From Provost Altmann: Two separate incidents in my first weeks at Bucknell reminded me powerfully of what it is like to teach the medieval and early-modern material in the twenty-first century.
Why do we teach it? And once we've decided why, how do we teach it? One approach is guiding students to an awareness of what we take for granted, what assumptions we make, what real differences there are between the contemporary world and much earlier historical periods that need to be acknowledged in order to make sense of cultural legacies. Thinking through such an approach may be applicable to any subject matter we want to introduce to real beginners, who are no doubt eager to learn but not yet equipped to find meaning in the material. Here's a question to get us started: What's in the name the "Middle Ages"?
"Human contact, especially face to face, seems to have an unusual influence on what students choose to do...and on their experience of college. ...person-to-person relationships are fundamental at every stage - before, during, and after the core learning activities of college" (Chambliss and Takacs, 2014, 3-4).
Vast research in higher education suggests that relationships are the key to constructing successful intellectual and self-development during college (Astin, 1993; Baxter-Magolda, 2004; Tinto, 1987, 1997). While parts of the university appear to be deliberately constructed to promote relationships (double-rooms for first year students, new student orientation, teams and clubs), how do faculty members pursue this aim of building engaging relationships with students in and out of the classroom?
Please join us for the first in a series of broad discussions on the centrality of relationships in building a positive college experience, following How College Works, by Dan Chambliss and Christopher Takacs (2014). Our first session will focus on chapters 1 and 6 and will feature a faculty panel discussion of the benefits, challenges, and disciplinary-specific features associated with cultivating relationships with students. Our panel features Morgan Benowitz-Fredericks (Biology), Felipe Perrone (Computer Science), and Joel Wade (Psychology).
"There's a certain poise, a sense of self that I developed while I was there...[it comes from] being treated like-sort of like an equal in a way, more like a colleague than being condescended to by professors. I think that's really important; being viewed as a fellow intellectual, if you will." Amy, alumna, How College Works, 142.
In many ways, the legacy for everyone who works at Bucknell is borne out in how alumni see themselves in the world. All of us aim to help cultivate students who harness their intellectual and social energy toward living meaningful lives. Chambliss and Takacs (2014) maintain that this post-college effect is more likely to occur when students have had meaningful, challenging relationships during college. How do our students see their relationships with faculty, staff and peers as influencing their lives now and in the future?
Join us for a panel discussion with five students as they reflect on the variety of relationships they have here and the impact of these interactions on their intellectual and emotional development: Ben Barrett, '16, Biology and Sociology Sonam Dolker, '16, Markets, Innovation and Design Stephanie Houser, '16, Civil Engineering and International Relations Kortney Marshall, '16, Sociology and Psychology Danielle Taylor, 17, Sociology This session focuses on chapter 5 of How College Works, and everyone is welcome at FLS events.
According to Chambliss and Takacs (2014), the calculus for a successful college experience goes like this: two to three good peer friends + one to two solid faculty/staff relationships. Their ten year, qualitative longitudinal study with 100 students demonstrates that students who develop this set of relationships were more engaged in their learning. As Chambliss claims, "when students form the right bonds, they make the most of their education." In short, the people are more important than the programs.
Over the course of the previous sessions, we have gathered many questions from participants that can initiate our extended Q & A with Chambliss: 1) how does gender function in the cultivation of relationships between faculty and students? 2) how best can faculty and staff navigate some of the vulnerability associated with fostering relationships with students? 3) what formalized interventions do you suggest for increasing the odds of these sorts of powerful relationships? 4) how might campuses respond when there is a pattern of negative relationships and interactions present, such as in increased incidents of sexual assault and discrimination? Dan will join us to explore these and other questions from the audience. For those without a copy of the How College Works text, a short video of Chambliss presenting this finding can be found here.
How are multilingual students best supported in the classroom? What needs do they have beyond those of your typical, domestic students? ¿Cómo te comunicas con los estudiantes que no comprenden totalmente lo que les dices? Quais barreiras ao aprendizado seus alunos estrangeiros encontram neste país?
The value of multilingualism and multiculturalism, as well as their barriers and challenges, will be discussed by a panel featuring: Felipe Perrone, Associate Professor of Computer Science, Jennifer Figueroa, Director of International Student Services, Nancy Wang, '16, Chemical Engineering and Sonam Dolker, '16, Markets, Innovation & Design. Q & A will follow the panel commentary.
In the last several weeks, we have heard from BU faculty, students, and Daniel Chambliss himself, about the benefits that relationships have in helping students feel as if they "matter," and the impact these relationships have on student learning. We have grouped them into four areas of impact:
1. What individual faculty and staff can do,
2. What classroom activities can do,
3. What curriculum structures can do, and
4. What co-curricular activities can do.
For this week's open discussion, please come prepared to share which suggestions resonated with you (or which ones rankled). In small groups, we will ask you to talk through these four areas, and hopefully generate possible action steps for you and ideas worth sharing with the larger community.
Chapters 6 & 8 from How College Works ground our discussions this week. Chapter 6 lists the categories where these benefits most often appear: improved writing, speaking, critical thinking, science skills, agency through study abroad. There is also considerable evidence that student racial awareness and identity development grows significantly when students are in successful relationships. Chapter 8 is a good summary of the entire book, and lists suggestions to leverage relationships through better faculty deployment, space use, strategic scheduling, and establishing intellectual student groups. Both chapters are attached for your reference.
Available materials: Building Connections: Next Steps Discussion notes
In their 2014 book "How College Works," Chambliss and Takacs suggest that developing meaningful relationships with students is central to their experience of college. The higher education academic advising literature is also replete with both theoretical and empirical work regarding the positive influence that effective developmental advising has on a student's sense of connection to the institution, student satisfaction, student retention, and student persistence to graduation. As such, the advisor-advisee relationship can indeed be one that matters when it goes beyond simple transactional interactions.
This session will involve a discussion of developmental model of academic advising, the role of effective developmental advising in student success, and the efforts of the Bucknell Advising Committee regarding the promotion of developmental academic advising over the past several years.
Available materials: Academic Advising Discussion Notes
In this session Bridget Newell and Kevork Horission discuss data related to the First Annual Diversity Plan Report, upcoming diversity initiatives of interest to faculty, and the interactive diversity dashboard. Participants address their areas of interest in small groups after the initial overview.
In August, 2013 the Degree Completion Working Groups issued its baseline report on the university's efforts to retain and graduate the students we all work hard to recruit and enroll. The report set five-year goals to increase sophomore retention from 94% to 97% and 6-year graduation from 91% to 95%.
How are we doing against these goals? Are there discernible patterns regarding who leaves (gender, race, class, major, academic achievement, etc.)? Bill and Kevork will provide some data and insights into retention and graduation trends, and provide some suggestions on how we might improve these relationships.
Available materials: Conley Presentation
Scientists agree that human-caused global warming is real and serious. The American public has been more circumspect. Naomi Oreskes, co-author of the 2010 Merchants of Doubt, has done important work on documenting the scientific consensus about global warming and explaining why it has been slow to penetrate the public's awareness. Part of the issue turns on the extent to which the public ought to trust science or scientists.
Why do they deserve our trust? What, beyond an appeal to intellectual authority, would justify a trusting relationship and how can we communicate the answer to the public? We can ask parallel questions for teachers: what leads to a trust relationship with students? How should scientists - and how should we, as teachers - present scientific findings that remain publically-contentious?
Professor Oreskes will give a short talk and then engage in an open discussion about how to navigate these issues, both when it comes to our students and in public settings. To read a bit more about Professor Oreskes' work, you might read this profile in the New York Times. A scan of the epilogue of Merchants of Doubt ("A New View of Science") is also suggested reading for the session (PDF). Finally, an article-length lead-up to *Merchants of Doubt* that discusses some of the highlights of their findings can be read here.
In the final FLS of the semester, we will showcase three different digital projects that were deeply engaging and empowering for students. The diverse range of stories highlights the power of Bucknell's Digital Scholarship initiative* on both students and faculty. Please join us to learn more about these projects and discuss how L&IT helps to foster a community of digital practitioners on campus. The short answer: it's about building relationships.
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