The Academic Minute: Technology & Education

 

Computacion

On the Academic Minute, The Phantom Vibration Syndrome,” Robert Rosenberger describes the sensation of feeling your phone vibrate, when it actually has not vibrated at all. In a study of undergraduate students, approximately 90% reported that they experienced this “phantom vibration syndrome.” When medical staff were surveyed, approximately 70% experienced the syndrome. Although many have experienced it, only less than 2% consider the syndrome bothersome. There are many speculations as to why this occurs, including:

  • “Brain wiring” form phone useage creates cognitive pathways, which lead to the misinterpretation of other stimuli as phone vibrations.
  • Perceived phone vibrations are a side effect of a general rise in anxiety caused by technology.
  • The perceived phone vibrations are caused by a learned bodily habituation, meaning our bodies are trained to feel an incoming call or text, and thus experience the “phantom vibrations.”

On the Academic Minute, The Digital Divide,” Marshall Jones discusses that internet access has increased by 153% from 2010-2012 in North America and by 3,606% on the African continent. One-to- one programs (one computer/device for each student) are helping to close the “digital divide,” which is the separation between those with and without access to internet and technology. With one-to-one programs, internet access is almost equal to living in a city with access to a large research library.

  • A few pros of one-to-one programs are they allow:
    • creative ways to manage classrooms (45 degrees-laptops half closed)
    • free wifi hotspots for those without access at home
    • unique ways to shrink the digital divide
  • A few cons of one-to-one programs are:
    • they are expensive
    • they allow too much screen time
    • there is not enough administrative support and professional development for teachers
    • vendors oversell the benefits
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October 20th Provisions Session Summary: Teaching First Generation Students

**To access the podcast, click here!!**

Our second Provisions session of the year explored the theme of Teaching First Generation Students. Presenters shared previous experience with teaching first generation students, and effective strategies for improving success for first generation students. An audience of approximately 35 faculty and staff members attended to hear presentations from Lai-Monté Hunter, Director of Intercultural Leadership, Gina Occhiogrosso, Associate Professor of Art and Foundations Coordinator, and Jeff Marlett, Professor of Philosophy/Religious Studies.

Lai-Monté Hunter started off the session by introducing the ALANA is Leadership mentoring program. This mentorship program was developed to help and offer support to first generation and first year college students. Comprised of a cohort of 60, ALANA is Leadership focuses on what these students are coming to college with, and in most cases what disadvantages the students are starting off with.  Most of these students experience a lack of support from home, a lack of financial information, and a general sense of being unprepared. First generation students face numerous challenges, including: a lack of support, pressure to succeed, role reversal (students are now more educated than their parents), and a lack of information about the accessibility of help. Peer mentors offer support and guidance, and students are typically more receptive to information from peers. Lai-Monté mentioned that he receives messages from the First Alert System when students are performing lower than they should be. This system allows for Lai-Monté and other faculty members to intervene early on, in order to prevent failing and drop out. Lai-Monté said that in order to help these first generation students achieve success, ALANA is Leadership provides a variety of sources for information. Some examples of what ALANA is Leadership can provide a student with are:

  • information about managing finances
  • learning to juggle a full-time job with a full-time student schedule
  • learning to become integrated in the school community
  • an outlet for professional development
  • peer mentors leaders
  • prevention of dropping out or leaving without a degree
  • learning to deal with feeling marginalized at both home and on campus
  • learning to deal with cultural difficulties on campus
  • ways to develop self-advocay skills

In addition to ALANA is Leadership, it is important for professors to be available and accessible to students. First generation students are often unaware that professors are there to help them succeed. They typically do not know that it is “okay” to ask for help. Lai-Monté included the following list of what a professor should provide for their students, especially first generation students.

  • accessibility/availability- make yourself available
  • ability to listen- give your full attention
  • support- encourage students to learn and improve
  • practical- remain on task
  • guidance- give direction without pushing
  • insight- share personal experiences to show students that you’re human
  • specificity- what needs to be done, what has been done well, & what needs to be corrected
  • education- how you got to be where you are now
  • ability to foster success- have encouraging conversations beyond academics

Second to present was Gina Occhiogrosso (powerpoint presentation will be available soon).  Gina started off her presentation by explaining the Art 100 Foundation Seminar, which is a 1.0 credit (approximately 15.5 hours) course. She discussed the course requirements and said that the assignment for the course was to create a public art piece to be displayed on campus in the empty space next to Massry. In the beginning of the course, as Lai-Monté suggested in his presentation, Gina and her colleagues discussed their own college experiences. Explaining how they got where they were showed the students that they too faced challenges in the process. This course allowed for students to become acclimated to the campus, as well as to other students and faculty.

Eight groups of five were randomly formed based on students’ talent areas. For example, she picked students talented in photography and placed each one in a separate group. This way each group had someone talented in photography, writing, drawing…and so on. In the groups, students were able to discuss their common interests. There were some restrictions placed on the class assignment, but the students also had plenty of room to be creative with their ideas. At the end of the semester, the groups presented their public art pieces to the class. Each group member was required to speak at least once during their presentation. Last year’s winning public art piece included a swing-set and a musical stage for performing. Gina said that for next year’s class, she should add more restrictions to the assignment. Her students thought that more restrictions would make creating a public art piece easier. Gina mentioned near the end of her presentation, that she also receives messages from the First Alert System, which allows her to intervene before it is too late for a student.

Last to present was Jeff Marlett. Jeff started off his presentation by explaining that, in contrast to Lai-Monté and Gina, he works with students of all majors and he gets to see all students on campus, even though it may only be once. He refers to his department (Ethics, Values, & Religious Studies) as the “Iceberg Department”, because there is a little bit above the surface, but a lot more underneath. Jeff mentioned that in 2008, he was asked to give a presentation for a previous Provision’s session, Teaching First Year Students. He spoke about an academic student and learning outcome assessment program that he and some colleagues started in 2008. Jeff’s main focal point of the presentation was about bridging the gap between instructors and their class material. Through the use of humor, personal narratives, and popular culture,  Jeff believes he can help bridge the gap. He said he shares his own narratives, sometimes with the use of profanity, to show the students that “he is alive.” He believes that use of his own narratives will encourage students to find and tell their own, in order to connect with the material.  Popular culture and social media serve as a framework for first year college students because it shows the similarities between the students. He said that it doesn’t matter where the college students come from because they have the same technology to “level the playing field.” The leveling experience of all student’s being subjected to the same expectations shows them that “we’re all in this together.” Regardless of which generation a student is, Jeff ultimately wants his students to be connected with the material and to be able to discuss the material appropriately.

Following the presentations, the floor was opened up for discussion and questions from the audience. Here are a few points and observations that arose from discussion:

  • It is not uncommon for first year/first generation students to be unaware of the expectations and responsibilities of college.
  • Self-regulation and autonomy skills are essential for college success but often require improvement.
  • Bridging the gap by clearly defining expectations of college, and by being aware of assumptions.
  • There is a need for improved communication among faculty, and among the campus as a whole.
  • Faculty need to communicate their accessibility and availability to students, and also make sure to be flexible in the process.
  • Should professor expectations vary for first generation students?

Please join us for our upcoming Tuesday, November 17th session on “Teaching Non-Traditional Students. Provisions’ sessions are from 12:-00-1:15 in Standish A&B. All are welcome and no reservations are required. Free lunch and refreshments will be available! Hope to see you all there!!

Tenure Rates and Faculty Mission

April 27, 2010- An article from Inside Higher Ed entitled, “Tenure Rates and Faculty Mission” talks about the proposed changes to the tenure system at Brown University, and how they may seem like relatively minor adjustments on the surface, designed to help junior faculty members build a more complete portfolio for review. However, administrators have run into strong faculty opposition, with many believing the changes will add up to an attempt to assert more control by administrators and to shift the teaching-research balance in the direction of research.

Negotiating the Religious Heritage of Saint Rose

March 16, 2010– This months Provisions Happy Hour presented a sensitive topic on campus here at Saint Rose. The topic was negotiating the religious heritage of Saint Rose and the presenters included Scott Brodie from the Art Department, Chris DeGiovine from Spiritual Life, and Mark Ledbetter from the Philosophy and Religion Department.

Scott Brodie began the conversation by sharing with the group his relationship with Father Chris. Coming from two different religious backgrounds, Brodie and Father Chris formed a friendship and bond based on neutral understanding, curiosity, and interest in the difference between them. It was truly inspiring to hear that two individuals, with completely differenet belief systems, can find common ground and form a friendship. As Brodie mentioned, “deeply held, sharply different beliefs keep life interesting.” The overall theme of Brodies presentation was to be who you are, but learn about those who are different and don’t be persuaded by community pressure to hide your practices.

Father Chris spoke next about the important difference between Catholic Intellectual Tradition (CIT) and the Roman Catholic Church (RCC). With the RCC becoming an old dying institute, CIT is all about free inquiry and truth. Father Chris spoke about the importance in distinguishing between the two  because Saint Rose is based on CIT more so then RCC. Below you will find the handout in which Father Chris presented to accompany his presentation.

Finally, Mark Ledbetter from the Philosophy and Religion Department talked about a course he taught called Religion and Culture. In the course eight students were engaged in an intense discussion on all topics surrounding religion. The goal of this course was to interrogate religion, and Ledbetter spoke highly of its success. The overall theme of Ledbetter’s presentation was that students do not distinguish between religion and spirituality and the importance to recognize that the ability to move among religions is part of their religious identity.

At the conclusion of the presentations the open discussion faced many of the challenging topics Saint Rose faces. Topics discussed include the role and inequality of women in the Catholice Church and why there weren’t any women speakers on the panel, the difference between a Catholic College and a Catholic Church, and the need for a post-religious world. The idea of a post-religious world is not the same as a non-religion world, it is the need for no dominant religion and greater understanding of all religions. This idea helped shaped the conversation and brought the session to a close.

To hear all three presenters from last nights session, check out the Provisions Podcast.

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Religious Revival

March 11, 2010– Provisions Happy Hour will explore the Religious Heritage of Saint Rose at next weeks session. As part of this months theme, an article from December 2009, Inside Higher Ed, entitled “Religious Revival” talks about religion being the most popular field of study among historians, according to a new study from the members of the American Historical Association. This increase, according to Jon Butler, a professor in religious and American studies from Yale, is due to the realization that the world “is aflame with faith.”

Teaching as a Team

February 16, 2010- This month Provisions explored the world of teaching as a team. Presentations were provided by Dr. Nancy Dorr, Associate Professor of Psychology, Kathryn Laity, Professor of English, and Dr. Jenise Depinto, Professor of History.

Dr. Dorr began the session by talking about her experience team teaching Social Neuroscience alongside Rob Flint. The idea to teach this course came about due to their desire to expose students to a more topic approach to psychology. Dr. Dorr talked about how this course was taught and how to handle team teaching. A lecture style, due to lack of text on the topic, provided a need for both professors to be present at every class. The class was organized into topics, and grading was divided up accordingly. Finally, as a way to evaluate their success of teaching as a team, Dorr and Flint provided students with a survey. The results showed that many students strongly agreed with and enjoyed the team teaching experience.

Dr. Dorr also talked about the many benefits, challenges, and recommendations for individuals interested in teaching as a team.

Next, Kate Laity and Jenise Depinto shared their experience working together for a course called “Text & Contexts in the Middle Ages.” This course was a mix of English and History, and indeed created challenges for both professors. However, the overlap in content and chance to learn new material that was not familiar to them lead to a great experience teaching as a team. Laity and Depinto also talked about how their main focus was to make sure students were making a connection between both the history and literature aspects of the content taught. The use of blackboard and in class discussions, allowed students to create a conversation.

All three presenters provided a clear and encouraging look into the world of team teaching, and contribute much of their success to the support they received from their departments.

The session concluded in a open discussion of topics such as grading participation, how students responded to the courses taught, how differences among teachers in team teaching introduces notion of a new way of thinking, and if team teaching could work with freshman.

Below you will find the materials each presenter shared during the session. To hear this session, as well as past Provision sessions, please visit the “Session Podcast” link.

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‘One Faculty’

February 8, 2010. In an article from Inside Higher Ed. entitled, “Principles for ‘One Faculty'”  a coalition of academic associations is today issuing a joint statement calling on colleges to recognize that they have “one faculty” and to treat those off the tenure track as professionals, with pay, benefits, professional development and participation in governance. The joint statement calls for the adaptation of policies that would improve the treatment of adjunct faculty members.