January 29, 2019
Volume 3, Number 11
Students in Charge
Chuck Tryon is not alone in feeling that a wide gulf sometimes separates him from his students. Many undergrads at Fayetteville State University, a historically black college, are first generation, former military, or working adults. That wasn't his experience in college. And graduate school, he says, frequently fails to prepare future instructors to teach in diverse classrooms.

So when his English department decided to revamp a required composition course to help students learn the type of writing that could help them on the job, he created an unusual assignment, one he hoped would also open a window on how his students view their educational experience.

He asked students to write a proposal to modify either his course or the "educational mission" of Fayetteville State. Their ideas have been enlightening, he says, and have fostered conversations around such topics as putting students in charge of some classroom lectures, mental health, and financial literacy.

"The project has humanized my students in a way that's been really powerful for me," says Tryon, a professor. "I've been able to recognize how their reactions to their classes have been shaped by their experiences, their challenges, their goals."

The project helped him realize that he needed to break down the process of college writing, since for some, this is the first exposure to higher education in their family. His class, which follows an introductory course, is more rigorous than the one they've already taken, because it places more emphasis on research and argumentation.

That means explaining the benefits of revision; distinguishing between plagiarism and citation; and discussing the professional benefits of a well-written, well-researched argument. "It's grounded in the humanities," he says of his coursework. "But it's helping them fit into the format of workplace requirements."

As for the students' proposals, he says, they're illuminating. For one, his students have noticed his tendency to get a bit lazy as the semester progresses, when he may run out of classroom activities and revert to lecturing. He finds it intriguing that some have suggested asking students to present course materials, instead of the professor, and that they want to take a more active role in class.

His students have also been frank about the difficulties they face in adjusting to college, which has led to vibrant classroom conversations when they present their proposals. A student who suggested adding more explicit discussion in a freshman seminar about the transition to college, he says, was honest about her anxieties, leading other students to talk about their own challenges. And a number of his students have proposed adding a financial-literacy course. That has led to discussions about student-loan debt and having to work several jobs to get through college.

One proposal led to real change. A commuter student pointed out that current campus tutoring services favor residential students. And since students can earn extra credit by seeking out supplemental instruction, that creates an inequity.

The student suggested the college create supplemental materials to put on its content-management system so that it could be accessed remotely. She was also a freshman representative on the student academic council, where she pitched the idea in December, he says. She reported back to the class that the college plans to carry out her idea in the spring.

"The real benefit, to me," Tryon says, "is that they can see that when they write effectively and make arguments, they can effect change."

Tryon points out several aspects of the assignment that he thinks make it work. First, it's the last writing assignment of the semester. Students are able to be more direct, he says, "once I've earned their trust."

Second, he walks a fine line between encouraging their imagination and being realistic. So, for example, he tells them to avoid proposals that have to do with parking and food — which are not academic and unlikely to be easily solved. And he explains that other constraints, like state regulations and accreditation policies, may limit what can be changed, like class-attendance policies, for example. He also prompts them to do their own research on the issues, by reviewing the university catalog or syllabi from other classes.

Students don't always get a chance to engage in this kind of reflective learning, which can be effective, according to the most recent National Survey of Student Engagement. Roughly half of freshmen and 60 percent of seniors said they had "often" or "very often" connected their learning to societal issues, like their education.

– by Beth McMurtrie, Teaching Newsletter: The Chronicle of Higher Education

Thanks for reading Teaching. If you have suggestions or ideas, please feel free to email us at   dan.berrett@chronicle.combeth.mcmurtrie@chronicle.com, or  beckie.supiano@chronicle.com. If you have been forwarded this newsletter and would like to sign up to receive your own copy, you can do so  here.
Announcing: Gather & Share Events
The FCTL will be offering "  Gather & Share  " events on the 3rd Wednesday of each month, from 3:45pm - 4:45pm in ADUC 301. The objective is to have a "topic" area and share a couple of ideas and then have folks gather and share about the topic.

The Next Gather & Share Event:
Topic: Student Engagement
When: Wednesday, February 20, 2019; 3:45pm – 4:45pm
Where: ADUC 301
Educator: FCTL
Synopsis: Join FCTL in exploring “Sociality” at the inaugural “Gather & Share” event. Come ready to “chat it up” with your colleagues on this important topic. Refreshments will be served.
Blackboard Buzz
Grade Discussions
Do you want to grade your students’ discussions? Do you want to guide the students to discuss the problem more thoroughly? Try to grade the discussion and give feedback to the students.

Discussions strengthen students' ability to think critically, express their thoughts in a clear way, and communicate with others. With graded discussions, you can assess these abilities as part of each student's course grade. Show a student where their contributions excel and where they can improve by assigning them a grade. 

YouTube has a video tutorial on the Student Preview tool (see video below). E mail msuonline@moreheadstate.edu for on-campus support. 
What I Love About Teaching Campaign
Hello Educators!

We are looking for your response to the question "What do you love about teaching?"

Click the link below to share your response:
Call for Proposals - Pedagogicon 2019
Proposals Due: February 8, 2019
Conference Date: May 17, 2019
NOTE - FCTL will cover conference registration and travel to the event for accepted proposals

 The conference theme, “Transparency in Teaching and Learning,” encourages us to examine and promote transparent strategies for teaching and learning that engage students in deep, transferable academic experiences. Do you have an exceptional strategy to share? Do you have a new theory or practice that might enhance teaching and learning, faculty development, educational practices, or student engagement at your institution and beyond?

Presenters are encouraged to engage their audience, so preference will be given to those submissions that specify how this engagement will be provided. The conference will host an opening session on transparency in learning and teaching.

Threads might include but are not limited to:
  • Use of technology to enhance transparency in teaching and learning
  • Creative instructional techniques that engage students in transparent learning,
  • especially deep learning
  • Faculty development initiatives, programs, and processes that promote transparency in teaching and learning
  • New ways to use Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) to enhance transparency in teaching and learning
  • Strategies for incorporating diversity, culturally responsive pedagogy, and/or inclusive excellence into transparent teaching and learning
  • High-Impact Educational Practices that enhance transparent teaching and learning
  • Student perspectives on transparent teaching and learning

Submit proposals online at studio.eku.edu/2019-pedagogicon
Teach Abroad
Deadline: March 1, 2019
Faculty are invited to apply to teach a course in a KIIS Summer 2020 program. KIIS operates approximately 22 Summer programs each year. Faculty application materials include:
  • Biographical information
  • CV (PDF)
  • Your proposed course title & a brief course description (For more information please click here.)
  • Details of your teaching & experience
  • Email address for your supervisor (he or she will receive an email to complete this section within 10 days of the faculty deadline)
 The Faculty Summer application deadline is March 1, 2019. Click any “Apply Now” button at  kiis.org to begin your application. For information about your application, visit the “Faculty” dropdown at kiis.org. For information about the Winter programs, see the “Programs” dropdown.
2019 Gateway Course Experience Conference
Atlanta, GA / March 17-19, 2019

 Higher education faculty, professionals, students and educators are invited to:
  • Share innovative ideas and practices you are using to solve problems and enable transformative course redesign at your institution.
  • Connect and collaborate with colleagues from other institutions who are working to integrate active learning and other strategies into how they teach gateway courses.
  • Share evidence about how your course redesign efforts are improving student success and learning and/or advancing more equitable outcomes. 
  • We value your students' perspectives in all aspects of teaching and learning and encourage you to consider having a student(s) as co-presenter(s).
Ambassadors for Excellence in Teaching
Morehead State University