by Gretchen Ritter, August 8, 2012
I am continuing to meet with the various CTP projects this summer, and have been deeply impressed with all of the good work being undertaken by the faculty teams across campus. In my discussions yesterday with the Chemistry CTP team they showed me some of the work they are doing to integrate course materials into canvas, and we talked about ways to help prompt students to make the best use of collaborative opportunities in their classes. We also talked about the importance of prompting students to adopt effective learning strategies - for instance by showing them video clips of other students talking about what worked for them in their CTP courses and then having the students write about what they learned from that.
On another note, Uri Treisman sent me a link to a blog post by David Bressoud titled "Barriers to Change" which addresses the reasons that faculty are reluctant to adopt proven pedagogies, and when they do adopt them often do not stick with them. Here's a quote that will give you a flavor of the essay:
"Many researchers have studied the phenomenon of trying and then abandoning innovative approaches to teaching. The hurdles that faculty face include student complaints, inability to cover the same quantity of material, and weaker than promised student outcomes. . . That does not mean that faculty dare not try to modify a received instructional strategy. It does mean that whatever changes they incorporate into their classes must be reflected upon and monitored for effectiveness."
We have been talking a great deal recently about what kind of support and recognition structures are needed to insure that faculty who engage in education innovation work will sustain that work and even become leaders in their departments and disciplines for education innovation. Mentoring, resources, revised course evaluations, support with assessment and feedback on course outcomes - all of these need to be considered as we move this effort forward.
As always, I welcome your comments and questions.