Small Steps over Time: Energizing Students by Infusing Innovative Practices into Universities within a Transitional Country

Judy S. Richardson, Language Center, South Eastern European University, Macedonia, and Virginia Commonwealth University, USA

Abstract

Innovation energizes instruction, transcending a lecture-only and often boring approach to learning. But when students and professors are entrenched in a professor-centered system, how can change be accomplished? This paper explains, via examples and stories, practices university students have identified that energize their learning process. These practices are greatly effective but not difficult for professors to implement, if blended into a traditional model. The study, conducted in English Foreign Language methods courses, is mostly qualitative with quantitative aspects. For a country in transition, faced with many new regulations, small steps over time can make a difference in fostering student engagement.

Keywords: active learning, student engagement, teaching writing, ESL students

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El Método de Casos: Hacia un Apredizaje Mejor

James Wilkinson, Harvard University, USA

Resumen

El método de casos resulta uno de los más eficaces para el aprendizaje activo, porque involucre a los estudiantes en el proceso inquisitivo, que es la actividad clave del aprendizaje. También lo es de la investigación científica, así que los métodos inquisitivos que emplean los profesores en sus trabajos de investigación pueden ser finalmente casi los mismos que los métodos empleados en la enseñanza. Pero, el hacerlo bien resulta muchas veces difícil. Y desafortunadamente, cuando se hace mal, este método puede conducer a resultados peores que los de la pedagogía tradicional. Por eso, cuando se habla de innovación se necesita tratar no sólo sus métodos, sino prepararse para utilizarlos también. Por muy útil e indispensable que sea la innovación pedagógica, su práctica requiera esfuerzos y un largo aprendizaje por parte de los profesores. Incluso para muchos, será necesario aprender otra vez a enseñar.
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Teaching Project: “A Students’ Travel Guide to the History of the Island of Rhodes“

Christina Antenhofer, University of Innsbruck, Austria

Abstract

This paper follows a teaching project realized during spring term 2007 from its conception to the final realization. The class “Rhodes – Platform of Cultural Encounters in the Eastern Mediterranean” was combined with a one week excursion to Rhodes and co-organized with Birgit Gufler from the Department of Ancient History. Since students often only tolerate paper presentations as a necessary task we tried to challenge them by (1) letting them elaborate our sightseeing program for the excursion together with us and by (2) asking them to elaborate their papers in the form of a “travel guide” that was then published on the department homepage.
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Ivory Tower to Lighthouse Beacon: Extreme Makeover, Academe Edition: Practical Suggestions for Adopting a Newly Assessed Course

Valarie Meliotes Arms, Drexel University, USA

Abstract

English teachers have long recognized that “authentic” assignments involving real world tasks produce better writing because students see the immediate purpose. With the help of an enthusiastic IT group and a willing, though occasionally “reluctant” and skeptical faculty, I synthesized much of my research on pedagogy and classroom experience to develop English Alive: A Hybrid Learning Community for students from all majors. English Alive provides a multi-pronged approach to engaging students with technology that allows for data gathering necessary for assessment. We focus on authentic assignments drawn from the professions and the use of the full range of 21st century communication technology. We have reduced teacher class time in favor of more student online writing time and first hand experiences. The program is built on ‘projects” that require students to recognize the value of primary and secondary research in something as basic as describing a local community. The class also emphasizes the techniques for clarity in communication, whether the final project is a presentation, a poster or an essay.
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The Applicability of Speech Act Analysis to Course Evaluation: A Small-Scale Pilot Study

Alison Devine, Edge Hill University, UK

Abstract

The current paper has both a substantive and methodological focus. Substantively, it finds that the online discussion board postings of students enrolled on a postgraduate certificate in teaching and learning display evidence of students’ applying course studies in their workplace, but that these displays are mostly limited to comments regarding their own physical activities and (affective) approaches, rather than any attempt to disseminate their learning any more widely. Methodologically then, this paper argues that speech act analysis (SAA) can be of partial use to the course evaluator who is seeking evidence of an impact on practice as one means of triangulating data, but that there are three types of evidence of impact on practice apparent in the students’ online postings and a detailed understanding of these types can aid in enhancing student learning.
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Learning Resolutions: Assessment, Community Building, and Course Closure

Bonnie Farley-Lucas, Southern Connecticut State University, USA

Abstract

Learning resolutions are an end-of-semester classroom exercise designed to help assess learning outcomes, while also providing a community-building experience and a positive closure for a course. Used in conjunction with formal written learning summaries and written course evaluation forms, learning resolutions provide valuable data about what students have learned throughout the course of a semester. This paper defines and offers examples of learning resolutions, reviews benefits for assessment of student learning, community building, and student learning, and provides several variations of active learning modules utilizing learning resolutions that can be adapted and used across all disciplines.
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historia.scribere: Publications from the Ivory Tower for More Quality in Student Papers and Better Occupational Perspectives

Eva Pfanzelter, University of Innsbruck, Austria

Abstract

historia.scribere is an online journal project of three historical institutes at the University of Innsbruck. The journal works with editorial peer review, including both BA-/MA- and PhD- students and faculty from the three departments in the review process. One of the goals of the project is to improve the quality of seminar papers using the extensive feedback students receive. The main focus of the project, however, is to involve students in the scholarly publication process so that they can acquire essential online publication skills, thus qualifying them for the primary job markets for historians: journalism and publishing.
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Preparing and Publishing Wikipedia Articles as Training Tool in Project Management, Teamwork, and the Peer-Review Publishing Process in the Life Sciences

Thorsten Schwerte, Stefan Stolz, & Elisabeth Kugler, University of Innsbruck, Austria

Abstract

Besides accurate research, other important skills for which training is required in today’s universities include project management, teamwork, and writing. The availability of Internet sources and word-processing software has changed the way students conduct research and write up their documents. The basic tasks of the student writer has to be focused in synergy with these new possibilities—i.e. by doing well-designed (literature) research and presenting it clearly and accurately, while following accepted academic standards for citation, style, and format. In our paper we present the attempt to use Wikipedia article publication as a model for student training in teamwork, project
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