Faculty Conversations: 2009-2010

Fall 2009

Tracing the FIJI Water Bottle Commodity Chain: Teaching with Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
September 22. Tun Myint, Political Science Department, Carleton College

Writing Papers Versus Making Movies: How the Short Video Can Facilitate Student Research
September 30. Bill Sonnega, Theatre and Media and Film Studies and Jim Stanoch and Nate Haustein ’10, IIT, St. Olaf College

American Immigration Revisited: Teaching Immigration in the St. Olaf Classroom
October 6. Solveig Zempel, Norwegian; Chris Chiappari, Sociology and Anthropology; Eric Fure-Slocum, History and American Conversations; Judy Kutulas, History and American Studies, St. Olaf College

Teaching Students to Make Good Arguments: Designing Assessments for Authentic Problems
October 13. Dolores Peters, History, St. Olaf College; Mary Savina, Geology, Carleton College

Thinking About Thinking: Effective Metacognitive Strategies for Teaching and Learning
October 20. Diane Angell, Biology; Maria Kelly, Education; Kent McWilliams, Music, St. Olaf College

Technology Poster Fair
November 3. St. Olaf Faculty and Staff

Provost’s Sabbatical Luncheon
November 10. Rika Ito, Japanese and Asian Studies;Rebecca Judge, Economics, St. Olaf College

Online Instruction and the Emergency Curriculum: An Interdisciplinary Collaboration
November 18. David Castro, Music and Colin Wells, English and American Conversations, St. Olaf College

Moodle Tips and Tricks
December 2. IIT Staff, St. Olaf College

Spring 2010

What Can a Beowulf Cluster Do For You?
February 17. Dick Brown, MSCS- Computer Science; Chris Chapp, Political Science; John Schade, Environmental Studies; Solveig Zempel, Norwegian; Mike Holm ’11, Mary Scaramuzza ’12, and Stephanie Tanner ’10, St. Olaf College

So You Think Your Students Read Before Class?
February 23. Karl Wirth, Geology, Macalester College; Fahima Aziz, Management and Economics, Hamline University

Effective Strategies for Writing Letters of Recommendation
March 3. Wendy Allen, Romance Languages- French; Bruce Dalgaard, Economics and Director of CEL; Bob Entenmann, History and Asian Studies, St. Olaf College

Blogging: The Construction of Open Dialogues in Education
March 9. Guido Alvarez, Art and Art History; Devyani Chandran, Social Work and Family Studies; Molly Westerman, English, St. Olaf College

Learning Through Speaking: The ORC in Action
March 17. Jeanne Willcoxon, Theatre; Eric Fure-Slocum, History, American Conversations and CIS; Bill Sonnega, Theatre and Media and Film Studies; Kathy Shea, Biology, St. Olaf College

Provost’s Sabbatical Luncheon
March 23. Karil Kucera, Art History and Asian Studies; Chuck Huff, Psychology, St. Olaf College

Teaching non-Majority Students
April 14. Multicultural Affairs and Community Outreach (MACO)

Situating Quantitative Literacy in the Context of Argument
April 20. Nathan Grawe ’96, Economics and Associate Dean of the College, Carleton College

What’s a Lecture Good For?
April 27. Gary Muir, Psychology and Neuroscience; Maria Kelly, Education, St. Olaf College

Top of page

Descriptions

Tracing the FIJI Water Bottle Commodity Chain: Teaching with Geographic Information Systems (GIS)

Tun Myint, Political Science and Environmental Studies, Carleton College

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are methods used to “to collect, organize, analyze, and present spatial data.”  Widely used in the natural sciences, these methods are finding increasing application in other disciplines, such as history, religion, sociology, and economics, for both research and teaching.

In this presentation, Tun will show how he has used GIS to teach international environmental politics. In this course, he is concerned with “how I could make the livelihoods of my students critically relevant to international environmental politics and policy making processes.”  He will illustrate his use of GIS to unpack the commodity chains of the FIJI water bottle, which his students find available for purchase at the Carleton College Bookstore.  As an article in Mother Jones puts it, “Obama sips it. Paris Hilton loves it. Mary J. Blige won’t sing without it. How did a plastic water bottle, imported from a military dictatorship thousands of miles away, become the epitome of cool?”  More broadly, he argues that “commodities…are a crucial link between societal changes and environmental changes and, therefore, how the commodity chains influence the dynamic relationship between human and nature is central to understanding the challenges of environmental sustainability.

For those of you who may be interested, Tun offers a paper, “Commodity Chains and Social Ecological Changes: A Theoretical Inquiry into Human-Environment Interactions”  that provides a more theoretical explanation for why teaching international environmental politics needs to go beyond traditional state-centric explanations.

Further resources on teaching with GIS:

· GIS Basics and Humanities Research

· GIS: Best Practices for the Social Sciences

· Teaching with GIS in the Geosciences

Top of page

Writing Papers vs. Making Movies: How the short video can support student research

Bill Sonnega, Theater and Media and Film Studies; Jim Stanoch, IIT; Nate Haustein ’10

In a growing number of college classrooms, short videos – produced by students, informed by research and framed by disciplinary parameters – are becoming popular and effective assignments.  With a digital video camera and a laptop, students can translate academic research in ways that supplement the conventional paper or offer meaningful alternatives to it.  As visual literacy becomes increasingly integral to a liberal education, it is worthwhile to consider how we can facilitate this literacy through research projects that produce short videos.

Please join us for what promises to be a fascinating session as Bill and Nate talk about their experiences with using video for student research projects and Jim discusses campus resources for using video in your own classrooms.

Some helpful resources:

Top of page

American Immigration Revisited: Teaching Immigration in the St. Olaf Classroom

 Solveig Zempel, Norwegian, Boldt Chair; Chris Chiappari, Sociology and Anthropology; Eric Fure-Slocum, History, American Conversations; Judy Kutulas, History, Director of American Studies and Women’s Studies

“Migrations” is the academic theme for the 2009-10 year, and human migrations, as Jim May said in his announcement, are often where our attention is turned:

Who moves? Where do they come from and where do they go? What are the consequences of their migrations?
How can the U.S. embrace a proliferating ethnic and religious pluralism?

With recent changing patterns of immigration, and new immigrant groups coming to the U.S., with new challenges for them and for the communities they find themselves in,  it seems a good time to revisit how we address questions relating to immigration in our courses.  The presenters will talk about what their disciplines have to offer in studying immigration issues, and about approaches they take to teaching about immigration in their courses.  Solveig Zempel will share some of the resources and perspectives she brought back from the recent NEH Summer Institute on immigration.

Some online resources:

*Be cautious about sources, there are some quite nasty anti-immigrant groups out there with benign sounding names

Top of page

Teaching Students to Make Good Arguments: Designing Effective Assignments for Authentic Problems

Dolores Peters, History, St. Olaf College; Mary Savina, Geology, Carleton College

Whatever we might call it – critical thinking, analytical thinking, or making good arguments – most faculty members would probably agree with Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching Senior Scholars, Anne Colby and William M. Sullivan, who write that “analytical thinking is a necessary skill for modern living,” and argue that “in order to prepare for decision and action in the world, students need to develop not only facility with concepts and critical analysis but also judgment about real situations in all their particularity, ambiguity, uncertainty and complexity.”  But how do we most effectively teach those skills?

Dolores and Mary will discuss with us assignments they have developed that both help students to learn the methods of inquiry of their disciplines, as well as how to apply these methods to complex, real, problems.  Dolores will talk about how she sends history students to the Paris morgue in 1885 to solve a mystery, and Mary will talk about a structured assignment for a geology course that asks students to explain what caused the dust bowl.

Resources:
•    “State Your Case” Project, Science Education Resource Center http://serc.carleton.edu/case/teaching_ideas.html
•    “Strengthening the Foundations of Students’ Excellence, Integrity and Social Contribution”http://www.carnegiefoundation.org/perspectives/sub.asp?key=245&subkey=2942
•    Writing Arguments: A Rhetoric with Readings by John D. Ramage, John C. Bean, June Johnson

Top of page

Thinking about Thinking: Effective Metacognitive Strategies for Teaching and Learning

Diane Angell, Biology; Maria Kelly, Education; Kent McWilliams, Music

Diane, Maria, and Kent are all invited participants in the ACM Teagle Collegium on Student Learning (http://www.acm.edu/…).  The intent of the ACM Teagle Collegium is to deepen faculty members’ understanding of how students learn, and more specifically, how students acquire and develop the necessary skills for a liberal arts education, such as critical thinking and analysis.  Recent research on metacognition — learners’ abilities to predict their performance, monitor their learning, reflect on progress, and make adjustments to achieve their goals — has been a primary focus of the Collegium working group.

The participants will provide an introduction to the concept of metacognition, they will explain the work of the Collegium, and they will talk about their individual projects. Their projects focus on practical applications of the research metacognition for teaching:

What difference does this research make for the ways we teach?  
What do we want to know about what our students know and how they are learning, especially as it relates to the metacognitive practices we are considering?  
How do we move from the research to classroom assignments?  
How do we know if our teaching practices are making a difference?

Suggested Resources:

•    Serra, M. J., & Metcalfe, J. Effective implementation of metacognition. In D. J. Hacker, J. Dunlosky, & A. C. Graesser (Eds.), Handbook of Metacognition and Education, pp. 278-298. New York, NY: Routledge, 2009.

•    RM Isaacson, F Fujita, Metacognitive knowledge monitoring and self-regulated learning: Academic success and …, Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 2006.

•    Selected references on metacognition from the Science Education Resource Library http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/metacognition/selected_references.html

Top of page

CILA Faculty Technology and Teaching Poster Fair

Tuesday, November 3

Many faculty at St. Olaf are using technology in interesting and innovative ways to support their teaching and enhance students’ learning.  We’ve asked some of them to provide posters and/or demonstrations of their particular use of technology in and out of the classroom.  In addition, IIT staff will discuss and demonstrate various current technologies that are potential resources for faculty.  Come browse the buffet table, the displays, and the demonstrations, ask questions and get inspired!

Technology and Teaching Posters

Guido Alvarez – Art and Art History
      “Scholarly Playtime: Using New Media in the Classroom”
Jill Strass – Metadata Librarian
“ContentDM: Accessing Digital Collections”
Kent McWilliams – Music
      “Digital recording for teaching”
Dick Brown – Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science
     “Beowulf cluster computing for all: The HiPerCiC Project” (High Performance Computing in the Classroom)
Howard Thorsheim – Psychology
“Streaming video for disseminating work”
Charles Priore – Science Librarian
      “EndNote 13: Bibliographic software at its finest – now able to find .pdfs seamlessly”
Jun Qian – Music
“Google Calendar and design websites for students”
Devyani Chandran – Family Studies; and Molly Westerman – English
     “Group blog projects in the humanities and social sciences”
Peter Gittins – Chemistry
      “Getting Students to Click: Using Classroom Response Systems (CRS) to Engage Students”
Renata Debska-McWilliams – World Languages Center; and John Campion – IIT
      “WIMBA and Moodle: What is it?”

IIT Staff Demonstrations

Video Conferencing
Skype
Google Docs
Video Recording and Editing
Classroom Technologies
Mac OS10 Snow Leopard and Windows 7
Ask IIT

Top of page

Online Instruction and the Emergency Curriculum: An Interdisciplinary Collaboration

David Castro, Music; and Colin Wells, English and American Conversations

Have you wondered what it would be like to develop and teach an online course? What is transferable from face-to-face instruction to distance learning? Can we learn anything from doing an online course that would be helpful for our on-campus classes? Although St. Olaf currently does not offer distance courses, and doesn’t accept transfer credits that were earned in a distance setting, we have a unique opportunity to explore these questions.

In spring 2007, on the recommendation of the Curriculum Committee and the Academic Planning Group of the Pandemic Task Force, the Dean of the College asked for faculty volunteers to develop courses that could be taught entirely online. The college wanted to be prepared for a situation in which students could continue to earn course credits, and fulfill general education requirements, in the event the entire community had to be sent home.

Colin Wells developed such a course, ID 240: Literature and the Preservation of the Common Good, soliciting both text suggestions and feedback from colleagues, and posted it on Moodle.  David Castro answered a call for interest in teaching the course, and taught it as a test run – of the course and of the concept – with nine students during Summer School 2009.

In this lunch discussion, Colin will talk about the challenges of developing such a course: in particular, finding appropriate materials online, and structuring the course so that it could be taught by an as-yet-unknown faculty colleague.  David will offer an account of his experience teaching a distance course for the first time, and about things that worked well and others that needed adjustment.  The two have talked together since the course ended, and both will have some comments about this unusual “collaboration.”

Top of page

Moodle Tips and Tricks

Wednesday, 2 December

This Faculty Lunch Conversation is for anybody who uses Moodle, or who would like to use Moodle, the St. Olaf College course management system.  We intend the main focus of this session to be both an informal discussion about what faculty have learned from using Moodle in the classroom, and an opportunity for you to get answers to questions you may have about how best to use Moodle to accomplish your teaching objectives.

Dan Beach and Joel Johnson from IIT will provide an overview of the current state of Moodle on campus, and they and other representatives from IIT will be available to serve as our technical consultants.  However, we want to hear from all of you about how you have been using Moodle.  If you have used Moodle to post an illustrated syllabus, to provide a space for your students to engage in on-line discussions, or collaborate on writing, we would like to hear from you.  And, if you just want to learn how to do some of those things (and why), we also welcome your participation.

Top of page

Spring

What Can a Beowulf Cluster Do For You?

Creating Teaching and Research Software Acriss the Disciplines through Undergraduate Research

Wednesday, February 17

Dick Brown, MSCS- Computer Science; Chris Chapp, Political Science; John Schade, Environmental Studies; Solveig Zempel, Norwegian; Mike Holm ’11, Mary Scaramuzza ’12, and Stephanie Tanner ’10

(co-sponsor: IIT)

With today’s advances in computing technology, it’s now quite feasible to carry out tasks at a scale that was formerly out of the question. For example, one could:

  • identify and classify every dot in the works of the pointillist painters, or every brush stroke of the impressionists, seeking new insights;
  • simulate the life-cycle of an entire forest by executing a non-trivial computer model for each individual tree in that forest;
  • analyze the structure of every sentence written by a group of authors; or
  • correlate the price fluctuations for each NYSE stock to new events that happened at the time.

St. Olaf’s Beowulf computer clusters and undergraduate research students in all majors make it possible to develop computations to accomplish goals like these, in any discipline, and also to create “HiPerCiC” (High Performance Computing in the Classroom) user interfaces that enable faculty and students with no particular computing expertise to use those computations to make their own disciplinary explorations. Example projects at various stages of planning and development will be presented, in Environmental Science, Political Science, and Linguistics.

Additional information:

Top of page

So You Think Your Students Read Before Class?

Focusing the Scholarly Lens on Student Learning

Tuesday, February 23

Karl Wirth, Geology, Macalester College; Fahima Aziz, Management and Economics, Hamline University

Learning from texts is an important skill for success in college, and in life, yet we know relatively little about how our students interact with their texts. This study examines student reading habits and skills, and seeks ways to improve student learning through development of metacognitive knowledge, self-regulation skills, and reflection. The project also provides an example of what can we learn about our students, their learning, and our teaching when we apply scholarly methods to our courses.

Additional Information:

  • Paul R.Pintrich. The Role of Metacognitive Knowledge in Learning, Teaching, and Assessing. Theory Into Practice; Autumn 2002, Vol. 41 Issue 4, p220, 7p. (Pintrich is a professor of education at the University of Michigan.)http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=aph&AN=8550717&site=ehost-live
  • Peggy A. Ertmer and Timothy J. Newby. The expert learner: Strategic, self-regulated, and reflective. Instructional Science 24: 1-24, 1996. (Kluwer Academic Publishers. Printed in the Netherlands. Ertmer and Newby are on the faculty of Purdue University, College of Education.)
  • Keith W. Thiede, Mary C.M. Anderson, David Therriault. Accuracy of Metacognitive Monitoring Affects Learning of Texts. Journal of Educational Psychology, 2003, Vol. 95, No. 1, 66 –73. (Attached here; also available online at Carleton via Bridge, or in paper copy in the Science Library.)

Effective Strategies for Writing Letters of Recommendation

Wednesday, March 3

Wendy Allen, Romance Languages- French; Bruce Dalgaard, Economics and Director of CEL; Bob Entenmann, History and Asian Studies, St. Olaf College

(co-sponsor: IIT)

Faculty members are often called on to write letters of recommendation for students who are applying for fellowships, graduate school, and employment. We also write letters in support of colleagues being considered for promotion and tenure, for grants, or for employment elsewhere. Writing good letters of recommendation is an important skill, but not one that most of us learned in graduate school. If you have ever wondered what an excellent letter of recommendation looks like, or puzzled over how to write one, please join us for this Conversation. Our presenters have years of experience writing letters of recommendation. In addition, as members of the tenure and promotion committee, as coordinators of the student Fulbright program, and as grant proposal reviewers, they have also had the opportunity to read many letters. They will share with us their observations about what makes for an excellent letter of recommendation.

Suggested Resources:

Blogging: The Construction of Open Dialogues in Education

Tuesday, March 9

Guido Alvarez, Art and Art History; Devyani Chandran, Social Work and Family Studies; Molly Westerman, English, St. Olaf College

(co-sponsor: IIT)

Blogs. Some of us contribute to them, some of us read them, but it’s probably safe to say that relatively few of us use them for teaching. Come to hear Guido, Devyani, and Molly talk about their experiences using blogs for teaching.

The use of blogs in the classroom provides students with a different, and potentially wider, audience; it increases collaboration between students; and it provides greater chances for collaborative teaching and learning (for example, students can blog across classrooms which look at different perspectives of the same area, e.g., cultures of desire, human sexuality). This presentation will focus on the basics of blogging but will also demonstrate how blogging can be used to promote different learning objectives based on the discipline they are used in. Anyone interested in learning how blogs have been used to further educational goals would benefit from this presentation.

An example from the Arts/Art History:
“I use blogging in two different ways:  First, I teach students how to blog, how to interconnect their blogs with social networks to promote their work/thoughts/ideas, to make them feel what “going public” means, to reach out to cyberspace, and to develop an audience for their thoughts; I also teach them how to (theoretically) monetize using the interface by incorporating (and selling) advertising space in their blogs. Secondly, I use blogging as a platform to archive and disseminate every project we work in class. They present their artistic construction process step by step using this platform.” (Guido Alvarez)

Suggested Resources:

 Learning Through Speaking: The ORC in Action 

Wednesday, March 17

Jeanne Willcoxon, Theatre; Eric Fure-Slocum, History, American Conversations and CIS; Bill Sonnega, Theatre and Media and Film Studies; Kathy Shea, Biology, St. Olaf College

(co-sponsor: ORC)

According to a survey of entering St. Olaf College students this past fall, only 26 percent reported that they frequently worked on learning how to “speak effectively” in high school, although they had a strong expectation that this skill would be important in their lives after college.  St. Olaf College alumni confirm that oral communication is an important skill in their post-graduate lives, but they are less certain about whether their St. Olaf education “greatly enhanced” these skills .

How can we as faculty help our students learn the effective oral communication skills they and we value?  What are ways to integrate oral communications instruction into existing courses, or think about oral communications as an important learning outcome for the construction of new courses?  This Conversation features several faculty members who incorporate oral communications instruction into their courses in biology, history, and media studies.

Please note that for interested faculty there will be a summer ORC workshop about teaching oral communications in courses across the curriculum.  More information on this event to come! 

Suggested Resources:

 Teaching non-Majority Students

Wednesday, April 14

(co-sponsor: Multicultural Affairs and Community Outreach [MACO])

As the diversity of our student body increases does this hold any implications for how we teach?  We have assembled a panel of faculty and students who will provide their thoughts on this question and who invite you to join them in a conversation on this topic.

Suggested Resources:

 Situating Quantitative Literacy (QL) in the Context of Argument

Tuesday, April 20

Nathan Grawe ’96, Economics and Associate Dean of the College, Carleton College

(co-sponsor: Office of Evaluation and Assessment)

This Conversation should be of interest to anyone concerned with helping students make effective arguments with quantitative evidence, whether the context for those arguments is history, biology, or religion. Nathan will describe the Quantitative Inquiry, Reasoning, and Knowledge (QuIRK) program he has directed at Carleton that uses student writing across the disciplines to teach and assess quantitative reasoning.

As a 2000 discussion paper prepared for the National Council on Education and the Disciplines (NCED) at the Woodrow Wilson Foundation notes,

   “campaigns for literacy are commonplace, now even part of presidential politics. Yet there is little corresponding public concern about numeracy…The public seems not to grasp either the escalating demands for quantitative literacy or the consequences of widespread innumeracy.”

Former New York Times editor, Max Frankel, wrote that “deploying numbers skillfully is as important to communication as deploying verbs.”

As QuIRK Co-Director Nathan Grawe (’96) notes, “by situating quantitative reasoning (QR) in the context of argument, Carleton’s … (QuIRK) initiative has found it possible to foster rapid implementation of QR across the curriculum by leveraging institutional knowledge contained in our writing program.”  After discussing how quantitative reasoning can be connected with making good arguments, Nathan will lead participants in a discussion of student work samples.  The presentation will also include recent assessment results from Carleton’s program and implications of those results for their new QR graduation requirements.

Suggested Readings:

  • The Case for Quantitative Literacy”  (Working Draft, April, 2000) http://www.stolaf.edu/other/ql/case.html
  • Bok, Derek. 2006. Our Underachieving Colleges: A Candid Look at How Much Students Learn and Why They Should Be Learning More. Princeton University Press: Princeton, NJ.
  • Orrill, Robert. 2001. “Mathematics, Numeracy, and Democracy,” in Mathematics and Democracy: The Case for Quantitative Literacy, Lynn Arthur Steen, ed. Princeton, NJ: National Council on Education and the Disciplines.

 What’s a Lecture Good For?

Tuesday, April 27

Gary Muir, Psychology and Neuroscience; Maria Kelly, Education

“Lectures play a vital role in teaching. There will always be a place for lectures in the curriculum — to give technical material or factual information, to provide structure to material or an argument, to display a method or example of how one thinks in a given field, or even to inspire and motivate students to explore further.” (Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning, Harvard University, 2002)
“In his now classic book, What’s the Use of Lectures?, Bligh (1972) argues that although lectures are believed to allow the acquisition of information, the promotion of thought, and changes in attitude, the evidence suggests that only the first of these can be achieved effectively (but no more effectively than by other more active teaching methods).” (Sally Hunter, Educational Research and Advisory Unit, Jill Tetley, Students’ Association, University of Canterbury, HERDSA Annual International Conference, Melbourne, 12-15 July 1999)
“Virtually, the only advantage lecturing has over other methods is that it exposes students in person to a scholar’s ongoing thinking…the unique combination of the lecture thus derives from the nexus between research and teaching…Even so, care is needed.”  (John Biggs, Teaching for Quality Learning, 2006)

As the above quotes illustrate, there is a range of views about what a lecture is good for and how it may be employed most effectively. Maria and Gary will briefly survey what findings from educational research and cognitive science tell us about the lecture, and invite you to join them in a conversation on this widely employed method of teaching.

Suggested Resources: