Introduction to Psychology. The gateway course for all higher level psychology courses, and many other programs in the university as well. In my 800 student classroom, about thirty percent believe they will continue in psychology. Another twenty percent have not completely decided, and the remainder are taking the course as an elective. The challenge for me is to light the fire of knowledge for the thirty percent and convince the rest that they really want to pursue psychology too. To engage students I use a number of techniques in a lively, fast-paced delivery that maintains attention, creates rapport, and challenges students to think about issues. In my presentation, I will model some of these techniques and then invite the audience to think about how to use these in their own classrooms.
Students flourish when they become part of a collaborative and creative community. All too often, courses are focused on squeezing in a maximum amount of content at the expense of the equally important process component of learning. The concept of learning communities, which assist to deepen the degree of learning by spending more time on, and paying greater attention to, process is highlighted as a “high impact practice” in student recruitment and retention literature; and it’s also the ethos of the program I teach in, Community Studies. Whether the setting is a conventional university classroom, a field or forest on the edge of campus, or a local neighbourhood, educators can easily facilitate a learning community through a progression of intra- and interpersonal explorations. This workshop will engage participants in a series of experiential activities that we use in our first-year Community Studies programming – aimed at fostering initiative, leadership, self-awareness, and trust – all factors that underlie effective collaborations for increased learning. Workshop activities will be debriefed from both the participant and facilitator perspectives.
Welcome to My Classroom: A Mandatory intro Physics course you don’t really want to take, and that you think you’ve already mastered in High School
Adam Sarty (3MNTF-2011), Physics, Saint Mary’s University
Date, time, and location: TBA
Incoming undergraduate Science students are challenged with the need to take mandatory introductory courses in disciplines outside of their desired major subject area (for example, chemistry and physics are frequently both required to major in each other’s discipline, and both are needed for engineering students, etc.). The challenge is exacerbated by the facts that students normally have already taken these subjects in Grade 12, and therefore believe they have mastered the introductory material, and that the classes are often large – and, therefore students have reduced motivation to invest effort (or enthusiasm) into these courses. Introductory physics courses are prototypical in this respect, and successful teaching must face this transitional challenge for students head-on. In this session, I will share some of my “first class” tools to help foster an initial enthusiasm for the course while illustrating how the expectations will be different than in high school. I will then review (and do!) a sampling of the interactive engagement techniques I employ to help students focus on conceptual understanding and entertain paradigm shifts of their view of physics. I draw heavily from methods pioneered/implemented/researched by Physics Education Research groups over the last 20 years, and discuss how specific use of these methods is always modulated by individual institutional realities (e.g. number of students in course, physical layout of classroom, and technologies available).
I will illustrate the methods I use in my Educational Psychology course by combining the events of a typical week into a one hour session. Those attending will play the part of students – reading, listening, discussing, writing and more. The topic chosen for the week’s work will be the application to post-secondary teaching and learning of John Dewey’s cognitive psychology as seen in his 1916 book Democracy and Education. The heart of Dewey’s approach is growth through reflection on experience. I strive to provide my students with experiences that are rich with possibilities for reflection and growth each week; and I hope that the session will not only illustrate how I do that, but also provide the attendees with the same outcome in this hour.