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RIT Ready: Moving Forward Into Fall
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Blog » Join a Fall 2019 Teaching Circle

The Innovative Learning Institute is pleased to announce the following teaching circles for Fall 2019. A teaching circle is a small group of teachers who come together for at least one term to have robust discussions about a teaching and learning topic. If you are interested in joining one of these upcoming groups, email the facilitator for the teaching circle directly. Unless otherwise noted in the circle description, circles will hold their initial organizational meeting in early to mid-September. For more information about the purpose and organization of teaching circles at RIT, please see our Call to Form a Teaching Circle in Fall 2019. If you have any questions or suggestions for teaching circle topics, email Michael Starenko.


Best Practices for Teaching Overseas

Michael A. Radin (School of Mathematical Sciences, COS)

International teaching experiences can inspire new pedagogical innovations and forge international and interdisciplinary research coalitions. The teaching circle will examine how teaching innovations often emerge naturally during our international teaching experiences and during our long–term international travels. Furthermore, we will discuss how to handle challenges such as cultural barriers, different teaching and learning styles, and choosing the appropriate courses and seminars to conduct. We will discuss finding the balance between leading and following while adapting to a new culture and to a new educational system.

We will also focus on how to detect the similarities and differences between educational systems and work to answer the following questions: Why do differences among educational systems exist? How can we design new teaching innovations that reflect the differences? How can we align with the frames and restrictions of the new academic system and environment? If you are interested in joining this circle, email Michael A. Radin


Formulating Synchronous Multilocation Classrooms

Bernard Brooks (School of Mathematical Sciences, COS) and Tamas Wiandt (School of Mathematical Sciences, COS)

Imagine the educational and social benefits of a course in which the students and instructor are not all located in the same classroom, but rather in a few “wired” classrooms in different locations. Such is the promise of blended, synchronous, multilocation courses. In those specialized wired classrooms, the participants experience the same live lectures in real-time. The students can interact with the instructor as well as the students in the other locations in real-time. This contrasts with web-conferencing in that the interaction is primarily group-to-group rather than individual-to-individual. The instructor does not stay in one location for the whole semester but will visit each location on a rotating basis. There may be online asynchronous portions of material as well.

This teaching circle will investigate and evaluate this concept. This idea is new and therefore the logistics of this concept will need to be addressed and best practices developed. A report detailing those best practices, along with a summary of obstacles yet to overcome, will be the bulk of the circle’s deliverable. Teaching circle participants can develop those best practices by interviewing experts in non-traditional pedagogy, in RIT policy, in teaching technology, as well as people who have already experienced similar teaching methods (either as students or instructors). If you are interested in joining this circle, email Bernard Brooks.


Inclusive Pedagogy--(Sorry, this circle is full)

Taj Smith (Division of Diversity and Inclusion, Office for Diversity and Inclusion)

Teaching and mentoring today's college students requires us to add to our toolbox. Many of us learn how to teach by observing former professors or subconsciously tapping into our preferred cultural-based learning style. As we seek to educate a diverse student body who learn differently from previous generations and who struggle with finding belonging, we must evaluate the inclusiveness of our pedagogy.

In this teaching circle, we will explore how culture, identity, and our life experiences influence our teaching style, learning philosophy, and epistemology. We will learn from student testimonials by inviting in a student panel to inform us about their cultural-based learning styles and their experiences in RIT classrooms. We will discuss and share best practices for creating a more inclusive learning environment for first-generation students, students of color, students with disabilities, introverts, visual learners, students across the gender spectrum, deaf students, and international students. By the end of our journey, we will be able to better articulate our culturally-responsive teaching styles and identify strategies to improve our effectiveness. Our circle will meet at 1:00-2:00pm on the following Wednesdays: Sept. 11, Oct. 2, Oct. 23, Nov. 6, and Nov. 20.


Infusing the Entrepreneurial Mindset among Our Students

Beth DeBartolo (Multidisciplinary Design, KGCOE) and Jen O’Neil (Manufacturing & Mechanical Engineering Technology, CET)

As a new partner in the Kern Entrepreneurial Engineering Network (KEEN), RIT is committed to infusing an entrepreneurial mindset into a variety of undergraduate courses in CET and KGCOE. Above all, this means teaching students in these two colleges to be Curious about the world, make novel Connections, and Create value in the world around them--KEEN’s three C’s.

Any faculty member who teaches CET or KGCOE students is encouraged to participate in this teaching circle. With RIT being the first institution granted membership with a focus both on Engineering and Engineering Technology students, we would like to take advantage of this additional opportunity to build collaboration across the two colleges, as well as with faculty members in other colleges who teach CET and KGCOE students. This circle is a continuation of the Spring 2019 circle, and we welcome returning and new participants.

Using KEEN's EM201 module as a discussion guide, participants will gather to discuss a series of thought-starting questions related to Curiosity, Connections, and Creating Value in the undergraduate KGCOE and CET curricula. Each week, participants will do a short reading, watch a short video(s), and consider a few questions posed by the facilitators and other participants. When we meet in person, we will share thoughts and experiences related to the week's topic. These topics include: "Mind the Trend," "The Agreeable Contrarian," "Context-Aware Systems Thinking," and "The Origin of Opportunities.” If you are interested in joining this circle, email Beth DeBartolo


Place-Based Education

Lisa Hermsen (Department of English, COLA), Kristoffer Whitney (Department of Science, Technology, and Society, COLA), and Rebekah Walker (Reference Librarian Group, Wallace Library)

Have you ever listened to Rochester musician Chuck Mangione play the horn? Had any reason to learn about Rochester’s great flood of 1865? Or visited Small World Books? Our teaching circle will explore the opportunity to expand existing and newly implemented place-based or place-conscious pedagogy at RIT. This pedagogy connects students with local neighborhoods or communities and regions to engage with the cultural, social, and environmental landscape.

A primary goal of the circle is to learn how to use a local sense of place to mediate the problems and possibilities of globalization. Place-based education invites students to engage with their local communities, but this pedagogy is not as rigorous as true community engagement with purposeful partnerships. Neither does this pedagogy stop with civic engagement by volunteerism. Circle discussions will start with these questions: how can we create an approach to learning that invites students to conserve, restore, and create places in communities and regions, within the context of mobility, and at the level of national and global arrangements? How can our teaching link the development of ecological awareness and stewardship to concerns about equity and cultural diversity, make connections among multiple disciplines to develop strategies for increasing civic engagement, and apply the lenses of eco- and social-justice to build a more complete understanding of the places we live?

This teaching circle will combine these aims with digital technology for public discourse. Participants will be introduced to digital public discourse models: “Working in groups, students seek out a story rooted in a local place that deserves wider recognition. Students learn about the context of the story and conduct research, including interviewing people for whom the narrative is important. They then construct a digital record and compose a brief podcast accompanied by photographs.” Participants will have the option of attending an extra session to workshop this process and consider how an assignment using digital public discourse might be integrated into a syllabus. Participants may use laptops, smartphones, or other devices to record audio. They will be introduced to Audacity, which is a free and open source software that provides relatively strong audio mixing tools.

In this teaching circle, participants will discuss the ways in which place-based education can connect students to a community, and use civic engagement with public discourse to build out to national and global topics. One model will be the Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives. We will explore the 200th Douglass celebrations around the city, review Douglass’s speeches, text, and photographic materials on the topic of anti-slavery, and listen to a representative from the Initiatives working to link this tradition to contemporary issues of global human trafficking. Participants will be invited to introduce other place-based models in which our local place can be more fully understood if linked to awareness of environmental studies, disability awareness, immigration reform, urban development, public history, or a literary marketplace. We hope these discussions will be multidisciplinary and intersectional, with participants understanding RIT as one local place we inhabit. If you are interested in joining this circle, email Lisa Hermsen.


Solving the Equation: The Variables for Women’s Success in Engineering and Computing

Marcos Esterman (Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, KGCE) and Margaret Bailey (Department of Mechanical Engineering, KGCE)

We invite you to join our teaching circle--which will meet five times throughout the semester--to systematically review Solving the Equation, by Christianne Corbett and Catherine Hill. This report explores the factors that underlie underrepresentation of women in the engineering and computing workplace and argues for changes in the academy in order for women’s full participation. The report emphasizes the need to combat stereotypes and biases, emphasize the social relevance of STEM, cultivating a sense of belonging, and changing the environment.

We invite you to join our teaching circle—one starting in Week 2 and meeting weekly--to systematically review and discuss the chapters in the report, connect the content to RIT, and reflect on action that we could take to change the work environment. All of which does or should matter to the RIT community, as diversity in the workplace contributes significantly to the performance of that workplace. We need to be part of the solution that ultimately leads to parity—we need to start with us! While we will discuss actions, the goal of this teaching circle is self-reflection, collaborative discussion, and personal action. If something that benefits the Institute in a more systematic way manifests itself, we will leverage it, but that is not the goal. If you are interested in joining this circle, email Margaret Bailey.


Teaching English with Second Language Learners

Kari Cameron (School of Communication, COLA)

I teach a communication course that tends to be comprised of many students who are not native English speakers. Students who are not native speakers have raised discussions about how this impacts their success in the classroom. They've talked about distinct cultural differences in classrooms, such as the style of the classroom in China vs. the United States. These differences impact their willingness to ask questions or participate in discussions, raises concerns about how their work is graded, and can generally impact their feelings of satisfaction in the classroom.

The overarching aim of this teaching circle is to discuss, share, and develop ways to enhance our classroom teaching so that we can be more inclusive of students who are not native speakers, finding approaches to draw them into the class discussions in a meaningful way. Not only would these students benefit, but so too would their peers and their instructors. If you are interested in joining this circle, email Kari Cameron.


Threshold Concepts of Writing across the Curriculum

Luke Daly (University Writing Program, COLA)

In light of the writing intensive (WI) requirement in general education and other university-wide writing concerns, faculty carry a burden not only to assign and evaluate student writing assignments, but also to understand student's writing developmentally. Similarly, faculty from across the curriculum possess deep knowledge of their disciplines' writing and thinking conventions that students are often encountering for the first time as they attempt to write successfully in those fields.

This teaching circle has two linked goals: 1) Engage faculty from varied disciplines in naming the central ways of thinking ("threshold concepts") within their communities of practice; 2) Work together to build cross-community knowledge of how writing addresses those needs in shifting ways. The deeper goal is to help faculty examine the underlying assumptions and designs in their writing assignments so that both they and their students can do great work. If you are interested in joining this circle, email Luke Daly.


Use Writing to Improve Student Learning and Engagement

David Martins (University Writing Program, COLA)

Using writing to improve student learning and engagement is a complex and time-consuming activity for you and students. Still, whether you teach a “writing intensive” (WI) course or simply assign writing as part of your typical pedagogical practice, how you use writing can have a significant impact on your own and student satisfaction. When a writing task is authentic and supported by other course activities, students can engage deeply in course material. When the feedback you provide students on their writing is directly connected to course learning goals, the writing process can facilitate long-lasting learning. Sometimes, though, an assignment doesn’t seem to work. Students seem to struggle with the wrong things. The stack of papers to respond to is daunting. This teaching circle provides faculty an opportunity to share their prior experience with meaningful writing assignments with other teaching circle participants.

As faculty with a broad range of disciplinary and pedagogical experience, we will learn from each other about the kinds of writing assignments that work well (and not so well) with RIT students. We will read and discuss research on teaching and learning (e.g., Ambrose et al. 2010. How Learning Works: Seven Research-Based Principles for Smart Teaching) as a way to revise and improve our use of writing in the classroom. In addition, each participant will be given a copy of John Bean’s (2011) Engaging Ideas: The Professor's Guide to Integrating Writing, Critical Thinking, and Active Learning in the Classroom, as a resource for strategies to use writing in our courses. As each member shares a recent assignment, you will be invited to think about and redesign your own assignments and contribute to an online assignment resource for your RIT colleagues. If you are interested in joining this circle, email David Martins.


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