Home » Introducing Change Workshop Will Launch Experiments to Infuse Courses with Higher-Order Thinking Skills

Introducing Change Workshop Will Launch Experiments to Infuse Courses with Higher-Order Thinking Skills

Introducing Change Workshop Will Launch Experiments to Infuse Courses with Higher-Order Thinking Skills February 1, 2013

At an upcoming workshop, 26 faculty from eight ACM colleges will gather to embark on a year-long project to experiment with innovative ways of introducing higher-order thinking skills – such as problem solving, critical thinking, and abstract reasoning – to students in introductory courses, including some of the first courses they take when they start college.

The professors, who will be working in small groups, have been selected to participate in Introducing Change: Introductory Courses and the Nature of Faculty Work, an ACM effort funded by a grant from the Teagle Foundation. The opening workshop on February 8-10 will be hosted by Macalester College in St. Paul, MN.

The aims of the project are two-fold:

  • To develop curricula that will help students become higher-order thinkers and try out their skills in a classroom setting, and
  • To explore how faculty work and rewards can be structured to make such curricular innovations sustainable on ACM campuses.

In applying for the project, each faculty team proposed a specific experiment tied to an introductory course or set of courses at their college. Taken together, the teams’ proposals represent a diverse set of approaches to introducing students to college, to new disciplines, and to new skills, according to ACM Senior Program Officer Elizabeth Ciner, who is leading the Introducing Change project. The proposals address a variety of courses – classes taken by all first-year students, courses within a single discipline or department, interdisciplinary, and short classes designed to supplement regular introductory courses.

“All the teams are committed to infusing their introductory courses with more higher-order thinking, to documenting the development of the innovations in their courses, and to assessing the results of their projects,” said Ciner. “We’ll be working together and supporting each other in refining the proposals during the February workshop. The goal is for all the groups to come out of the gathering with action plans for their projects.”

The other part of the project, which focuses the ways that faculty work is structured, raises a number of questions, Ciner said. “What’s been keeping people from doing this?” she asked. “What needs to happen at the institutional level in order to make the kinds of changes that we might be experimenting with in this project enduring and sustainable? What stands in the way, what incentives need to be in place, and what are the creative solutions to some of these impediments?”

As the faculty groups finalize their new courses and course materials during the spring and the summer, they will meet periodically on their own campuses and keep in touch with the teams on the other campuses. They will offer the courses in fall 2013, with ongoing assessment of the results during the course and at the end of the term. The project will wrap up with another workshop in early 2014 to discuss the results of the groups’ projects.

“The idea that there’s going to be cross-pollination [among the campus groups] is something I’m really looking forward to,” said Ciner. “We have people at all different stages of their careers. I would say the lion’s share are seasoned teachers, but some of them are quite new to the profession, and that variety of experience is exciting.”

Introducing Change: Introductory Courses and the Nature of Faculty Work

Faculty groups and general topics:

  • Beloit College – From knowledge and theory to Praxis

Kathleen Greene, Associate Professor of Education and Chemistry
Jingjing Lou, Assistant Professor of Education
William New, Professor and Chair, Education and Youth Studies

  • Coe College – Critical thinking in introductory courses

Bethany Keenan, Assistant Professor of History
Bruce F. Nesmith, Professor of Political Science
Steve Shanley, Associate Professor of Music

  • Cornell CollegeProject-based learning in introductory courses

Devan Baty, Associate Professor of French
Kerry Bostwick, Professor of Education
Jill Heinrich, Associate Professor of Education

  • Cornell CollegeHigher- order thinking in the First Year Seminar

Marty Condon, Professor of Biology
Michelle Mouton, Associate Professor of English
David Yamanishi, Associate Professor of Political Science

  • Lawrence UniversityRevising Spanish 201

Gustavo Fares, Professor of Spanish
Cecilia Herrera, Spanish Instructor
Rosa Tapia, Associate Professor of Spanish

  • Luther CollegeIntroduction to Biblical Studies at Luther

Sean Burke, Assistant Professor of Religion
Kristin Swanson, Associate Professor of Religion

  • Macalester CollegeSupplemental Writers’ Workshops

Adrienne Christiansen, Director, Serie Center for Scholarship and Teaching
Erik Larson, Associate Professor of Sociology
Karl Wirth, Associate Professor of Geology

  • Monmouth CollegeIntroduction to the Liberal Arts

Marlo Belschner, Associate Professor of English
Bridget Draxler, Assistant Professor of English and Director of Communication Across the Curriculum
Craig Vivian, Associate Professor of Educational Studies

  • Ripon CollegeFirst-Year Seminar at Ripon

Colleen Byron, Professor of Chemistry
Soren Hauge, Professor of Economics
Barbara McGowan, Professor of History


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