On the heels of a successful first year for the CTL Fellows program, the Center for Teaching and Learning congratulates the seven new Fellows for the 2013-14 academic year. This distinguished group includes two Hughes Award recipients, winners of research fellowships from the NSF and the NEH, and past recipients of CLI course-development grants, among other honors. In a monthly colloquium next academic year, the Fellows will discuss pressing issues in pedagogy and share the insights arising from their individual teaching projects—which you can read about below. Continue reading
The Center for Teaching and Learning is excited to announce the 2013-14 CTL Fellows program. The goal of the program is to support experienced teachers who wish to undertake a project of innovation in their teaching and be part of an ongoing conversation about pedagogy. Fellows each receive a $2000 stipend, and together they form a colloquium that gathers once per month to discuss their projects. Continue reading
As I have most fall semesters since arriving at Trinity, I am currently teaching English 205, “Introduction to American Literature II,” which covers literature written in and about the United States from 1865 to the present. Survey courses such as these—standard features of English and History departments, among others—are famously plagued by the dilemma of coverage. How can you fit everything into a one-semester syllabus? And how can you give anything more than superficial attention? For me, the coverage problem is crystallized by the occasional indignant student who marvels that I could dare claim to be introducing post-Civil War American literature without assigning something by Ernest Hemingway. (This year, I didn’t leave out Hemingway. I left out Fitzgerald.)
Two things I’ve read in the past year have sparked me to think anew about the possibilities for the seemingly hidebound survey course. One is a column in the Chronicle of Higher Education by Jim Lang (who’s speaking during the Common Hour on Sept. 13!). Another is an essay in a collection our own Jack Dougherty c0-edited, Writing History in the Digital Age. Continue reading
The CTL is very excited to be welcoming James M. Lang to Trinity on Thursday, September 13. If you have read the Chronicle of Higher Education with any regularity over the past decade, you probably have read some of Lang’s columns on teaching & learning (such as one this summer on the virtues of “disfluent conditions” for learning.) If you’re a relatively new college teacher, you may have turned to one of his books to guide you through your first year.
Prof. Lang’s visit to Trinity will feature two events: a common-hour talk about (but not really about) academic dishonesty, and an afternoon workshop for faculty on “grounding” our classes. Continue reading
New this year at the Center for Teaching and Learning: a program for Trinity faculty who want to undertake a big pedagogical experiment. The seven members of the inaugural cohort of CTL Fellows are redesigning courses, trying out whole new approaches to their classrooms and their students, applying new research in their disciplines and in the literature on teaching & learning. Among them, this distinguished group has won the Hughes Award three times, not to mention numerous awards and fellowships for their research. Through a colloquium that gathers once per month throughout the academic year, they will share ideas, challenge each other’s assumptions, and support the bold re-thinking all of them are doing about themselves as teachers. Look for them to be presenting the outcomes of their projects to the campus in events or blog postings next spring. And now, meet the Fellows. Continue reading
Beginning in September, this page will be home to a new and improved CTL blog — a place to read new and provocative ideas about teaching, learn about exciting things happening in Trinity College classrooms, and stay informed about CTL events. If you have somehow stumbled upon this in-construction page and have suggestions for what you’d like to see here, contact christopher.hager@trincoll.
Below is a written version of comments offered in the general discussion by Jim Trostle of the Anthropology Department at the CTL roundtable on academic rigor on Thursday, March 15, 2012. We’re grateful to Jim for attending the roundtable and giving us permission to reproduce his remarks here.
I am growing increasingly tired of conversations about how we can increase the “rigor” of our teaching, and am increasingly eager to talk instead about how we can increase the impact and creativity and engagement and excitement of our teaching. It seems to me that we don’t usually spend a lot of time defining what “rigor” is, or what exactly it is supposed to produce among our students, but we nonetheless tend to measure it with easily obtained information (how many hours studied, how many non-A grades given, how many courses offered at 8 a.m. or on Friday). These measures tend to equate rigor with concepts like “good hard work” or “being a serious student.” And then we turn around and compare our measures to those of other schools, never really knowing what the measures mean. Is a student who puts in 6 hours of study time per week more or less rigorous than one who puts in 15? And what about the student who takes Adderall and does the 15 hours it would usually take to do work in 3 hours instead. Is that rigorous or not? Is a course at 8 a.m. more rigorous than a course at 10? How about at 8 p.m. as opposed to 8 a.m.? And then how do we account for innate ability? For those who work best at midnight instead of eight in the morning? Continue reading
Below is a written version of the comments Maurice Wade of the Philosophy Department offered at the CTL roundtable discussion on academic rigor on Thursday, March 15, 2012. We’re grateful to Maurice for participating in that discussion as a panelist and for giving us permission to post these comments here.
I’m going to do here what philosophers often do and what so often makes philosophers so irritating to so many. I’m going to pose a bunch of questions and offer little to nothing by way of answers. Philosophers often wonder if we know as much as we think we do or need to know when we set out to make judgments about matters that we regard as important, in this case rigor in our educational efforts.
Even with the kinds and amount of data that Dan Blackburn and Rachel Barlow have provided, we should be reluctant to arrive at any substantive conclusions about the rigor of our educational efforts at any level—college-wide, divisional, departmental, etc. My view is that before such conclusions can be justifiably reached, we need to know much, much more than these data can tell and much, much more than we already know. We need much more detailed knowledge of the educational choices that our faculty colleagues are making, how they enact those choices, and the goals that they aim to serve by those choices. Our starting point should be the moral equivalent of the legal presumption of innocence, that our faculty colleagues take their professional responsibilities seriously and care a great deal about how much our students learn. This presumption is refutable, of course, but only with the kinds of knowledge about the actual educational choices and practices that are being enacted in our classrooms. Do we know ourselves well enough as teachers to give legitimate meaning to the data that we have? I strongly suspect that we do not. Continue reading
The Trinity College Center for Teaching and Learning has sponsored two forums on academic “rigor.” Lively discussion ensued, but sadly attendance was low. So we’d like to move the conversation into the electronic world.
We’ll soon be posting some short position papers or comments on this question. We invite all members of the Trinity Community to participate either by posting comments here or writing short papers which we can post.
Below is the announcement from the CTL to the Trinity Community about this event. It gives a sense of the charge given to the panelists. Continue reading