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?