Reading Room 11/13: Creating the Teaching Professor: Guiding Graduate Students to Become Effective Teachers-The Journal of Scholarship of Teaching and Learning

Journal: The Journal of Scholarship of Teaching and Learning

Heading into graduate school, the goal should be becoming an effective college professor and make sure you are adequately prepared for each class.  This is exactly what the article entails here and systematically goes through step by step.  In the article “Creating the Teaching Professor: Guiding Graduate Students to Become Effective Teachers” by Ronald J. Weber, Ann Gabbert, Joanne Kropp, and Patrick Pynes, this group of researchers demonstrate their learning experiences with being a History Professor.

The alterations are being put in place when it comes to helping graduate students become college professors.  Weber, Gabbert, Kropp, and Pynes compiled a bunch of stories on their journey into teaching at the University of Texas at El Paso.  All of this became beneficial because this study is being done on the History Teaching and Learning Seminar in the History Ph.D. program at the University of Texas at El Paso.  The research being made in this article looked at the teamwork with graduate students and how they found great teaching tools.  With this process, the graduate students (who participated) found out that being a listener is monumental in teaching, effectiveness outweighs the idea of finding new teaching skills, and that the system for teaching college teachers needs so much work in which sets up student academics to be a teacher.  The researchers primarily worked with Scholarship, which was extremely crucial in this process because it made sure these students moved up with the material.  For example, the researchers said this about teaching, “Teaching was broadly conceived as the dissemination of content knowledge to students” (Weber, Gabbert, Kropp, and Pynes, 2007).  Professors are not supposed to know everything when it comes to their field of study.  In fact, they are just as much of a student of education as undergraduate students.

This seminar gave students different aspects which helps practice becoming a teacher and blend the dynamics of teaching and scholarship as well.  However, what the problem is that graduate students try to imitate their professors from the past and blend their teaching methods as well.  This is very concerning because the graduate students ignore the current undergraduate students’ routines to learn.

What the researchers did in this study is that they asked all of the graduate students in the course to gather a portfolio in relation to academia.  In other words, they would include their method of researching and what their goals are in teaching.  To have a comparative look at teaching vs learning, these graduate students have only just begun thinking about how a student improves.

What the researchers found is that the graduate students adapted effectively as they shape who they are as a person.  For example, the researchers commented on the seminar’s goals even further, “In addition to treating young academics as students, the seminar also leads them to think and act as teachers by planning and organizing a college class”(Weber, Gabbert, Kropp, and Pynes, 2007).  Graduate students should look at young students as human beings in education because it removes this dehumanizing notion of becoming a college professor.  The relationship between a student and teacher needs to have clarity and more importantly, these graduate students in training should be organized with their field of study.

I found this article to be very helpful as a first-year graduate student in English Literature/Creative Writing because I am taking a seminar class on something similar to the study. The class is called the teaching practicum in Creative Writing.  In this class, we voice our concerns as a graduate instructional assistant and provide ample case studies.  Within these narratives, it sets us up to become future professors at the college level.  However, after reading this article, my anxiety level as a graduate student decreases a bit.  I know many of my peers in that class have been nervous about giving a lecture for the first time and sometimes they are critical after the presentation.  But what this article taught me is that you need to know the culture of the classroom.  It is so imperative to ensure your teaching philosophy is consistent throughout your career.  In the end, it is all about practicing and training graduate students to be the future college professors of the 21st century.

This article gives me a new outlook on how I want to conduct my last case study for the semester in my practicum class.  I need to think of this question: do I truly understand the class?  Do I understand them and can relate to them as a student teacher when we do group work?  It is something I need to explore deeper and further as I transition into my second semester.

Reading Room #8- Using collaborative annotation to develop creative writing prompts

Journal: Hastac

All of this talk of online annotation has gotten me to reflect upon our previous discussions in class on different formats.  I continue to look back at the methods set forth between Genius and Slate; these different methods to authentically use online annotation had set me up for my annotation comrades assignment.  However, this article, from the journal Hastac titled “Using collaborative annotation to develop creative writing prompts” by Rachel Shields, was something I found by accident.  I was talking one on one with my Creative Writing professor, that I am a graduate instructional assistant for, and she really made me really find ways to give direction to the students.  In other words, it was a challenge for her to wrap her head around teaching online annotation to 100 students (who have different majors other than creative writing and english literature) in a lecture hall.  In this article, Sheilds reiterates that many of her students in her short story class found it so hard to come up with creative writing projects.  This is where Shields came to the conclusion that working together as a class with online annotation suited better for the students.

Within the time frame of the course, each group would have 20 students and strongly read (and reread) unique texts for the group they are in.  Some of the stories included: Virginia Woolf’s “Blue & Green”, Katherine Mansfield’s “Miss Brill”, and James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (selections).  With these texts in mind, the students would post the versions of the story on google docs, look for the correct group they are in, and come up with 3-4 annotations (similar to the ones from the big class group,  and look at a craft strategy that suits you well as a writer.  On their own, they would read the annotations they have seen their peers reply to within the exact story.  However, going back into groups, the students would relatively look at a craft strategy they need fine tuning with as a writer.

Using “Backwards Design” as a model, Shields states, ” Include at least one suggestion for content generation (ex: “go to a café and observe how people drink coffee, then put a description of coffee drinking somewhere in your piece” or “read the comments section of a NY Times article and incorporate two sentences from commenters into the dialog you are writing”)” (Shields).  Rachel Shields has goals with this assignment and that is useful for the students.

I found this article by accident and relatable to my lecture in my creative writing course because of how much of this I want to use for the course.  What better way to come up with new ideas on annotation?

Reading Room 10/23- Writing is Hard

Journal: HASTAC

Academia is all about the shared experience of learning between college professors and the students as well.  This is what leads to authentic learning inside the classroom.  However, sometimes an instructor needs to show the students how challenging tasks such as writing can be in the world.  In the article from HASTAC titled Writing is Hard by Cathy Davison, Davison reports on a lab experiment with John Hopkins and the Community College of Baltimore County.  This experiment consisted of 4 individuals at a shared computer screen and the goal was to help improve upon each other’s writing.  These tasks consisted of teaching each other how to construct a strong thesis and develop your voice as a writer by taking a stand.

 

On the other hand, this is where it is completely different.  Some screens included doctoral students creating their chapters and dissertations.  With the opposite screen, instructors were writing their books, grants, and abstracts.  All of this was completely next to each other to demonstrate to the student population how challenging and rigorous writing is for college professors.

 

In fact, one of Davison’s students provided at great lengths constructive feedback on her novel.  All of this goes hand in hand with the concept of professors and students collaborating on the writing process.  For example, Cathy Davison says this about the process, “The novel has been through three thorough rounds of revision and I anticipate three thorough next rounds” (Davison).  All of this is designed for the revision process to be a joint effort with several college professors identifying the complexities of writing itself.

 

I found this article to be very relatable to my experience as a creative writing student because I think writing is so challenging for instructors as well.  I have struggled trying to get my work even published this early on in my writing career.  I have done my best to submit to the creative writing transfer literary magazine, but get rejected in the process.  However, what makes it so promising to me is to hear the tribulations other Creative Writing professors trying to get published.  Writing is such a tough profession to get to into creatively and with academia as well.

 

Furthermore, this article has taught me the importance of collaboration for authentic learning at the college level.  To truly grasp this idea of what college professors go through with their writing and link it to the challenges a student writer has as well.  It is something I possibly would want to investigate further detail because I would want students to understand it is ok to struggle as a writer and that it is not easy for college instructors either.  This is the true importance of feedback in the world of academia.

https://www.hastac.org/blogs/cathy-davidson/2018/08/07/writing-hard

Here is the link to the larger story as well: https://hub.jhu.edu/2018/07/26/ccbc-mellon-summer-humanities-research/

Thinking Beyond the Canon

Journal: Hastac

When we think about a syllabus, often there are visions of a packet full of background information on the course material, the required texts for the class, what is expected of the students, student learning outcomes, and a tentative class schedule for the semester.  However, this is not the case with this syllabus being discussed in this article.  In the article from the hastac journal titled “Thinking Beyond the Canon” by Flora de Tournay, Tournay identifies the complexities with this syllabus in regards to canon.  When you have several marginalized authors in the curriculum for the course, it is assumed that this would give students the chance to respond critically to the novels.  However, that is not always the case in some college classes and does more harm than good to the students.

With this new approach to the syllabus, it opens up possibilities for commentary, visual representations, and even notes left by the students.  For example, Tournay says this about the syllabus, “Self-authoring or -authorship, which here functions as the methodological manifestation of my own pedagogical approach, is also reflected in the course’s proposed content” (Tournay).  What this means is that the students are taking charge with the curriculum and in turn, the syllabus is a product to this activity.  In this course, the required readings are from African-American writers (which are either Queer or Female) that have been not discussed in your average English Literature college course.  All of these texts were mainly autobiographical, which includes the cultural history this author has endured in their life.  In a way, this gives students a chance to read the text like you are a writer.

Besides the texts being discussed during this course, the students are given essays that discuss the exclusion around the canon and what sort of hardships are faced when talking non-canonical literature.  Activities in this course would include group work, in-class free writes, and longer writing exercises; those writing exercises would be evaluated by their peers in class and several workshops would be assigned on the day of class.  The pedagogical goal is for the students to think deeper in literature at the higher education level and practice composition at the same time.  With revolving around the idea the marginalized authors and how the students can write about how the authors are not included in the canon, this affirms their chance to be co-designers of this composition course.

I found this article very relevant to Backwards Design because of the syllabus is designed to revolve around outcomes and desirable results (which is included in Grant Wiggins’s “What is Backwards Design?” chapter).  On top of that, in my creative writing course, I am an instructional assistant for, poet Tatiana Luboviski-Acosta shared with the class a crucial story.  She was a curator for a reading series, but only academics were allowed to this reading series.  To circle back to this article, Acosta and Tournay bring up a similar theme: exclusion.  The goal is to advise students to look at the deeper aspect of exclusion of these marginalized authors of literature and how to take authority over the discussion to focus more on inclusion outside of the canon.

https://www.hastac.org/blogs/floradetournay/2018/05/21/thinking-beyond-canon

You can see the syllabus here:

https://www.hastac.org/sites/default/files/upload/files/post/writing_literary_history_syllabus_f._de_tournay.pdf

Teaching in An Online Environment

In Marsha Carr’s article The Online University Classroom: One Perspective for Effective Student Engagement and Teaching in an Online Environment, several universities are moving forward with a new design in online teaching.  What this means is that students are in favor of an online option for that specific course within their major.  Some of these reasons students are opting for online classes is because they either have a family or work-related responsibilities.  Carr warns that educators should consider how to present their online classroom to the students in an appropriate fashion and more importantly, shape the layout of the class to be formatted on an online interface.  Online courses go down a different route compared to the traditional classroom on campus and it is crucial to understand what the main takeaway is for students taking the course.

 

When taking on this new role as an online teacher, it is their responsibility to design the course based on the goals within the course, social aspects, and last but not least the information for the correct category.  The social interaction requires an idea for setting up sections for emails, online videos, and of course group work inside this internet classroom.  In order to successfully interact with the students, the instructor must have consistent updates, certain lectures each week, and discussion forums to answer questions about the course.  For some students, this is a new way to complete a course and approach a new way of learning through an online course.  However, for others, this is a daunting task to take on during a semester and some students drop the course due to the unfamiliarity of online education.   This is where the instructor posts a tutorial video on the online interface such as blackboard.  Blackboard is an online interface that encompasses forums, specific modules for the instructor to install on each section of the course, video conferencing (or an option to use Skype just in case a student needs to talk to the instructor face to face).  With all of these special tools required for an online course, it is the instructor’s responsibility to ensure all of the students respond in the course appropriately in an academic setting.  These courses should be easily accessible to all students enrolled in the class and the instructor needs to install the correct link for students to submit their work online.

 

As someone who has had experience not only as a student taking online courses but also working directly with instructors as an assistant, I truly understand the pitfalls.  When I TA’d last fall in a creative writing class with 100 students, I can fully comprehend some of the disadvantages of working with students online.  Several questions came up as I was reading this article and reflecting on my experience with online learning: how do you assist a student when they are confused with a concept?  What sort of comments would be easily comprehensible for an online class when discussing their writing?  However, online classes will improve as time goes on and eventually, create a successful method to obtain the same goals an instructor would achieve in a campus setting.  After all, Marsha Carr said this, “Online course delivery is a valuable method of teaching but it requires an organized course format and delivery; an instructor who is knowledgeable in the environment; and students that are aware of the responsibilities and additional demands of the online setting” (108).

https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1060450.pdf