2019-2020, Issue 2 - Spring
Core Faculty Newsletter
2019-2020, Issue 2 - Spring
The Spring 2020 semester is well underway and the Office of the Core in the College of Arts & Sciences would like to highlight resources, opportunities, and news from across Baylor’s campus that speak to the vision of the A&S core curriculum as well as promote faculty development and general education more broadly. You are receiving this latest edition of the Core Faculty Newsletter because you are one of the 338 Baylor faculty teaching an impressive 644 sections for a total seat enrollment of 15,236 in the unified core curriculum this Spring 2020 semester.
In this edition, Dr. Christopher Richmann (ATL Assistant Director), in his latest contribution to 'The Teaching Corner,' shares with you "The Promise and Perils of Interactive Learning;" Dr. Lori Kanitz (IFL Assistant Director) presents a wealth of educating-for-virtue resources that have been produced due to a recent resurgence of interest in virtue ethics; and as we all work toward inclusive classroom environments for our students, a list of beneficial workshops and multicultural events for faculty are highlighted in our sections on 'Diversity and the Core' and 'Opportunities for Engagement.'
But first, join me in recognizing our colleagues Drs. Julie deGraffenried, David A. Smith, Julie Anne Sweet, Stephen Sloan, and Daniel Watkins, who together make-up the History Dream Team, and who have the honor of serving as our Spring 2020 "Faculty Spotlight". Each Core Faculty Newsletter begins with a Faculty Spotlight in which we celebrate the talent of those among us and their commitment to teaching in the core curriculum.
For more information on the Arts & Sciences core curriculum, including a complete list of courses, definitions for all core virtues, as well as a Baylor password protected faculty teaching resources page, visit www.baylor.edu/ascore.
Lauren Poor, Ph.D.
Director of the Core, College of Arts & Sciences
The Teaching Corner: Pedagogy and the Core
The Promise and Perils of Interactive Learning
- Dr. Christopher Richmann, ATL Assistant Director
Continuous exposition by an instructor—aka “lecture”—is common in higher education. This is especially true in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics classrooms (Hurtado, et al., 2011). Instructors who err on the side of control and consistency in the classroom or who lack the time or examples to envision other ways of teaching might be particularly attracted to lecture.
Lecture can be effective for narrow objectives related to memorizing terms, definitions, and some concepts (Bligh, 2000). But lecture is less effective for higher-order thinking, that is, understanding, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and evaluating. Through the last three decades of education research, especially looking at college instruction, a consensus has emerged that interactive learning is clearly more effective in helping students develop understanding of material along with a range of critical thinking skills, while interactive learning is at least as effective as lecture in helping students remember basic information (Freeman, et al., 2014). Relatedly, interactive learning has been shown to positively affect students’ attitudes and motivation to learn.
Interactive learning (often misleadingly called “active learning,” see Zakrajsek, 2016) is any process in which the learner engages with the material, the instructor, other students, or their own mental processes related to learning. As such a broad definition suggests, interactive learning comes in many forms: discussion, problem-solving, writing exercises, debate, re-presentation of material in a new form (e.g., drawing), gaming. The list goes on.
Despite the strong evidence in favor of interactive teaching methods, instructors should be aware of three potential perils.
First, many students may resist interactive learning, due to unfamiliarity with the methods, the greater effort expected of students, and the impression that peer interaction results in “the blind leading the blind.” Some research suggests that, in general, men and less experienced students, and more specifically, more experienced students in larger classes, prefer lecture to interactive learning (Owens et al., 2017; Messineo et al., 2007). Negative attitudes toward interactive learning may affect students’ attitudes, participation, student evaluation of the course, and students’ grades and learning.
Second (and related to the first point), many students feel they learn more through lecture. This is true even when experimental conditions show that these students have actually learned more with interactive methods (Deslauriers et al., 2019). This deceptive “cognitive fluency” effect can be especially pronounced when instructors deliver particularly well-organized and smooth lectures, essentially deluding students into thinking they understand something because it is delivered so expertly. These effects are compounded by the facts that novice learners are poor judges of their own learning and that learners generally feel they learn less when learning is difficult (primarily because the feeling of mastery eludes them), when—within reason—precisely the opposite is the case (Brown et al., 2014).
Finally, interactive learning does not work automatically. Student retention and comprehension of information will likely not improve simply by incorporating interactive learning techniques. To capitalize on the potentials of interactive learning, instructors should understand some of its theoretical groundings. For instance, because correcting misconceptions and connecting new information to prior knowledge are vital to understanding, using a “classroom response system” (like Clickers) will only improve student learning if students discuss their reasoning before seeing the correct answer. Likewise, think-pair-share will be ineffective if instructors do not allow students enough time to think about a question (Andrews et al., 2011).
These possible perils are not reasons to forgo interactive methods; the potential benefits for student learning are simply too great. Instead, to mitigate student resistance, instructors should be transparent with students, explaining that decisions on teaching methods are based on what will help students learn (Felder, 2001). Remind students that “feelings of learning” and learning are not the same, and that some difficulties are desirable in the learning process. Finally, instructors should give themselves time to become adept at interactive methods and seek advice from (or observe the teaching of) instructors who use these methods effectively. Oftentimes, it takes a semester or two to become comfortable with a new teaching technique. Don’t be too quick to discard a teaching method just because it failed once or doesn’t feel natural.
Andrews, T., Leonard, M., Colgrove, C., Kalinowski, S. (2011). Active learning not associated with student learning in a random sample of college biology courses. CBE Life Sciences Education, 10(4), 394–405. https://doi.org/10.1187/cbe.11-07-0061.
Bligh, Donald A. (2000). What’s the use of lectures? San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Brown, P. C., Roediger III, H. L.,& McDaniel, M. A. (2014). Make it stick: The science of successful learning. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press.
Deslauriers, L., Mccarty, L., Miller, K., Callaghan, K., Kestin, G., & Deslauriers, L. (2019). Measuring actual learning versus feeling of learning in response to being actively engaged in the classroom. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 116(39), 19251–19257. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1821936116
Felder, R. (2001). Hang in there: Dealing with student resistance to learner-centered teaching. Chemical Engineering Education, 43(2), 131-132. https://www.engr.ncsu.edu/wp-content/uploads/drive/1Mm8lfTwEL4W3OG3qzb_ c6NNelpQ82WWA/2011-r_HangInThere.pdf
Freeman, S., Eddy, S.L., McDonough, M., Smith, M.K., Okoroafor, N., Jordt, H., & Wenderoth, M.P. (2014). Active learning increases student performance in Science, Engineering, and Mathematics. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 111(23), 8410-8415.
Hurtado S, Eagan K, Pryor J.H., Whang H., Tran S. (2011). Undergraduate Teaching Faculty: The 2010–11 HERI Faculty Survey. Los Angeles, CA: Higher Education Research Institute.
Messineo, M., Gaither, G., Bott, J., & Ritchey, K. (2007). Inexperienced versus experienced students’ expectations for active learning in large classes. College Teaching, 55(3), 125-133.
Owens, D.C., Sadler, T.D., Barlow, A.T. et al. (2017). "Student Motivation from and Resistance to Active Learning Rooted in Essential Science Practices." Research in Science Education.
Zakrajsek, T. (2016). All learning is an active process: Rethinking active/passive learning debate. The Scholarly Teacher (weblog). https://www.scholarlyteacher.com/blog/all-learning-is-an-active-process
Virtues and the Core
- Dr. Lori Kanitz, IFL Assistant Director
The recent resurgence of interest in virtue ethics has produced a wealth of educating-for-virtue resources. Everything from blogs to podcasts to sample assignments are available as guides to best practices. Many of these resources have been curated for Arts and Sciences instructors and made available on the Core Curriculum Virtues web page. One of the best introductory guides is Jason Baehr’s Educating for Intellectual Virtues: An Introductory Guide for College and University Instructors. Baehr, professor of philosophy at Loyola Marymount University, author of The Inquiring Mind: On Intellectual Virtues and Virtue Epistemology (Oxford University Press, 2011 ), and co-founder of a charter middle-school, the Intellectual Virtues Academy of Long Beach, CA, sets out guiding principles essential to consider as we build and revise courses with virtue formation in mind. A sampling includes the following:
- Set small, realistic goals with one or two target virtues in mind. Baehr suggests we ask ourselves “[R]ealistically, what kind of growth might [students] experience” in, for example, “curiosity, open-mindedness, intellectual humility, or intellectual courage” in a single semester? It is better to aim at small, meaningful experiences that move students toward deep learning than frustrate both ourselves and them with unrealistic goals.
- Forge respectful, caring, trusting relationships. Baehr notes that because virtue formation involves shaping students’ beliefs, attitudes, and feelings about learning, it is a “deeply personal affair.” Positive changes in dispositions toward learning and life are “unlikely to occur in environments that feel hostile, disrespectful, unsupportive, or unsafe. Susceptibility to personal change—including changes in intellectual character—occurs more readily in contexts marked by respect, care, and trust.” Instructors need, therefore, to consider carefully ways they can create environments conducive to self-reflection and growth.
- Focus on active thinking. Virtues, including intellectual virtues, develop through practice. Educating for virtues requires that course materials and pedagogies work in tandem to achieve a “pervasive and ongoing focus on actively engaging with and thinking about the subject matter in question.” Baehr notes this may seem obvious, but we need to ask ourselves: “‘When I think about what my students are doing for the majority of the time in my classes, is it clear that they are given frequent, well-supported opportunities to engage in active thinking about the material we are covering? Or is most of their time spent listening to me talk, with occasional opportunities to ask questions . . . or to engage in class discussion?’”
For more of Baehr’s guiding principles as well as concrete examples of course objectives, sample assignments, and assessment tools, download the full pdf linked here and above.
Upcoming Learning Opportunities
- Communio: Enrollment is still open for Communio retreat for Baylor educators, May 18-22, 2020. Arts and Sciences faculty are warmly invited to attend. If you are interested in participating, please contact either Darin Davis or Lori Kanitz. More information about the retreat can be found here.
- Forming Character in the Classroom Workshops: Save the date for two spring workshops, Tuesday, Feb. 11, and Wednesday, March 25. Workshops will feature lunch and a presentation by a recognized educator in his/her discipline; opportunities to rethink course structure and syllabi with colleagues from across the disciplines; and practical ideas for lesson building with character formation as a goal as we seek to fulfill Baylor's commitment to foster "spiritual maturity, strength of character, and moral virtue." Information about speakers, location, time, and registration will be coming soon!
Diversity and the Core
Last spring, a number of Arts & Sciences faculty members who are teaching courses in the Common Core were invited to participate in a three-day Intergroup Dialogue workshop facilitated by Dr. Deidre Johnston (Hope College) and Dr. Lorna Hernandez-Jarvis (Whitford University). Among numerous exercises, A&S colleagues prepared and shared sample lessons for their students based upon the Intergroup Dialogue model.
The Academy for Teaching in Learning invites you to attend a Seminar for Excellence in Teaching (SET) on Monday, February 10, 4:00-5:00 in Jones Library 200 titled "How I Changed My Course for Diversity and Inclusion." Come hear from David Moseman (Religion), Elise Edwards (Religion), Tara Foley (English), Stephen Sloan (History), and Kristi Humphreys (English) who will explore the content, teaching behaviors, and learning activities that capitalize on diversity and foster inclusion, as well as share their recent approaches, successes, and challenges, while inviting participants to think concretely about ways to teach inclusively.
As we work toward inclusive classroom environments for our students, there are numerous occasions for you, your colleagues, and your students to participate in diversity opportunities at Baylor and in the wider academic community, including:
- June 8-12 - AAC&U TIDES Institute. Registration due February 4, 2020. Find more information here.
- Intergroup Dialogue and Diversity Education Summer Institute 2020 at Hope College. If you would like to participate in a workshop on Intergroup Dialogue, click here for more information.
- Feb. 27 - Black Heritage Month Banquet at 6pm. This event is put on by the Black Student Union in conjunction with the Department of Multicultural Affairs.
- Feb. 29 - Multicultural Women’s Symposium, 9am-3pm in the Barfield Drawing Room, Bill Daniel Student Center. Workshops will be presented by women faculty and staff at Baylor University.
- Mar. 21 - Baylor Leadership Summit. Experience opportunities to experience cross-cultural awareness and meaningful interactions as well as learning best practices for leading and how to affect positive change.
If you have any speakers or events that you would like to publicize that relate to multicultural experiences, please send us your information to share with our campus community. For faculty resources you may also visit the Diversity & Inclusion webpage.
Cultural Events Experience
The start of the unified Core also launched the Cultural Events Experience. Last fall, 61 CEE events took place, with 1942 students in attendance. For this Spring 2020 semester, there are already 105 events scheduled, with an estimated venue capacity of 32,135 seats.
An exciting collection of Creative Arts events - concerts, plays, art exhibitions, film screenings, literary readings, and other experiences - are being sponsored this year as part of the new Cultural Events Experience requirement. We encourage faculty involved in lectures, exhibits, or performances in the fine arts on campus to propose events for the CEE requirement, especially for the 2020-21 academic year. The event proposal instructions are available here.
Proposals for Cultural Events Experiences (CEEs) 2019-2020 academic year are reviewed and accepted on a rolling basis. For more information, please visit the CAE webpage or email Steven Pounders or Kaity Briscoe.
Work on the English and History unified core curriculum common readers continues apace, and below the editors describe how the teaching and feedback process this fall has contributed to the final shape of the print reader.
From teaching the US in Global Perspective reader this past fall on Canvas, we learned a number of things – both from personal experience and from our colleagues who provided feedback – that have contributed to the final print product. For example, we learned how important the visual elements of the reader are to the overall project. We incorporated a number of visual primary sources such as advertisements, photographs, paintings, and political cartoons throughout. Since we were able to use the reader in full color this past fall on Canvas, we found that students really responded to the visual element of the reader and provided instructors with compelling texture and detail to interpret and analyze. It was especially beneficial to be able to put these images up during a class period for analysis as a group after students had spent time with these sources individually. Further, we found that a number of pieces could be modified in length – whether making them longer or shorter was appropriate – and that instructors were pleased with the variety of voices and sources we were able to incorporate. Over 60% of the primary sources come from outside the U.S., fulfilling a key aim in a reader entitled “The U.S. in Global Perspective.”
Teaching the reader this past fall reinforced the editors’ earlier premise to shape the final selections around literatures of Texas and the Southwest, where possible. In addition, the editors worked to avoid duplication with extant anthologies, to emphasize the larger objectives of the course, American Literary Cultures (history and context, global impulses, diverse heritage and cultures in conversation), to create more cohesion thematically among the texts, and to appeal to the Baylor undergraduate audience.
Teaching with the American Literary Cultures reader has revealed both commonality and diversity among the texts—not only among the writers, their backgrounds and experiences, but also among the texts’ themes and genres. Texts talk about American writers’ conversation with global literary movements: Alexis de Toqueville critiques American literature from the point of view of the European, while Mark Twain counters with humor, delightfully describing the American “Back from Yurrup.” The memoirs of frontiersmen Davy Crockett and Bigfoot Duval and cowboy Nat Love, an ex-slave who became a famous cattle driver, exemplify Texas’ literary role in Southwest Humor and the mythology of the Old West. Writers as diverse as regionalist Sarah Orne Jewett of Maine and naturalist Mary Hunter Austin of California speak across the continent as proto-feminist environmental protectors of the land. Contact, imperialism, and exchange are present in the early American texts before 1800: as cultures come in contact, texts confront one another with varying perspectives on the landscape and the peoples they encounter. Lost Spanish explorer, Cabeza de Vaca, given hospitality by the coastal peoples of south Texas, expresses his surprise at the natives’ compassion yet disdains their generosity in sharing scant resources. In contrast, founding father Ben Franklin counters the common nomenclature of indigenous peoples as “savage” by citing instances of hospitality and civility. Fray Matias Saenz, father of Spanish missions in south Texas, argues that the local native peoples are barbarous but “docile”, “sheep” ready for conversion, while Red Jacket of the New York Seneca politely rejects evangelizing among his people on the basis of religious difference. The reader offers a rich assortment of texts, eagerly awaiting the engagement of the Baylor reader.
If you have an interest in developing a textbook or reader, please contact Baylor University Press Interim Director David Aycock at David_Aycock@baylor.edu.
Opportunities for Engagement
- February 3, 2020 - Core Course Submissions Final Deadline for consideration in the 2020-2021 catalog.
- June 8-12, 2020 - AAC&U TIDES Institute. Registration due February 4, 2020. Find more information here.
- Intergroup Dialogue and Diversity Education Summer Institute 2020 at Hope College. Click here for more information.
- February 10, 2020 - Seminar for Excellence in Teaching, 4-5pm. "How I Changed My Course for Diversity and Inclusion." Find more information here.
- February 27, 2020 - Black Heritage Month Banquet at 6pm. Email Rachel Bay for more information.
- February 29, 2020 - Multicultural Women’s Symposium Saturday February 29, 2020 9am-3pm in the Barfield Drawing Room, Bill Daniel Student Center. Email Jeronda Robinson for more information.
- March - Women's History Month in March - Events are planned by a committee of students, faculty, & staff. Anyone who is interested in serving on the committee should email Rachel Bay. The calendar of events will be announced on the Diversity & Inclusion website & social media once finalized in February. Find more information here.
- May 18-22, 2020 - Communio - Arts & Sciences faculty are warmly invited to attend. If you are interested in participating, please contact either Darin Davis or Lori Kanitz. More information about the retreat can be found here.
- March 21, 2020 - Baylor Leadership Summit. Experience opportunities to experience cross-cultural awareness and meaningful interactions as well as learning best practices for leading and how to affect positive change. Find more information here.
- Developing a textbook or reader. If interested, please contact Baylor University Press Interim Director David Aycock.
- Proposals for Cultural Events Experiences (CEEs) 2019-2020 academic year are reviewed and accepted on a rolling basis. More Information.
To view more opportunities for engagement and further details, please visit the Opportunities for Engagement webpage.