Spring series on teaching excellence to run March 19-April 30

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8:47 a.m., March 9, 2010----A spring series on teaching excellence will meet from 2:30 to 4 p.m. on Friday afternoons, March 19, April 9 and April 30, in Room 205 of Brown Laboratory.

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The series is sponsored by the Institute for Transforming Undergraduate Education, Academic Technology Services (ATS), the Center for Educational Effectiveness (CFEE), and IT Client Support and Services.

The presenters are Lori Pollock, professor, and Terrence Harvey, assistant professor, both in the Department of Computer and Information Sciences, on March 19; Alan Fox, professor in the Department of Philosophy, on April 9; and Cihan Cobanoglu, associate professor in the Department of Hotel, Restaurant and Institutional Management, on April 30.

For registration information, see the CFEE events Web site.

All of the presenters have received the Faculty Senate's Excellence in Teaching Award, the highest teaching award offered at the University of Delaware.

The topics covered will be diverse but all will provide attending faculty tangible methods for improving student learning.

Pollock and Harvey will make a presentation titled “Skip the Lecture: Learning More Through Collaborative Activities.”

“Collaborative classroom activities have produced learning and growth in undergraduate students beyond anything we have achieved in our lecture format classes,” the presenters said. They will share their experience and techniques through a simple interactive classroom exercise in which students collaboratively learn how to think computationally and creatively using Scratch.

Scratch is a graphical programming tool that makes it easy and fun to create interactive stories, animations, games, music and art.

At the end of this workshop, participants should have experience and knowledge in how to facilitate teams in learning through tinkering and exploring during class; be aware of some informal assessment possibilities for in-class collaborative activities; and be able to create and share their own Scratch projects.

Fox will make a presentation on “Engaging the Best Students.”

The term "passive learning” is an oxymoron -- all learning is active, Fox said, adding it is something students do, and teaching involves helping them do it in the most productive way. This activity can be as simple as speaking up in class, taking notes, simply raising one's hand, and most importantly, drawing conclusions.

The best students are autodidactic -- that is, they teach themselves because they best understand and have come to terms with their own learning style, Fox said. "Teaching" these students mostly means getting out of the way and letting them learn in the way that is most comfortable and fun for them. Students learn best and enjoy it the most when they figure it out for themselves rather than having someone tell it to them.

In keeping with this, Fox said he proposes a style of teaching described as Socratic, or more specifically "Maeutic." This approach involves getting students to realize what they already know and giving them confidence in their own insight. This promotes independent thought. It involves using student responses to questions in order to assemble the pieces of a puzzle, and let them see the picture that emerges.

Faculty are asked to bring in some lecture content and the group will discuss ways of breaking that content down into questions that will draw the answers and insights out of the students rather than placing them there as though learning is simply the process of transmitting information.

More information on the April 30 session will be available soon.

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