Lilly Conference 2014

This was a really wonderful event once again – I can’t recommend this conference highly enough. This was the first year I started to feel a sense of community here which was nice – recognizing old friends – Leslie Felbain who came to our campus last year to present Teaching as Performance – and the folks who did the lightening round tech demos. Barb Eshbach and I presented the ELLI project that we did with Jorge in the fall and had a few folks really interested – from CUNY. Serendipity…..a presenter from U. of Bristol was there who actually works with Ruth Deakin Crick and knows ELLI- Dr. Phil Langton – talking about GRIT as a predictor of student success.

So what can I share from what I learned?

1) For those thinking of publishing in SoTL – a new open access journal at SUNY Plattsburgh called The Common Good.

Editor-in-Chief: Becky Kasper, Ph.D., Director of SUNY Plattsburgh Center for Teaching Excellence
Managing Editor: Jessamyn Neuhaus, Ph.D., Associate Professor, SUNY Plattsburgh History Department

They just sent out a call for papers for a special issue on Using Popular Culture in the Classroom – deadline January 1, 2015 – contact Jessamyn Neuhaus at

2) Threshold Concepts & Troublesome Knowledge: A Transformational Approach to Learning with Ray Land – keynote – Durham University UK for more detailed info

* Threshold concepts take you into a new intellectual spaces – which in turn opens up access to new concepts

* Integration of new understandings starts to happen in the unsettling liminal state which follows – the betwixt and between stage – encounter with knowledge that unsettles you – feel sense of loss – feels like a state of in-authenticity or mimicry as the brain tries to integrate the new knowledge

Oscillation happens between states – knowledge – being – language..epistemological and ontological change

Troublesome knowledge is a provoker of change – it cannot be assimilated with what is currently known – it is the instigator of new learning and ontological change – instructors should look for trouble -should cause this kind of trouble….

This is not a hotel.. it is a gymnasium and you have to work!

* Episteme: the underlying game – ways of knowing in the disciplines

What can faculty do?

  1. Help students to tolerate uncertainty as they go back and forth through the states of uncertanity
  2. Be a provoker of change!
  3. Identify the jewels in the curriculum – what are the threshold concepts – revisit them throughout the curriculum – learning is recursive
  4. Realize it takes time for the changes that will occur – epistemological and ontological change
  5. Listen for understanding – students can help you identify the concepts that are hard!

Threshold Concepts and Transformational Learning (2010) Edited by Jan H. F. Meyer, Ray Land and Caroline Baillie; Sense Publishers, Rotterdam, 2010
[Educational Futures: Rethinking Theory and Practice, Peters, M.A. (Ed), Volume 42]
The majority of chapters in this book are developments of talks first presented at the Threshold Concepts Conference: from theory to practice, Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada, 18th – 20th June 2008.

Follow on Facebook – search Threshold Concepts

3) What’s in a 1st Year Toolbox – Parson’s School of Design The New School University - Mariah Doren

How has the notion of “foundational” knowledge and skills [in the arts] changed over time?

  1. Talent lens – you either have it or you don’t
  2. Creativity can be uncovered through introspection
  3. Dispositions – becoming an effective thinker (critical and creative – engaged in real world problems), effective actor in the world (entrepreneurial, setting goals) – with effective relationships (emotional intelligence, teamwork, ethics)

Learn what you need as it becomes relevant to a project – deep disciplinary dive vs surfing a content landscape

Taught at Pasron’s thru a paired course “Words & Works” = “Critical Studio” – ideas to think about translates into a project to “make” everyday + writing – language of rich descriptions. Writing + making and writing + gestures. ex…. create a prosthetic object that extends or limits a gesture – perform with it – write about it.

4) Critical Thinking as “Defamiliarization”

  1. Take a familiar object and make it “strange”
  2. Student struggles to “see” it in the new way
  3. Formation of new critical persepctive

Example – Shklovsky =

Cause them to doubt what they have taken for granted…

5) Are you Flipping Engaged? Kim Van Orman SUNY Albany

What do you do during in-class time when flipping?

Suggests only 10% of the course be flipped to start – 3 lessons – and do one very early on in the course, so students know what to expect.

  1. Students “do” the content ahead of time – readings and/or SHORT videos (10 minutes max)
  2. Students take a quiz in CMS
  3. Critical “tinkering” – get them to “play” with content – make authentic mistakes – Team-based learning/activity in class – Michaelson’s 4S’s: Significant problem, all students have same problem, students must make a specific decision/judgment, simultaneously report out
    Devl. process: see it – mimic it – tinker with it – play with it – fight over it – slowly learn how to use it
  4. Do debrief of conversation
  5. THEN show the answer

Examples of tasks

  • given a study, predict the results and why
  • given a graph with data – assign list of labels to the bars of data – explain why
  • report out – m/c, ranking, best answer, single value, sequence, limited word test: in 10 words or less, describe…, sorting, what does not belong

6) Peter Seldin – keynote – College Teaching: Myths, Evaluation, Improvement

Great teachers:

  • take risks
  • are themselves
  • bring a positive attitude to class

Percentage of types of info used in teacher evals comparison (1983 to 2013)

*************************************1983                        2013

Student Ratings                                                 68%                       96%

Classroom observations                                   19%                        62%

Review of Teaching Materials                        20%                        44%

Self-evaluations                                                25%                         70%

 7) Group Homework and Take-Home Exams -in a science info literacy course Dr. Carol Anelli – Ohio State University

* Homework assignments are designed to be completed by individuals but OK to work cooperatively

* Group contract for take home exams that regulates attendance at meetings, communication policy of group, completion of tasks on time, agreement about final upload of exam, non-compliance policy, dissension form for group  members who want a different answer than the group’s

* Peer-assessment form

* Self-assessment form

* Pre- and post-course questionnaire – course expectations, baseline knowledge, course satisfaction, self-reflection

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