New Resource Guide

Icon squareA new resource guide on assessing affective learning has been posted to the Reinert Center website [LINK].

If you want to talk with someone about assessing affective learning in your own classes, you may request a teaching consultation by completing this form (LINK).

If you have ideas for resource guide topics you would like to see posted, share them here (LINK).

Autonomy, Structure, and Support

Icon squareby Chris Grabau, Instructional Developer, Reinert Center

Self-determination theory (or SDT) is a theory of motivation that articulates the inherent (or intrinsic) factors needed in order for person to exhibit self-motivating and self-determined behaviors.  SDT founders, Edward Deci and Richard Ryan propose there are three intrinsic “nutriments” or behaviors that are not only important for learning, but are essential to psychological health and well-being.  They are the need for autonomy, competence, and psychological relatedness.  Their research has influenced a large body of work on motivation and determination ranging from tips on effective parenting, job satisfaction, and health. (Ryan & Deci, 2000, p. 76)

While all three nutriments are important considerations in education, developing structures to support autonomous motivation can have a transformative impact on students. Autonomous motivation can be defined as an orientation where ones’ interest and self-endorsed values serve as an “index” to assist with self-learning and engagement. (Reeve, Deci, Ryan, 2004, p. 21)  Unlike controlled motivation which creates tension and disengagement, autonomous motivation creates opportunities for learning behaviors that support creativity, develop problem solving skills and foster positive emotions about learning.  As a result, autonomous learning is often associated with better physical and psychological health. (Deci & Ryan, 2008)

However, developing mechanisms to support autonomous motivations for learning can be a challenge for most college instructors.  Research suggests that creating an educational environment that includes both support and structure is one of the surest ways to encourage autonomous motivation and also improve student engagement towards learning. (Jan, Reeve, & Deci, 2010)

Consider the kind of structure and support you are currently offering in your teaching.  Do you offer too much structure and not enough space for reflection and autonomy?  Or, do you offer too little structure and invite ambiguity and chaos into your classroom?

One way to reflect on your role as an instructor is to consider how you are representing the course through your teaching style?  What roles am I playing during central elements of the course – facilitator, instructor, lecturer?  Also, consider how you are providing effective communications, goal setting and feedback for your students.

Finally, consider what teaching opportunities can you can create that offer students a place to make meaning out of the course?   Jang, Reeve and Deci (2010) offer a few great suggestions:

“We suggest that teachers might want to initiate learning activities by involving students’ inner motivational resources, communicating in noncontrolling and informational ways and acknowledging students’ perspectives and negative feelings when motivational and behavioral problems arise…. Teachers might want to initiate learning activities by offering clear and detail expectations and instructions, offering helpful guidance and scaffolding as students try to profit from the lesson, and providing feedback to enhance perceptions of competence and perceived personal control during a reflective post performance period.”

If you would like to investigate how to best incorporate structure and support to encourage student autonomy, schedule a teaching consultation with someone at the Reinert Center.

References

Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (2008). Facilitating optimal motivation and psychological well-being across life’s domains. Canadian Psychology/Psychologie canadienne49(1), 14.

Jang, H., Reeve, J., & Deci, E. L. (2010). Engaging students in learning activities: It is not autonomy
support or structure but autonomy support and structure. Journal of Educational Psychology, 102(3), 588-600.

Reeve, J., Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (2004). Self-determination theory: A dialectical framework for
understanding socio-cultural influences on student motivation. Big theories revisited4, 31-60.

Roth, G., Assor, A., Kanat-Maymon, Y., & Kaplan, H. (2007). Autonomous motivation for teaching: How
self-determined teaching may lead to self-determined learning. Journal of Educational Psychology99(4), 761.

Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2000). Self-determination theory and the facilitation of intrinsic motivation,
social development, and well-being. American Psychologist, 55(1), 68-78.

 

Affective Learning

Icon squareby James Fortney, Instructional Developer, Reinert Center

When defining transformative learning, Jack Mezirow (1997) argues it is “an active process involving [the] thought, feelings, and disposition” of the learner (p. 10). By drawing attention to the more affective dimensions of teaching and learning, he gives authority to many of the things we hope our students will both experience and remember from our courses. We value caring about the history of art, for example, or feeling something in response to successfully solving a mathematical problem, or even committing to the pursuit of truth and the service of humanity. Whether or not they are explicitly stated in our syllabus, we have affective learning goals for our students both during and beyond the context of our teaching them. Mezirow (1997) suggests “we must assume responsibility for setting objectives that explicitly include [these goals] and recognize that this requires experiences designed to foster critical reflectivity and participation in dialogue” (p. 10). In order to do so, we must first define affective learning and consider its role in our respective disciplines and fields as well as in the lives of our students.

A 2015 forum in Communication Education invited scholars to reflect on affective learning, eliciting a range of perspectives designed to move from monologue to dialogue on the topic. Instructional communication scholars Katherine Thweatt and Jason Wrench offered the following summative definition from that dialogue: “Affective learning refers to an individual’s positive disposition toward a particular subject matter, which changes an individual’s operational framework and value system thus guiding decision making and behavioral choices in all aspects of life” (Thweatt & Wrench, 2015, p. 498). And consistent across forum contributors was the belief that affective learning is a transformative experience – meaning, it allows for “dynamic relationships between teachers, students, and a shared body of knowledge in a way that promotes student learning and personal growth” (Slavich & Zimbardo, 2012, p. 576).

As a continuation of that dialogue, I invite you to reflect on your definition of affective learning and consider how it shapes your teaching. Can you imagine developing affective learning outcomes for your course? What would they be? Why are they important for student learning? How will you talk about them with students? If you include affective learning outcomes on your syllabus, how will you assess that students have achieved them? What type of learning activities and assignments will support affective learning in your course?

Use the space below to share and discuss your responses to these questions – or pose even more questions for us to consider. You can also schedule a teaching consultation with someone in the Reinert Center to discuss developing and supporting affective learning outcomes for your course. In the spirit of Mezirow, these practices help set our “line of action” towards transformation.

References

Mezirow, J. (1997). Transformative learning: Theory to practice. In P. Cranton (Ed.), Transformative learning in action: Insights from practice, new directions for adult and continuing education (pp. 5-12). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Slavich, G. M., & Zimbardo, P.G. (2012). Transformational teaching: Theoretical underpinnings, basic principles, and core methods. Educational Psychology Review, 24, 569-608.

Thweatt, K. S., & Wrench, J.S. (2015). Affective learning: Evolving from values and planned behaviors to internalization and pervasive behavioral change. Communication Education, 64, 497-499.

New Resource Guide

Icon square

A new resource guide on integrating technologies into assignments has been posted to the Reinert Center website [LINK].

If you want to talk with someone about integrating technology into assignments in your own classes, you may request a teaching consultation by completing this form (LINK).

If you have ideas for resource guide topics you would like to see posted, share them here (LINK).

Resources to help facilitate difficult dialogues in the classroom

Reinert Center typeset_icon_2014_solid_082214by Chris Grabau, Instructional Developer, Reinert Center

With the recent events surrounding the Stockley verdict, renewed conversations related to race, privilege, class and equity can make their way into the classroom.  Facilitating dialogue and creating an equitable learning environment can be a challenging task even for the most seasoned faculty member.

Last year, the Reinert Center focused our efforts to create and compile resources related Inclusive Teaching (A statement from Reinert Center director about Inclusive Teaching can be found on our blog, The Notebook [LINK]).  While a complete list of our resources related to inclusive teaching can be found on our website [LINK], below are a few practical “just in time” resources that may be useful to help facilitate dialogue and to establish a more inclusive learning environment within and outside of the classroom.

Resource Guide on Difficult Dialogues

Creating Inclusive Assignments

Implementing Reflective Assignments

Avoiding Microaggressions in the Classroom

Using Ground Rules to Support a Diverse Learning Environment

Active Listening to Support inclusive Teaching

We recognize that all not all strategies are suitable for all instructors or teaching situations; therefore, the Reinert Center staff are available to consult one-on-one [LINK]  with instructors about how to facilitate helping students with difficult issues.  All consultations are confidential and we are available to serve you.

Fellowship, Award, and Symposium Open Calls

Reinert Center typeset_icon_2014_solid_082214The Reinert Center currently has 3 separate calls open that you might be interested in.

Innovative Teaching Fellowship- Call for Applications

Each semester, the Reinert Center awards a small number of Innovative Teaching Fellowships to full-time, permanent teaching faculty who will teach in our highly-flexible, technology-rich classroom, the Learning Studio.

Innovative Teaching Fellows spend the first semester of their fellowship working closely with Reinert Center staff to (re)design a course to be taught in the Learning Studio.  The course is then taught in the Studio during the second semester of the fellowship period.  The fellowship comes with a course release to support course (re)design work and various kinds of support from Reinert Center staff, including both pedagogical and technical support.

To learn more about this fellowship, including information about the current Call for Applications, click here [LINK].

James H. Korn Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Award- Call for Nominations

One of the goals of the Reinert Center is to promote faculty inquiry and scholarly research on teaching and learning. In 2006, the Center established the James H. Korn Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Award in recognition of Psychology Professor Emeritus James Korn’s many contributions to research on teaching and learning. One award of $500 is given to the home department of the awardee(s) to be used as professional development funds for the awardee(s).

The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) involves researching questions about teaching activities and student learning by formally studying the teaching and learning activities of one’s course; answering those questions by assessing student learning and effectiveness of teaching strategies; and publicly sharing results of this inquiry in a setting that invites peer review, such as a publication or conference presentation.

For award criteria and nomination instructions, click here [LINK].

Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Symposium- Call for Proposals

We invite faculty and graduate students to submit a 500-word proposal for a poster presentation on a current (in-progress) or recently completed Scholarship (or Research) of Teaching and Learning project.  New research as well as research already presented at national or local conferences is welcome.

The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) involves researching questions about teaching activities and student learning by formally studying the teaching and learning activities of one’s course; answering those questions by assessing student learning and effectiveness of teaching strategies; and publicly sharing results of this inquiry in a setting that invites peer review, such as a publication or conference presentation.

The goal of the symposium is to showcase the SoTL work being conducted by Saint Louis University faculty and graduate students, and to promote a community of SoTL practitioners.

For more information, including proposal submission instructions, click here [LINK].

Intentional Change

Reinert Center RIT_circle_2014_solid_082214by James Fortney, Instructional Developer, Reinert Center

George Slavich and Philip Zimbardo suggest that a variety of instructional methods, ranging from experiential learning to problem-based learning, “share important underlying characteristics and can be viewed as complimentary components of a broader approach to classroom instruction called transformational teaching” (Slavich & Zimbardo, 2012, p. 569). One of the theoretical underpinnings of transformational teaching they highlight is intentional change theory (Boyatzis, 2006). Emerging from the management literature on organizational behavior, intentional change theory describes an iterative cycle of discoveries that support “desirable, sustainable changes in a [student’s] behavior, thoughts, feelings, or perceptions” (Slavich & Zimbardo, 2012, p. 579). By situating intentional change theory in the context of teaching and learning, the authors identify specific techniques for instructors who wish to create transformational learning experiences for their students. They include:

  1. Helping students formulate a personal and professional vision for the future
  2. Fostering hope that students can realize their desired future
  3. Aiding students in identifying their strengths, weaknesses, and ways they can improve
  4. Establishing individualized development plans for students
  5. Engaging students in learning activities that invite them to practice news ways of thinking, doing, and being
  6. Cultivating a supportive learning environment where students promote these goals and encourage intentional change for each other

Intentional change theory offers one window into the multifaceted landscape of transformative teaching and learning. What are some of your reactions to these practices? When and how might you engage your students in some of these activities and/or interactions? Is there anything you dislike about the authors’ recommendations? What challenges or issues might they provoke for you and your students? In what ways are you already using some of these techniques in your teaching? Why? Can you think of ways to be more intentional in choosing to do so?

As we begin to unpack this year’s theme, theoretical perspectives like intentional change theory can help identify, name, and describe instructional methods you are using (or would like to use) in your teaching. What other windows into transformative teaching and learning do you see? Perhaps there is a particular theory from your discipline that can be of use here? Share your comments, ideas, and reactions in the space provided below.

 

References

Boyatzis, R., & McKee, A. (2006). Intentional change. Journal of Organizational Excellence, 25, 49-60.

Slavich, G. M., & Zimbardo, P. G. (2012). Transformational teaching: Theoretical underpinnings, basic principles, and core methods. Education Psychology Review, 24, 569-608.

Beginning Anew, Renewing Our Commitments

Icon squareby Debie Lohe, Director, Reinert Center

New academic years are filled with promise. All choices are open to us. We aim high, sure that the hectic pace of the old year has passed and we can finally achieve our most aspirational goals. It doesn’t take long for the calendar to fill and our best hopes to be tempered by the stack of essays to grade, the publication deadlines, the committee meetings. . . .

As we begin a new year, the Reinert Center team is renewing its fundamental commitments to our core values [LINK] and practices [LINK]. We are also looking back on our first twenty years as a formal teaching center and ushering in our third decade of service to SLU faculty and graduate students. This milestone is exciting for us. It gives us opportunities to reflect on our history.  (You can read more about that in earlier blog posts here [LINK] and here [LINK] or on the History page on our website [LINK].) Perhaps even more importantly, it creates new energy to reflect on our future, on the future of higher education, the future of teaching and learning at SLU. As we renew our founding commitments, we’ll also continue to explore new ways to fulfill our vision to form and transform teachers, learners, and learning environments.

As you begin anew, we invite you to reflect on what it means to engage in the work of formation and transformation. For many of us, the vocation of teaching is partly about this commitment to formation; it is about helping learners grow as humans, not just about helping students learn course content. This year, the Reinert Center will focus a series of events and online resources on different aspects of transformative learning — what it is, what conditions create the potential for it, what methods and course designs promote it, and what technologies can support it.

We believe all learning involves change, but transformative learning occurs when learners themselves are changed by their learning experiences. In the classroom, this means students learn to master the content and skills needed for success in a discipline, and they also experience this learning as a shift in perspectives, in frames of reference – about themselves, their beliefs, and their actions. We believe the commitment to creating transformative learning experiences is fundamentally Ignatian. It is not limited to students, nor is it about influencing learners’ ideological views. Its purpose is to create meaningful learning experiences that have the potential to go beyond content and skills to foster in the learner a desire for more – and deeper – learning.

If you’re interesting in exploring – or contesting or expanding – ideas about transformative learning, stay connected during the year. We’ll hold various events [LINK] connected to this theme and develop new online resources (which we’ll post to our theme webpage here [LINK]). We even invite you to share your own reflections on transformative learning in this blog.  (Contact the Reinert Center at cttl@slu.edu if you’re interested in contributing a guest blog post.

Before your committee meetings and essays and publication deadlines begin to pile up, take a moment to renew your commitment to student-focused, transformational teaching. If we can support you in that commitment, don’t hesitate to call upon us.

Accommodation and Course Design

Reinert Center typeset_icon_2014_solid_082214by James Fortney, Instructional Developer, Reinert Center

A recent article from ChronicleVitae discusses the benefits of focusing on accommodation when writing or revising syllabi for a new semester. David Goobler (2017) argues, “We’re wrong to think of accommodations as exceptions that detract from our normal way of doing things. Accommodating students is our normal way of doing things.” He provides many helpful resources for designing courses that are inclusive of all students, emphasizing Universal Design for Learning as “a central part of our pedagogical work.” My favorite resource is Tulane University’s Accessible Syllabus, a site dedicated to promoting student engagement and agency through accessible images, texts, rhetoric, and policies on course syllabi. Included are numerous examples of ways to re-write your syllabus in support of this pedagogical goal. Ask yourself, “How can I be more flexible to adapt my course to students with varying needs? What can be changed and what can’t?” (Goobler, 2017). Focusing on questions like these now (rather than later) can have a tremendous impact on student learning.

In addition to the resources listed above, the Reinert Center has several teaching tips on our website that give attention to accommodation and inclusive course design. Each resource offers starting points for specific practices that promote equitable learning environments for all students. If you have specific questions about any of these resources or would like to schedule a teaching consultation to discuss accommodation and course design, please contact the Reinert Center or fill out this consultation request form.

Reference

Goobler, D. (2017, August 8). Now is the time to think about accessibility. Retrieved from https://chroniclevitae.com/news/1875-now-is-the-time-to-think-about-accessibility

Book Review: The Slow Professor

The Slow Professor

by James Fortney, Instructional Developer, Reinert Center

If you are looking for an interesting (and motivating) book to dig into before the semester begins, I recommend picking up a copy of The Slow Professor: Challenging the Culture of Speed in the Academy (Berg & Seeber, 2016). The authors challenge the frantic pace of pedagogical and intellectual work in higher education, calling for a “slow movement” where academics make time for reflection and dialogue. They emphasize the importance of advocating for deliberation over acceleration by engaging in ongoing practices of reflection, open-ended inquiry, and dialogue. These practices are beneficial to faculty and students alike, cultivating time and space for deep learning to occur. The second chapter of the book focuses on teaching, offering several examples of pedagogical techniques like pausing, breathing, laughing, listening, pacing, and narrating to help slow things down a bit. Although the book itself is a quick read, the information in that chapter will be the most useful for re-thinking course design, class facilitation, and assessment through a “slow professor” lens. Other topics addressed by the authors include time management, research, collegiality/community, and collaborative work. By threading these topics together, Berg and Seeber (2016) provide a powerful analysis of “the temporalities that govern our work” (p. 13). If you find time to read it, I encourage you to share your thoughts and reactions in the comments section below.

The beginning of a new academic year is an exciting time. We are so fortunate to be here, together, pursuing truth and seeking excellence in teaching, research, health care, and service to our communities. Try to slow down a bit. Take care of yourself. Breathe. Enjoy it.