Global Literacy Learning Goal Luncheon – April 8

During the next academic year, Michigan Tech will focus on assessing and improving the way Global Literacy (learning goal #3) is taught, both in general education and across all disciplines. This event is designed to get faculty ready. Participants will be asked to do some preparation about one week before this event. The goal committee will then lead discussions on assessment criteria, sample assignments and other ideas to weave Global Literacy skills into any program. Sign up here.

Plagiarism Education Week 2015

Turnitin’s 2015 Plagiarism Education Week conference, Copy/Paste/Culture, examines how current global trends are affecting our values, especially those related to education, and proposes strategies on how we can address these challenges. The Office of Academic and Community Conduct is partnering with the Center for Teaching & Learning to host 45-minute webcasts devoted to sharing ideas and best practices with educators and students about plagiarism and academic integrity. Premier thought leaders will include educational experts, passionate educators and Turnitin All-Stars, all of whom will share their perspectives, lessons, and research. These webcasts will be recorded and a link will be made available at a later date. All faculty, staff and students are invited to attend! For more information please contact Rob Bishop via email (rmbishop@mtu.edu) or phone (487-1964).

Monday, April 20, 2015 at 1 pm, Admin Bldg – Room 404
Changing Culture to Promote Integrity: Why Progress Is Possible
David Callahan, author of The Cheating Culture: Why More Americans Are Doing Wrong to Get Ahead

Monday, April 20, 2015 at 4 pm, Admin Bldg – Room 404
A Student-Centered Culture: Promoting Integrity One Conversation at a Time
Michael Goodwin, Academic Integrity Coordinator at Kennesaw State University

Tuesday, April 21, 2015 at 1 pm, Admin Bldg – Room 404
Narcissism and Extrinsic Values: Understanding Student Trends that Impact Plagiarism and Cheating
Jean Twenge, author of The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement

Tuesday, April 21, 2015 at 4 pm,, Admin Bldg – Room 404
Wikipedia in the Classroom: Authority, Trust, and Information Literacy
LiAnna Davis, Director of Programs at Wiki Education Foundation

Wednesday, April 22, 2015 at 1 pm,  MUB – Alumni Lounge
Improvisation and Plagiarism: Fostering a Culture of Creativity
Teresa Fishman, Director of the International Center for Academic Integrity (ICAI)

Wednesday, April 22, 2015 at 1 pm,  MUB – Alumni Lounge
The Cultural Implications of Contract Cheating
Tricia Bertram Gallant, Director of Academic Integrity at UC San Diego

Thursday, April 21, 2015 at 1 pm,, Admin Bldg – Room 404
Decisions on Deadline: A 21st Century Gaming Approach to Teach Plagiarism and Ethics
Samantha Grant and Brittney Shepherd, co-producers of A Fragile Trust

Faculty Focus: Three Critical Conversations Started and Sustained by Flipped Learning

Three Critical Conversations Started and Sustained by Flipped Learning

By Robert Talbert, PhD

The flipped learning model of instruction has begun to make the transition from an educational buzzword to a normative practice among many university instructors, and with good reason. Flipped learning provides many benefits for both faculty and students. However, instructors who use flipped learning soon find out that a significant amount of work is sometimes necessary to win students over to this way of conducting class. Even when the benefits of flipped learning are made clear to students, some of them will still resist. And to be fair, many instructors fail to listen to what students are really saying.

Most student “complaints” about flipped learning conceal important questions about teaching and learning that are brought to the surface because of the flipped environment. Here are three common issues raised by students and the conversation-starters they afford.

Student comment: “I wish you would just teach the class.”

Conversation-starter: Why do we have classes?

This issue is often raised once it becomes clear that class time will focus on assimilating information, not transmitting it. For many students, the only kind of instruction they have ever known is the in-class lecture, so it is quite natural for them to conflate “teaching” and “lecturing”. Hence, students are perhaps justifiably unsettled to see their teacher not “teaching”.

When students raise this concern, it is an opportunity to have a conversation about why classes meet — or for that matter, why they exist —in the first place. When students want the professor to “just teach”, the professor can pose the following: We can either have lecture on basic information in class, and then you will be responsible for the harder parts yourselves outside of class; or we can make the basic information available for you prior to class, and spend our class time making sense of the harder parts. There is not enough class time for both. Which setup will help you learn better?

Student comment: “I learn best through listening to a lecture.”

Conversation-starter: How does one learn?

Students who have made it through secondary schooling believe that since lecturing “worked” in the sense that they made it to college under a lecture-centric system, lecture is the most effective means of teaching — in fact, the only means of teaching that “works”. (Indeed, many university instructors believe the same thing.)

I respond to this with a question: What are the three most important things you have ever learned? Here are my three: speaking my native language, feeding myself, and going to the bathroom. When the student comes up with his or her list, I follow up: How did you learn those things? The answer is always that it’s a mixture of a bit of direct instruction (which is largely ignored), along with a lot of trial and error and peer pressure. No student has ever responded that they learned these things only by listening to a lecture. No student ever will!

If a person has demonstrated repeatedly that he can learn important things in his life without lecture, on what basis does one say that they learn best through lecture? Maybe the ability to learn on one’s own is more deeply connected to one’s humanity than we suspect. Which brings up the last issue:

Student comment: I shouldn’t have to teach myself the subject.

Conversation-starter: Why are we here?

In the flipped classroom, students are expected to gain fluency with basic ideas in preparation for class time, rather than as the result of class time. It is easy for a student to see this as self-teaching and respond negatively. A variant of this is, “I’m paying you to teach me!” At its core, this is not an issue about who is paying whom, but about the purpose of higher education.

We might approach the student simply by asking: What is the purpose of college? Why are you here? Among the more noble answers include career preparation, personal growth, and obtaining life experiences. What do these good things have in common? I am convinced that each student’s reasons for being in college will intersect at the notion oflearning how to learn. Career success, meaningful growth, and formative experiences all involve acquiring the ability and the taste for learning new things, independently and throughout one’s lifespan. Why not start that process now?

It’s easy to be defensive when, as an instructor, students voice seemingly belligerent opposition to the flipped classroom. But if we listen closely, we’ll hear those complaints as invitations to important conversations that can shape student learning for the better.

Dr. Robert Talbert is an associate professor in the mathematics department at Grand Valley State University.

From Faculty Focus, March 2, 2015

from Faculty Focus: Office Hours Redux

Office Hours Redux

By Maryellen Weimer, PhD

In the final post of 2014, I shared some comments about blog “conversations,” wondering what else we might do to take our exchanges to the next level. The comments made in response to a post are typically shared across a period of time. If you’re one of the first to comment, do you return later to read what other folks had to say? I’m doubtful that many us of have that sort of time.

The January 21 post about students not making use of office hours generated a nice collection of suggestions to remedy the problem. From the roughly 30 comments, a few themes emerged. Here’s a compilation of those themes, along with some questions and thoughts that I’m hoping will take the conversation further. Please let me know if they do or don’t and whether you find these types of posts helpful.

Schedule office hours when they’re convenient. That is, at times convenient for the teacher and for the students. One commenter described circulating a calendar with possible times and having students initial those that don’t work for them. Or, you can solicit data from students about best times via a program like Doodle poll. Don’t schedule office hours during times when lots of classes are offered. Seems like this should go without saying, but sometimes student convenience takes second place. Let students schedule appointments electronically: https://ga.youcanbook.me/ was recommended. It’s free and you can link to it from your course website.

Require a visit, preferably early in the course. If the visit is to discuss some course issue, say possible term paper topics, that conversation can show students the value of meeting with the prof. They receive good feedback on the topic they’re considering, get ideas about other options, and can ask questions about assignment details. I have to admit I’m troubled by making it a course assignment. Does requiring students to do things teach them why they should do those things, or does the act of requiring make that learning less likely? One reader shared that she invites each student with a personal note (staggering the notes so she’s not overwhelmed). Those who don’t show for a meeting get a “missed you” note. Students make the choice albeit under conditions that make it harder to not show up.

Reward those who come with points. Make the visit worth something; those who use this approach recommend just a small amount of points. You also could reward with food—fruit, protein bars, or a less nutritious, but likely more popular, option like candy. We give our beagle a treat if, at bedtime, she goes outside and does her business in a timely manner. Does she need a treat to hurry her back inside when it’s 10 degrees? Probably not. It’s not quite the same, but do points reinforce the belief that every educational activity must include them?

Meet someplace other than the office. Suggestions included “student spaces” like the student center or the campus cafeteria. One commenter reported that after a late afternoon class, she proceeds to the cafeteria for dinner, inviting students to join her for a “chat and chew.” That reminded me of the four years I had my office in a student resident hall (off one of the study lounges). I scheduled some evening office hours and I was always surprised by how many students showed up. Or, as someone else suggested, meet with students in a shared space, say the classroom, and call that time a review session. Invite students to drop by individually or in groups. You could even designate a review session topic. “I’ll be in our classroom between 4:30 and 5:00 doing more cost differential estimates.” If meeting someplace else isn’t a viable option, consider this suggestion: turn your office into something that resembles a student lounge. Stock it with chocolate and stress reducing toys.

There was a comment about how much student interaction occurs electronically. Maybe we should just forget office hours and meet them digitally. But as the commenter noted, it’s important to be able to talk with people face-to-face. Finding the office and feeling some discomfort about having to talk with their professor is great practice for other conversations students will need to have in the future.

For yet another approach to office hours, I encourage you to take a look at a 2006 issue of College Teaching. In it two professors report on their experiences with a reformatted kind of office hours: something they call “course centers.” Read a synopsis here >>

Dean’s Teaching Showcase: Mari Buche

by Mike Meyer, director, William G. Jackson CTL

The Dean’s Teaching Showcase nominee for this week comes from the School of Business and Economics. Dean Gene Klippel has chosen to recognize Mari Buche, associate professor of management information sciences and the graduate program director for the MS in Data Science.

Dean Klippel simply made a list of what he looks for in a faculty member as it relates to teaching excellence, and then found in Buche a faculty member that embodied the entire list. Klippel’s characteristics include exceptional disciplinary knowledge and skill maintenance through professional development activities as well as a passion for the discipline. Mari demonstrates these through membership and extensive speaking, participation and mentoring in three professional societies—ACM, America’s Conference on Information Systems and the Midwest Association of Information Systems. Klippel also noted exceptional verbal communication skills as something Buche brings to all of her interactions through the School.

But Dean Klippel also looks for some “softer” traits, including genuine caring about the success of students and a willingness to listen to student feedback regarding course materials and structure. He noted that Mari goes beyond the classroom to support the success of students and brings alumni back as guest speakers. Mari’s previous recognition as the 2014 Outstanding Faculty Greek Life Award through the Order of Omega and as a “Props for Profs winner through the Jackson CTL in spring 2014 shows a strong student connection as well.

Mari will be formally recognized with the 11 other Dean’s Teaching Showcase nominees at a luncheon near the end of spring term. Please join Dean Klippel and the Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning in thanking Mari for her outstanding contributions to the teaching mission of the School of Business and Economics.

Dean’s Teaching Showcase: Scott Kuhl

by Mike Meyer, director, William G. Jackson CTL

The Dean’s Teaching Showcase nominee for this week comes from the College of Sciences and Arts. Dean Bruce Seely has chosen to recognize Scott Kuhl, an assistant professor in the Department of Computer Science with an adjunct appointment in Cognitive and Learning Sciences. Dean Seely values “what Scott Kuhl attempts to accomplish as a teacher mainly for the mindset he employs, and less for the specific teaching techniques has adopted.” He notes that Scott “does not differentiate between regular classes, summer youth and support for Enterprise activities as educational venues—but approaches all with the goal of creating a fun and motivating environment.”

In his more traditional courses, Scott does attribute his teaching success to specific techniques, like providing detailed assignment descriptions with numerous tips to “help get students going in the right direction.” He also provides numerous examples, some of which he walks through in class in detail, and encourages students to share additional examples with each other. Finally, he emphasizes prompt feedback for his students. He has accomplished this by creating an automatic grading program which provides a “provides a transparent, well-defined set of expectations for assignments” and a score that can be adjusted by an instructor or grader as necessary. He’s even willing to share this tool with those interested.

Kuhl is also focused on continual improvement. Though the Husky Game Development  (HGD) Enterprise he leads is focused on games, he attributes its dramatic growth under his leadership to a careful cycle of feedback, change and evaluation. He sees the value of interdisciplinary teamwork, communication, development and management for students in HGD, and has led the group in both publishing academic papers and receiving sponsorship from both Chrysler and the Department of Labor.

Scott will be formally recognized with the 11 other Dean’s Teaching Showcase nominees at a luncheon near the end of spring term. Please join Dean Seely, computer science chair Min Song and the Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning in thanking Scott for his outstanding contributions to the teaching mission of the College of Sciences and Arts.