Tag Archive: Center for Teaching and Learning

Jan 18

Upcoming Events for January and February 2017

To register for a workshop, please direct to the CTLL Registration Webpage. For questions, please email ctll@ung.edu.

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Wednesday, January 18, 2017
Everyone Can Teach Writing

12:00 – 1:00 p.m.

Blue Ridge | 107
Cumming | 262
Dahlonega | Hansford 312
Gainesville | Nesbitt 5105
Oconee | 581

Facilitated by Diana Edelman, Assistant Professor of English

Part of the Research-Based Teaching Series
Drs. Jim Shimkus and Anita Turlington will explain the relevance of the three constructs as high-impact teaching practices that help enhance student learning and development during their presentation. These practices are helpful not only for those college teachers who are focused on teaching writing, but teachers in any discipline who are interested in strategies to enhance student learning.

Register for the workshop here.

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Monday, January 23, 2017
Department Head Meeting

12:00 – 1:00 p.m.
Dahlonega Campus
Young Hall 115

Facilitated by Eugene Van Sickle, Associate Department Head of History, Anthropology, and Philosophy

The Department Head Reading Group meeting will focus on a discussion of Section 3. This meeting is invitation only.

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Wednesday, January 25, 2017
SoTL Meeting

12:00 – 1:00 p.m.

Cumming | 262
Dahlonega | Hansford 312
Gainesville | Dunlap-Mathis 137
Oconee | 108

Facilitated by Brad Bailey, SoTL Mentor

The topic for the meeting is Designing and Collecting Quantitative Data for Teaching and Learning. To prepare for the event please read Chapter 6 of Engaging in SoTL. This meeting is invitation only.

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Monday, January 30, 2017
Write@UNG: Copyrights for Authors

12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Blue Ridge Campus | Room 107
Cumming Campus | Room 262
Dahlonega Campus | Hansford 312
Gainesville Campus | Dunlap-Mathis 137
Oconee Campus | Room 564

Few things are as opaque but vitally important than intellectual property—especially in the increasing digital age in which we live, teach, and write. The Framers of the Constitution granted Congress the ability to secure “for Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their Respective Writings and Discoveries.”

Terri Bell, Sr. Library Assistant/Copyright Compliance, will join us to consider what your need to know about intellectual property for your writing and what “Writings and Discoveries” mean for your field.

This workshop will be available via video teleconference on all five campuses.

Register for the workshop here.

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Monday, January 30, 2017
Strengths-Based Development for a Balanced Life

1:30-4:30 p.m.
Dahlonega Campus
Hoag Meeting Room ABC

Facilitated by Alyson Paul, Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students

Staff and Faculty are invited to this workshop to improve knowledge and awareness of individual strengths as well as the strengths of others. Participants can take a StrengthsFinder assessment, which typically costs $10/participant. For the StrengthsFinder inventory, click on the following link:
https://www.strengthsquest.com/192614/purchase.aspx

Register for the workshop here.

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Monday, January 30, 2017
Green Zone Training

2:00-4:00 p.m.
Dahlonega Campus
Stewart 332

Facilitated by Christy Orr, Assistant Director for Student Life, Veteran & Adult Learner Program

In order for advisors, faculty, staff and peers to better serve this population of students, they all need to be aware of the potential challenges a service member, student veteran and their families might face when attending college. Modeled on the “Safe Zone” program, Green Zone is designed for faculty and staff to receive training about issues potentially facing active service members, student veterans and their families.

Register for the workshop here.

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Wednesday, February 1, 2017
Effectively Responding to Student Writing

12:00-1:00 p.m.

Blue Ridge | Room 107
Cumming | Room 246
Dahlonega | Hansford 312
Gainesville | Nesbitt 5105
Oconee | Student Resource Center 564

Facilitated by Diana Edelman, Assistant Professor of English

Part of the Research-Based Teaching Series
Many in the English Department teach First Year Composition on a regular basis. But other faculty in other departments also teach “writing intensive courses.” Much research in composition theory has been devoted to developing ‘best practices’ for giving feedback to students in these types of courses. Our presentation will share principles for giving effective feedback. This workshop will be presented on all campuses via video teleconference from the Gainesville Campus.

Register for the workshop here.

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Friday, February 10, 2017
Green Zone Training

1:00-3:00 p.m.
Dahlonega Campus
Stewart 332

Facilitated by Christy Orr, Assistant Director for Student Life, Veteran & Adult Learner Program

In order for advisors, faculty, staff and peers to better serve this population of students, they all need to be aware of the potential challenges a service member, student veteran and their families might face when attending college. Modeled on the “Safe Zone” program, Green Zone is designed for faculty and staff to receive training about issues potentially facing active service members, student veterans and their families.

Register for the workshop here.

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Monday, February 13, 2017
Write@UNG: Writing and Revision

12:00-1:00 p.m.

Blue Ridge | Room 103
Cumming | Room 246
Dahlonega | Hansford 312
Gainesville | Dunlap-Mathis 137
Oconee | Classroom 308

Facilitated by Dr. Michael Rifenburg, Assistant Professor of English

When preparing a manuscript for publication, we are faced with at least two kinds of revision: inward and outward. In other words, some of our revision is spurred by our reader feedback. Attend this workshop and learn tips for working the cyclical relationship between writing and revision.

Register for the workshop here.

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Wednesday, February 15, 2017
Creative Effective Learning Environments

12:00-1:00 p.m.

Cumming Campus | Classroom 161 | Facilitator Ann Marie Francis
Dahlonega Campus | Barnes 216 | Facilitator Rebecca Johnston
Gainesville Campus | Nesbitt 2204 | Facilitator Diana Edelman-Young
Oconee Campus | Classroom 312 | Facilitator Katherine Kipp

This session is offered as part of the New Faculty Institute (NFI) and Teaching Conversations (TC).
Faculty who successfully participate in NFI sessions and complete a reflective statement may qualify for the NFI certificate.

All faculty are also invited to attend one or all of the workshops in the Teaching Conversations series. Participants who completes a reflective statement may qualify for the Teaching Conversations certificate.

Register for the workshop here.

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Wednesday, February 22, 2017
Green Zone Training

2:00-4:00 p.m.
Dahlonega Campus
Stewart 332

Facilitated by Christy Orr, Assistant Director for Student Life, Veteran & Adult Learner Program

In order for advisors, faculty, staff and peers to better serve this population of students, they all need to be aware of the potential challenges a service member, student veteran and their families might face when attending college. Modeled on the “Safe Zone” program, Green Zone is designed for faculty and staff to receive training about issues potentially facing active service members, student veterans and their families.

Register for the workshop here.

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Thursday, February 23, 2017
Promotion and Tenure Overview of Policies and Procedures

12:30-1:30 p.m.
Gainesville Campus
Nesbitt 3201

Facilitated by Mary Carney and Irene Kokkala

CTLL will offer promotion and tenure workshops both as online webinars and face to face sessions on three campuses.

The rest of the schedule is listed below:

Tuesday, March 28, 2017
Dahlonega Campus | LTC 369 | 12:30-1:30 PM

Friday, March 31, 2017
Oconee | Admin 108 | 12:00-1:00 PM

Friday, April 21, 2017
Webinar | 12:00-1:00 PM (for more information on the webinar, please contact CTLL at ctll@ung.edu)

Wednesday, July 12, 2017
Gainesville Campus | Nesbitt 3201 | 12:00-1:00 PM

Thursday, July 13, 2017
Dahlonega Campus | LTC 369 | 12:00-1:00 PM

Friday, July 14, 2017
Oconee | Admin 108 |12:00-1:00 PM

Tuesday, July 11, 2017
Webinar | 12:00-1:00 PM (for more information on the webinar, please contact CTLL at ctll@ung.edu

Register for the workshop here.

Aug 31

Research-Based Teaching Series – Call for Proposals

Faculty and teaching staff are invited to submit a proposal for doing a presentation in the Research-Based Teaching Series (RBTS) Spring 2017 series.

RBTS is co-sponsored by the University of North Georgia Department of English and Center for Teaching, Learning, and Leadership (CTLL). RBTS seeks to support the work of faculty from all disciplines, colleges, and campuses by offering faculty presentations and workshops on best practices in teaching and learning. These workshops not only provide information and resources for faculty seeking to enhance their own pedagogical practices, but also give faculty an opportunity to present their work to peers.

Presentations/workshops should be 45 minutes long, allow time for Q&A, and include the following:

  • the pedagogical principles upon which the classroom material and practices are based
  • information about the practical applications of these principles in your own classroom work/research
  • 3 – 5 scholarly sources that participants can consult for further research

As a partnering institution for the AAC&U’s Liberal Education and America’s Promise (LEAP), we encourage submissions that support the principles of this initative. These include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Essential learning outcomes such as creativity, teamwork, and problem solving
  • High-impact educational practices such as collaborative assignments, intensive writing, and service learning
  • Authenthic assessments such as faculty-validated rubrics
  • Students’ signature work such as internships, capstone sources, and community-based research

Benefits:

  • Counts as university-wide service on your vitae and faculty annual review
  • Prepares you to present at professional conferences
  • Provides groundwork and support for contributing to the scholarship of teaching and learning
  • Creates mentoring and collaboration opportunities across campuses and disciplines

Submit the following:

  • Name, contact information, primary campus, and A/V requirements
  • Title, 300-word abstract, list of 3 – 5 sources in the citation style of your choice
  • Date(s) available (from the list below). You can choose more than one.
    • Wednesday, Januarary 18, 2017, 12 – 1 p.m.
    • Monday, March 27, 2017, 12 – 1 p.m.
    • Monday, April 24, 2017, 12 – 1 p.m.

Deadline:

October 31, 2016 by 5 p.m. Selections will be made and participants contacted by January 9, 2017, the first day of spring classes.

Please email Diana Edelman-Young, Coordinator of RBTS at diana.edelman-young@ung.edu. Questions can also be addressed to this email. Please include subject line: RBTS CFP.

Feb 09

Using Book Clubs to Foster Student Engagement

At it’s core, traditional teaching and learning involves students gaining meaning from printed and oral language. Raphael and McMahon (1994) suggested that comprehension is achieved through a partnership of students, peers, and instructors. Students should not sit isolated working individually. Instead, students should interact through oral and written language to aid in comprehension. The use of a book club in class provides an “opportunity for personal response to encourage students to construct meaning with their peers and to question whether meaning is inherent in text” (Raphael & McMahon, 1994, p. 103).

Outside of the classroom, book clubs abound and range in many different formats, styles, and purposes. Book clubs seemingly enhance many aspects of peoples’ lives. For example, the Get into Reading Project has set up over 50 book clubs in settings such as psychiatric facilities, care homes, homeless shelters, and libraries. These books clubs are designed to incite self-reflection and foster positive change in the participants’ lives. The adults in these programs have demonstrated remarkable changes from increased mental health to empowered life transformations.

Furthermore, the use of book clubs has been shown to boost literacy among children, adolescents, and adults (e.g., Kooy, 2003; Raphael, Florio-Ruane, & George, 2001; Ward, 2010). While increased literacy has been the primary variable used to evaluate book club outcomes, a number of other educational processes and outcomes across the lifespan have been examined. For example, Raphael & McMahon (1994) found that, at the conclusion of their book club process, elementary school students with varying reading comprehension levels and cultural backgrounds (a) developed a greater ability to synthesize information, (b) had higher standardized test scores than those in more traditional reading programs, (c) had better recall of the content of the books read, and (d) demonstrated a more sophisticated writing style over time. Additionally, homeless men have been found to be more open to counseling and talking about health-related topics while participating in a book club (Home, 2008). Others have reported a link between participating in classroom book clubs and higher-order ethical decision-making (e.g., Cohen, 2006).

I have been using book clubs in my face-to-face courses for many years. I started utilizing them for several reasons. One, I wanted students to feel more ownership in their educational process. For that reason, I do not lead the book club discussions; they are student-led. Two, I wanted students to wrestle with challenging reading and discuss how to apply the material to their lives. I typically choose books that are either evidence-based applications or that are theory-based and written by the theorist. Finally, I wanted students to be more engaged with each other. I have heard from students over the years just how meaningful these books clubs have been. I have tweaked things here and there based on their feedback, but by and large students have expressed genuine affinity for the process (but not always the books I’ve chosen).

I recently decided to collect some data from students to examine the process and outcomes more closely. I won’t share all the methodology here, but some of the qualitative data might help sway you toward thinking about this as a possibility in your own courses. First, a description of the process seems in order. I give some class time for the book club discussions to occur, and each of those assigned weeks students read a chapter from the book. Students remained in the same group for the entirety of the book club process. Each week, one student from each group led the discussion by bringing a few prepared questions for dialogue. All students in the group were instructed to formulate some ideas for each book club dialogue. Group leaders submitted their prepared questions each week to the instructor via the course learning management system site.

The following are some verbatim quotes taken from the data collected from the students:

“I found the readings valuable and was enlightened by the new perspectives.”

“I took a lot of notes and applied it to my own life. The book really enhanced my learning.”

“From a multicultural perspective, especially lower SES, we talked about how we could apply the book club’s knowledge to those populations.”

“It provided an effective way for us to process and synthesize the information. We were able to communicate on a different level.”

“We were more invested emotionally. That was great.”

“We were able to discuss some of the same concepts each week, but with a different slant based on the current reading. That helped me learn so much more than if I had just read the chapter and then discussed it in the usual classroom way.”

“It was a positive experience because it helped me a great deal to discuss the material and make learning more of an active process.”

“The book club process was extremely beneficial, as different perspectives and insights really added to the learning of the material read.”

“Hearing other students’ viewpoints helped broaden my critical thinking skills.”

Of course, not all comments were so positive, but negative responses were few and far between. One thing that really emerged from the data was that the students indeed felt more ownership in their education. In addition, they also felt more obligated to read the material and be present in class. Wow, what a win!

References

Cohen, R. (2006). Building a bridge to ethical learning: Using a book club model to foster ethical awareness. Journal of Legal Studies Education, 23, 87-103.

Kooy, M. (2003). Riding the coattails of Harry Potter: Readings, relational learning, and revelations in book clubs. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 47(2), 136-145.

Raphael, T. E., & McMahon, S. I. (1994). Book Club: An Alternative Framework For Reading Instruction. The Reading Teacher, 48(2), 102-182.

Raphael, T. E., Florio-Ruane, S., & George, M. (2001). Book club plus: A conceptual framework to organize literacy instruction. Language Arts, 79(2), 159.

Ward, H. (2010). Teachers’ book club helps boost boys’ reading ability. Times Educational Supplement, (4891), 13.

Nov 03

Finding and Supporting Student Applicants for Nationally Competitive Scholarships

NSF GRFP, Jack Kent Cooke, Udall, NIH, Fulbright, oh my! The world of scholarships is a large one indeed; every time I think I may have a handle on one scholarship, a new one pops onto my radar, and I’m back at square one again! However, even with the multiplicity of opportunities out there, most nationally competitive scholarships are looking for the same thing: smart, driven students with the capacity to make a difference either to society or their field. Each of us has had and will likely have again, that one great student, who we know is destined for success and greatness. The question is: how do we help that student along the path to scholarship success?

The NCS office

The first line of defense for nationally competitive scholarships is the Scholarship office run through my position as Assistant Dean of Student Research and Scholarship (www.ung.edu/ncs). Half of my job is to monitor trends in scholarships, locate scholarships that dovetail with UNG’s strengths, and recruit students to apply for these opportunities. The other half of my work focuses on getting students from start to the final “submit” button. This part is the most arduous, and includes offering strategic advice, repeatedly workshopping essays, tracking down transcripts, translating “scholarshipese,” or the specific demands of the scholarship for students, and supporting them emotionally. It’s a long process; I ask students to start very early (sometimes a year early!) and complete at least 12 drafts. Yet, this is necessary. As I tell each of my students when they begin to fatigue after the first few rounds of drafting: It’s not you, it’s the scholarship.

Recruiting

Before I can begin working with students, though, I have to find them. This is where faculty play an integral role. You know these students; you work closely with these students; you understand them as more than a GPA. And, what’s more, they know YOU. Your help in locating these students is essential. If I send an email to students, 2 out of 100 may write me back. But, they know and trust you. And often your simple nudge, your letting them know that you think they have what it takes, is literally all it takes to move a student into the scholarship process. Simply put, I need you.

So, what sorts of students are competitive for these scholarships?

Primarily, scholarships are looking for students who are hardworking, committed to making a difference, think outside the box, and have high GPAs. However, stellar GPAs are a dime a dozen these days; really competitive students must go beyond high GPAs to stand out in one (or more!) of three other ways: leadership, service, undergraduate research. Encourage your best students to volunteer, run for office, or include them in your research projects. And then repeat all of these things again.

How else can we help support our students?

Understanding that the scholarship process is novel for the vast majority of our students is key. Many are afraid of applying and/or think they are lacking the excellence required to win. Others underestimate what it takes to get from start to finish on an application. Faculty play a key role in both encouraging and tempering dreams along the path and making sure students understand what’s at stake. More often than not, though, our largest role is just showing simple support by offering an ear or an eye to a draft.

Another key to success is focusing on the process, not the pay off. So many students begin scholarships solely focused on the money that might come through at the end. To me, this is akin to just focusing on a grade for a class, and not the learning. The application process invites students to refocus and refine their academic, professional, and personal goals. In the process of drafting personal statements, they also realize previously unrecognized traits that may serve them well in other pursuits. Finally, the process encourages them to become more involved with other professionals, including me and you. Several of our students who’ve made it to the submit button have attested that the process itself is painful, but worth it, no matter the outcome of the scholarship.

A simple plea

You all give context to the tranguid and have genuine insight into what students are capable of. If you’ve got an outstanding student, talk to him or her about scholarships. Or encourage him or her to email me (ncs@ung.edu).  Here’s to our exceptional student scholars!

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

 

Dec 02

From a Research-Focused R1 to a Teaching-Focused Master’s L

On Wednesday nights at 9 pm ET, twitter lights up with an hour-long chat categorized under the hashtag #FYCchat, with FYC short for first-year composition.  Various higher ed stakeholders launch into topics on teaching, writing, and higher education.

The conversation on November 13 was on textbooks: why do we use them? how do we—or the Governing Bodies—determine which textbooks to use?

@ComPOSITIONblog wondered in writing “Were you ever taught how to use texts/textbooks, or were you just thrown into teaching and expected to know how? #fycchat

@jmrifenburg’s (my) answer: @comPOSITIONblog I was never taught. Given a book and given a blessing.

@readywriting’s answer: @comPOSITIONblog Oh, goodness, no! Here’s a book, figure it out! This was before online “teacher guides” #FYCchat

@abbyandhercat’s answer: @comPOSITIONblog Nope. One week of training and a “Here’s a textbook. Good luck!” #Fycchat

As the conversation veered and took sharp turns—ever followed a hashtag convo?  It’s whiplash inducing—my mind keep returning to a recent Chronicle piece written by Derek Bok, the former president of Harvard and author of Universities in the Marketplace and a other books on higher ed.  In “We Must Prepare Ph.D. Students for the Complicated Art of Teaching,” Bok shines a spotlight on a prevalent issue, especially in R1 universities: producing sharp scholars and under-prepared teachers.  Bok argues, “The most glaring defect of our [the United States’] graduate programs . . . is how little they do to prepare students to teach.”

Bok ultimately encourages deans and provosts to take initiative and “recruit instructors from across the university who are capable of teaching graduate students what they need to know [in terms of teaching].”

So what does this have to do with UNG, where we are not a classified as a Carnegie Foundation RU/VH, RU/H, or even a DRU?  We are a Master’s L.  Many of us are not working closely with graduate students, helping sketch general exam questions, offering feedback on theses and dissertations, coordinating lectures and grading with a TA.

But many of come from these places and remember (vividly? vaguely?) being tossed into our first classroom as a grad student with little experience, guidance, or assistance, and can relate to the twitter posts above.

Now at UNG, teaching is our focus.  P & T guidelines stress teaching; my own position designates 60% of my role to teaching.  When I applied to UNG, I sent in a teaching philosophy and when I had my campus visit I did a teaching demonstration.

I guess I performed well enough; I am here now, but I still don’t feel fully prepared, still feel I have much to learn and am intimidated when I step foot into the classroom and students turn their attention to me, poised to take notes.

During my short time at UNG, I have tried to take advantage of the numerous resources geared toward faculty teaching development.  The Center for Teaching, Learning, and Leadership holds new faculty orientation and the new faculty institute; both touch on the nuts and bolts of teaching as well as theory behind these nuts and bolts.

DETI offers training in online teaching and provides assistance as faculty step from brick and mortar classroom to the wired classroom. CURCA offers grants for faculty and students to work together, a practice the National Survey of Student Engagement highlights in their most recent annual report.

President Jacobs announced the Presidential Academic Innovation Award winners, and CTLL announced winners for the Scholarship in Teaching and Learning Award, the Best Practices in Service-Learning, among others.

Additionally, CTLL offers UNG Faculty Academies, designed, again, for improving the quality of teaching offered to our students.

And there are many others.

Collectively, then, these efforts provide us with the opportunity to hone our teaching, to find better ways to convey information to our students, and to construct knowledge with our students.  No matter if our graduate program equipped us or not to step into the classroom, we are surrounded by resources.

So I am not sure if deans and provosts at UNG necessarily need to take the initiative of better preparing freshly minted Ph.D.s to teach, as Bok suggests.  But then again, it is always helpful to be marching to the same beat as your dean and our provost.

Luckily, the beat we are all marching to is one of teaching.

 

 

 

Nov 06

Introverts and the teaching of writing

I first read Susan Cain’s Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking sitting by a pool in Las Vegas.  I remember moving along nicely through the book when I came across a (philosophical? pedagogical? intellectual?) speed bump: chapter 3 titled “Collaboration Kills Creativity.”  See, I was in Vegas for the Conference on College Composition and Communication, an annual gathering of roughly 5,000 professionals dedicated to the teaching of writing at the college level. But more importantly, an annual gathering of a community which has long hailed the pedagogical wonder of collaboration.

At the annual gathering was one of dissertation members who largely wrote and taught collaboratively and even co-authored a book on co-authoring: (First Person)2: A Study of Co-Authoring in the AcademyAlso at the gathering were the editors of Writing Together: Collaboration in Theory and Practice.

Collaboration killing creativity? Can’t be right.

I perked up in my lounge chair by the pool. Admittedly, I had been drowsing a bit.

I read closely.

Cain pushes against what she calls “New Groupthink,” which “elevates teamwork above all else.”  This approach manifests itself through many guises, one being brainstorming groups which emphasis the power of working together over the power of working alone. Fresh innovative ideas are best born, so the line of thinking goes, through the people working together.

Yet here is the problem for Cain: psychologists have repeatedly found that “conventional brainstorming groups don’t work.”  These groups especially don’t work for introverts who value solitude, quiet reflection, and thinking before talking—all elements that don’t mix with dynamic group brainstorming.

While Cain does conclude her chapter, not by outright dismissing collaboration, but by suggesting we “refine the way we do it” to account for the full spectrum of personalities in any organization, the damage, for me, was done.

I felt my field, which has long praised collaboration, had let me down.

I felt I had let my students down for implementing collaboration.

As a writing teacher, I hailed collaborative brainstorming, embraced the pedagogical move of providing my students with a challenging task and having them work collaboratively through the task before working alone.  I had even gotten all theoretical about it, reading about Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development and the scaffolding metaphor seen in scholarship on writing centers, particularly the work of Isabelle Thompson.

I felt I knew my stuff.   I felt I had a strong teaching philosophy.

With my blue pen, I began making marginal comments as dusk set on Vegas, and the neon lights warmed up for the evening.

When I ran out of room on the margins, I turned to my notebook.  I scribbled phrases, doodled images, wrote paragraphs.

Night came on full. I felt (philosophically? pedagogically? intellectually?) defeated.

I looked up from my lounge chair and saw my dissertation committee member, the one who co-authored a book on co-authoring, sitting poolside with a glass of Jameson.

I made my way over to her, ordered a glass myself, and we talked Cain, collaboration, introversion, teaching, and writing.  All five topics together and all five topics separately.

A chill came in the desert air, and the mechanical chirping of the slot machines in the hotel lobby bounced through the desert air.

As I reflect back on that conversation, I see the power of Cain’s argument: for many, introverts especially, face-to-face collaboration cannot be the initial brainstorming step. When I enter the classroom, I should expect to encounter a full range of personalities; some ready for dynamic, collaborative, high-impact practices, some hoping to listen, absorb, and reflect on the material in solitude.

All too often I find myself gravitating toward classroom activities that look dynamic and high-impact. Put students in groups, I tell myself, that looks innovative and they are talking, so they must be learning!  Quiet reflection? I tell myself that isn’t going to work.  Too quiet, too boring, too, well, staid.

But what Vegas taught me that March evening was the need for quiet reflection, the need for individually wrestling with provoking material. But also the need to talk through ideas with another person.

Ideally with a glass of Jameson and in Vegas.

References

Cain, Susan. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking. Broadway: New York, 2012. Print.

Day, Kami, and Michele Eodice. (First Person)2: A Study of Co-Authoring in the Academy. Logan: Utah State UP, 2001. Print.

Lunsford, Andrea, and Lisa Ede, eds. Writing Together: Collaboration in Theory and Practice. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2012. Print.

Thompson, Isabelle. “Scaffolding in the Writing Center.” Written Communication 26.4 (2009): 417-453. Print.

Vygotsky, Lev. Mind in Society. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1978.