Tag Archives: interdisciplinarity


I have spent the last three days at the annual conference of the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education in Toronto. Wow, I have hit exhaustion. So many ideas. So many engaging conversations. Inspired. Overwhelmed. I can’t do it all. But I can do. The challenge over the next few days for me will be to hold on to the most important nuggets. A list of some key ideas to help:

  • Embrace the Smackdown in Teaching Smackdowns. Try to find out what real issues are facing faculty in our department, and invite conversation. Consider a panel including undergrad and grad students, faculty, and administrators. Ground the discussion in the literature. — from Pedagogical Provocations workshop (e.g., Connie @ U of A)
  • A cat doesn’t come until the can opener sounds. Creative insight doesn’t occur with out work. — a metaphor Amanda Burk heard
  • What in my courses is taught/assessed, taught/not assessed (and so on to fill out the quadrants)? Decision points. — from someone Amanda Burk heard
  • Students learn what they do. What are students in my classes doing?
  • To download a Youtube video, add pwn before youtube in the url.
  • To teach “knowledge-ability” (1) enage in real problems, (2) with students, (3) while harnessing the relevant tools. — Michael Wesch @ Kansas; implications for my 208 assignment; see ideas document
  • To examine  test questions: What is the test question asking? What learning is the question evaluating? How can it be re-written so these align? Consider cognitive load theory. — Joanne Nakonechny
  • “On an exam, I ask you to be competent, not clever. On an assignment you have 2 weeks to think about, I ask you to be clever.” — another participant’s comment re: evaluation
  • Break down a tough exam question. Think out loud as I respond. What assumptions do I make? Can I structure the question so that students demonstrate understanding of the theory, then ability to use it, then ability to apply it, then ability to turn it on its head. — insight from Joanne’s session.
  • Email my former student Gillian about her work on the NSSE.
  • Think about how I can help demystify academia for my students.
  • At the first year level, you are joining the professional academic community. What impact does that have for my first weeks of class? Tie professional communication to job preparation. Email and general etiquette. Give examples of high quality work, compare to poor quality, and differentiate them. — from Professionalism session (Waterloo connection)
  • Celebrate failure: “How fascinating!”  — from Nicola Simmons’ session (Waterloo office of learning and teaching)
  • (How) can I contribute to the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning? What will that look like in my career? How can I balance this in the context of my other responsibilities, especially in terms of time? — from Nicola Simmons’ session (Waterloo office of learning and teaching)
  • What excites me about SoTL is the potential for collaborating with students and colleagues, making a meaningful contribution, expanding the impact of my work, staying accountable for my teaching and learning actions. — from Nicola Simmons’ session (Waterloo office of learning and teaching)
  • Grad student teaching portfolio resources: http://www.mcgill.ca/tls/teachingportfolio/
  • Interdisciplinarity: There are more commonalities that one would think. The creative process as described by artists is not unlike the process of developing research and writing it up. We don’t talk about it in the same way, but the processes of attempts, failure, revision, inspiration, feedback/peer review — and the accompanying emotional roller coaster — have many parallels. There are also common issues in teaching people to do really difficult things: e.g., learn technical proficiency and content, critically evaluate their own and others’ work.

This list became much longer than I had anticipated it would, given my fatigue. Yet one of the most important things I’ve learned this year is that whenever I’m close to exhaustion, I can easily be energized by thinking about teaching and learning.