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Bush Faculty Development Committee

Augustana College
Sioux Falls, SD


December, 1999


In November the Augustana Bush Committee awarded Project Grants to eleven faculty and one student. Arlen Viste (Chemistry), Stanley L. Olsen Chair of Moral Values, is facilitating the formation and activities of book discussion groups cutting across faculty, administration, and staff lines. The groups will be reading and discussing Integrity by Stephen L. Carter and Earth Community, Earth Ethics by Larry L. Rasmussen. Craig Spencer (Biology), Leland Johnson (Biology), Perry Hanavan (Education), and Kyle Hanson (student) are receiving support for a powerful multimedia-processing workstation for use in producing professional-quality digital video-audio presentations. Initial work will involve producing presentations based upon student-faculty research projects. Margot Nelson (Nursing), Geoffrey Dipple (History), Andy Eastwood (Social Work), Anne Oppegard (Business Administration), Mary Friehe (Education), Glenda Sehested (Sociology), and Sharon Gray (Instructional Technologist) are working to build a cadre of WebCT users on the Augustana campus. WebCT is a web-based course tools package. The group will develop its own expertise and ability to serve in a consultative capacity to other Augustana faculty and then develop a user-friendly guide for beginning users of WebCT.

Four Augustana faculty (Dick English, Sandra Looney, Margot Nelson, and Susan Schrader) attended the November Collaboration Conference in Bloomington, MN. The conference theme was How Learning Happens: Making Connections, Constructing Knowledge, Building Community. Two keynote presentations served as bookends to the conference's numerous concurrent sessions. According to Sue, "The accommodations were inviting, and the richness of the diversity in attenders (public, private, and tribal colleges as well as a healthy blend of disciplines) was delightful. The Collaboration tailored a well-run and creative conference that addressed many issues that are timely today for faculty. Those of us who attended felt that this conference has much to offer us as faculty at Augustana and we are hopeful that more Augie faculty will consider going to the next conference."

Keynote Address: Learning About Learning

by Susan Schrader, Dick English

Bernice McCarthy, President of About Learning, Inc., presented her model of learning, suggesting that most people engage in learning as a cycle. While individuals prefer a learning style centered in one quadrant, most people engage in learning through a natural cycling among four quadrants: insight, concept formation, experimentation, and adaptation and integration. McCarthy engaged the audience in identifying their own learning styles and then offered illustrations of personality typifications and teaching examples that zero in on ways to circle the learning wheel (beginning with emotional content). Additional implications of this model for teaching and learning were explored.


The opening speaker brought a lot of energy to her topic. She basically talked about learning styles. She had her own labels for the four kinds of learners, using breakdowns similar to those others have used. She did have some interesting statistics about gifted students and their learning style compared to students repeating a class. The gifted students (in an English class) were heavily weighted to areas 3 and 4 "common sense and dynamic learners" while repeaters were more heavily weighted in 1 and 4 "imaginative and dynamic learners." In addition, the surveys of police (heavily 3 "common sense") and MBAs (heavily 2 - "analytic") were interesting.


Preconference: Cooperative Learning in the College Classroom

by Margot Nelson

This preconference session, by Darlene Vanselow Habanek of Cardinal Stritch University, Milwaukee, was highly interactive as well as informative. The presenter used workshop participants as a demonstration classroom for many principles of cooperative learning, contrasting the use of traditional and cooperative learning groups. Traditional learning groups have very little interdependence, and members take responsibility only for themselves. The focus is on individual performance only. Cooperative learning groups, by contrast, are highly interdependent with members assuming responsibility for their own and each other's learning and accepting accountability for their joint performance. Traditional learning groups engender individual accountability only, while cooperative groups foster both group and individual accountability. Members hold themselves and others accountable for high quality work. Traditional learning groups are often formed in haphazard fashion (e.g. through self selection), while cooperative learning groups are small (two to four members) and membership is assigned deliberately according to the purpose of the groups. Cooperative group members promote each other's success, doing real work together and helping and supporting each other's efforts to learn. Unlike traditional learning groups where a leader is often appointed to direct members' participation, cooperative learning group members share group leadership. Although tables and chairs are essential to facilitate face-to-face group work, cooperative learning groups are much more than an alternative seating chart.

Three types of cooperative learning groups were discussed: base learning groups, formal cooperative learning groups, and informal learning groups. Base learning groups are typically long-term and serve the purposes of support, peer pressure, and organization. They are not utilized for many academic tasks, and their membership is often heterogeneous based on initial demographic data. Base groups usually are asked to create a name for themselves and assume responsibility for taking and reporting attendance, perhaps formulating questions about the syllabus and course expectations at the beginning of a course, and collecting and distributing written work.

Formal cooperative learning groups actually complete assignments together. Different group members may be given specific materials or information, as in a jigsaw strategy, so that sharing of ideas and responsibility for the whole group becomes imperative. The faculty member may "eavesdrop," asking groups not to include him/her in their dialogue, in order to monitor group process. The presenter indicated that she believes even a major collaborative group project should make up no more than 30% of individual students' grades. The issue of incompatible group membership received some discussion, and the presenter indicated that she is in the process of writing an article about the prospect of "divorce" in a group, with the implications for severing group membership.

Informal cooperative groups are short term, and membership is random. They may be used for content review or processing of academic content. One approach the presenter uses is to request that students "turn to your neighbor" and discuss a particular element of the larger class discussion for a specified length of time, e.g. three minutes. She then listens and asks for feedback from the groups to pick up on misconceptions and unanswered questions. Another mechanism for informal groups is to use a clock and negotiate "appointments" for each hour in an initial class mixer. For informal tasks, then, the faculty member can ask everyone to quickly meet with their "9 o'clock" appointments. These kinds of groups are good for test review (give them a problem to solve), clarifying homework, or listing primary issues from readings. They may even be directed to exchange notes for a certain segment of class and discuss the content.

Although the composition and logistics of using the various kinds of groups received the greatest attention, the fit of their use with newer paradigms of teaching was the most significant. In the "new paradigm" (à la Johnson, Johnson & Smith, 1991), knowledge is no longer transferred from faculty to students but jointly constructed by students and faculty. Students are no longer passive vessels to be filled with faculty knowledge but active discoverers and transformers of knowledge. Faculty no longer focus upon classifying and sorting students but instead emphasize personal transactions among students and between faculty and students. Teaching in the new paradigm is complex and requires expertise beyond having expert command of the content. It became very clear to workshop participants that careful preplanning is essential to the productive use of cooperative learning groups.

Johnson, D.W., Johnson, R.J. & Smith, K.A. (1991). Active learning: Cooperation in the college classroom. Edina MN: Interaction Books.

Helping Students "Get Connected" in the Visual Arts

by Dick English

This session looked interesting not that Accounting is a visual art. The session leaders were involved in teaching the students who need more preparation for success in college. We were asked to study a painting, "The Subway" by Tucker, and list what we noticed about it. We then had to write about something in the painting for someone to read out loud to the group. The point was that students who do not come well prepared need the experience of hearing their words read and getting the feeling that they have something to say. The second leader teaches a film class in which the student teams make documentaries. He introduces them to the format by showing them some award winning documentaries. The students are then placed into teams to do one of their own on a topic of their choosing. We were given the chance to react to the ones he presented in order to help us connect to the visual arts.

A Quest for Woksape through Wiyukcan and Waunspe

by Susan Schrader

Drawing on the wisdom from the Lakota people, Cheryl Medearis of Sinte Gleska University presented a four-quadrant model of learning based on brain research. Colleagues from Sinte Gleska assisted her in leading the session's small groups through singing and drawing exercises that linked cognition and emotion. Finding participants' similarities in diversity and capturing the complexities of Native American folklore through the artistry of the wintercount were useful activities during the session.

Providing a Meaningful Context for Student Field Experiences

by Dick English

This session was interesting for more than the presentations. It gave me an opportunity to talk to professors from other schools that have internship programs about how the programs are handled. The session itself was mainly a HECUA presentation. Emphasis was on how to get students to prepare for this kind of a course. The faculty's responsibility for orientation, monitoring and assessment was also discussed.

Interdisciplinary Faculty Collaboration to Promote Student Learning

by Susan Schrader

Four UND faculty reported on their attempts to engage in peer review of teaching. The project focused the instructors on identifying personal teaching goals and/or concerns about their own teaching and inviting in a non-departmental colleague to observe their instruction. Having specific issues to watch for strengthened the ability of a colleague to provide useful feedback without having the instructor feel vulnerable. They learned a great deal about teaching by observing and being observed. A key to the effectiveness of this project was a supportive administration and a faculty colleague willing to shepherd the group along toward its goals.

Closing Plenary Session:
What's the Value in Instruction that Doesn't Teach?

by Susan Schrader

M. David Merrill, Professor of Instructional Technology at Utah State University, rollicked through a complex PowerPoint presentation. In it, he attempted to illustrate the importance of consonance between teaching and types of intended learning. Merrill maintained that quality instruction must include dimensions of presentation, practice, and learner guidance. He offered illustrations of different forms of CD-ROM/web site instruction that supported his argument. His central premise was that there is no value in instruction that does not teach.

The next Collaboration Conference will take place on February 17-18, 2000 at the DoubleTree Park Place in Minneapolis. If you wish to attend, Augustana's Bush Grant will cover your registration fee and accommodations and provide transportation. The conference theme is Sustaining Innovation: Content and Pedagogy for a New Century. See the brochure you were sent for details and check out further information at the Collaboration web site at www.collab.org. Please return your completed form to Karin Lindell, Box 802, by January 11.