President's Teaching Scholars Program



Spring 2003 Retreat Report

"Making the Most of Learning and Teaching"
Spring Retreat
March 14, 2003

Benson Earth Sciences Building, Conference Room 380

Written by Susan Barney Jones, Editor, Silver & Gold Record

I. Introduction
Mary Ann Shea, director of the President’s Teaching Scholars Program, made opening remarks, welcoming the participants to a day of community. She also thanked the PTSP staff members Lynn Della Guardia, Wynn Pericak, Jazmin Chavez and Jadine Knox for their help in setting up the retreat; and the Teaching Scholars planning committee members: J.J. Cohen, Mitch Handelsman, Denise Webster, Gene Abrams and John Falconer.

Shea introduced Vice President for Academic Affairs and Research Jack Burns, who she said is an avid supporter of the PTSP and is wearing “a new mantle of protector of the program” in tough budget times. She also introduced his wife, Cathleen Burns, a faculty member at the UCB Leeds School of Business.

Shea also introduced Chancellor Georgia Lesh-Laurie from UC-Denver who participated as part of a new tradition in the program of having each chancellor join the retreat to discuss their research and teaching and be part of the Teaching Scholars’ community.

VP Burns said he wanted to convey a message from President Betsy Hoffman, who greatly regretted that she could not attend the retreat. He said Hoffman is “juggling many balls and staying busy on your behalf.” He invited the Scholars to attend a special session set for March 18 with the president to discuss the budget situation for the University. He said he and the president would like to hear from the Scholars about the impact the budget constraints have had on students. “Those anecdotal messages are the most powerful ones we can carry forward to legislators,” Burns said. He added that Hoffman wants to share information about the budget situation and the legislative session, so that the Scholars “can go back as ambassadors to your departments” with more complete information.

The retreat participants then introduced themselves and gave a brief description of what they have been doing during the semester to engage their students.

Kleier said that since all of his students have laptops, he has been putting open-ended questions on a web site every week before the lecture to get students thinking.

Van Gerven said he has one class with more than 480 students and an honors version of the same class with 15 students. He said he is trying to look at every face in the room in the large section. In the honors section he has required the students to connect with someone outside of class by teaching that person a lesson from the class.

Cohen said he is teaching at the Denver campus this term “for fun,” and has organized his HSC post-docs to collaborate and teach the UCD students. “They are only used to teaching grad students who are all in a coma, and now they are getting bombarded with questions.”

Goodwin said she has two relatively small classes with engagement happening naturally. She has started using conferencing on the web site to continue the discussions.

Bickman said he is running his own discussion session for a survey class of 35, and students who don’t show up for office hours show up for the discussion session.

Motomura said he is working this semester on a more extended version of “slight discomfort.” His class is looking at U.S. Supreme Court cases related to detention and toured the detention facility in Aurora. “It is discomforting and moves them out of where they might otherwise be.”

Symons said he has a history of Russian theater class of doctoral students, who he said seem to have a disdain for presentation of scholarly papers. “This year we are practicing giving presentations. Four-person panels are writing two papers a semester and presenting them. Some are expert actors but are terrible at presenting papers.”

Palmer said he has been intensely involved in planning the Conference on World Affairs at CU-Boulder with a group of 10 students, including the Atheneum Fellows, who help select and invite the conference participants.

Grant said he has been assigning students group work and the team members get the same grade. The teams have a competition to solve ecology questions as part of the lab work outside lecture. “The group persecuted together bonds together.”

Briggs said he has been continuing his work studying how to measure student engagement statistically.

Curry said he has hosted a two-and-a-half-hour general problem session every Thursday for his upper-level grad students, complete with pizza. “At the end of the term, every student knew the names of all the people in the class. That community was pretty exciting.”

Chambers-Schiller said she has 90 students in a “Gender in the U.S. since 1890” class. To help them understand the distinction between sex and gender she has brought in items from the newspaper to start discussions on language and gender assumptions. “I wasn’t sure it would work but we have had pretty lively discussions.”

Huber said he has asked students who know more about computers to run demonstrations in his statistics class.

Burkhart said he has been engaged, or as they say in physics “entangled,” with the same project Briggs has been working on.

Timmerhaus, who is retired, said he did not have any classes to comment about.

Shull said he has been working with five students involved in a search for a new faculty member in his department.

Segur said he is not teaching this semester.

Morriston said “philosophers specialize in making people
uncomfortable,” and that he has been talking to his students about the mind/body duality. “I asked how many believe in the soul and all the hands went up. I asked what is the soul and there was dead silence. Things went better after that.”

Lewis said he has been experimenting with running “the conversational classroom. It has been very challenging. It’s much easier to lecture but I am hanging in there.”

Melicher said he used to be an engaged administrator now he is an engaged teacher of executive MBA students. “They are high-maintenance people and have experience as well as education.” They need to believe what they are learning is relevant and demand more than the traditional student.

Other Teaching Scholars who arrived later were: Costain, Cruz and Falconer.