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Changing Participants in Pedagogical Planning: Students as Co-Creators of Course Design, Curricula, and Teaching Approaches
Alison Cook-Sather, Bryn Mawr College (US)
Peter Felten, Elon University (US)
Catherine Bovill, University of Glasgow (UK)
Students as Co-Creators of Teaching Approaches Changing Participants in Pedagogical Planning: Students as Co-Creators of Course Design, Curricula, and Teaching Approaches The Andrew W. Mellon Teaching and Learning Institute Dr. Alison Cook-Sather, Professor of Education Bryn Mawr College, Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. U.S. A. Barcelona 28-30 June 2010 International Consortium of Educational Development (ICED)
Discuss challenges to norms of faculty development that this approach poses
Share recommendations for developing such programs
Distribute a list of references
The Andrew W. Mellon Teaching and Learning Institute at Bryn Mawr College
Part of a larger Teaching and Learning Initiative that aims to create new structures within which all members of the campus community — faculty, staff, and students — interact as teachers, learners, and colleagues.
Seeks to foster a culture that operates on principles of equality and functions as an integrated, interactive, and evolving whole (Lesnick & Cook-Sather 2010).
Faculty participate in two interrelated forums for dialogue about teaching and learning:
1. A semi-structured, semester-long seminar
weekly two-hour, semi-structured meetings
weekly posts to a closed blog
feedback and portfolios
2. Individual partnerships with undergraduate students
The undergraduate student, who is not enrolled in the participating faculty member’s course,
visits one of her faculty partner’s classes each week and takes detailed observation notes
meets with her faculty partner each week to talk about what is happening in the class
participates in weekly reflective meetings with other student consultants and me
visits five meetings of the faculty pedagogy seminar each semester.
Responds to Shulman’s (2004) assertion that faculty need to emerge from “pedagogical solitude ” and “change the status of teaching from private to community property” (pp. 140-141)
Embraces the commitments of reflective and collaborative approaches to professional development (Cowan & Westwood, 2006; Huston & Weaver, 2008) and faculty learning communities (Richlin & Cox, 2004; Cox, 2003)
Addresses Cox and Sorenson’s (2000) claim that student involvement in formal conversations about teaching and learning “has not only been just a small component of faculty development practices — it has been virtually invisible” (p. 99; see also Cox, 2001; Cox & Sorenson, 2000; Sorenson, 2001)
Applies to the college context principles of student voice work developed largely within K-12 schools (Fielding, 2006; Rudduck, 2007; Thiessen & Cook-Sather, 2007) and is modeled on a project that positions high school students as consultants to prospective secondary teachers (Cook-Sather, 2002, 2006, 2009).
Complements a new a strand of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) focused on student voice (Mihans, Long, & Felten, 2008; Werder & Otis, 2010).
Action research project approved by Bryn Mawr College’s IRB
Participants: 104 faculty members across rank and division and 55 student consultants in a total of 118 partnerships between 2007 and 2010
Data sources: audiotaped conversations of weekly meetings, weekly posts to the closed blog, mid- and end-of-semester feedback, a follow-up survey, and transcripts of small-group, semi-structured discussions of past participants in TLI forums
Method: constant comparison/grounded theory (Creswell, 2006; Strauss, 1987)
“ I honestly think it has made me a better student, although maybe a more critical one. I think more about the professor’s thinking process for what he or she wanted me to get out of an assignment, which makes me more focused.”
“ I gained a lot confidence in my own thoughts in my opinions and ways that I look at things and confidence in the ways that I put them forward. “
“ In past discussions I’ve always been talking about what the profs do to us and it’s been a one-way street. And now I am able to look at it as a relationship in the classroom; if we’re complaining about something that is going on, it’s also the students’ role to step up and say something about that.”
“ Our participation in the seminar produces the invigorating effect of removing the instructor from his or her office and the classroom, enclosed spaces where traditionally preparation of lesson plans and execution take place. The lonely task of the authoritative professor is transformed into an open space, and the dialogue between colleagues and students enriches the experience of participating in the same community of learners.”
“ I feel much more confident insofar that I feel more centered in my own understanding of what is generative about the material I’m presenting and about the dynamics of the classes themselves.”
“ The whole experience has made me more intentional, more thoughtful, and more articulate in defining the rationales for what I do.”
Key Redefinition of Quality Learning: Both faculty and students who participate in the TLI come to see learning as a shared responsibility
“ I work with students more as colleagues, more as people engaged in similar struggles to learn and grow.”
– Faculty Member
“ This experience has made me increasingly alive to both the professor’s perspective and to my own responsibilities as a student in creating and maintaining a positive and effective learning environment for all members of the class.”
Junior psychology major: “I feel like I’ve had a lot of involvement, which is kind of surprising since I have no idea how to teach a classroom or anything like that. But just knowing what our research has found and being the student, being in classes all the time, I guess. You know, I have a completely different perspective than the two professors would.... So I could talk about different activities that were most interesting and that students would get the most value out of. So that was helpful.”
PRE: “I don’t think this group project will work. I really should have put my foot down and told them that my way was the only way to do it to ensure that everyone contributed.... Some of them will simply blow it off and the importance of this module will be lost.... Some of them are just looking for a way to do the least amount of work possible. Grading this is going to be a nightmare - should I even bother? How would I differentiate between students?... I should not have given this option - it will be a disaster!”
POST: “The group presentation went really well... Because they had worked with each other for 2 months now, they seemed to be aware of each other’s strengths and weaknesses.... Be sure to have them add a component to their reflections about group dynamics.”
How can we scale-up the course design teams to involve more faculty and students?
What are the characteristics of courses, faculty, and students that are most ripe for the redesign team process?
How do courses (and how does learning) change as a result of the redesign team process?
A closing Elon student perspective, post-interview
“ Even in college, even now, I think some teachers…are so focused on getting stuff done that they don’t pay attention to their students, who I think are the most valuable resources in a classroom.”
Changing Participants in Pedagogical Planning: Students as Co-Creators of Course Design, Curricula, and Teaching Approaches Students as co-creators of curricula International Consortium of Educational Development (ICED) Barcelona 28-30 June 2010 Dr Catherine Bovill, Lecturer, Academic Development Unit, University of Glasgow
“ You work in a university and you get surrounded by people who should like teaching but who really don’t like teaching and don’t like students…’they’re so stupid’, ‘they don’t do any work’, ‘they’re so lazy’…and I think actually, it’s our problem, because they’re not, they’re smart, they’re engaged, they’re interested.” (UCD)