Threshold Concepts in Teaching Liberal Studies English

Awarded to: Bryna Siegel Finer Oriana Gatta, Lynn Shelly, Dan Weinstein, Emily Wender

“Threshold concepts” is a buzz-term currently used across academia. Recently, a group of teacher-scholars in the field of writing studies collaboratively developed a list of 37 threshold concepts in the teaching of writing and collected them into the book, Naming What We Know: Threshold Concepts of Writing Studies. Because the acquisition of threshold concepts is thought to be crucial to the successful transfer of knowledge, they are especially germane to the mission of Liberal Studies. Our teaching circle, which focuses on the Liberal Studies English (LSE) curriculum, has made these threshold concepts the launching point for our monthly discussions and writing/research. We wrote an IRB that will allow us to collect samples of LSE student writing at the end of the spring semester, which we plan to code for threshold concepts. Ultimately, we hope to publish a piece that describes how we developed a method for locating evidence of threshold concepts in student writing as a way to improve LSE curriculum.

Teaching and Advising with Web 2.0 Technologies

Awarded to: Crystal Machado, Susan Sibert, Theresa McQuaide, Yao Fu

There are three major purposes of this mini-grant project. First of all, the group members intended to explore and analyze the features of various web 2.0 technologies. Upon developing in-depth understanding of web 2.0, the circle attempted to probe meaningful and effective ways of using web 2.0 technologies to enhance teaching and learning outcomes. Finally, the results of circle members' pedagogical exploration would be disseminated at local, regional and/or national conferences as well as scholarly journals. The achievements of this teaching circle project can be summarized in four areas. To begin with, the members gained proficiency in using various web 2.0 technologies, such as Animoto, VoiceThread, Nearpod, and Kahoot. Apart from exploring the technologies, the members discussed readings of relevant books, and deepened their understanding on the theories/models that can be used as the theoretical framework for technology integration, so that the applications of web 2.0 were more organized and meaningful. Based on the knowledge and skills acquired during the teaching circle meetings, the members took initiative to integrate web 2.0 into teaching undergraduate students in different classes. Last but not least, the members brainstormed research questions, identified journals on educational technology, and have been working on a research proposal, which focused on using web 2.0 to maximize pre-service teachers' learning.

An Exploration of School-University Partnerships and Exemplary Programs in Teacher Education

Awarded to: Susan Fello, Laura Ferguson, Jo-Anne Kerr, Linda Norris, Sue Rieg, Holly Travis

The purpose of our Teaching Circle was to explore exemplary teacher education programs in order to inform our own practices as teacher educators and to meet the Council for the Accreditation of Education Preparation (CAEP) standards. Standard 2 states, “The provider ensures that effective partnerships and high-quality clinical practice are central to preparation so that candidates develop the knowledge, skills, and professional dispositions necessary to demonstrate positive impact on all P-12 students' learning and development.” One component of Standard 2 is Clinical Experiences where education programs are charged with working with partners to “design clinical experiences of sufficient depth, breadth, diversity, coherence, and duration to ensure that candidates demonstrate their developing effectiveness and positive impact on all students' learning and development.” Our Teaching Circle read the book Powerful Teacher Education: Lessons from Exemplary Programs by Linda Darling-Hammond (2006) and met monthly to discuss the concepts and big ideas. Rich discussion occurred regarding how we can develop partnerships with school districts, how we can align closely our coursework with field experiences, the importance of modeling best teaching pedagogy, and what supports are needed in order to provide the types of quality experiences Darling-Hammond shared in her book. Meetings have been scheduled with local school districts to build partnerships that will be mutually beneficial. Our Teaching Circle plans to choose another book and continue our exploration during the 2016-17 academic year.

Collegial Collaborative Using Wikis to Improve Student Advisement

Awarded to: DeAnna Laverick, Kelli Paquette, Theresa Henderson, Susan Sibert

The purpose of our work is to support both student and academic learning by improving efficiency of academic advisement and availability of up-to-date information using a shared online platform, a wiki. Dr. Sibert participated in a virtual conference of SITE (Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education) to learn more about various technology applications and will serve as a volunteer to post new advisement information. Several circle members also attended Student Success Advisor Collaborative Tools training and determined this new advisement tool will work well with our circle efforts of electronic scheduling and information. The grant funded a portion of the SITE registration fee. Going forward, we will continue to work on a wiki format and expand use to other department members. This same idea was also extended to student teaching supervision electronic scheduling and shared with interested colleagues.

Creating and Cultivating a Literacy Hybrid Community for Graduate Students

Awarded to: Laura Strong, Theresa Henderson, DeAnna Laverick, Kelli Paquette, Susan Sibert, Tricia Shelton

The formation of this Teaching Circle began by allowing members to select a text which would deepen awareness and understanding of the graduate hybrid classroom. Faculty selected a text which would allow us to pursue quality methods and pedagogical approaches to assisting students. The selected text was, Grounded Designs for Online and Hybrid Learning Designs in Action, edited by Atsusi “2C” Hirumi. This circle met again to discuss current online tools and trends that enrich the classroom community and support higher order thinking and practice. We acknowledged that blended learning and hybrid courses have shown to be more effective than fully face-to-face or exclusive online learning in multiple dimensions. We also anticipated scheduling a guest lecturer to facilitate a richer discussion. Due to funding issues, we tabled that option for a later date. Once the purchased texts arrived, we met and distributed these for reading. Our intention is to convene in the fall, with each member having noted multiple areas of emphasis, questions, and added relevant pedagogical connections to bring to our discussion when we meet again. Additionally, a focus on graduate level courses and learners should help us to engage in independent and collaborative in-depth exploration of topics related to creating and cultivating a literacy hybrid community for graduate students in the Masters in Literacy/Reading Specialist Program.