Teaching and Learning Circles

PETAL sponsors a limited number of learning circles for faculty and those staff who have teaching responsibilities.

Learning circles promote faculty development by bringing together small groups of faculty for one of two goals:

  1. To share their pedagogical knowledge and experience both within and across disciplines.
  2. To explore a topic/pedagogy/technology about which none of the participants is yet an expert.

In the first type of learning circle, one or two faculty members lead the group, acting as mentors for their colleagues. In the second type, one individual acts as a "first among equals," facilitating group exploration of the chosen topic.

The following Teaching and Learning Circles (TLCs) are part of an effort from PETAL to create venues for ongoing, outcome-oriented faculty development at St. John Fisher College.


Summer 2009

Communication Across the Disciplines

Facilitator: Miri Pardo, Department of Communication/Journalism

If professional competency is important for our graduates, the ability to deliver effective presentations is paramount. Rare is the career where employees will not be called upon to deliver a speech, run a meeting, or field questions. This instructor-led learning circle will focus on the development of speaking assignments across disciplines with the ultimate goal of improving student presentational, public speaking, and communication skills. Because academic disciplines require different styles of presentations, an emphasis will be placed on developing activities appropriate to instructors’ fields.

Topics will include:

  • Why should I include communication/public speaking activities in my course?
  • How do I start?
  • What constitutes an effective presentation assignment?
  • What competencies do students need to be effective communicators across disciplines?
  • How do I evaluate presentations?
  • How do I give feedback?

How Can Undergraduate Programs Contribute to Student Success in Preparing for Graduate and Professional Entrance Exams?

Facilitator: Theresa Westbay, Department of Biology

Preparing students to be successful in graduate and professional schools are among the goals of Fisher’s undergraduate academic programs. The application process for graduate and professional schools generally involves completion of an entrance exam (e.g., Medical College Aptitude Test [MCAT], Graduate Record Exam [GRE]). In the Biology and Psychology Departments, we have noted that the performance of many of our students on these entrance exams falls short of expectations arising from students’ undergraduate academic records. We are therefore interested in investigating why this is the case and in exploring ways in which our undergraduate programs can facilitate student preparation for these exams.

We intend to:

  • Define the characteristics of ideal preparation versus the actual preparation conducted by our students;
  • Identify skills and content knowledge required for/assessed by the exams and determine where/how these are addressed in the Biology and/or Psychology programs;
  • Investigate other factors, such as test anxiety, which potentially impact student performance on exams;
  • Consider programmatic modifications (e.g., related to advising, curriculum) informed by the above.

Presentation Documents

Team-Based Learning and Work

Facilitators: Jill Lavigne, Practice and Administration, Wegmans School of Pharmacy and Amy Parkhill, Sciences, Wegmans School of Pharmacy

The US economy is increasingly based on team production, leading to fundamental changes in how economists value individual productivity in industries ranging from insurance to construction to fast food. Across industries and federal agencies ranging from NASA to the Veterans Administration, quality improvement initiatives such as Six Sigma emphasize high performance teams. In higher education, students are also often expected to work in teams. Yet, assignments may provide little information about how the team was selected, how it should function or why team production is integral to the assignment. To save time, students may split up work assignments, collating work into a single product. As a result, students are surprised when they are held accountable for other team members’ work, particularly when a single student’s plagiarism or poor performance results in a "zero" for the team.

Specific questions that will be discussed include, but are not limited to:

  • What is the role of academia in training students in team work theories and/or skill sets that will be required of them in the modern US workforce?
  • What tools might we incorporate into team-based assignments to assist students in understanding their place on a team and the roles of their peers based on both work demands and on their unique characteristics?
  • How can we assess student progress towards effective team-based production and team leadership?

Presentation Documents

Using Popularizations to Promote Learner-Centered Teaching

Facilitator: Kristin Picardo, Department of Biology

This learning circle is meant to explore the use of popular works not always immediately recognized as connected with our course material, i.e. fiction, poetry, artwork, news articles, etc., in an attempt to demonstrate to our students how the course work is intimately woven into their day-to-day lives with a broader goal of instilling the information literacy skills necessary for life-long learning. We will explore the use of popularizations to engage students in course material, demand application of content learned in the course, and attempt to ignite interest in the topics covered throughout the semester. Learning circle participants will study the relevant pedagogical literature on this topic as related to their disciplines, design a new/improve an existing course assignment to be field tested during the fall 2009 or spring 2010 semester with meaningful revision based on feedback from members of the learning circle, and collect data from implementation of the new assignment (through the assessment of student work and attitudes).

Goals and Outcomes:

  • Study the relevant pedagogical literature surrounding this topic;
  • Share classroom experiences if this pedagogical method has previously been tried by the group members;
  • Design an assignment and rubric for a course we teach; revisions and feedback from all group members;
  • Use the new assignment in our courses in the fall 2009 or spring 2010 semester and collect any relevant assessment materials (such as data from a survey, exam questions, etc.) and feedback from students;
  • Present what we learned through our experiences in a spring 2010 PETAL Second Thursday session.

Videomaking in the Classroom

Facilitator: Todd Sodano, Department of Communication/Journalism

Digital media production continues to be a democratizing mode of communication in twenty-first century academia. One particular method of production is video making. More disciplines outside of communication and journalism are using video as a pedagogical tool. Fisher students already have been assigned video projects in which they shoot and edit their own production. These projects can be more meaningful if the assigning faculty know more of these concepts, technologies, and techniques as well. This learning circle will explore how various disciplines at Fisher can use video. Programs in the humanities, social sciences, and physical sciences all might benefit. This learning circle will explore the far-reaching influences of digital media creation and education.

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Summer 2008

Clickers in the Classroom

Facilitators: Michael DeBisschop and Amy Parkhill, Wegmans School of Pharmacy
Participants: Mike Fedoryshyn, Chinwe Ikpeze, Richard O’Brocta, Aaron McGowan, Char Smith

Student response systems, or "clickers," aim to promote student interest, engagement, and active learning in the classroom. Clickers have many potential pedagogical uses, including: assessing factual knowledge, gathering opinions, assessing problem solving skills, and promoting discussion. In addition, using clickers in the classroom allows for students to respond anonymously, get immediate feedback, and see how their classmates answered. The technology is relatively inexpensive, reliable, portable, and easy to use. Goals for this group exploration learning circle will be developed at the beginning of the program. However, some possible goals include the following:

  • Discover how clickers can be used to promote student learning and engagement in different types of classrooms.
  • Investigate different types of clicker systems.
  • Learn how to use the technology effectively and address the challenges associated with it, including campus-wide adoption of a clicker system.
  • Create a campus resource for classroom clickers. 
  • Create opportunities for pedagogical research in this area.

Increasing Student Awareness of Professional Training Programs

Facilitator: Ed Freeman, Department of Biology
Participants: Emily Dane, Jen Duffy, Irene Kimaru, Virginia Maier, Laura Phelan, Dawn Rager, Deborah Uman, Deborah VanderBilt, Fang Zhao

This learning circle will guide faculty in developing a course centered on increasing student awareness of potential careers from any major as well as increasing student awareness of the requirements for admission to the advanced educational programs often necessary to pursue careers of interest. I have taught a student centered course with this theme for the previous three years for the Biology department (BIOL 349 – Junior Seminar). In this course students first choose careers and determine what they must do, prior to graduating from St. John Fisher College, to successfully gain admission to subsequent training programs (to prepare for those careers), or to successfully obtain employment. The BIOL 349 course can be easily modified to fit the structure of any academic discipline; the overall goal of the learning circle will be for participants to gain the tools necessary to establish their own unique versions of a career orientation course within their home departments.

The format will be at least six meetings throughout summer of 2008 (dates to be determined by learning circle participants).

Themes and questions that will be discussed include:

  • Designing assignments that will allow students to answer the questions:
  • "What do I want to do after I graduate from college?"
    • "What type of advanced training programs are needed for my chosen career path?"
    • "What are the specific requirements for application to my programs of choice?"
  • Designing assignments that will allow students to effectively analyze their progress toward their professional goals and to create short term plans to achieve those goals.
  • Designing activities that will allow students to practice their oral and written communication skills.
  • Effective use of campus resources and alumni resources to help students connect with those in target careers.

Presentation Documents

Exploration and Examination of Knowing

Facilitators: Michelle Erklenz-Watts, Kenneth Fasching-Varner, and James Wood, Ralph Wilson School of Education
Participants: Asim Abu-Baker, Suzanne Freeman, Doug Llewellyn, Jeff Liles, Barney Ricca

This learning circle will use self-reflection, cross-classroom critiques, and dialogue to examine and move beyond a singular positivist lens of knowledge. We would like the group to first deconstruct what is we, as instructors, know about knowledge (in general and specific to the courses we teach). We will then use that foundation to explore how students’ knowledge comes to be known. An essential question will be: can our students’ knowledge be known? Using this question as a catalyst, many philosophical, theoretical and pedagogical questions should be raised (e.g., How is knowledge created? What knowledge is fluid or static, or could it be both?) This learning circle will serve as a forum for such questions that will ultimately affect how we think about our own knowledge as well as our students.  The overall goal of the learning circle will be to revisit, and perhaps revise, the structure and style of our courses.

Mastery Learning and Grading

Facilitator: Ryan Gantner, Department of Mathematical and Computing Science
Participants: Eileen Lynd-Balta

In this learning circle, we’ll explore the concept of mastery learning and grading, which describes a curriculum where students earn grades of "pass" or "fail" on a list of discrete topics. We will develop some background pertaining to what is known about the effects of a mastery learning system on students’ learning, retention, and engagement. Then we will spend much of the cycle identifying, addressing, and critiquing various logistical details on the implementation of such a system in a college course. In particular, we will seek to show how this might be used in a classroom, which disciplines and teaching styles are more conducive to this style of learning, and develop pointers for practical implementation. Finally, we will work together to design syllabi for fall courses which might be taught using these ideas. The facilitator will share his experiences with the topic, but does not consider himself an expert in the topic.

Presentation Documents

Mentoring: More than Just A Welcome, Part II

Facilitators: Jim Seward, Department of Communication Journalism, and Alan Pogroszewski, Department of Sport Management
Participants: Jeannine Dingus, Cynthia McCloskey, Kelly McCormick-Sullivan, Jack Rosenberry

This learning circle will focus on the practical implementation of a department or institutional-based faculty mentoring program. We will explore how to underwrite its costs, as well as a general format to the mentoring process. This will provide both the mentor and the faculty advisee the tools and support that will assist in providing the two a successful experience. We envision six separate sessions that will work as a springboard for departments to incorporate our findings and recommendations in implementing their own mentoring programs.

Concepts that will be addressed are:

  • How do department mentoring programs fit into a campus-wide initiative?
  • Is there a ‘format’ to be developed?
  • What type of training should be available for the faculty advisee?
  • How do you match a recently hired faculty member with a faculty advisee?
  • What tools should be in the faculty advisee’s ‘toolbox’?
  • What type of support and compensation should be given to a faculty advisee?

Presentation Documents

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Summer 2007

Copyright Laws and Course Materials

Co-facilitators: Michael Gibbons, Melissa Jadlos
Participants: Kristin Barnes, Zachary Shirkey

While most faculty are aware that copyright laws exist, there seems to be some confusion or uncertainty about what is permissible when a faculty member copies chapters of a book or provides content on Blackboard. This practice of copying materials is made more complicated when faculty involve either the Library or Central Duplicating.

This learning circle will explore copyright law and aim to educate faculty and staff about copyright law and the concept of "Fair Use." Its significance to teaching lies in the importance of complying with Federal Laws.

Section 107 of the Copyright Act of 1976 sets out factors that aid in the decision as to whether the use of a copyrighted material is protected under the concept of "fair use." While the "Fair Use" guidelines have never been easy to interpret, recent changes in higher education pedagogy, brought about by a myriad of digital technologies, have made a good-faith determination of "Fair Use" even more complex.

For example, distance education programs and course management systems (e.g. Blackboard) support the electronic distribution of course content. However, the ease with which digitized content can be shared has caused great concern among content providers, such as publishers and the music and movie recording industries. This was seen most recently when the Association of American Publishers (ASAP) threatened a suit against Cornell University for its electronic reserve practices.

The concept of "Fair Use" in a digital environment rests somewhere within the intersections of the Copyright Act of 1976, the 2002 TEACH Act, and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998. This learning circle will examine these laws and explore some of the suggested best practices within higher education.

Presentation Documents

Culturally Responsive Teaching and Culturally Relevant Pedagogy

Co-facilitators: Gloria Jacobs, Literacy Education, and Kenneth Fasching-Varner, Education
Participants: Kathy Broikou, Arlette Miller-Smith, Kristin Picardo

Culturally Responsive Teaching as well as Culturally Relevant Pedagogy are educational theories inherently focused on a commitment to collective empowerment. Gay defines culturally responsive teaching as using the cultural knowledge, prior experiences, and performance styles of diverse students to legitimize the cultural heritages of different ethnic groups whilst building meaningful experiences between home and school. Despite over 10 years in the parlance of education, Culturally Relevant theories of instruction are often misunderstood by educators, and are disconnected from the larger political, pedagogical, and legal traditions that culturally relevant theories derive from. Critical Race Theory in Education is one such tradition that culturally relevant theories of education "calls home."

The purpose of this learning circle is to examine the work of Ladson-Billings and Gay (as well as those who draw on Ladson-Billings and Gay) as it relates to culturally responsive/relevant notions of pedagogy and to connect those notions to the larger tradition of Critical Race Theory. We believe a more complex, nuanced, and defined understanding of Culturally Relevant Pedagogy and Critical Race Theory will help us better explore issues of pedagogy in our classrooms, ultimately transforming our ability to approach our craft from a multi-dimensional and cross-curricular focus. Moreover, this preparation furthers our goal of inviting Geneva Gay and/or Gloria Ladson-Billings, in the upcoming school year, to come to Fisher and work with our faculty on issues of Cultural Relevance/Responsiveness

Presentation Documents

Using Educational Technology

Co-facilitators: Jeremy Sarachan, Communications/Journalism, and Rebecca Tiffin, Math/Writing Center
Participants: Cathy Cox, Fred Dotolo, Rae Frachel, Chinwe Ikpeze, Theresa Nicolay, Linda Schlosser

The Educational Technology Learning Circle will cover some of the technologies available to faculty at St. John Fisher College and explore the effective ways to utilize them for pedagogical purposes.

We will focus on the use of personal web pages and Blackboard, while discussing other options (i.e. Powerpoint, video). While we will discuss techniques, we will also focus on how these technologies can be used in order to create a more effective and student-centered classroom.

Issues that will be discussed include:

  • How to create, maintain, and utilize a discussion board in Blackboard.
  • How to give quizzes and surveys in Blackboard.
  • How to use the Blackboard gradebook.
  • How to change the visual appearance of the Blackboard interface.
  • How to develop an effective design for a faculty web page.
  • How to use web pages to better communicate with both students and colleagues outside the university.
  • How to set up and use Macromedia Dreamweaver in one's own office.

Given that Blackboard and a web site may accomplish some similar functions, this learning circle will be an ideal forum for discussing the advantages and disadvantages of each technology.

Mentoring: More Than Just a Welcome

Group facilitators: Jim Seward, Communication/Journalism, and Alan Pogroszewski, Sports Studies
Participants: Mike DeBisschop, Jack Rosenberry

This learning circle will ask participants to establish a set of questions of fact, value, and policy regarding the implementation of mentoring programs. Once the questions have been identified, the participants will research their responses and report back to the group. A final report will be issued, with PETAL being the means of distributing the report to the wider community.

Based on our experiences with two previous PETAL presentations, we envision two separate, three-hour workshops that will be facilitated by Jim and Alan. Ideally these workshops will work as a springboard for departments on campus to incorporate their own mentoring programs.

Concepts that will be addressed are:

  • What are the needs of new faculty members?
  • How do you start a department mentoring program?
  • What constitutes a successful mentoring program?
  • Who should be in charge of mentoring?
  • How do department mentoring programs fit into a campus wide initiative?

Presentation Documents

Grammar Across the Disciplines

Co-facilitators: Deborah Uman, English, and Deb VanderBilt, English
Participants: Katrina Arndt, Russ Coward, Kathy Driscoll, Ed Freeman, John Travers

Many studies have demonstrated that teaching grammar (in the way most baby-boomers remember learning it with worksheets full of comma splices and subject-verb disagreement to be ferreted out and corrected) simply does not work, and, in fact, increases the incidence of grammatical errors in student papers.

This learning circle will focus on what the research shows does work to improve mechanics in student writing. Research shows this teaching must be done continuously from the first class students take to the last before they graduate, and it must happen in the major as well as in core courses. Effective teaching methods are not long hours spent on drills-and-skills, but methods that can be incorporated into a few minutes of any class.

English departments alone –in English 101 as well as with colleagues across the disciplines who teach 199 courses— will never be able to fix this problem, so faculty who want to help improve this aspect of their students’ writing are welcome to join and explore what we can do in our own classrooms to be part of the solution.

The learning circle will:

  • Read and share research on teaching grammar;
  • Clarify disciplinary requirements that govern student writing in the major;
  • Create teaching plans for incorporating the teaching of appropriate grammar and mechanics into any classroom; and
  • Share the results at a future PETAL session.

Presentation Documents

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Spring 2006

Web Design Workshop

Facilitator: Jeremy Sarachan

Participants will learn information design and technical skill (using Macromedia Dreamweaver) to develop their own faculty or staff websites. We will examine existing sites to create a toolbox of ideas and learn how to compile and compress images, prepare files and folders, set up the server space, use style sheets for layout and text, and create links and navigation.

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2003-2004

The Role of Academic Advising

Facilitator: Doug Howard

This Teaching & Learning Circle will investigate the advising program at SJFC from a variety of different perspectives. Its interests will include the Freshmen advising program, advising for transfers, advising in the major, and graduate student advising.

The group will study models of advising at other schools as it considers such issues as its effect on retention, the role of advising in salary, promotion, and tenure decisions, who should serve as student advisors, and how advising should support learning outcomes. The group will consider convening focus groups with targeted student populations and should seek to establish clear expectations and responsibilities of both advisors and students.

Pursuing Grant Opportunities

Facilitator: Tim Franz

What potential external funding sources might be available to both individuals and the institution? How do we locate these sources? What type of timeline would we need to cultivate and solicit grants? What might be our priorities in the pursuit of grants and how would we go about establishing them? How do we spread the word internally about grant opportunities that exist? How do individuals and/or departments or programs go about writing grant proposals? Are there models or templates that we can locate? How can we coordinate faculty and staff to best work on grant proposals?

These are some of the many questions that this group will consider in its exploration of grant opportunities – an area of current interest for many in the institution.

Connecting Learning Outcomes in General Education to the Major

Facilitator: Deb Vanderbilt

This Teaching & Learning Circle is designed to better define the relationship between courses in the major and courses in general education. In the current core, that relationship is often tenuous and not spelled out as strongly as it needs to be. This is especially a problem with the assessment of our general education program, which is non-existent with the current core, and which will need to be clearly defined within a revised core.

Moreover, while the revised core proposes an assessment system for Tier One, the assessment for Tier Two remains distinctly open and to be determined. This Teaching & Learning Circle will go a long way toward constructing an effective assessment system that is connected to clearly articulated learning outcomes for both general education and the majors.

As the Core Revision Committee writes in their recent proposal, "Middle States distinguishes between assessment on three levels – the institutional level, the program level, and the individual course level. The assessment of general education occurs on all three levels." In defining learning outcomes in all three levels and then constructing an assessment system to determine the level of effectiveness, this Teaching & Learning Circle will play a powerful role in instituting rigorous change.

Using Writing as a Tool for Teaching Content and/or Enhancing Interdisciplinary Connections

Facilitator: Theresa Nicolay

This learning circle will explore the various ways writing can be used to enhance course content, improve learning, and make interdisciplinary connections to other courses, disciplines and/or life experiences. This circle is open to any educator interested in incorporating writing as a tool for learning into their course.

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2002-2003

Information Technology and Information Literacy

Co-facilitators: Lori Wagoner and Greg Austin

The participants in this circle will work together to develop a better understanding of the state of technology use in higher education and how it can best be blended with more traditional and face-to-face classroom experiences. Building on the groundwork outlined in the Information Technology and Information Literacy Team's (ITILT) White Paper, and on the skills incorporated in the objectives of the Freshman Learning Community and Freshman Seminar classes, this group will consider ways to integrate the use of resource-based learning situations where students are responsible for gathering, evaluating, and presenting appropriate information-into the educational environment at Fisher.

A tiered approach toward skill acquisition and implementation will be explored, where student abilities will ideally become progressively advanced in the utilization of technologies to locate and manipulate data and then to create an intellectual product. The group will collect and review materials to be included into a "Best of ..." archive to be made available electronically and which will include best practices, research findings, instructional suggestions, and other materials. The members will also consider and recommend types of support that could be provided to assist faculty in the assessment and promotion of student learning, especially in technology-enhanced environments.

Presentation Documents

Student-Centered Learning

Facilitator: Eileen Lynd-Balta, Theresa Westbay, and Michelle Erklenz-Watts

Research in education and psychology document the importance of active learning as critical in a student's mastery of a subject. Giving students the opportunity to integrate new information with personal knowledge and experience encourages engagement and critical thinking and facilitates learning. Further, it has been demonstrated that this approach to teaching results in superior retention of content as compared to teacher-centered learning models. While rewarding for classroom participants, a student-centered learning environment poses a number of challenges for teachers.

In this teaching and learning circle, we will explore different ways to implement student-centered activities to optimize student success. Each participant will commit to reconstructing a course they currently teach. Participants will share the responsibility of providing literature and facilitating discussion. The purpose of this learning circle is to provide SJFC instructors practical applications to enhance learning based on current theories in pedagogy.

Some of the topics to be addressed include:

  • Writing a syllabus that effectively communicates your expectations.
  • Establishing and maintaining a classroom culture that promotes student engagement.
  • Exploring different strategies and classroom activities to initiate and encourage active learning.
  • Optimizing collaborative group activities.
  • Designing projects that require interdependence among a group.
  • Managing the group dynamic.
  • Developing summative and formative assessment tools of student progress, comprehension, and critical thinking.
  • Developing summative and formative assessment tools that provide for a meaningful evaluation of the learning environment and the effectiveness of teaching techniques.
  • Incorporating ongoing student input.
  • Assimilating colleagues' evaluations and feedback.
  • Integrating the above with deliberate self-reflection.

In the fall semester, learning circle participants will observe one another's classes to provide constructive feedback as part of the process of continuing reflection and development. The participants will create a catalog of resources (relevant bibliographies and practical suggestions) concerned with implementing and sustaining student-centered learning environments that could be incorporated into a faculty development website. To facilitate the dissemination of the information gained from this learning circle and to foster ongoing dialogue with the broader campus community, the learning circle would like to host a gathering of interested faculty.

Presentation Documents

Creating a Living/Learning Community

Co-facilitators: Lynn Donahue and Barbara Lowe

This teaching and learning circle will explore what it means to create and sustain a living/learning community at St. John Fisher College. We will first explore what are the goals and outcomes of living/learning communities in general that promote the integration of students' curricular with co-curricular learning. We will examine how living/learning communities could support the mission of the college, benefit students' academic, personal and social growth and impact faculty and staff who take an active role in the community. We will then look to create one or a number of living/learning communities at Fisher. One focus would be to develop a Living and Learning component of the Learning Community program here at Fisher. A second focus may be to develop noncredit bearing communities or single programs that focus on integrating academic with co-curricular life. Creating a ‘Cross-Learning Community Programming’ initiative for Fisher could be explored. A method for assessing the effectiveness of these initiatives will need to be developed as well.

The teaching and learning circle will serve as a place to address challenges and difficulties, celebrate successful efforts, and generate ideas for integration. Some specific questions that may need to be addressed are: What level of interaction is beneficial for the professors to have with the students and the students with the professors outside the classroom? How might typical "living experiences" of college freshmen (roommate conflicts, conflicts of difference, testing old and establishing new boundaries, identity development, etc.) be incorporated as "texts" of the course to be critically examined and used to exemplify theories discussed in class? What general Learning Community themes would best allow the connection between the living and learning components? What methods, projects, modes of teaching and learning are most effective in integrating living with learning? How might commuter students best be included in such an arrangement? What creative ways might we collaborate with non-faculty staff such as residential educators to expand the academic themes beyond the classroom?

This teaching and learning circle will meet bi-weekly and will produce a written set of recommendations, a "working paper" outlining our findings and proposing ways in which these findings might be put into action. We recommend that the fall semester be used to discuss and generate ideas and recommendations and the spring semester be used to possibly implement a proposed plan of action. In order to create a true living/learning collaboration, we will need to include faculty and staff from both curricular and co-curricular departments. We will operate from the principle that learning occurs both within and beyond the classroom.

Core 101 Pilot Program in Writing Across the Curriculum

Co-facilitators: Theresa Nicolay and Deb VanderBilt

This teaching and learning circle will investigate questions surrounding the implementation of writing across the curriculum, especially as it relates to the experience of those faculty members involved in the Learning Community Pilot Program. Participants will include faculty of disciplines not traditionally associated with writing in their discipline, along with members with greater experience with using writing as a learning tool and a means of assessment.

The members of the learning circle will work together to establish a reading list that interrogates the many issues that arise from incorporating student writing into our pedagogical practices. These would include how faculty can use writing assignments not only as a measure of student learning but also as a means of student learning; how faculty can most successfully and usefully assess and respond to student writing; practices and means through which faculty can help students improve their writing; and other questions.

At the conclusion of this teaching and learning circle, participants will produce an online guide to implementing writing in other disciplines. This guidebook will be linked to the PETAL Blackboard site and will include: assignments and recommendations for generating assignments, a literature review for writing in other disciplines, guidelines for grading and assessing student work and methods for incorporating technology into the research/writing/re-writing/review process. We will also provide guidelines for giving feedback to students on how they can improve their writing.

Presentation Documents

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