STLHE 2014

STLHE 2014 Conference

Concurrent Sessions 5: Interactive Workshops and Panels

Thursday, June 19, 2014, 11:30am - 12:20pm (50 minutes)
McArthur Hall, Queen's University

CON5.01 – Mindfulness in the Academy – Transforming our Work and Ourselves ‘One Moment at a Time’ (Room A211)
Jill Grose and Paula Gardner (Brock University)

“Academia is wonderful: your life is so flexible – you can work those 80 hours a week anytime you want.”

A career as an academic was never a 9-5 Monday to Friday endeavour. Today, however, as the pace of our world moves increasingly faster and greater responsibilities are assigned to members of the academy, the need to pay attention to personal health and wellness, and to be mindful of how we engage with others has become more pressing. Students, faculty members and administrators are often stressed, struggling with attempts to balance the personal and the professional. In transforming our learning experiences, whether our own or those of our students, we need to first focus on transforming ourselves. Mindfulness offers opportunities to do so.

In this session, a faculty member and an educational developer discuss their own attempts to be more mindful in the academy with attention to mindfulness practices in the classroom as a way to foster community and deepen learning. Mindfulness and meditative practices in teaching and learning can result in greater psychological well-being for students, a greater degree of concentration, and improved academic performance (Shapiro, Brown, & Astin, 2008).

We will also share our experiences of creating a community of practice (Cox & Richlin, 2004) focused on mindfulness - a new initiative at our institution for faculty and staff.  In monthly gatherings, the group both practices mindfulness through meditation exercises, and engages in discussions about related resources and readings. In this session, we are interested in learning about similar initiatives at other institutions, and to facilitate a conversation about both the impetus for, and the outcomes of, such groups.

To date, much of the research and practice in mindfulness and education has been focused on K-12 teachers and students. Following our discussion, we will compile a list of shared resources on mindfulness in post-secondary education which will be distributed to all participants.

CON5.02 – Multiply Exposures + Variety of Ways = In-Depth Learning (Room A342)
Susan Hammack (Aurora University)
Students are exposed to a large amount of information in college. Some of it is in the form of a “survey of information”, the information that the students find out about in a superficial manner or to pique their interest for further study. Other information needs to be used and retained because the students are to be continuous learners in their fields.  When information needs to be learned for in-depth purposes, a multimodal approach is more effective than a unimodal approach (Metiri Group, 2008). This presentation will explore the effects of music, movement, social opportunities, fine arts, and novelty on learning and what we have learned from brain research in connection with this learning. These concepts will be put into practice when participants use straw pipes to construct meaning of pitch, and then test and confirm this knowledge with other instruments. The presentation will conclude with the participants studying the circulatory system using drama, colors, and videos. These interactive activities will reinforce the concept that multiple exposures, in a variety of ways, help students retain learning in a meaningful manner.
CON5.03 – If You Build It…Will It Work?  Perspectives on Designing, Constructing, and Effectively Using an Interdisciplinary Experiential Lab Environment (Room A339)
Russ Ellis, Genevieve van Wersch, Chad Harvey and Carolyn Eyles (McMaster University)

Designing a teaching space requires that you put your current pedagogical needs down on paper while also including plans for future growth. The construction of that space begins with simple demolition tools but can require the creation of complex solutions to address unforeseen issues. Utilization of a new space effectively begins when the doors are opened and you can observe how students really function in the facility. This session will examine the pedagogical and operational factors that should be considered when designing, constructing and utilizing an interdisciplinary teaching laboratory.  The Honours Integrated Science (iSci) Program at McMaster University recently opened such a facility and is currently evaluating the success of their design. 

The process for developing a new lab to complement the unique pedagogy of the iSci program began five years ago with the acquisition of space and funds. Many obstacles had to be overcome during the design and construction phases of the project and we are currently reflecting on the multitude of decisions made during the process. We wish to share our experience with other educators considering a similar undertaking.  

Our short, interactive workshop will break participants into small groups that will be tasked with designing an interdisciplinary lab space that meets specified pedagogical needs. Groups will be assigned different lab configurations, space requirements, and budgets, as well as various safety considerations and technology upgrades. Participants will have to balance flash and novelty versus cost and proven effectiveness while creating a pedagogically-driven design. After a period of design process, groups will present their challenges and insights. This will all be in context of the experiences of the iSci program, including reflections on our decisions based on observed current lab utilization. Workshop participants will gain an understanding of the basic factors involved with creating an interdisciplinary experiential lab environment.

CON5.04 – Rapport-Building in Teaching Consultations: From Both Sides of the Looking Glass? (Room A334)
Carolyn Hoessler and Kim West (University of Saskatchewan)

Central to achieving the transformational goals of individual growth, teaching development, and innovation in teaching and learning, is the hard work of instructors who are supported through teaching consultations. Successful consultations are rooted in the rapport needed for trust, openness and willingness to risk and change. The methods used to build rapport during consultations constantly shift - evolving over time with experience, and adapting to each individual’s goals and needs.

Rapport-building in consultations is a dynamic process that takes two: the faculty, instructor or graduate student seeking the consultation, and the mentor or educational developer facilitating the conversation. These roles may be distinct or may be blurred with educational developers who teach undergraduate courses, faculty who offer consultations, and others. This STLHE session is aimed at growing our shared understanding of rapport-building through open conversation where individuals attending share their experiences and insight in providing and seeking consultations.

Our recent interview study with instructional/educational developers offers initial insights that we look forward to sharing, clarifying and expanding through continued discussions. Previous research had examined the expanding role of educational developers (e.g., Gillespie, Robertson, & Associates, 2010; Stanley, 2001) and the importance of interpersonal skills (e.g., Berquist & Phillips, 1975; Wright & Miller, 2000), however we were missing a deep understanding of rapport-building in teaching consultations from both the educational developer and faculty/instructor perspective.

The primary purpose of this session is to share and discuss existing findings and receive feedback about our research project.  We invite educational developers, administrators, faculty, instructors, graduate students and any member of the community interested to join in the discussion. We look forward to the conversations!

CON5.05 – “He Just Told Me to Get On With It”: Insights into Transforming Doctoral Writing Development (Room A232)
E. Marcia Johnson (University of Waikato)

This workshop will describe a New Zealand qualitative research project that explored and identified two threshold concepts (TCs) in doctoral research writing – the point(s) at which students can become “stuck”. A key goal has been to use the research findings to develop effective strategies for building a doctoral research and writing community, while also extending “traditional” supervisory practices. The workshop will describe one such strategy, the “4x4” (four by four), which provides a flexible framework for considering topics, processes, outcomes, and required resources to help students become successful scholars. Workshop participants will be guided through a practical 4x4 session in which they will work in pairs or small groups to identify a problem in their own research or practice, articulate it (in layman’s terms), discuss it with their partner or group, and then together plan how to address the issue. Participants will then discuss how the framework could be adapted to their particular learning contexts.

Kiley (2009) argues that doctoral candidates face a number of challenges and that surmounting them both requires, and facilitates, personal transformation. Similarly, TCs have been linked to ontological shifts (Meyer, Land, & Baillie, 2010), changes in identity, and hence understanding of what it means to become an academic scholar. Students need to successfully cross intellectual thresholds and until they do so, they are unable to solve new problems or address different situations. In a conceptual sense, students are lost (“stuck”) – wandering in a mental space of incomplete understanding.

Drawing on survey and interview data with doctoral students in New Zealand, Canada, and the United States, two threshold concepts (TCs) related to doctoral research writing were identified (Johnson, 2013).  The first, “talking to think”, encompasses the idea that academic writing includes more than the mechanical presentation of words on a page. Until one has clarified one’s thinking (and has something to say), meaningful writing is difficult and can contribute to feeling lost. The second TC, “developing self-efficacy”, is closely related. Writing includes the ability to understand research practices, extract meaning from data, clearly articulate ideas (talk), and then present, shape, and reshape text on the page. Writing also includes a belief that understanding will emerge as new ideas are discussed, clarified, written, and refined.

Identification of the TCs has influenced how we structure a weekly, cross-disciplinary writing program (Doctoral Writing Conversations (DWC)) and the range of activities we use to help students engage in a collaborative, peer-learning environment. One such activity (the “4x4”) helps students step back from the written page, and through conversation develop and plan with an “educated other” the organizational writing structures needed to bridge from the spoken to the written. Engaging in such critical conversation in small groups and then reporting back to the entire group has afforded students opportunities to clarify their thinking. In addition, the collegiality of the discussions has created a physical network of social support and learning development for higher degree students at our university that extends what supervisors can provide.

CON5.06 – Transforming Learning Through Celebrating Student Success, University 100 Style-UPEI (Room A236)
Vickie Johnston and Inge Dorsey (University of Prince Edward Island)

Participants in this interactive session will learn about the best practices of the teaching faculty of the long-standing University 100 Program at the University of Prince Edward Island. Additionally, session participants will have the opportunity to share their own best practices with other session participants. Everyone will go home with some classroom practices, student assessment approaches and celebrating student success ideas that can be easily implemented into any discipline or program of study.

Engaging students through active learning and exposing them to diverse learning experiences that have been shown to increase student success and retention, while continually transforming our curriculum and teaching and learning practices is a priority of the University 100 Program. One of our flagship exemplars of celebrating student success is the annual UPEI Stories Showcase of student project work.

Our Showcase of first-year students’ project work from our University 100, UPEI103 and University 203 classes gives individual and student teams/groups an opportunity to present one of their course work projects to fellow students and members of the UPEI campus community. Students vie for invitations to the Showcase to highlight the “best of the best” of our students’ work.

Students engage in active and collaborative learning while completing projects (research, service learning and leadership development) and presenting their results. The Showcase provides an enriching educational experience for both student presenters and audience members. The Showcase provides a wonderful opportunity for student-faculty interaction both in the project work and during the event.

Through Showcase participation students actively experience UPEI’s supportive campus community through interacting with other students, faculty members, administration and alumni. The Showcase concludes with awarding presenter certificates and the presentation of the annual Verner Smitheram & Andy Robb Excellence in Leadership & Innovation Awards.

As students learn that their work can have a positive impact on themselves and those around them, they gain increased confidence and a greater sense of purpose and belonging at the University and this has proven to be “transformative” for some of our UPEI students.

CON5.07 – Transforming Capacity to Engage:  Addressing the Root Challenges that Prevent Academic Integration (Room A317)
Elaine Khoo and Sohee Kang (University of Toronto Scarborough)

With immigration and internationalization, the linguistic and cultural diversity among the student population has increased significantly on many campuses in the Western world.  This diversity represented by many English as a Second (or Subsequent) Language (ESL) students has often been perceived as problematic in that these students are said to be unable to participate in their courses and in other aspects of student life as well as students who do not face linguistic and cultural barriers.   However, the very diversity in their backgrounds and experiences make these students an underexplored resource that can contribute to improving critical thinking, problem-solving and other sociocultural aspects of the student experience for all.  How do we help transform these students from being “outside” or on the periphery to becoming active members of the academic community? What changes in roles can support this transformation? What needs to be in place so that these students feel capable of being an active agent of change? What can we learn from the students’ perspectives to make these transformations sustainable, given the large populations of students who need such support?  These are some of the questions we would like to explore with the participants from the framework of academic integration.   

To make learning an inclusive and enriching experience for all students, we need to facilitate opportunities for integration that intertwines the uniqueness of each student at different levels (e.g. academic and social needs, motivations, background experiences, and aspirations).  Since academic integration is essential for achieving effective learning communities where all students can engage effectively, this session will first describe a program developed at University of Toronto Scarborough that had been continually evaluated and improved in an endeavor to achieve a more efficient model of academic integration.   On one level, this program focuses on fast-tracking students’ ability to write successfully for academic purposes.  On other levels, it addresses the affective and sociocultural dimensions of students’ other transitions issues.  In this session, we will present data collected from a larger and continuing study obtained from (a) pre- and post- support tests  (b) comparison of students’ self-examination of their fears/anxieties, motivation and aspirations at the start of the support program with students’ responses to a post-support survey  (c) interviews  and (d) quality and quantity of students’ writing.  We will invite participants to examine and interrogate conclusions drawn on the data from the perspectives of questions presented above and draw pedagogical insights for transforming the learning experiences for ESL students in their respective teaching contexts.  Participants will also be invited to identify key components of this program that could be deconstructed and customized to meet the different demands of their various teaching contexts.

CON5.08 – Learning to Think, Learning to Learn: Metacognitive Teaching and Learning Strategies for Faculty (Room A207)
Liesel Knaack (Vancouver Island University)

Do you use metacognitive learning practices in your classroom? Do you assist students with learning how to learn and learning how to think?

To move students to be better self-regulated learners, we need to support students in learning how to learn and learning how to think. Metacognitive teaching and learning strategies offer students opportunities to learn at a deeper and more meaningful level – to move from passive to active learners in using learning strategies that help their brains make learning stick! 

Metacognitive strategies change classrooms into a place where students are teaching each other how to learn and sharing with peers strategies that deeply integrate and encode the learning experience. Teachers are part of this new experience of learning how to best use metacognitive strategies to create experiences for students to really think about thinking. Teachers need to use a meta-teaching lens to assist students in understanding how learning is constructed and organized for optimal meaning and relevance.

This session is intended to help teaching faculty, graduate assistants and administrators learn a bit more about how to integrate simple and short metacognitive teaching strategies into every class (online, blended or face-to-face) to support students in learning how to learn. This session will allow participants to share strategies that they currently use, as well as explore other strategies used in higher education. A collection of metacognitive strategies will be presented for participants to take back into their practice and implement with relative ease. Examples of metacognitive learning strategies include test wrappers, focused journaling, concept mapping, and think-alouds . Participants will be given a resource list of best books, articles, websites and videos to learn more about metacognition.

CON5.09 – Developing an Inquiry Toolkit for Online Learning Environments (Room A239)
Corinne Laverty, Suzanne Maranda, Sylvia Andrychuk (Queen’s University)

Students completing online courses that include research assignments can benefit from an “inquiry toolkit”. Research projects are a standard part of post-secondary curricula and involve determining a research focus, gathering and evaluating evidence, and using it to create arguments. However, inquiry-based learning in virtual environments may pose significant challenges. Project Information Literacy, a large-scale study of student search behaviour in higher education, documents that the majority of first-year students cannot meet the research demands of university courses (Head, 2013). They struggle with conducting effective searches in academic databases and interpreting the content of scholarly information. In online learning environments, where students may not have orientations to research tools and academic writing, there is an even greater need for a formal infrastructure to support inquiry-based learning.

An inquiry toolkit addresses the need to identify and measure learning outcomes within a quality assurance framework and meets the standards for best practice in information literacy programs (ACRL, 2012).  It provides consolidated research support crafted by a librarian-faculty team and brings together the following components:

Learning outcomes articulate academic skills aligned to course assignments. Queen’s University advocates development of a set of academic literacies: critical reading, effective writing and communication, numeracy, inquiry, critical thinking, problem solving, information literacy, academic integrity, effective collaboration, and intercultural literacy. Stating inquiry outcomes orients students to these parallel course expectations.
Learning objects such as tutorials, guides, and videos support the development of academic literacies. Examples include the Queen’s Sociology 122 online research skills tutorial designed for first-year students, a video-clip series showcasing strategies for locating online lesson plans for Queen’s teachers on Aboriginal reserves, and online tutorials for medical students as part of blended learning opportunities. These objects are created by librarians and would target online resources for use in virtual learning environments.
Research assessment tools give feedback on research competencies before and after the inquiry assignment making the connection with learning objects that reinforce development of inquiry skills. Results can be analyzed to identify gaps in learning support. Marking rubrics may be used by librarians, peer students, or faculty to evaluate the research assignments but also to guide the students while preparing their work.
Reference tools provide subject-specific context in content areas new to the student. Academic handbooks and encyclopedias provide conceptual frameworks and background information. Finding “context” is identified as the most difficult aspect of inquiry for graduating students according to Project Information Literacy research (Head, 2009). Selected research databases provide better starting points than general web searches for retrieval of scholarly articles. Few research assignments direct novice researchers to recommended information tools (Head, 2010) resulting in a frustrating inquiry experience.

Participants in this session will discuss student information search habits and how they impact assignment design and support in online courses and explore components of an inquiry toolkit drawing on successful examples at Queen’s University. They will also be invited to share inquiry toolkit components that they would recommend.

CON5.10 – Strategies for Transformative Learning Opportunities at the Course, Program and Institutional Levels (Room A240)
Glen Loppnow (University of Alberta)

A report by the US National Academy of Sciences1 lists four attributes for science education: (1) know, use and interpret scientific explanations of the natural world, (2) generate and evaluate scientific evidence and explanations, (3) understand the nature and development of scientific knowledge, and (4) participate productively in scientific practices and discourse.  Although targeted at the K-8 level, a similar set of graduate competencies has been recommended for post-secondary education.  However, post-secondary science education is still mostly lecture-based, particularly in the introductory courses, and really only emphasizes the first attribute.

In this presentation, the new O-COP (Outcome: challenge-opportunity-process) framework for transformational change will be presented and compared to each of the SWOT (strength, weakness, opportunity, threat) method components and the grieving process to show how transformation in science learning can be compared to higher education cultural transformation.  Examples employing the O-COP method will be shown from pedagogical initiatives in novel courses in the Faculty of Science at the University of Alberta, including Science Citizenship (a novel community-service learning course) and Science 100 (an interdisciplinary Science program).  Qualitative student and instructor feedback suggests that initiatives which holistically incorporate active- and discovery-based learning from a student-centered perspective are more effective at transformational learning than when each is used individually.  The O-COP framework will also be extended to programmatic and institutional cultures with examples of certificates as new programmatic tools for higher-level learning competencies and outcomes and for developing teaching communities. 

Workshop participants will be taken through exercises to map transformational examples in learning and institutional culture in the three different frameworks.  Examples of transformational experiences and best practices for encouraging transformation in the teaching and learning culture and environment will be discussed amongst participants at the course, program, and institutional level.  Potential pitfalls will also be discussed.  Participants should leave with a well-formed, proven strategy for a process to institute change in their classroom and at their institutions.

CON5.11 – Transforming McMaster’s Teaching & Learning Institute By Engaging Students as Partners (Room A343)
PANEL Beth Marquis, Arshad Ahmad, Lori Goff, Kris Knorr, Varun Puri, Ianitza Vassileva, Stephanie Wan, Jason Woo (McMaster University)

A central theme in recent pedagogical literature is the need to transform the higher education landscape by engaging students more actively as partners in teaching and learning initiatives (Cook-Sather et al., forthcoming; Felten et al., 2013; Werder & Otis, 2010). Moving beyond calls to attend to student voices, such work seeks to position students as change agents or co-inquirers who contribute actively to shaping teaching and learning research, educational development, and curriculum design (Dunne & Zandstra, 2011). The potential benefits of such a shift are multiple, and include the creation of transformative learning experiences for both students and those with whom they partner (Mihans et al., 2008; Partridge & Sandover, 2010) and the enhancement of teaching and learning initiatives via the integration of multiple perspectives (Cook-Sather, 2013). Nonetheless, such work is not without its challenges, foremost amongst which are the difficulties attached to dismantling entrenched structures of authority and developing means of sharing power meaningfully amongst students, faculty and others (Delpish et al., 2010). Establishing such partnerships is hard, and the democratizing potential of the students as change agents movement can thus, at times, be overstated (Weller et al., 2013).

Against this backdrop, the McMaster Institute for Innovation and Excellence in Teaching and Learning (MIIETL) named enhanced partnerships with students as one of four central goals in its recent strategic plan. The institute has begun to re-envision its relationship with students, beginning by developing a novel ‘student scholar’ program that employs 16 undergraduates as full members of institute project teams. Students have also been involved in renovating the institute space, in staff retreats, in meetings and in other aspects of core business.

This panel will share the perspectives of students, faculty, and institute staff involved in this initiative. We will provide a brief account of projects in which students have become partners, mapping these on to established models of student engagement (e.g., Healey et al., forthcoming) and testing those models in the process. Drawing from Cook-Sather’s (2013) sense of student-faculty partnerships as a threshold concept, we will also share the challenges we have experienced navigating these new pedagogical relationships, as well as our individual perspectives on transformational learning that has resulted. Particular attention will be paid to the question of re-thinking traditional power relationships amongst students and faculty/staff, and we will discuss our various responses to our initial attempts to translate this imperative into practice.

Attendees will learn about the existing literature on students as partners and about one case study that builds on that scholarship, and will be encouraged, through structured discussion, to identify challenges, opportunities and possibilities for engaging students as change agents in their own contexts.

CON5.12 – Perspectives on Blended Approaches to Faculty Development (Room A237)
Moderator: Beth Hughes (Carleton University)
Panelists: Andrew Barrett, Dragana Polovina-Vukovic, Kirk Davies and Samah Sabra (Carleton University)

This panel discussion will focus on key considerations for creating blended faculty development programs. More specifically, we discuss our experiences as an assistant director, educational developer, instructional designer, and educational technology consultant who collaborated to create a Certificate in Blended and Online Teaching and Learning which was offered in a blended format. We address this experience to consider how bringing our various perspectives together with faculty feedback from past development programs shaped the decisions we made along the way. Our shared goal as we collaborated on this project was to build a program that would transform a faculty learning group into a learning community. Each panelist will address two key points: (1) their personal motivation in joining this project and (2) their biggest success or challenge in designing this program. Faculty and instructors who took part in the program will be present in the audience in order to address additional questions that may arise during the discussion with the audience.

CON5.13 – Educational Development: New Funding, New Stakes in Higher Education Collaborations (Room A234)
Panel Chair: Alan Wright (University of Windsor)
Panelists:  Jill Scott (Queen’s University); Joy Mighty (Carleton University); Sue Vail (York University); and Bill Muirhead (University of Ontario Institute of Technology)

This session will be led by senior academic administrators who have collaborated on multi-institutional research and development projects supported by the Productivity and Innovation Fund (PIF) in Ontario. This year the PIF process distributed $45 million to colleges and universities to support projects designed to enhance educational offerings and to increase efficiencies across the vast network of institutions. Since one half of the funding was earmarked for multi-institutional submissions, universities were encouraged to band together to design projects with a positive potential impact beyond their own institutions.

Session facilitators will point to their involvement on two of the major projects funded under this program to describe the opportunities, challenges, and potential benefits of the process as well as the projects themselves. The two major projects involve the first steps towards the creation of a teaching evaluation toolkit designed to build the basis for better teaching across the province and an exploration of the mechanisms for the development of shared, modular university credit courses. The session will use these two projects to raise the issues around inter-institutional collaboration and the opportunity for academic administrators, such as vice-provosts and associate vice-presidents, to take a leadership role in funded educational development projects. Participants will be invited to identify what they believe to be the significant obstacles and barriers as well as pathways and incentives for increasing inter-institutional collaborations in the essentially competitive higher education environment.