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Assessment and Student Research Are Main Topics for ACM Program Directors Conference

Assessment and Student Research Are Main Topics for ACM Program Directors Conference June 13, 2014

About two dozen off-campus program staff from around the world and faculty from ACM campuses will join consortial staff in Chicago on June 16-18 for the 2014 ACM Program Directors and Visiting Faculty Conference.

The annual professional development meeting will include sessions on topics ranging from pedagogy and assessment of student learning to recruiting students for the programs to the nuts-and-bolts of providing student services in an off-campus setting. The gathering is also an opportunity for faculty and staff to network, hear updates from the program sites, and share ideas.

“This year, we’ll really be drawing on the expertise of our on-site program staff and visiting faculty from ACM colleges to learn from each other,” said Joan Gillespie, ACM Vice President and Director of Off-Campus Study Programs. “They will be working from the syllabi they’ve developed and the successes they’ve had working with students on campuses and off-campus in Italy, India, Chicago, and elsewhere.”

One of the main sessions at the conference will build on the year-long Learning from Study Away (LSA) pilot project, a collaborative effort to develop assessment tools that can help guide program improvement. The LSA project got a boost from sessions at the 2013 conference, and Gillespie said the aim is to continue to refine the assessment instruments and possibly expand the project beyond the four program sites used in the pilot.

Some of the faculty and staff who have worked on LSA – including India Program Director Sucheta Paranjpe, Florence Program Director Jodie Mariotti, ACM Senior Program Officers Elizabeth Ciner and David Schodt, and Gillespie – will lead a session on assessment of student learning off-campus followed by a neighborhood walk activity based on one of the assignments given to students in the LSA assessments.

Chicago Program faculty Robyne Hart and Dorothy Burge will lead a hands-on session to introduce conference participants to appreciative inquiry, an interviewing exercise that is part of the program’s asset-based framework used in learning about the city. Students interview each other about their abilities and interests, which illustrates the power of asset-mapping on a personal level and helps to build a community of students who see each other as resources and colleagues in learning.

Independent study projects are a key component of the curriculum on most ACM programs, and the afternoon of the conference’s second day will be devoted to a pair of sessions related to student inquiry.

In one session, Gillespie will facilitate discussions for program and visiting faculty to share best practices in student research, covering topics such as framing research questions, developing project proposals, data collection techniques, and conducting fieldwork in the context of the culture and resources at a particular program site.

Since ACM programs typically draw students from a variety of majors, Mariotti will lead a session focused on ways that faculty can address the challenges of working with students from a variety of disciplines other than their own.

Other conference sessions will focus on program administration, consortial policies and procedures, and web-based resources that ACM has developed to support faculty and staff at the program sites.

Conference participants from program sites and colleges

Botswana Program
Richard Mtisi (Luther College), Faculty Program Director, Spring 2015

Chicago Program
Victoria Beagle, Internship Coordinator
Dorothy Burge, Faculty
Robyne Hart, Program Director
Jason Pallas, Adjunct Faculty in Arts
Susannah Papish, Adjunct Faculty in Arts
Mary Scott-Boria, Adjunct Faculty in Urban Studies
Brittany Wisniewski, Program Assistant

Costa Rica Programs
Mario Morera, Spanish Language Coordinator

Florence Program and London & Florence Program
Ruth Caldwell (Luther College),  Affiliated Scholar in Florence, Fall 2014
Linda Horwitz (Lake Forest College), Affiliated Scholar in Florence, Spring 2015
Jodie Mariotti, Program Director in Florence
Liz Carlin Metz (Knox College), Visiting Faculty Director in London, Spring 2015

India Program
Arjun Guneratne (Macalester College), Faculty Coordinating Representative, Fall 2014
Sucheta Paranjpe, Program Director

Japan Study
Gary DeCoker (Earlham College), Director of Japan Study
Kealoha Widdows (Wabash College), Resident Director, 2014-15

Jordan Program
Carla Daughtry (Lawrence University), Visiting Faculty, Fall 2014

Newberry Seminar
Bridget Draxler (Monmouth College), Faculty Fellow, Fall 2014
Hannah Schell (Monmouth College), Faculty Fellow, Fall 2014

Oak Ridge Science Semester
Dan Gibson (Denison University), Director

Tanzania Program
Jim Ebersole (Colorado College), Faculty Program Director, Fall 2014
Laura Heggs, Program and Field Assistant, Fall 2014


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