Enhancing Academic Excellence

Enhancing Academic Excellence

Kent State University
on Oct 31, 2012

CONVERSATION CLOSED
How can the university improve existing academic programs? This conversation is part of the work of the Academic Affairs Strategic Planning Committee and the Provost Office.

Participants (34) See All

What do you think?

Anonymous
on 2014-09-30T15:49:48+00:00
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Recent Activity

Theresa Walton
on Dec 14, 2012
"This has been exactly my experience. In the two program areas that I've worked with, I've not..."
Donald White
on Dec 12, 2012
"For many years, we have held a graduate seminar that meets at the same time every semester. This..."
Daryl Upole
on Dec 11, 2012
"As an NTT at a Regional Campus, I would find it helpful to have departmental guidance and vision..."
Mark Goodman
on Dec 11, 2012
"I believe we need to actively encourage and reward faculty who place high expectations on..."
Carol Sedlak
on Dec 08, 2012
"In promoting academic excellence we need to start with basics, particularly in factors that..."
Larry Osher
on Dec 01, 2012
"Barbara:  I think this is a beneficial discussion point.  I do believe that faculty that are..."
Zinga Bodden
on Nov 27, 2012
"Whom would the community of educational leaders contain, and how would they keep in contact with..."
Paul Albert
on Nov 27, 2012
"It is often difficult to communicate the needs and requirements of academic affairs as they..."
Katherine Burke
on Nov 25, 2012
"Very interesting points here. As a term instructor, I have a perspective that is often not..."
Denise Seachrist
on Nov 25, 2012
"I have just returned from two important conferences in my discipline:  The College Music Society..."
Carey McDougall
on Nov 24, 2012
"I wouldl like to see a major shift in how we use SSI numbers to help us improve our teaching...."
Brian Newberg
on Nov 23, 2012
"In the previous cateogry above, I mentioned how I'm using selected theatre productions to promote..."
Brian Newberg
on Nov 23, 2012
"Regarding experiential learning, that is a very big part of our School of Theatre and our theatre..."
Larry Osher
on Nov 22, 2012
"Shelley,   Very inciteful.  Students being "fed" information and losing the ability to "seek"..."
Larry Osher
on Nov 22, 2012
"I must admit to having a poor iunderstanding of how you currently conduct your online courses..."
Linda Piccirillo-Smith
on Nov 20, 2012
"In the past week, I have met with several different groups representing different departments..."
Larry Osher
on Nov 19, 2012
"To be sure, Powerpoint presentations are an efficient way to highlight teaching points and..."
Barbara  Hipsman Springer
on Nov 17, 2012
"Those are great points KF - although some consulting with faculty surely goes on in these..."
Ryan Smith
on Nov 16, 2012
"The whole problem is that students who dont know the basics will not know where too look. When we..."
Tricia Niesz
on Nov 16, 2012
"I'd be interested to hear if people have felt a tension or conflict between having priorities for..."
Joel Hughes
on Nov 15, 2012
"I'm not sure I understand the question, but it sounds like keeping evaluations local and not..."
KF Latham
on Nov 14, 2012
"I thought of another one. I neglected it because we are now so immersed in trying to cope wtih BB..."
Miriam Matteson
on Nov 14, 2012
"Hi Kiersten, I agree with all your points. Well said.   To that I would add some other..."
Kent State University
on Nov 14, 2012
"Describe if and how the university should support different priorities in academic excellence and..."
Carol Blaine
on Nov 14, 2012
"As I am creating a new fully online program, I have the good fortune of working with an..."
Carol Blaine
on Nov 14, 2012
"You are right on point with your comment regarding immediate feedback. I recently reviewed..."
Victoria Migge
on Nov 14, 2012
"I think faculty could benefit from a type of message board where any problems, concerns,..."
Rachael Volokhov
on Nov 14, 2012
"I think that interdisciplinary collaboration in teaching and research are two very different..."
Nina Sullivan
on Nov 14, 2012
"Interdisciplinary education and collaboration is an area that our OT accrediting agency has..."
Nina Sullivan
on Nov 14, 2012
"Since I started at KSU, the OTA Program in East Liverpool has been looking to the day when we get..."
Mark Goodman
on Dec 11, 2012 - 12:07 pm

I believe we need to actively encourage and reward faculty who place high expectations on students and include academic rigor in their classes.  Are deadlines enforced?  Are students expected to have done assigned readings before class?  Does receiving an "A" actually reflect achievement and mastery, not just competence?

I fear that many junior faculty get the message that having positive student evaluations is more important than demanding the best from students and, as a result, tailor their courses accordingly.

 
Kent State University
on Nov 14, 2012 - 4:04 pm

Describe if and how the university should support different priorities in academic excellence and innovation among hard sciences, arts, professional schools and social sciences.

 

Responses(3)

Joel Hughes
on Nov 15, 2012

I'm not sure I understand the question, but it sounds like keeping evaluations local and not centralized would work. I don't know what makes for excellence in visual communication and design, or fashion, or business. If I were an administrator I would not be able to evaluate how excellence or innovation in these areas. I would have to trust the judgments of the TT faculty and local administrators in these areas.

 
Tricia Niesz
on Nov 16, 2012

I'd be interested to hear if people have felt a tension or conflict between having priorities for academic excellence and innovation that are university-wide and recognizing/honoring the great diversity of our institution.

 
Carol Sedlak
on Dec 08, 2012

In promoting academic excellence we need to start with basics, particularly in factors that impact our excellence in teaching.  A factor influencing student academic  success and excellence is related to how we evaluate  the online tests that students take. When students take a paper and pencil test using the bubble sheets to record their answers, we can have these scanned at the KSU computer scanning services and various statistical reports can  be generated that include discrimination index etc.  However, with the move to now using Learn (online classroom management program) the statistical reports that were once available in Vista are no longer available. Only frequencies for each test item are available. This is a step backwards impacting faculty ability to effectively evaluate the quality of test items. I question how faculty can adequately evaluate students when we are not adequately able to evaluate online test items on Learn that are the basis for students’ letter grades.

 
Expand This Thread
Victoria Migge
on Nov 14, 2012 - 1:02 pm

I think faculty could benefit from a type of message board where any problems, concerns, or idease might be shared. 

 
Kent State University
on Nov 09, 2012 - 1:02 pm

How can the university support the creation of learning environments that foster A) critical thinking and B) self-directed learning?

(Defining critical thinking as analytical thinking, problem solving, deep learning, interpretive thought and questioning)

 

Responses(12)

Barbara  Hipsman Springer
on Nov 09, 2012

There are so many instances in which we feel as if we have "critical thinking" in our classes. We have been teaching for many years and know the material and have kept up with the latest.

But when I evaluated my own courses, I realized that much of the teaching wasn't encouraging students to think for themselves. A quick analysis of that brought me to the conclusion that many millenials are used to having things shown to them, served to them, if you will. 

So, back to the drawing board for some of us - how to lecture less and push the student out of their comfort zone?  It means more time, more energy really than just presenting information.  We find, of course, that the more the students have to learn outside of the class, they will synthesize the industry/theoretical information we're trying to add to their brains.

How does it work for your area of specialization? What are millenial learners like for you? What kinds of support - not just money - can help foster more self-directed learning? 

 
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Ryan Smith
on Nov 11, 2012

As a returning student, I am seeing a variaty of ways professors are including critical thinking. The problem is that they are either at one extreme or another. It is mostly indepandent study or all theory.

 
Shelley Marshall
on Nov 13, 2012

I share your feeling that many of our students are used to being "fed" information, and that they have lost the ability to "seek" out what is important in what they hear, read, or watch.  I have also seen a shift, perhaps due to "teaching to the test" in student's abilities to take knowledge they already have about a given subject and apply it to a novel problem or situation.  So, I wonder if "critical thinking" is more about teaching students how to find/discern what is important? 

I have seen some good information about the success of the "flipped classroom" where students are provided with the content (lectures, readings, examples) and then the in-class experience is with the "expert" (faculty) to have them apply what they have learned.  Sometimes it is with labs, group projects, case studies, modeling, presentations, and etcetera.  I think in some ways, this model helps students synthesize by allowing them to ask questions while they are applying what they learn, experiment with what they learn, while still having the resource right there with them when they hit a stumbling block.  In my own experience, in areas where I struggled with the content, being on my own when I was applying the learning -- i.e. homework -- I would hit a point where I had too many questions or knowledge gaps to continue, and would have done better to have the teacher available to guide me.

I think some areas where this may be most useful are math and science.  What do you all think about that concept?

Thanks!

 
Barbara  Hipsman Springer
on Nov 14, 2012

Perhaps we can start another thread of discussion - Risk Taking.

How can the university support faculty willing to "jump into the black hole" - to try a very different way of teaching? Perhaps that's through the words AND actions of its deans and directors? What kinds of risks would you take in your discipline to perhaps match better outcomes with different learning/teaching techniques?

 
Carey McDougall
on Nov 24, 2012

I wouldl like to see a major shift in how we use SSI numbers to help us improve our teaching. Right now I am not sure if they truly offer any valuable information.

 
Larry Osher
on Dec 01, 2012

Barbara:  I think this is a beneficial discussion point.  I do believe that faculty that are innovative and risk breaking out of conventional (i.e. safe) teaching modes in order to  "push the academic envelope" at KSU - in order to foster student critical thinking skills - should be rewarded.  Intradepartmental or college-wide awards for academic innovation are smart.    

 
Tricia Niesz
on Nov 14, 2012

The idea of the 'flipped classroom' is really interesting--and makes a lot of sense to me. It got me wondering about ways the university could support/encourage faculty to try out substantive changes to their teaching like this (or other innovative ideas related to teaching for student learning). I guess this is similar to Barb's question about support for risk taking and innovation. But it is also related to finding the time in very busy workdays for the kind of time involved with making substantive change to our teaching. Any ideas about how the university can support that?

 
Carol Blaine
on Nov 14, 2012

As I am creating a new fully online program, I have the good fortune of working with an Instructional Designer and an Instructional Technologist in the Distance Learning department.  From them I have gained tremendouse insight into the backwards design approach to developing curriculum.  Even if creating a seated class, I can see how this process would enhance the final product.  By starting at the end with what the students should take away from the course and working backwards to the actual curriculum, I've been forced to think more creatively about everything from assessments to learning experiences to textbook utilization.  Perhaps expanding these services to additional faculty would be helpful.

 
Larry Osher
on Nov 22, 2012

Shelley,

 

Very inciteful.  Students being "fed" information and losing the ability to "seek" out what is important in what they hear, read, or watch is a real problem for all teachers.  In addition, too often we see students with the "give me/feed me" with what I need to know" attitude - in other words teaching to test.  Knowledge and understanding are relatively lower level educational objectives.   Applying knowledge, analyzing knowledge are advanced.  Creating environments that center around advanced learning objectives such as application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation (classic Bloom's taxonomy cognitive levels) is the challenge.  Is it reasonable to feed student data and then expect them, at some point in time, to be proficient at analysis, etc.. ?  Or is it better to foster an attitude, at the very outset, that emphasizes self-directed learning - where student evaluate material on their own and develop their own learning issues.  These are then dealt with in discussion groups.  The idea of the "flipped" classroom gets to this - and I think it's a good one.  Lectures and assigments can be provided in advance (e.g. electronically/online), with classroom (small groups preferably) time centered around application of ideas, etc.. The faculty member thereby becomes a facilitator of this. 

 
Katherine Burke
on Nov 25, 2012

Very interesting points here. As a term instructor, I have a perspective that is often not shared. Many departments give contingent faculty syllabi, textbooks, PowerPoints, quizzes, and exams that do not allow the instructors to create environments that foster critical consciousness. Adjuncts are often afraid to openly question the material or deviate from it in any way because they are afraid they will not be hired back the following seemester.

My question: is it possible to create an environment in which students can develop critical thinking skills when so many of their classes are being taught by people who are not able to exercise academic freedom? 

 
Ryan Smith
on Nov 16, 2012

The whole problem is that students who dont know the basics will not know where too look. When we go out into our field of choice, our enployees will expect us too know what we are doing because we have an education. Those same empoyers will expect us too be able to think critically. It only can be achived by teachers who are experianced in the field that they are teaching in, developing degrees assosiated with it and giving us older studants choices that are more practical.

 

I will use me as an example. I am a Horticulture student going for a bachulars degree. I already have an assosiates, 13 years of experance and a vocational degree. I have no intrest in doing anything with design of any sort unless it has to do with an urban forest. I have one design class but I still have too take two design classes and a landscape construction class which is another have drafting class. Now I am more interested in urban forestry, grounds management, arboricultural, and pest management types of careers. All these are included but not to the extent that is needed for a career involved. I will be lucky too have a bare bottom basic understanding of the principles. If done right, I will get an understanding of the principles in detail and most of the advanced ideas that are involved that i can use critical thinking. A good teacher and program advisor knows that critical thinking is developed with a good knowladge base, experiance and guidance. I cannot make a good decision without knowing my options and not all the information is out their too find.  If i was to go on my own, i would of never been able to know how too do my job right from the start. 

 
Paul Albert
on Nov 27, 2012

It is often difficult to communicate the needs and requirements of academic affairs as they relate to Information Technology. This may also be an issue regarding communications between academic affairs and other university divisions though others will need to speak to this point.

The process for communicating the needs and requirements between the Provost Office and Information Services seems to work well; but at least in recent years this has focused primarily on administrative needs such as Destination Kent State, GPS and classroom scheduling.

The University Council on Technology has been identified as the group to make recommendations to the Provost and the CIO on issues involving Information Technology. While on paper the group seems representative with members coming from faculty senate, the student senates, the colleges and divisions; in practice only a limited number of representatives attend. Over the last decade few (2 0r 3) recommendations have actually been made.

Information Services needs to make decisions on a timely basis when software contracts expire or new tools and technologies become available. While the committee has occasionally been able to provide recommendations, generally the decisions need to be made before any recommendation is made.

What ideas do people have to either make the existing committee more effective or to create another mechanism to provide recommendations?

 
Expand This Thread
Kent State University
on Nov 07, 2012 - 3:53 pm

How can the university create an environment that fosters interdisciplinary collaboration and conversation to promote student learning?

 

Responses(13)

KF Latham
on Nov 07, 2012

I am particularly interested in collaborative work (in courses and research) but our entire system (unit divisions, system of rewards/tenure, etc) simply does not allow for inter-, multi- or trans- disciplinary work (at least, it's not easy to do). We are living in a world that does not fit the traditional disciplinary models any more, yet we still structure our programs (generally) using traditional models. Both students (teaching & learning) and faculty (scholarly work) can benefit from collaborative ventures, making both populations stronger for it. Are there ways (and by this I mean, rewards & acknowledgement in the tenure process) to allow for faculty from diverse units to work together more easily?

 
Tricia Niesz
on Nov 08, 2012

I appreciate these points, KF. I think many faculty members and students would whole-heartedly agree with you. I would love to hear about examples (from KSU or other institutions) of ways to support this kind of collaborative work--not only in the tenure process but also in simply making it easier to do institutionally.

 
Jonathan VanGeest
on Nov 08, 2012

I agree that promoting opportunities is critical; addressing long-standing tensions between disciplinary specialization and the need (both for faculty and students) to acknowledge the complex realities of our present world.  Additionally, we are seeing a move from multidisciplinary approaches (representatives from several disciplines, each contributing from their respective fields) to interdisciplinary methods (integration of knowledge and techniques from multiple disciplines) to transdisciplary frameworks (movement towards discipline transcending concepts and frameworks).   Mechanisms need to be in play to foster the breaking down of traditional disciplinary silos on campus, including those noted for faculty in the areas of scholarship and teaching as well as promoting student success at key and emerging intersections.   

 
KF Latham
on Nov 09, 2012

Yes, it's the mechanisms that we really need to figure out. And then make them fit in with RPT and other practical scheduling issues. There is a lot of talk of inter/trans on many campuses but I honestly do not know, nor have I seen real examples where it is incorporated into the entire culture of the school effectively. I think we are dealing not only with our own unique university situation but academia as a whole. There's a lot of deeply entrenched tradition there. Concrete examples would be great. I'll take a look-see and if I find anything, I'll post it.

 
Stan Wearden
on Nov 13, 2012

Good points, Kiersten. What changes in the reward system would you be most interested in seeing? In our college, we have a college handbook that explicitly encourages collaborative work, but what can we do to take the further?

 
KF Latham
on Nov 14, 2012

Well, it seems like we (that's a generic "we") talk about collaborative work a lot but never really do it. Whenever I make concrete suggestions, the overwhelming response is "yes, but..." something to do with the reality of tenure or load structure. If getting tenured rewards only individual effort (first or only author on pubs is better than multiple author work for instance) then I don't see people willing to take the rist to collaborate. For me, I get more done and work better with others. But everyone is so busy scrambling to do their expected individualized work, that no one has time to be entrepeneurial or creative (or take risks) to do something outside the box. Also, we have talked extensively--in the School and College--about co-teaching scenarios, yet no one seems to be able to figure out how this can work with load etc, especially across colleges.

 
Rachael Volokhov
on Nov 14, 2012

I think that interdisciplinary collaboration in teaching and research are two very different things that might require two very different approaches. 

As a new faculty member at a regional campus, I am struggling with finding collaborators who have similar research interests to mine.  I have my own ideas, but know from experience that engagement with others significantly strengthens my methodology.  I think that interdisciplinary research should be rewarded, that incentives should be in place to encourage it.  These incentives could include small grants specifically for interdisciplinary work or increase in 'weight' given to interdisciplinary work during tenure review.  Perhaps a greater problem is finding people from other disciplines...here, the regional campuses might have an advantage in that faculty offices are physically closer and there's more 'mixing.'  Larger campuses might benefit from using campus events at which faculty are present (convocations and such) to devote time to interdisciplinary discussion (letting faculty verbally announce their research interests in the hopes that someone else will find a bridge to their own ideas).

The second focus here is interdisciplinary work in teaching.  I understand that there are difficulties with co-teaching and load and in rewarding the work.  One idea I have (that just came to me, to be honest) is a guest speaker system.  This is a win-win situation: the students get a new perspective from a guest speaker, the guest speaker can write 'guest speaker' on their CV to get credit for it towards tenure. 

 
vilma seeberg
on Nov 10, 2012

Certainly not by contiuing with responsibility management systems that set enrollment numbers in stone so that you can't co-teach within or across disciplines or programs or even suggest students take an interdisciplinary approach to learning.

But we knew that when RCM started and there was no stopping the administration.

Even before RCM, administrative constraints made co-teaching almost impossible.

 
Carey McDougall
on Nov 10, 2012

I'd be interested in hearing other specifics on how faculty feel inhibited when it comes to teaching and researching with colleagues from outside of their school. One of the questions in the research dialogue is on how we can further facilitate these collaborations, especially given the fact that more and more large granting agencies are leaning towards funding collaborative work and given the trend of our students having multiple careers in their lives.

 
Jeremy Nieves
on Nov 13, 2012

I think that technology is a key factor in how the students learn from clases.  At the Regional Academic Center we have put in place many new advances in teaching technology like our Visual body program for the nursing students.  Programs and the technology they use are key essentials that help students learn in a new and exciting way.

 
Barbara  Hipsman Springer
on Nov 14, 2012

Jeremy, Your comments on the Visual Body program have sparked my interest in a university-based sharespot for like programs. Hmm - intellectual property is important, but perhaps there is an opportunity there!

 
Nina Sullivan
on Nov 14, 2012

Interdisciplinary education and collaboration is an area that our OT accrediting agency has specified standards for us to develop in the year to come. We have three wonderful health programs at East Liverpool (nursing, PT, OT) but rarely cross lines and work together. Some combined classes and interdisciplinary teaching with faculty, staff, and students will help us turn out clinical professionals in all three disciplines who can work together and understand and appreciate the value of the others in the real world of healthcare.

 
Brian Newberg
on Nov 23, 2012

In the previous cateogry above, I mentioned how I'm using selected theatre productions to promote interdisciplinary collaboration. What I'll say here is that I'm fortunate at my regional campus at Stark to have a great deal of support from my Deans. Every step along the way, I received support for my projects, which also has included a number of colleagues who found the idea of linking an appropriate theatre production to their curriculum worthwhile.

I am currently teach teaching (with a colleague in Engish) a year long project, where students are devising a theatre work, which will be produced in the Spring. My new team partner jumped right into this new endeavor, and our Deans (along with other colleagues) have come forward. We now have our best English and Theatre students working together on a common project, and learning from each other. It's quite thrilling.

So, maybe sometimes just putting out an announcement asking for collaboration is one way to cut through those traditional borders that separate us.

 
Expand This Thread
Linda Piccirillo-Smith
on Nov 06, 2012 - 4:24 pm

I would be interested to know how people view the new timetabling and infosilem processes for scheduling courses.  They were supposedly designed to enhance opportunities for students, but they have caused many challenges from my own experience and that of my colleagues.  Is this system really working effectively to enhance student learning and 'academic excellence?

 

Responses(8)

Tricia Niesz
on Nov 08, 2012

In our School, the majority of faculty who have discussed this issue have found that timetabling has actually made taking courses much more DIFFICULT for students. Some of the unusual schedules that have resulted simply don't work for students. When faculty members were in charge of developing schedules, students' needs and preferences were taken in to consideration. I wonder if this has been the case in other Schools, Departments, and Colleges?

 
Averil  McClelland
on Nov 08, 2012

I would totally concur with Tricia...Cultural Foundations in a mostly graduate program (we teach one undergraduate course required in teacher education, and occasional electives at the undergraduate level).  Many of our students are part-time students, taking two courses per semester.  Timetabling limits our ability to schedule the curricular offerings in ways that are the most advantageous to our students and, more importantly, to change the schedule so that we can flexibly respond to both timely content and student interest.

 
vilma seeberg
on Nov 10, 2012

I couldn't agree more with Tricia and Averil. Why anyone would think that a computer can do a better job being responsive to students than a human being or a team of experienced faculty members  is beyond me.

 
Linda Piccirillo-Smith
on Nov 11, 2012

Since my post, I have had occasion to speak directly with faculty on the challenges of infosilem and timetabling.  Not only are the times that courses are offered challenging, but the locations of courses are also at issue.  Although the system is set up to assign 'pavillions' for each department, the rooms are often not available in that pavillioni and so an instructor is literally all over campus - often in back to back courses.  If we are trying to enhance academic excellence, how can this occur when an instructor has to decide either that they will be late to their next class (thereby depriving students of the full class time) in order to address the needs of students in the class they are leaving, or they have to ignore students in the class they are leaving in rder to make it to the next class on time.  IN this scenario (which, by the way, is not fiction; this is the reality for many faculty across campus), not only is the faculty member's service being devalued (why should 'we' the administration worry about the challenges of logistics ), but students are being seriously shortchanged.  It seems to me to be a 'lose lose' situation to the two entities that are intrinsic to the funciton of the university -- teqching faculty -- and the students who are enrolled in courses. 

 

 
Linda Piccirillo-Smith
on Nov 11, 2012

Another very specific challenge to academic success that is created by infolsilem in particular is the problem of scheduling courses that meet over two semesters.  The English department offers an Introduction to College Writing course that is designed to have students meet with the same instructor at the same times both semesters. It is called a 'stretch 'course and is designed after a model at the University of Arizona.  Students who are considered 'at risk' for academic success because their writing skills are weak are placed in this course based on specific criteria.  The rationale for having the same instructor for a full year is to develop a rapport with students and to enhance their confidence in their ability to write.  Also, the course is designed (by definition) to STRETCH the one semester College lWriting I course over two semesters.  The course design model has worked well until Infosilem made it nearly impossible to maintain the process. 

Prior to infosiilem, aside from some individual student issues of class schedule conflects (these were relatively few), registering students into the second semester of the course was a very easy process.  Now, each sstudent has to first select the course day and time (my schedule changed from first to second semester, so the course they were enrolled in didn't even exist any more) and then be hand permitted into that course.  This process doesn't streamline anything -- it makes the administrative assistant's job nightmarish and as instructors trying to ensure the academic success of our students, it puts us in the position of counselor, adviser and scheduler for the students enrolled in the first semseter.  It also dilutes the whole point of the program which is to take a single course and stretch it over both semesters.  Students who switch instructors now, essentially, have to start all over - new text - new syllabus, new instructor etc.   

This is also a problem in the Honors College where students have always been scheduled in the year long Honors English courses at the same time with the same instructor for the entire year. The answer to the question, "this is a comoputer problem, couldn't it just be fixed?" has been 'yes and no'.  Apparently, the problem (as has been explained ) is not with infosilem but with the interface between infosilem and the timetalbing software.  Again, this seems to me to programming and scheduling issues that present direct challenges to student success and student retention.  {It's  worth noting that BOTH the Honors English Colloquium AND the Introduction to College Writing course are freshmen courses -- the students we MOST want to reach}

 
Linda Piccirillo-Smith
on Nov 20, 2012

In the past week, I have met with several different groups representing different departments across campus.  The consensus among all of these groups is that the new scheduling system has become, to quote one person, 'nightmarish'. The system assigns days, times, and buildings as if teaching faculty "were not real human beings" (another quote from a faculty member). I did not hear ANY positive comment about the new system.  Is this a problem that you think should be addressed by Academic Affairs in its Strategic Plan?  The faculty I spoke with certainly felt that it should.

 
Theresa Walton
on Dec 14, 2012

This has been exactly my experience. In the two program areas that I've worked with, I've not heard one positive comment about timetabling. In one case, the enrollment of a class went from nearly 50 students to less than 20 because of the schedule conflicts created by the system. It also created an unsafe classroom environment because the  outside spaces assigned, for an activity based course, conflicted with other campus activities which were not considered by the system (e.g. ROTC, recreational sport). The computer can't account for all the factors that a living person, who works in a community, can. 

Also, I can't even count the number of students who have told me that they have to come back to take one class next semester because of conflicts in scheduling. This seems exactly counter to the push to enable students to graduate in a timely way.

The use of a system like timetabling treats us as machines, rather than as people. It's a very dehumanizing system. It's made to seem that it's just faculty 'whining' about their schedules. Really it's creating a structure that not only doesn't meet the needs of students and teaching staff, but does so in a way that makes us feel unvalued and basically bullied.

 
Donald White
on Dec 12, 2012

For many years, we have held a graduate seminar that meets at the same time every semester. This allows faculty, grad students, and faculty from other universites to schedule around the seminar. When we submit our teaching requests, we can block out this time to avoid conflicts. I'm told this will no ,longer be possible because of the timetabling. It will be scheduled so that the "instructors of record" do not have conflicts, but conflicts with the teaching schedules of other faculty who attend and the teaching and class schedules of students (most of whom do not register for the seminar for credit) will be common.

Location of classes is also a problem. We have had upper division classes scheduled in distant buildings, even thoughthe faculty and many of the students are working in our building already.

 
Expand This Thread
Kent State University
on Nov 03, 2012 - 5:20 pm

In reflecting on your own academic program, what should be the university’s top priority in supporting Academic Excellence and Innovation?

And, how should the university support or promote this priority?

 

Responses(23)

Jonathan VanGeest
on Nov 05, 2012

I'm the co-chair of the Enhancing Academic Excellence and Innovation sub-committee in this strategic planning process and am very interested in your thoughts and answers to this and other questions we will be posing in the coming days.  Please make sure that you follow this converstation, as new questions will be posted at approximately 2-day intervals.  

 

 
Tina Bhargava
on Nov 05, 2012

I think that one of the key ways to advance academic excellence is to develop and support clear, significant, student-valued learning outcomes that promote critical thinking, skills, and lifelong learning, and then to align our academic activities with these goals.  For example, information literacy should be a key learning outcome for all students at all academic levels.  Given the excellent and immediate access to reputable information that modern technology allows, we should be encouraging students to learn how to take full advantage of these technologies in their academic and professional careers.  We may need to continue to think outside the box in terms of how we teach in order to fully realize this goal. 

 
R Scott Olds
on Nov 06, 2012

Tina's points are well made. I would add that students need to be regular and sustained feedback in their classes, and each class should provide them opportunities to apply what they are learning in environments outside the classroom that will enhance their learning and cultivate their writing, speaking and thinking skills.

 
Carol Blaine
on Nov 14, 2012

You are right on point with your comment regarding immediate feedback. I recently reviewed literature on the differences between generations, and one specific difference has to do with feedback.  Baby Boomers, for example, want feedback formally with "lots of documentation".  Traditionalists (born before 1946) have a "no news is good news" attitude.  Millenniels (born since 1980) what feedback whenever they request it...and they expect it to be easy to get that feedback.  I've attached a PPT that I'm using to moderate a panel on generational differences for an insurance finance and account trade association.  It shows other generational differences that might be interesting to all.

 
Jonathan VanGeest
on Nov 06, 2012

I agree Tina.  I would also like to see critical thinking skills taught in the context of what some have called "immersive learning" or the increase in opportunities for students to move out of the classroom and into real world learning environments.  While we already do provide students with these opportunities, I believe that we need to work intentionally to improve opportunites that are interdisciplinary and more reflective of our interconnected world.  Additionally, on the faculty side, it might also be a good idea to explore opportunities for fostering a community of educational leaders to innovate, enliven, and enrich the environment for teaching and learning at Kent State.  Thoughts?

 
Zinga Bodden
on Nov 27, 2012

Whom would the community of educational leaders contain, and how would they keep in contact with the general population? 

 
John  Staley
on Nov 06, 2012

I agree with the points made by others in the discussion, and I also think another critical dimension to consider is the value of experiential learning on all academic levels- undergraduate, masters, and PhD, particularly in the area of service learning. As a member of the College of Public Health, our discpline requires frequent contact with our local community partners to facilitate improvement in population health, activities that require collaboration with many stakeholders holding varied interests, but with the common goal of improving the public's health. 

 

In this regard, we have an opportunity to begin this interaction early on with our students by having them engage in 'real world' service learning projects in our courses.  It should start with a cultural expectation for active collaboration as soon as students enroll in the program, followed by technical learning in the classroom about service learning-  what it is, its importance and value added, etc. , and then, the most important element follows; that is, where academic excellence ca occur.  This is the practical application in which we (instructors and students) work with a community partner(s) on addressing a public health issue in their community in a true participatory model.  We not only should encourage active service learning in the classroom, but also encourage/facilitate our community partners coming into the classroom to help in the earliest stages of service learning project development, be it in planning an internship, practicum, or other project, as well as breaking down the silos that exist between academic and community partners.  This includes not only identifying a problem of interest, but actually addressing it with the community it impacts.

 
Carey McDougall
on Nov 06, 2012

As coordinator of Service-Learning at Stark I am really excited to see the enthusiasm for experiential learning here. What barriers are there to faculty incorporating more experiential learning in their classes? And how can we get students more excited about taking classes that offer such opportunities?

 
John  Staley
on Nov 09, 2012

Great question Carey,

 

From my experience, one of the barriers to incorporating more experiential learning is identifying community partners that have time to collaborate with us, and that can also benefit from our student involvement as well.  With issues of dwindling financial and human captial resources, it can be difficult for agencies we work with (e.g., health departments) to incorporate this type of learning into their practice and culture.  Identifying relevant partners and communicating the benefit that can occur to both sides is important. I think bringing more partners into the classroom, as well as to seminars, speaker series, etc. can help both students and partners better understand the great benefits that can be gained.  It should start the first day that students step on campus and into orientation that it is a cultural expectation as well.

 

 

 
Carey McDougall
on Nov 10, 2012

This is good informatin John. It seems like we could provide faculty with a list of past partners and possible future partners. And yes, I think one of the keys is making sure that the engagement benefits the partner and the class. I think most non-profits are happy for the students to learn about their mission and as a result get invested in those values associated with the mision in the long run but I agree we should be trying to help solve problems for their organizations and do work for them, as working with a group of students is a big time investment. I am wondering if we need more brainstorming sessions between partners and faculty on what work we can accomplish to meet both goals and also how we can serve partners in the long run and not just for a semester.

 
Brian Newberg
on Nov 23, 2012

Regarding experiential learning, that is a very big part of our School of Theatre and our theatre productions. Courses associated with such productions are now annotated with experiential learning. At Kent State Stark, some of our theatre productions (such as an upcoming one in in the Spring term) are linking with community service organizations involved with themes the production is dealing with. I am hopeful that such theatre productions continue to serve as an anchor in a larger campus-wide project that raises awareness of these themes, which can also bring representatives from community service organizations into such events. The end result is that we all benefit, and our students have an expanded learning opportunity. Another nice feature is that this effort promotes inter-disciplinary activities.

 

 
Miriam Matteson
on Nov 13, 2012

From where I sit, the biggest challenge I believe my department face is developing "Acedmic Excellence and Innovation" in our online courses. We have moved heavily into online ed and our students, for the most part, have responded positively. However, I am not convinced we are consistently offering a quality learning experience, due to several issues. To me this is the single most pressing issue in Academic Excellence and Innovation.

 
Stan Wearden
on Nov 13, 2012

This is a very interesting point, Miriam. Based on your experience with online learning, what are some ways we can better engage students in that environment, and how can we ensure that we are adding value to the learning experience by taking advantance of what the online environment has to offer that is not available face-to-face?

 
KF Latham
on Nov 14, 2012

I want to start by saying that I truly enjoy, to my surprise, teaching online courses despite the signigicant work load increase. That being said, there are certainly things we need to help create better experiences for our students (and faculty).

I can think of a huge list of things that could help, but all begin with infrastructure. We (I'm speaking of SLIS now) need basic support (and best practices) structures in place in order to consistently deliver a high quality product. We used to have our own in-house educational techs but they are gone (ironically at the same time we started our fully online degree). Our college ID's are great but stretched thin. Faculty are doing far more work now (in the online environment) beyond content and spend an inordinate amount of their teaching time fixing technical issues, trying to figure out how to communicate something, etc. If we start by helping the faculty make great online courses, communicate responsibilities clearly, and provide transparent structures and paths, students are more likely to be more engaged (and be happier with the online environment). I would like to see a dedicated Blackboard help line, in-house (dept) ET's, clear best practices, and an active community of practice in online teaching.

Also in the online environment, students expect more from faculty and I hope that our administration undertands this fact. I have talked to many other faculty who feel the same way--students expect us to be available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Technically, teaching is one-third of our job (i.e. for TT's; research always looms heavily). This issue is partly cultural. Everyone, including students, are just getting used to this new way of learning and teaching, but expectations are not clear and so they are forming organically (leading to some incorrect assumptions). We need to take control of how online learning is seen at the university. In my first semester here I went to a talk by the President who delivered an exciting speech that included a new distance learning vision for our university. And then I never heard much again after that. Yes, there is a new center, but it seems to only help a select group and we need support and awareness university wide. So, a broader approach to educating the university family about online learning and teaching would be great in order to build a culture of acceptance for online courses.

All of these behind-the-scenes things affect student experience in the end. It's all about intentionality, having a vision and moving towards it rather than just doing it.

There are smaller things that are more specific to our department that I can suggest but I believe this area is meant for more university-wide issues.

 
Miriam Matteson
on Nov 14, 2012

Hi Kiersten, I agree with all your points. Well said.

 

To that I would add some other thoughts:

 

1) I wonder whether there is content that may be by its' nature better delivered in one format or the other. Just because something is technically possible (i.e., scanning images of rare books, conducting an video-taped interview with an expert in the field) doesn't mean that it is the BEST learning experience for the student. And there are examples going the other way, too - just because something has traditionally been carried out in a F2F class doesn't mean it doesn't transfer BETTER in an online environment. Here I'm thinking of *some* discussion topics where the quiet students never say anything F2F, but in the online world, open up to share really interesting points.

 

So I wonder what the threshold should be? If we HAD to deliver courses in one format or the other, then we would just adapt as best we could. But we ostensibly have a choice and I'm not sure content and pedagogy are driving those decisions as much as student preference and cost/benefit. Maybe that's a reality that can't be ignored, but I still wonder...

 

2) I also wonder about how to create a stronger sense of community in the online world. Can it even been accomplished in a fully online world, or should we require some F2F component (i.e., an orientation, or mid-point check-in with all our students), no matter where they are. And if community can be accomplished fully online, how? Do we need to set up online "hang-outs" for the informal networking that can occur in a F2F setting? Is building community something we should even be concerned with?

 

3) We should continue to explore learning outcomes measures, particularly across course delivery formats. Some students self-profess to learn better in one format or another, but is that accurate?

 

4) Which takes me back to student preferences...we did some data collection this semester from current students about their impressions of online and F2F courses. Students report that the primary benefit of online course is the ease/convenience/flexibility aspect of the course. Alternatively, they list several primary benefits to F2F courses, including better learning, more authentic and better interaction with peers and faculty. I agree asynchronous online learning does give tremendous flexibility, but I'm not sure we're in the flexibility business. I guess I'm more persuaded by the assessment of the experience that encourages the best learning.

 

Please note I'm not arguing against online classes. I like teaching online. Rather, I'm challenged to look for ways to improve online teaching/learning so that students report that a primary benefit of an online course is how well they learned the material - not how convenient it was for them.

 

 

 

 

 

 
KF Latham
on Nov 14, 2012

I thought of another one. I neglected it because we are now so immersed in trying to cope wtih BB Learn that it slipped my mind--that we (faculty and students) might be included in decisions to adopt online learning tools and platforms. I am glad to have advanced past Vista but I wonder why we chose a system that seems to be lightyears behind in the online learning universe? There are some serious issues with the way BB works that no one--not even ETs, ITs, or IDs--can fix and I am told we are stuck with it for the long haul. How was the choice for this version of BB made? Were there faculty or students involved in evaluating it? I know that no one at SLIS was, and we've had a lot of online courses for a while now. I'm sure it's too late now, but perhaps in the futuere we could be more thoughtful and inclusive about making these choices? Perhaps STARTING with student experience in mind when making our choices? And perhaps acknowledging that faculty are doing most of the work in making these online environments work and so we might be able to help make choices that work. Ok, off my soapbox now!

 
Barbara  Hipsman Springer
on Nov 17, 2012

Those are great points KF - although some consulting with faculty surely goes on in these decision making ventures, I would suggest that if faculty see another system that meets more of our needs, that we suggest it. And continue to "register" problems so the tech teams can address them.

I've taught a few online courses and find that some just don't get the student buy-in, while others take them seriously and work to overcome any issues in the system. Keep talking!

 
Larry Osher
on Nov 22, 2012

I must admit to having a poor iunderstanding of how you currently conduct your online courses /educational tools.  At our college (KSUCPM), we have been using a program for a number of years now called Mediasite.  The program has been designed to integrate the in-classroom electronic blackboad with your powerpoint presentation.  Therefore, anything you draw or write over your "slides" is captured.  In addition, the lecturer is videotaped, and matched with the audio.   All students enrolled in the course are given an online access code, thereby affording them the opportunity to view the lecture anytime, as many times as they want.   In addition, with playback, they can  slow things down or speed them up (eg. for comprehension vs. exam review).  Therefore students do not have to come to class.   All testing/demonstration that the objectives have been mastered must be done "in vivo" - that is on campus in a secure environment with positive student ID. 

The weakest point, in my opinion, is not having an established online chat room setup for each course, with the instructor as a facilitator.   Another issue hotly debated is the value of students attending classes.  Not only does this force the student to stay caught up, but also allows them to get their questions answered on the spot.  Of course, this latter point could easily be handled via an effective chat room.

Again, I am unsure of what system(s) are being used at Kent State main - and perhaps our system is antequated.    

 
Brandon Donnelly
on Nov 13, 2012

Powerpoint presentations are a must for students especially when the class is only 8 or 14 weeks long. Books are great and all but the student is spending more time learning pointless things from a book when highlighted points can me made for all students up front or ahead of time and everyone is on the same page as the teacher from day one. They're are 50 different books available for individual subjects at school and teachers don't always use the same textbook so not everyone is on the same page on day one.

 
Larry Osher
on Nov 19, 2012

To be sure, Powerpoint presentations are an efficient way to highlight teaching points and present the material to groups (preferably larger groups).   However, even when the presentation can be enhanced with supplimented in-house electronic self-assessment exams before and after the lecture, the learning process is inherently passive.  One can argue that (self-directed) reading a given textbook, then anlayzing the material in order to differentiate pointless things from those key points worthy of highlighting ultimately accomplishes more.  This approach requires far more work from a teaching point of view, but emphasizes more advanced learning behaviors of students (e.g. analysis)

 
Nina Sullivan
on Nov 14, 2012

Since I started at KSU, the OTA Program in East Liverpool has been looking to the day when we get the "OT House." The property has been secured and financial backing is partially available, but it always seems the House is put on hold for some reason. This house is the future of the OT Program in East Liverpool and much needed for our student's success. It will provide classroom space, but more importantly will be working labs and patient care areas. Students can only mimic clinical care so much then they actually have to have the space, equipment, and tools necessary to be fully educated before moving to clinics with real patients and real diagnoses.

 
Denise Seachrist
on Nov 25, 2012

I have just returned from two important conferences in my discipline:  The College Music Society and the National Association of Schools of Music.  Both were wonderfully executed, and I was delighted with the opportunities both provided for me to reconnect with old colleagues and engage with new acquaintances.  The intellectual engagement and the passion for music and education were palpable. The NASM Working Group on Teacher Preparation recently released Sample Curricular Patterns for Master’s degrees in Music Education, intended as springboards for analysis and action by colleges and university.  Among the many considerations for analysis by institutions offering Master’s degrees are: 1) how can we reach traditionally underserved students? And 2) especially in the current economy, how can we offer professional education without requiring the student to give up his or her employment? 

 

During the CMS annual meeting, I participated on a panel with colleagues from Kent State University, Boston University, and the University of Florida; our panel was entitled “Rigorous and Engaging:  The State of Online Graduate Education.”  In the session we described the current state of online Master’s degree education in terms of curricular scope, instructional design, resources necessary, and student populations served. Although it may not fit every institution or every graduate student, distance education can offer a rigorous, engaging, and effective solution for graduate-level professional education. 

 

During the NASM annual meeting, I heard Diana Senechal deliver an address to the Association.  Senechal is the author of Republic of Noise:  The Loss of Solitude in Schools and Culture.  Her address was entitled “Measure Against Measure:  Responsibility Versus Accountability in Education.”  I appreciate her work, because she makes her case based on philosophical and literary sources.  I find this so refreshing, since many who write on education make their arguments based solely on statistical studies.  At this meeting I was invited to meet with the Executive Director and forty other colleagues during a private consultation for representatives of Doctoral Degree-Granting Institutions.  The discussions centered on graduate entrance and placement examinations and multidisciplinary multimedia.

 

Now that I have returned from these conferences, I am immersing myself in reading through the comments and discussions posted here.  In reading the prior comments on online learning, SSIs, Infosilem, etc., I am very pleased that we are embarking on this new Academic Affairs Strategic Plan, because it seems to me that we need to refocus our efforts on allowing the various disciplines to do what they do best.  Why do we use the same metric for all faculty relative to the SSIs.  Not every question is relative to each, and the norming groups don’t make sense, especially for our colleagues in the Regional Campuses.  Timetabling has been a huge problem for many Departments and Schools.  I think it has brought some value to scheduling the CORE courses for our undergraduate students; however, for those areas which have exclusive-use rooms, it makes precious little sense to have a software system scheduling courses.  The software has been most problematic for Music, Theatre and Dance, and the description of “nightmarish” is accurate.

 

Thank you to those of you who have read through this lengthy post.  I have enjoyed reading each of the previous comments, and I have tried to touch on them all in this one of mine.  I have no response to the posting relative to OT at East Liverpool.  I understand that it has been frustrating to not have adequate space to teach and train your students.  If we are to provide excellent support for our students and faculty, updates to facilities and equipment is paramount.  It appears that we are making good progress in this area for many of our programs; however, as the Director of a School located in a building that was built in the late 1950s, I certainly can sympathize.

 
Daryl Upole
on Dec 11, 2012

As an NTT at a Regional Campus, I would find it helpful to have departmental guidance and vision in actually defining "Academic Excellence" for our particular program.  I'm sure this is important to each faculty member and we all work on it in our own way.  I think a common understanding would create a more powerful movement to excellence.  This could mean a range of things and, probably, quite different perceptions depdending on one's outlook.  This is quite difficult to measure.  Is it learning?  Is it GPA?  Is it standardized testing?  Is it ultimate success in one's life or endeavors? I think University support in seeing these visions developed would be an important step.  After that, University financial support in faculty (NTT and TT) professional development in this area would be critical.  One of my visions of Academic Excellence in BMRT programs is to see students develop their ability to understand, comprehend, and adapt to a constantly changing business environment - to prepare for shifting paradigms that are inevitable yet unpredictable.

 
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