Ticklish Ears

Parenting, education, the Christian walk, and other ticklish subjects
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Summer Institute

Next week, our university will be hosting the 4th Annual Summer Institute for Teaching and Learning (SITL). This is a three and a half day workshop for Western faculty. Part of the time is spent in plenary sessions with a guest facilitator. This year, our facilitator is Donna Llewellyn, Director of Georgia Tech’s Center for the Enhancement of Teaching & Learning.

The rest of the time is spent in individual focus groups. There are six focus group sessions during the week for a total of about ten hours. I am facilitating the Designing Courses for Significant Student Learning focus group (ironic, given my recent experience with Math 101).

We’ll be following the course design framework laid out by Dee Fink in Creating Significant Learning Experiences : An Integrated Approach to Designing College Courses. You can read more about Fink’s approach at www.significantlearning.org. There’s even a handy-dandy downloadable Self-Directed Guide for course design at the website.

We’ll be focusing a lot on outcomes and starting out course design by understanding what the goals of the course should be. Each participant is coming with a particular course in mind. My first planned activity is for participants to come up with a fictional student who would take their course and write a story about how the course has influenced that student one or two years later. I’m hoping that this will get faculty thinking about students on an individual basis. I also like the idea of thinking about what the course needs to be like in order to have an impact on students beyond the course itself.

We start next Monday. I’ll try to provide daily updates (though my track record on such updates is pretty abysmal).

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