Concurrent Sessions 9: Interactive Workshops and Panels

Friday, June 20, 2014, 8:30 - 9:20am (50 minutes)
McArthur Hall, Queen's University

CON9.01 – Cultivating Hope in Social Justice Oriented Education (Room A240)
Manuela Popovici (Carleton University)

Anti-oppressive education focuses on helping students develop a critical consciousness and a nuanced understanding of the workings of oppressive structures, discourses, and practices. This is a necessary endeavour, as the tenets of oppressive structures and ideologies need to be understood before they can be subverted. Nevertheless, the transformative goal of anti-oppressive education can also bring multiple dangers for students’ discouragement and disempowerment. For example, a comprehensive understanding of the pervasive nature of neoliberalism and its self-perpetuating mechanisms, including the ways it discourages or co-opts alternatives, can become overwhelming for student activists-to-be. Students deal with the effects of neoliberalism, racism, sexism, ableism, and so forth in their daily lives inside and outside school, and may enter higher education already discouraged about or disconnected from the possibility of systemic change, without being aware that this attitude is itself ideologically-informed. The often-asked question of “How is this relevant to my life?” may reflect students using their agency as consumers in a neoliberal education model; however, it may also come out of students’ struggles with multilayered disempowerment as a request for education to inform a different kind of agency, one based on hope. In this presentation I will use a comprehensive literature review on hope and my experience teaching in human rights, women’s studies, and social work at Carleton University to reflect on these dynamics and argue that educators also need to help students cultivate a sense of hope. I will share some of the challenges I faced in my teaching and strategies I found fruitful, such as counteracting neoliberal messages, building community, linking students to activist events and organizations, projecting hope, and being upfront about my own struggles. It is only when hope is present that students can fully engage in the challenging process of transformative learning in a sustainable way.

CON9.02 – From Teacher to Leader: The Why and How of Teaching Award Nominations (Room A232)
Jessica Raffoul, Beverley Hamilton and Judy Bornais (University of Windsor)

Developing teaching award nominations is an important way to ensure that excellent teaching gets the recognition it deserves. But it’s also an intensive professional development opportunity for the faculty members and nominating team involved, crystallizing a narrative of teaching identity that can act as a transformative catalyst through which exceptional teachers re-envision their roles and spheres of influence within the Academy.  It's a process of discernment that gets at the true value of teaching, at the individual and the institutional level.

At this interactive session, members of the University of Windsor’s external teaching award nomination team, along with an award winning professor, will lead participants through the processes of:

choosing the right award and understanding its basic requirements;
identifying teaching strengths and working with them; and
helping people write about teaching, whether they’re letter writers, nominees, or nominators.

The session will interweave the how with the why – through activities and discussion.  Participants will explore the impact and value of collaboratively documenting their lives in teaching, as well as of the impact of public recognition on those lives.

CON9.03 – Implementation of an Interdisciplinary Project in a Large First Year Biology Program (Room A207)
Kerry Ritchie, Justine Tishinsky, and Brian Husband (University of Guelph)

Malaria. Sustainable agriculture. Bees and pollination.  These and other complex issues facing biologists today can rarely be solved in the isolation of a single perspective.  In recognition of this, science academies have made a clear call for interdisciplinary integration in undergraduate education, and strongly encourage early introduction of these strategies.  However, while much focus has been placed on linking biology with math and the physical sciences, the “equally important connections within biology” are often overlooked.   Furthermore, increasing student numbers in first year classes can pose significant challenges to successful implementation of interdisciplinary teaching practices.

At the University of Guelph, we have transformed the first-year biology experience to include a novel, interdisciplinary approach to teaching and learning using a linked, tri-course model.  Briefly, students enrolled in Biological Concepts of Health, Discovering Biodiversity and Introduction to Molecular and Cellular Biology (approximately 3000 students in total) combine during the last three weeks of a given semester to form interdisciplinary research teams.  Together, students use a problem-based learning approach to address a real-world problem from their discipline-specific perspectives and use a concept map to deliberately identify linking concepts and principles between disciplines.  Their findings are then presented at a scientific poster session open to the university community. 

In this session, we will describe the successes and challenges of our course structure and assignment design. The educational philosophy supporting our approach, the resources required for its implementation, our experiences with the logistics of the exercise as well as the response to formal pre-post student surveys will be discussed.  Session participants can expect a useful ‘nuts and bolts’ description of how to execute a similar or modified version at their home institution.  Tangible resources will be provided so that participants can adapt the project design to suit their own educational requirements.  Furthermore, session participants will be asked to engage in an interdisciplinary brainstorming session, designed to mimic the preparations that course facilitators undertake each semester to prepare the ever-changing ‘real-world problems’ assignment.  Over the past four years of delivery, the assignment has evolved and now represents a sustainable design to bring interdisciplinary learning to large number of students in a low-stakes environment. .

CON9.04 – Game-Based Learning (Room A236)
Robert Robson and Umer Noor (Humber College)

Game-based learning is currently a hot topic intended to motivate students who are not engaged in a traditional classroom to become engaged with learning material that involves playing a game.  Many departments at Humber want to try some form of game-based learning, yet they lack the skills necessary to design and implement games themselves.  We will demonstrate how we are approaching this problem and outline the projects we currently have in progress.  We will run an interactive workshop to help participants develop games they can use to teach their own material.  We will provide feedback on the suitability of the games as well as the resources necessary to build the games.

We are in the Game Programming advanced diploma at Humber College and train students to build computer games.  The diploma requires that the students produce a game for their capstone project.  While some of our students have well-developed ideas of a game they want to build, other students have poorly conceived ideas that will not be suitable for the capstone project.  We are assigning these students to work on a series of educational games that we have devised within our department as well as game ideas across the college. 

When the words educational games are mentioned, our students flee.  This is based on having seen educational games on the internet that are often some form of glorified flash cards.  The game programming students see these games as boring to play and not exciting to build.  We believe that a game has to be fun as well as educational.  We also believe that the skills being conveyed should be a natural part of the game and should not be overly contrived.

We currently have three game-based learning projects in production.  All of these games can be extended by adding levels or capabilities so that these projects can continue over a period of years. Participants will learn more about these games and reflect on their suitability for different disciplines.

CON9.05 – Transforming Undergraduate Essay Writing: Towards A Potential Model (Room A239)
Morgan Rooney (Carleton University)

As any professor who teaches a course with an essay component is pointedly aware, students in the first years of undergraduate study often struggle in their writing assignments, and no more so than with the (much-dreaded) essay. In this interactive workshop, participants will be invited to consider a potential model for teaching writing that I, in my capacity as an English instructor tasked with improving student writing for majors and non-majors alike, have been developing over the last seven years of teaching. Employing worksheets, peer reviews, self-assessments, and follow-up reflection pieces, the model is highly scaffolded without adding substantially to the instructor’s workload. Founded on practice, it aims to transform passive learners into active ones by putting the student in the position of the teacher at various stages throughout the process.

Session participants will take part in a series of brainstorming, think-pair-share, and group activities at various stages (pre-assessment, participatory learning, and post-assessment) that ask them to identify common struggles they have detected in student writing, as well as to access the potential advantages of and troubleshoot potential problems raised by the model. Upon completing the workshop, educators will be able to identify the options that the model raises for addressing student struggles with writing as well as to elaborate on the value of alternate forms of assessment that the model incorporates (formative, self-, and peer) with respect to the writing process.

CON9.06 – Developing Effective Educational Practices to Enhance Student Engagement (Room A339)
Nirusha Thavarajah (University of Toronto)

Finding ways to enhance student engagement is a challenge that most of us face today as university educators. This workshop is designed to contribute to our evolving and deepening understanding about student engagement.

What is student engagement in a university class room? In my own terms, I define student engagement as the product of synergistic interaction between students’ curiosity and intrinsic interest to learn.  

This workshop will provide opportunities for the participants to actively engage in discussion around the following topics: a) importance of student engagement, b) effective teaching methods to create intellectually stimulating learning environment to ignite students’ intrinsic motivation to learn, and c) methods to assess student engagement. My research study results on some of the teaching strategies I have implemented successfully in the year of 2013 to encourage student engagement in introductory and advanced level chemistry courses will be presented.

CON9.07 – Transforming the Learning of Chemistry: The Journey to a Flipped Large Year 1 Classroom (Room A227)
David Brock and Pippa Lock (McMaster University)

This session tells the story of the transformation of an interactive lecture class into a flipped classroom course supported by blended learning. The story of change will be told in a way that models the blended learning experience. Participants will view a short sample web module, the content of which is designed to help them learn about our process of developing web modules for the course content. Much of the rest of the session will model part of a face-to-face class experience in this hybrid mode of instruction by focusing on interactive activities about other aspects of the course (e.g., supporting student accessibility, use of resources, how to make use of the face-to-face class time, and using assessment tools that encourage engagement and overall retention of the course content).

This story of transformation describes the renovation of professional teaching practice and turns its attention to the conversion of somewhat passive learners into more self-directed, active learners. Participants will leave the session with a deeper understanding of what blended learning and a flipped classroom are, and what developing a hybrid course can entail. They will gain a sense of how blended learning can support student accessibility and promote active learning.

CON9.08 – The Transformation to eLearning: A Collaborative Discussion about Lessons Learned (Room A211)
Rebecca Taylor and Loretta Howard (Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College)

In the fall of 2011, Curriculum and Faculty Development at the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College (CMCC) launched an eLearning Pilot Project. This project intended to initiate a shift in curriculum to a blended learning format, lead to new Faculty Development programming, and increase activity in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL). Two years later, we have made many gains with our project, including the development and implementation of a variety of eLearning processes, implementation of Faculty Development session training on our Learning Management and Classroom Response Systems, creation of institutional guidelines on the use of these technologies, and changes to annual processes such as Course and Faculty Evaluations that maximize efficiencies. We have received positive response from faculty and students alike to our efforts, have many ongoing eLearning and Educational Technology projects, and have successfully begun a transformation to meaningfully integrate technology enabled learning into teaching practice.

The purpose of this research-informed, practice-based session is to demonstrate CMCC’s curricular transformation and facilitate a collaborative discussion on the successes and challenges facing academic institutions - their administration, faculty and those involved in education development - in the transition to a more technology enabled learning curriculum. We will present lessons learned to date from the CMCC eLearning Pilot Project and lead a process by which participants will discuss and represent the development and implementation of varied eLearning projects.

CON9.09 – Active Learning Classrooms: Transformative Teaching and Learning Experiences (A343)
Moderator: Jeanette McDonald (Wilfrid Laurier University)
Panelists: Sally Heath, Mercedes Rowinsky-Geurts, Gavin Brockett and Kenneth Maly  (Wilfrid Laurier University)

The concept of “built pedagogy,” defined as “architectural embodiments of educational philosophies” (Monahan, 2002) suggests that the physical layout of classrooms conveys a great deal about the types of teaching and learning activities that can take place within. As Monahan (2002) notes, classrooms possess a “tacit curricula” that can either inhibit or support innovative pedagogies and collaborative learning experiences. Acknowledging the potential of and connection between classroom design and student and faculty engagement, Wilfrid Laurier University’s Faculty of Arts initiated a process that saw the institution’s first active learning classroom (ALC) open in September, 2012. The space was purposefully designed to leverage the latest educational technologies and research on classroom design, bringing together various stakeholder groups to fund the project and share their expertise toward its design, construction, and support. Now in its second year, there is growing evidence to suggest that the ALC is achieving its intended goal of inspiring and motivating greater faculty and student engagement, and as well as interest in, and commitment to, establishing other like spaces across Laurier. 

A panel of Laurier faculty from diverse disciplines who have taught in the ALC will share and discuss how the classroom inspired a transformation of their teaching and, as a result, their students’ learning.  Each panelist will comment on a different and unique aspect of the classroom’s transformative potential, reflecting how they re-imagined their role in and use of classroom space. Staff from Laurier’s Teaching Support Services (TSS) will join the conversation to provide context and discuss the role support units like TSS and IT play in the success of such collaborative institutional projects.

CON9.10 – SoTL in Canada: Where Have We Been and Where are We Going? (Room A237)
Moderators: Dianne Bateman (Champlain College) and Ken Meadows (Western University)
Panelists: Nicola Simmons (Brock University); Janice Miller-Young (Mount Royal University); and Gary Poole (University of British Columbia)

Canadian teachers, researchers, and educational developers have played a major role in national and international discussions regarding the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL). Tangible evidence of the progress that has been made in Canada is The Canadian Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, the recently launched SoTL Canada website and the many institutional supports of SoTL research.

A panel of distinguished leaders in the field will share their insights about where we have been, where we would like to go, and what it will take to increase the presence and impact of SoTL in Canadian higher education institutions. Drawing on their own experiences facilitating SoTL work, the panelists will discuss how various approaches to SoTL can influence faculty engagement from different programs and disciplines. They will also explore the gap between what has been accomplished and SoTL's potential capacity for a more powerful and sustaining future impact. After sharing their views, panelists will invite comments and questions from the audience.

CON9.11 – Using Online Learning Communities to Transform Learning in Fieldwork Education (Room A317)
Catherine Donnelly, Susanne Murphy, Megan Edgelow and Lucie Pelland (Queen’s University)

Fieldwork, also referred to as an internship or practicum, is one of the most fundamental aspects of professional education programs. The core objective of fieldwork is to provide students with the opportunity to test ideas and concepts and apply theory to real life. Lave and Wenger (1991) present provide a theoretical foundation for fieldwork education, where learning is viewed as an experience shared by novices and experts in a practice context.  In this model, communities of practice provide students with opportunities to interact and share experiences as both a way to construct and apply knowledge (Kim & Hannafin, 2008; Wenger, 1998).This social interactive process, with the explicit use of feedback and reflection, has been found to be crucial in promoting deep learning in fieldwork (Richard, 2008; Drummer et al., 2008; Walsh, 2007).

As fieldwork can occur across time and space, providing opportunities for students to engage in discussion and reflect on their growth of expertise is vital, but logistically challenging. Innovative approaches to fieldwork such as online communities can bring students and mentors together to explore ideas, reflect and collaborate in learning (Palloff & Pratt, 2007).

The Clinical Education Integration (CEI) Program was developed to facilitate the application of theoretical knowledge during real time fieldwork education in an occupational therapy program.  Online learning communities were created to provide a collaborative approach to learning and allow students to explore new ideas, reflect and develop these ideas in a safe place. Faculty mentors were assigned to each online community that was comprised of four to six students.  Weekly themes were developed where students drew on their fieldwork experiences to describe theory in practice, identify and share resources around the themes and engage in asynchronous discussion groups.  Weekly synchronous discussions were led by faculty mentors and served to consolidate the learning. 

Three cohorts of onsite fieldwork preceptors and students have completed an online survey to describe the impact of the CEI on their leaning. Students reported a number of benefits including: (a) learning from their peers (b) increased confidence to ask questions on placement (c) opportunity for reflection, (d) connection with university faculty.  Onsite preceptors reported that students were able to ask more specific questions and reported the CEI offered additional educational support.

Participants will have the opportunity to engage in a demonstration of the CEI program and the learning platform in which the CEI is hosted. They will also be invited to share their experiences with on-line communities of learning.