Intro to CxC Principles and Pedagogy

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  • Let me tell youa story. When my office was in the basement of Coates, I walked in one day to find a rat scurrying up and down my blinds. Not this sweet, little rat, but this one...
  • At least that’s how it appeared to me. Like Indiana Jones’ fther, I hate rats. I slammed my door, walked down to the Writing Center and called facility services. Rats were not in my job description. I wanted no part of solving a rat problem on campus. Now I know that some people at LSU walk into their offices or labs every day and handle rats. But not me. If I’d wanted to work with rats, I would have gone into the sciences, not the humanities, not English. But I didn’t. I deal with student texts, not rats.Why do I tell you this story. Because I realize that for some of you, walking into you office and realizing that you have a stack of lab reports to read or a que of videas to grade is like encountering a nasty rat. You’re wondering if it is really your job to teach students to communicate. I hope by the end of today you’ll have a better understanding of why it’s important to rise to this challenge and to have some solid ideas on how to go about it.
  • Let me begin by laying some ground work, the bricks of CxC—the basic principles and pedagogies that are foundational to our programA basic belief that underlies CxC is that communication is discipline specific and can best be taught by those who understand the discipline and the kind of communications that are characteristic of it.
  • Why do we hold this belief? Why is it important to teach communication across the undergraduate curriculum? Shouldn’t students be able to communicate before they come to college? Can’t they just get what they need in freshman comp or speech classes.? Isn’t it true that Communication is communication is communication.Well, yes.
  • All forms of communication share the same basic rhetorical features which we’ll discuss in detail later.
  • But not all forms of communication are the same. For example, an academic publication in my discipline, English, may look very different from an academic publication in your field especially if you are in one of the STEM disciplines. Why and How do communications vary across disciplines?
  • To get at an answer, I want you to think about how people in your discipline might complete this B.C. Cartoon.How might an engineer, or a scientist, or an educator, or --------you fill in your role—see this situation.Write down your answer.Let’s hear some of them.
  • The point is, different disciplines investigate different problems in different ways, interpret their findings differently, and their solutions end up in different kinds of communications.
  • For many college students the realization that different disciplines use different kinds of evidence to advance knowledge and different formats to report it are new insights.Students may be baffled that the sciences use more quantitative data (numbers, statistical data, graphs and tables) while in history or English they may be asked to construct arguments from visual or verbal texts. Communicating in the disciplines will require students to understand these differences and to use discipline-appropriate genres to communicate their knowledgeExpert in Discipline –Specific Communication will need knowledge of Communication processesInformation Literacy—discipline-specific search enginesCritical thinking or knowledge of how meaning is created and transferredSubject matter knowledgeGenre knowledgeTherefore, instruction in discipline-specific communication is integral to learning a discipline—not supplemental, not if we have time, but integral to student learning and student success. And you are most qualified to teach it.
  • Throughout the institute, I encourage you to think about how professionals communicate in your discipline and how knowledge of the genres and styles they use can best be transferred to students. For example, look at these two lists that compare writing for biology and writing about history.Clearly they differ in their use of sources, the way they present information, and their use of personal opinion.
  • While discipline-specific communication varies across campus, there are 2 CxC teaching strategies I want to mention because they are important regardless of discipline: levels of critical thinking (Bloom’s taxonomy) and the components of communication as reflected in the rhetorical triangle.
  • Go through slide info.This pyramid depicts the different levels of critical thinking we use when learning or problem solving Each level builds on the foundation that precedes it. We need to develop lower levels skills before we can effectively develop higher level skills.
  • Go through slide info.This pyramid depicts the different levels of critical thinking we use when learning or problem solving Each level builds on the foundation that precedes it. We need to develop lower levels skills before we can effectively develop higher level skills.
  • Go through slide info.This pyramid depicts the different levels of critical thinking we use when learning or problem solving Each level builds on the foundation that precedes it. We need to develop lower levels skills before we can effectively develop higher level skills.
  • Go through slide info.This pyramid depicts the different levels of critical thinking we use when learning or problem solving Each level builds on the foundation that precedes it. We need to develop lower levels skills before we can effectively develop higher level skills.
  • Go through slide info.This pyramid depicts the different levels of critical thinking we use when learning or problem solving Each level builds on the foundation that precedes it. We need to develop lower levels skills before we can effectively develop higher level skills.
  • Go through slide info.This pyramid depicts the different levels of critical thinking we use when learning or problem solving Each level builds on the foundation that precedes it. We need to develop lower levels skills before we can effectively develop higher level skills.
  • Go through slide info.This pyramid depicts the different levels of critical thinking we use when learning or problem solving Each level builds on the foundation that precedes it. We need to develop lower levels skills before we can effectively develop higher level skills.
  • Let me give you an example of Bloom’s at work. You know that the area of a rectangle = length x width.You memorized the formula in grade school.
  • Let me give you an example of Bloom’s at work. You know that the area of a rectangle = length x width.You memorized the formula in grade school.
  • But do you understand what that means? Can you illustrate that formula? Yes, if you have a rectangle that is 4 inches by 3 inches, you can easily find the area by multiplying 4 x 3 which is 12 square inches and you know that answer is right because if you draw a 1 inch grid, you do indeed get 12 square inches. You’ve moved beyond memory to comprehension.But why is this useful information How might you apply it?
  • Suppose you are asked to find the area of the combined kitchen, entry, and pantry area above, minus the space for a closet. Can you apply your knowledge and comprehension of area to this problem? What information will you need to know?Now suppose I tell you that you want to use ceramic tile to cover the area, and that 12” square tile are $175 per box of 48 and 13” square tiles are $2.45 each. You want to do as little cutting of tile as possible, spend as little as possible, and chose an attractive, high quality tile. Now we’ve moved up the taxonomy again, this time analyzing the problem and synthesizing our new infomration.Oh, and your design consultant just told you that laying the tile on a diagonal will be much more attractive. Does that change the number of tile you’ll need?Oh, your spouse just texted you and you disagree on which tiles you think are more attractive from an esthetic standpoint. Now which tile do you go with? Write a report which evaluates the options and recommends which tile design to choose. So we’ve moved all the way to the top of the taxonomy into evaluation.
  • Bloom’s taxonomy is a hierarchy of critical thinking skills: Each level builds on the foundation that precedes it. We need to develop lower levels skills before we can effectively develop higher level skills.Communication assignments also can take students through different kinds of critical thinking. It’s important to recognize at which levels you’ll be asking students to work. Bloom’s taxonomy can help us design assignments and assessments.
  • Another basic principle important to CxC pedagogy relates to rhetorical knowledge. And we’ll need a working definition of rhetoric for the week. Rhetorical knowledge:the ability to analyze and act on understandings of writer’s role, audiences, purposes, and contexts in creating and comprehending textsThe rhetorical triangle is a valuable visual.
  • Finally, the rhetorical triangle which actually has four points and a rectangle, but let me explain . . . .Go through diagramCommunicator: expert or noviceAudience questions: What is my level of expertise or knowledge relative to my audience’s?How do I want to change my reader’s view of my topic?How much does my audience already know about my topic?How resistant are they to my topic?How busy is my audience?Subject & Purpose: writer’s aim: to inform, explain analyze, persuade, reflect, entertainWriter’s effect: what kind of change does the communicator hope to bring about in the audience: educate, change mindNutshell exercises: Before reading my audience will think or know X; after reading, they will think or know Y.Genre: recurring types of writing ore speaking identifiable by distinctive features of organization, style, format: letter to the editor; scholarly article; abstract; bumper sticker; political blog, resume.We’ll return to this visual at different times this week.
  • Our last set of building blocks have to do with instructional design. CxC stresses the relationship among learning outcomes, assignment design, instructional strategies, and assessment rubrics.
  • "When thinking about course design, we need to think beyond the topic to the specific content--what we want students to know--and to the specific skills--what we want students to be able to do with that knowledge"
  • And we’ll talk about these criteria of effective assignments.
  • And here are some teaching strategies effective in Communication-intensive classes that we’ll model and discussFlipped classrooms, group work and collaborative projects, problem-based learning, wikis, active learning and scaffolding among others.
  • Two other instructional strategies important to C-I courses are informal and formal assignments or assignments in which students communicate to learn and those in which they learn to communicate. Patrick Bahls will be talking more about this distinction in his keynote address.A second strategy required in every C-I class is the feedback loop.
  • Practice does not always make perfect and practice is particularly unproductive if students don’t receive feedback (through observed performance or comments on drafts) to help them evaluate their performance. When students receive targeted feedback shaped by clearly stated goals, their next practice sessions are likely to be much more productive.The bottom line is this, “Goal-directed practice coupled with targeted feedback are critical to learning.”Related to targeted feedback are rubrics
  • Rubrics are assessment tools that define the performance criteria and expectations of assignments and let students know how well they met them by defining what constitutes weak, acceptable, and strong performance. We’ll have some breakout sessions this week that address designing effective rubrics.
  • So these are the basic CxC principles and pedagogies that underlie communication-intensive classes and studio activities. This overview will be discussed and clarified in many different ways in the next three days as we help you come to understand what it means to teach discipline specific communication.
  • Just as facility services helped me solve my rat problem, you have the CxC staff and studio mentors to help you teach communication within your discipline, within your courses.
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