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Wednesday, June 18 • 2:30pm - 3:20pm
CON2.08 – Going Beyond “Interactive Teaching”: Practical Approaches to Building a Community of Practice in the First Year Science Classroom (Room A339)

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An extensive amount of literature documents the improved learning gains made by interactive teaching compared to traditional lecture delivery.  The challenge is how to identify what interactive approaches provide the best results and how to avoid methods that masquerade as interactive teaching but yield limited true “heads-on” opportunities?  We need a simple and practical framework to determine how to best invest our (and students’) limited time.

This workshop will start with a discussion of the community of practice model that will help attendees judge the potential merits of particular pedagogies for their situation.  As a case study, we will discuss our efforts to build such a community in a first-year physics course through promoting student discussion, providing frequent feedback to students, and being adaptable when students bring up challenges they are facing in the course. Through multiple teaching strategies, we found most students become actively engaged in course material and adopted a commitment to learning and to helping each other learn.  These strategies, most validated in the literature but some more innovative, include peer instruction, just-in-time teaching, mini-whiteboard problem-solving, “Amazing Race” review, and two-stage exams.  Workshop attendees will get to test run some of these approaches to see if they work for them and share their ideas on other approaches that would yield similar “heads-on” experiences.

The community of practice model brought our attention to a serious problem in our approach: we asked students to enter into a community of practice but prof-TA interactions still resembled a traditional supervisor/worker relationship.  TA training took on a whole new light when we, as professor and lead TA, adopted some of the strategies we used to help our students learn physics and used them with the TA team to help us improve our teaching.  This relatively modest intervention lead to statistically significant improvement in TAs’ self-identification as educators.  Through small group discussions, attendees will have the opportunity to evaluate how such an approach to TA training could be used in their own departments, and give us feedback on how we could make ours even better.

In preparation for this workshop, please complete a quick survey online before the conference, accessible through tinyurl.com/STLHE2014. We need your responses to create a workshop that will address your concerns and questions.

Wednesday June 18, 2014 2:30pm - 3:20pm EDT
A339 McArthur Hall

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