Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Dartmouth’ Category

John Tansey (Executive Director of Off-Campus Programs), Heather Earle (Counseling and Human Development), Kevin O’Leary (General Counsel), Leslie Seabrook (Risk Management) and Lisa Thum (Undergraduate Dean’s Office) were all on hand to present a thorough program designed to answer a slew of questions and alleviate the concerns of the 10 faculty attendees who will be leading or participating in upcoming off-campus programs for the College.

Each attendee received a three-ring binder of useful information on roles and responsibilities, program orientations, and general health and safety, along with case studies, readings and more.

The program progressed along a planned open discussion of the most frequently asked questions, but even the two-hour block of time could have gone on further.

Since this blogger is not a legal adviser, I will refrain from providing my edited and interpreted responses to the questions, but would like to highlight some of the FAQ that were discussed.

  • What is faculty liability if a student is injured on a program? Does the college cover me for liability?
  • What should I do if a student who will be participating on my program informs me, prior to the program, that he/she is receiving ongoing care for a serious medical and/or mental health condition?
  • Why don’t we ask students to complete the voluntary health disclosure form before acceptance decisions are made for the program
  • If I find that one or more of my students is abusing alcohol or drugs (or violating one of the Off-Campus Programs Norms of Conduct) do I have the authority to remove the student(s) from the program should I decide to?
  • What should I do if one of my students informs me that he/she has been sexually assaulted?
  • In the event of a medical condition, should I recommend that the student visit the medical clinic nearest the host family or university, or should International SOS be contacted for a referral?
  • How does medical confidentiality and FERPA affect Directors?

Often, the answers to these questions seemed like common sense, but it was certainly good to have them clarified. The general advice in most situations was to stay alert, touch base with all concerned, and keep the Off-Campus Programs Office and Dean’s Office in the loop.

Anyone leading or considering leading an off-campus program would be wise to contact John Tansey and his team for more thorough and complete answers to their questions. I know the workshop’s attendees appreciated the chance to learn more from all of the presenters.

Read Full Post »

Close attention to very small details of student writing can, and usually does, open windows on the larger issues involved in teaching and learning academic writing. Four faculty members from the Institute for Writing and Rhetoric (IWR) presented the results of their painstakingly close inspection of a sample of first-year writing. Karen Gocsik, Sara Chaney, Stephanie Boone and Doug Moody conducted their study under a mini-grant recently received by the IWR.

Gocsik focused her attention on building a taxonomy of rhetorical and linguistic habits frequently evident in first-year writing. She found that students

  • generalize far too much and sometimes never focus attention on specific bits of evidence
  • don’t really own their arguments; they tend simply to report information and others’ opinions
  • fail to do a good job integrating what they read into their writing

Gocsik invited the workshop group to pay particularly close attention to how student use, or fail to use, “evidentials” in their writing. Evidentials are words that express a writer’s attitudes about knowledge, opinions and information. These would include words like

  • Believe
  • In fact
  • Therefore
  • Since
  • Probably
  • Because

and phrases like

  • As _____has claimed
  • In spite of __________’s conviction
  • ___________ thinks
  • ___________ assumes

Novice writers, she finds, use evidentials rarely or improperly, probably because they do not know what they believe concerning the issues and topics about which they write. They have not forged a stance, let alone a voice, in relation to their topics and the evidence they quote or cite. In short, novice writers tend to report rather than argue. One remedy for this, Gocsik suggests, is for instructors to write evidential words and phrases in the margins of students’ papers as leading feedback, prompting them to re-write using evidentials.

Sara Chaney conducted what she calls a “deep audit” of how student writers use sources in their writing. Her concern was not simply proper quotation, attribution and citation, but, like Gocsik, how they use quotations in their essays. Mostly, she found, students “quote drop”; that is, they quote sources without taking any kind of position towards the opinion or information quoted. Like Gocsik, she found novice writers tend to ignore the evidential framing of the sources they use, as if they simply combed through lots of sources looking for thematically similar sentences to quote with little or no regard for the arguments and positions of the sources from which they were lifted. Chaney’s findings reminded me of a story a reference librarian once told me: a student comes up to the reference desk during her duty time and says, “I’ve finished my paper, now I need help finding sources to quote in it.”

Stephanie Boone took a very close look at how novice writers use metaphors.

  • What metaphors do they commonly use?
  • How do they inform arguments?
  • Where do they come from?

Boone recommended Lakoff and Johnson’s Metaphors We Live By as an excellent guide to how metaphors can structure how we see things, what we think and what we do. She found that most novice writers appear pretty much unconscious of the metaphors they use in their writing and she suspects that by raising their awareness of the metaphors they use, we can help them improve their writing.

Finally Doug Moody, joining the workshop by videoconference from Mexico, wrapped up the presentation by suggesting that we routinely invite students to conduct similar close analyses of their own and their peers’ writing:

  • Study how they use evidentials
  • Analyze their use of sources
  • Unpack their use of metaphors

If we build such close reading skill development into writing courses, novices will advance sooner and more confidently.

Read Full Post »

Christiane Donahue and Karen Gocsik, both from the Institute for Writing and Rhetoric (IWR) led a very useful workshop on constructing and using rubrics for three purposes:
• Clarifying and articulating what truly matters to instructors when evaluating a graded assignment: this clarification is useful for us as instructors and also, of course for our students.
• For “backwards planning” in course design: once we have a clear sense of what the assignments in a course are for, and how to measure success, it is easier to plan the rest of the course.
• As a formative tool: using rubrics to guide the sort of feedback we give to students on ungraded assignments so they will perform better on later graded assignments.
• To engage students directly in assessment of their own work by having them work together to build rubrics for work we assign to them.

Christiane offered this working definition of a rubric:
A grid of some kind that describes the traits desired in student work. These traits may be weighted relative to each other and the grid may also specify a range of quality for each trait that corresponds to a grade value.

She also outlined some of the pitfalls in using rubrics to grade student work:
• If the trait descriptions are too general or vague, students get mixed messages.
• If the descriptions are too complex and detailed, students try to work to rule or recipe.
• Rubrics are a poor substitute for one-to-one interactions with students; they might make such discussions more fruitful, but they cannot take their place.

Christiane led us through a rubric-building exercise with the help of some examples from Appendix A of Walvoord and Anderson’s Effective Grading (Jossey Bass 2010). Working from an already designed assignment, preferably one we had used before, we asked ourselves these two questions:
• What really matters in this assignment and why?
• For each feature that really matters, what does success look like?
Working in groups of three or four, we listed the features that most matter and then described success on a three-level scale for each feature. In this way, we roughed out a basic rubric for our assignment.

Another way to build a rubric is to start with several samples of student work from a previous assignment and glean from those samples the features that seem most important to success on that assignment. For new faculty, or people designing a new course, this method is less useful.

Karen Gocsik walked us through quite a different way of constructing rubrics for graded work. When she started assigning students to prepare video presentations of various sorts, she decided to recruit students into the process of constructing the rubric that would be used to grade their own work. Karen followed the processes outlined above, and the students worked together, independently of Karen, on their own rubric. Though there was a good deal of overlap, there were also important surprises. Then Karen and her students agreed on a combination of features and values selected from both rubrics and used that to evaluate their work.

Read Full Post »

Every course at Dartmouth has a Blackboard site that instructors can make available to students, and every undergraduate is required to have a computer.  Finding technology in classes is therefore no surprise.  But what do Dartmouth students really think about the technology associated with their classes?   That’s what Lucretia Witte ’10 set to find out through surveys and interviews with fellow students.

Lucretia shared the results of her study with a room packed full of faculty, librarians, technologists, and administrators on April 20, 2010.  In preparation for the workshop and as a means to make her results accessible, Lucretia created a Blackboard site as a model for how it could be used for a class.  Students and faculty were asked to share their opinions in response to questions she asked through the online discussion board before the session.  While walking us through her site and examples for using Blackboard, Lucretia shared her findings and moderated a discussion.

The main message from students was a good reminder to us all: More important than any technology (or lack of) was feeling engaged and as if the instructor cares about the community in the classroom and about each individual student.  The students feel small classes are the best and anything that helps them engage with the material, the instructors, and each other makes a good class.  In fact, Lucretia pointed out that learning may not be the main criterion students use to evaluate a class.  They want to know how much work the class will be and if that work will be rewarding.  From this project, Lucretia learned that students were more likely to respond to her when they felt a personal connection to her and the project.  The same holds true for classes.

Although many of the student comments focused on class size and personal interactions, some had strong feelings about how and when technology is effective in their courses. The consensus among students is that PowerPoint is most effective when used for images (from art to biology) and not for text.  Lecture capture received mixed reviews.  Many preferred video to audio-only, but some say any class recordings may make them less likely to attend the class, a concern raised by faculty as well.  One student suggested that specific class sessions could be recorded if requested by a student who would be unable to attend.  Pre-recorded short lectures assigned as part of class preparation were seen as a way to allow for more engaging class time.  The interactive tools on Blackboard (discussion boards, blogs, and wikis) seem to be viewed favorably only when they are used to prepare and be more engaged in a class discussion.  When they are used to wrap-up a discussion and the next in class meeting is on a different topic, they seem less effective.  Many students felt their classmates simply wrote because they had to and the online discussions were not true discussions and often a waste of time.  Pre-course surveys, on the other hand, that allow faculty to learn about their students before the class even begins, were praised by students and faculty.

We were reminded that most of the current Dartmouth students started using computers before the age of 10.  They started reading on Reader Rabbit, relying on interaction, visuals, and sound.  This may be why the students say images, music, and videos are what grab their attention outside of class – not the printed word.  Most course materials are printed text and students think it’s “nice to change up assignments.”

A faculty member asked if the price of required reading influenced course choice.  Lucretia responded honestly on behalf of students that they want easily accessible materials, and for some that means all readings should be posted on Blackboard, and some may not do readings that are difficult to obtain.  Faculty were curious if students read electronic documents online or printed hardcopies and a discussion of reading preferences ensued. Lucretia’s advice was for faculty to make the readings available in different ways (books and readings that can be purchased, borrowed, read online or printed as hard copies) to accommodate students with different preferences.  Copyright issues were mentioned as a barrier to posting readings, especially older works, electronically.   The librarians in the room encouraged faculty to work with them to create e-reserves that could be linked to Blackboard.

The grade center is another Blackboard tool that was mentioned as useful to address another student preference – to be assessed and graded as fast as possible.  Seeing assignments in the grade center and knowing what they are worth is also helpful.  Students really like transparency and knowing the point of an assignment and why the received the grade they did.  Many in attendance pointed out the importance of early assessments and ungraded work that give students the chance to fail and try again.

In the end, the student comments could really be summed up as the basis of good course design:  What are the goals for the class?  What do we want the students to learn and contribute?  How can we best engage students in the class and with the materials?  What technology, if any, will help us achieve those goals?

For those of you at Dartmouth, the discussion continues on Lucretia’s Teaching with Technology Blackboard site where a recording of the session is available.  Let us know if you’d like access to the student and faculty posts already there and to add your own voice.  Plus you may get ideas for how to set up your Blackboard site for your next class.  You also can read more about Lucretia and her project in Josh Kim’s interview with her:  http://www.insidehighered.com/blogs/technology_and_learning/a_student_s_views

Read Full Post »

Few people would argue that one of the easiest ways to connect students to foreign culture and language without traveling is through the medium of film. Alfia Rakova, who teaches in the Russian Department, and Mayumi Ishida, who teaches Japanese in DAMELL, both have a long history of “Teaching Language through Film” and shared their experiences in a DCAL workshop on April 22.

Russian

Rakova received a grant from The Language Consortium back in 2000 and used the funds to develop teaching materials (readers and exercise books) from the scripts of four films. Film scripts are not regularly published, however, so it meant watching and re-watching the film countless times in order to extract a working script. From there, she could build vocabulary lists, identify parts of the film that serve to demonstrate grammatical points that she wants her students to work with and understand, and highlight language exchanges between characters that serve to model real-world interactions. The films also provide a rich repository for discussing culture, history, and music in the target language. Rakova notes, “This is not a film course; it is a language course,” and the purpose of using the films is to help students build vocabulary and their abilities with the Russian language, as well as to introduce students to aspects of Russian life and culture. In Intermediate Russian courses, students work closely with the texts that Rakova developed. For the advanced classes, though, “The film is the book”!

Watching the films is not merely a passive activity. The tasks in which Rakova involves her students encompass the four skills of reading, writing, speaking and listening. Along with more typical exercises around vocabulary and grammar usage, students may be asked to write, present, or debate in Russian on themes, plot elements, or characters. They may develop their own skits borrowing from language employed in the films, which are then presented to and evaluated by class peers. Going beyond the film, in fact, is what students like most, as Rakova receives positive feedback from students who enjoy discussing the issues, watching films without subtitles, and re-imagining the characters in new scenarios of their own creation.

Japanese

Ishida, too, has been teaching with films for quite a while. She shared many of Rakova’s opinions on the value of film for teaching language and culture, and pointed out additional aspects as well. For example, films excel at presenting clear demonstrations of non-verbal communications, which textbooks may only be able to describe. Unlike video prepared as part of a standard language textbook, films are not created with language students in mind. This can be both a blessing and a curse, however. On the one hand, the language is more natural and it allows instructors a lot of freedom in choosing what to teach, and they are more motivating to students. On the other hand, though, it can be quite time consuming for an instructor to select content and to balance it with other course materials appropriately.

In her time working with films, Ishida has taken at least four different approaches. The first method is similar to what Rakova did with her Consortium grant. Ishida refers to it as the “holistic” approach. In essence, it involves tackling a film as an entire project–deriving the script, creating vocabulary lists, making grammar and culture notes, formulating grammar exercises, homework activities, and quizzes, and selecting which Kanji characters to introduce. The process takes a lot of time and it can be a challenge to find related materials. Even after expending incredible effort on such a task, some films have “expiration dates,” when the appropriateness of using the film is gone due to societal changes.

The second method is “project oriented.” It starts with a theme and then Ishida selects several films based on the theme. At the end of the term, students submit presentations or papers that explore the plots and themes of the films. While this method exposes students to more complex issues, the language learning takes more of a back seat, especially since students watch the films with subtitles for course efficiency. Conversations may still take place in the target language, but the learning is not as deep linguistically.

The third method is to teach with films as an L2 culture course. This is similar to the project model, but the course is taught in the target language exclusively. Worksheets and activities are still prepared to explore vocabulary, grammar, and story elements. And, students still complete a term project. Unfortunately, as an intensive language course, this is appropriate for intermediate and advanced students only, and may be best suited to short-term programs.

The fourth method is a hybrid of elements from all of the above. Ishida selects one film for viewing throughout the course, which is taught in the target language. The early part of the course deals primarily with linguistic aspects of the film, such as grammar and vocabulary. As the course progresses, more of the thematic topics of the film are explored. This approach allows the students to better internalize the language elements as well as the thematic elements over a longer period of time. The biggest challenge, though, is finding films that are suitable. The film not only needs to be appropriate to the teaching goals, but also needs to lend itself well to viewing over many class sessions.

Challenging Work

Too often, when an instructor turns to using films or television shows in their courses, other people outside of the field, may perceive the course as “easy” for students or not involving a lot of effort on the part of the instructor. Both Mayumi Ishida and Alfia Rakova make it very clear, however, that choosing to teach with films may actually be one of the most difficult and time-consuming decisions an instructor can make, and the reward is the greater motivation to learn and involvement with the language that they see in their students.

Read Full Post »

Accommodating Success

In every syllabus on campus you will find a statement regarding the instructor’s willingness to accommodate the special learning needs of individual students. However, the goal in designing our courses, our assessments, and in managing our expectations should really be about accommodating the success of all of our students.

On April 7, 2010, DCAL hosted a panel of four Dartmouth students who spoke to an audience of faculty, staff and administrators about the ways in which they are enabled to succeed in classes despite their personal challenges. These challenges include physical disabilities, learning disabilities, speech impediments, and mental illness. The panel was organized by co-directors Emily Broas ’11 and Rebecca Gotlieb ’12 of the student organization Access By Leadership in Equity (ABLE). Similar to a session held by ABLE for students in February, the DCAL event was an opportunity to raise awareness and continue a dialogue begun the previous year at a DCAL forum.

The students on the panel offered a combination of personal stories and recommendations for faculty. Despite the variations in their disabilities, consensus emerged on a number of their suggestions for teachers, which are likely to benefit all students in the course:

  • Plan your course and stick to your plan: some changes may be unavoidable, but for students who need extra time or who need to arrange for additional assistance, a constantly changing environment is unnecessarily stressful. Pop quizzes and 24-hour assignments do not reinforce learning.
  • Have materials available ahead of time: whenever possible, making PowerPoint slides, course lectures, and class readings available well in-advance, allows students more time to study and work through the materials before coming to class.
  • Keep control of the class: distractions in the classroom are distractions for everyone. Help reinforce respectful behavior in the classroom, such as being on time and staying engaged and focused until the period ends. Loud food wrappers, chatty side communications, and early pack-and-go types distract teachers and students alike.
  • Explore variety in your teaching: having the class engage with materials and information in different ways helps to solidify the learning, allowing students to discover different ways to approach and process the content according to the strengths of their own learning styles.

In addition to classroom tips, the panelists offered some direct advice on working with students with disabilities:

  • Allow the students to be the experts on their accommodations: most students who have diagnosed disabilities have already discovered the secrets of their success. Let them inform you.
  • Move beyond the syllabus statement: students recognize the difference between a professor who includes the accommodation statement on the syllabus and one who understands and respects what it means. Every term, a student with a disability must explain to another group of faculty what it means and how it will impact their learning. An invitation to speak privately at one’s office goes a lot further than the “please see me after class” alternative. Plus, a faculty member who creates a positive tone and atmosphere around the topic of accessibility creates a healthier learning environment for everyone. One suggestion was for faculty to consider using pre-course surveys to begin the conversation and to get a sense of the needs that students may have before even stepping foot in the classroom.
  • Above all, LISTEN: By far the most important things that anyone can do is to simply listen to your students. Recognize that all students are there for the same academic purpose, regardless of their ability. And, in listening even the teacher can become the student.

In the discussion that followed the panelists’ presentations, questions from the audience helped remind us, however, that there are no absolute “best practices.” For example, while learning management systems (LMS) like Blackboard offer a wealth of tools for students and teachers, feelings are mixed on the usefulness of some of those tools. The LMS is great for making materials available, for example, but some students questioned the overuse of discussion forums. While asynchronous forums do allow students more time to prepare their responses to a class discussion, which is definitely a positive, the volume of conversation that ends up being exchanged in forums can be overwhelming to students and faculty alike. Tom Luxon shared his hope that our classrooms should become REAL learning communities, in which everyone is there to learn and encourage the learning of others, but acknowledged the fact that the necessary “disclosure” of everyone’s strengths and weaknesses is not always possible.

As the session drew to a close, attendees were reminded of the importance of simple respect and attention, and all agreed that institutionally, Dartmouth should enforce policies that advocate for all its students to succeed.

Read Full Post »

IWR Professional Development, Facilitated by Laura Braunstein and Karen Gocsik

What do first-year writers know about writing and research? What don’t they know? And how can instructors design assignments that will improve their students’ research practices? Today’s workshop, sponsored by the Institute for Writing and Rhetoric, addressed these questions by profiling two assignments offered by faculty/librarian partners Sara Chaney and Bill Fontaine, and Jenn Sargent and John Cocklin.

Key to developing good research assignments is the understanding that most first-year students are not at all familiar with the kind of research that scholarship requires. Many students arrive at Dartmouth thinking that research is something you do after your paper is written—a matter of finding sources to support the argument you’ve already made. Or they think that scholarly databases function in the same way that Google does. Or they believe in the absolute veracity of Wikipedia. In order to be sure that our students aren’t working under faulty assumptions, instructors need to develop assignments that encourage students to discuss and to test their research assumptions.

In her Writing 2-3 class, Sara Chaney has developed an assignment designed to do just this. Prior to developing this assignment, Sara noticed that her students (like most first-year students) were having difficulty coming up with good research questions. The topics were too often too big. Looking for another way “in” to scholarly research, Sara developed an assignment that began with a very close reading of her course material: Eric Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation. Sara asked her students to select one of the book’s many claims, to note the source from which the claim was made, to locate that source, and to read it with the aim of determining whether or not the source was reliably represented. Students then shared their findings—including their research questions and surprises—in a discussion co-facilitated by Bill Fontaine. Inevitably, additional research questions arose and hypotheses were posited that formed the basis of the students’ own research papers.

What’s interesting about Sara’s assignment is that it asks students to follow the knowledge trail—students do not take Schlosser’s claims at face value but rather burrow deeper into his research process, discovering the source of his claim and assessing his use of that source. This exercise gives students a sense of how challenging it can be to interpret a source, and how important it is to offer an interpretation that is arrived at carefully, and ethically. The exercise also encourages students to understand knowledge in context. No argument is made in a vacuum. A scholar pays attention to the ways that sources are used, making sure that the sources speak to one another—and to the reader—in a way that is credible and ethical.

Jenn Sargent’s research assignment also encourages students to consider how knowledge is constructed from sources, but in Jenn’s class students begin with the source itself—the New York Times article that inspired Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood. After telling students that Capote decided to do further research on this story by flying to Kansas with his friend Harper Lee, Jenn and librarian John Cocklin ask students what they would do if they saw a similarly interesting article in the paper and wanted to research further. Students offer various research strategies, including Google and Wikipedia, giving Jenn and John the opportunity to demonstrate the limitations of these sources and to encourage students to consider others—for instance, court transcripts, interviews, and other primary sources. Students are then required to write a paper based on a crime that intrigues them using at least ten primary sources of their own. Students must make decisions about these sources and how best to use them. In the process, students take their research practices into the world, phoning clerks of courts and perhaps even interviewing prosecutors. They come to see research as a process that is very much “alive.”

In both assignments, students are learning first-hand how arguments are constructed from sources. They also learn that the best research often comes not from sweeping questions but from small observations. Indeed, students come to see that working more concretely with sources provides them access to the big questions that they are itching to pursue.

Read Full Post »

DCAL workshops are branching out! For this session, sponsored by the Institute for Writing and Rhetoric, a participants gathered at the Hood museum, for some first-hand experience with the “Learning to Look” methodology.
For the first part of the session, curators Lesley Wellman and Kathy Hart, who facilitated the session, asked us to step into the role of students. They guided us through an exploration of the Hood’s Assyrian Relief’s, which highlighted these processes:

  • begin with careful observation and inventorying of the object under study
  • work collaboratively as a group, gathering and extending both observations and questions
  • decode the object as a visual communication

After this exercise, the group discussed the value of this method, and of including objects from the Hood’s collection, in teaching across the curriculum. For me, the main take-aways were these two:

  • Studying – and observing – almost any object at the Hood will quickly lead students to realize that answers to many of the questions raised need to come from a variety of disciplines. Our Assyrian Relief example cannot be understood without expertise from archeology, cultural anthropology, forensic anthropology, history, art history, biology, climatology, geography, environmental studies, linguistics, religion – to name the most obvious contributing fields. Even seemingly simple questions about these objects require cross-disciplinary efforts – and students will recognize this quite naturally.
  • Using these materials in teaching can generally enhance students’ skills at critical analysis. Our students are often tempted to immediately jump to interpretation and conclusion. By encouraging a period of careful looking, of taking stock, of slowing down, we can encourage the development of a more “critical” stance towards primary materials.

Detail from a Assyrian Relief panel at the Hood museum

Read Full Post »

Deep and transferable learning requires reflection. Learning something is good; knowing how you acquire knowledge and skills is even better! And that kind of knowledge comes from reflecting on our learning processes and habits. Integrating such reflection into our courses takes very little time and the benefits can be stunning. Here’s a very simple method that requires almost no time to plan and only a few minutes to carry out in class.

Print out enough copies of “Bloom’s Taxonomy of Orders of Thinking” for your class. (Download a copy at http://www.dartmouth.edu/~dcal/resources/) Then, while students straggle into class some post-midterm day, distribute the copies and ask them to circle all the words in the left-hand column that describe activities required in your course. It might help to have your course’s goals and expectations up on the screen. Once everyone’s done, invite them to talk for as long as you wish about what they circled. Ideally they will have circled quite a few of the higher order activities like “evaluate,” “criticize,” “construct,” and “formulate.” Help them identify connections between the course goals, the assigned work, and these higher-order thinking skills. The benefits? They will know more about how they learn and how to design good learning strategies. You will get feedback about how successful you have been designing a course that cultivates a range of thinking skills.

Read Full Post »

Image of gavelIn DCAL’s second event of 2010, Speech Instructor Julie Homchick presented “Making Debate Useful in the Classroom,” which proved to be an ideal introduction to debate structure and process. Homchick began with a personal anecdote from early in her teaching career that highlighted the general misperception that debate can be as simple as splitting a class in half, tossing out a topic, and stepping back to let the learning happen, only to to hear cacophonous personal invective or the resounding thud of silence. She went on then to describe the more regulated back and forth process of standard policy debate, explaining the language of the field as well. An accompanying handout  contained both the vocabulary (e.g. case, resolution, harm, inherency, solvency) and a sample classroom activity.

After presenting case construction and defense techniques, Homchick, stopwatch in hand, divided the participants into groups to practice the actual process. Topics for the different groups ranged from “The tenure system should be abolished in higher education” to “Dartmouth should introduce more technical and vocational courses into the curriculum.” The minutes ticked by rapidly as each group became absorbed in the activity.

At the conclusion, there was general agreement that the more formalized process of debate held great value for students, especially as it could contribute to the development of arguments in their own papers. However, one concern expressed was the risk of regular use of debate in the classroom possibly leading to papers that become too argumentative. Another advantage suggested was the use of a similar formalized structure as the basis of peer review or even self-reflection and review. As with all classroom activity choices, Homchick reminded attendees that one’s learning objectives should direct both the decision to use debate, as well as the content of the debate.

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »

info-fetishist

yeah, it's long -- I didn't have time to make it shorter

Feral Librarian

Research libraries & higher education. Sometimes music, sports, & other stuff.