Journal on Excellence in College Teaching, Volume 21, Number 4 (2010)
Articles in this issue:
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Wentzell, G. W., Richlin, L., & Cox, M. D.
The increasingly diverse composition of faculty and students at higher education institutions over the past several decades has made it critical to direct efforts toward creating learning environments that ensure all learners are truly able to learn effectively. These efforts are especially necessary for ensuring the success and retention of traditionally marginalized student (and faculty) groups. Nevertheless, efforts at promoting inclusive learning on college campuses have too often been “fragmented,” with a disconnect between the initiatives and their intended (or actual) outcomes (Salazar, Norton, & Tuitt, 2010, p. 8). Teaching so that all learners learn means creating and delivering instruction that “reduces all students’ experiences of marginalization and, wherever possible, helps students understand that individuals’ experiences, values, and perspectives influence how they construct knowledge in any field or discipline”; moreover, “thoughtfulness, mutual respect, and academic excellence are valued and promoted” (Saunders & Kardia, 2010). Benefits to such inclusive teaching efforts have been shown to include, among others, greater student motivation and self-confidence, stronger 2 Journal on Excellence in College Teaching critical-thinking skills, increased cultural awareness, and a higher level of civic involvement.
Khaja, K., Springer, J. T., Bigatti, S., Gibau, G. S., Whitehead, D., & Grove, K.
A pedagogy that serves students of all backgrounds and trains them to compete in a diverse world is becoming imperative. University educators have been slow to accept the challenge of multicultural teaching, yet it is not clearly understood why this is the case. The authors surveyed 464 faculty members from across disciplines at a large urban, Midwestern campus. This mixed-methods study assessed faculty conceptualizations of multicultural teaching, the degree to which they may be engaged in this practice, and what challenges they face. The findings revealed that faculty members perceived several barriers to multicultural teaching, including student resistance, language barriers, lack of teaching resources, time constraints, and lack of knowledge about multicultural teaching pedagogies. Although the faculty perceived that most barriers were related to student factors, they revealed some degree of insight into their own role in terms of relative effort and lack of knowledge. Furthermore, faculty identified various institutional barriers that could be addressed to facilitate multicultural teaching at institutions of higher education. The importance of multicultural teaching in the current economic and political environment is discussed.
Barnard-Brak, L., & Lan, W. Y.
Studies have indicated that the willingness of faculty members to accommodate students with disabilities differs according to academic discipline and instructor gender. The authors examined the attitudes of faculty members toward students with disabilities as reflected in course syllabi to discern instructor willingness to accommodate these students. Through coding and analyzing disability accommodation statements in syllabi from three colleges—education, engineering, and business—at a large Southwestern university, the authors found evidence to support the findings of previous research. Specifically, the accommodation statements of female faculty appear to be longer and more accurate than those of male faculty, while the statements of Education faculty appear to be longer and more accurate than those faculty in Engineering and Business.
Chávez, A. F.
College teaching across cultural norms and epistemologies has received little research attention, yet it is increasingly important to faculty work and student learning as enrollments continue to diversify. This article provides a review and critique of theory and research on teaching and learning across cultures in college. The author applies thematic pattern analysis to search for overarching elements within existing theory and research on culture and learning. A model of four essential elements for teaching effectively across cultures is proposed that includes faculty cultural self-awareness and multicultural competence, a multiculturally empowering classroom climate, diverse demographics of students and faculty, and diversifying cultural constructs of pedagogy. Recommendations are suggested for future exploration and research.
Creating an Environment Conducive to Active and Collaborative Learning: Redesigning Introduction to Sociology at a Large Research University
Lo, C. C., & Prohaska, A.
In 2003 a Southeastern research university undertook the redesign of an introductory sociology course in order to improve student success by adding active and collaborative learning activities that gave students greater responsibility for learning. The new “hybrid” course provides most course materials online, requires electronic submission of assignments and tests, and reports assessment results and other feedback promptly. In its biggest break with tradition, the course’s contact hours are one third those mandated under the old syllabus, and all classroom sessions comprise collaborative activities. Resulting improvements include increased enrollment, larger percentages of students receiving course grades of “A,” and increased student engagement. Success is also reflected in outcome assessments (directly and indirectly measured). Modifications to other social sciences courses, introducing more active-learning components, have resulted.
Grant-Vallone, E. J.
This research study examined student perceptions of group experiences in the classroom. The author used cooperative learning and team-based learning to focus on three characteristics that are critical for the success of groups: structure of activities, relationships of group members, and accountability of group members. Results indicated that students reported more favorably on these group experiences than on a “typical group experience” they had in the past. At the end of the semester, many students reported that group members communicated effectively, developed friendships, and took responsibility for the team project. Communication and group member relationships were related to project satisfaction.
Bettencourt, M. L., & Weldon, A. A.
The authors explored two assumptions about college teaching and learning: first, that faculty teach in isolation, as institutional culture values and rewards autonomy over collaboration; and second, that faculty collaboration improves instruction. They present findings from an experiment in team teaching in a university beginning Spanish course in which they conducted action research to investigate the impact of team teaching on them, as the faculty participants in this study, and on their students. Data from students’ course evaluations and the instructors’ teaching diaries show that while participants expressed positive outcomes from team teaching, their concerns about professional identity, relationship, and engagement with students outweighed advantages.
Milton D. Cox, Miami University
Laurie Richlin, Charles Drew University of Medicine and Science
Gregg W. Wentzell, Miami University
David Baume, Independent Consultant, Milton Keynes (UK)
Patrick Haney, Miami University
W. Bradley Kincaid, Mesa Community College
Jacquelin McDonald, University of Southern Queensland
Ray Purdom, University of North Carolina, Greensboro
Cecilia Shore, Miami University
Mary Deane Sorcinelli, University of Massachusetts
Marilla Svinicki, University of Texas at Austin
Michael Theall, Youngstown State University
W. Alan Wright, University of Windsor
Todd Zakrajsek, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
|Reviewers for This Issue:|
Elaine AbuSharbain, Southern Illinois University
Patricia Backer, San Jose State University
Gail Bollin, West Chester University
Deborah Brassard, Marywood University
Carlos Cortés, University of California, Riverside
Deborah DeZure, Michigan State University
Angela Foreman, Rochester Institute of Technology
Nisha Gupta, University of Louisville
E. Joy Mighty, Queen’s University
Barbara Millis, University of Texas San Antonio
Susan Radius, Towson University
Stewart Ross, Minnesota State University
Marilla Svinicki, University of Texas at Austin