Wednesday June 18, 2014, 11:00am - 12:30pm
McArthur Hall, Queen's University
Roger Moore (NorQuest College/University of Alberta)
Tuesday’s Terrific Teaching Tips (4T) is faculty sharing their best practices and tips with each other across disciplines and faculties at NorQuest College, a large Alberta college where upgrading, health and business are taught in a very diverse context. Every Tuesday, new Terrific Teaching Tips are emailed to faculty to review, discuss, comment on and use as needed. Through this process, faculty learn from each other and, more importantly, celebrate their expertise.
During this ‘Transforming our Learning Experiences’ session, the sharing process at NorQuest will be discussed briefly. Faculty will also have the opportunity to share their diverse and unique teaching strategies.
Samar Mohamed and Katherine Lithgow (University of Waterloo)
An undergraduate's university experience is often fragmented, with courses, service opportunities, and extra-curricular activities seemingly unconnected to one another. Integrative learning transcends academic boundaries, and encourages students to address real-world problems, to synthesize multiple areas of knowledge, and to consider issues from a variety of perspectives. Fostering students’ capacity to integrate their learning is one of the main goals of higher education, and is often one of the greatest challenges (Huber and Hutchings, 2004). How can we help instructors provide opportunities in the classroom to facilitate integrative learning?
Many instructors at the University of Waterloo are very good at designing courses and programs that help students actively participate in their learning and integrate their experiences. As instructional developers with the Centre for Teaching Excellence, we will highlight what instructors are already doing to help students integrate their learning and inspire other instructors to incorporate similar strategies into their teaching. To do this, we developed a model to build and support two different instructor community groups, a faculty specific community group for the Faculty of Engineering and a campus-wide community group.
At this round table, we will share how we built and supported the community groups, the dynamics of the meetings, the resources we provided and the evidence we used to measure the success of the model. We welcome feedback from the participants about the model and how can we improve it.
Simon Bates (University of British Columbia)
In 2011, UBC introduced the rank of Professor of Teaching as the highest point on the teaching stream career pathway, with equivalent status to full Professor in the research stream. Promotion to the rank was to be based on evidence of outstanding teaching performance, service and a critical third component: educational leadership. In its most concise form, one can think of educational leadership as having impact outside one’s own classroom. By focusing on three main pillars of contribution, the notion of a ‘deficit model’ sometimes associated with teaching stream positions, in which a candidate’s portfolio of achievements is lacking the equivalent comparator to research activities required of research stream faculty, is avoided.
In this round table discussion session led by faculty holding the rank of Professor of Teaching and Senior Instructor, we will describe the initial years of operation of and promotion to this rank, highlighting a range of career trajectories and portfolios of expertise amongst current Professors of Teaching. We will unpack the elements we understand to fall within the broad theme of ‘educational leadership’. This can include, but does not require, activities in the arena of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. We will describe the formation of a network comprising those who hold the rank of Professors of Teaching, and the developing purpose of this group to demonstrate educational leadership in their respective roles, be advocates for the role and the teaching stream in general, and to provide support and mentorship to colleagues on a similar career trajectory. Finally, we offer some reflections on the challenges associated with this role, which is still relatively new.
Otte Rosenkrantz (Fanshawe College)
The role of Ontario college faculty has evolved considerably since the turn of the century, especially in the area of research activities. While college professors used to be hired for their content expertise, and solely to teach students, they are now often hired as much for their advanced academic degrees, and their ability to conduct what is usually referred to as applied research. From the establishment of the Ontario college system in the mid-1960s until the turn of the century, however, research as a separate and distinct activity was not part of a professor’s duties, and time for research activities was neither needed nor acknowledged.
In order to gain an understanding of how evolving expectations in terms of academic standing and research abilities are affecting Ontario’s college professoriate, and whether or not time for research is now being accommodated, a study of four Ontario colleges at various stages of applied research evolution explored the degree to which the institutions, since the advent of the Post-secondary Education Choice and Excellence Act in 2000, and the Colleges of Applied Arts and Technology Act of 2002, have included making time available to the professoriate to engage in applied research activities.
Because release time for research activity is not currently addressed in the Standard Workload Formula (SWF) as governed by the Faculty Collective Agreement that applies to all 24 Ontario colleges, professors who want to engage in their own applied research activities tend do so for the most part on their own time – after work, on weekends or during sabbaticals. In order to find time for applied research activities in the Standard Workload Formula (SWF,) it is possible for professors to have some course reduction – usually one or two courses in a semester, and/or a temporary reduction in other responsibilities - but these practices are largely contingent on the professors’ working relationship with their departmental managers. The practices in terms of finding the necessary time for applied research activities are by no means consistent within a single institution, much less across the group of Ontario colleges, with the result being that time for research activities appears to be applied on a somewhat haphazard basis.
This session will explore the evolution of applied research in the Ontario college system, how applied research activities can be incorporated into curriculum, and how by doing so, both professors and students may benefit from the applied research experience.
John Bolan, Patricia Bellamy, Rita Vine and Joanna Szurmak (University of Toronto)
A unique partnership was created in 2010 between librarians and educational developers at the University of Toronto: Partnership for Academic and Student Success (PASS). This initiative was designed to provide opportunities for librarians and educational developers to collaborate and innovate, with the goal of improving both librarians' pedagogical understanding and skills, to address pedagogical challenges and to integrate the work of librarians and the work of educational developers across all three campuses. The initiative grew out of the discussions between senior leaders within the University of Toronto Libraries and the Centre for Teaching Support & Innovation (CTSI)
Although a robust body of literature exists on the role, construction and efficacy of partnerships between faculty and librarians to support learning in post-secondary environments (Brasley, 2008), particularly with respect to information literacy (Mounce, 2010), comparatively little exists on the topic of aligning and coordinating the work of librarians with educational developers, with noteworthy exceptions (Colosimo, 2012; Nitecki & Rando, 2004).
The goals of the session are: 1) sharing best practices and lessons learned with other institutions interested in developing successful “cross-pollinations” between librarians and educational developers; and 2) promoting critical inquiry and discussion, and obtaining input on the confluence of perspectives and strategies required to transform university teaching and learning practices. In this session, librarians and educational developers who have been involved in the PASS initiative will share observations and best practices regarding program genesis, development, assessment, reporting, and program oversight. As well, they will pose the following key question to participants to generate additional perspectives: What are the key principles that emerge from partnerships like PASS that increase the chances of success, and what insights have you gleaned from your own experiences that would add to these principles?
Kateryna Keefer (Western University) and Robyn N. Taylor (University of Guelph)
Educational research and practice indicates that students learn best when they are actively engaged with the course material and with one another in collaborative, inquiry-based learning activities. Because such learner-centred techniques require regular, time-intensive student-to-student interaction, they have been particularly challenging to implement in large classes. This session will illustrate how the traditional small-group teaching model has been adapted to a large undergraduate Psychology course using blended-format Inquiry Exercises, allowing students to collaborate on a series of case studies both face-to-face (in class) and within virtual pods (discrete online units of 3-4 peers). The exercise materials were designed to facilitate critical thinking and application of course concepts, and the iterative process (four exercises throughout the course) provided students with an opportunity to self-reflect and internalize the learning. Most importantly, students conducted independent peer reviews and assessments of one another’s work, with minimal interference (but regular monitoring) from the course instructor. By transforming students into teachers, responsible for all aspects of their own learning, the Inquiry Exercises were designed to foster a sense of increased engagement, accountability, and accomplishment among the students.
This session will present a pilot study evaluating the impact of Inquiry Exercises from the students’ perspective. At the end of the term, all students enrolled in the course were invited to complete a survey about their academic self-efficacy beliefs, learning styles, critical thinking dispositions, and experiences working on the Inquiry Exercises. In addition, participants’ grades and submissions for the four Inquiry Exercises were analysed to explore the temporal dynamics of students’ performance over time. Although results are only preliminary due to lack of a control group, they can inform further development of the design, implementation, and outcomes of this transformative blended-format approach, designed specifically to deliver the learning benefits of a traditional small-group teaching model in courses with large enrolments. The audience will have the opportunity to discuss the innovation, ask questions, and provide suggestions for further adaptation.
Jane Holbrook and Mary Power (University of Waterloo)
At many institutions teaching and learning has been transformed in the last decade through the use of educational technologies. The support of strong leadership, careful strategic planning and the development of a culture of teaching innovation, risk-taking and change are recognized as key components in this transformation (Bates & Sangra, 2011). Educational developers have a role in this transformation by providing instructors with opportunities for exploring and implementing the latest in teaching and learning practices. As online, blended and hybrid course designs have become part of post-secondary educational course offerings, a growing literature on blended learning (Garrison & Vaughan, 2008) supports the effectiveness of this model. A recent area of interest at our institution, particularly in the sciences, is a type of blended learning design called the “flipped class”, popular as a way to engage students more actively and encourage more collaborative learning in the classroom while also promoting self-directed learning in the online environment (Berrett, 2012).
In this session we will share how we have introduced instructors to the “flipped class” model and how we subsequently connected with faculty who had participated in our flipped class workshops over the past year to find out how they were integrating the model into their course designs. Participants’ feedback indicated that a small proportion of instructors had implemented truly flipped classes, where students “receive content from technology and apply knowledge with help from the instructor” (Margulieux, Bujak, McCracken & Majerich, 2012), but many had, in the words of one of our participants, created more of a “tilt” than a flip in their course. We will describe some of the “tilts” that our instructors developed and how they have increased active learning for students and will seek input from participants on their experiences with introducing technology into their teaching practices to develop “tilts”. The intended outcome of this roundtable discussion is a better understanding of whether this strategy of model adaptation and bottom-up change is an important part of how educators can create innovative and meaningful educational experiences for students and if these adaptations can have a significant impact on the transformation of teaching and learning.
Kevin Cheung and Maristela Petrovic-Dzerdz (Carleton University)
Linear Algebra I is a large course (>200 students) offered in a live format that is traditionally very challenging to teach due to a lack of motivation from a largely indifferent population of learners who are not in the mathematics, physics, or computer science program. Students’ wide spectrum of mathematical competency created the need for an alternative course model to accommodate their diversity. In this session, we will explain the strategies we implemented and share student feedback.
Two main course problems we identified were lack of motivation in mathematics and the inefficiency of large live lectures. As a result, one section of the course changed its format to reconstruct the learning environment and incorporate several motivational strategies. A blended course model was selected for the section, keeping the best of the live course experience (tutorials) while providing lectures and activities online. Following the Keller’s ARCS model for influencing learner’s motivation through major conditions, such as Attention (5-6 videos per lecture with each about 5 minutes long, high-quality instruction, frequent student engagement via mini problems in between lecture parts with immediate feedback), Relevance (providing access to applications such as simple computer games and apps that utilize Linear Algebra), Confidence (clearly stated lecture outcomes, opportunities for frequent self-evaluation without penalty, increasing difficulty with reasonable challenge, prerequisite material provided) and Satisfaction (frequent messages from the Instructor, praise for success on weekly quizzes, absence of threats), combined with weekly graded quizzes that students could take up to five times with the highest score recorded, created a safe learning environment that motivated students and accommodated diverse learning needs (including the closed captioning of all lectures to accommodate ESL students, those with hearing impairment and everyone who prefers to read then to hear).
The goal of this project was not to create a learning environment that necessarily produced a superior course grade average than the live course; it was to create a more accessible, accommodating, functionally and visually appealing math learning experience that better suited the needs of a 21st century university student.
Jeanette Caron, Elizabeth Campbell Brown, and Nancy Vézina (University of Ottawa)
The Centre for e-Learning at the University of Ottawa works in collaboration with faculty to develop online and blended learning courses. Our team of instructional designers, multimedia developers, and graphic artists build learning materials customized to the needs of the course.
The University of Ottawa has recently launched a five-year initiative encouraging the development of blended learning courses. In this session, we would like to share/exchange experiences with colleagues working on similar projects and glean best practices.
Stéphanie Bélanger (Royal Military College of Canada); Alice Aiken and Lauren Hanlon (Queen’s University)
E-learning is the realization of a world where distance education enables access to high quality education to those students who would not normally have it for several reasons, including geographical problems or scheduling challenges. Whereas technologies can provide accessibility to knowledge, ensuring the competence of professors and the motivation of students (Villar et al., 2006) is yet to be achieved. In order to solve this problem, some argue that programmers, technicians and instructors using e-learning should put less emphasis on the technologies than on the content, in order to meet student’s needs by focusing on the educational curriculum (The Information Revolution, 2003). Maintaining student interest and attention can also be a challenge: studies have identified that low motivation among students may arise from lacking a sense of belongingness to a community of learners. Online icebreakers (Dixon, 2006) and technologies that create 3D learning spaces to mimic the dynamics of a classroom (IsaBelle et al., 2006) can help students feel like they belong and increase student motivation.
The aim of this session is to explore the benefits and weaknesses of the use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in education. Discussion will be mainly based on theoretical studies on some of the consequences of the use of ICT, such as accessibility, interest of students and ICT professional development offered to professors, as well as on a case study based on issues in Military and Veteran Health Research, a webinar taught every fall term by more than 15 different lecturers to graduate students from across Canada. The effectiveness of a multimedia approach to distance learning incorporated in the webinars will be shared based on a student questionnaire measuring their motivation and perception of the usefulness of tools used during the semester.
Bill Ju (University of Toronto)
Hisham Elbatarny, Vanessa Giguere, Elizabeth Johnston and Mazen Toukh (St. Lawrence College)
Histology is the study of microscopic anatomy of tissues of plants and animals. To study histology, different sections are prepared and stained to examine tissues using a light microscope. Different types of stains are used during the preparation of histological slides in order to identify microscopic structures. The ability to visualize and identify these structures can be challenging and requires practice at any educational level. The laboratory component of the human anatomy and physiology course (LUSL 2105) taught in the first year of the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BScN) degree program at St Lawrence College (in collaboration with Laurentian University) contains a significant histology component with over 60 slides of different tissues to study and learn. Throughout the years we attempted to explore and apply different teaching resources and pedagogical tools to overcome some of students’ learning challenges and to improve students’ skills and abilities to learn histology.
We performed a retrospective study to compare the effectiveness of three different tools used in the histology laboratory over the past few years. The first was the traditional tool where the instructor provided an oral explanation prior to students’ use of the light microscope. This was fortified by diagrams provided within the students’ laboratory manual. The second tool consisted of the display of electronic diagrams of standard tissue slides using power point presentations prior to students viewing the actual slides using the light microscope. The third tool involved the use of a microscope fortified with a built-in camera projecting a real-time image on a big screen prior to students viewing same slides using the light microscope. The effectiveness of these tools was evaluated on the basis of students’ grades of a structured quiz composed of 10 slides.
This session will include a discussion of the study and its results. Implications for how to teach histology effectively will also be explored.
Nancy Johnston, Sarah Fedko and Adon Irani (University of Toronto Scarborough)
In recent years, we have seen an explosion in the use of electronic devices such as tablets and smart phones amongst students at post-secondary institutions. These devices are popular and continue to improve with each passing generation of technology. However, research shows that reading in print still has advantages over online reading, such as improved engagement with lengthy texts, concentration and comprehension.
Given this knowledge, how can classroom activities change to help students read successfully when so many of their texts are available online? How should we advise instructors to help build comprehension and critical reading in the classroom?
Digital access to a variety of academic and popular material is changing how we teach and how our students can learn. Courses rely on a combination of print and digital media, sources that are freely available on the internet, and paid-access material from online library databases. Students must be able to engage with all of these sources.
How a teacher “presents” the task of reading may itself limit or extend good reading practice in the students. If our goal is to cultivate our students’ ability to critically read sources, we need to understand how students access and read digital media and online readings. What do they read online and how well? How can we advise our students to use technology more effectively? Can we help our students make informed choices about whether to read online or in print? What about other factors that impact on students, such as access/affordability or technical competence? With so many options and technologies available to us as teachers, we encounter new challenges. In addition to promoting critical reading skills, often we identify further goals, such as having our students connect meaningfully with disciplinary knowledges, or opening up learning environments.
In this session we explore these questions, and share from our professional teaching practices in areas of writing support, information literacy, and teaching with technology – offering strategies from in the classroom, as well as outside, online and beyond. We offer participants an opportunity to engage in discovery and discussion of the impact of online reading on student learning. In our session, we will provide opportunities to share new research, participate in activity-based learning, and discuss the application of teaching methods to address student reading.
Ann-Louise Davidson and Nadia Naffi (Concordia University)
When we tackled the challenge of teaching an undergrad online course using a problem-based learning (PBL) approach, we were confronted with the problematic of teaching to students spread over different time zones whom we had never meet. We wanted to innovate and use a problem-based learning approach, but we were aware that this type of pedagogy often makes students insecure about their performance because the learning sequence doesn’t match the classical model they have been exposed to before. We wished to design the course by imagining the student experience rather than focus on the content, like most online courses are designed. This shift of focus from content-based material to experience-based material required a different approach to designing course material. We imagined authentic ill-defined problems for which students had to provide a concrete solution. These problems were presented in the first three weeks of the course and the students had 12 weeks to provide solutions that would solve the problems, but this approach remained as dry as a content-driven course. This is when we decided to place storytelling at the forefront of our design.
In this roundtable, we will focus on four elements related to the design and the facilitation of our course: 1) the PBL model for developing professional competence we used; 2) the “toile de fond” of the stories we wrote after identifying the content of the course; 3) the affordances of the technologies we used that allowed synchronous and asynchronous (same time and different time) interactions; 4) the formative feedback loop we used to scaffold assignments. We will explain how the four elements –that is PBL, storytelling, technology affordances and formative feedback, were weaved together to create an engaging learning experience for the students. This required not only a shift in how we designed the material, but also a shift in our role as teachers and the students’ role. We will also present how students dealt with the elements of surprise that occurred in the narratives and how they helped inform the students about their own PBL experience.
Cheryl Schramm (Carleton University)
Introductory undergraduate engineering classes in programming and problem solving tend to suffer from seemingly insolvably high failure rates. Few would dispute the need for problem-based or active learning for these courses. Like many other universities, in past years, lectures have incorporated peer instruction, clickers, flipped classes, early feedback interventions, hybridized online course delivery, the use of different “easier” programming languages, as well as re-organizing and even, regrettably ,removing content. Yet, little thought has been given to the laboratory, strange in a faculty of engineering where there are 1.5 hours of labs for each hour of lecture, a balance reflecting the presumed importance of applied practice in engineering education.
In the past fall semester, a new holistic perspective was taken, prompting a change in the lab environment, its space and its use of instructors and teaching assistants (TAs). Past lab practices had students work in rows of computers, working individually on prescribed programming exercises, with TAs wandering about, answering questions by random students whenever asked. The new vision was to embrace the literature on the value of collaborative and peer learning, with their positive impacts on community, engagement, skill development, and ultimately on content mastery; nicely, the vision coincided with the current direction of Canadian Engineering Accreditation Board (CEAB) where teamwork and lifelong learning have been defined as two of twelve graduate attributes of an engineering student. Use of small groups, seating arrangements, dedicated TAs, pre-and-post meetings and even rolling whiteboards were used to promote relationships between students. Despite the large class size, the intent was to create a community for each student, from which – with direction, training and facilitation by the TAs – would re-direct the learning to peers. The instructors – and even the TAs – were removed as the foci of learning, as the content experts and providers.
This session will include discussion about the re-organization of the labs. It will also address students’ perspectives on the new labs by highlighting results of a student survey derived from established surveys on classroom experiences and engagement. Lastly, personal reflections on the venture and a dialogue concerning the rationale and evaluation of the work will ensue.
Ashley Shaw (University of British Columbia)
Massive open online courses, or MOOCs, are a phenomenon that has been alternately constructed as both threat and saviour for higher education. Some see them as the demise of the traditional university, others as an exciting new learning experience that will extend education to those underserved by traditional institutions. Whether promise or peril, MOOCs are incredibly popular, with millions of participants engaged in thousands of courses. Most administrators, researchers, and academics involved in higher education agree it is likely that MOOCs will impact current practices and have the ability to revolutionise learning experiences.
It is imperative, therefore, that we have research of the highest quality to guide our understandings of, and responses to, the MOOC phenomenon. Yet most research conducted so far has been limited both in scope and methodology. There is a preponderance of research looking at drop out rates, characteristics of learners, and patterns of learners. Most of these studies rely on learning analytics and quantitative data, often automatically logged by MOOC platforms, in an attempt to numerically capture the learner experience. While such studies are valuable in establishing generalities, they are limited in their ability to provide deeper understandings of the actual experience of participants. What is missing is research that focuses on the learner as they attempt to learn through this novel technology.
This session reports on the early stages of a research project that explores how participants learn to learn in a MOOC, focusing on the experience of learners as they navigate through the complex information environment found in MOOCs. Learning in networked online environments requires different skills than are used in a traditional classroom, and previous research has identified some of the struggles learners experience: confusion over the roles of students and teachers, a lack of ability to self-regulate their learning, disorientation from working across multiple platforms, and the need for a complex set of digital and social literacies unique to the online environment. This study attempts to understand how learners negotiate these struggles while also engaging with the content of the course. Drawing on concepts of self-determined learning, sense-making, and networked learning, and combining data from surveys, learning analytics, and a virtual ethnographic approach, this research follows the paths learners take through a MOOC. By focusing on the experience of participants, we hope to identify the critical literacies, threshold concepts, and types of support that can best help learners in MOOCs successfully attain their goals. As well as providing information, this session will encourage discussion around the complexities of leaning in such massive, information rich, networked environments, with the goal of generating insights that will help educators support students in navigating and succeeding in these new learning environments.
Gavan Watson and Anne Bergen (University of Guelph)
Open access (OA) is a movement to make knowledge freely and publicly available, typically through unrestricted online access to research literature in the form of journal articles and books (Suber, 2012). The OA philosophy is most often associated with the dissemination of research findings, with the underlying idea that free and unrestricted access to information and greater sharing of knowledge leads to public benefits, through facilitating the transformation of knowledge into action. This session will discuss the implications of adopting an “open” approach to the creation and sharing of some of the most common classroom artifacts — syllabi and class notes. The cultural and academic transformation underway with the adoption of open approaches offers promise to change the way educators create and share these objects. Integrating the value of “freedom to build upon” from the OA movement and aligned with the tenets of learner-centredness (Weimer, 2002), we propose that the adoption of more open approaches will improve student learning.
A course syllabus is a tool that communicates course expectations and can improve student learning (Johnson, 2006). As an institutional document, it also functions to detail how a student will be assessed and the roles that students and instructors play in this process (Habanek, 2005). Yet while important, a syllabus may be seen as little more than a necessary formality. In this session we will discuss how an approach to the creation of a syllabus influenced by an open philosophy offers promise to transform students’ and instructors’ relationships with the document.
As a concrete example, we will provide an overview of how the Creative Commons license can provide a means of “opening up” course notes, with implications for both student and instructor learning. Creative Commons (CC BY-SA) “free culture” licenses explicitly allow students to share and adapt class notes as long as they provide attribution and license any resulting works with a similar “share alike” license (e.g., https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/). Applying CC BY-SA licenses to class notes makes it clear to students when and how they should share and attribute knowledge gained in class. The CC BY-SA license also provides a framework for collaboration among instructors, such that notes can be shared and developed more collaboratively. We will reflect on ways that OA notes can support a more collaborative teaching culture among instructors. In particular, the “share alike” concept of Creative Commons licensing may alleviate some concerns about course materials being reused for commercial purposes without attribution, and also creates a self-perpetuating cycle of open educational works. As we review these key issues, we will also seek feedback from participants about potential barriers to and facilitators of OA practices and philosophies in the classroom.
Roberta Thomson (McGill University)
The significance of Universal Design for Learning is growing rapidly in the context of postsecondary education and pedagogy. In order to widen access to learning and create an inclusive learning environment for a diverse student population, university and college campuses in Quebec have started to work with Faculty to implement principles of Universal Design in their teaching practices. UDL promotes a proactive approach to planning a course, which can create more sustainable teaching practices reducing the need for more costly ‘retrofitting’ methods done through classroom accommodations, often used to support the needs of today’s diverse student population.
This session will present information about a UDL collaborative project between five post-secondary institutions in Montreal: McGill University, John Abbott College, Marianopolis College, Dawson College and Centennial College. Spanning a three-year process, the project culminates in the creation of a user-friendly pedagogical toolkit using a qualitative mixed method action research approach. Initial research began in the winter semester, 2014 semester and is spanning to fall, 2014.
The project’s goals are:
- To identify general key facilitators and stressors reported by Faculty that hinder or support the implementation of Universal design across all five institutions.
- To create a user friendly pedagogical toolkit based on the research findings, which will assist Faculty to integrate UDL principles into their teaching.
Catherine Bates and Cindy Normore (Canadian Defence Academy)
Generally speaking, Royal Military College of Canada (RMCC) courses are delivered in the traditional lecture method. This is natural because faculty probably learned their specialization in the same way. The lecture method is a viable instructional strategy for intrinsically motivated learners (those who think of how to use their learning to better themselves) with life experiences who are reflective or theoretical learners and is suited to subject matter best delivered according to the behaviourist philosophy (stimulus, response, reinforcement). Now, what if you must teach young people who by and large are extrinsically motivated (what’s in it for me?), who have limited life experiences, who are practical or active learners, and who must learn content that doesn’t have just one right answer? A constructivist philosophy is called for in this case: a paradigm shift from students who are passive recipients of instruction designed for them to students actively involved in determining their own learning needs are and how they can be met. Enter the field of Instructional Design. Instructional design is a method of matching learner characteristics (motivation, experience, age, attitude, learning style, background, education), to the conditions for learning, especially content.
Using the frame of constructivist conditions for learning, this session will explore a model which is an adaptation of Motivation Theory by Keller (1983) adapted by de Vincent (2003) in Weibelzahl and Kelly. It demonstrates how effort, performance and consequence are the outputs of both the learner and the organization. If students bring their own inputs (learner characteristics) and we as the learning organization supply the environmental factors (conditions for learning), then ideally the selection of instructional strategies to match the learning goals should address the output of effort, performance and consequences through increased motivation.
Jovan Groen and Patrick Milot (University of Ottawa)
As outlined by Doren (1956), “[…] college is meaningless without a curriculum, but it is more so when it has one that is meaningless”(p.108).
As an increasing number of institutions in higher education are required to adhere to quality assurance standards set by governments and accreditation agencies, many post-secondary programs must now undergo some form of cyclical review process. Among the variety of approaches and tools used to review these programs, the process of curriculum mapping is emerging as a particularly helpful option. Curriculum mapping, in a large sense, is the visualization of a program’s underlying framework (Borin, 2010). It maps each course to the program-level learning outcomes, and can often map the level at which each of these outcomes is presented (introductory, intermediate, advanced), how the outcome is covered in a given course (taught, practiced, assessed), and if assessed, by what means. When complete, this data can provide a fairly accurate image of what actually occurs within a program and what the learning experience of a given student looks like from beginning to end.
Curriculum mapping is most frequently used for two main purposes in higher education: 1) to ensure the alignment and sequencing of learning outcomes and assessments across courses when developing a new program, and 2) to evaluate the current alignment and look for any gaps, redundancies and inconsistencies in order to enhance an existing program (Uchiyama & Radin, 2009; Kopera-Frye, Mahaffy & Svare, 2008).
Used as part of curriculum design and the support services offered at many Canadian universities, curriculum mapping has proven most effective when it is faculty driven, data informed and supported by curriculum design specialists (Wolf, 2007). Recently, in the pursuit of making the process of data collection easier, the Centre for University Teaching has been using FluidSurvey as a tool for data collection and analysis.
This session will provide an opportunity for faculty members, administrators and curriculum design specialists to discuss and share best practices relating to curriculum mapping and analysis. Current curriculum review questionnaires used at the University of Ottawa and sample curriculum maps will be shared.
Gary Hunt and Ginny Ratsoy (Thompson Rivers University)
Joanne Fox, Brian Wilson and Sandra Zappa-Hollman (University of British Columbia)
Cliff Robinson and Elizabeth Templeman (Thompson Rivers University)
It is likely that more than one-third of our students are introverted. According to Susan Cain, the author of the book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking, introverts are dramatically undervalued: both inside and outside our classrooms.
This session will provide background on the introversion-extraversion spectrum, information on the learning needs of introverts and extraverts, and opportunities for participants to discuss and share teaching practices for increasing inclusion of introverts in the classroom. The session will strive to promote instructional philosophy and practice that better meets the learning needs of all students, including introverted students.
The session is an invitation to educators to engage with Cain's Quiet Revolt, where contemplation is as valued as participation, where gregariousness is optional, and where introverts are invited to do what they do best.
Jessica Riddell (Bishop’s University)
Chad Harvey and Sarah Robinson (McMaster University)
Primary literature is known to be the best source for scientific information. It is often perceived to be inaccessible to an undergraduate audience. The jargon, methodologies and overall structure of a paper can be confusing and overwhelming, often left to senior undergraduates or graduate students. However, these perceived challenges can be used as effective teaching tools when a structure and scaffold is provided to help students understand how to navigate and digest primary literature. We encourage our students to look to the primary literature not only as a source of reference but also as a fundamental medium for conceptual exposure and understanding.
In the second and third years of the Integrated Science Program at McMaster University, we utilize primary literature as a key pedagogical method for teaching conceptual content. In the second year of the program, key articles are chosen by the instructors, which exemplify the theory and application of important concepts. Articles are discussed in a seminar format, in place of a lecture, facilitated by the instructor. Students are not asked to simply read the paper but select particular sections of the paper to focus upon and provide explanation to the class. Students must provide insight on their assigned section in the context of relevance to the topic, the discipline and society at large. For example, during our ecology module we use a paper focusing on mutualisms (beneficial interactions between two or more species). The students discuss the paper in the context of ecology and biology and also make extensions to economics and group theory. Through this exercise students learn concepts from the curriculum and also become more familiar with primary literature, its structure and receive a better understanding of scientific methodologies, experimental logistics and communication.
The foundation created in the second year provides a jumping off point for students in third year. At this point, students identify and select primary literature pertinent to their project, and lead small, peer groups in discussion. The responsibility taken by the instructor in the second year to facilitate is now placed upon the student. Students must critically evaluate the larger body of literature to identify primary sources that apply to their specific research projects. Additionally, they are tasked with helping their peers understand and appraise the concepts, methodologies and applications of the chosen paper.
Use of this pedagogy has received positive feedback from our students. It has allowed them to take more responsibility in how they learn and gain much appreciation for the communication of science. Students improve their skills in critically evaluating scientific writing and their ability to glean pertinent information from this source. Further, students practice leading others in the understanding and evaluation of sources of information.
In this session we will share the pedagogy and processes we have used as well as communicate some of the lessons we have learned from using primary literature as a key pedagogical technique. We will also challenge participants to think of situations where they can apply similar techniques in their own courses.
Deb Bennett and Maureen Hewlett (Mount Royal University)
This session will share the insights gained about teaching during a scholarship of teaching and learning inquiry exploring student learning in an undergraduate studies course. As teachers from different backgrounds, our learning and growth began when we came together to explore a series of learning questions and reflective journals completed by students in our classes.
During data analysis, we became part of a process of transformation and growth; realizing our students were offering valuable lessons about not only the design and delivery of the course, but also about our teaching. We shared teaching approaches and styles with each other through the information we gathered for our research: student feedback within learning questions, assessments used in the course, and feedback provided to students. Our insights resulted in a powerful experience that changed the way we viewed our teaching and the course, and resulted in adaptations to course design and delivery. At times it felt like an endeavor where we were taking a risk, other times an experience of affirmation, but most importantly it developed into a unique means for learning about teaching and ourselves.
In this session, two teachers share how collaborative research impacted their future teaching experiences and delivery of an undergraduate studies course. Lessons learned from students during the research process will be explored through a description of the inquiry, the data collected and insights gained during the data analysis process. Adaptations to course assessments as a result of the research will also be shared. Finally the impact of the group research process and its data analysis process will be identified.
Participants will have the opportunity to reflect on the information presented and discuss the impact it may have on their personal growth, teaching, and course development. The lessons students teach and their opportunities for transformation will also be explored. Dialogue about the importance of these lessons and how research facilitates learning opportunities will conclude the discussion.
“If we want to grow as teachers -- we must do something alien to academic culture: we must talk to each other about our inner lives -- risky stuff in a profession that fears the personal and seeks safety in the technical, the distant, the abstract.”
Christian Caron (University of Toronto)
This session will be about the use of individual learning plans in the classroom. Every student has their own learning style, set of interests, and schedule. To reflect this fact, I have offered a variety of options in several of my courses for the last three years (at the second and third year university level, class sizes from 40 to 140), from which students can choose to build their own individual learning plan. Students select from a series of low stake writing options (in-class activities, online engagement, critical reflection papers), higher stake writing options (various term papers), and exams that adds up to 100%.
In this session, strengths of individual learning plans will be explored, such as offering students a say over how they are going to demonstrate their understanding of course content; encouraging students to actively reflect on their own learning; fostering early engagement right at the start of the semester; forcing the instructor to clearly lay out expectations for each mechanism of assessment right at the beginning of a course; encouraging students to think ahead and plan their whole semester; creating flexibility in case of health, personal, or work issues; encouraging students to read and write; fostering peer learning without making it mandatory; allowing for the inclusion of other creative forms of assignments without forcing everyone to participate; and further justifying the pedagogical use of online learning management platforms.
This session will also discuss some of the challenges associated with the use of individual learning plans, such as choices being overwhelming to some students and helping them make good choices for themselves; difficulties associated with grading due to students’ self-selection; finding the right balance in the weight of various assignments; finding the right balance in terms of time when discussing assignments that only a portion of students have committed to complete; and this approach can be more time consuming for instructors due to an added layer of pedagogy.
Best practices associated with individual learning plans will be shared, based on my experience and the overwhelmingly positive feedback from many of the 450 students whom have taken courses with me using this approach. There will be time during this session for discussion and questions.
Anna Ferenc (Wilfrid Laurier University)
In most undergraduate music programs at North American colleges and universities, music majors are required to complete a core grouping of music theory courses to satisfy degree requirements. The intent of these courses is to provide foundational training in analytical, compositional and aural skill. To succeed, students must retain and build upon knowledge from one course to the next. Consequently, the need for student motivation and engagement with learning is high.
Instruction in the music theory core typically relies on lecture-style delivery of information supplemented by problem-solving assignments. In the classroom, an instructor assumes the role of expert imparting information to students, who are passive recipients of knowledge. Teaching materials published for these courses support this conventional model of instruction. They usually consist of a textbook that transmits knowledge and one or more accompanying workbooks that provide exercises for students to practice application of concepts explained in the textbook. Despite ongoing improvements to supporting texts that take advantage of technological innovation, instructors still struggle with student engagement in music theory core courses. This may come as no surprise to researchers in the field of teaching and learning, whose scholarship documents that such a conventional method of instruction does not engage students in meaningful learning.
Drawing on the scholarship of teaching and learning and reflecting the STLHE conference theme, this presentation reports on a attempt to transform passive students into engaged learners in a second-year core music theory course through integration of several educational best practices including writing-to-learn activities, peer review and reflection into a high-impact collaborative project that treats students as budding professionals in the field. It presents encouraging results of a secondary study of student reflections documenting the perceived value of the project from their perspective. The presentation offers compelling evidence of student engagement in subject learning, meta-learning, and knowledge transfer. It seeks feedback from educators interested in high-impact best practices that transform learning experiences.
Margaret Anne Smith (University of New Brunswick)
Much has been written about the theoretical and abstract aspects of transformation in education. But what kinds of very specific techniques and practices (in the classroom and out) foster transformation? How do we help the adolescent learner transform into the adult learner, ready to take his or her place as critical thinker and self-directed learner throughout a lifetime?
Over the past ten years, I have experimented with an almost entirely open-ended final project, in interdisciplinary courses in the humanities. My only requirement for one project was that students must use the written word (in additional to other media if they choose) and that the projects must somehow integrate some of the things they have learned and discovered throughout the course. In another course, they were required to create 10 written reflections on our general topic, five of which had to directly integrate course material. Initially, students were astounded and even horrified by the vagueness of such a project. But the results were also astounding in the very best possible ways. This kind of open-ended project unleashed creativity and collaboration that I'd never seen so consistently in my students. In the beginning, I undertook this approach in a small, liberal arts college, where students tend to be creative and where they are quite comfortable in asking questions about assignments. We spent a great deal of class time brainstorming about aspects of these projects (essays, fiction, sculpture, painting, music, slam poetry and hybrids of these forms). More recently at a publicly funded university, I've tried the same project with similar results. A literature review of the research on student journals, summative projects and portfolios reveals that most of the research is done in the fields of clinical and experiential learning, like healthcare, engineering, education, in which students must meet demanding rubrics for professional standards.
Assessing true transformation is difficult, but we can construct assignments and atmospheres that are conducive to real change in all of our students, not just those in applied fields. Reflecting on this experience makes me realize that as postsecondary educators, we need to improve our knowledge and understanding of the principles of adult education. Androgagy (pioneered by Malcolm Knowles) suggests life experience (from which an individual may draw) as a resource for learning. The results of the projects from my recent course (on environmental literature) will show that students learned to place themselves at the centre of their learning--not in a facile way, but in a way that reflects the critical inquiry and self-reflection of the adult learner. Guided by clear course objectives, students can strike out on a path of educational discovery; rather than learning about biology and art, they can learn to be biologists and artists.
In this session, I will present a brief framework of key principles in adult education (androgagy and perspective transformation) and the results of my recent course projects (with visuals, with permission from the students). I will also invite participants to share their own experience. Why isn't this being done more frequently in non-applied fields of study? If it is, why are we not writing about it?
Lovaye Kajiura, Robert Fleisig and Brenda Vrkljan (McMaster University)
Anne Szeto, Andrea Buchholz and Jess Haines (University of Guelph)
Due to increased post-secondary enrollment, class sizes have expanded. Studies have found large class sizes to be associated with low student engagement. Because student engagement is strongly associated with positive learning and performance outcomes, there is a growing body of research on strategies to engage students in large classes. Many active learning strategies, such as clicker questions and a think-pair-share activity, engage students momentarily in the classroom. Experiential learning activities (ELAs) may more effectively engage students in the course as a whole and improve their academic performance.
In this session, we will share the results an intervention study conducted in two large first and second year undergraduate nutrition courses at University of Guelph, Ontario, in fall 2012 and winter 2013. In the study, all students (n = 980) were invited to participate in an optional ELA involving completion of a 3-day food record, a tour of a health assessment research lab, and body composition (percent body fat) assessment using the lab’s BOD POD®. Participants completed a take-home assignment that allowed them to apply course content to interpret their diet analysis and body composition results. To examine effect of the ELA on student engagement, we compared students’ baseline and follow-up scores on the Classroom Survey of Student Engagement (CLASSE), a classroom-level adaptation of the National Survey of Student Engagement (Indiana Center for Postsecondary Research). To assess impact of the ELA on course performance, we compared change in percentile rank from the midterm to the final exam among students who did vs. did not participate in the ELA. Finally, we administered a satisfaction survey to examine students’ impression of the ELA experience.
The ELA changed the way students learned, and also changed the instructors’ own teaching methods. Our results suggest that an ELA can be used to generate interest and increase overall student course engagement and performance in large undergraduate nutrition courses. Researchers should continue to explore the effectiveness of learning initiatives that target underlying motivating factors of engagement in transforming students into active learner.
John Currie (University of Toronto)
This session invites discussion on transformative learning around writing and writing pedagogies. The presenter will provide prompts so as to invite participation. Participants will leave having shared insights on methodology, theory, pedagogy and student experiences.
For years I’ve witnessed students reporting transformation in their writing and in their perceptions of themselves as writers upon taking a foundational expressive writing course. The course assumes no prior writing experience and attracts students of all disciplines. Through weekly writing practice students acquire communications fundamentals of economy, directness, detail, voice and clarity through composing and revising creative nonfiction narratives.
My in-progress research looks at three former students’ reflections on their learning experiences and at texts they wrote, in view of their frames of reference around their self-perceptions as writers, applying Mezirow’s (1997) criteria. Two students achieved high grades and one scored below average.
I found that student experiences vary and transformative learning carries different hues. As well, the teacher must be as open to transformation themselves as to searching it out. For Fenwick (2003), this is the unpredictable nature of learning. Reflecting on these cases brought me to reflect upon my role as a teacher, considering what O’Reilley (1993) calls helping a student “find her ‘sacred center,’ the place where she stands at the crossroads of human experience.”
Kristen Ferguson, Natalya Brown and Linda Piper (Nipissing University)
Many post-secondary institutions are striving to transform education by expanding learning to outside of the classroom and across disciplines. A common book program (CBP) has become one popular mechanism that colleges and universities across the United States, and now Canada, employ to transform the first-year student experience. By reading a common book (CB) during orientation, it is hoped that first-year students can quickly get a taste of the academic flavour of the university, become involved in on-campus activities, make connections across a variety courses and disciplines, and be introduced to the critical thinking, reading and literacy in post-secondary studies (Ferguson, 2006). In this session, we share the book selection process for a CBP at X University, the lessons learned in selecting a book, and future goals of the CB selection process. Session participants who currently participate in a CBP or who are considering a CBP at their institution can benefit from our experiences and suggestions for implementation.
Despite the popularity of CBPs, there exists very little research on virtually all aspects of CBPs. While we have conducted research on participants’ satisfaction with a CBP (in press), we wanted to shed light on the book selection process. If CBPs have the potential to transform the first-year student experience, the book chosen is an integral part of the success of the program. Grenier (2007) investigated 80 American CBPs and reported the following are common criteria for book selection: readability, length, and author availability. However, we can find no published research that details the process of how these books are selected.
During the 2012-2013 year, X University’s CBP selection committee (consisting of staff, faculty, students, and administrators) narrowed the nominations, and the final book was selected using an online campus-wide vote. As researchers, we wanted to know: a) What are the criteria for book selection? b) How does the decision-making process evolve? c) What are the decision-makers' reflections on the book selection process? To answer our questions, we observed CB committee meetings and we interviewed each committee member (N = 10) after the book was chosen. This session will highlight our study’s results and reflect on the implications for future practice.
Philippa Carter, Robert Revington and Jennifer Nettleton (McMaster University)
McMaster University is committed to transforming the undergraduate student experience. The vision of the President, Dr. Patrick Deane, outlined in his letter to the McMaster community entitled "Forward with Integrity," identifies the student experience as a key area for attention as the University re-examines its mandate and mission. Having received a grant awarded to applicants proposing ways to advance the President's goals, we developed a second-year, one-semester course entitled "Explorations in Learning and Mentoring" which was offered for two hours a week from September to December, 2013.
The primary goal of this course was to identify and recruit peer mentors who could serve as student success leaders for McMaster's Learning Portfolio in the next academic year. Students’ individual goals and interests drove their explorations and they shared their discoveries with each other throughout the term. The course was facilitated rather than taught so that students could develop their own learning goals and mentoring skills.
In our session we will briefly outline key features of the course including the student-driven nature of the content and the focus on the use of the electronic portfolio platform. We will focus primarily on the issue of establishing and maintaining a viable peer-mentoring program for the Learning Portfolio in the Faculty of Social Sciences at McMaster University. The peer mentors we seek to cultivate focus on the task of supporting students wishing to develop their Learning Portfolios. Given both the benefits and pitfalls of peer mentoring programs, our main objective is to solicit feedback regarding the recruitment and cultivation of peer mentors and the ways their services are best employed.
We are especially interested in feedback on two issues as we enter the phase of preparing student volunteers to be mentors:
How can we best ensure that peer mentoring meets the needs of both mentors and mentees?
How can we overcome resistance to being a mentee and should we?
Claudia M. Caruana (New York University)
At the Stern School of Business, NYU, all students are required to take four courses (one each year) focusing on written communication. In the senior year, students taking the Professional Rights and Liabilities course are required to write two papers about specific ethical behavior of companies. Students have the option of a coaching session (one hour or less) for each of the two papers with professional writers either in person or via e-mail. In the latter, their papers are reviewed using Word tracking. These students also can e-mail volley with the professional writer. The students may present a completed draft or a well-defined outline.
How these sessions work, what they can do, plus ways that this type of coaching can be incorporated into other programs will be the starting point of discussion. Other issues that will be discussed include associated costs, time involved, and how the program is designed to maximize the time and skills of the writing coaches.
Judy Bornais and Debbie Rickeard (University of Windsor)
Peer mentoring in higher education is an excellent learning opportunity for mentors and mentees. In the literature, the common meaning of a peer mentor refers to a more experienced individual who assists a less experienced individual. In the context of nursing education, a peer mentor is a third or fourth year nursing student, who offers assistance and support to other nursing students with theory and/or skills. Research conducted using peer mentors to enhance nursing skills in health assessment showed significant benefit. Could this same benefit be seen in an experiential learning environment where students and mentors are expected to think on their feet, not in their seats?
This session will introduce a peer mentorship model used in an experiential learning setting. In this model, fourth year nursing students mentor first and second year nursing students in real-time evolving simulated scenarios. Simulation is a pedagogy which is used to promote, improve, and/or validate a participant’s progression from novice to expert. When working with students and mentors, this learning and progression not only occurs for the students in the scenario but also for the peer mentors. Benefits for the learner, peer mentor, faculty and nursing profession will be highlighted. Characteristics of the peer mentoring process such as shared learning, shared caring, reciprocity, commitment to each other's personal and professional growth are discussed. Challenges to implementing this mentorship approach including training, leveling and learning curves will also be discussed in relation to learning in the simulated setting.
Bettina Callary (Cape Breton University); Bradley Young and Scott Rathwell (University of Ottawa)
A multitude of new and adapted problem-based pedagogical styles are being discussed within higher education to promote student learning through meaningful interactions and experiences with facilitators/teachers. Indeed, adult learning literature recommends that instructors accommodate a self-guided learning style, with greater inclusion of personally meaningful (i.e., focusing on an analysis of experience), problem-focused approaches designed to create autonomous and engaged learners (e.g., Merriam, Caffarella, & Baumgartner, 2007). With the popularization of these programs, facilitators should take the initiative to engage in ongoing learning to cultivate their competencies related to enabling problem-based learning. We propose to examine learners’ needs and preferences in their facilitator’s style by exploring instructional contexts in adult sport. In these sport contexts, coaches can be conceived both as leaders tasked with facilitating athlete learning and as learners themselves, acquiring competencies through their lived experiences with athletes (Callary, Werthner, & Trudel, 2012). These experiences have the potential of generating ideas for ongoing learning for facilitators in higher education, especially because they are often based on passion, engagement, and problem-solving in the process of coaching small groups (Callary et al., 2012). In our research exploring the lived experiences of adult swimmers with their coaches, we found that adult athletes want their coaches to foster accountability and integrity to learning; they want leaders who show competence, credibility, and passion, who are organized and flexible, and who know when, how, and to whom to give feedback. Athletes further discussed how their coach indirectly affected their personal development by creating motivating environments in which they wanted to continue to participate. Overall, our research underscores the diverse efforts of coaches to learn how to best work with their adult students’ needs and wants.
In this round table, we will share findings from our research in order to generate discussion for ongoing learning of facilitators in higher education who wish to develop competencies important to facilitating adult learners’ motivation and engagement in problem-based pedagogical experiences. We hope you will join us as we merge poignant pedagogical experiences from the sport context with perspectives on higher education, in an effort to explore how these experiences can aid facilitators’ ongoing learning.
Bernie Murray (Ryerson University)
Mary Jo Festle (Elon University)
How do we know if our students’ thinking is transformed in a meaningful way? My departmental colleagues and I feel confident that our students who major in history learn a great deal about the past. After all, they complete a broad range of courses and pass a rigorous senior assessment that involves doing primary and second source research and developing an original argument that is well-supported by evidence. But we feel less certain about whether they are actually “transformed” in the terms used by O’Sullivan, Morrell, and O’Connor in Expanding the Boundaries of Transformative Learning (xvii): that of experiencing a “deep, structural shift in the basic premises of thought, feelings, and actions…that dramatically and irreversibly alters our way of being in the world.”
The literature about threshold concepts suggests that transformative learning often involves a shift in epistemological understanding, provoking learners to “mov[e] on from their prevailing way of conceptualizing a particular phenomenon to new ways of seeing” (Land, 2011). Threshold concepts – ones that are transformative, irreversible, foundational and also “troublesome” – differ by discipline. Although faculty in many fields (including history) have been writing and postulating about the specific threshold concepts in their disciplines, hearing from students is crucial. Students can help us identify how their thinking has changed, what impacted them the most, and how they encountered and grappled with transformative ideas and concepts. The method I will share is easily transferrable to other disciplines and quick to administer.
Based on some of the components that scholars have suggested are key to transformative learning, I and two colleagues designed five questions students were asked to free write a response to in multiple classes of our senior seminar undergraduate courses. The students wrote for 4-5 minutes on each prompt, including about how their thinking changed and what prompted it to change. We crafted a couple of other questions to explore issues of identity and identification and whether classes impacted their values and feelings.
I will share the questions we used and some results from the writings of about 40 students. Most of the students explicitly stated that their understanding of "what history is" had indeed changed - from simply a factual description of events to a more critical and interpretive approach that appreciated the evolving nature of the field. They were self-aware about and pleased with the development of their thinking. The questions related to identity provided more varied answers, but sometimes touched upon topics related to race, ethnicity, religion, gender, government policies, and the media.
The goal for this session is to spur discussion about: ways that our disciplines may be “transforming” our students; ways participants have already tried or might try assessing changes in our students’ thinking and/or threshold concepts; and the implications of our findings for pedagogy, advising, and curricular design.
Meagan Troop (University of Guelph)
Shannon Murray (University of Prince Edward Island)
Those of us who teach in the Arts tell our students (quite rightly, I think) that a degree in Arts is transformational. One should think differently, be different at the end than at the beginning. The challenge of most Arts degrees, though, is that the variety students are offered in their course choices can make recognizing those moments of transformation difficult. To paraphrase T. S. Eliot, our students may have the experience, but miss the meaning. This session proposes skills or career portfolios for Arts students as a way to mark, understand, and document moments of transformation.
Portfolios have a variety of purposes, of course, and career or skills portfolios for students about to leave the university setting tend to focus on integrating the student’s course experience with extracurricular activities; on identifying and giving evidence of marketable skills; and generally on preparing for the transition from university life to a career. I teach a fourth-year capstone course for Arts majors, and my students have indeed found the portfolios helpful as they plan for their careers. What they (and I) have been most surprised by is seeing the difference between their first-year and their fourth-year selves. The portfolios become tangible evidence of their transformation; it is a profound and moving process to witness.
This session will start with an outline of the nature and general purposes of a skills portfolio, suggest the documentation of transformational moments as one of those purposes, and end with a discussion of other ways to help students appreciate and mark those moments.
Theresa Suart and Jennifer MacKenzie (Queen’s University)
First-year students arrive at Queen’s (and other universities) well-versed in a culture of marks, letter-grades and GPAs. Given this prevalent academic culture—and the competitive nature of its own admissions process—QuARMS (Queen’s Accelerated Route to Medical School) faculty and educational development team faced an ongoing challenge in transforming students’ expectations of the School of Medicine portion of the QuARMS learning stream.
Students admitted to QuARMS take a traditional Arts or Science honours degree program for their first two years at Queen’s while also participating in seminars and modules sponsored by the School of Medicine designed to focus on developing key skills such as critical thinking and communication as well as exploring roles of physicians in Canadian society. After successful completion of these two years, students enter their first-year of the four-year medical program. The School of Medicine QuARMS modules are developmental and team-based. The focus is on developing foundational skills for the School of Medicine’s competency framework, rather than achieving a particular grade. Students are not assigned marks, nor is their performance ranked in relation to each other.
Using a theoretical framework of self-regulated learning (Zimmerman, 2002; Puustinen & Pulkkinen, 2001) and transformative learning (Cranton, 1994), lead educational developer, Theresa Suart, and course director, Jennifer MacKenzie, designed learning experiences to create this non-graded environment and to help learners transform their perspectives of what it means to “achieve” and “learn”. Assessment strategies included written feedback, near-peer review and individual interviews.
An additional challenge, for both instructors and students, is that students continue to have a GPA requirement in their Arts & Science courses. The QuARMS students and faculty need to respect and adhere to the realities of the two different programs that students have. In this session, Dr. MacKenzie and Ms. Suart will identify challenges and highlight strategies that worked with the inaugural QuARMS class (2013-2014) and plans for the second year.
Melanie Adrian and Samah Sabra (Carleton University)
There is a long-standing body of literature on the transformative potentials of experiential or service learning, which usually takes place outside of the walls of the classroom (Kayes, 2002; Kolb and Kolb, 2005; Maudsley & Strivens, 2000; Walter, Marks & James 1981). There is little discussion, however, about the ways in which instructors can design their courses to produce authentic experiential educational experiences within the classroom. We are grappling with the question,” How effective is it to turn core classroom and learning decision making over to students?”
In this session, we discuss the process of designing and facilitating a third year course on international human rights law. In addition to having the students read about the theory of law, the instructor invited students to participate in a United Nations-style democratic process in which they co-designed the course (from assessments, to content, to classroom activities). We discuss the benefits and pitfalls of the process as identified by the students and the lessons learned by the course instructor.
Andrea Webb (University of British Columbia)
Research universities around the world are increasingly drawing upon experienced practitioners in professional fields as adjunct faculty to deliver student learning experiences in diverse undergraduate and graduate program contexts. Adjunct teaching faculty provide the benefits of being immersed in the realities of practice, offer unique and rich insights into expertise and experience from the field, build valuable community partnerships with the university, and offer a cost-effective resource while freeing up many faculty members for research endeavors. Adjunct teaching faculty, while expert practitioners in the field, are not necessarily expert teachers in a research-intensive university environment.
This session will explore the development and impact of a strategic professional development initiative for field practitioners in the Faculty of Education at The University of British Columbia (UBC), Canada. A substantive portion of this Bachelor of Education program is taught by adjunct teaching faculty who are seconded to the university for three to five days a week for up to three years in duration. Heavy workloads (including responsibilities in their home districts) and limited available time create significant challenges for these practitioners to engage in formal professional development.
In response to the demands of adjunct positions, the Faculty of Education has supported a cohort-based program developed specifically for the seconded and sessional instructors. This three-year program seeks to create a supportive community in which adjunct teaching professors engage in inquiry into their teaching and learning practice through scheduled bi-monthly cohort meetings and a series of collaborative and independent classroom-based professional development assignments.
Using feedback from presentations, participant observation of and reflection on cohort meetings, and interviews with cohort participants, this project investigates to what extent inquiry based practices in teacher education has impacted the pedagogical practice of adjunct teaching professors in the Faculty of Education at UBC.
Drawing upon the literature of self-study in Teacher Education (Alderton, 2008; Barak et al, 2010; Bullough & Pinnegar, 2001; Clarke & Erickson, 2007; Craig, 2009; Jasman, 2010; LaBosky, 2007; Pinnegar & Hamilton, 2011; Williams & Ritter, 2010) and autobiographical research in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (Duarte, 2007), the session will include an explanation of the program, discussion of the participant’s inquiry projects, and reflection on the ongoing professional and academic developments for adjunct teaching faculty.
Stephen MacNeil (Wilfrid Laurier University)
In the opening plenary of STLHE 2013 in Cape Breton, Dr. Richard Gerver said something that really struck a chord with me: “You never learn anything new by being right”. This statement at once summed up my recent efforts to incorporate formative assessment techniques into an introductory organic chemistry course using a blended (or “flipped” classroom) format. There are many definitions of formative assessment but perhaps the simplest is assessment for learning (as opposed to assessment of learning). There is much research to support the advantages of formative assessment over summative assessment for student learning (Black & William, 1998). It is okay for students to be wrong and, in fact, students should be encouraged to take risks, make mistakes and learn from them.
This session will introduce four formative assessment techniques I have incorporated into my introductory organic chemistry courses to provide students with frequent feedback on their strengths, weaknesses and progress and the incentive to make adjustments based on this feedback. These assessments are as follows: (i) an instructor-developed beginning-of-term prior learning assessment (PLA); (ii) mastery-based on-line homework; (iii) a think-pair-share approach to clicker questions; and (iv) use of the immediate feedback assessment technique (IF-AT) for the multiple choice sections of midterm tests and final exams. Each of these techniques gives students multiple opportunities to self-assess and, in so doing, play a more active role in their learning. Logistical issues, lessons learned and best practices will be discussed and students’ reaction to the use of these techniques as garnered through anonymous surveys will be presented. None of these techniques is limited to organic chemistry and it is anticipated that participants will walk away with new ideas about how to incorporate formative assessment techniques into their own courses.
Andrea Winthrop, Sheila Pinchin, Ruth Wilson, and Theresa Nowlan Suart (Queen’s University)
In competency-based medical education, assessment of the “intrinsic roles” of CanMEDS in the clinical clerkship is challenging. Our lead faculty members for the intrinsic roles and our clinical clerkship rotation leaders needed to identify professional teaching/learning strategies and valid assessment tools that could be implemented within the context of specific clinical rotations.
We used a form of “speed dating” to facilitate interaction between clerkship course directors and “competency leads” (faculty with expertise in the CanMEDS roles). We proposed that the opportunities for interaction would lead to development and proposals for implementation of new objectives, pedagogies and assessment tools. Using 90 minutes of a half-day faculty development retreat, each lead had a station, while directors changed stations at 10-minute intervals. Leads completed a structured worksheet during the “date” and timing was strictly enforced to encourage focused dialogue.
This session will discuss our reason for using the speed dating format, the process we underwent, some tips for effective speed dating as a faculty development tool, and the results of our speed dating workshop.
Cora McCloy, Carol Rolheiser and Megan Burnett (University of Toronto)
In this session, the purpose and structure of an institutional SoTL strategy at a large university that included the important goal of developing learning communities is outlined. The presentation will include the following topics: the impetus for building a broad SoTL strategy through our Teaching & Learning Centre based on identified priorities through an annual planning process; an increasing Provostial focus on encouraging research on teaching; leadership for SoTL activities by award-winning faculty; and increasing requests for SoTL support by faculty. As well, our Teaching & Learning Centre has prioritized SoTL through the hiring of a .5 Research Officer dedicated to SoTL activities. The broader SoTL strategy has also built upon the success of faculty in obtaining Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario (HEQCO) funding for projects at our institution and through their support and collaboration with us through coaching and special events.
A recent development in our broad SoTL strategy has been the creation of an SoTL Network. This Network developed from the request of community members who attended an Introductory SoTL workshop and an intensive two-day SoTL institute. In addition to the workshop and institute, the Network activities now include monthly network meetings, an SoTL journal club, and an SoTL Listserv (over 100 members). Much of these SoTL activities have stemmed from expressed needs of the teaching and learning community and our teaching & learning strategic analysis (via evaluation forms, consultations, and our inaugural SoTL network meeting that solicited direction and interest for the monthly network meetings). We refer to our SoTl learning community as a “network” that aims to draw on a broader teaching and learning community and includes the role of ‘experts’ to provide insights and guidance for network members who are seeking specific SoTL advice.
This session will allow us to gain insights from audience members regarding the assessment of an emergent SoTL network. Two key questions will guide our discussion:
- If you have engaged in any of these kinds of SoTL activities at your institution, how are you measuring their effectiveness?
- What other SoTL activities have you deemed to be effective (and how do you know?) that might fuel our next stage? What are the high leverage SoTL activities you might recommend?
Kathleen Bortolin (Vancouver Island University); and Shaya Golparian (University of British Columbia)
Inspired by our observations of the transformative moments that can happen when faculty from different disciplines break down silos and collaborate on pedagogical strategies, we found ourselves asking what would happen if educational developers did the same. At times, educational developers, both novices and more experienced developers, can feel on the margins, situated in an in-between space straddling both instructional and administrative worlds (Little & Green, 2011). In an effort to come in from those margins, what if we resisted institutional barriers and collaborated across institutions to develop programs and initiatives, all the while growing our capacity as educational developers? What sort of projects would we or could we collaborate on? What stories would we share? What research could we produce or what directions might we go in? And how would all of this affect us, the faculty we serve, the students they teach and our profession?
This session seeks to engage participants in a conversation around cross-institutional collaboration in order to hear how educational developers are or could be collaborating locally, regionally and nationally. We hope that participants will walk away inspired, connected, and ready to continue to, or start, moving beyond borders within the field of educational development. Furthermore, we hope to disrupt this sense of being on the margins. We intend this session to be mainly participant-driven, and a lively exchange of experiences and ideas.
Laura Fillmore (Chamberlain College of Nursing)
This session discusses the process of providing a structured development program for faculty to implement student-centered learning strategies in a college of nursing. A call to change our teaching and learning practices in nursing comes from healthcare leaders who see the complicated healthcare environment (National Academies, 2010; Benner, et al, 2010). Also, our expected result of teaching and learning in nursing has evolved to include clinical reasoning, situated learning, and civic professionalism (Benner, et al, 2010). Higher education leaders recommend reconsidering the ideas of learning and student evaluation of learning (Bass, 2012; Bain, 2004).
Faculty are expected to manage the classroom and are responsible for learning outcomes. Faculty tend to be subject matter experts, but may not have the same expertise in delivery or facilitation of content. Developing new ways of instruction and classroom management requires preparation and support. This program is called Master Instruction and was developed to support faculty to conduct class in a student- centered approach. A discussion of the process used to prepare faculty for a student-centered focus learning environment and the roll out to faculty in a college of nursing will be the focus of this session.
Denis Bédard, Marilou Bélisle and Florian Meyer (Université de Sherbrooke)
This session focuses on EXPairTICE, a faculty development environment proposed by and designed for faculty from different institutions. The main goal of this project is to allow colleagues from different institutions to share pedagogical innovations that they have conceptualised and applied with their students and for others to learn and be inspired by these innovations. Through a process of companionship, the designer of the pedagogical innovation is invited to “coach” colleagues interested by the change that took place.
The change that took place is presented as an “innovation journey” (parcours d’innovation), which stresses the conditions under which it was first conceptualised to the point where it was implemented and evaluated. A website presents each innovation as a text (pdf file), accompanied by other resources linked to the project: pictures, videos, material developed, hyperlinks to relevant website, etc. A user that is only there to be inspired can simply download the pdf file. But it is expected that a significant number of colleagues will also desire some kind of “coaching” by the professor(s) that conceived the innovation, as well as be part of the community of colleagues that will have selected the same Innovation from the data bank.
In order to present the “innovation journey”, a team of two interviews a professor responsible for the innovation. A set of questions following a predefined format is used to give light not only to the actions taken, but also to the conditions under which they happened, both pedagogically and organisationally. The interview is recorded and the audio file is then transcribed. Based upon the professor’s interview, a first draft of the “innovation journey” is written by the interviewers. Through an iterative process involving the interviewers and the professor of the innovation, a final text is posted on the website and becomes accessible to users.
Many aspect of this project are original. First, as opposed to many readily available “best practice stories” on the web, each innovation journey presented stresses both the pedagogical and the organisational aspects of the change that took place. Second, it brings together colleagues from many different disciplinary perspectives. Third, it aims at fostering the conditional knowledge of the teacher that designed, implemented and evaluated the innovation. By doing so, it stresses the value of the expertise possessed by practitioners. Fourth, it brings together diverse colleagues who would have, otherwise, had little chance to share and discuss their pedagogical journey.
This project was initially financed by the Ministère de l’enseignement supérieur and is under the responsibility of the Centre d’étude et de développement pour l’innovation pédagogique” (CEDIT) at the University of Sherbrooke.
Marilou Bélisle, Christelle Lison and Denis Bédard (Université de Sherbrooke)
The purpose of this session is to present an inquiry approach used to transform higher education teachers’ learning about teaching and learning into a cyclical process of pedagogical reasoning. Participants attending the session will be invited to discuss the approach and to reflect on how to apply such an approach to their own practice.
Designed for higher education teachers, the MPES (Microprogramme de 3e cycle en pédagogie de l’enseignement supérieur) is a 9-credit faculty development program which attracts faculty and college teachers, doctoral and post-doctoral students, as well as educational and faculty developers. Learning trajectories in the MPES last over a period of one to three years and include a compulsory course (Teaching and Learning in Higher Education) and two selected courses from a list of five possible choices (Active Learning Methods; Authentic Assessment of Learning; Technology and Distance Learning; Learning in Higher Education; Innovating in Higher Education). Central to all courses are four learning outcomes, one of which is adopting a scholarly approach to teaching. In order to achieve this outcome, each course engages teachers in a Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) project. Such a project is based on an iterative process of reflecting on one’s practice, gaining theoretical and evidence-based knowledge about teaching and learning in their discipline, designing tasks likely to foster learning, and planning strategies to assess teaching and learning. Adapted from the SoTL literature (Boyer, 1990; Kreber, 2002; O’Brien, 2008; Rege Colet, McAlpine, Fanghanel & Weston, 2011; Shulman, 2005; Weston & McAlpine, 2001), this inquiry approach is used to cultivate a process of pedagogical reasoning that is situated in one’s practice, informed by research, and that contributes to the advancement of their practice and the quality of student learning. The presentation will focus on the design of this SoTL approach and its use across learning trajectories in the MPES.
Debbie Johnston and Mike Planche (Humber Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning)
In September 2013, The Business School launched two Collaborative Classrooms (each in a different campus) in order to provide students with a unique learning environment. Through a combination of structural, ergonomic and leading-edge technological adaptations, we have created a space that facilitates active peer-to-peer learning, extensive teamwork and inquiry-based learning.
While a diverse variety of courses are delivered in these classrooms, it is the new Career Advancement Strategies course that truly maximizes the wealth of resources available. Founded on more of a coaching model than a traditional teaching model, the course fundamentally alters the learning experience, better equipping students for their entry into the professional world of business. The course relies on a team-teaching approach that provides students with the opportunity to receive in-depth feedback and personalized guidance.
By focusing on the careers of their choice, learning becomes more personally meaningful for participants. Core content is delivered through a suite of custom-built e-learning modules, allowing in-class time to be devoted to the application of concepts learned. Students have the opportunity to speak with business leaders located anywhere in the world using the rooms’ advanced video conferencing facilities. Leveraging a studio model approach, students conduct extensive peer critiques of assignments, allowing them to benefit from diverse perspectives on their work and to build a true appreciation for the art of feedback. Instead of using a traditional approach to assignments, students engage in activities such as building infographics, creating videos, using social media tools, and even taking part in activities outside the classroom, such as interviews and business lunches.
In this session, participants will have an opportunity to “visit” a collaborative classroom via video conference. They will be able to review e-learning modules, watch video clips of peer critiquing sessions, see samples of student work, review several assignments, and gain hands-on experience using a Microsoft Surface tablet. They will also have the chance to find out what did not work as well as originally expected (in other words, our “lessons learned”). By the end of the session, participants will be able to apply transformative design concepts to their own learning spaces and courses.
Wendy Crocker (Western University)
The migration of teaching and learning in higher education from the Instruction Paradigm to the Learning Paradigm has been well-documented (Barr and Tagg, 1995). While research advocates the importance of learning spaces that optimize the convergence of the Net Generation (Long and Brown, 2006) with a pedagogy that emphasizes active learning (Graetz, 2006), surveys indicate that lecture is still the most common instructional method used in college education in the United States (Bligh, 2000). Why is there a divide between what educators know they should do to enhance student learning (based on research) and what is actually taking place in university classrooms? I suggest that teachers know the value of student involvement (Astin, 1999), but may not always be aware of the ways to structure their teaching to bring learning into focus.
The literature is replete with articles that allude to the emergence of a more social constructivist approach to learning (i.e., one that emphasizes active, group learning) in higher education and its importance to the learning paradigm (Miller, 2013). In response, Western University is constructing its first active learning space, and while there is a general level of excitement about the new furniture configuration and the affordances of the connectivity that will occur in the classroom, there is a dawning realization that significant changes in teaching must be made for instructional strategies to work effectively in the new classroom. This session explores the pedagogical skills and strategies necessary to enable active learning by students.
Lorraine Godden, Leigha Tregunna and Benjamin Kutsyuruba (Queen’s University)
In this session, we report on our application of the Adaptive Mentorship© model (Ralph & Walker, 2010; 2011) to encourage a mentoring culture to facilitate the professional growth of each of us (research assistants (RAs) and faculty) whilst undertaking a collaborative research project.
The interaction between faculty and graduate students are potentially critical in a student’s educational and professional development (Girves & Wemmerus, 1988). RAships can benefit the graduate students through developing their research skills and gaining a publication record. Equally important is the potential for faculty to receive support for their research projects (Pearson & Brew, 2002). Scholars agree that meaningful research training includes opportunities to connect content of research courses with research practice (Anderson, 2003; Piercy et al., 2005). Therefore, seeking ways to provide graduate students with an RAship to develop their research skills through appropriate support has significant potential benefit.
Participatory action research (Patton, 2002) facilitated our study in three main ways: first, we examined our individual contributions to the research project; second, we considered how we supported each other to complete the research project; and, third, we reflected on how using the Adaptive Mentorship© model stimulated improved interaction and achievement within our triad. The faculty member acted as mentor for both students (the protégés), and the doctoral student acted as mentor for the master’s student.
The application of the Adaptive Mentorship© model was a valuable tool for supporting the social, competence-based, and experiential needs of the students. We used the Adaptive Mentorship© model in a multiple mentoring structure to address the three distinct levels of experience. Our findings show how the application of the model to graduate RAships with multiple participants might lead to enhancement of the working environment and professional growth due to multiple contact-points and exposures to specific tasks or skill-sets around which the work is organized. We recommend that the model should be further refined and applied in shared and or co-mentoring situations so that such benefits to mentor’s development can be further exploited.
Lauren Wallar (University of Guelph)
Master of Public Health (MPH) programs were created at post-secondary institutions across Canada to address an identified shortage in graduate-trained public health professionals. Curriculum development was supported by the 36 public health core competencies which define the knowledge, skills and attitudes that are required of an effective public health professional. These competencies can be used as an assessment tool to evaluate student development.
As part of the University of Guelph MPH program, students complete a capstone business plan assignment. In the fall 2013 semester, students participated in a new collaborative learning experience with a local public health organization to develop a business plan that addressed a relevant public health issue. Although it has been shown that collaboration between public health students and practitioners creates a valuable learning environment, the effects of experiential learning in MPH programs remains largely unexplored.
A sequential explanatory mixed methods approach was used to examine whether the collaborative learning experience identified above improved student proficiency in the public health core competencies. An online survey was developed and administered to students who were enrolled in the fall 2013 Public Health Administration course (n=23) at the beginning and at the end of the business plan assignment. Students were asked to assess their proficiency in 35 of the 36 core competencies using a 10-point scale. In March and April 2014, two focus group sessions (n=6) were conducted to further explore the effect of the collaborative learning experience on proficiency in the public health core competencies. Thematic analysis was used to identify common patterns and themes in participants’ responses.
In this session, qualitative results from the study will be presented. Participants will also learn about the use of competencies as an assessment tool and consider the potential of collaborative learning experienes.