Meeting minutes 10/25/12

Location: Thai Rak Thai
In Attendance: Kathryn Meier, Jennifer Cutsforth, Tara Fay, Jeremy Sepinsky


  1. Critical Incident Questionnaires (CIQs)
  2. Global Environment History course; exploring new pedagogies
  3. Website/Blog
  4. Preliminary discussion to answer the question “What is a good teacher?”


Background: In our proposal for funding, we stated that we would try to make a website/blog where we can discuss and disseminate novel pedagogies with a wider audience.

IR is in the process of creating a wordpress server for our campus.  This is a common blog creating application.  Those present thought this would make a good public/semi-private outlet for our group. Jeremy is going to explore what we would need to do to get a page for our group.

Global Environment History course; exploring new pedagogies

Background: Last year, our cohort brought in Ben Cohen to the university to talk about some novel pedagogies that he used in the classroom.  One really interesting project involved the students in the class writing a book about a certain topic.  Katy is designing a course in a similar vein, where the students will collaborate to write a book on “Global Environmental History”.


  • The major worry about classes like this is having students are willing to participate.  This is not a traditional educational experience, and past experience at The University of Scranton has shown us that our students tend to be very reticent to “new” things.
  • This reticence may be “context dependent” as they have little problems doing extra-curricular work in classes where a large “service learning” component is expected.
  • One possible way to mitigate problems like this might be to deliver the expectations before the students even sign up to the class.  This can be done during the advertising for the course (a special topics where there is no online course description).
  • We discussed a few advertising techniques for this class, including a short video introduction that can be posted online (facebook, etc.).

Preliminary discussion to answer the question “What is a good teacher?”

Background: Katy sent around this article from the Atlantic on what it means to be a good teacher.

While we, of course, came up with no answers, there were a number of good questions brought up:

  • Would it be possible for our group to observe each other more thoroughly, and attempt to make a list of “good habits” that we see in each other?
  • Each of us has a very different “classroom culture”.  What works in one class may not work in another.  Will that hamper the way the “good habits” can be used?
  • If, as the Atlantic article suggests, mutual respect and understanding is important for learning, what happens when the personalities of the instructor and student clash?  Should they find another class?  What happens if they can’t due to scheduling?

Critical Incident Questionnaires (CIQs)

Critical Incident Questionnaires (CIQs), by Dr._Stephen_D._Brookfield

Background: Katy and Tara have both been using CIQs in class this semester.  These are short learning assessments that are administered once per week, at the end of the last class of week.  The short survey (four open-ended questions) asks the student to be self-reflective about their learning throughout that week.  The responses (anonymous) can then be used by the instructor to categorize instruction methods and or topics that are particularly beneficial or challenging to the students.  Furthermore, it encourages the students to provide feedback and gives them active role in shaping class time.


  • Katy reported what seemed to be incidents of “survey fatigue” for the students in the class.  More and more, students appear to be leaving questions blank.  Additionally, at least one student described the CIQ as a “teacher evaluation” to another student.  If students consider these “evaluative of the instructor” it tends to defeat their purpose as a “learning-evaluation”.
  • It was suggested that, now that it is mid-semester, it may be a good time to remind the students what the CIQs are for and how they are used.  That they are an evaluation of one’s experience in class, not of the instruction.
  • It also became clear, in looking at the answers to the questions, that not all the students fully understand what the questions are asking.
  • There is some fear of “evaluation fatigue”, in that the students may spend less time and/or effort filling out the end-of-year evaluation because they have already filled out the CIQs.  Being that Katy is using CIQs in one class and not another, it may be possible to see a difference between the classes.

Meeting minutes 8/15/12

Present: Tara Fay, Katy Meier, Jessica Nolan, Jeremy Sepinsky
The meeting took place at Thai Rak Thai


  1. Strategic planning for the year
    1. expansion model
    2. guest speakers
    3. goals for our meetings and our classrooms
    4. meetings schedule
  2. CIQ experiment and data collection in Fay’s/Meier’s classroom
  3. TED video (Stanford online classes) and NY Schools for tomorrow webcast
  4. CTLE candidate presentation rundown
  5. First day of school


  1. Strategic planning for the year
    1. expansion model- the group affirmed that we had agreed at an earlier meeting that we do not want to expand our cohort, but we would like to provide a model for new cohorts to be formed with interested faculty
    2. guest speakers- Jeremy has not pursued the second speaker but can look into it if there is interest
    3. goals for our meetings and our classrooms- The group reflected on what we’ve done in the last year:
      1. met to discuss and get feedback on our courses visited each other’s classrooms and/or watched videos of each other teaching to provide informal and formal evaluations.
      2. shared teaching resources and recommended teaching related links
      3. watched and then discussed several webinars related to novel pedagogy
      4. brought in a guest speaker
      5. shared our novel pedagogies with one another
      6. supported one another’s interest in and planning for classroom experiments with novel pedagogies
      7. in the future we would also like to present the results of our classroom experiments to the larger university community
    4. meetings schedule-  the next meeting was tentatively scheduled for the 3rd Tuesday of September, time TBD
  2. CIQ experiment and data collection in Fay’s/Meier’s classroom-  Fay will be teaching three sections of Biology 110 and Meier will be teaching two sections of History 110 (Introduction to American history to 1877).  Both faculty are planning to administer the critical incident questionnaire to one of their sections and use the other section(s) as a control group.  The goal of the CIQ is to build a sense of trust and fairness among the students and to help students become engaged and self-reflective learners. Fay and Meier are using CIQ materials from the book “The Skillful Teacher” by Stephen D. Brookfield.  The group discussed how to best design and evaluate the experiment.
  3. The TED video (Stanford online classes by Daphne Koller) and NY Schools for Tomorrow webcast were briefly discussed
  4. The CTLE candidate presentation was briefly discussed.  Those who attended the talk expressed a need for the person who fills the position to have a firm grasp of teaching pedagogy in order to most effectively assist the faculty.
  5. The first day of school was not discussed