Please join us on the following Fridays for discussions focused on teaching and learning at Smith. Unless otherwise indicated, we will meet in Neilson Browsing Room from noon until 1 p.m., with lunch provided (meat, vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free/grain-free options).
January 29, 2016
Kate Queeney (Chemistry)
Greg White (Government)
At Smith many of our classes are formally called “lectures.” Studies have shown fairly convincingly that a pure lecture format is not the most effective way for all students to learn; at the same time, many of us recognize the effectiveness of the traditional lecture for conveying new information to students. As the suggested readings (and our own experiences) indicate, the answer is probably not as simple as endorsing one particular teaching approach or another for all disciplines, all teachers or all students, or even for all moments in a given class. In the spirit of embracing the idiosyncrasies we all bring to the classroom, we will lead a discussion of strategies for effectively integrating the traditional lecture format with other approaches, with a particular focus on how to accomplish this in larger classes.
Suggested readings (that will also be made available in hard copy at the TAL):
Molly Worthen, “Lecture Me. Really,” The New York Times, Oct. 18, 2015. http://nyti.ms/1jLwbBk.
Rebecca Schuman, “Professors Shouldn’t Teach to Younger Versions of Themselves,” Slate, Oct. 21, 2015.
Link to article at www.slate.com
John Barone et al., “A Lecture From the Lectured,” The Chronicle of Higher Education, January 4, 2016. http://chroniclevitae.com.
February 5, 2016
Topic: Honor Board
Kate Queeney (Chemistry)
Chris Aiken (Dance)
Nabilah Ahmed ’16 (current Chair of the Honor Board)
Donna Lisker (Dean of the College)
Data from a number of colleges and universities across the US suggest that, even at institutions with Honor Codes, more students cheat than we as faculty would probably like to think.1 While the Honor Board at Smith (particularly the student Chair) plays a role in educating Smith students about academic dishonesty, the primary role of the Board is adjudicating cases of possible Honor Code infractions brought to its attention and determining sanctions when a student is found to have violated that Code. We would argue that the job of educating our students about academic (dis)honesty falls, whether explicitly or not, primarily to the faculty in our roles as instructors and advisers. Using our collective experience as recent members of the Honor Board, we will lead a discussion on how we as a faculty might do a more effective job both of making sure all our students understand the various ways they might run afoul of standards of academic honesty and of encouraging them to maintain those standards in our classes.
1 see for example Jessica Cheung, “The Fading Honor Code,” The New York Times, April 11, 2014. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/13/education/edlife/the-fading-honor-code.html
February 12, 2016
Shifting Paradigms for World Language Education: Digital Storytelling and Poster Presentation
Sujane Wu (East Asian Languages and Literatures)
Yuri Kumagai (East Asian Languages and Literatures)
In this presentation, based on our recent book Multiliteracies in World Language Education, we will present a new language teaching approach that capitalizes the learners’ needs and resources for rapidly changing communication landscape of digital era. Sharing concrete examples of student projects from Japanese and Chinese classes, we discuss and highlight the importance of developing multiliteracies by going beyond ‘mere literacy,’ a significant paradigm shift emerging in the field of world language education.
Dan Berrett, "Flagging Disciplines Reclaim Their Relevance". The Chronicle of Higher Education. February 10, 2016. http://chronicle.com/article/Flagging-Disciplines-Reclaim/235253/
February 19, 2016
A Cross-Disciplinary Look at Instructional Technology Collaborations
Yasmin Eisenhauer (Educational Technology Services)
Deborah Keisch (Educational Technology Services)
How are faculty and students using technology in teaching and learning at Smith? What new national trends are emerging in the field of education technology? What influence might these have on your pedagogical approaches? Join ETS instructional technologists Yasmin Chin Eisenhauer and Deborah Keisch for an interactive session that will explore Smith’s technology ecosystem and related research questions. Participants will learn about collaborative projects, play with current and emerging technologies, and imagine new ways to engage students and enhance content.
March 4, 2016
Beyond the Fragile Student: A Conversation about Mental Health in the Classroom
Laura Rauscher (Director, Disability Services)
Sarah Orem (Instructor, American Studies - teaching Disability Studies)
Pam McCarthy (Director of Counseling Services)
Colleges are increasingly concerned by the growing number of students with significant mental health challenges. Several studies show a marked increase in first year students who report being overwhelmed, stressed, depressed, or anxious and many wonder if students are becoming less resilient. In response, schools are expanding counseling services and implementing wellness programs, but the larger social context must also be considered. Even when schools recognize that cultural beliefs, social problems, economic stressors, and world politics impact students, the dominant narrative of mental illness as an individual problem can mask the larger causal context and make invisible structural changes within our schools necessary for many students to thrive. In this session, we will discuss trends in mental health, legal considerations, campus services and cultural resources for struggling students. We will examine ways classroom policies, practices, and campus climate can influence, perpetuate, or mitigate difficulties our students experience. As a group, we will share examples and strategies to empower and help all students find and build on their strengths, including those with diagnosed conditions. Accommodations and possible alternative evaluation methods for students with psychological disabilities will be considered.
Finally, we will tackle the question of how staff, faculty and students can collaborate to support student engagement and persistence while challenging the cultural message that stress is inevitable, necessary, and even a point of pride.
March 11, 2016
Experiments in Transforming Classrooms by Engaging Students as Collaborators Working on Big Questions that Matter
Patricia DiBartolo (Psychology)
Kevin Shea (Chemistry)
High-impact educational practices identified by the Association of American College and Universities include a range of established and tested approaches that foster learning with a broad range of students. Much of this work centers around collaborative learning environments that connect deep disciplinary knowledge with the big questions that drive faculty as scholars. This talk will present the lessons learned from recent efforts to shift the curriculum in the sciences to provide collaborative research opportunities that are tied to faculty scholarship and at various stages of student development. We will discuss promising models of these course-based research experiences in the sciences, describing their outcomes, challenges, and principles, while highlighting factors that are critical to their success.
April 1, 2016
A Discussion of AEMES (Achieving Excellence in Math, Engineering and Science) Mentoring Programs in the Sciences
Sara Pruss (Geosciences)
Nearly a decade ago, Smith College launched AEMES (Achieving Excellence in Mathematics, Engineering, and Science) Programs when research showed that historically underrepresented students were over-represented in life science gateway courses (biology, chemistry, physics) but underrepresented in related majors and in independent research experiences. We hypothesized that an obstacle that attributed to the discrepancy between early interest in science and persistence for historically underrepresented students in the sciences was the lack of personalized connections. To address this obstacle, the AEMES programs seek to foster strong connections with faculty mentors, peer mentors and the larger AEMES community. Under the AEMES “umbrella” sit several programs that we will discuss, including: 1) the AEMES Scholars program; 2) the McKinley Fellows Program; 3) the Peer-Mentoring Program; 4) Early Researchers; and 5) STEM Posse. Since the launch of these programs, we have seen progress in some areas. We will discuss recent data, some future directions of our programs in light of our findings, and how we think these programs can be envisaged beyond the sciences at Smith.
April 8, 2016
SGA Curriculum Committee
April 15, 2016
Discussion of the Smith College Course Evaluation System
Conversation will be led by the members of the Committee to Review Teaching Evaluations
This teaching arts luncheon will give everyone in attendance the opportunity to talk about the pros and cons of our current course evaluation system, which is under review this year. What's working? What could be improved?
April 29, 2016
Topic: Retention of Underrepresented Students
Dominique Thiebaut (Computer Science)