Faculty Conversations: 2005-2006

Fall 2005

Intentional General Education: Learning Outcomes and Beyond. Tuesday, September 20. Jo Beld and Brooke Thaden-Koch, Academic Research & Planning; Mary Cisar, Registrar; Eric Lund, International and Off-Campus Studies.

Teaching Students to Ask Better Questions. Wednesday, September 28. Laura Greene, Augustana College, Rock Island IL.

Collaborative Research with Students. Tuesday, October 4. Mary Trull, English; Charles Umbanhowar jr, Biology/Environmental Studies; students.

Provost’s Sabbatical Series Luncheon. Wednesday, October 12. Jeane Delaney, Associate Professor of History, and Dan Hofrenning, Associate Professor of Political Science.

Using Technology to Study Cultures: The Al-Musharaka Faculty Collaborative. Tuesday, October 25. Michael Toler, Program Director and Editor, National Institute for Technology and Liberal Education (NITLE), and Nancy Millichap, Director, Midwest Instructional Technology Center (MITC).

Classroom Implications of Enacting an “Academic Bill of Rights”. Wednesday, November 2. Bob Entenmann, History and Asian Studies; Greg Kneser, Dean of Students; Paul Zorn, MSCS

Reinstating the C?: Grade Inflation and Other Grading Issues. Tuesday, November 6. Lynn Steen, Special Assistant to the Provost; Mary Cisar, Registrar; Jill Dietz, Chair, CEPC.

Being Interdisciplinary: Intentions and Tensions. Wednesday, November 16. Mary Titus, Director, Center for Integrative Studies; Jean Porterfield, Biology.

Who’s Moodling?: Current Classroom Uses of Moodle. Tuesday, November 29. Dan Beach, IIT, and faculty Moodle users.

Thinking Globally, Teaching Locally: International Perspectives on St. Olaf Teaching and Learning. Tuesday, December 6. Patrick Mehrens, STINT Fellow, Dept of Literature, Uppsala University, Sweden, Lin Fengchun, ECNU Scholar, Dept of Environmental Science, East China Normal University, Shanghai.

Spring 2006

Innovation in the Interim: A Look at Learning. Tuesday, January 17. Gwen Barnes-Karol, Romance Languages-Spanish; Tom Williamson, Sociology and Anthropology.

The Art of Leading Discussion. Tuesday, February 14. Carol Holly, English; Ed Langerak, Philosophy (former Boldt Chairs).

How People Learn: Looking at Novices and Experts. Friday, February 24. John Bransford, James W. Mifflin University Professor of Education and Psychology, University of Washington, Seattle.

The Intellectual Journey of Students. Tuesday, February 28. Susan Canon, IRP; Mary Cisar, Registrar; Diane Leblanc, Director of Writing.

Designing Classrooms of the Future. Tuesday, March 7. James Baird, AIA, Design Principal with Holabird & Root, Chicago IL, and Rochester MN.

Public Intellectuals and the Liberal Arts. Wednesday, March 15. Bob Jacobel, Physics; Gordon Marino, Philosophy.

Provost’s Sabbatical Luncheon. Wednesday, March 22. Andrea Een, Music; Charles Taliaferro, Philosophy.

Pedagogue or Preacher?: The Vocation of the Choral Music Educator. Wednesday, April 5. Anton Armstrong, Music.

The Sustainable Classroom. Wednesday, April 12. Jim Farrell, History and American Studies.

Facilitating Faculty-Student Research. Wednesday, April 19. Julie Legler, MSCS and Center for Interdisciplinary Research; Solveig Zempel, Associate Dean for IGS.

Do They Learn What We Teach?: Looking at General Education. Tuesday, April 25. Jo Beld and members of Intentional GE faculty task groups.

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“The Intentional General Education Initiative: GE Learning Outcomes and Beyond”

Tuesday, September 20

Jo Beld, Director, and Brooke Thaden-Koch, Associate, Academic Research and Planning; Mary Cisar, Registrar and Assistant VP for Academic Affairs; Eric Lund, Director, International and Off-Campus Studies

In May 2005, the St. Olaf College faculty articulated intended learning outcomes for most of the requirements in the College’s General Education (GE) curriculum. This action was a significant step forward in our collective effort to answer the question that sparked the 2003-04 review of our GE curriculum: How well is our GE curriculum working? However, it was only a first step. In order for these learning outcomes to strengthen teaching and learning in the GE curriculum, they need to be integrated into GE instruction and assessment. This session introduces the 2005-06 “Intentional General Education Initiative,” a proposal for piloting the use of GE learning outcomes in selected GE courses to improve student learning. Session participants will review the proposal, provide suggestions for improvement and implementation, and consider whether and how they might like to participate in the initiative.

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“Teaching Students to Ask Better Questions”

Wednesday, September 28

Laura Greene, Associate Professor of English, Augustana College, Rock Island IL

Asking good questions is at the heart of critical inquiry, yet we rarely focus on the kinds of questions that our students ask. According to Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe, “Too often students leave school never realizing that knowledge is answers to someone’s prior questions, produced and refined in response to puzzles, inquiry, testing, argument, and revision.”1 Laura Greene studies the way we teach students to ask questions. By analyzing the texts of actual student questions, she has tried to comprehend how students understand and frame their questions. She found that students usually use a fairly simple model of questioning, designed primarily to gather information or resolve confusion – a “closing down” process. She seeks to discover how faculty can help students instead to “open up” the questioning process, to ask questions that will lead to deeper inquiry.

1 in Understanding by Design (Alexandria, VA: Assn for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 2000)

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“Collaborative Research with Students”

Tuesday, October 4

Mary Trull, English; Charles Umbanhowar, Biology and Environmental Studies; students

(co-sponsors: Faculty Development Committee, Magnus the Good Endowed Fund)

In today’s academy, faculty increasingly do research with students. The natural sciences have traditionally led the way in this type of research, but it is becoming more common across all disciplines. Highlighting the work of Charles Umbanhowar in biology and Mary Trull in English, this session will look at some different ways of working with students. Charles’s students have worked with him both to collect data (on the ecology of fire and the eco-system history of lakes) and to write articles together. Mary Trull and a student read common texts at the Newberry Library in Chicago, discussed them together, but then each is writing an individually authored article. Charles has also served as director of St. Olaf’s summer research program in the sciences and mathematics, and may have some insights from that experience. Considering different ways of collaborating with students will hopefully spark new ideas for future faculty/student research.

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“Using Technology to Study Cultures: The Al-Musharaka Faculty Collaborative”

Tuesday, October 25

Michael Toler, National Institute for Technology and Liberal Education (NITLE); Nancy Millichap, Midwest Instructional Technology Center (MITC); (co-sponsors: IGS, International and Off-Campus Studies, Middle East Studies, IIT)

How does technology help to facilitate both greater access to the Arab and Islamic world and inter-institutional collaboration? What kinds of technology can be most useful in cultural studies, and why? Are there other area studies that engage in, or might benefit from, this kind of collaboration? Michael Toler and Nancy Millichap will explain the efforts of NITLE, the National Institute for Technology and Liberal Education, to promote and facilitate technology-assisted, inter-institutional collaboration in Arab, Islamic and Middle East studies, and discuss the relevance of such efforts within the curriculum of a liberal arts college.

St. Olaf is a participating campus of NITLE, a network of 81 leading liberal arts colleges encouraging and supporting innovation and collaboration among its participants as they seek to make effective use of technology in teaching and learning. Michael Toler is program director of the Al-Musharaka Initiative and editor of the Arab Culture and Civilization Web Resource, and Nancy Millichap is director of MITC, NITLE’s Midwest regional office.

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“Classroom Implications of Enacting an “Academic Bill of Rights”

Wednesday, November 2

Bob Entenmann, History and Asian Studies Greg Kneser, Dean of Students Paul Zorn, Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science (MSCS) guest: Sen. Tom Neuville (MN Senate District 25)

(co-sponsors: Dean of the College, Dean of Students)

Responding to charges that colleges and universities have insufficient intellectual diversity on our campuses, legislators across the country have introduced bills that propose an “academic bill of rights.” Two related resolutions have been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives. This lunch discussion will begin with the content of legislation currently under consideration in the MN Legislature, but will move quickly to discuss its pedagogical implications. How would adopting the proposed academic bill of rights affect our teaching? Looking more broadly, how should we preserve a respect for different viewpoints and a commitment to scholarly inquiry? What do we expect of ourselves and our students?

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“Reinstating the C?: Grade Inflation and Other Grading Issues”

Tuesday, November 8

Lynn Steen, Special Assistant to the Provost Mary Cisar, Registrar Jill Dietz, chair, CEPC

(co-sponsors: Registrar, CEPC, ARP)

What do we communicate when we give grades? What do grades mean? This conversation will start by looking at grades at St. Olaf in three contexts: our own history, our programs of study, and peer institutions. It also will include suggestions for approaches to grading and a consideration of the status of the so-called “vanishing C.”

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Being Interdisciplinary: Intentions and Tensions.

Wednesday, November 16.

Mary Titus, Director, Center for Integrative Studies; Jean Porterfield, Biology.

Interdisciplinary initiatives seem to be everywhere in higher education, but there is no consensus on how to do interdisciplinary work. Do we leave our disciplinary training behind to create a separate and distinct interdisciplinary alternative? Or is our interdisciplinary work a sequential presentation of disciplinary approaches with a modest amount of cross-disciplinary exchange? In this session, Mary Titus will begin the conversation by talking about her work as director of the Center for Integrative Studies and her new integrative seminar on the Vietnam War. Jean Porterfield, a biologist, will discuss the seminar, “Ways of Knowing Ecology” that she is currently team teaching with Mark Allister from the English department.

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Who’s Moodling?: Current Classroom Uses of Moodle.

Tuesday, November 29.

Dan Beach, IIT, and faculty Moodle users.

Moodle is the on-line course management system at St. Olaf. More than with prior systems, faculty have adopted it in large numbers. With several innovative features, Moodle has the potential to transform our teaching, or maybe just to help us organize it in a different way. This session will feature reflections on current ways faculty are using Moodle in their courses, including a first-time user and another colleague who has used it over several semesters. Come and share your experiences thus far with Moodle, or your questions as you consider whether to incorporate it into one or more of your courses. Dan Beach, IIT, will be present to give a brief summary of current Moodle usage. We hope also to have a couple of students who can share their perspectives on what works well or not so well in Moodle.

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Thinking Globally, Teaching Locally: International Perspectives on St. Olaf Teaching and Learning.

Tuesday, December 6.

Patrick Mehrens, STINT Fellow, Dept of Literature, Uppsala University, Sweden,

Lin Fengchun, ECNU Scholar, Dept of Environmental Science, East China Normal University, Shanghai.

Colleagues from other nations can offer prescient observations of our own culture. In this session, two visiting scholars from Sweden and China will begin our conversation with their observations of St. Olaf. In the process, they will compare and contrast the St. Olaf context to their experiencs of higher education in other cultures.

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Spring

Innovation in the Interim: A Look at Learning.

Tuesday, January 17.

Tom Williamson, Sociology and Anthropology, (Interim Course: “Modern Elixirs”); Gwen Barnes-Karol, Romance Languages-Spanish, (Interim Course: “Contemporary Issues”).

Arguing for the inclusion of an “interim” in a new academic calendar, Allen Hansen, professor of chemistry and chairman of the Curriculum and Educational Policies Committee, suggested that every college needs an occasional housecleaning “to sweep away the trash of obsolete courses and yellowed lecture notes.” Beginning in January 1965, St. Olaf became only the 6th college in the nation to adopt a 4-1-4 calendar. Promoting innovation was the heart of the Interim vision. Now in the midst of our 41st Interim, this Conversation will look at how faculty are using the interim to enhance learning. Are we innovative enough? What is Interim good for? After a brief historical look at interim offerings over time, Tom Williamson and Gwen Barnes-Karol will discuss their interim courses as a gateway to a broader discussion of the pedagogies of the interim.

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The Art of Leading Discussion.

Tuesday, February 14.

Carol Holly, Professor of English, former Boldt Chair; Ed Langerak, Professor of Philosophy, former Boldt Chair; Co-sponsored by the Boldt Chair in the Humanities.

Discussion is the preeminent pedagogy of liberal arts colleges, yet we rarely have an opportunity to reflect together on (to _discuss_) ways to stimulate good discussions. In support of a culture that values discourse and conversation among students and faculty, this session will explore the art of leading discussions. How can we use this pedagogy not as an end in itself, but to enhance students’ learning? At a September lunch, Laura Greene explored “Teaching Students to Ask Better Questions,” – can we teach students to be better discussants? Two of our former Boldt chairs, Carol Holly and Ed Langerak, will start our conversation. Jim Farrell and Gordon Marino, the two other Boldt chairs, will offer brief initial responses and then the discussion will be open to all.

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How People Learn: Looking at Novices and Experts.

Friday, February 24.

John Bransford, James W. Mifflin University Professor of Education and Psychology, University of Washington, Seattle.

John Bransford is an internationally recognized leader in the field of learning research. His work in the areas of human learning, cognition and technology began in grad school at the Center for Research on Human Learning at the University of Minnesota, and has led him to the University of Washington, Seattle, where, besides his university professorship, he is principal investigator of the LIFE Center (Learning in Informal and Formal Environments).

Bransford is particularly interested in understanding how learning happens in informal as well as formal environments, and in how findings in brain sciences can contribute to better lifelong learning. He also has said that the concept of “adaptive expertise” will become more significant in the coming decades.

Bransford served as co-chair of two committees of the National Research Council that produced /How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience,and School/ (2000) – an expanded volume incorporating two related studies published in 1999. Around 40 St. Olaf faculty read /How People Learn/ in January and February, using the book to support discussions of student learning. Another 18 faculty in the sciences also used the book in work groups two years ago.

For those faculty who were not able to participate in a book group, the text of /How People Learn/ is available free online at http://fermat.nap.edu/books/0309070368/html/ – book group discussions have focused in particular on chapters 2 and 3, “How Experts Differ from Novices” and “Learning and Transfer.”

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The Intellectual Journey of Students.

Tuesday, February 28.

Susan Canon, IRP; Mary Cisar, Registrar; Diane Leblanc, Director of Writing.

Students do not arrive in our classrooms as empty vessels waiting to be filled; instead, they come with knowledge from previous classes and a range of other preconceptions. According to John Bransford, “teachers must draw out and work with the preexisting understandings that their students bring with them.” At St. Olaf, the NSSE (National Survey of Student Engagement), the Beginning College Student Survey (BCSS), and the report of our Committee on the First-Year Experience (CoFYE) both provide important evidence of the intellectual experiences of our students–both at the beginning and end of their undergraduate journey. We will use these sources to discuss both what students bring to our classroom and how they engage academically throughout their undergraduate years.

Link to NSSE data: http://www.stolaf.edu/offices/irp/Pbl/Students/NSSE2005.htm Link to CoFYE final report:http://www.stolaf.edu/stulife/deanofstudents/fye/index.html

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Designing Classrooms of the Future.

Tuesday, March 7.

James Baird, Design Principal; Holabird & Root Roberta Lembke, IIT Matt Richey; Math, Computer Science, & Statistics

Co-sponsor: Science Complex Design Team

How do the designs of our classrooms influence our teaching? As we plan a new science center, and the subsequent remodeling of the current science center, there is no better time to ask this question. In this session, architect James Baird will show us a range of classroom designs that have been used in other places and/or discussed for use at St. Olaf. (He and his firm are the architects of our new science center.) Come and see the design options for the rooms in which you may teach some day. Roberta Lembke and Matt Richey will offer initial comments about classroom design and the role of technology. Then the floor will be open for our questions and concerns.

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Public Intellectuals and the Liberal Arts.

Wednesday, March 15.

Bob Jacobel, Physics; Gordon Marino, Philosophy; Co-sponsor: Dean of the College

Many critics of higher education decry the decline of public intellectuals. Contending that the academy has been reduced to a parochial mastery of disparate fields, they call for “public intellectuals” who speak to their disciplines — and also to a broader audience. In this session, we will focus on what it means to be a public intellectual. Gordon Marino and Bob Jacobel will lead our discussion. Marino is Boldt Chair in the Humanities and Director of the Kierkegaard Library. His publications include pieces in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and Atlantic Monthly. Jacobel, with funding from the National Science Foundation, has studied ice dynamics and climate history. He contributes data for models that seek to predict the response of the earth’s great ice masses to increased surface temperatures.

Upcoming CILA Lunch events: Wed Mar 22 Provost’s Sabbatical Luncheon (Andrea Een, Charles Taliaferro) Tues Apr 11 “The Sustainable Classroom” (Jim Farrell) Wed Apr 19 “Facilitating Faculty-Student Research” (Julie Legler, Solveig Zempel) Tues Apr 25 “Do They Learn What We Teach? Assessing General Education” (Jo Beld and GE task group representatives)

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Pedagogue or Preacher?: The Vocation of the Choral Music Educator.

Wednesday, April 5.

Anton Armstrong, Music.

Baylor University recently named Anton Armstrong the recipient of the 2006 Robert Foster Cherry Award for Great Teaching < http://www.baylor.edu/cherry_awards/ > — the single largest award given in the United States to an individual for great teaching. In this CILA lunch, Anton will discuss the relationship of conducting to teaching, and how the one enterprise can inform the other.

In a recent interview, talking about the “pastoral” element of teaching, Anton said,

When I first began conducting and teaching, I had a take-charge attitude, the notion that the young people in front of me were there to do my bidding. I see myself as a catalyst now, someone who helps bring out the best in them, as musicians and as individuals.

“In rehearsal last night, for instance, the choir was singing very beautifully, very accurately, but the music was soulless. “You’re singing like a well-oiled choral machine,” I told them. “I want human beings.”

In another interview:

“I ask my students the question of how does learning in the classroom shape them as human beings,” Armstrong continues. “I tell them that in 20 years they may be doing something very different. I try to say in my teaching that yes — you want to master this material, but how will it make a difference in how you live and how you carry out your life?” he says. “The music that I make with these young people is a dynamic means of grace.”

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The Sustainable Classroom

Wednesday, April 12

Jim Farrell, History and American Studies

When we think of sustainability, we often think of the ways in which we act: recycling and efficient uses of energy come to mind. In addition, however, Jim Farrell suggests that sustainability can also lead

“to new ways of thinking….[and connecting] a liberal arts perspective to all of the environmental issues confronting us. The main product of a liberal arts college is thoughtfulness, embodied in people who know how to think carefully and know how to care about other people and places.”

Jim has sparked an emphasis this year on sustainability at St. Olaf. In this session, he will discuss his recent work with a colleague from Carleton that considers how a focus on sustainability can transform our teaching.

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Facilitating Faculty-Student Research

Wednesday, April 19

Julie Legler, MSCS and Center for Interdisciplinary Research Solveig Zempel, Associate Dean for IGS

In today’s academy, faculty increasingly do research with students. At St. Olaf, we have a long tradition of this collaborative work, but we are also seeking ways to do more. Funded by the National Science Foundation, the Center for Interdisciplinary Research (CIR) has supported many faculty-student projects. Led by Julie Legler, the CIR brings together undergraduate students, statistics faculty, and faculty from other disciplines to share in the excitement and challenge of doing research across traditional academic boundaries. Julie will discuss the work of the CIR, and Associate Dean Solveig Zempel will comment on ways to encourage collaborative student-faculty research in interdisciplinary and humanities disciplines.

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Do They Learn What We Teach?: Experimenting with ‘Intentional’ General Education

Tuesday, April 25

Julie Legler, MSCS and Center for Interdisciplinary Research Solveig Zempel, Associate Dean for IGS; Jo Beld, director, Academic Research and Planning (ARP) Selected members of the 2005-06 “Intentional GE” faculty task groups

This year’s groups were the first to work under the Intentional General Education Initiative, which is co-sponsored by ARP, CILA, and the Associate Dean for Interdisciplinary and General Studies.

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