Conference on Teaching and Learning
Monday, May 8, 2017
|03:00 PM - 03:20 PM||
By Kathy Wheeler
Tuesday, May 9, 2017
|11:15 AM - 12:15 PM||
By Doug Haywick
|10:00 - 10:20 AM||
By Cecelia Martin
|10:20 - 10:40 AM||
By Brooke Howard
|10:40 - 11:00 AM||
By Robert Gray
|11:15 - 11:35 AM||
By Fred Baker
|11:35 - 11:55 AM||
By Christopher Freed
|11:55 - 12:15 PM||
By Jenny Manders
Cecelia Martin, Angela Coleman
University of South Alabama
Institutions where accountability is part of its daily processes view assessment as normative and an essential component of planning and teaching. However, as Kramer (2009) states, “Many college faculty react to student outcomes assessment the way most of us react when we see a rattlesnake within striking distance. First, we perceive a threat, and then we react. Common faculty reactions to the perceived threat of assessment include metaphorically running away and throwing rocks or sticks at it” (p. 8). One of the major reasons for this reaction is that faculty lack training in the benefits of assessment practice and therefore, view it as yet, another activity for which they are not compensated to the fulfill the expectations of an external mandate (Kramer, 2009). Through training and practice faculty may begin to recognize the numerous benefits of assessment, most importantly, how student learning may be improved through the collection and use of assessment data for continuous improvement. One of the key components of the use of data for continuous improvement is sharing information and engaging in conversations with other faculty. In an effort to promote a better understanding of assessment practices at USA, a panel of faculty will discuss the benefits of assessment focusing on how they have used assessment data to improve instruction and student learning.
Brooke Howard, Columbia Southern University
So often in online learning, educators rely on traditional, test-based assessments because it is more difficult to create meaningful, real-world assignments in this type of environment. However, the majority of online learners are non-traditional adult learners, and research has shown that these learners thrive when assessments have direct correlation to their lives. This is where authentic assessment comes in. This presentation will explore authentic, real-world assessments and assignments in an online environment. Topics will include on overview of what authentic assessment means, why it is important, and how to design it. In addition, examples of these types of assignments will be presented and discussed so that the audience has a grasps of how these assignments can work in the online world.
Robert Gray, Magnus Nerheim
Universitetet i Bergen
In Norway, almost all course grades are based entirely on a 3- to 6-hour exam (skoleeksamen) given at the end of the term. As a result, the typical Norwegian university classroom is a place for information delivery and the examination is a place for information retrieval. The assumption is that a mystical process occurs somewhere in the middle where students process this information into knowledge and position it for future applications. However, neither the teaching nor assessment strategies currently being used seem to be designed to catalyze this enchanted transformation. In an effort to improve student learning outcomes, the University of Bergen is implementing a new initiative to help instructors make use of alternative assessment methods in their courses. Research has demonstrated that the design of quality courses, including the content, instructional methods, and assessment activities, requires the constructive alignment of these elements with intended learning outcomes and constructive feedback on student performance throughout the learning process. In the Norwegian system, however, there is a long-standing distinction between teaching (undervisning) and assessment (vurdering), and one of the primary aspects of this project is to explore the validity and necessity of this distinction. The project, which began in Spring 2017, will redesign the assessment activities of over twenty courses These strategies will be chosen to match the course’s content and learning outcomes and will be developed collaboratively with other participants. Furthermore, the effectiveness of these methods will be rigorously measured and compared using a combination of quantitative and qualitative measures.
Fred Baker, The University of Tampa
Strategic Planning is a crucial leadership process for establishing and communicating a clear direction for departments and organizations. Through establishing a common set of priorities to serve as the litmus test for all decisions, departments and organizations, as well as those within them, can better navigate challenging or changing situations and improve performance through iterative learning and working toward a common direction. When clearly articulated, strategic plans serve as the framework by which all decisions within the unit are aligned. This presentation will outline semi-empirical methods for creating a clearly articulated strategic plan that is well aligned throughout. Some of the tools and methods shared include a model for dissecting and examining vision and mission statements, practices for analyzing strategic plans from other departments/organizations, using logic modeling to align resources and activities with the mission and vision, tips for how to include others in the process, and how to limit the involvement of others while still providing them with meaningful input opportunities, and more. The session leader will also outline methods for examining statements and strategic plans from other departments or organizations. These methods were utilized in creating the strategic plan for an Academic Success Center at a medium sized private university, and are based on a variety of tools from evaluation, instructional design and other sources. A solid strategic plan is a wonderful framework from which to build assessment efforts, align resources, and make decisions about the extending or retaining services.
Christopher Freed, University of South Alabama
A debate persists both inside and outside of higher education concerning the basic learning skills that graduates from public, four-year universities should possess. This debate, however, which seems particularly relevant to disciplines within the arts and sciences and to discussions about how best to deliver general education curricula, appears to privilege a discourse about best pedagogical practices over a dialogue about specific and agreed-upon learning skills. Drawing from several years of experience teaching an introductory-level, social science course that is a general education elective at a public, four-year university in the southern United States, this exploratory paper cautions against favoring or opposing one or another pedagogical approach to building basic learning skills among undergraduate students at public, four-year universities without first soliciting input from teaching faculty of the university regarding what precisely these learning skills should be. To this end, the analysis argues in favor of, for example, administrative-level recognition at public, four-year universities of the basic learning skills that undergraduate students are lacking after teaching faculty identify such skills, revised admissions standards for applicants to public, four-year universities and transparent admissions procedures, and release time from other professional expectations, as well as sabbatical leave to prepare and revise undergraduate courses, for faculty members who wish to mainly pursue building learning skills among undergraduate students. This paper suggests that public, four-year universities that deliberate about best pedagogical practices before ascertaining and acknowledging the basic learning skills that undergraduate students should possess risk neglecting a central component of their civic mission.
Jenny Manders, Nicole Carr
University of South Alabama
The number of adult students who are older than what has been considered traditional college age has been steadily increasing over the past two decades, and these students now represent a significant proportion of university enrollment. The National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES) reported in 2007 that thirty-eight percent of college students were age twenty-five or over, and this number has continued to increase. When the definition of “nontraditional” is expanded to include additional characteristics of adulthood, such as parenthood, full-time employment, financial independence, or part-time attendance, the number may be raised as high as seventy-three percent. Many have been working for as long as a decade(CAEL, 2016). It is critical that we understand the changing demographics of our students and how best to recruit and retain those who have formerly been considered “non-traditional’ but could now be considered typical. One of the hallmarks of adult education is the provision of academic credit for prior (experiential) learning. This presentation will explore the evolving profile of the “typical” college student and multiple ways of assessing and providing credit for experiential learning that occurs outside of the traditional academic environment.
Kathy Wheeler, Stephanie Ard
University of South Alabama
With the increasing availability of open access journals has come the corresponding problem of predatory publishing, journals that utilize the open access model to earn money. Unlike many legitimate open access journals, which require fees to maintain operations, predatory journals accept papers with little or no oversight, regularly foregoing the rigorous peer review and editorial standards expected of academic journals. Moreover, predatory publications often have professional-looking websites and detailed submissions and formatting guidelines, making it difficult to recognize a scam publication. Given the publish or perish culture of most of academia, it is important that faculty members be able to distinguish between a legitimate publishing opportunity and a predatory publisher or journal. Fortunately, librarians and other educators have been developing ways to help authors make this distinction. In this presentation, we will discuss the various tools authors can use to avoid submitting their work to a predatory publication, including both directories of verified publications and “blacklists” of known scams. Moreover, because no such lists can be exhaustive, we will also address how to recognize both the hallmarks of reliable publications and the traits common to unreliable ones. Finally, we hope to locate our discussion of predatory publishing within the larger conversation about scholarly integrity."
Doug Haywick, University of South Alabama
It has never been easy teaching science and scientific reasoning to introductory university students in the South. With few exceptions, most freshmen in this region have yet to gain the necessary investigative skills that scientific inquiry needs. These deficiencies are especially problematic for courses that discuss evolutionary theory such as Earth history (GY 112). I have taught this course for 20 years and have usually maintained decorum in the classroom between scientific reasoning and individuals' personal beliefs. To do this, I spent considerable time stressing how scientific reasoning works, the scientific method and explaining specific tests by which data were collected/analyzed. Most students seemed to understand that their personal views were opinion, and that the scientific method was different because it provided actual evidence by which to interpret past Earth history events. Most students seemed able to separate "faith" from "science" (especially on exams!). Questions in class, always welcomed, queried the evidence, not the scientific methodology. Occasionally students would ask about the science they saw in movies like Jurassic Park, but this led to informative discussions about how Hollywood portrayed science. With increased web content and online blogs that "teach" alternative facts, every possible scenario, every conspiracy theory, regardless of how ridiculous, became a viable substitute for rational scientific explanation. Alternative facts are now permeating the classroom and instructors have to deal with them. This presentation will lament public understanding of science in our society, but will also offer possible means by which to counter scientific ignorance in the classroom.