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This post is contributed by Dr. Ellen McShane, Director of Academic Success Programs at UVM.
Author George D. Kuh (2008) has identified collaborative learning experiences as a “high-impact practice” that allows students to succeed in college. Collaborative learning experiences can include study groups in courses, team-based course assignments, peer tutoring, and cooperative learning projects that include research.UVM’s Academic Success Programs (ASP) witnesses the impact of collaborative learning on a daily basis through the Learning Co-op’s Tutoring Program. Our statistics show that students who use tutoring services graduate in four years at a higher rate than students who do not use tutoring (Institutional Research, 2014).
Over the last two years, the Learning Co-op and the College of Nursing and Health Sciences (CNHS) have collaborated to place all first-year CNHS students in peer-tutor-led study groups through the college’s first-year experience course, NH 050.
This year, the entirety of the first-year cohort participated; 246 first-year students were officially scheduled into study groups. Out of that group, 186 of them completed the requirement of attending six total study group sessions throughout the semester.
Of those who fell short, many of them attended four or five sessions. Of the 246 students we scheduled for sessions, only seven of them had zero contacts. In the end, over 97% of first-year CNHS students had at least one point of contact with a tutor this semester, with over 72% spending six or more hours with tutors. Some students chose to spend as much as ten hours in study groups.
We can say with certainty that no other college comes close to that amount of time spent in structured learning environments outside of lectures.
How has the collaboration between the Learning Co-op and CNHS impacted student success and retention? Stay tuned for another blog post next semester. We plan to gather data over the next several months to see how these efforts have impacted retention.
If you are interested in exploring a college-wide or course-specific collaborative learning experience, please contact Keith M. Williams in the Learning Co-op
Kuh, George D. High-impact educational practices: What they are, who has access to them, and why they matter. Washington, D.C.: Association of American Colleges & University Publishing, 2008.
As we all know, the end of the semester is a stressful time for both faculty and students. While we can’t eliminate most of the causes of stress, we can mitigate stress’ negative effects on our physical and emotional states by taking care of ourselves. Informing our students about resources to help deal with stress can go a long way towards helping them get through the end of the semester successfully.
The UVM Living Well program provides a smorgasbord of de-stressing events and services for students, such as office hours from Tucker the therapy dog, free massage, and drop-in meditation.
Letting your students know about these and other upcoming events reminds them that UVM recognizes the impact of excessive stress and that we care about their personal well-being. Making an announcement in Blackboard (directions here) is a simple way to share this information.
Here are some resources you may want to share with your students:
Digital humanities, the intersection of computing and the disciplines of the humanities, has continued to develop as a dynamic field. This week, on November 4th and 5th, there will be several events that bring practitioners of digital humanities to UVM.
Leading off is the Burack Lecture Series speaker, Todd Presner, Chair of the UCLA Digital Humanities Program and Professor of Germanic Languages and Comparative Literature. His topic “HyperCities: Thick Mapping in the Digital Humanities” will examine a web-based mapping project that brings cultural and historical information together with physical location. Presner’s talk will show how a “hypercity” is a real city overlaid with information networks that document the past, catalyze the present, and project future possibilities. He will describe the humanist project of participating and listening that transforms mapping into an ethical undertaking–thick mapping. Moving from Berlin to Los Angeles, Cairo to Sendai, the talk will explore how “thick mapping” in the digital humanities presents new ways to understand, document, and consider historical events, ranging from the destruction of Berlin in WWII to the history of redlining in the US in the 1930s to the 2011 “Arab Spring” and the Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster.
11:30-1:00, in 302 Bailey/Howe
The events continue on Thursday, starting with an informal faculty lunch. Faculty interested in the digital humanities across campus are invited to come, share ideas, discuss projects, and learn more about possibilities.
3:15-4:14, Kalkin 325.
Two afternoon public talks will open with Erin R. Anderson (English, UMASS Boston) on “Ethical Making and the Making of Ethics.” According to Anderson, to call oneself a maker in the digital humanities is often to align oneself with an economy of tool building, text mining, and data visualization. But what are the possibilities for making beyond the tool? How might artistic methods—critically inflected—contribute to our (post-)humanistic engagement with digital culture? Anderson will discuss her creative-critical practice with digital voices and archives, considering the ethical stakes at the heart of such work. Sharing clips from an experimental audio drama titled Our Time is Up, she situates her practice as an intervention into the prevailing “culture of preservation,” which surrounds the audio archive, and as an opening to new, generative forms of ethical and material relations.
4:30-5:30, Kalkin 325
Isaac Weiner (Religious Studies, Ohio State), will follow with “Soundmapping American Religion.” This talk will introduce the Religious Soundmap Project, a collaborative research initiative of Ohio and Michigan State Universities, which aims to map American religious diversity through sound. Teams of faculty and student researchers are producing high quality field recordings of religion in practice, which will be edited, archived, and integrated, along with photographs, interviews, explanatory texts, and interpretive essays, onto an online mapping platform. This innovative digital project will offer new research and pedagogical tools for scholars, experiential learning opportunities for students, and an interactive resource for the general public. In this talk, he will offer some brief reflections on the opportunities and challenges encountered in their work.
5:45-7:00, Kalkin 325
The day will close with a Rountable Discussion with Todd Presner, Erin Anderson, Isaac Weiner, and moderated by Abby McGowan (History, UVM). We will explore the possibilities and problematics of digital humanities work, and how and where it has offered the panelists new tools as scholars, new modes of presenting and exploring ideas, and new ways of building audiences and communities.
We hope you will join us for any or all events to learn more about the digital humanities.
All events are coordinated by the cross-campus group Visualizing Ideas in the Digital Humanities, with funding from the Lattie Core initiative of the UVM Humanities Center.
According to Dr. Michael Wesch, his new website, myteachingnotebook.com, focuses on “the pursuit of joy in teaching and learning.” I first saw it in August and made a note to myself to share it here in mid-semester, when the geese are flying south and we aren’t sure if it’s getting colder and darker or just cold. And dark. Dr. Wesch’s work has been inspiring us for years now, so take a look his teaching notebook and, for even more of his work—videos, publications, presentations, and blog posts—see his Kansas State University website: Digital Ethnography (formerly “Mediated Cultures”).
From the website:
“This program seeks faculty who are committed to integrating interdisciplinary approaches to sustainability into the UVM curriculum. We seek to develop a learning community – a multidisciplinary cohort engaged in a year-long exploration of sustainability, the scholarship of teaching and learning, and collaboration.”
This year’s program will focus on integrating UVM’s General Education Sustainability Learning Outcomes into course design.
For more information and to apply, please see: http://www.uvm.edu/ctl/sffp.
This program is supported by the Office of the Provost and presented by UVM’s Environmental Program, The Center for Teaching and Learning, The Office of Sustainability, The Greenhouse Residential Learning Community, and in partnership with Shelburne Farms.
On May 13, Bb is getting a few important additions.
1. Student Preview (Finally!)
A “true” student preview has been one of the all-time top requested Blackboard features. Instead of just being able to see what content is visible (as is the case with the Edit Mode button), instructors will be able to take exams, submit assignments, and view grades just as a student would.
Entering student preview mode can be done at the click a button. Upon entering this student view, an actual student account is created (visible in the grade center), and the instructor is put in the driver seat of that account.
When leaving the student view, the instructor can choose to keep the account in their course. This allows the instructor to “evaluate” the fake student’s work, enter grades for that account, and then go back in to that account and see the results of their grading.
Alternatively, the student preview account can be deleted when leaving the view, so that it is no longer listed in the grade center.
Instructions and more information about this feature can be found in the How-To’s area.
2. Inline Grading
Currently, assignment files have to be downloaded to the desktop in order to be opened and read for grading. After May 13, the grading process will be streamlined because uploaded assignment documents will display within the browser.
Documents that can be viewed in this manner include Word (.doc, .docx), PowerPoint (.ppt, .pptx), Excel (.xls, .xlsx), and PDF. Inline Grading is supported on current versions of Firefox, Chrome, Safari, and Internet Explorer. No plug-in or other application is necessary.
Documents can be annotated within the browser and shared with students. (However, the annotations feature is not fully supported: see the link below to read more.)
Find out more about in-line grading in the How-To’s.
3. Single Sign-On
UVM is streamlining its login processes across a number of applications. While those accessing Bb from MyUVM will not see a change, the login page at https://bb.uvm.edu is getting a refresh. As part of this change, existing “cookie” bugs in the process of connecting to MyUVM to Bb will be resolved.
There’s a complaint that we hear frequently this time of the semester:
The weighted column doesn’t come out right.
It’s a common problem caused by that tiny Devil who resides in the details. Very often, the cause is this: a discrepancy between a column’s possible points and those actually entered. In other words, when you first set up grading on a tool (or on a manually-made column), you might have assigned the highest possible points as something different than what you actually graded for. An example would be, I have entered 30 as possible points on a final paper, but forgetting this weeks later, I used a base of 100 when grading.
This is easy to check by hovering over the top of the column and checking the information that appears just at the top of the grade center area. See figure here:
To fix it, hover and click the small arrow at the top of the erroneous column, choose “Edit Column Information” and change the points possible to 100 (or whatever scale you used for grading).
WORD OF CAUTION: It’s a good idea to download a backup of your grade center before you begin changing things. See how to do that here.
When all else fails, we’re always glad to see you at the Dr Is In!
Some big news for sustainability at UVM: on Monday, March 9th, UVM’s Faculty Senate passed the resolution to require all undergraduate students entering UVM in Fall 2015 to meet the General Education Sustainability Learning Outcomes (SLO). While this is a significant accomplishment, there is still much work to be done to ensure its success.
The Sustainability Curriculum Review Committee (SCRC), the faculty sub-committee charged with developing a plan for the SLO university-wide implementation, has been tasked with articulating a process for soliciting, reviewing, and approving proposals to fulfill the sustainability requirement. Part of this work is to help faculty understand the “Sustainability Course (SU)” designation process. Completion of an SU course is one of three pathways in which a student can fulfill the requirement. (Please refer to GenEd-Sustainability sitefor information on all the pathways and the course process.)
To that end, all interested faculty are invited to attend “Introduction to UVM’s General Education Sustainability Learning Outcomes Course Proposal” workshop on Friday, March 20, 9:00 – 11:00 AM, Bailey Howe 303. This workshop walks faculty through the proposal development process and, for those who are ready, provides instruction on proposal writing.
For more information and to register for this workshop, please see CTL Events.
More sessions will be offered in the late spring.
In addition, the upcoming “Educating for Sustainability Webinar Series,” hosted by the Association for Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, provides information and resources on best practices for sustainability education in higher education:
Strategies for Institutionalizing Sustainability in the Curriculum
Wednesday, March 25, 2015, 3:00 PM – 4:30 PM, Bailey Howe 303
Strategies for Redesigning your Course to Integrate Sustainability
Wednesday, April 8, 2015; 3:00 PM – 4:30 PM, Bailey Howe 303
To register for these events, please visit the CTL events calendar.
Recently, a new faculty member asked me about how David Kolb’s Learning Styles, that developed out of his Experiential Learning Theory, and the principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) intersect or relate to course design. Why and when would you use one or the other when designing instruction? It took me some time to think about this question. This is because I don’t totally agree with the concept of specific learning styles as Kolb describes them, however I do think that most people have learning preferences. David Kolb developed an Experiential Learning Cycle and then developed four learning styles based on preference of learners working within this learning cycle.
In contrast, UDL is a way to think about designing a learning environment for all learners and all learning preferences. UDL is based on research in Neuroscience and the principles of Universal Design in architecture. More information about UDL can be found at the CAST website. The UDL model proposes a series of principles based on three brain networks used for learning. These brain networks, called Recognition, Strategic, and Affective, are each correlated to a set of practices that teachers can use to design instruction and learning environments. These practices are described in the UDL guidelines. Read more about each of the practices here.
One way to identify your learning style, as defined by Kolb, is by taking an inventory. A learning style inventory asks a series of questions about how you prefer to work or learn. Upon completion of the inventory, you total the points to have an idea of what your own learning style is according to the assessment instrument. I think taking a learning style inventory as a group can be helpful, when working on a team. Each member completes the inventory and then the group intentionally discusses how each person prefers to learn and to work. This activity gives the team a common vocabulary to use when discussing each person’s results and preferences. It is also a way of creating team expectations and norms, as everyone discusses and reflects on their own preferences and how that relates to the whole group.
(Kolb’s website, http://learningfromexperience.com/ has inventories available for purchase.)
When discussing learning styles/preferences, it’s important to keep in mind that a person’s preferences are not necessarily fixed; they can change over time or be expanded upon. The process of experiential learning that Kolb discusses is one of experience, reflection, and experimentation. This learning cycle takes into consideration many of the ideas in UDL. Learning by reflection and using critical thinking are key parts of the strategic brain network. As are the ideas and new experiments that come from reflection.
Here are the Stages of Kolb’s Experiential Learning Cycle as cited from McLeod (2010):
- Concrete Experience – (a new experience or situation is encountered, or a reinterpretation of an existing experience).
- Reflective Observation (of the new experience. Any inconsistencies between experience and understanding are particularly important).
- Abstract Conceptualization (Reflection gives rise to a new idea, or a modification of an existing abstract concept).
- Active Experimentation (the learner applies new ideas and modifications to the world around them to see what results happen).
Jim Julius, an education blogger, writes about learning styles in this post, on his blog, Education Everywhere. He brings up the idea that students can also use learning styles as a crutch or an excuse. I recommend reviewing the comment section on this post. Quite a few commenters on the post bring up UDL as a method they like when designing instruction.
The good thing about Kolb’s model and UDL is that both are getting educators to think about the learners in the classroom and how to design a positive learning experience for them.
Julius, J. (2012). Time for a Learning Styles Post. Retrieved from:http://jjulius.org/2012/06/01/time-for-a-learning-styles-post/ . Retrieved: 2/26/15.
McLeod, S. A. (2010). Kolb – Learning Styles. Retrieved from http://www.simplypsychology.org/learning-kolb.html .Retrieved: 2/28/15.
National Center on Universal Design for Learning. (2014) What is UDL? Retrieved from http://www.udlcenter.org/aboutudl/whatisudl. Retrieved: 2/28/15.
National Center on Universal Design for Learning. (2014) What is UDL? Retrieved from http://www.udlcenter.org/aboutudl/udlguidelines. Retrieved: 2/28/15.
Smith, M. K. (2001, 2010). ‘David A. Kolb on experiential learning’, the encyclopedia of informal education. Retrieved from:http://infed.org/mobi/david-a-kolb-on-experiential-learning/. Retrieved: 2/28/15.
Imagine this… a website where thousands of films are hosted and can be watched for free… where, if you can’t find a film, you can request that it be added with a good chance that you’ll get your wish… where you can choose to embed an entire work in Blackboard (or select clips to embed!)… and where you can make and share playlists…
Well, I have good news: it exists and it’s called Kanopy. The UVM Libraries has a contract with them, so it’s accessible to any affiliate of the university. There are a few things to be aware of:
- You can watch movies without logging in, but you have to be either on campus – or – off campus while connected to the virtual network (VPN). This is easy: see instructions here or for iPad users, here.
- You’ll need to create a free account and sign in to save playlists or make clips.
- If you want to request a film, write to Lori Holiff in the library’s Media Resources department at firstname.lastname@example.org. She is the liaison with Kanopy and may be able to assist you in finding the film elsewhere, if needed.
» Kanopy’s website: uvm.kanopystreaming.com/
» This link to Kanopy also lives on the CTL site uvm.edu/ctl (choose Teaching Resources > Image and Video Repositories).
» Visit the CTL Dr Is In to learn how to embed video in Bb.