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Engaging Faculty in Scholarship of Teaching and Learning: A View from BRIDGE Bridging Research, Instruction, and Discipline-Grounded Epistemologies College Teaching and Learning Conference January 2004 Arlene Wilner Professor of English Director, RiderBRIDGE

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Engaging Faculty in Scholarship of Teaching and Learning: A View from BRIDGEBridging Research, Instruction, and Discipline-Grounded EpistemologiesCollegeTeaching and Learning ConferenceJanuary 2004Arlene WilnerProfessor of EnglishDirector,

recursive bridge activities
Recursive BRIDGE Activities
  • Reflect upon and articulate disciplinary epistemologies
  • Design and implement teaching strategy
  • Assess effectiveness of the strategy, using CATs (Classroom Assessment Techniques)
  • Document inquiry in case-study format
  • Share findings (“go public”) in one or more venues, including BRIDGE website:

what bridge is not
What BRIDGE Is Not
  • Not non-disciplinary

No template or set of generic skills

  • Not inter-disciplinary

Purpose: To help faculty do more effectively what they already do

why discipline grounded
Why Discipline-Grounded?

“. . .information-processing problems are goal oriented, and epistemic problems are oriented toward the incongruity that generates the problem.”

Michael Carter, “Problem-Solving Reconsidered: A Pluralistic theory of Problems.” College English 50.5 (Spring 1988), 551-65

example from biology cont d3
Example from Biology, cont’d.


  • 5 point sheets must count
  • misconceptions MUST be addressed
  • thought questions
  • follow up questions on exam
  • BIO300 Exam average FA/99 - 60.5
  • BIO300 Exam average SP/02 - 73.4
example from biopsychology dr jonathan karp
Example from BiopsychologyDr. Jonathan Karp
  • [I gave] In-class writing assignments such as impromptu review paragraphs and quizzes.
  • I changed aspects of the laboratory portion of the class to accommodate the fact almost all the material and vocabulary covered is new to the students. This is especially important because the students have not learned to approach/view the world in a critical/scientific manner.
  • I significantly slowed down pace of lectures. One of the most difficult things for me was to get over the feeling that I was being too ‘remedial’ in what I covered. A part of this involved intentional repetition during my lectures.
example from communication law dr pam brown
Example from Communication Law Dr. Pam Brown
  • Having listened to my colleagues in BRIDGE and reading the many variations on CATs [Classroom Assessment Techniques] developed by others, I devised the following approach. First, I had to accept that as tight as time is in a course like this, I needed to give class-time to ‘walking students through’ the use of the course materials. I also decided to attach credit to the completion and submission of the Study Guides. . . My overall conclusion is that it is appropriate to spend as much as a full hour walking through the students’ handling of the questions on the Guide to Understanding Cases. Though class time is at a premium, this is clearly time well spent.
example from literary theory and critical methods dr ryan netzley
Example from Literary Theory and Critical Methods/ Dr. Ryan Netzley
  • You will write five response papers. All of them must be to essays in the packet (not chapters from The Theory Toolbox or the literary works). You may choose the texts to which you respond. Responses are due on the day that we begin discussion of a given text.

Response papers ask you to critically engage a text and produce some analytical commentary on it.

example from literary theory and critical methods
Example from Literary Theory and Critical Methods

English 240 – Methods of Literary Analysis

Instructor: Ryan Netzley

Exam One

For this exam, you will produce two dialogues between critics, theorists, authors, or characters. You may choose from the following three options:

1) David Foster Wallace, Foucault, and Nietzsche on the subject of meaning and its proliferation.

2) Hamlet (the character, not the play or “Shakespeare”), Freud, and Foucault on the subject of subjectivity, individuality, and personhood.

3) Nealon (co-author of The Theory Toolbox and primarily responsible for the sections on popular culture and ideology), Adorno (you may ignore Horkheimer for our purposes), and Benjamin on either Kenneth Branagh’s Hamlet or Michael Almereyda’s Hamlet (do not attempt to address both films!).

In short, you should produce a discussion between three figures that addresses one of the major concepts that we’ve discussed in class.

example from literary theory and critical methods1
Example from Literary Theory and Critical Methods

Having begun this project with the conviction that one of the chief problems that haunts this course (and others like it, regardless of title) is student resistance and the entire reductive pragmatic discourse that attends such resistance ("Derrida is too hard"; "why do we have to read this stuff?"; "isn't it all just up to the individual?"), my main intervention -- at the level of assignments -- was a dialogue exam that required students to inhabit various critical, theoretical, and literary figures. This alternative exam structure proved moderately successful, as student responses improved dramatically after the exam [emphasis added]. The downside, of course, is that this progress did not occur until midway through the semester. In the future, I would experiment with more and more directive response papers, asking students to mime theoretical texts earlier in the semester.

why multidisciplinary
Why Multidisciplinary?

1) Emergence of common themes:

  • Expert vs. novice learning
  • Tension between coverage and critical thinking
  • Challenge of helping students read purposefully
  • Need to acknowledge cognitive and affective level of students
  • Difficulty of matching teaching with testing
why multidisciplinary1
Why Multidisciplinary?

2) Opportunities for analogic thinking

Example: “I have decided to change my project for the spring 2002 semester. Inspired by Anne Osborne [History], I have revised two of my [Business Law] courses. Like Anne, I want my students to read primary sources and critically evaluate varying solutions to a variety of ethical and legal dilemmas.”

Dr. Susan Denbo

why multidisciplinary2
Why Multidisciplinary?

3) Greater faculty awareness of role within larger community:

Increased respect for the challenges faced by colleagues in other disciplines

Increased understanding of challenges for students, who must contend (as “novices”) simultaneously with four or five of us!

the value of qualitative data
The Value of Qualitative Data

Importance of contexts and “thick description”:

“If teaching is going to be community property it must be made visible, through artifacts that capture its richness and complexity. In the absence of such artifacts, teaching is a bit like dry ice; it disappears at room temperature.”

Lee Shulman, President, Carnegie Academy for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning

the value of qualitative data1
The Value of Qualitative Data

Insights yielded by longitudinal studies:

Performance at next level, success rate at obtaining interviews and securing jobs, success in graduate school (ideas from a chemistry professor)

Interviews with students who took the course a year ago: “I’m wondering if the opportunity to engage in problem-solving has had any impact on how they see themselves as learners—and how they remember the course (ideas from a psychology professor)

the value of qualitative data2
The Value of Qualitative Data

Compelling nature of “latitudinal” studies—

analogous effects from similar experiments conducted independently of each other (enhanced by multi-disciplinary faculty development structure)

the value of qualitative data3
The Value of Qualitative Data
  • Insights yielded by problem-posing and inquiry regardless of “replicability” of outcomes:

“Ultimately, the measure of success for the scholarship of teaching movement will not be the degree to which it can—by focusing on the ‘many layers of practice’ at the heart of teaching —discover solutions worth implementing, but the extent to which it is successful in discovering problems worth pursuing.” Randy Bass

the value of qualitative data4
The Value of Qualitative Data

Impossibility of “controlled” experiments:

Classroom Assessment-Classroom Research =“any systematic inquiry designed and conducted for the purpose of increasing insight and understanding of the relationships between teaching and learning.” K. Patricia Cross

expect resistance
Expect Resistance
  • “What if. . .?”

“I just don’t know how good I will be at either self-examination or willingness to change the way I teach dramatically. I will give it a try, but don’t be too disappointed or surprised if I fall short of your expectations.”

expect resistance1
Expect Resistance
  • “Don’t blame me.”

“Why don’t we have better students?”

“How much can we lower the bar?”

“How much can we be expected to spoonfeed?”

the value of going public
The Value of “Going Public”
  • “I thought the program was very helpful in comparison [with others] because there was an actual focus and seeming purpose to the presentations.” (English professor)
  • “The format was valuable for semi-structured exchange of ideas—without this structure it is clear that the audience would have spent the full time in a gripe session about students” (biology professor)
  • “I find it helpful to get concrete examples of different ways to improve instruction and hear about problems/issues in their implementation. . . .These ‘live cases’ are really great.” (finance professor)
the value of going public1
The Value of “Going Public”
  • “I appreciated that [the program] discussed SPECIFIC efforts on the part of individual faculty to enhance teaching effectiveness.” (biology professor)
  • “I particularly liked the focus of the session,. . .which assumed that students were to be addressed at the level at which they come to us and that it is the responsibility of the teacher to figure out how best to teach them. This is a point that cannot be made often enough.” (English professor)
the value of going public2
The Value of “Going Public”
  • “It is always enlightening to have a glimpse into how colleagues deal with problems and issues I also face. . .I worry about how to balance course content with learning that will have staying power with students. . . .I liked the [Communication Law professor’s] experiment with shifting some of the burden for the course onto students, and getting them to evaluate how they learn, not just what they are learning.” (French professor)
better to light a candle
Better to Light a Candle. . .
  • BRIDGE was a very valuable experience for me. You know the old cliche about it being better to light a candle than to curse the darkness. I think cursing the darkness of dealing with students' poor preparation, lack of motivation, and odd (for lack of a better term) learning styles can be all too prevalent. It felt good to be a part of trying to light a candle. . . .