Category Archive: New Faculty

Mar 10

Finding Government Information

This article is the fourth part of a series by UNG Libraries covering some of the newest and most exciting additions to our GALILEO Database collections. A new post will appear on the last Monday of every month of Academic year 2015-2016. Please note: login required for off-campus access to some links.


 

Information created by the United States federal government seems appealingly useful because it is authoritative and much of it seems reliable; finding the government information you need, however, isn’t always easy. Sure, you can do a Google search or you can search USA.gov (the official web portal of the United States government), but you may have to sift through many – even hundreds of thousands of results to find a particular document or information resource. Even after you’ve drilled through all the results, you still may come up empty-handed. Fortunately, there are some governmental databases that are especially useful for locating U.S. government information.

Catalog of U.S. Government Publications

CatalogofUSpubsOne of the most user-friendly federal government databases is the Catalog of U.S. Government Publications (CGP). Sponsored by the Government Publishing Office (GPO), the CGP creates records of print and digitized government information that is distributed through the Federal Depository Library Program. Users can choose from basic, advanced, and expert search options—although most people start with the basic search and type one or two keywords in the search box. Recent government publications are often fully digitized and the CGP provides links that will connect the user to digitized information resources.(figure 1)

 

ListofLinkedDocuments

figure 1


MetaLib

metalibIn addition to the CGP, the Government Publishing Office created MetaLib, a search engine that searches over 60 governmental resources. MetaLib allow users to select and search up to ten databases at once. These include “catalogs, reference databases, digital repositories or subject-based Web gateways.” Once the results are generated, then the search can be narrowed by clicking on one of the facets (e.g. topics, dates, authors, etc.) on the right side of the search results page (see figure 2 below). People accustomed to getting search results at the speed of a Google search may become frustrated using MetaLib. Users may have to perform multiple searches to locate the desired information resources and that can get to be a bit tedious. As is true with all database searches–the better your search terms, the better your results.

authors

figure 2


Federal Digital System (FDsys)

FDSYS

Another tool from the Government Publishing Office is the Federal Digital System, or FDsys. The emphasis of FDsys is on “authentic government information.” Because digital text and images can be manipulated, it isn’t always easy to determine if the information presented is both original and legitimate. FDsys provides authentic, verified, and digitally signed PDF documents that mitigate those concerns. In addition, the GPO guarantees “permanent public access to all FDsys resources.” FDsys include around 50 collections from the executive, judicial, and legislative branches of the Federal Government.

 


Google: Effective .gov Searches

CGP ix

figure 3

The Catalog of U.S. Government Publications, MetaLib, and FDsys are important tools for discovering government information. These tools work well for researchers and advanced students. But some students are going perform a Google search, almost by instinct. For these students – and anyone else seeking government information – there’s a way to search Google more effectively. One can limit the domains that Google searches by typing the word site followed by a colon and then dot gov. (In other words, type:  site:.gov,) followed by your specific search terms. Google will only search website with a .gov domain (see figure 3).

 

cgp X

figure 4

 

These searches will also pull in government information authored by the state legislatures, departments, agencies, and so on. If you want to limit your search to just information from Georgia state governmental and regulatory bodies, simply type site:.ga.gov followed by your search terms (see figure 4).

If you have any questions about finding government information, please ask the UNG librarians. We’d love to help you.

Feb 02

What it Means to be Connected

October was Connected Educator Month. Started by the U.S. Department of Education in 2012, CEM has gone global and in 2013 reached 14 million educators through twitter alone.

As a college writing teacher and dues-paying member of the National Council of Teaches of English, I was involved this October with CEM, specifically attending (live or remotely; via webcam or twitter) events connected to CEM and curating the conversations via twitter, blogs, Storify, or through other digital platforms.

As we head into the spring semester, I find myself reflecting on a webinar I attended held live in Norway. Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano, an educational consultant based in Brazil, provided the keynote address titled “The Globally Connected Educator.” In her presentation, she argued that if the desired outcome is globally connected students, teachers need to be connected globally connected first. This connection happens when teachers communicate, collaborate, and connect with experts and peers from around the world.

We work at a university which prides itself on establishing global connections. We have an active Center for Global Engagement. We have a strong relationship with Liaocheng University in China, as well as the Summer Language Institute’s inclusion of Chinese and Korean languages.

But here at the beginning of a new semester, I encourage us to consider individually and collectively how we can remain connected to educators in generalm, as well as our disciplines — and even subdisciplines. Connecting and remaining connected to our field improves the quality of instruction we offer our students.

Tolisano pushes digital connections via contributing to twitter conversations and webinars. Yet, these connections do not have to be reserved for the technologically savvy.

We connect through attending local, regional, and national conferences, sitting in on sessions or meeting people in the hallways (that is where the “real” conference happens, I believe, and it is blogged about here).

We connect through browsing recent journals in our field, scanning the table of contents and remembering author names and what she, he, they wrote about.

We connect through bringing in guest-speakers, and by being aware of who the president is of our leading professional organization.

As Tolisano said, our students need a connected teacher.

This connection does not have to occur during the weekly #whatisschool twitter chat, though it certainly could.

But this connection needs to happen for the betterment of our own professional development, but more importantly, for the betterment of our students.

Additional Resources

Connected Educator Month: Get Involved

Powerful Learning Practice: Professional Learning for Connected Educators

 

Dec 01

Pretending to Be A Student Reminds Me How to Teach

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Every summer, the Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction at the University of Kansas presents the Intensive Institute on the Study of Science Fiction, a two week seminar covering a list of either 25 novels or a selection of short stories, all deemed “important” to the genre. The seminar begins with the early works, the classics, and moves through the Science Fiction Golden Age, all the way through our contemporary era. The instructor, Chris McKitterick, is a published novelist, has studied astronomy, and has also worked as a technical writer for the gaming and tech industries . He knows his technology and his literature, and was, therefore, the perfect person to take over for the founder and former director, SF guru James Gunn. (I will freely admit that I was pretty starstruck when I met Gunn, my intellectual and academic hero, at a casual lunch with some of the students. To my credit, I did not squeal. Not out loud, anyway).

So it was that, in June of 2014, I spent two weeks studying the classics. From War of the Worlds to Consider Phlebas, a group of seven students deconstructed history, debated politics, conducted thought experiments, and examined imaginary (potential) technologies. For over four hours a day, every day, we talked about books. Books we’d loved for years; books we finished reading only on principle; books we’d heard of and had planned to read anyway; books that shattered everything we thought we knew about narrative/philosophy/genre/[fill-in-the-blank]. In a word, it was good.

In another word, it was nostalgic. Remember those grad school classes where everyone showed up, energized by the readings and ready for lively discussion? It was like that. We see it happen in our own classrooms: those days that we talk about later with our colleagues, friends, partners, those in-class activities we hope to remember to repeat to similar success in a future semester. Those days when we remember that the symbiosis of teaching and learning can be exhilarating, that it can feel like truth, that it can change lives…including our own. That’s what I felt during this course, and that’s what I want my students to feel as often as possible.

I had been eyeing this program for several years, but the expense of the travel, particularly the lodging and airfare, put it out of reach. Until I received the second reminder from CTLL about the Presidential Faculty Professional Engagement Award (PFPE). According to the award information, “Funding is designed to support professional development activities for faculty to remain state-of-the-art in their disciplines.” I could argue that teaching SF is “state-of-the-art,” especially when dealing with the so-called “millennials.” Maybe, just maybe, I could do this.

Perhaps you’re not daunted by the application process for faculty or staff awards. Perhaps you don’t suffer from “imposter syndrome,” the symptoms of which usually reach a peak in graduate school, but often linger for years after one has obtained a good position in higher ed. Perhaps you’re that person: self-assured, always successful, never nervous.

I, however, am not.

When I learned of the PFPE, I resisted applying right away. I had all of usual my wimpy excuses at the ready:

  • I’m still the new kid. (I’ve been here since 2006.)
  • I don’t have time to prepare a proposal. (Who does?)
  • Who would write a recommendation for me? (Just ask someone.)
  • Other faculty deserve it more than I do. (Shouldn’t that be the judges’ decision?)

This time, however, my desire to attend an academic geek-fest a professional development seminar managed to out-shout the self-defeating voices in my head, and I gave it a whirl. If I didn’t succeed, I reasoned, I could always consider the process an important learning experience for my career. I was right, too: I’m nearly certain that, if I hadn’t applied this time, future opportunities would grow less appealing, and the reminder emails from CTLL would more quickly vanish into my deleted items folder. I learned to prepare a (small) budget, found the words to articulate my professional goals, and challenged myself to plan for future collaboration and presentation to my colleagues.

Plus: I got to spend nearly two weeks with some very smart SF scholar / teacher talking philosophy, science, religion, and literature. Definitely worth every moment of anxiety and increased workload.

So, my advice is this: if you see an opportunity to reignite your passion for your calling, whether that calling is teaching, like me, or scholarly activity, take it. Not profound or surprising advice, but, sometimes, we all need a little kick in the pants to do what, in the end, we really want to do.

On a final, more practical note: UNG faculty & staff should also attend this presentation: Writing a Successful Faculty Scholar Award Proposal on December 3. It’s easy to be passionate; it’s less easy to find the funds to follow that passion.  (Presented by CTLL)  Be sure to RSVP.

Resources

CTLL Faculty Awards: http://ung.edu/center-teaching-learning-leadership/awards/index.php

Academic Affairs Faculty Awards: http://ung.edu/academic-affairs/faculty-awards/index.php#UNG%20Faculty%20Awards%20&%20Ceremonies

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

 

Oct 13

Midpoint Course Evaluations

by Katherine Kipp, Interim CTLL Faculty Fellow – Oconee

So we have officially passed the midpoint of the semester. Hopefully, we finally ironed out all the wrinkles in our courses and have settled into a comfortable pattern that works for us and works for our students. This is the time in the semester that I like to reflect on how well things are actually working, for me, but more importantly, for my students. I think I know how they are doing and what teaching strategies are working for them, but I’ve learned over the years that I can’t base my assessment solely on my own perceptions.

In the spirit of self-reflection, I like to conduct mid-point course evaluations in each of my courses/sections. These are similar to the end of course evaluations students complete in Banner, but they can be more useful because they are immediately beneficial to the students. I’ve always found these midpoint evaluations to be helpful or, at the very least, innocuous.

My procedure is to announce to the class my intention of conducting the midpoint evaluation. I ask the students to pull out a piece of notebook paper and write down 2 questions and their responses to each: (1) what do I like about the course and want to keep? And (2) what do I dislike about the course and want to see changed. I ask them to think about their learning in the course: what have I done that has helped or not helped them learn, what are they doing that is helping or not helping them learn. I ask them to be as thorough as possible because I will be acting upon their responses. I stress that it is very important to list things they like because if I only hear from those who dislike it, their “like” might be removed from the course. I spend a few minutes explaining that I’m doing this exercise so that they can actually have some input into the course and their evaluations will matter for the rest of the semester. With the instructions clear, I ask them to write out as much as they can, and then I collect their responses anonymously. It only takes about 10 minutes of class time.

Once I have their responses it is time for data analysis and reflection. For my procedure, I make a simple table listing every characteristic of the course that was mentioned and tally up the likes and dislikes for that characteristic. Usually I find a few key items showing up on most students’ evaluations and also a list of items only mentioned by one or two students. I reflect on the opinion of the class as a whole, and on whether I agree with their assessment. Next I reflect on what changes I could make to the course to improve, based on their suggestions. One of the beauties of this evaluation method is that students often clue me in on hurdles, obstacles, and techniques that I never would have thought of on my own.

Finally, I report back to the class. I read off suggestions and announce the number of likes and dislikes. Then I talk about how I will change to accommodate their suggestions OR the fact that I won’t change and, critically, why I won’t change. The students often enjoy this class interchange, but most importantly, they see that they are partners in the learning process, that they can influence their learning environment, and that I value their input and am eager to help them succeed.

There are many ways to structure a mid-point evaluation. Some of the parameters to consider include:

–      Anonymous vs Signed: some instructors like keeping the evaluations anonymous with the thinking that students will be more forthcoming whereas others think the students are more responsible when they sign their evaluations

–      Free-form vs Structured Format: the example above was a free-form, “write about how the course is going for you” format. Another option is to use the formal structure of the end-of-course forms given in Banner or by some other format. If you have specific techniques or issues you need feedback about, it is good to add those to whichever form you use. It is always good to have at least one open-ended question regardless of your preferred format, so that your students will have a chance to give opinions that might have been missed by your form.

–      In-class or online delivery: Contrary to what we might believe about differences in delivery format, research suggests that there are no differences in students’ responses between these delivery formats (Crews & Curtis, 2011). Although the method of gathering the evaluations doesn’t matter, it is important to have the debriefing discussion about the outcomes in person, with the class.

There are many benefits to using a midpoint evaluation. Students overwhelmingly want to be heard from in course structure and content, but very few actually feel that their evaluations are acted upon or that their feedback makes a difference (Freeman & Dobbins, 2013). This evaluation convinces them that what they think IS heard and DOES make a difference. Students gain confidence in themselves and trust in you as their instructor and partner in learning. It is a great way to get feedback in a low-cost, formative way that you may not get from the end-of-the-semester summative evaluations. And research suggests it does improve teaching for the rest of the semester (Cohen, 1980; Murray, 2007).

You can get more detail about this technique from McKeachie (2013) or Whitford (2008). There are many online forms offered as well, from the University of Maryland you can get instructions and evaluation forms, and others from University of British Columbia , Indiana University, Bloomington, and The Massachusetts Institute of Technology. An especially helpful tutorial and sample forms are available here.

One final point – the most essential aspect of the mid-point evaluation is that you are willing to change something. It is not an effective technique to be used if you don’t plan to give-and-take with the students. It is also important that you don’t over-use the technique within a single course offering: students can suffer from survey-overload!

Good luck, and we are half-way there!

-Cohen, P.A. (1980). Effectiveness of student-rating feedback for improving college instruction: A meta-analysis of findings. Research in Higher Education, 13, 321-341.

-Crews, T.B. & Curtis, D.F. (2011). Online course evaluations: faculty perspective and strategies for improved response rates. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 36, 865-878.

-Freeman, R., & Dobbins, K. (2013). Are we serious about enhancing courses? Using the principles of assessment for learning to enhance course evaluation. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 38, 142-151.

-McKeachie, W.J. (2013). Teaching Tips: Strategies, research, and theory for college and university teachers (14th ed.). Lexington, MA: D.C. Heath and Company.

-Murray, H.G. (2007). Low-inference teaching behaviors and college teaching effectiveness: Recent developments and controversies. In R.P. Perry & J.C. Smart (Eds.), The scholarship of teaching and learning in higher education: An evidence-based perspective (pp. 145-200). Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Springer.

-Whitford, F.W. (2008). College Teaching Tips. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

Sep 15

Using Exam Wrappers as a Learning Tool

By: Dede deLaughter

She sits in your office, clearly fighting back tears. Pointing to the grade on her test, she says, “I’ve never made anything below a B before.”

Sound familiar? How many of us have had similar conversations with our students? And when we probe a little further, asking, among other questions, “What will you do to prepare for the next test?”, how many times do we hear, “I just need to study harder!”? One wonders, what does “study” look like in the average student’s mind, and what does “harder” look like? What if doing more of what didn’t work in the first place yields the same results? As Albert Einstein famously said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

How can we turn such occasions into a genuine opportunity for our students to learn? In their book titled How Learning Works: 7 Research-Based Principles for Smart Teaching*, Ambrose et al. provide compelling reasons to incorporate the use of exam wrappers into our curriculum. An exam wrapper is a form students fill out after receiving a graded test (or any other assessment), with the intent of guiding them through the self-correction process. The exam wrapper incorporates: reflecting on their preparation time and strategies; determining their areas of strengths and weaknesses; and identifying the types of errors they most commonly made. After students turn in their completed exam wrappers, the instructor reads through them for insight into how his/her students are studying. Then, a day or so before the next test, the professor returns the completed exam wrappers to the students in order to have a structured classroom discussion about how best to prepare for the upcoming test. This Purdue University Learning blog provides some good research on using exam wrappers as a meta-cognitive tool, and a quick Internet search of Exam Wrapper yields some good templates to adapt for your own courses. For example, this exam wrapper intentionally focuses on the main goals for using exam wrappers.

How might a guided classroom discussion go so that students can determine how best to prepare for the next test? The discussion might begin, not with a discussion of study strategies and techniques but, instead, with a conversation about their Mindset. In her pivotal work on a fixed versus growth mindset, Dr. Carol Dweck explains how our beliefs about our capacity to learn affects everything about our performance, from how we approach intellectually challenging material to how we deal with failure and criticism. Nigel Holmes has summarized Dweck’s findings in his Two Mindsets graphic. In short, students with a fixed mindset view every assignment, every assessment, every learning task as a referendum on their intelligence, which often results in minimal effort, giving up, blaming, and/or avoiding challenging subject matter. “Why would I risk being seen as deficient?” is their internal message. In contrast, students with a growth mindset relish any chance to grow their brain, viewing even failures as growth opportunities. Their internal message is “I can do this, I can learn, and my devoted effort is what results in mastery.”

Thankfully, Dweck’s research also conclusively shows that learners with a fixed mindset can develop a growth mindset when discussions about mindset are woven into the fabric of the academic environment. One discussion will not generally result in a mindset shift. Rather, the discussions and coaching need to be an ongoing, natural part of the learning environment. Once students are trained to recognize the voice of a fixed mindset and how to reframe their beliefs, their learning dramatically improves, often resulting in the deep learning we all desire for our students. Ken Bain’s book What the Best College Students Do* provides a thorough discussion of how a fixed mindset lends itself to surface or strategic learning, while a growth mindset lends itself to deep, lifelong learning.

Once students begin to embrace a growth mindset, they are then better able to determine what types of study strategies actually work for them, and they will be more inclined to experiment with different techniques in different courses. Students with a growth mindset are also better able to determine what types of study techniques are active learning strategies versus those that constitute passive, rote memorization. As we all know, memorization does not equal understanding. Let’s take flash cards as an example: once students recognize what deep learning looks like because they are willing to put forth the effort to achieve genuine learning, they are better able to offer suggestions to each other for turning the passive, almost mindless, activity of looking through a stack of index cards into active learning techniques, such as making games from their index cards.

Finally, to assist students in branching out and developing a broader repertoire of study strategies that engage their learning styles, both inside and outside the classroom, consider providing them a link to a short Multiple Intelligence assessment and then encouraging students with similar Multiple Intelligences (MI) to collaborate, using their exam wrapper and their MI results, along with the Practice tab, to devise ways to work from their areas of strength.

The more our students engage in learning about their learning, and the better we are at guiding them through this process, the more they will claim ownership of their own education. We can help restore a measure of sanity to our students’ learning by introducing them to exam wrappers and the benefits of doing an honest “post-mortem” on their previous academic efforts. (A self-guided “tour” through the Mindset and Multiple Intelligence self-assessments is available under the Grow Your Brain section on the UNG Learning Support website.)

*available to check out through CTLL

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)