Dr. Margaret Weaver has taught ENG 100 online to help students with writing, but more importantly to remove a barrier for online students that are the most at-risk for persistence to graduation. Creating an engaging online writing community was critical for these students and Margaret used tools such as audio files, Wikis and videos to support the development of their writing skills. Students interacted by reading and providing feedback on classmates’ work and Margaret modeled communication by providing routine feedback through videoconferencing and chat. Dr. Weaver’s class stands out for its emphasis on building community. Building community can be difficult in writing courses; many students believe writing evaluation is a one-way process with the teacher assesses the student. It can also be difficult for students online who view assignments as an individual activity. Margaret challenges these assumptions in her use of collaborative and experiential online learning. Margaret’s department head shared, “Dr. Waver is an excellent online instructor whose online efforts have improved the learning of her students.”
Dr. Mellors teaches HST 380, where she engages students in early Asian civilization using a role-playing game called Reacting to the Past. Students view historical events through the eyes of historical characters and then have opportunities to contribute in ways they may not have done so in a traditional classroom. In the game, students determine courses of action in addressing policy issues that were real policy issues facing the Ming dynasty. In doing so, students feel making history more real by allowing them to playout historical events without risk of any real crisis or embarrassment. Student feedback suggests that they “truly deeply learned” — fostering historical accuracy, but also demonstrating that our present society is a result of choices rather than inevitable outcomes.
Sarah used this exercise to help students connect with Confucianism in a way that makes distant historical ideas and also to think about different ways of being right. Confucianism can be adapted to different circumstances and the game helps them see that one can be Confucian and be a good ruler, which is applicable to students understanding their roles and responsibilities as citizens. In this game, students play historical figures such as the Emperor and his advisors who determine courses of action in addressing policy issues that were real policy issues facing the Ming dynasty. Historians across the country use these games to teach historical empathy and to build the skills students bring to their roles in contemporary society. An activity requires students to make oral presentations and write letters using Confucius’ writings to make their arguments. This fosters historical accuracy but also demonstrates that our present society in a result is result of choices rather than inevitable outcomes. Student feedback suggests that they learned more in the game and felt that they would remember the process and ideas of the game–one student commenting that he/she/they “truly deeply learned.” Faculty who use these games also note the intense preparation they require but the hands-on learning makes it worthwhile and offers different students’ opportunities to shine whose contributions are not always apparent in traditional classrooms.
Raymond McCord teaches MED 290 Fundamentals of Multimedia Design for the Department of Media, Journalism and Film. He brings his professional experience into the classroom teaching students coding skills that are necessary for the design and creation of interactive web media. His teaching style is very experiential and the course is structured around a workflow that mimics a real-world experience. By the end of the semester, students have a completed project for their portfolio. Professor McCord is always available to his students, often creating multiple examples to ensure students know how to accomplish or overcome an issue. One student shared that they didn’t think they could “learn to code being a media student, but I now feel I am on the right path with a great skill that makes me more hire-able.”
Dr. Carrisa Hoelscher’s approach in teaching COM 332 Small Group Communication student teams about growth mindset, challenges them with one overarching goal: Do Good. Students work in teams to develop a community project with a real-world application that engages them in the group communication learning process. Student’s work in these “Do Good” projects with community partners, perform volunteer work, and provide support through the donation of goods and raising contribution dollars. Dr. Hoelscher shared that “seeing their growth mindsets come to life . . . is inspiring as they connect their personal growth to making their corner of the world a better place.” While students work toward these broad goals, Carrisa works to assess their ever-growing group communication competence and provides them with detailed feedback in the process. Students are then asked to reflect on their experiences toward the end of the semester. This project is a great example of real-world application and immersion in the processes within the course learning objectives. Student feedback indicates that they appreciate these aspects of the course and it also provides an excellent example of the Public Affairs Mission in action.
Professor Federica Gentile has been teaching classes on Gender Studies and Italian for MSU for the past three years. Her Introduction to Gender Studies is an example of excellence in the area of diversity and inclusion, as it allows students to confront contemporary issues regarding class, race, and gender that are close and deeply felt by students of all kinds. Students are able to share personal stories and feel accepted for who they are yet, contextualize their experience within a much broader theoretical framework and global system. Students often comment that Professor Gentile’s course is life changing and should be a mandatory Gen Ed class. With Professor Gentile’s Introductory Italian course, she has pioneered the adoption of the TPRS (teaching proficiency through storytelling) and CI (Comprehensible Input) teaching methods, which focus on the way our brains naturally acquire language. This happens when teachers intentionally employ a body of techniques and strategies using specific principles that prioritizes the delivery of understandable, personalized and relevant messages. By prioritizing holistic, communicative principles that lead to student interest-centered, responsive teaching practices, Professor Gentile has been able to bring students with no prior Italian language skills to engage in basic yet genuine conversation in Italian in less than 8 weeks. This is an excellent example of introducing high impact teaching practices with great success.