Okay… you’re giving a talk and have just received the two minutes remaining signal… but you have 10 PowerPoint slides to go! How do you get to the last slide–the one you really want to end on–without blasting through the next nine OR escaping and just moving to the final slide? Fortunately there is a way to do this seamlessly in PowerPoint. It’s called hyperlinking, and I explain how to hyperlink in this “How do you” video.
Interested in finding out how to use formulas to calculate students’ final grades? This video by Kim Holland has three step-by-step instructions on how to use Excel spreadsheets to calculate final grades.
I am thrilled to be able to announce the publication of the inaugural issue of The Canadian Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (CJSoTL)/La revue canadienne sur l’avancement des connaissances en enseignement et en apprentissage (RCACEA). It has been a long and winding road but the journal finally went live at 1:20pm on Monday, June 21, 2010.
In case you have not heard about the journal let me fill you in. CJSoTL/RCACEA is the official, trans-disciplinary, peer-reviewed, electronic publication of the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education. It is designed to advance the scholarship of teaching and learning in Canadian post-secondary institutions. It provides an avenue for a wide range of educators, including faculty members, administrators, academic librarians, educational developers, learning resource specialists, and graduate students, to discuss ways of enhancing student learning experiences through systematic inquiry into teaching and learning in all disciplines.
We invite submissions, in either English or French, from anyone, including international colleagues, interested in discussing teaching and learning issues that are relevant to higher education in the Canadian context. If you are doing SoTL work in Canada, this is the journal for you.
The inaugural issue includes the following articles.
Diverse Methodological Approaches and Considerations for SoTL in Higher Education
Harry Hubball and Anthony Clarke
Exploring a New Model and Approach to the Scholarship of Teaching: The Scholarship Teaching Academy
Educational Development Websites: What Do They Tell Us About How Canadian Centres Support the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning?
Ros A. Woodhouse and Kristin A. Force
The Effectiveness of Library Instruction: Do Student Response Systems (Clickers) Enhance Learning?
Diane Buhay, Lisa A. Best, and Katherine McGuire
The Effect of Performance Feedback on Student Help-Seeking and Learning Strategy Use: Do Clickers Make a Difference?
Debra L. Dawson, Ken N. Meadows, and Tom Haffie
Foundation Skills for Scientists: An Evolving Program
Teresa Dawson, Sarah Fedko, Nancy Johnston, Elaine Khoo, Sarah King, Saira Mall, Mary Olaveson, Janice Patterson, Kamini Persaud, Frances Sardone, Zohreh Shahbazi, Allyson Skene, Martha Young, and Clare A. Hasenkampf
A Report on the Implementation of the Blooming Biology Tool: Aligning Course Learning Outcomes with Assessments and Promoting Consistency in a Large Multi-Section First-Year Biology Course
Angie O’Neill, Gülnur Birol, and Carol Pollock
Is “Safety” Dangerous? A Critical Examination of the Classroom as Safe Space
Betty J. Barrett
If you are interested, please have a look at these articles and learn more about the journal by visiting http://www.cjsotl-rcacea.ca/ .
Ken N. Meadows
The Canadian Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning /
La revue canadienne sur l’avancement des connaissances en enseignement et en apprentissage
Ken’s Musical Postscript: As I mentioned in a previous blog piece, I have decided to add a musical postscript to each of my blogs to mention three songs I enjoy, including a classic song. I encourage everyone to dance when the mood strikes.
1) “Cheap and Cheerful” by The Kills
2) “Kandi” by One EskimO
3) “Contact” by Big Audio Dynamite
The conference season is quickly approaching and there are a number of great conferences this Spring and Summer for those interested in Research on Teaching (RT). One I would highly recommend attending is the University of Waterloo’s annual Opportunities and New Directions: A Research Conference on Teaching and Learning which is next week (i.e., Wednesday, April 28, 2010). OND is just a short drive away, is extremely affordable, and always includes very interesting presentations and posters.
This year, there are two presentations at OND that have particularly caught my eye. The first is the keynote presentation by Dr. Catherine Wehlburg from Texas Christian University entitled “Scholarship of Teaching and Learning: You’re Already Doing It!”. The abstract for her session is as follows:
“Many post-secondary educators who are thinking about doing research on teaching and learning are dissuaded from doing so by the perceived extra work such research would entail. However, Dr. Wehlburg argues that this perception is misguided. If teaching, learning and student assessment are happening in your classroom (and they are!), then you’ve already done most of the work needed to be a scholar of teaching and learning. So why not take advantage of it? This engaging and interactive workshop will help participants develop the strategies they need to parlay course prep and assessment time into powerful “scholarship of teaching and learning” results” (Wehlberg, 2010).
Dr. Wehlburg’s session should provide excellent practical tips on doing RT without developing extensive additional assessments. I know this session will be beneficial for faculty with RT experience as well as those who have wanted to do RT but felt that they did not have the time or expertise to develop additional assessments.
The second is a plenary session by Dr. Tom Carey from the Higher Quality Council of Ontario and the University of Waterloo entitled “SOTL as a Strategic Support for Developing Innovation in the Student Learning Experience”. The abstract for his session is as follows:
“Our SOTL work has traditionally contributed to – and consequently been supported by – institutional agendas around the quality of teaching and learning and research agendas to “advance the general state of knowledge in the discipline”. A third focal point for contribution (and potential funding) has begun to emerge: SOTL work to support strategic government priorities around developing an innovation economy. This presentation asks the question: Can we use SOTL work as an exemplar to students of how research-informed innovation adds value to our work practices, to support their understanding of innovation processes, challenges and risks” (Carey, 2010)?
I had not really considered possible outcomes of ourRT work to include the development of our students’ understanding of innovation or their abilities to innovate but I am very intrigued by these ideas and look forward to exploring them during Dr Carey’s session.
As I mentioned, these are only two of the many interesting session that are scheduled. For more information about OND, please see the conference web site at http://cte.uwaterloo.ca/research_on_teaching_and_learning/index.html?tab=5 .
I hope I will see you there.
Ken N. Meadows
Carey, T. (2010, April). SOTL as a Strategic Support for Developing Innovation in the Student Learning Experience. Paper to be presented at the Second Annual Opportunities and New Directions: A Research Conference on Teaching and Learning, Waterloo, ON, Canada. Abstract retrieved from http://cte.uwaterloo.ca/research_on_teaching_and_learning/TBRG/OND/2010/OND%20abstracts%202010%20March%2022.pdf
Wehlburg, C. (2010, April). Scholarship of Teaching and Learning: You’re Already Doing It! Paper to be presented at the Second Annual Opportunities and New Directions: A Research Conference on Teaching and Learning, Waterloo, ON, Canada. Abstract retrieved from http://cte.uwaterloo.ca/research_on_teaching_and_learning/TBRG/OND/2010/OND%20abstracts%202010%20March%2022.pdf
Ken’s Musical Postscript: As I mentioned in my last blog piece, I have decided to add a musical postscript to each of my blogs to mention three songs I enjoy, including a classic song. I encourage everyone to dance when the mood strikes.
1) “Velvet” by The Big Pink
2) “Beat the Devil’s Tattoo” by Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
3) “Headhunter” by Front 242 (the original – V1.0 – not one of the remixes…)
Teaching Mistakes – Nadine Le Gros
We don’t become good teachers overnight: we learn to be good teachers. And, like everything learned, first mistakes must be made. I’ve always wished for a forum in which instructors could put their learning from students to good use. It would appear that there is one!
Faculty Focus: Special Report (Mary Bart, Ed.)
Teaching Mistakes from the College Classroom (March 2010)
I work with international graduate students to help them understand the norms of communication in Canadian academia. International students need to be familiar with Canadian expectations about communication in order to be successful when they teach, communicate with their supervisors, participate in class, and apply for jobs, as cultural differences in communication exist in all these realms. One of the recurrent comments that I hear from my students is, “I wish my professor/supervisor could take this class.” I don’t think they really want them to take the class …. I think what they really want is for their professors and supervisors to understand more about what’s behind the differences in communication patterns.
The following is a reprint from the Teaching Support Centre’s newsletter Reflections from Spring 2006. In addition, I’ll take this opportunity to mention the e-manual Communication Strategies for International Graduate Students: Surviving and Thriving in Canadian Academia. The e-manual can be accessed free of charge by everybody at Western with a Western user name. It is also available for sale to other institutions: a single purchase gives everybody on campus the ability to register for access to the manual. For information, go to: www.uwo.ca/tsc/csigs.html.
Have you ever asked a student, “Do you understand?” only to have the student answer in the affirmative when you just knew that he or she did not understand? Many factors will result in this answer, most of which involve the issue of saving face. This situation is exacerbated with international students because of cross-cultural patterns of communication. Only, did you know that this white lie was actually about trying to save you face?
In Canada, responsibility for understanding is placed on the speaker’s shoulders. This is why we explain things step by step: we want to be very clear, and we don’t want to forget to include any points. We don’t mind it when people tell us that they don’t understand; in fact, we expect our students to do so. If they do not, we might feel stymied while we are trying to teach.
In many other countries, especially those in Asia and the Middle East, it is the listener’s responsibility to understand what the speaker is saying. Speakers will imply a great deal, and it the listener’s responsibility to infer exactly what the speaker is saying. In countries where this is a communication pattern, students will not tell an instructor that they do not understand: to do so would be rude in the extreme and would constitute a loss of face for the instructor.
So, how can we overcome this difference in how we communicate in order to ensure good teaching and good learning? I have three suggestions:
1) At the end of a class, ask the students to take one minute to write down what the muddiest point for them is on index cards. They can submit these anonymously or they can include their names.
2) Ask students open-ended concept questions, and generally try to avoid questions that require a yes/no answer. For example, if you were discussing the issue of academic honesty, concept questions would involve asking for examples of plagiarism.
3) Explain this difference in communication patterns, and reassure your students that you want and need to know when they don’t understand. Do, however, understand that mere knowledge of this pattern won’t be enough for the students to overcome the situation immediately. You will need to teach them that it’s okay to tell you when they don’t understand.
The name “Slack Week” has always struck me as such a misnomer. Since the first year of my undergraduate degree (almost 25 years ago…) “Slack Week” has been an extremely busy study and/or work week for me. This year was no exception. In fact, this year it was particularly intensive as I was participating in the Instructional Skills Workshop (ISW). For those who may not be familiar with ISW, it is a three or four day concentrated workshop designed to help small groups of new and experienced faculty members further develop their teaching knowledge and skills. At the heart of the workshop are three 10-minute mini-lessons which each participant develops and teaches. Both written and oral feedback is provided by the learners, the other group members, and the mini-lessons are digitally recorded to provide the instructor with an opportunity to reflect further on her/his teaching. Using active learning techniques, participants also learn about the theory and practice of teaching including, but in no way limited to, designing learning objectives, employing active learning techniques, and developing learning assessments (see http://www.iswnetwork.ca/ for further information).
Although ISW did not involve any slacking, it was an extremely rewarding experience. It provided the opportunity for me to revisit and revise familiar teaching techniques as well as learning and integrating new ones into my teaching repertoire. I engaged in considerable self-reflection and learned a great deal about myself as a teacher and learner. The group learned, discussed, and, at times, debated fundamental teaching issues all within a very supportive and secure environment. I was challenged along with, and by, a wonderful group of colleagues who are also passionate about teaching and learning. In fact, I think it would be fair to say that we developed into a small learning community, which, I hope, will have future opportunities to discuss other pedagogical issues of interest. One particular area of interest for me is how ISW graduates have translated their ISW experience into their classrooms (If any of the ISW graduates are reading, please feel free to comment on this blog if you would like to share).
Overall, ISW was a great learning experience and a lot of fun. I experimented, reflected, shared, engaged, laughed, and left feeling re-energized about my teaching. It was time extremely well spent. That said, I am going to try much harder to slack during “Slack Week” next year. I have a feeling that a beach with clear blue water and white sand is in my future. Any suggestions?
The Teaching Support Centre is offering the program again in April (see http://www.uwo.ca/tsc/isw.html). Will you be participating? I highly recommend it.
Ken N. Meadows
Ken’s Musical Postscript: Dr. Mike Atkinson and I have discussed the possibility of using the TSC blog to make song recommendations. I have decided to add a musical postscript to each of my blogs to mention three songs I enjoy, including a classic song. I encourage Dr. Atkinson to do the same in his subsequent posts. I also encourage everyone to dance when the mood strikes.
1) “Sly” by the Cat Empire
2) “Crystallized” by the XX
3) “Take Me to the River” by Talking Heads (one of the live versions…)
Some years ago, I decided to learn to kayak. I had rowed during my university years, and I’ve always been something of a water rat, so I had no fear about learning a new water sport. But within five minutes of being on the water, I mistakenly transferred what I knew about taking a stroke in rowing to kayaking, and promptly capsized. As if the capsize itself wasn’t a big enough slice of humble pie for the day, I also struggled to release the skirt around the opening to the kayak. So there I hung for a moment, upside down in the water, experiencing real terror. When I came to the surface, I was scared and embarrassed, and all I wanted to do was say, ‘Who wants to learn this stupid sport anyway?’ and skulk home. I didn’t, because I had sufficient emotional intelligence and maturity to process the situation. My larger lesson for the day was how important it is as an instructor to be constantly learning myself so that I never forget how vulnerable an activity learning is.
And then I remembered. I remembered a student in her late twenties who was in tears at the prospect of not having access to a bilingual dictionary in an ESL class. I remembered a friend whose dreams of being a journalist were crushed when a teacher stated, “You have difficulty writing.” I remembered a colleague who was scorned for being so inept as to not have learned how to use chopsticks before venturing to teach in Japan.
For some students, learning is a breeze – it’s an adventure, it’s fun, and they’re good at it. Such was the experience for many instructors, which may be partially why they entered academia as a profession. For other students, learning is a path fraught with pitfalls – crevices to fall into with faulty logic, rocks to stumble over while struggling to articulate questions, and roots to make them trip and fall in the absence of sufficient background in a subject. As instructors, I feel it behooves us all to undertake activities that are beyond our comfort zone from time to time if only to keep us humble and to remind us to be sensitive when dealing with students. And I would paraphrase Yeats to remind us to tread softly, for we tread on their dreams.
Have you ever tried something new in your classroom and wondered what effect it really had on student learning? Have you ever thought of doing research on a teaching technique, a teaching technology, or some other aspect of your teaching or your students’ learning? Research Western, in cooperation with the Teaching Support Centre, has established the Western Research on Teaching Grant program to facilitate research on teaching and learning at Western. The purpose of the Research on Teaching Grant program is to support the work of all faculty, librarians, and archivists to conduct research on teaching developments, innovations and practices in which they are engaged.
Amount: Maximum $3000
Deadlines: Associate Dean – March 17, 2010
Research Western – March 31, 2010
More information is available at: http://www.uwo.ca/research/rds/internal/rds_funding_internfunding_research_on_teaching.html .
If you would like any assistance with developing a research on teaching project, please feel free to contact me at email@example.com.
Ken N. Meadows, Ph.D.
Teaching and Learning Services
No! Don’t turn away! This isn’t about H1N1! Using an inoculation in your teaching is about placing well chosen words early in a class (or even a conference) to anticipate criticism, reduce resistance, and encourage learning.
I’ll give you an example. I do a lot of work on campus with different groups to help people realize that their norms and expectations surrounding communication patterns are not universal. But having a discussion about cultural differences in communication frequently invites the comment that I’m “stereotyping,” which erects resistance and shuts down learning for some. I know this, I expect this, and I plan for this. I inoculate. My inoculation consists of the following. First, I define the concept of cultural norm using the following image.
This image illustrates how in any given population (I use the examples of Japan and Canada), a population will be distributed across a spectrum. The largest clusters of individuals will represent a society’s cultural norm. The society will then have its outliers, who might approach the cultural norm of another society in their values.
The spectrum I use here is the dimension of individualism and collectivism. In their most basic terms, individualistic cultures tend to stress the importance of individuals over the importance of the group, whereas collectivistic cultures tend to value the importance of the group over those of the individual (Hofstede, 1980). The diagram indicates that Canada is more individualistic than Japan. However, some cultures would be further along the individualistic spectrum than Canadians and other cultures would be further along the collectivistic spectrum than the Japanese.
The next step in my inoculation is to distinguish between speaking in generalizations and speaking in stereotypes. When we use a generalization to describe a culture, we refer to a tendency that most people in a given group might have to believe certain things, behave in certain ways, and hold certain values. However, if we apply a generalization to all members of a culture, then the statement becomes a stereotype (Bennett, 1998). For example, we could say that Canadians tend to value multiculturalism. For the most part, this would be true. An example of a stereotype would be: all Canadians like hockey. All Canadians do not like hockey; some despise it and consider it to be a very violent sport.
The distinction between generalizations and stereotypes needs to be drawn in order to enter into any dialogue about cultural differences in communication norms. While norms do exist, all societies have people whose behaviour, beliefs, and values do not reflect those of their larger society. Unless I draw such a distinction, I will have lost members of my audience before I begin.
To think about how to employ inoculations in your classes, consider the points where you encounter the most resistance, and consider why you encounter resistance. Are you challenging the long-standing beliefs of your students? Is there some reason they simply would not want to believe what you are saying? Is it threatening to them at some level? Would it require too large a paradigm shift? Does it involve reconceptualizing something? If so, before you present your target lesson, what can you do to address these issues?
Before closing, I need to stress: classroom inoculations frequently work wonders, …but now and then, students still get the ‘flu.’
Bennett, M.J. (1988). Intercultural communication: A current perspective. In M.J. Bennett (Ed.,) Basic concepts of intercultural communication. Yarmouth, Main: Intercultural Press.