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Teaching Excellence Center

Circle Summaries September 1999

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Monday 4:00 Session

MONDAY, SEPT. 13, 1999 at 4 pm in HPE, Room 207

ATTENDANCE: DawnElla Rust, Lisa Mitchell, Sam Copeland, Sue Whately, Linda White, and Donna Hunt

I. Introduced ourselves by telling our name, department, and why we joined the Teaching Circle.

II. Discussed rules: bring a friend; rotating note taker; not a gripe session but a "fix it" session.

III. Discussed the article by James Eison titled "Confidence in the Classroom: Ten Maxims for New Teachers."

IV. Conclusion. I felt we had a great first discussion and I am looking forward to October. The topic for next month is test construction/assessment. We will meet on Monday, Oct. 11th at 4 p.m. in HPE, Room 207. Come and bring a friend.

Tuesday 9:00 Session

Teaching Circle Notes

M.E. Pierce--facilitator; Group Members: Karen Mayo, Amy Wilkerson, Tom Segady, Sue Parsons,Melissa Darlington, Rachal Galan

Our emphasis focused on building a sense of community in the classroom. With more teachers using technology and other teaching tools that are not necessarily people-oriented, we want to find a way to maintain camaraderie with our students. Plus, we know that building this rapport facilitates learning and enriches our work.

Amy Wilkerson shared that in her new course, Psychology of Music, she adopted the attitude of "I'm willing to learn as much as the students are about this topic." She found this approach to aid her relations with her students.

Rachal Galan recounted some of her experiences with professors who excelled at motivating their students by treating them with respect and allowing each one to follow his or her own interests.

Karen Mayo reminded us that recognizing the identity of the individual in the collective community enhances the learning environment. She also suggested that we consider setting up our room so that we make our space conducive to a "community feeling." For example, in the education building many rooms have round tables or large hexagon tables so that students can sit in small groups, eye to eye.

Sue Parsons noted that teachers must create amicability with the students while also maintaining the necessary distance to elicit their respect.

Tom Segady related how if a teacher is comfortable in the classroom the students will be too. He has had the challenge of building a sense of community with classes as large as one hundred and fifty. He found that he could create a sense of comfort in those classes by sometimes requiring collective projects where students share their work with their peers. Tom also reminded us that technology in the classroom can be an excellent teaching tool, but we must be careful no to impose too much structure in the classroom or we might lose our sense of community.

The topic for the next meeting will be "Confronting the Uncooperative Student."

Tuesday 3:15 Session

Summary of the Teaching Circle

The Tuesday at 3:15 circle met on September 14 for the introduction meeting. We discussed future meeting dates and themes for those dates. On October 12 we will be discussing Teaching and Tenure. On November 16 we will be discussing Grades and Their Impact on Teaching.

We also announced the dates for two Teaching Circle Sponsored Events.October 7 at 3:30 in the Wyatt Room of the Library will be a workshop on Beyond the Standard Form: A Workshop to Discuss Student Evaluations of Teaching. On November 9 will be "A Forum to Learn About the New Faculty Development Center in the Boynton Building" in Regent's Suite B at 3:30. Refreshments will be served at both events and they are open to all faculty members.

Today we used two articles "The Novice Professor" and "Self-Knowledge of a Job Well Done: Reflections on a Teacher's Self-Appraisal" as a springboard for discussion. As the group includes three new faculty to SFA this fall, we had a lively discussion of student demographics at SFA and the impact onteaching. We also discussed the issue of handling sensitive topics in classroom discussion. One member shared her use of a contract with students that explained the behavior expected in class. The group also had a brief discussion of using powerpoint to assist the class lectures.

We talked some about teaching web sites and here are addresses for Craig Varnell at and Jason Hart if you want to check them out.

See you on October 12.

Wednesday 3:00 Session

Our topic this time was test construction and assessment. We were mainly interested in alternatives to multiple choice exams, despite the convenience that this format offers. We thought that mixed format exams,with identifications, short answer, and essay questions offered a good way to test both concrete specifics as well as students interpretive and narrative understanding.

With respect to essay questions on exams, we thought that giving students a series of essay questions to prepare before the test, and then including only one or two on the actual exam had some advantages over giving students the essay topic cold when they come into the exam. In this way students are actually learning as they prepare for the exam, and they are being tested over their understanding of the material rather than their understanding as well as their ability to think quickly and compose a well organized essay in a very short time.

Another important point we discussed with respect to essay exams is that students often need explicit instruction about how to organize their thoughts into a coherent essay since different disciplines have differentrequirements for how concise of explicit a well written response to an essay question should be.

Thursday 3:15 Session

The focus of conversation at this circle was "community-service: a way to learn." Highlights of the discussion included: how to incorporate community service assignments into class credit; ways to incorporate community service and involvement into a variety of disciplines and courses. Meaningful experiences using coalitions with other departments, courses, and projects (i.e. research, conferences) were reported as meaningful experiences. Consistent through the discussion of ëgetting students involved' was their initial anxiety followed by excitement over the learning experience.

Friday 12:00 Session

The Friday, noon TC had a few light refreshments and a discussion about the CLUE program in the university library. Ms. Karen Wielhorski (Head of Reference) and Don Richter (Science Librarian) introduced the Comprehensive Library User Education program implemented by the librarians in the Reference Department. CLUE is about information literacy integrated into the course curriculum. Key points to Clue follow:

Break down library components into the course assignments in smaller parts during the semester;

Example of assignments would be a writing assignment on a topic, role play to examine scholarly publishing versus magazine publishing;

Clue is incorporated into SFA 101. Ms. Wielhorski instructs the student teaching assistants that are assigned to each SFA 101 class.

A discussion group of faculty will be put together to discuss CLUE problems or successes;

CLUE is also a catalyst to discuss with faculty about referring to library subject web pages from departmental web pages and the other way round as well.

Two faculties expressed an interest in the CLUE program and would like to begin the process.

Our topic for next time will be plagiarism. How do we deal with it in a face to face situation and how do we deal with it in a distance education situation.



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