Delayed But WOrth It–I hope.

CUNY is the largest public urban university in the country, but frequently our size is a hindrance rather than a benefit. In my three years here as a tenure-track faculty member, I have met only a handful of professors from other colleges, and only one-or-two outside my discipline (English). Too often when CUNY faculty do gather, it is for non-interactive lectures, job actions, or policy meetings. Through its format that brought faculty together into a room to work on our most vital concern—teaching and the research of teaching–the seminar broke down boundaries across disciplines, campuses, ranks and pedagogical and curricular philosophies. Prior to the seminar I had been really dismayed at how little attention is paid to this primary goal. We are charged with the responsibility of carrying on CUNY’s mission of innovative and productive pedagogy and curriculum development for teaching underserved students who come from all sorts of underprivileged “classed” circumstances. This seminar gave rightful space, time and seriousness to this task.
The seminar has had a profound influence on my teaching. Each session gave me a great deal to think about, but there is space—and time—her to mention only a few. Maria Jerskey (LaGuardia) and Leigh Jones (Hunter) emphasized for me the importance of developing curriculum and pedagogy that teaches “self-efficacy” in our students. I tis so easy to fall into a model of teaching that relies heavily on content delivery, where some students get it and the rest are dismissed because they do not. Of course I knew this already—that students need to take charge of their own learning. But Maria and Leigh’s work showed me how important it is not jus tto think this but to enact it with specific assignments and classroom practice. I will be using a version of Leigh’s podcast assignment in my Fall classes.

The use of technology in the classroom is an area I had been meaning to work on in my teaching and Leigh’s assignment was only the first instance of the seminar’s influence in this regard. Amy Wan Erica Ackerman and Joe Bisz all had presentations that involved creative and beneficial ways of using technology for learning. What was important here was thinking (and now in the fall enacting) how curriculum goals need to drive the use of technology not the other way round. We all think technology is cool, and we all think our students will like having more technology interface in the classroom but too often in my use of technology in the past, it seemed to distract or even derail the students from the real learning goals I had for the course. The hard part of using technology in the classroom is not finding technology to use. It’s finding the right technology to achieve what you want to accomplish. Since Amy, Erica and Joe delivered presentations that were so connected to the classroom, I was able to envision which specific technologies would work in my own space and time. My wiki and blog have already been designed for my fall writing course and I have integrated them fully into my class.

Corey Mead (Baruch) gave a presentation that at first had only limited connection to my classroom. But by showing how the army uses video games to lure prospective enlistments by engaging them with a medium they are interested in, I have been giving some thought to what role alternative visual literacies could play in my course. Can I transfer the strengths of the students’ understanding, analysis and performance of dynamic, fast moving visual texts like video games to the more staid genres of reading and writing that I want them to master.

In fact, a thread that ran through Corey, Joe and Leigh’s presentations was the crucial message of generating and maintaining student interest. This thread was capped off by the final presentation of the year when Nelson Nuñez-Rodriguez (Hostos) showed us his lively, productive, and student-engaged classroom space. Like Nelson, I often teach required general education courses where students’ pre-conceived notions of boring and apathetic trajectory for the course start on day one and go only lower when they see the syllabus. Nelson reminded us how innovative curriculum, respect for the knowledge the students bring with them, and a willingness to make the classroom a space of energy and fun—God forbid even laughter—can go a long way toward motivating success. It struck me, in the end how that final day connected all the way back to the first presentation about self-eficacy. Making students accountable for making it a good, particpatory and fun course is a sure-footed step in making them accountable for their contribution to the work that needs to be done. Raising expectations raises performance and, in the end proficiency.

The resulting impact on my teaching is profound.  teaching a 4-3 load, well that is seven classes and close to 200 students a year.  As faculty development, this seminar will be paying off for year.  

Jason and Cheryl’s email about how they will use these posts to build their final reports made me overly conscious about my writing here—very unblog like I know. The assignment parameters always influence the outcome, right. Thanks to each of you for being willing to talk honestly, openly and directly about your teaching. I hope to keep in touch or at least cross paths accidentally.

SOTL Outcomes, Roz Myers, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Sociology

By bringing together educators from a variety of disciplines and CUNY campuses, the University Seminar on Teaching and Learning promoted several important objectives: First, it provided a forum in which to exchange ideas on pedagogy with other educators whose perspectives and knowledge broadened my own. Second, it focused our attention as educators on the way we tackle our subject matter each term—our philosophies, methods, goals, and expectations of the students in our respective classes. By deliberating about how and why we do what we do, and hearing the same from others, we were invited to reassess our own classroom techniques. Third, it emphasized for me the commonalities, despite differing nomenclature among the disciplines, of our concerns as teachers, and these variations—sometimes minor, sometimes extreme—inspired new approaches to my areas of greatest concern (primarily writing, speaking, and research skills). Finally, the SOTL energized me in my classroom, giving me a renewed sense of purpose in my approach to the subject matter of my classes.

Several concrete projects developed out of the SOTL. I took an interest in the John Jay curriculum overhaul that is currently underway. I’m hoping to become more involved with the decision-making on this front, especially with regard to literacy across the disciplines, which is crucial to student success. As derivations of the long paper that was the subject of my presentation at the SOTL (related to brain-based education and the neurological development of the brain as it relates to learning), I wrote several shorter papers and presented at two conferences. Also, I was among the presenters at the CUNY annual general education conference held at Kingsborough Community College, which, among other things, gave me an opportunity to think through my development from start of the SOTL to finish and formulate a plan for my teaching going forward. I have grand plans to use the material from the SOTL in teaching my classes at John Jay, to propose similar faculty groups on our campus, to work with other members of the SOTL (particularly those who are already at JJay) in future semesters hopefully in each other’s classrooms, and offer some intelligent guidance for curriculum decisions as John Jay develops its general education requirements.

Seminar Outcomes–Corey Mead

As a second-year faculty member at CUNY-Baruch, I found the seminar extremely helpful for two reasons: one, I gained valuable information about a broad range of best teaching practices, many of which I was previously unfamiliar with, and two, I connected with faculty members from multiple CUNY campuses, and from a range of disciplines; these connections have proved greatly enriching on both a professional and a personal level. I intend to take into my teaching my newly gained insights into place-based learning; the use of multimedia tools in the classroom; strategies for effective assessment; peer review; podcasts; and student collaboration. Given my focus on composition studies, these insights will also be essential for my future research in the discipline.

In my role as chair of the Composition Committee at Baruch, I intend to share with our sixty-odd first-year composition instructors the strategies I’ve learned for improving student-based collaboration and peer review, faculty assessment, and the use of games and podcasts as instructional tools. I also run teaching workshops for new instructors from the CUNY Grad Center, and I intend to share these strategies with them, as well. Lastly, I will, of course, also be integrating these strategies into my own teaching over the next academic year.

Michael Mandiberg – SoTL report

As many of the outcomes responses here articulate, the SoTL directly provided me with a number of pedagogical tools that I was able to directly use in my classes; The two key tools/concepts for me were game based learning, and the repeated discussion of assessment principles.

Equally important to mention is the less direct or traceable result of creating the possibility for CUNY faculty across a number of disciplines and campuses to come together to discuss pedagogy, especially as it relates to our individual disciplines and areas of research. Most professors are not explicitly trained in pedagogy in our graduate studies; what we learn about pedagogy, we seek out early in our teaching when it is sink-or-swim, find through our own explorations once we have gained enough experience that we are not sink-or-swim, we learn from colleagues/mentors, or discover through our research. With the exception of colleagues/mentors, these are all a learning experience gained without interactions with colleagues, and in all of these examples, they are confined to the professor’s discipline. On the other hand, the SoTL provided us with the opportunity to move beyond the solitary exploration and into other disciplines.

For me, one of the best examples of this was the ongoing discussions of writing pedagogy and “basic composition”. While I do have writing in my courses, I teach digital imaging and multimedia design, so the primary focus is visual design. I spend a lot of time teaching students how to make a successful composition of shapes, images, and text. I have thought a lot about the pedagogy of this, including co-authoring a book to teach from. But in all of this research I had not actively thought about the relationship of a “composing” a paragraph of words describing a view out a window, and rendering that view out of a window into a visual “composition” of shapes and colors. This was just one of the examples from the seminar.

Some of the results of this seminar are abstract and will inform the way we teach in a broader sense, like the exploration of the kind of “composition” we make our students do, and others are concrete, like the introduction of games based learning and the assessment principles, and can and was immediately implemented in all of my classes.

Erin Ackerman’s report and feedback

The internet has become the default starting place for students doing research for their college classes and in their personal and professional lives. Students often have trouble selecting reliable, complete, and unbiased information in their online searches. Although information literacy is a concern nationwide, CUNY students have particular needs in this area. Our students have many demands on their time in addition to their studies and many live or work a substantial distance from their home campuses and libraries. These factors combine to encourage students to use electronic media before, and instead of, searching in libraries. Improving our students’ information literacy through classroom instruction and assignments will advance student academic performance and equip our students to be savvy consumers of information in multiple dimensions of their academic and extracurricular activities.

In my project for the Seminar on Teaching and Learning, I examined information literacy, also called source use, with particular attention to helping students evaluate online resources. My investigation focused on search engines such as Google and online encyclopedias like Wikipedia and whether these sites—which are probably the first search tools to which our students turn—can be incorporated into classroom instruction as a means of teaching students to evaluate information for themselves. I am applying what I have learned through this research to the design of a new undergraduate research seminar that my department is considering as part of the evaluation and updating of our major. I have created new assignments for my Gender and Law seminar (of which I will run two sections next year, enrolling 72 students) and my senior seminars (of which I will teach one to two sections next year, enrolling between 24-48 students). I am also preparing a paper based on this research to be proposed for the American Political Science Association (APSA) 2011 Teaching and Learning Conference.

My participation in the seminar overall had much broader implications for my teaching, colleagues, and students. I learned so much from the other instructors in this series and have reexamined many aspects of my teaching, seeking to incorporate humor, games-based learning, and greater student agency into my pedagogy. Because my teaching world has been so rocked and reinvigorated by this group, several of my John Jay Political Science Department colleagues and I are in the process of planning teaching and learning workshops we can offer to our full time and adjunct faculty. These workshops are planned to start in Fall 2010; we hope to draw on many of the participants in the cross-CUNY 2009-2010 seminar. These workshops will be especially helpful to our many instructors in GOV 101: Introduction to American Government. We currently offer between thirty and forty sections of this course each semester and the majority of these sections are taught by adjuncts. This course has been identified as a course in which the department wants to increase student engagement and shared experiences, both of which we expect will be fostered by discussions of teaching approaches, collaboration among instructors, and the introduction of new teaching tools.

WHAT I LEARNED FROM SOTL

Seminar Project Area: Game-based learning
Member: Joe Bisz

Our Scholarship of Teaching and Learning meetings were perhaps the most rigorous and delightful series of pedagogical discussions I have ever attended. As I listened to my colleagues debate, classify, and meet each other half-way in arguments about the importance of content in writing or of student identity, I felt like a super teacher. The special format of this group and the financial support given to it enabled us to make connections between our disciplines and research in ways that other pedagogy series or Center for Teaching events could not possibly duplicate. In other words, SOTL was not simply a grant for us to pursue individual research (e.g., the PSC-CUNY Grant), nor a collaborative grant (e.g., the larger CUNY Central grants), nor a “special conference” designed to bring people together and see what we’re thinking in common on a subject (e.g., the CUNY Digital Humanities Conference), but a combination of all of these things, which gave us unique insight into our own research.

More on that insight now. Despite having read directly about the matter, it never occurred to me that, as one of my colleagues spoke to me about, cognitive science research would directly support my research in games-based learning. I also did not expect there to be a theory (self-efficacy) devoted to student identity which I could connect to games, or that I could borrow important concepts from assessment theory (I thought this would be the most boring of subjects!). So I was reminded of connections I could make in my research that I wasn’t making, and I went back to my classes to focus more on game exercises or even just readings that highlighted my colleagues’ interests more, making a point of getting the students to assess these exercises themselves, with good results. But more so than these individual doors being opened was the sense of being given a master key: that key was the understanding that my colleagues and I are speaking the same language, that I can make my theories more relevant to them by reiterating some of their terms, goals, and meeting them half-way. I began to understand more directly the importance of Centers for Teaching on campuses, even while perceiving their limitations.

My seminar project was to present the theories of games-based learning to this group and to continue my research so that I could publish an article. Game-based learning is a pedagogy founded on the idea that the principles which immerse players in good games (identity forming, frequent feedback, visual thinking) should be the same principles behind any good learning exercise. The seminar project was successful, and my SOTL research is being disseminated in direct and indirect ways. First, the time support allowed by the money enabled me to finish writing an article titled “The Guns of Grammar: Notes from the Front-Lines of Game-Based Learning,” which is now under review at the academic English journal Writing on the Edge. Second, thanks in part to the contacts I made through SOTL, I was able to present my SOTL research not just at my particular SOTL workshop but at three additional conferences this year (15-50 audience members each), and I have been invited to speak at two more in the next. The interdisciplinary lens I gained with which to look at my research also allowed me to better serve my campus’s CUE program (about 30 faculty and staff from different disciplines), for which I invented several game exercises that relied on principles I learned from SOTL. Additionally, it is helping me to understand how I can help my mathematics colleagues better, and I am now pursuing a joint NSF grant with a few of them to create a math video game. Finally, I’ve learned the importance of exercises that not only fit another person’s discipline but that are interdisciplinary, such as how to find sources in the library and how to teach classroom management. Many people are asking me for these exercises, and I have new ideas about to design the wiki I run through the CUNY Games Network in order to better serve the faculty and staff who use it (80+ across different CUNY Campuses). I believe this wiki can actually continue the energy of the Seminar by focusing on one specific pedagogical area (a library of interdisciplinary game-exercises). In short, the SOTL group is a wonderful new concept that should be continued and expanded if possible.

Maria Jerskey’s Outcomes Summary

My participation in this seminar—including my collaboration with Leigh Jones, preparing for the presentations by others, group discussions, and my own developing research over the year—enriched and furthered my thinking as well as my teaching. I looked at student populations which I called “multilingual students,” but over the year, that category has become more nuanced for me; I looked at what I called Web 2.0, but over the year, it has become better refined/defined and includes a whole dimension of “participatory cultures,” and I looked at student self-efficacy and over the year, my sense of its central importance to my own teaching has been confirmed over and over again via the work and research of my colleagues in this seminar. I’ve come away with a much richer idea of how to frame my research but also how to bring these ideas into the classroom, into my department’s pedagogy, and more broadly how to advocate more effectively and persuasively (authoritatively?) for students’ learning needs on my campus and in my own scholarship. Being part of the seminar gave me (and probably the others from community colleges, Nelson, Joe, and Brahmadeo) a clearer picture of where my students will be going in terms of the senior colleges and I hope folks from the senior colleges had a better understanding of where students who transfer and articulate into their colleges come from. Finally, participating in the seminar broadened my horizon–I had a view of the “bigger” world of the University and beyond and I’ll miss that next year (but will no doubt be more inclined to seek out similar opportunities that give me that “view” again). I think that it’s essential that faculty have that opportunity to go beyond their classrooms, their departments, and their colleges, and to have the opportunity to feel themselves as meaningful and thoughtful shapers of the culture of teaching and learning at the University level.

My research project looks at how we as teachers might promote multilingual writers’ self-efficacy using Web 2.0 participatory cultures. It comes out of the ongoing dilemma for college language-literacy teachers (and particularly those within CUNY) who teach student writers falling within the complexly heterogeneous category of multilingual writers (i.e., generation 1.5, international students, new immigrants, etc.): On one hand we prepare students to pass standardized, college, and/or departmental writing assessments while somehow, on the other, we try to cultivate a writing environment in which students’ confidence as writers can grow. Traditionally labeled ESL (English as a second language) and more recently ELL (English language learners), these students have been placed (and often misplaced) in remedial, non-credit bearing courses. The imperative to pass assessments often supersedes the imperative to develop as writers and as a consequence triggers mechanisms that lead to low-achievement and apathy. How can we address those triggers? Research has shown that “Web 2.0” platforms (i.e., blogs, wikis, e-mail, e-portfolios, twitter, social networks, etc.) provide environments and opportunities for promoting writing success and can powerfully impact students’ identities as writers—their writing self-efficacy. So I wondered how we could characterize and relate multilingual writers’ participation on Web 2.0 participatory platforms to their writing self-efficacy beliefs. How might teachers tap into the inherent strengths that a community of heterogeneously diverse writers (both in terms of literacy and linguistic backgrounds) brings to the college writing classroom and transform those classrooms? My own “test run” with my classes’ blogs this year has already gone to another level: now my section’s blogs are connected to multiple courses’ blogs at LaGuardia and elsewhere in CUNY using Community 2.0. I also began an on-campus conversation series called, “Building on Multilingual Writers’ Strengths in the Disciplines.” The large turn-out of faculty and staff demonstrated the interest, investment, and need for discussion on how we can address multilingual writers’ needs. One of the most significant aspects to me, though, was that more than half the people who showed up for the “conversation” were themselves non-native English speakers/writers who were concerned about their own instructional language. Clearly, there’s a need to address the writing self-efficacy of not only multilingual students, but faculty and staff as well.

The University Seminar on Teaching and Learning advanced two important goals. As the Coordinator for the Studies in Religion Program at Brooklyn College, I had the opportunity early in the seminar to present findings from a recent course entitled Brooklyn and Its Religions. My faculty colleagues and the USTL coordinators commented on and provided valuable feedback on this place-based religion course in the neighborhoods of Brooklyn. In addition, I was able to co-present with a colleague from the chemistry department at BMCC who is researching constructivism. Through our collaborative work across the disciplinary divide of religion and chemistry, I discovered our shared concern about the ways that students learn, think about and develop concepts – a common pedagogical issue regardless of the specific subject matter. A bridge between the humanities and the sciences was created for me, one that continues now in a peer mentoring relationship with a member of the Environmental and Earth Science Department at Brooklyn College. A second major goal included learning more about how other colleagues think about and test for student learning outcomes. Presentations from seminar colleagues in English, Physics and Speech enabled me to discern how other professors in other departments accomplish this task. Also, I have gained deeper insight in how to use group-learning methods in the classroom, techniques that will be implemented in the next academic year.

The University Seminar on Teaching and Learning advanced two important goals. As the Coordinator for the Studies in Religion Program at Brooklyn College, I had the opportunity early in the seminar to present findings from a recent course entitled Brooklyn and Its Religions. My faculty colleagues and the USTL coordinators commented on and provided valuable feedback on this place-based religion course in the neighborhoods of Brooklyn. In addition, I was able to co-present with a colleague from the chemistry department at BMCC who is researching constructivism. Through our collaborative work across the disciplinary divide of religion and chemistry, I discovered our shared concern about the ways that students learn, think about and develop concepts – a common pedagogical issue regardless of the specific subject matter. A bridge between the humanities and the sciences was created for me, one that continues now in a peer mentoring relationship with a member of the Environmental and Earth Science Department at Brooklyn College. A second major goal included learning more about how other colleagues think about and test for student learning outcomes. Presentations from seminar colleagues in English, Physics and Speech enabled me to discern how other professors in other departments accomplish this task. Also, I have gained deeper insight in how to use group-learning methods in the classroom, techniques that will be implemented in the next academic year.

These two goals will have positive implications in the immediate future as I plan and implement a strategic plan for the Studies in Religion Program, a fledgling interdisciplinary program at Brooklyn College. Not only does the Religion Program perform the internal role of taking care of its majors but we also serve the broader student public through designated religion courses and through cross-disciplinary, cross-listed courses. The collaborative relationships in my USTL work have been a model for the focused cooperation welcome and necessary at Brooklyn College. My participation in USTL will have a multiplier effect as I implement what I have learned in the seminar in locations throughout my college community here in Brooklyn. This has already included participation in a Provost Task Force of sixteen members on community-based and sustainability education. Also, I am working with a six member faculty group called Bridges Across Brooklyn to study ways to root our pedagogical work deep into the fabric of the Brooklyn community.

Concluding Thoughts about the Seminar for Teaching and Learning from Amy Wan and Karen Weingarten

Amy: In my M.A. classes for high school teachers, I give my students an earnest pitch during the first class; despite their busy and overscheduled teaching lives, they are asked to think of the class, not as an administrative hoop to jump through on the way to graduation, but as a rare opportunity to pause and really consider their teaching practices. Yet despite my belief in the importance of reflecting on teaching practices, those opportunities are rare in my own life. The Teaching and Learning seminar created that valuable space for me, one that I hope can be replicated for other faculty members at campuses across CUNY. Over the semester, I had the opportunity to hear from my colleagues about gaming, peer review, humor, collaboration, oral communication, podcasting, and many other topics that will shape the way my classroom will look in the future. Additionally, the readings and the issues discussed have helped me think about the theoretical underpinnings of my current book project. I plan to include much of this work in my last chapter, as well as a related article.

Karen: As the Director of First Year Writing at Queens College this semester I co-organized and led a series of workshops for adjuncts and graduate teaching assistants about pedagogy and the teaching of writing. Additionally, Jason Tougaw (Director of Writing at Queens and co-organizer of this seminar) and I worked to redesign the first-year writing curriculum at Queens College by working with advanced graduate students, long-term adjuncts, and full-time faculty to create topics-based first-year writing courses that truly engage the mission of our new general education curriculum to give freshmen an interdisciplinary and rigorous introduction to the writing they will do as college students. Amidst this exciting and sometimes exhausting work, attending the seminar once a month was a wonderful opportunity to hear what my colleagues across CUNY were doing on their own campuses and to share the ideas circulating at Queens. I found myself taking ideas about place-based learning, collaborative writing, digital writing, and assessment strategies back to my colleagues at Queens College as we developed and enriched our approaches to teaching first-year writing. In general, because I spent these last two semesters so invested in curriculum redesign, the opportunity to have a space where I could discuss the larger questions about teaching and learning was especially valuable and appreciated.

Amy and Karen: In addition to the seminar’s influence on our future teaching and research, what we’ve learned in the seminar will also affect key curricular decisions at Queens College. As the faculty administrators for the writing program, we originally proposed a project to explore uses of technology and the teaching of writing. We were hoping to develop structures and support for the instructors we train who would be asked to teach digital literacies. However, the integration of technology into pedagogy in our program became folded into an overhaul of the entire freshman composition curriculum during this past school year. We used the seminar as an opportunity to study issues of relevancy and vocationalism in relationship to writing for college students. We were able to talk to fellow teachers from multiple disciplines about expectations for the freshman writing course and ways to teach writing in every class. From our colleagues across disciplines, we learned different perspectives on what “good writing” can mean and how to reach different kinds of students. The seminar work has helped us as we’ve restructured the program, to think about how introductory writing instruction might fit in next to all of the other classes they might take in the future. The seminar gave us materials on innovative teaching techniques that will trickle down to how we train our instructors who collectively teach between 60 and 80 sections of English 110 every semester. This is work that we’ll continue to do in the coming academic year, but also during the rest of our careers in the CUNY system.

As junior faculty members, we think the seminar is one of the best things we’ve participated in, and we would highly recommend it to others. Particularly in light of the hectic schedules with demanding teaching responsibilities that many of us have at CUNY, the creation of this teaching community is an important way to recharge and inspire the work we do. The thinking and sharing we did in the seminar will undoubtedly impact how we approach the administration of writing at Queens College. That CUNY funds this kind of important work on teaching really speaks to how the institution doesn’t just say they value teaching (as every college seems to these days), but actually makes a commitment to it by allowing faculty the resources and time to study the practice of teaching.

Nelson Nunez Rodriguez: Seminar Outcomes and Bibliography

1) Embedding the seminar outcomes in the Science Teaching at Hostos Community College.

Writing in Sciences. The 26 student-Chemistry writing intensive course for Science and Engineering majors has been devised considering several seminar recommendations: the lab report as a formal writing assignment implies the revision of different parts of the lab report every week; instead of, the revising of the whole lab report at once as it was initially intended. It emphasizes mainly the lab discussion revision where students have more opportunity to brainstorm their lab result understanding. As Physical Sciences Unit Coordinator, I have recommended it to other instructors teaching lab and working in a future Physics Writing intensive course. These recommendations will be reaching other 50 Science students considering other Chemistry section and the Physics section.

Oral Speaking in Sciences.  Based on the emphasis of the importance of writing and oral speaking skill discussed in the seminar; the Chemistry class for Sciences major has an oral speaking component. Many students bring the abilities acquired in the public speaking class to the Chemistry class and use the speech developed in the Sciences class to deliver it in other public speaking classes. Rubrics have been developed to evaluate this skill in collaboration with Education and Public Speaking instructors. In this regard, the embedding of field trips in the class to trigger student motivation incorporated a public speaking component since students prepared and orally defended the trip proposal in front of a committee approving the trip funding. This component will be part of the future courses.

Motivation and Relevance in the Science taught content: The seminar enlightened the importance of using motivating tools as a vehicle to infuse more relevance to the information discussed with the students. Any assignment or field trip has to be devised considering how it will positively impact the cognitive processes of our students. It means they will perceive it as a relevant piece of information to be learned and selected among the overwhelming amount of information they receive every day.

2) On going Scholarship Collaboration Projects developed as Seminar Outcomes

A $10,000-grant has been approved from the Americn Society of Cell Biology to support outreach and activities that promote Cell Biology in Hostos Community College. This grant will engage Sciences and Acting students in a full theatrical production of a play based on a Sciences Topic. This grant proposal has been nourished by the seminar. It has been nurtured by the ongoing networking collaboration with Prof. Brahmadeo from BMCC. The grant outreach activities expect to involve around 60-70 students. I also gave a talk at the BMCC Natural Sciences Department regarding the idea of infusing more motivating tools in the tough science classes. By mean of this collaboration, summer field trips will be devised for BMCC sciences as part of the summer BMCC-STEM workshop activities.

Learning Chemistry with YouTube: believe or not believe? This project in collaboration with our library liaison has been submitted to the Hostos Community College-Center for Teaching and Learning to be considered as one of the Beautiful Ideas in Teaching and Learning. This project seeks to deepen critical thinking and information literacy skills while providing a platform for students to learn and interact online. It creates a Chemistry Blackboard site (called the ChemistryLearningPlace) that immerses students in a rich and challenging world of textual analysis and critical thought, and encourages debate and fertile back-and-forth discussions rather than just assuming the textbook is the ultimate truth. This project opens a conversation about the increasing number of open access (or free) and traditional textbooks, that may be suitable for use in community college courses, are available in online formats. Expensive textbooks are no longer the only option for instructors of introductory classes. In this regard, this seminar enlightened this proposal by pointing out the ongoing controversy regarding the use of Wikipedia by college students. Wikipedia is not only as a source of information, but also a model for debate about the quality of information found there. In other words, contributors to Wikipedia are having the kinds of discussion online that we would like to see among students when they find and evaluate online resources. This idea will be implemented in a 26 student-chemistry class but the online site will be available for several chemistry sections. It will be useful for around 200 students.

The Seminar in the Future:

Future collaborations may imply:

– Inter visitation: Faculty from a different campus can attend a class or be part of an assignment taking the student role. How do we perceive the experience/ How do we perceive the assignment? Is it clear enough to fulfill the instructor expectations? Are the class/instructor expectation clearly explained?

– Empowering the role of free writing as a learning tool: Are we taking advantage of student cultural and personal backgrounds to empower their learning skills? How can we move from the “fill the container behavior” when they develop an assignment? Can we use their emotions, dreams, and the freedom of the free writing exercises to empower their writing, and ultimately, their learning skills? In this regard, I will pilot a pseudo-formal writing exercises based on the food/nutrition idea discussed in the GenEd Conference by the Queens College group. I believe students are usually too focused in the “3-4 page and MLA citation style” requirements when they receive the assignment. How do the assigment structure and guidelines really give room for the learning process associated to the analysis of information?

Bibliography

Integrating Content Detail and Critical Reasoning by Peer Review

Ravi Iyengar, Maria A. Diverse-Pierluissi, Sherry L. Jenkins, Andrew M. Chan,

Lakshmi A. Devi, Eric A. Sobie, Adrian T. Ting, Daniel C. Weinstein

29 February 2008, Science 319, 1189-90 (2008)

Using Web-Based Discussion Forums as a Model of the Peer-Review Process and a Tool for Assessment.

 Sherry L. Jenkins,1 Ravi Iyengar,1* Maria A. Diverse-Pierluissi 1

Andrew M. Chan,2 Lakshmi A. Devi,1 Eric A. Sobie,1 Adrian T. Ting,3

Daniel C. Weinstein1

www.stke.org/cgi/content/full/1/9/tr2 page 1-9

– The Role of Interpersonal Relationships in Student Motivation: Introduction to the Special Issue

Lynley H. Anderman and Avi Kaplan  

The Journal of Experimental Education, 2008, 76(2), 115-119