Reading, Writing and Critical Thinking Conference 1st Annual Internal Berkeley College Conference 4 librarians Perspectives
Maria• I liked the keynote speaker a lot. Very knowledgeable and with the hands-on experience. His ideas of teaching in a practical way (examples that apply to real life), as well as finding out from students what they want to get out of our teaching, positively apply to Berkeley students. In addition, he recommended that we learn who our students who they are (not everyone is the same and we see it on different campuses). He encouraged the pedagogical method of helping students to learn from each other.
Maria Favorite Sessions• a) Teaching trough allegory - "Allegory and the Science Fiction" (Prof. Ralph Peters)• b) "Your opinion is irrelevant" - stating facts in the science courses, not opinions (Dr. Marc Shur)•• c) Dr. Minkus-McKennas results of the survey she conducted in her marketing courses on students writing skills
Anne There was quite a bit covered. I did encounter a few new ideas/concepts for me:1. “Your Opinion is Irrelevant: Requiring Objective and Fact-Based Writing in theOnline Science Classroom”: Marc Shur, Math & Science, puts a great deal of effortinto his online classes. All student comments must be supported with a statementthat is backed up with a citation. As he says, taking a position is fine, but personalopinion does not have a place in his science classes. If students submit toBlackboard early enough in the week, they will get a response from the professorand have a chance to rewrite it. Before and after samples were provided. Theinteresting thing is that in addition to adding citations, the writing actually becamemore clear and concise.
Anne2. “Fashion Texts and Reading Levels”: Professor Alyssa Adomaitis, FashionDept., rated the reading level of fashion textbooks using the Flesch-Kincaid Scale.She typed in paragraphs from the books (lifted from designated parts; e.g.Intro, Middle, End) into a software program. She found that many of the fashiontexts fell below the reading level she wanted; she was also interested in positioningthe texts in some sort of logical sequence throughout the program so that whenstudents graduate, they will have upped their reading comprehension. This conceptis transferable to other disciplines. On a humorous note: auto insurance and taxinformation seem to need some sort of superhuman Ph.D. to unravel their mysteries
Anne3) “Changing the Culture: A Broken Windows Approach to EnglishLiteracy and Optimizing Student Achievement”; Joseph M.Miller, Humanities and Social Sciences, advocated a split gradingsystem – content over structure (e.g. A/B-). “A” would refer to thecontent, while the “B-“would refer to English grammar and structure.He feels this would help ensure that upper division students would notlet grammar and spelling go by the wayside. There was some debateover his policy of using a student grader to review the grammarportion. It was suggested by an administration official that, perhaps inthe future, honor students could take on the role of T.A.s.
Amanda• I really enjoyed this conference. It was a great opportunity to spend the day with faculty and learn what they are doing in the classroom.• Keynote Speaker: The keynote speaker provided a lot of inspiration on how we as teachers need to think about teaching our students.• A few questions that he made us think about is: • Who are our students? • How can we teach to them? I think from an IL Instruction point of view we need to think about how we can teach to our students that will be effective in a one-shot session.
Amanda• Keynote Speaker: Another great point that he mentioned that I have always been fascinated with is figuring out how students learn. He mentioned that we could ask them: • How do they learn things that really matter to them? • What do you THINK you will learn today? • What do you WANT to learn today? I think these types of questions could make our sessions more personal and perhaps the students will be more engaged. Perhaps in the classroom we could create some type of ice breaker where the students explain or do some type of activity that shows how they learn things that they are interested in.
Matthew• Overall my experience was a good one. I found it beneficial to interact with faculty on that professional level and to hear their thoughts on their role as educators and about their experiences in the classroom. Some of my takeaways:
Matthew• During the keynote, the importance of putting learning in context was emphasized. Student learning must be "activated" and students need to engage in a cyclical process in which they "re-cognize" or "think again" and again. Educators must challenge them to think about "How do I learn to do something that really matters to me?" (e.g. driving a car, etc.) and get them to articulate this so they understand their own learning process (and become reflective learners). In the 21st century, instructors must set up learning experiences that cannot be Googled.• - Session 1B, The Validity of Teaching Literature to Business-Oriented Students, was fascinating because various English faculty presented on the relevance of teaching literature to non-liberal arts students. Many made similar points, but ultimately, the human element in literature is essential for all students. If they can understand literature, the professors said, they can understand something in life and vice versa. Or, as Prof. Modesto stated, "What can Dantes Inferno offer the business- oriented student? In a word: everything." Prof. Thomas pointed out the usefulness of literature in reaching certain populations in the student body: international students, veterans, students for whom life is a struggle will all readily recognize major themes in literature. Literature helps dispel prejudices.
Matthew• In 2A, The Business of Creativity, Prof. Conway, an English faculty member, provided several fantastic ideas for getting students to think creatively in Marketing classes. One lesson idea she shared was to have students create a profile of a potential customer--even going so far as to give him a name, habits, what he likes to wear, etc. This exercise, she said, helps students think creatively, hone their writing skills, and become more adept in their subject area.• - In 3C, a workshop presented by ASC/CSK faculty entitled Blogs and Discussions: Bridging the Digital Disconnect , James Pacello and Roseann Torsiello discussed blogs and discussion boards and their usefulness in the classroom. These tools are particularly useful because they provide "low stakes" environments for students to practice writing, reading, and critical thinking. A discussion board is particularly useful because students can see the change in their own writing over time by doing a "discussion board audit"--viewing all their posts.
Matthew• In session 4A, Radical Revision: Rethinking Student Literacies, my major takeaway from this session were Prof. Biners comments on reinventing the research project a and how critical it is for faculty to check student writing and grammar on all assignments (which, she implied, many faculty do not do). She also commented on student reading ability. She bluntly stated, "Students need to be forced to read grown-up stuff." Following this line, Prof. Adomaitis use of Fleisch-Kincaid Readability Index to gauge reading level of fashion textbooks. If students are not challenged in their textbook reading, she said, their learning will suffer. This raised a critical question for me as a librarian: "How much does actually OWNING a book have to do with student comprehension (and, ultimately, success)?• I felt the conference was a great success and provided much food for thought. Many questions were raised about texts, contexts, and student learning. I would love to see librarian participation in next years conference.