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Feb. 25: High demand for workshop on engaging students

By Richard H. Miller, Global Campus

Rebecca-Van-de-Vord-80PULLMAN, Wash. – More seats have been added to next week’s faculty-led workshop on engaging students after high demand quickly filled the initial allotment of 36.

“We’ve just added 18 more slots to the signup page,” said Rebecca Van de Vord, Washington State University Global Campus associate director and director of eLearning Services. She is coordinating the workshop with the provost’s office and the Teaching Academy.

“And we’re offering a live-stream option,” she said.

Van de Vord attributed the demand to two things: “The provost’s office fully supports using innovative methods to increase student retention and success. And the best way for busy faculty to get tried-and-tested information is directly from their WSU colleagues.”

The workshop is noon-1:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 25, in CUE 518 on the Pullman campus. It will be introduced by Erica Austin, vice provost for academic affairs. Participating WSU faculty members are pharmacy professor Jennifer Robinson, animal sciences emeritus professor John McNamara and entomology professor Laura Lavine.

Topics will include such approaches as group work, the flipped classroom model, self-directed learning and other student-centered strategies.

Using peer pressure

Lavine, for example, divides her Entomology 101 students into small groups and assigns each student a specific role, such as manager, spokesperson, observer and presenter. She monitors the teams as they work through a written activity.

Peer pressure prompts students to come to class prepared, she said, and the assigned roles help them overcome shyness.

“They learn the content but also gain skills for learning and for working in teams,” she said.

“Professor Lavine got people engaged,” said one student. “You felt like there was no way to show up without being prepared.”

McNamara uses a mix of pedagogies such as small teams, online research and short papers.

“I pleasantly but clearly let the students know that their learning is their responsibility, that it is fun and I am there to help them,” he said.

Not fully flipped

Several of these innovative tools fit the flipped classroom model in which students learn foundational materials outside of class, then discuss them in a faculty-mediated environment. The flipped classroom model, in turn, parallels methods used to create engagement in online instruction, said Van de Vord.

“By emphasizing discussion and collaborative learning, the Global Campus has made great strides in conquering the physical distance between faculty and online students,” she said. “At times, the distance between lectern and seats can also seem daunting – but it’s just as manageable.”

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