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Directors and Visiting Faculty Focus on Enhancing Student Learning on ACM Programs

Directors and Visiting Faculty Focus on Enhancing Student Learning on ACM Programs June 6, 2010

ACM’s third annual Program Directors meeting on June 8-10 in Chicago will gather on-site Program Directors and Visiting Faculty and Directors of programs in Botswana, Costa Rica, England, India, Italy, and Tanzania, and for the ACM-affiliated Japan Study program.

The meeting will feature a full-day workshop led by Dr. Bruce La Brack on ways to facilitate intercultural learning, as well as discussions on assessing student learning, program operations and curricula, independent research projects by students, and planning for 2010-11 and subsequent academic years.

“Our agenda comes out of issues and priorities that have been identified this past year as important elements in the success of our programs and our program faculty and staff,” said Carol Dickerman, ACM’s Director of International Study Programs. “I’m looking forward both to seeing the directors and to the discussions that we’ll be having over the three days.”

Workshop on intercultural learning

La Brack’s workshop on “Developing In-Country Intercultural Learning for Study Abroad Students” is designed to provide information and resources for ACM directors and faculty to use in helping students learn to interact appropriately and sensitively in intercultural settings.

Bruce LaBrackBruce LaBrack

“We will stress ways to help study abroad students to develop effective strategies to enhance both their academic and social learning activities, to learn from mistakes, and to motivate them to positively engage the local community,” according to La Brack.

A cultural anthropologist and South Asian specialist, La Brack has traveled to more than 80 countries and has conducted research in India, England, and Japan. He is Professor Emeritus of Anthropology and International Studies at the University of the Pacific, where he taught for 30 years and was director of the Institute for Cross Cultural Training. La Brack has worked with over 100 colleges and universities on cross-cultural training design, consulted with international corporations and governmental agencies on training for overseas assignments, and published extensively on cultural adjustment issues.

Surveys provide assessment of program effectiveness

Karl Wirth, Professor of Geology at Macalester College, and ACM Vice President John Ottenhoff will lead a discussion of ACM’s off-campus program evaluation and assessment efforts, which are aimed at enhancing students’ learning off-campus and increasing the effectiveness of the teaching and curricula on the programs.

Ottenhoff sees this session as an opportunity for the directors and faculty members to think and talk about the learning and teaching process, starting with the learning objectives for each program (see the “Academics” webpage for each ACM off-campus program).

“The conversations with faculty in our advisors’ meetings about learning goals and outcomes have been most rewarding,” Ottenhoff said, “and we look forward to extending those discussions in this workshop. Karl Wirth is an especially apt colleague to participate in this meeting, given his contributions as a director of ACM’s Tanzania program and his innovative experiments with metacognitive strategies in the classroom.”

ACM has long had students evaluate their off-campus study experiences. Beginning this fall, a more comprehensive set of assessments will examine how students’ learning matches up with the learning goals of the programs, and will place the results in a larger national context.

Directors and faculty can take the program’s learning goals into account when they design their courses, Ottenhoff noted, and then use the feedback from students – gathered through ACM’s evaluation and assessment tools – to improve courses and programs.

Participants in all ACM programs will complete several surveys during and after their programs. Two of the surveys will provide “before” and “after” pictures of the learning, cultural awareness, and personal growth that students achieve on ACM off-campus study. Results will be used in the Expanded Contexts for Liberal Arts Learning project supported by the Teagle Foundation. In that project, ACM is working with the Center of Inquiry in the Liberal Arts (CILA) at Wabash College to explore the impact of off-campus study experiences in the larger context of CILA’s national survey about learning environments and the attainment of liberal arts learning goals.

Wirth, who twice has been Faculty Director of the ACM Tanzania Program, uses a variety of strategies in his courses at Macalester to understand what his students are learning and how they learn, and to help them become more intentional and self-directed learners. He is also a member of the ACM Teagle Collegium on Student Learning, which is engaged in a two-year project on metacognition supported by a grant from the Teagle Foundation.

Participants in the meeting

Program Directors and Visiting Faculty participating in the meeting will include:

Botswana: University Immersion in Southern Africa

  • Phoebe Lostroh, Faculty Program Director, Spring 2011 (Biology, Colorado College)

Chicago Programs

  • Dave Amrein, Director, Chicago Arts
  • Robyne Hart, Director, Business, Entrepreneurship, & Society
  • Sally Noble, Executive Director & Program Officer
  • Mary Scott-Boria, Director, Urban Studies

Costa Rica Programs

  • Christopher Vaughan, Program Director

Florence: Arts, Humanities, & Culture

  • Katy Stavreva, Affiliated Scholar, Fall 2011 (English, Cornell College)

India: Culture, Traditions, & Globalization

  • Sucheta Paranjpe, Program Director
  • Vasant Gadre, Faculty Coordinating Representative, Fall 2010 (Modern Foreign Languages, Monmouth College)

Japan Study

  • Gary DeCoker, Director

London & Florence: Arts in Context

  • Ruth Caldwell, Affiliated Scholar in Florence, Spring 2012 (Modern Languages & Literatures, Luther College)
  • Tom Sienkewicz, Affiliated Scholar in Florence, Spring 2011 (Classics, Monmouth College)
  • Kelly Stage, Visiting Faculty Director in London, Spring 2011 (English, Ripon College)

Newberry Seminar: Research in the Humanities

  • David George, Faculty Fellow, Fall 2010 (Modern Languages & Literatures, Lake Forest College)

Tanzania: Ecology & Human Origins

  • Bruce Roberts, Faculty Program Director, Fall 2010 (Anthropology, Minnesota State University Moorhead)
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