborative Laboratory Exercise to Connect Different Sub-disciplines of Biology”
Swapna Bhat and Evan Lampert

“Yelling Whitman: Teaching Prosody by Performance”
Samuel Prestridge, Esther Morgan-Ellis, and Laura Ng

Apr 18

Lesson Plan Template for Scaffolding Student Learning

As an educator at the University of North Georgia (UNG), I spend my time with preservice teachers, preparing them for K-12 classrooms. The information that I share with my preservice teachers can also be valuable for instructors in higher education. I have discovered that many of our preservice teachers are apprehensive about the program when they transition into teacher education. The angst is largely based on what to expect as they navigate their classes in the program. Let me share one approach that I have found to be invaluable in reducing anxiety and preparing instructors to teach their own classes.

Many of us who teach, whether in higher education or K-12, experience some anxiety about lesson delivery. Over time, many become comfortable with the content, specifically the knowledge base that Shulman (1986) refers to as content knowledge. However, some educators eagerly want to learn how to execute the various segments of their lessons. For instance, many preservice teachers are more concerned about how to teach the content (Jackson, 2015) than the content itself. Schulman (1986) classifies the ability to teach content as pedagogical knowledge. Having knowledge about the content is critical to teachers’ instruction; however, Ayers (2015) posits that having sufficient knowledge of content does not automatically suggest that a teacher can adequately deliver instruction of the content. In answering the call for concern, I decided at the start of the academic year that I would do my best to help ease this particular anxiety. I wanted to create a template that our preservice teachers and instructors could utilize, which aligns with state standards, reflects pedagogical framework, and includes pertinent instructional language to support preservice teacher instruction. Guided by Intern Keys, which are standards used to rate teachers on several performance indicators including professional knowledge, instructional planning and instructional strategies (Georgia Intern Keys), I designed a strategy lesson plan template (See appendix).

There are multiple goals for creating the lesson plan template. For one, I wanted the template to mirror a framework of how teachers could teach students about strategic reading. Harvey and Goudvis (2007) describe strategic reading as “thinking about reading in ways that enhance learning and understanding” (p. 23). While it is important for preservice teachers to demonstrate a command of subject matter (Georgia Intern Keys), it is also necessary to provide a framework for them to launch a lesson, from introduction, through teaching and closure, which is clear, sequential and makes sense (Georgia Intern Keys). As a result, I incorporated Pearson and Gallagher’s (1983) gradual release of responsibility model for instruction in the lesson plan template. Gradual release of responsibility is an instructional framework which promotes modeling of a strategy, followed by guided, collaborative, and independent practice respectively. I also wanted to provide language prompts that preservice teachers could borrow as they model and provide guided as well as collaborative practice for their students.  I adapted and added sentence starters from Harvey and Goudvis’ (2007) as well as Harvey, Goudvis, Muhtaris & Ziemke’s (2013) texts. Harvey and Goudvis (2007) state that what and how teachers speak “shapes and expands thinking” (p.36). To this end, it was critical to have the Pearson and Gallagher’s instructional framework and Harvey and Goudvis’ language prompts in one document. Additionally, I hope that instructors at the university would be able to utilize the template as a teaching tool to support preservice teacher learning. Vygotsky (1986) describes zone of proximal development as the scaffold more experienced peers offer to help learners reach their full potential.

Here, I explain the layout of the lesson plan template in detail and provide rationale for each decision. One of the Intern Keys for excellence is beginning a lesson by connecting students’ previous learning to new information (Georgia Intern Keys). As such, the language prompt I include first in the template for introduction is “last week…or yesterday,” which indicates a commitment to connecting students’ previous learning. Next, I include the stem question “have you ever,” which is a method of eliciting responses from students, thereby linking their background knowledge to new learning. In keeping with the pacing and sequence of a typical lesson, the teaching segment follows with a stem statement which introduces the day’s lesson with the phrase “Today readers, we will be.”  Teachers are then prompted to define the comprehension strategy that they are teaching (Pearson & Gallagher, 1983) by including potential key words or sentence starters. Best practice suggests that teachers not only tell, but show students how to engage in a target strategy (Harvey & Goudvis, 2007; Pearson & Gallagher, 1983), thereby making comprehension instruction explicit and meaningful. After this, preservice teachers are cued to do a Think Aloud (Davey, 1983), where they “verbalize their own thoughts” as they model the target comprehension strategy to their students (p. 45). In keeping with a gradual release of responsibility (Pearson & Gallagher, 1983), the template further includes opportunities for students to engage in guided practice, before participating in collaborative and independent practice. Examples of the language prompts within the template are “try it with me,” “try it with a partner,” an adaptation of turn and talk, which is a collaborative strategy that affords opportunities for all students to participate in the lesson (Harvey & Goudvis, 2007). The template culminates with closure, which allows students to share how they used the strategy. Pearson and Gallagher (1983) highlight that the gradual release instructional model is important to effective teaching and student independence. Offering language prompts within the lesson plan framework allows greater opportunities for refining teaching practice and increasing confidence.

This template offers not only a strategy lesson plan for preservice teachers, but also exemplifies a methodical approach to help students practice and assume more responsibility for comprehending course material. It teaches students to strategically approach their reading instruction. Additionally, the template offers all educators an opportunity to deepen their understanding of lesson planning frameworks. This innovative tool may help reduce anxiety in implementing and teaching lessons. With practice, educators will gradually internalize the sequencing, pacing, and necessary language of a lesson and ultimately possess stronger self-efficacy towards administering strategy lessons and, potentially, other lesson structures.

 

References

Ayers, C. A. (2016). Developing Preservice and Inservice Teachers’ Pedagogical Content
Knowledge in Economics. Social Studies Research and Practice, 11(1), 73- 92.

Davey, B. (1983). “Think Aloud: Modeling the Cognitive Processes of Reading Comprehension.”
Journal of Reading, 27(1), 44-47.

Jackson, Annmarie, “Language Teacher Development: A Study of ESOL Preservice Teachers’ Identities, Efficacy
and Conceptions of Literacy.” Dissertation, Georgia State University, 2015.
http://scholarworks.gsu.edu/mse_diss/6

Georgia Intern Keys, Candidate Assessment on Performance Standards, 2013
http://www.gapsc.com/GaEducationReform/Downloads/Intern_TKES_DRAFT_11-2-13.pdf

Harvey, S. & Goudvis, A. (2007). Strategies that work: Teaching comprehension for
understanding and engagement
. Portland, Maine: Stenhouse Publishers.

Harvey, S., Goudvis, A., Muhtaris, K. & Ziemke, K. (2013). Connecting comprehension &
technology: Adapt and extend Toolkit Practices. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Pearson, P.D., & Gallagher, M. (1983). The instruction of reading comprehension. Contemporary
Educational Psychology
, 8(3), 317-344.

Shulman, L. (1986). Those who understand: Knowledge growth in teaching. Educational
Researcher, 15
(4), 4-14.

Vygotsky, L, S. (1986). Thought and language. Massachusetts: Massachusetts Institute of
Technology.

 

Appendix

Strategy Lesson Plan Framework

A.  Introduction/Activator
Connection to previous learning/ activate to concept:
”Last week/yesterday we . . .”
“Have you ever . . .”
“Turn and talk to your partner about what you remember about . . .”

B.  Teaching/Instructional Strategies & Learning
Purpose/goal of the lesson:
“Today, we are going to . . .”
“I’m going to teach you how to . . .“

Strategy Definition (prompts will vary based on strategy):
“When good readers make predictions, they . . .”
“Visualizing means . . .”
“Context clues will help readers . . .”

Modeling/Think Aloud:
First, I want you to watch me as I show you how to . . .”
“I am going to read some of the book. Watch how I stop and Think Aloud about what will happen . . .”

Guided Practice:
“Try it with me. As I read, I want you to… make a Prediction . . .”.   (Repeat again)

Collaborative/Independent Practice:
“Try it with a partner . . .”
“Try it on your own . . .”

C.  Closure
Summarize Strategies/Share:
“Turn and Talk with your partner about your prediction . . .”
“During my reading, I made a prediction . . .”

Oct 27

The Benefits of Faculty Writing Groups

Grab your “to do” list. Whether it’s mental, handwritten, or online, the list probably includes grading papers, preparing lessons for the week, and attending committee meetings (among other things). Have you scheduled any time this week for your own research and writing? Most of us don’t, but can we afford not to? As teachers, we spend a lot of time explaining to students the importance of planning their time, particularly in regards to research and writing. We encourage them to understand their role in the academic community, as thinkers, writers, and readers. Some of us even model this process through in-class peer review workshops where students read and comment on each other’s work.

The question is: do we take our own advice? Are we the kind of professors who would be forced to admit that we prefer that students “do as we say, not as we do”? If you are in academia, writing is an essential part of your job—whether you are writing a textbook on quantum physics or a blog about gender dynamics in the media. Before you send that work to a publisher or post it online, do you workshop it with your peers? Do you get their feedback? Do you do multiple revisions, or are you scrambling to pull it together at the last minute because you have so many other duties (not the least of which is teaching)? Quite often, I find that even the best of us do exactly what we tell our students NOT to do—wait until the last minute and/or hover over our desks in the dark of night (as if writing were a solitary process!).

The point is—writing groups are a win-win. Besides modeling the academic community for our students, peer writing groups can help us develop ideas, fine-tune our prose, and keep us on task. We know how easy it is to get “sucked in” to our other duties—teaching, administration, service. Our writing often goes on the back burner, but it needs to become a priority. If you don’t schedule it, it won’t happen, and before you know it, that article you’ve been working on will gather more dust than you can handle. The most effective way to ensure that you gain momentum (and keep it) is through peer writing groups.

The Benefits of Peer Writing Groups

  • It’s an opportunity to discuss ideas at all stages of development. You know that article is going to get a review from experts in the field before it’s accepted for publication. If you begin that process in a writing group, even with people in different disciplines, they can help you get it ready for a more “official” peer review.
  • Your peers offer a fresh perspective. We have all gotten to the point with a piece of writing where we can no longer “see” it clearly. We need distance and a fresh pair of eyes.
  • You learn about what others are working on. Your colleagues provide inspiration and knowledge (which is the whole idea behind conferences, right?). Chances are your peers will know of a resource that is just what you need at just the right time.
  • These groups facilitate time management because this scheduled time allows you to say no to other things because you are already committed.
  • Your peers provide emotional support and encouragement. Let’s face it. Writing can be exhausting, and we need moral support.

Okay, so, the benefits are clear, but you might be thinking that the logistics are murky. How do we start one of these groups? How often should we meet? Is this going to be yet another meeting to attend? The most important thing to do is to find people who are interested in participating and go from there. Establish your own rules and guidelines based on the needs of the group. There is no reason this should become another chore; it should be fun and mutually beneficial.

The Logistics of Peer Writing Groups

Since groups like this can be created and maintained in many different ways, I will share some basic principles/tips that worked for the group I am currently participating in.

  • Find colleagues who are interested in dedicating regular time to research and writing and want/need accountability. Send an email to your department, bring it up around the proverbial water cooler, or discuss it with others at a conference. These colleagues need not have the same specialty you do or be in the same discipline. They don’t even have to be in the same geographical location. I am in a group with peers on my campus, but I am also in a virtual one with colleagues in other states. They just need to be ready to participate.
  • After you identify some people, schedule a time to meet informally and discuss each person’s goals and what they hope to achieve from the group. From there, determine the following: when, where, and how often to meet; how to track individual and group progress; and what responsibilities members should have. For the group I am in, we determined that we would like to have a quiet time and place to meet simply to be in the same room working on our projects (I call these “moral support” sessions), but at other times, we wanted to share our writing and get feedback. Thus, we determined that we would alternate between writing sessions and discussion/peer review sessions.
  • Once you schedule a regular meeting time, create a calendar and a place to share materials, due dates, and goals. We use Google calendar to allow participants to sign up for discussion/peer review sessions. Once individuals sign up, they can email their work to the group (or use Google Drive or a similar mechanism). We use Google Drive. Participants post their material the night before a meeting (or sometime that week), and whoever has time can make comments. At other times, individuals have brought hard copies to sessions, and participants read and commented on the work verbally or on the hard copy.
  • Although commenting on others’ writing might seem like extra work, it really isn’t. Our group decided that we would not require individuals to comment every time someone signs up for a peer review session. Our guideline is that you comment at least as many times as you share. Thus, group members can participate as much or as little as they need to.
  • Depending on the level of activity of each member, six to ten is probably the ideal size. You want to have enough people to participate, but not so many that the sessions are mostly peer review. You need those “moral support” sessions too. If you have six to ten members, there will usually be at least two or three who can comment and provide sufficient feedback even if others can’t that week. In other words, those sharing get the feedback they need, and nobody feels pressure if they can’t participate that week.
  • I also recommend that the group keep a log of goals and accomplishments (this can be weekly, biweekly, monthly, whatever works). Goal setting and reporting are vital. They allow you to quantify your progress (“hey, I worked three hours on that article this week” or “I wrote five pages!”) as well as see other people’s progress, which is always encouraging. Our group keeps a document in Google Drive where each member writes out their goals for the week (which can be anything from “write 5 pages” to “work for 2 hours on Project X” to “read three articles on Project Y”). At the end of the week, we fill in a report, which tells what we accomplished that week. This is done electronically and at the convenience of members who can be as detailed as they want (or not post at all). Again, members do what is going to help them. Sometimes we will meet our goals, and sometimes not, but the trajectory is always forward. Setting smaller, obtainable goals is the key to completing any long project, and this kind of documentation facilitates that.
  • Make sure that you keep this time and space SACRED. Avoid grading, meeting with students, or scheduling other non-research-related activities during this time. By carving out a specific time and place for research and writing, you are free to say “no” when you need to. Your calendar says “unavailable,” and you have made writing a regular part of the week. This is sacred time. For me, a defined schedule helps me to be able to say to students (and not feel guilty), “No, I’m sorry, but I can’t meet on Friday afternoons. I’m in meetings.” This keeps me from “caving in” to every demand and ensures that I reserve at least that much time each week. Our group schedules a four-hour session every Friday afternoon, but people don’t have to come for that entire time. Even if someone comes for only 30 minutes, that’s 30 minutes more than they would have done otherwise.
  • And, finally, take time to celebrate accomplishments. Schedule a lunch session, or bring in coffee and doughnuts one day. It’s great to hear what our colleagues are doing and to pat ourselves on the back for accomplishing our goals.

Regardless of the discipline—from mathematics to art history, from biology to political science—scholarship is the reason you do what you do. It allows you to engage with the material that led you to teaching.

If you’d like some more information about how to start a faculty writing group here at UNG (including grant opportunities), see the following:

http://ung.edu/center-teaching-learning-leadership/communities-of-practice/faculty-writing-group.php

This CTLL link also includes a list of electronic and print resources such as Robert Boice’s Professors as Writers: A Self-Help Guide to Productive Writing and Kerry Ann Rockquemore’s article “Shut Up and Write” from Inside Higher Ed.

Other Resources:

The Academic Writing Club

Designed for graduate students, post-docs, and professors, this web site provides online accountability tools, peer support from academics around the country, and other resources to ensure that you meet your research and writing goals.

http://academicwritingclub.com/

The Writing Center @ University of North Carolina—Chapel Hill

UNC-Chapel Hill’s Writing Center provides some excellent advice for starting a group, creating a schedule and establishing workshop guidelines. This site includes a “Writing Group Starter Kit” and other resources for students and scholars.

http://writingcenter.unc.edu/handouts/writing-groups/

UCLA’s Graduate Writing Center

Although geared towards graduate students, UCLA’s page, “Running an Effective Writing Group,” provides resources and guidelines that are applicable to anyone who needs to maintain a rigorous writing schedule.

http://gsrc.ucla.edu/gwc/resources/running-an-effective-writing-group.html

 

Feb 26

Mentoring New(er) Faculty at UNG

Mentoring New(er) Faculty at UNG

We’re well into the second semester of the year, and I’d like to encourage you to take a moment to reach out faculty colleagues, especially those who are in their first few years at our institution.  Many departments provide a formal mentor for new faculty, but effective mentoring is a communal enterprise.

Research suggests that mentoring networks are most effective to help new colleagues contribute successfully to our shared enterprise. Newer faculty members, whether new to the profession or new to our institution, look to their immediate colleagues for examples and advice in navigating the hallways and offices of their new environment. This means that they may not always turn to colleagues in their own field, but may, instead, turn to those in officesin proximity to their own.  Take a moment to drop by a younger faculty member’s office to offer an invitation to coffee.  You might talk about balancing your faculty responsibilities, suggest an exchange of classroom observations, or talk about your research agendas. In The Chronicle of Higher Education’s Vitae, Kerry Ann Rockquemore writes about the power of communal mentoring:  “When It Comes to Mentoring, the More the Merrier.” You might also look at the CTLL UNG page on Mentoring for more ideas.

Finally, Mary Dean Sorcinelli and Yun Jung compiled a 2007 literature review of the current (at the time) resources and studies in the changing perspective of the mentoring relationship. In their piece,  “From Mentor To Mentoring Networks: Mentoring In The New Academy,” the authors provide sources, models, and studies for the new concept of “communal” or “constellation” mentorship for the academy.  I encourage you to peruse at least their resources, especially if you’re interested in supporting your colleagues and institution in this fashion.

Further Reading:

Kennedy, Kit. “Mentoring: A network of gratitude.” Serials Review 1993: 5. Academic Search Complete. Web. 26 Feb. 2014. Permalink

Sorcinelli, Mary Deane, and Yun Jung. “From Mentor To Mentoring Networks: Mentoring In The New Academy.” Change 39.6 (2007): 58-61. Academic Search Complete. Web. 26 Feb. 2014. Permalink

Mentoring In the Academy: Harvard University Panel Discussion (video, 55 minutes)