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Teaching Excellence Center

Circle Summaries October 2000

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Monday 2:00 Session

Bill Rogers, Lori Shird, Shari Watterston and I met Monday, Sept 10, 2:00

pm in ED 252. We introduced ourselves and shared some of our concerns regarding large classes. We discussed attendance and identified a number of issues we want to address at future meetings. These include: class format; logistics of submitting and returning student work; type of student assignments/work; getting students involved. Next time we will also bring texts on teaching to share if there is time.

We welcome anyone who wishes to join us second Mondays; our next circle is October 8 and the third and last is November 12.

Wednesday 3:00 Session

The first teaching circle for the Wednesday at 3:00 session discussing Teams was held in the McGee Building, Room 181 on September 19, 2001. The circle scheduled the remaining meetings for October 17 and November 28, 2001.

After introductions, the circle members discussed how they were currently using teams in their classes. These included a team topic with individually written reports and a team presentation in a debate style format in history class, team development of a proposal for a virtual business in Nacogdoches in a human sciences class, project teams in nursing, and written report teams in business communication.

Ideas for team formulation were discussed as follows:

1. Self-select. Students form teams of their own choosing.

2. Teacher-select. Methods used included combining teams based on specific factors such as capabilities of participants, schedules of students, random assigning by names on the roster.

3. Fate. Teams assigned by methods such as drawing a card, a number, etc.

4. Leader selected. The teacher either selects leaders or asks for students to volunteer as leaders (or both). The leaders then choose team members based on assignments or introductions or some other criteria.

A discussion was held on ways to address the non-participative student in the team. Marsha Bayless shared her strategy of offering divorces for inactive team members. If a team wants to divorce a member, a memo is written and signed by all the other team members. Reasons for a divorce are to be provided. The instructor then either grants the divorce or not. The instructor includes options for the divorced student which usually involve the student completing the project alone.

Discussion was held on the level of the course. Perhaps more "hand-holding" and instruction on the team process is appropriate for freshman and sophomore level teams while more is expected of the teams at the junior and senior levels.

An article on team communication "How Male, Female, and Mixed-Gender Groups Regard Interaction and Leadership Differences in the Business Communication Course", J.K. Winter, J.C. Neal, K.K. Waner, (2001, September). Business Communication Quarterly, 64(3), 43-58 was distributed to the circle. The article discusses how gender may make a difference in some teams' interaction.

Future topics will include handling conflict/dissension in the teams and how to evaluate team performance.

Marsha Bayless, Team Circle Facilitator

Thursday 9:30 Session (no summary)

Thursday 4:00 Sesison

ATTENDANCE: Leigh Smith, Nancy Wisely, Amy George, David Goodman, Perry Moon, Donna Hunt, Brenda Marques, Julia Ballenger, and DawnElla Rust

Next meeting Oct. 4, 2001 in the HPE Complex Room 207.

Friday 12:00 Session

 Our first circle meeting took place on September 14th. Ken, Dirk, Anita, Barabara, Dixie, Liz and Lauren were present.

Our topic for the meeting was "higher order learning." We briefly discussed what we thought that meant. We discussed the different levels of learning that we had heard about previously: basic knowledge, thinking/interpretation, application, and synthesis (which requires creativity). We discussed the often-lamented tendency of new students to try and simply memorize information, and that this is likely due to how they were trained in high school. Because we can't do much about the high school situation, we moved beyond that and talked about other things we could maybe do something about.

Anita shared with us her approach in some of her classes: she assigns each student a chapter (or divides up the chapters if there are more students than chapters) to write the quiz over that chapter. She uses these to make the exams (she doesn't write any questions). The students are also graded on the quality of their questions, and the author of the questions is made public. By writing the exam questions, students are forced to think about the material (especially if they write good questions).

Lauren shared a directed writing assignment that she uses in an upper-level class as well as occasionally in her freshman level classes. It requires the students to answer questions over a reading (both content-oriented as well as more personally-oriented) rather than to just summarize the reading. By making the students come up with personal links (e.g. "what from this article relates to something outside of class"), students become more personally involved with the material and learn how it might to apply to something beyond their grade in the class.

This led to general agreement that getting students personally involved in the course material is an effective and desired approach to teaching. We all also agreed that it is often hard and requires extra work on the part of the faculty member (grading papers or journals, etc.).

Some of us felt that many students are not prepared to or capable of making the jump from rote memorization to analysis/synthesis of material, which is what we want them to do. We discussed that we might have to break down that jump, and give them assignments that make small steps toward the ultimate, desired behavior. We also realized that we may not see the fruit of our labor in one semester, but that we can still make a difference in getting the students started down the path toward higher learning.

Our next meeting will be October 19th in ED 252 (12-1 pm).



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