Published: Oct. 1, 2018

Well, it’s happened. We are already more than one-third through a semester. Time flies.

Keep in mind the excellent opportunities for professional development in October through ASSETT, including the Digital Distraction and Engagement Discussion Series, which kicks off on October 2.

Please consider applying to become a Faculty Fellow. Faculty Fellows ultimately become pivotal and central members in the developing network of faculty involved in advancing the teaching mission at the University of Colorado Boulder. Fellows will join a group of like-minded faculty, meeting every other week during the spring 2019 semester, to explore various issues and approaches for improving teaching and learning. Each fellow will then develop a project within their community. Visit the ASSETT website for information about the Faculty Fellows program and examples of projects.  

I want to take a moment to highlight Faculty Fellows projects developed by Kristopher Karnauskas from Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences (ATOC) and David Budd from Geological Sciences. Kris developed a shared data resource called the “ATOC Data-Driven Learning Library.” The goal of the project is to make a place where quantitative details of student learning can be shared and co-developed across different courses within the ATOC major. David focused on developing an inventory of the various science process skills emphasized across the major in Geological Sciences. The work represented a collaboration by Geological Sciences faculty and was made possible by the development of a technology called the Course Materials Auto Coder, developed by PhD student Emily Fairfax. The results represent one of the first assessments of how frequently students engage in challenges designed to improve their abilities across different dimensions of learning. I have reproduced one of the summary figures from Geological Sciences self-study below.

Chart of findings from the Geological Sciences self-study. Lower-level cognate skills are more frequently addressed in 2000-level courses while 3000 and 4000-level courses more frequently include non-cognate, transferable skills.

I want to end with a recommendation to listen to your students. Provide time and space for your students to talk about their thinking and use the opportunity to hear them and direct lessons that begin where students are. As much as possible, make student thinking visible, value their thinking, and provide a path from where they are to where they need to go. It’s impossible to know what path to take unless you know where you are starting. Knowing where to start begins by listening (or examining, in some way, student thinking).

Happy autumn.