Thursday Keynote: Pedagogy for Meaning and Purpose
Success broadly defined in introductory sciences is determined by a number of diverse variables including the degree to which the student is socially connected to classroom experience and discipline. As key stakeholders in the education community, we can play a critical role in constructing an environment that promotes equity and prepares each individual for transformative engagement in the academic experience. Transformation involves expanding our pedagogy to be inclusive pedagogy through a critique of our cultural assumptions about students, self, and others remaining from our childhood perspectives. The keynote address will highlight the results of five years of an inclusive approach to an introductory biology course, and make suggestions for those interested in embarking on inclusive pedagogies for their own contexts.
Thursday Workshop: A Chance at Birth
This workshop will help participants confront the complexity that is the social difference, and discuss how that difference can be either be a hindrance or strength depending on how we allow it to impact the classroom experience.
Workshop 1a: Teaching that Develops Critical Thinking
We’ll start with definitions, of which there are many. It’s a term we all use but are we all talking about the same thing? We do recognize that critical thinking is a skill, not an ability learners are born with. It’s a skill that can be learned in the classroom and outside the classroom in virtually any place on campus. Teachers can model the skill or assign readings can illustrate it, but critical thinking skills develop best with practice and with practice that includes the opportunity to fail and to receive constructive feedback. During this session we will explore a range of instructional strategies, activities and assignments that can be used to promote critical thinking.
Workshop 1b: Reflection for Growth
Teaching is a demanding profession that requires ongoing attention to a host of details—PowerPoint slides to assemble, content to update, exam questions to develop, papers to grade, feedback to offer in class, on papers and during office hours. There’s little time for reflection–time to ask, not what am I doing tomorrow or next time I teach that class, but time to ask why. Why am I doing it this way? What’s the educational rationale that justifies this approach? This is critical reflection, not a fault-finding critique that erodes confidence, but a mindful analysis that refreshes, re-energizes and keeps teaching alive and well. During this interaction session we’ll explore why and how reflection contributes to instructional growth.
Workshop 2: Getting Students Actively Engaged
Participation and discussion are regularly used by faculty to engage students. And they work, but not always as effectively as they could. Participation sometimes feels like pulling hens’ teeth. A lot of students don’t participate, others do so reluctantly and then there’s the few who participate too much.
Discussion too has great potential to engage students, but often students come to it unprepared and unwilling to exchange the ideas, information and experiences that make discussions provocative and stimulating. And when discussion falters, teachers feel that they must fill-in and soon it’s no longer a discussion but a lecture.
There’s a rich literature available on each of these engagement strategies. During this session we’ll draw from a variety of sources, offering a range of ideas, strategies and approaches that can used to enhance the effectiveness of each.
Drawing upon evidence-based research, High-Impact Practices (HIPs), Transformative Learning, and authentic assessment tools, the University of Central Oklahoma’s (UCO’s) Student Transformative Learning Record (STLR, http://stlr.uco.edu)* is a non-proprietary model with a proven track record for increasing retention, student academic achievement, and workforce readiness. Other institutions that have adopted and adapted STLR to their missions, cultures, and specific needs are now finding this to be true for them, too, whether they call the process “STLR” on their campuses or name the process something more suited to their branding. This pre-conference institute will gather interested institutional teams to learn about the STLR initiative.
The Institute is a workshop style format, with hands-on, interactive components, case scenarios, and group work time. Institutional team time will be built into the Institute program to allow participants to conceptualize a plan of implementation or framework at their home institutions.
The Institute program is ideal for institutions at various stages of work, and it addresses ambitious goals for improving retention, quality of student learning, and better assessment tracking and practices for both internal and external campus evaluation. We hope you’ll join us!