Microaggressions and Implicit Bias in the Classroom

Imagine the following scenario: you have a class that meets three times a week. As a dedicated instructor, you arrive at the classroom early to set things up and make conversation with your students before the class officially starts. One day early in the semester, a male student walks in the door right before class is supposed to begin. As he walks by the female student sitting near the entrance, he reaches down and flicks her on the ear. She shoots him an annoyed look, but he continues on to the back row and sits down. The next class session, you observe the same thing-right before class is supposed to begin, the male student strolls in and flicks the ear of the same female student before making his way to the back row. This time, she looks over her shoulder and shoots him a look that clearly implies, “stop doing that.” But the routine continues, day after day. Male student walks in, flicks female student’s ear, sneers, and goes to sit down. Continue reading “Microaggressions and Implicit Bias in the Classroom”

Meeting Our Students Where They Are

Every year, Beloit College puts out its annual “mindset list,” which is an annual reminder of both the vicissitudes of popular culture and how much older I should feel at the beginning of the academic year. This year’s class of entering students, according to the Beloit list, “are mostly 18 and were born in 1999.” That means, among other things, that we have a passel of new students for whom “Peanuts comic strips have always been repeats” and “the seat of Germany’s government has always been back in Berlin.” There are sixty items on this year’s list, all of them aimed at getting faculty like us to shake our heads ruefully at what it feels like when we keep getting older while our students stay the same age. Continue reading “Meeting Our Students Where They Are”

Do We Use Email, or Does Email Use Us?

Email. It was supposed to save us time–a quick email instead of “snail mail” will be SO MUCH FASTER–but has instead taken more of that precious commodity than we could have ever anticipated. That’s the paradox of technology: sometimes innovations that were intended to be time-savers end up being time-suckers instead. Email is the perfect example of this. It’s not just easy, it’s too easy. Have a textbook for sale? Send an email. Don’t feel like walking down the hall to engage in actual human conversation? Send an email. Want to rant and rave, but find it hard to gather an audience? Send an email! Before you know it, our Outlook inboxes are groaning under the weight of everyone’s electronic id in message form. And that’s not even counting all of the messages generated by a reply-all message chain where everyone is telling everyone else to stop using reply-all. Continue reading “Do We Use Email, or Does Email Use Us?”

Early Interventions to Improve Student Success

This week, those of us who teach 100-level and below courses, as well as courses that data shows students can struggle in, will receive an email with a link to fill out student progress reports through our new SSC software. In many respects, they’re similar to the early alert system we used before this year, but these new progress reports are intended to target the student populations we know tend to run into early academic struggles, and enable us to more efficiently intervene and course-correct with them. As we begin the third week of the semester, identifying and working to address academic problems in our classes can pay significant dividends for the rest of the semester. It seems obvious: the earlier the intervention, the more likely our students are to turn things around. Continue reading “Early Interventions to Improve Student Success”

Learning Strategies, Not Styles

One of the most confusing and frustrating episodes in my entire teaching career came with an attempt to do what I thought was a “best practice” for enhancing my students’ learning. I was teaching Strategies for Academic Success, a course designed to help at-risk first-year students develop a strong foundation for their college careers. The textbook I adopted for the course had an entire unit on “learning styles,” and it asked students to complete something which was new to me at the time–the “VARK Inventory.” From this assessment, students would be able to find out what their “learning style” was: Visual, Aural, Reading/Writing, or Kinesthetic. Some students, the instructor’s guide told me, would be “multimodal”; that is, share two or (rarely) three styles. But, it said, a student’s strongest learning style should dictate the way they went about their academic business–what study strategies to adopt, what in-class methods they should use to retain material, on and on. I assumed this would be an excellent tool to get my students thinking about themselves as learners, that they would see that learning is multifaceted, and that they could take ownership of discerning what was most effective for them. Continue reading “Learning Strategies, Not Styles”

Aaaannnd….WE’RE OFF

Welcome, or welcome back, to another academic year at Grand View! The CETL staff is excited about the coming semester! (We’ll be even more excited when we make it through the week without any Blackboard issues *crosses fingers*.) As usual, faculty return to a campus where much has occurred in the months since we saw our graduates stride across the stage at Hy-Vee Hall. Continue reading “Aaaannnd….WE’RE OFF”