It is all political

When we think of “Department Politics” we often dwell on who got the better office or their preferred teaching schedule. However, this time of year the term can take on a different meaning in relation to national political issues. Recent flare ups at Liberty University and Georgetown have brought this issue into focus. Chico State is a public institution so our free speech rights are more robust than they would be at private colleges and universities. However, not all questions are legal ones. How do you feel about discussions of Presidential proposals for health care in a nursing class? About your officemate with the Marco Rubio bumper sticker on the door? Or your colleague who also volunteers for Bernie Sanders going door-to-door?

A situation at St. John’s earlier this month led to a threat of violence over social media. This was not the fault of the faculty member, but it does highlight the volatility and passion that are sometimes a part of election season. As faculty we need to recognize that the activities of our students and our peers are constitutionally protected. We also need to realize that we have a responsibility to create learning environments for all of our students, not just the ones we agree with.

We all have something to share

In Faculty Development we are making mentoring a priority. We formally and informally connect new faculty with experienced peers in their colleges. This program is critical to new faculty members as it allows them to ask tough questions and it values the experience of our wonderful full and part-time faculty members. In the new and exciting “U-Courses” the leadership of instructors is put into motion by advanced peers who help students move through complicated course content. We also value the mentoring relationships faculty build with students in undergraduate research efforts which have been recognized by AAC&U as a high-impact practice.

Increasingly, we know mentoring is important for our students and our faculty, but questions persist:

What is mentoring?

How do I know if I am engaging in good mentoring?

I enjoy pointing out other people’s failings in public settings to embarrass them, does that count as mentoring?

While mentoring is as old as human experience, we are still figuring out how to value it in the academy. At Purdue it is increasingly valued in tenure and promotion. On our campus, it is the focus of an exciting and diverse exploration in the upcoming mentoring conference. See the message below for a chance to learn about something we almost all do, but we could all benefit from knowing more about.

 When: Friday, October 16, 2015

Where: Colusa Hall 100A&B

Time: 9:30-4:30pm

[Register for one or multiple sessions, see conference schedule for details]

*No registration fees*

Reasons why you should attend:

  • Mentoring helps people establish caring relationships
  • Provides resources to help people learn and succeed
  • Build mentoring skills that you could use in workplace, community, and education settings
  • Opportunity to connect with clubs and organizations that are interested in mentoring, leadership, and civic engagement
  • Learn how programs at Chico State implement mentoring into their organization

 Interested? Register now. 

 For more information, contact Gina Tigri at the First-Year Experience Office at 530.898.3705 or visit our Experiential Mentoring Website at http://www.csuchico.edu/fye/mentoringconference.

Faculty Presents

From “The Flipped Classroom: Not Just for STEM:” Flipping a class isn’t an all or nothing affair.  Turning just one lecture into a set of activities students do before class—typically reading and/or watching a video presentation of the day’s material—frees up class time for hands-on activities that require students to dig more deeply into the material using higher-order thinking skills—applying, analyzing, and evaluating, not just remembering.  Students might work in teams on a case study or analyze data using material or theory introduced in the pre-class activity.  In all of this work, the instructor can circulate among the students, checking for comprehension and helping deepen reflection. Keys to the success of a flipped session are that the pre-class activity have a scored component both to ensure students will do it and to set up the in-class activity; and that in-class work both use and extend the out-of-class material.  Many instructors require the students to generate a question based on what they’ve viewed, or open the class with a quiz.  It takes time and care to build an effective flipped class, so taking it one session at a time makes sense. And those of us who love our lectures needn’t give up all or even most of them to take advantage of this powerful technique.  Our TLP Instructional Technology Consultants are available to help create flipped classroom activities, and have put some resources together here. Thanks to faculty presenters Denise Minor and Sarah Anderson!

From “Approaches to Learning and Teaching (Through) Writing:” Involve students in the process of defining good writing before they begin writing. Deb McCabe (CMAS) invites the class to generate a list of traits they admire in what they read and puts them on the board—understandable, engaging, easy-to-follow, etc.  Having done this before, she knows that the traits are likely to fall into certain categories so she lists them in columns (without identifying headings). At the end of the exercise, she turns to the columns of traits and notes how clearly the students have identified key areas like structure, purpose and audience, clarity, mechanics, content richness, and voice.  Not only are students now aware of the complexity of what makes for good writing (it’s not the same in a science journal and a political blog), but because they have been engaged in setting the terms, they are also more likely to think about these traits as they begin their own writing processes. Thanks to faculty presenters Deb McCabeChris Fosen, and Kim Jaxon!

*  Authored by Dr. Katherine McCarthy.