FSOS Ph.D. student Renada Goldberg was recently awarded a grant from the Minneapolis Foundation. Renada will work with the Center on Women, Gender, and Public Policy to conduct a community-based participatory research project in partnership with African American parents, caregivers, and leaders of nonprofits to study and ultimately help shape state and municipal public policies such as the new paid leave policy in Minneapolis.
The Changing Story: Digital Stories that Participate in Transforming Teaching and Learning is available for download now. Developed by PsTL’s Linda Buturian over the last three years with CEHD’s Susan Andre and Thomas Nechodomu, the ebook examines how digital story assignments encourage students to deeply engage with subjects, and create a stronger sense of ownership of their academic work.
The Changing Story provides educators with assignments, resources, and examples to use in teaching and learning. It also assists educators in examining ways digital stories can be used in current teaching practices to help students harness the power of visual storytelling.
Access a downloadable, free copy of the ebook here: The Changing Story.
As part of CEHD Reads, students in the First Year Inquiry (FYI) class visited the Minneapolis Institute of Arts (MIA) for a guided tour related to this year’s Common Book, Rez Life.
After reading the book, MIA volunteer docents select art works to view and discuss, framing the conversation around themes explored in Rez Life, also chosen as the MIA’s December book club selection.
During one tour, students examined Warrior with Shield by Henry Moore and reflected on the pride and dignity conveyed by the bronze statue of a wounded warrior, connecting it the dignity of indigenous people. While viewing The Intrigue, a painting by James Ensor, the docent explained the scandal created by the mixed race engagement of Ensor’s sister. In retaliation, Ensor portrays the town gossips hiding behind masks. The painting sparked a discussion about racial intolerance and the figurative masks people adopt to disguise their beliefs and emotions.
In the portrait, Little Crow, by Henry Cross, the artist depicts the Chief of the Mdewakanton Dakota dressed in a suit, tie and flowing red cape. Students questioned the painter’s disregard for Little Crow’s heritage, choosing to attire him in “white man’s clothing.” The docent explained this was Little Crow’s desire and accurately portrayed him during a time in his life when he tried to assimilate to white culture.
For some students, this was their first experience at the MIA and many expressed a desire to return. The docent’s selections offered a glimpse of the museum’s treasures and opened another path of inquiry for students to explore.
According to student development research conducted by psychologist Roy Heath, “reasonable adventurers” are college students “who know how to be alive.”
During a 3-week intensive global seminar titled Examining the ‘Good Life’ In Denmark and Sweden, Mike Stebleton (PsTL) intentionally challenged 24 UMN students to become reasonable adventurers. “One of my goals was to create engaging and active experiential learning situations where students felt somewhat uncomfortable yet still supported in the process,” says Stebleton.
Building resiliency and tolerance of ambiguity
To introduce the concept, Stebleton arranged a visit to the micro-nation of Ladonia and the Kullen National Park in southern Sweden. Here, the group navigated the steep, rocky climb to the Nimis and Arx sculptures created by controversial Swedish artist Lars Vilks. In this 1-square kilometer nation, many students climbed the towers and scaled impressive shoreline cliffs, while intellectually the class discussed issues of collective identity, nation building, and immigration issues in Scandinavia. The challenge of the hike and immersion into an unfamiliar environment helped foster resiliency and tolerance of ambiguity, two of Stebleton’s developmental outcomes for the seminar.
Ladonia set the stage for Stebleton to advance students’ ability to “be alive” during their Nordic experience with a Reasonable Adventurer Group Project. Working in small groups, students were required to explore the good life in community through an activity that pushed boundaries of comfort, provided cultural immersion and integrated academic concepts from the seminar’s curriculum. The following paragraphs highlight a few student reflections from the assignment, edited for clarity and length.
Examining the health care system following a visit to Bispebjerb Hospital
In Denmark where everyone feels safe and healthy because they know that they have a hospital to go to or a pharmacy to receive treatments is a calming thought so people do not mind paying taxes.
Learning about the Danish healthcare system makes me wonder if paying higher taxes is really a bad thing if it makes sure that I, along with my fellow citizens, are receiving the help that we need. If everyone has one less thing on their plate to worry about that means that they can continue to take care of their children or put more effort into working. Additionally, making sure that everyone is taken care of can contribute to that “good” life that the Danes seem to have mastered; everyone can feel safe, content, and happy to know that everyone is in safe keeping.
Reflecting on consumption at Ølfestival 2015, a Beer Brewers Festival
Nowhere at this festival was there evidence of excessive drinking; we attended the event for several hours and were there long enough for raucous attendants to become evident, but none surfaced.
It appears that part of why there is little to no alcohol stigma in Denmark is because the Danes have the capacity to responsibly manage consumption. This stands in contrast to America, where alcohol abuse is a clear and obvious issue and many individuals begin drinking before the legal drinking age with no education regarding drinking culture. I believe that the Danish tradition of drinking with the family from an early age helps educate and protect Danish youths from the dangers of alcohol, which makes drinking a safer and more enjoyable hobby. This could clearly affect Danish happiness; responsible drinking means less of the many negative externalities associated with excessive drinking.
Observing the roles of film and television in Denmark and Sweden
The two primary lessons I took away from my visits to the Danish Film Institute were the importance of film in culture and the difficulty of being in a place where you cannot speak the language. I had never before thought of film or TV as an extremely important aspect of culture. However, as the Danish Film Institute underscores, these visual arts are central to modern culture and are experienced every day.
During our visit to Sveriges Television we saw the great importance placed on national TV production, even given its great expense. Compared to the American TV industry, the Swedish TV industry has both advantages and disadvantages. The unbiased presentation of news is very impressive; however, this can come at the cost of limited freedom of speech. Also, American TV is so much bigger because it is founded in the free market, whereas Swedish TV relies on taxation to support itself. Of course, the corporate ownership of American TV can result in a bias.
Engaged learning and student development in all time zones
For many students, this trip was their first experience outside of North America, a reasonable adventure in itself. However, Stebleton believes passports are not required to embrace the spirit of a reasonable adventurer; the magic can happen right on campus. Reasonable adventurers are students who take calculated risks and approach their learning with a sense of energy, risk and full investment.
“Higher education professionals, especially student affairs practitioners and faculty, can foster the traits inherent in reasonable adventurers in a wide range of teaching and learning contexts,” says Stebleton.
“We are in a unique position to co-create learning environments where students have the opportunity to engage in active learning and become reasonable adventurers in this reciprocal and collaborative process.”
During civil unrest in Burma, Lydia Thai Thai’s father fled to Thailand where she was born in 1995. Eight years later her family was one of the first waves of immigrants to move to a refugee camp in central Thailand. While in the camp, her father started a school and Lydia volunteered at the school teaching children and learning at the same time. “I didn’t know much English, but I started picking up the language while assisting the teachers,” Lydia recalls.
When her family moved to the United States in 2008, Lydia began attending Humboldt Junior High School in St. Paul. As a seventh grader she worried the language barrier would pose a problem interacting with classmates, but her concerns quickly dissipated as she encountered her fellow students. “I was put into an ELL class with many newcomers,” she says. “The class was diverse, but I met a lot of people who spoke the same language as me. It made me more comfortable.”
In high school, Lydia began playing tennis with the Saint Paul Urban Tennis (SPUT), a program that uses the sport to help youth develop character by learning responsibility, teamwork, integrity and service. After her first year with the program, she was invited to coach younger players. “I just love the kids there,” she says. “Not just teaching tennis, but teaching the life skills.”
A sophomore in CEHD, Lydia was accepted to other colleges but chose the University because it was closer to home. As the oldest child, Lydia takes responsibility for translating documents and running errands for her family since her parents don’t speak English very well. As a student, she feels added responsibility to her family. “Being the first in a family to go to college is a lot of pressure,” she says. “If you come from a family where parents or relatives never went to college, they don’t know what college is like and that there are many careers to choose from.” Knowing that many parents of first-generation students want their children to go to medical school or law school, Lydia offers this advice: “A lot of first-generation students should give themselves the opportunity to explore…finding out what you like to do is important.”
As a first-generation student, Lydia credits the TRIO program and PsTL’s First Year Experience in helping her succeed during her freshman year. “FYE and PsTL classes helped me build a community and prepared me for future classes,” she says. “The TRIO class gave me a chance to learn where everyone is coming from…to understand their cultures…it was a very diverse group and I really liked it.”
One-on-one tutoring from PsTL’s Rhiannon Williams helped Lydia understand class assignments and gain access to resources she didn’t know existed like the Writing Center. SPUT Executive Director Becky Cantellano also serves as a mentor for Lydia, giving her resources and opportunities to explore career paths. Of the four SPUT life skills, the one that resonates most strongly with Lydia is service. She believes in giving back.
Despite a busy class schedule, she volunteers at the Hubbs Center in St. Paul helping adults learn English. “I was once an immigrant and didn’t know English, so for me to help adults is really easy,” she says. “I understand the struggles of trying to learn a new language and I can give them advice and resources.”
In addition to school, SPUT and volunteering, Lydia works with children at the El Rio Vista Recreation Center’s after school program. She also runs their summer and winter break programs. She is responsible for organizing homework help, and planning activities such as field trips, crafts, swimming and playtime in the gym. “I’ve had a lot of advantages getting to a lead a program at 20 years old,” says Lydia. “I want to make it the best year ever so they’ll be back next year.”
Her experiences with children in the camps, at SPUT and the El Rio Vista Rec Center reinforce Lydia’s desire to pursue social work, even though her parents suggest otherwise. “I told them, ‘I’m going to give this a try. You just watch me, this is a good career.’”
Reflecting on her twenty years of teaching and her long-term goals for pedagogy and practice, Linda Buturian (PsTL) explains why the learning abroad program she developed in partnership with Cathy Solheim (FSoS) epitomizes her ongoing quest.
“Thailand comes the closest to my ideal of a teaching and learning environment: Engaging in socially relevant topics in an applied experiential learning in a small community that’s interactive with communities, and in natural places,” says Buturian.
Buturian has been trying to recreate what she experienced as an undergraduate while living and studying in community with a handful of peers and professors in the mountains of Oregon. “We lived in cabins and studied the big ideas together,” she recalls. “We read Jacques Ellul’s The Technological Society then traveled to San Francisco and experienced it. We read Annie Dillard and Wendell Berry, discussed the importance of wilderness, then backpacked into the Three Sisters in the Oregon Cascades.
During three weeks in May of 2015, Buturian and Solheim brought 20 students to Thailand to study the impact of globalization on environmental sustainability, economic and family well-being and community development as it relates to changes along the Mekong River. The program braids Buturian’s research on and interest in international rivers and her experience using digital stories for teaching and learning, with Solheim’s extensive knowledge of Thai culture and family social sciences scholarship. “To design a course with Cathy and experience this transformative learning with the students was profound to me.”
While in Thailand, the curriculum involved fieldwork, individual student blog posts and a group blog project. Buturian and Solheim wanted topics for the group project to emerge from the trip’s main activities:
Visiting with the students at the Suksasongkroh Chiang Dao School, a boarding school that provides children from some of the poorest hill villages a chance to escape human trafficking and poverty;
Interacting with students and community leaders at the Mekong River School, which is dedicated to helping young people maintain and learn about their cultural traditions, including protecting and cherishing the natural environment and resources of the Mekong River;
An unexpected and emotional connection occurred during a discussion with one of the tour guides, Eve. She shared her personal stories about the effects of human trafficking on her family and friends. Eve grew up in northern Thailand in the Golden Triangle in a poor area and told the students about aunts, cousins and friends who were sold into sex trafficking operations in Bangkok. Many have died of HIV. Eve’s mother encouraged her to “be the best” at her school and Eve received a scholarship as the top girl in her class that allowed her to elude this fate. The second ranked girl was trafficked and later died.
To unpack the broad subject of globalization and identify group blog topics, the class held a three-hour meeting. “We had some ideas of what the topics would be, but we wanted the students to choose and articulate them and group themselves based on their interests,” says Buturian. As a class, they settled on: globalization and human trafficking; globalization and its impact on the environment, primarily on the Mekong River and the villagers who live along the river; and, globalization and education. The topic of Buddhism also emerged based on an engaging talk presented by a Hmong Buddhist monk in Chang Mai. Coalescing around interest, students combined research, interviews, reflections and images to develop their group blogs. This work set the stage for the final individual project to be completed once the students returned home: a digital story reflecting on what they learned through their experiences.
Buturian, who has been using digital stories since 2008, defines them as 5-10 minute movies students create and share online, using images, audio and text. She realized the level of student engagement with the genre early on: recognizing it harnesses students’ visual knowledge while also providing a shareable end product. “I started to gather the research as to why digital stories were working,” says Buturian. Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy, which classifies creating as higher-order thinking, helped to shed light on why creating the digital story is both challenging and potentially transformative. “This is a creating act. This is why it is both hard and rewarding.”
The students’ digital stories incorporate personal reflections and photographs from their time in Thailand. Buturian and Solheim were mindful to assign the digital story once students had returned to campus to ensure the students weren’t sidetracked by technology and miss chances to learn and connect while in Thailand.
“Students will be navigating the complex challenges and opportunities that come along with globalization,” says Buturian. “As teachers, it is incumbent upon us to provide hopeful, collaborative models and experiences to help students not only envision more sustainable and just societies, but to realize the power and joy of participating in creating those communities.”
Thailand 2015 student blogs and digital stories can be found here.
Rashné Jehangir and Michael Stebleton, both associate professors in the Department of Postsecondary Teaching and Learning, and Veronica Deenanath, doctoral student in Family Social Science have published a monograph on research conducted with first-generation, low-income students at the University of Minnesota. The monograph is part of a research report series published with the National Resource Center for the First Year Experience and Students in Transition at the University of South Carolina.
Excerpt: In January 2014, the White House urged that college be made more accessible for low-income Americans. Yet, moving beyond access to success requires knowing more about the experiences of these students. A new research report captures the challenges low-income, first-generation students—many of whom were also immigrants and students of color—faced in their collegiate journey and examines the strategies they employed to persist.
Organized thematically and using student narrative, the report explores the diversity of first-generation students, the intersections of their multiple identities, and their interactions with the institutional agents that affect college success. An Exploration of Intersecting Identities of First-Generation, Low-Income Students also offers practical suggestions for higher education professionals working with this diverse and growing population.
PsTL’s Molly Rojas Collins, Rhiannon Williams, Jill Trites and graduate student Sumitra Ramachandran have received funding from the International Student Academic Services Fee to develop and facilitate a professional development cohort experience to support University faculty who are teaching international students in blended classrooms of international students and domestic students. From research conducted by PsTL faculty and a graduate student in the fall of 2014, faculty expressed a need for having the resources and training to support international students in their classrooms.
Through Intercultural Pedagogy Development Workshops and sustained engagement, faculty from across the University will be encouraged to look for changes they can make based on best practice research and principles of universal design for international students, share their struggles with each other, and receive support and practical strategic advice from experts. Faculty will be given pedagogical resources they can begin to integrate, test, and modify within their own classrooms. In addition, they will gain a greater awareness about various institutional supports for both international undergraduate students and faculty seeking to support international students’ learning and development.
The Intercultural Pedagogy Development cohort program will be open to all University faculty. The program will launch in Fall 2015. For more information, or if you are interested in participating, please contact Molly Rojas Collins at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Department of Postsecondary Teaching and Learning hosted a Graduate Student Showcase featuring the scholarship of soon-to-be graduates and alumni of the Multicultural College Teaching and Learning program. Following are highlights from the presentations.
Multicultural Career Development: Identifying Values to Foster Major/Career Planning of Exploratory Students
Amy Barton’s research area is the career development of underrepresented students in higher education. Her research project examined a values-based approach for supporting students in their exploration of majors and careers, along with the utilization of a constructivist framework. Her research identified the strengths and limitations of a narrative approach while recognizing its applicability with other student populations. Barton’s experiences throughout her graduate career have informed her research. She has worked as a Graduate Research Assistant for three faculty members and completed a practicum with the Medical School Office of Admissions. This year, Barton is a Career Counselor Graduate Intern for CEHD Career Services and a Graduate Teaching Assistant for CLA President’s Emerging Scholars. Barton enjoys engaging with college students during the unique transition period of academic and career development and is energized by the complexity and challenge of this exciting work.
Somali National University: Reviving Public Higher Education in a Post-Conflict Society
Saida Hassan is passionate about the landscape of higher education and how to better serve students, specifically in relation to International Education from a learning and teaching perspective. In the summer of 2014, she did her three-credit internship with the Heritage Institute for Policy Studies in Mogadishu, Somalia, collecting the stories of former students of Somali National University (SNU), the only university in Somalia prior to the civil war. Her research focused on the students’ undergraduate experiences using interviews and oral histories to identify the value placed on education by Somalis as well as the organized, authoritarian system of study during that time. After two decades of civil war, Somali National University has reopened. Hassan traveled back to Somalia to assist SNU’s College of Education with preparation of the college, providing recommendations based on her research and education to help the university establish collaborative learning environments. “In the landscape of higher education, it is critical to implement inclusive learning environments that integrate engaging pedagogy,” says Hassan.
Revised Course Design of Online Chinese Language Class for Better Peer Cross-cultural Communication
Wuyi Zhang is from Hunan Province, China. His undergraduate study was in Teaching Chinese as a Second Language from Beijing Normal University Zhuhai Campus, China. After graduation, he was a Chinese teacher in a language training school and mostly taught small classes or individual students. “I taught students from all over the world, and they also taught me a lot about their own cultures and traditions,” say Zhang. Two years later, he came to America to better prepare himself as a teacher and experience different cultures in America. The purpose of his project was to build awareness and consciousness of the importance of cross-cultural communication, and create the possibilities of cross-cultural conversations by supporting them in his course redesign. Zhang added culturally emphasized activities and content to aid students in connecting more deeply with the course and one another. He promoted the students’ sense of participation and value through culturally distinguishable assignments. In one assignment he asked students to record the phrase, “When Greenwich meantime is 12:00, the time in my hometown is ________.” Then he digitally altered the audio and asked students to identify which student was speaking based on the recorded information. Zhang also included images with more cultural diversity in the courseware and encouraged students to use culturally recognized pictures to create their own flash cards. He sees his work benefiting other online course instructors who face similar challenges as well as designers and programmers of online education platforms.
Does Space Matter?
Anne Loyle-Langholz started her educational journey at a small community college in New Jersey. She later attended Rutgers University where she completed an MA in Organic Chemistry in 2007. As a graduate student at the University of Minnesota, she has worked on several curriculum projects in science education including the implementation of culturally relevant lessons for Native students and process-oriented guided inquiry (POGIL) activities for introductory anatomy and physiology courses. During the showcase, Loyle-Langholz presented research that addressed student attitudes towards chemistry and perceptions of the learning environment in a traditional lecture hall (LH) and an active learning classroom (ALC). For her study, she complied extensive video and audio documentation of a chemistry course at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls and administered two surveys. The first, an 8-item semantic differential, measured students’ attitudes toward the subject of chemistry and measured the constructs of emotional satisfaction and intellectual accessibility. The results showed students’ attitudes remained unchanged. The second, a 32-item instrument developed at the UMN, was designed to measure student perceptions of the learning environment. Results reflected positive, significant gains in the constructs of engagement, confidence, and enrichment, along with use of the room and course fit in the ALC. In 2012, Loyle-Langholz received a Certificate in Multicultural College Teaching and Learning. She is currently working for a local publishing company as a Database Librarian to catalogue and develop curricula in several science disciplines.
Facilitating Conversations of Equity and Diversity
Shane Lueck’s Capstone project involved writing and designing a booklet on how to facilitate conversations of equity and diversity, specifically for facilitators who have no formal training in diversity and equity topics. Lueck’s goal was to provide support for people wishing to address equity and diversity as it comes up in the workplace or at family gatherings. Instead of a booklet full of activities and sample conversations, the content focused on interventions to be had before these conversations take place. Lueck’s booklet encourages facilitators to reflect on why they want to have these conversations, the identities and biases they are bringing into the room, the identities and biases of the other participants, and how to encourage willingness on the part of the participants in having these conversations. These reflections guide the facilitator through understanding how all of these components impact the conversation and how to have the most productive conversation possible. Lueck’s reflective process is supplemented with resource lists of activities and additional materials to further support facilitators.
After more than forty years in higher education, Jeanne Higbee, Ph.D., retired from teaching in the Department of Postsecondary Teaching and Learning at the University of Minnesota, College of Education and Human Development. In tribute to her service, PsTL asked Higbee to share career moments in this Q&A, and invited thoughts and recollections from those who know her as a colleague, mentor and partner.
As you reflect on your career. What surprised you most about the journey and what did you find most rewarding?
JH: If I look over my entire career, what surprised me most is that I entered this career planning to be an administrator, and the higher I moved up in administration the less I wanted to do that because it meant I wasn’t with students anymore. I would see an occasional student at committee meetings or in some other formal settings, but I didn’t have that regular contact with students and that’s why I moved to a faculty position. For me, definitely the most rewarding piece of this has always been the direct work students, whether it’s been in the classroom, as a counselor and advisor working closely with students in those kinds of settings or co-presenting with graduate students and mentoring them. By far, the most fulfilling aspect of my career is the direct contact with students.
If I think about other things, what’s been surprising is that many faculty, especially at research universities, would not put teaching first-year students high on their priority list. For most of my career, once I moved into the faculty ranks, I was teaching almost exclusively first-year students with an occasional grad class here and there or an occasional other course that might involve students across the undergraduate years.
I loved teaching first-year students. I wish more faculty would open themselves up to the joy of the kinds of developing minds you encounter when teaching first-year students.
Tell me about the light bulb moment with students: When all the sudden someone’s life changes because of his or her educational experience.
JH: There have been so many I’ve witnessed because I’ve worked in programs that serve students from historically underserved populations and students who might not have anticipated years before that they would even attend college. One of my favorite kinds of light bulb moments is when a student will realize just how smart he or she really is. When all of a sudden a student realizes, “I can do this. I am very capable. I understand this. Now I look at myself in a different light and I think differently about my career goals.” That’s one of the things that always excited me. That moment when students become invested in learning; highly motivated. Sometimes a student won’t necessarily enter the institution that way. Sometimes they know they want to go to college, but they aren’t sure what they want to do, or they start college with a major that, in essence, somebody else selected for them. But, when they find that one thing they love and want to delve into it, all of a sudden they are inspired to do so much more. When it is no longer about a career where I can make money or a career my parents would approve of, and all of sudden it is: “This is what I’m interested in. This is what I want to learn more about and want to spend my life doing.” That to me is really the most powerful experience that I can have as a faculty member. Having the joy of seeing a student reach that point.
How can other educators make this same sort of difference to awaken students?
JH: It all comes from within a student. A lot of it is really taking the time to get to know students as individuals. I’ve been fortunate because I’ve taught courses that enable me to do that. I’ve taught courses that had enrollment limits of 20 students, like freshman seminars. I encourage any faculty member at the University of Minnesota to take advantage of teaching a freshman seminar where they can delve into a topic of deep interest and have the opportunity to share that interest with students and get to know the students well. Another part of it is that I’ve taught a lot of writing intensive classes and that deepens my relationship with the student because they’re sharing so much with me, not just in the classroom, but, through their writing. I think that’s a big part of it. I just finished reviewing the final galleys of a book chapter and it reminded me about what I had written in that chapter, it’s not just about the small classes where you can do that. You can have a large lecture hall with a hundred students and you can still make the effort to get to know those students as individuals. Because if you don’t, you’re never going to see those moments.
Many colleagues and students credit you with making them better writers. What’s your secret and why the green pen?
JH: (Laughs) You heard about the green ink. I sometimes use purple. Growing up when teachers still graded everything with red pencil, before anything was electronic, you just learned that the red pencil meant that something was wrong: That you were then wrong. So I have never used red for presenting any kind of feedback.
I’m continuing to edit an international open access journal while I’m retired, and at the same time while I was reviewing the galleys of my own work yesterday, I was also going through an article that was submitted by someone from another country. Trying to give reasons for all the feedback. Trying to point journal authors or students to the resources they need to build upon those skills. To always make the process of reading someone’s writing a mentoring process, rather than a grading process. That’s always been important to me.
Your publications are extensive. Which one(s) are you most proud of and why?
JH: That’s hard to answer. The work I’ve done has kept building on previous work. I have to point to my whole body of work where my closest co-author and co-editor was always Emily Goff. But there were a number of people, another former graduate student, Jennifer Schultz, Irene Duranczyk, and others who also shared in this work quite a bit. Definitely my work related to Universal Design is an area in which I know, I’m not saying I made a difference, but I know that work makes a difference and that the impact of the work is broader than what was initially assumed about UD. We now know Universal Instructional Design can improve learning for all students, not just a specific target audience of students with disabilities. In fact, one of my most recent publications was a conference proceedings paper I presented in January, co-authored by Emily Goff, about our work on integrated multicultural instructional design (IMID). We intentionally presented at an international conference and published it in an international open access conference proceedings, so anybody anywhere in the world could get their hands on it at no cost. That publication has only been on the web for maybe two months now so it’s not had time to have an impact, and other things that we’ve written related to integrated multicultural instructional design build on our work with Universal Instructional Design, but the new paper takes IMID many steps farther in terms of considering the multiple facets of students’ individual social identities.
Your colleagues describe your character as a blend of highly intellectual and scholarly passion combined with human compassion and kindness. Where did your empathy come from?
JH: That’s very kind. When I was at the University of Georgia, I was respected by faculty outside my department but not necessarily by faculty within. My work related to multiculturalism, some of my work with disabilities, was not valued there, but it has always been my focus because of how my mother raised me. I started doing this work before the term social justice was used to describe the work. It’s always been important to me because of the values my Mom instilled in me at a period of time when having those values was not popular. Having these values from an early age forward and knowing that I then had to have the courage to walk the talk, and not just be an empty shell, this had a long-term impact on my wanting to be inclusive of everyone.
How do you believe empathy impacts students?
JH: Some graduate students come into our program very confident, but for some, they’re not just the first in their family to do graduate work, they are the first to attend college, graduate from college and it’s still important that they come to that realization of just how smart and capable they are and that more doors will continue to open to them. I love the fact that half of the students who enter our MA program have every intention of pursuing their doctorate. At the same time, I understand the students who don’t say that when they enter because certainly when I entered my Masters program I never would have dreamed that I would pursue a doctorate at some point. I was somebody who, as a masters-level graduate student, was literally told by my advisor that I was not doctoral material. I’d love to hold my publication work against his.
Retired, but not slowing down, correct?
JH: One of the things I was looking for in retirement was no deadlines; being able to do things according to my own timeframe, at my own pace, on my own schedule. I can’t do that with The Journal of College Teaching and Learning that I edit for The Clute Institute because they are very respectful of authors. They ask that the turnaround from point of submission to initial point of decision is eight weeks. That’s a challenge if I’m traveling or if I have other commitments or something else sparks my interest and I want to follow that flow. I have to interrupt it and get back to the journal work. Balancing that is the opportunity to work with authors from all over the world and the US. I’ve worked with teams of authors from Tuskegee and really enjoy having the opportunity to read work that isn’t related to any academic discipline. One of the papers I learned the most from was a paper related to teaching astronomy and some work that’s been done internationally to make astronomy and the study of the stars more accessible to students who aren’t at institutions with big budgets and fancy telescopes. Another piece I recently edited on college students’ involvement in aquatic sports tourism in Taiwan used the same theoretical framework about intended behaviors that the University of Georgia’s Karen Kalivoda, now the Director of the Disability Resource Center, introduced me to when she was a graduate student. I was on her doctoral committee as the outside member, but was the one who worked with her most closely on her dissertation. Her dissertation from the early 90s used the same theoretical framework I was reading yesterday only applied to a completely different area of expertise.
I’m drawn into reading and editing these pieces from all around the world that have nothing to do with my academic disciplinary areas of expertise, but at the same time are just truly interesting to me. I can tell you in depth about many of the articles I’ve edited. And, because The Clute Institute has numerous conferences in different parts of the world, including the US, I get to go to conferences and meet some of these authors and that’s a truly wonderful experience. I really enjoy doing it.
One last question: Have the late night student phone calls ended?
JH: (Laughs) Of course the phone calls have ended, but the emails still tend to roll in. My husband will be long asleep and I’ll do a quick check of the umn.edu account at about 2 a.m. before I go to sleep. It’s fun to see the messages that came in during the wee hours.
Thank you to Jeanne Higbee for her far-reaching impact and tireless dedication to inclusive, education development through teaching, writing, editing and mentorship. In celebration, we toast you with the following words of praise and gratitude.
“Jeanne’s energy and connections put the University into the forefront of Education Development.” — Cathy Wambach, PsTL colleague
“No one else at the University has shown me as much compassion, kindness and generosity. She brings the idea of making a difference into reality. I can only aspire to make that kind of impact.” — Jill Trites, PsTL colleague
“She lets you see the real person. She is compassionate, willing to be vulnerable and expresses genuine concern for others and that is very rare. She helped make the department a place of stability.” — Bob Poch, PsTL colleague
“Best instructor I’ve had in my entire life. You never feel like you’re taking up her time. She’s a fierce advocate for students who is always willing to mentor and help provide direction.” — Amber Eule-Nashoba, former student
“She was my advisor. I learned so much from her, more than in some of my classes. She’s a natural teacher. She pushed me to get stuff finished and think in different way. I’m excited she’s retiring so she’ll have more time to work with me. I don’t just like her; I love her.” — Anise McDowell, former advisee
“She is a life-effusing force who knows when to hire others. With her green ink pen, Jeanne made me a much better and more confident writer.” — David Arendale, PsTL colleague
“I owe every professional thing I’ve accomplished to Jeanne. I’ve been supported by everything I’ve learned from her personally and professionally. She’s also fearless about publication.” — Emily Goff, co-author and former student
“In 2008, she helped me navigate the path to becoming a faculty member. She was my main advisor at the time, and served in a number of edits that influenced my work and made me a better writer.” — Mike Stebleton, PsTL colleague
“I admire her commitment and passion and fearlessness. She taught me to see the best in students, what they’re strengths and abilities are; to understand who they are, what they have to offer and how we can impact them.” — Gary Peter, PsTL colleague
“Jeanne introduced me to Universal Instructional Design and from that point on all the courses, papers and workshops unfolded. She made a big difference in precisely how I’ve designed courses and provided materials.” — Jay Hatch, PsTL colleague
“She’s the most brilliant person I’ve ever met. We’ve been married 35 years and that is the thing that continues to attract me to her. She’s always been passionate about teaching and was always student-oriented. She would take calls from students day or night.” — Tom Couillard, husband
David Arendale, associate professor in the Department of Postsecondary Teaching and Learning, was quoted in the Star Tribune article “Minnesota considers bill to scrap remedial college courses” by Maura Lerner.
Regarding the proposed legislation to eliminate remedial courses, Arendale conveyed skepticism and advised caution based on his research.
“If they’re talking about the students at the top … I would agree…they’ll just be fine.” But he adds, “I’ve not seen research that says you can go to the middle and the bottom [tiers] and those students will do fine…Why don’t we do a small pilot at a couple of colleges before we propose doing this statewide?”
Join the Department of Postsecondary Teaching and Learning for the fourth colloquium in our five-part “Inclusive Pedagogies” series.
Next Topic: Teaching Scholarship/Disciplinary Thinking in Introductory Courses: Minding the Gap
Please join us:
Thursday, April 9, 2015, 3:30 – 5:00 p.m., 227 Burton Hall
Facilitated by: Teaching specialist Jason Stahl and associate professor Tabitha Grier-Reed. Topic overview: There is often a disconnect in how we as scholars are taught to think about our discipline and how we are taught to teach introductory level college students about our disciplines. This colloquium focuses on pedagogy that bridges that gap and engages introductory level students as scholars at some of the highest levels of learning to use the tools of “the discipline”. Participants will be encouraged to think about the gap and pedagogical strategies that address it in their own introductory classrooms.
About the Inclusive Pedagogies Colloquia:
Designed to support diversity, equity, and excellence in postsecondary contexts, each event follows an interactive, discussion-oriented format where participation is highly valued. The series features diverse disciplines, holistic approaches to student development and education, and graduate and undergraduate contexts, with the purpose of:
- Stimulating critical reflection on our teaching;
- Sharing teaching expertise and innovations;
- Building community among scholar-practitioners from different disciplines and programs.
Sessions are facilitated by teams of faculty and graduate students from PsTL’s First Year Experience program and M.A. in Multicultural College Teaching and Learning.
Mark your calendar for our final colloquia:
- Thursday, May 7, 2015
On March 17, Rashné Jehangir, associate professor in the Department of Postsecondary Teaching and Learning, gave a keynote address at Hamline University titled: “First Generation, Next Generation: Understanding the Complexity of the First Generation College Student Experience.” This is the first in a series of three staff and faculty development workshops that Jehangir will lead at Hamline University this year.
Mike Stebleton, associate professor in the Department of Postsecondary Teaching and Learning, presented the scholarly paper titled: “Facilitating Belonging: Immigrant Students and the Impact of Faculty and Institutional Agents on Sense of Belonging” at the annual conference of NASPA (Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education) in New Orleans, LA, March 21-25, 2015. Stebleton discussed the ongoing, qualitative research project of 103 immigrant college students across three campuses. The presentation also explored the role and impact of faculty member and student affairs educator interactions on students’ sense of belonging at 4-year institutions.
When student protests erupted in Tiananmen Square, Jill Trites was only 146 kilometers away in Tianjin. While the People’s Republic of China may seem an unlikely location to find a young woman from Pelican Rapids, Minnesota, Trites’ life is richly woven with unique international teaching, learning and service work experiences.
As a town kid raised in a farming and resort community, Trites, now a senior teaching specialist in the Department of Postsecondary Teaching and Learning, embraced the rhythm of new faces and population swell that arrived each summer. “I met people who encouraged me to try new things,” recalls Trites. The fourth of five children, Trites followed in her siblings’ footsteps, complying with her parents’ desire that she attend a local, state college. At Minnesota State University, Moorhead, Trites made friends who broadened her already open mind. “One friend from Hong Kong challenged me to learn Chinese, so I did,” she says. Studying the Chinese language, led to a study abroad scholarship. After one semester in the People’s Republic of China, Trites elected to stay for a second. It was the spring of 1989, and the student protests for democracy had just begun. “The open broadcasting from Tiananmen Square was a great turning point,” says Trites.
The study abroad semesters were a springboard for Trites. In addition to earning a Bachelor of Science in chemistry, Chinese and communications from Moorhead, and a Master of Arts in teaching English as a second language from the University of Minnesota, Trites holds a Certificate in Chinese language and linguistics from Nankai University, Tianjin in the People’s Republic of China. Her international work includes teaching English at Nankai University and Tianjin University in the People’s Republic of China and cultural orientation courses for the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Nairobi, Kenya. During the summers of 2008-2012, she traveled to Mozambique, in southeast Africa, to volunteer as an English teacher to elementary, middle school, and high school students, and facilitate teacher-training sessions for early childhood educators and primary school teachers.
The University of Minnesota acknowledged Trites’ dedication to international education by selecting her for the 2014-2015 Internationalizing Teaching and Learning (ITL) Cohort and ITL Fellows programs. “I’ve been working with international students one way or another since 1990,” says Trites. But after meeting with her multidisciplinary cohort in January 2015, Trites displayed the humility of a person committed to lifelong learning. “I realize how far I have to go in developing activities that help build awareness for problem-solving and decision-making as part of a global community.”
Trites was also selected to participate in the University’s Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) Cohort program. For someone who values being on the cutting edge of international education, Trites sees COIL as an exciting, new challenge: one that may give her students a chance to connect with Chinese peers in a way that was impossible in 1989. To develop her COIL course, Trites plans to partner with Joy Song, a professor of English Education from Qingdao University, who was a visiting scholar at the University last year. The ambitious undertaking involves more than developing curriculum, together Trites and Song must navigate disparate technologies, cultural norms, student expectations as well as a twelve-hour time difference. “We’ll have to be open, flexible and adapt as we go,” says Trites. Despite the extensive coordination, Trites believes a COIL course can yield tremendous benefits. “Only fifty percent of students have access to a learning abroad program. For some students, this is the only international learning opportunity they may ever have,” says Trites. “It might be rough at times, but we have to try.”
To help gather information and connections that support her COIL course development, Trites will attend the SUNY COIL Center’s 7th annual conference March 19 – 20, 2015. As the leading international event in the field, the COIL conference brings together 250+ faculty, international programs staff, instructional technology staff, and university and college administrators from SUNY, across the U.S. and around the world to celebrate innovative models and best practices.
Rashné Jehangir, associate professor in the Department of Postsecondary Teaching and Learning, has been awarded the Horace T. Morse – University of Minnesota Alumni Association Award for Outstanding Contributions to Undergraduate Education. Jehangir has dedicated her career to improving the academic programs and classroom experiences of undergraduates in the university and across the country through her educational leadership, exemplary teaching, and research. Her emphasis on first generation and bypassed student populations, the most difficult to retain, is exemplary work that has made a measurable difference in retention. She will be honored at the Distinguished Teaching Awards Ceremony on campus April 8.
In a recent interview by the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA), Jehangir’s work is highlighted as part of a series featuring the work on social class scholars. The Socioeconomic and Class Issues in Higher Education Knowledge Community within NAPSA is sponsoring this year long series to showcase scholars whose work informs how SES and issues of class impact and alter the college and university landscape. Access Jehangir’s interview here.
Navigating new environments is a skill Sumitra Ramachandran mastered as a young girl in India. The daughter of an army officer, her family moved frequently within the country, fortifying Ramachandran’s ability to adapt to and embrace change. These early experiences embedded a curiosity and resourcefulness that’s reflected in her professional journey of discovery, her support of other international students and her current academic pursuit.
After earning a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature and a Postgraduate Diploma in Journalism, Ramachandran began working as a picture researcher for a stock photography company in India. The position involved fulfilling digital imaging requests for clients around the world and required sensitivity to the cultural context of the images. She was intrigued with identifying and understanding the subtle, visual differences among cultures, excelling at the challenge and working her way up to team leader. “But, there was no further growth so I decided to explore freelance writing,” she recalls.
As a freelance writer and editor, she began creating advertising and marketing copy for print ads and websites. She secured a role as an advertising agency creative director while her freelance assignments grew. She began consulting with technology companies, serving as a voice artist for Apple apps, developing scripts for story apps, and writing technical documentation for gaming sector clients. This work sparked another transition point in Ramachandran’s career path. “Technical writing seemed more ethical to me,” she says. “It’s much easier on the conscience.”
Interested in pursuing technical writing further, Ramachandran sought formal training but couldn’t find a program in India at the time. Then, while visiting family in Minnesota, Ramachandran learned about the Technical Writing and Communication Certificate in the Department of Writing Studies at the University of Minnesota. She initially enrolled in the certificate program, but transferred to the MS program in the spring.
As a new student in a new country, Ramachandran’s open, outgoing nature led her to pursue numerous student activities including the Council of Graduate Students (COGS), where she served a term as the Executive Vice President. Ramachandran is also the founder of CIGS, the Council of International Graduate Students, a student-created group that helps acclimate international graduate students to the University while providing representation and advocacy for issues international graduate students face as a whole.
Through Ramachandran’s involvement with COGS and CIGS, she recognized a gap in connecting students to the resources within large institutions, and a need for nurturing students’ multicultural skills to increase academic success and support efforts in the professional world. “The ability to work within multicultural groups is a huge asset to students when applying for jobs,” Ramachandran says.
With this awareness, when a friend suggested the MA in Multicultural College Teaching and Learning in the Department of Postsecondary Teaching and Learning, Ramachandran knew it was her next step. “I realized their impact and that I could be a part of it,” she says.
From firsthand experiences, Ramachandran knows education changes things: opening up new possibilities and opportunities. And, she believes: “Communication is the gateway to educational access.” Upon graduation in Spring 2016, Ramachandran will be well positioned to negotiate differences in learning and institutional barriers in support of international and first-generation college students. By combining her experiences, expertise and education, students will benefit from Ramachandran’s navigational aptitude as they chart their own academic and professional paths.
Robert K. Poch, senior fellow and director of graduate studies in the Department of Postsecondary Teaching and Learning, has received an Experiments in Learning Innovation Grant from the University’s Center for Educational Innovation. The grant supports his focus on how one disciplinary area within the humanities (history) can, within a large freshman survey course, be redesigned to take an active problem-based approach that produces applied skills and knowledge entirely relevant to today’s grand challenges.
How can one person make a difference? That’s the question first-year CEHD students and the college community considered while reading The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skoot, this year’s CEHD Reads Common Book.
Every year the First Year Experience Program in the Department of Postsecondary Teaching and Learning partners with CEHD Reads to enhance the FYE Common Book assignment with an on-campus event that transforms the personal experience of reading into a collaborative and rich conversation.
In light of the medical and ethical questions raised in this year’s book, Kris Cory, director of the First Year Experience, invited the University’s Center for Bioethics to co-sponsor this year’s Henrietta Lacks’ Legacy Panel.
Filling Northrop Auditorium on a frigid November morning, all first-year CEHD students, along with members of the college community and the general public gathered to hear
Dr. Ruth Faden, director of the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics, lead a thoughtful exploration of how ethical and privacy issues intersect with questions of social justice, sparked by the events chronicled in The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.
As a cancer patient being treated at John Hopkins, Henrietta Lacks, an impoverished, 31-year-old, African-American, had cells extracted and used in research without her consent. Her cells demonstrated the unique ability to be kept alive and grow in a laboratory, resulting in the first human immortal cell line for medical research, identified globally as the HeLa cell line.
Providing details of the Lacks’ family past and present, Victoria Baptiste, Henrietta Lacks’ great-granddaughter, and Shirley Lacks, Henrietta Lacks’ daughter-in-law, shared stories of Henrietta as a generous woman who packed lunches for her husband’s co-workers at Bethlehem Steel. They referenced her firm approach to parenting and described her impeccable style that included red painted toes and well-ironed dresses. They also spoke of the family’s inability to afford health insurance in earlier days, despite the HeLa cell’s contribution to significant medical advances including the polio vaccine.
For decades, the family was kept from knowing the medical importance of the HeLa cell line. In the 1970s, researchers requested blood samples from family members without explanation or follow-up, leaving family members questioning their health and the purpose of the request. In the 1980s family medical records were published without consent, and in 2013, the genome of a strain of HeLa cells was published without permission from the Lacks family. Numerous accounts reveal that the medical community ignored the family’s right to be informed and communicated with and demonstrated disregard for the family’s medical privacy. Despite this negligence, members of the Lacks family moved beyond the disrespect to reach a place of poise and equanimity, reflected in Baptiste’s and Lacks’ presentation and interactions in the discussion.
It is undeniable that Henrietta Lacks, through the HeLa cells, made a difference to millions of people around the world. But, would things be different if permission had been sought? During the panel discussion, moderated by Susan M. Wolf, J.D., McKnight Presidential Professor of Law, Medicine, and Public Policy, Baptiste and Lacks were questioned: “If doctors had asked Henrietta for consent, would she have said yes?”
“Yes, I believe she would have,” said Baptiste. “What better way to provide for and help others.” Lacks agreed, “She was always willing to help.”
Using research-based, innovative teaching practices, CIS faculty coordinators from PsTL are making a positive and powerful impact in the lives of high school students and their teachers.
Structured for student and community success
Margaret Kelly, senior teaching specialist in PsTL and CIS faculty coordinator for Sociological Perspectives: A Multicultural America (PSTL 1211), sees the benefits of the Entry Point Project (EPP) from collective viewpoint. “The more people who have a positive postsecondary experience early on, the better off we are as a state. This is a no-lose effort.” Kelly explains. Her challenging course encourages high-level thinking and uses scaffolding to help students build on knowledge. The framework is designed to alert teachers to any gaps in comprehension so they can intervene early, if required. The universality of the subject matter also reinforces learning and development for the students. “This course works especially well for EPP as it integrates the students’ assets of lived experiences with race and class in the assignments and discussions,” says Kelly.
A key aspect of Kelly’s faculty coordinator role is supporting the course’s high school teachers with professional development throughout the year and during summer workshops. She also visits each classroom. Although it adds to her regular teaching responsibilities, she highly values both. “Seeing these high school students is an important reminder of where my students were just a year before,” says Kelly. “It’s incredibly rewarding to work with an amazing group of teachers. Learning from one another and problem solving together enhances the course’s impact in ways I couldn’t do alone.”
Modeling to support engagement and equity
Since 2009, Sue Staats, associate professor in PsTL and faculty coordinator for College Algebra through Modeling (PSTL 1006), watched her math course grow from serving 30 high school students in two inner city schools to reaching 600 high school students in 29 schools across the state. This growth reinforces her academic passion. “The desire to support equity in education brought me to Minnesota,” Staats says. “College in the Schools offers the widest expression of my equity work possible. It’s a joy seeing creative, dedicated high school teachers put an accessible structure around solid mathematics education to help students in the academic middle re-envision themselves as college students.”
Staats developed the course to prompt mathematical competency that’s conceptual and creative, as well as procedural. Through the use of modeling, an approach promoted by CEHD’s STEM Education Center, the course engages students with open-ended problems that require inquiry and integration of mathematical concepts. Class projects, such as designing a bike-share program for a suburban city or exploring the growth rate of British soccer star salaries in relation to the rest of Britain’s work force, allow students to apply mathematics to questions and issues that interest them. “For some students, College Algebra can be challenging, holding them back from what they want to achieve,” reflects Staats. “But thanks to our extremely committed CIS teachers, our mathematics program is serving the academic needs of a very diverse group of students and helping them earn college credit at the same time.”
Learning through hands-on inquiry
When Leon Hsu, associate professor in PsTL and CIS faculty coordinator, was developing the curriculum forPhysics by Inquiry (PSTL 1163), he asked himself, “If students take only one physics course, what do I want them to get out of it?” This reflection led him to create a lab-based class that foregoes traditional lectures for guided inquiry. “It’s too easy to sit through a traditional lecture without being mentally engaged, which can make learning physics difficult,” says Hsu. Instead, the completely hands-on and minds-on course fosters conceptual reasoning through scripted discovery, helping students understand the process of how science works by performing experiments, making explanatory models and testing those models as part of a small group. Students also keep a journal to help them think about their learning. “The course structure requires students to work with and think about the material in the learning process,” he says.
As one of College in Schools’ Entry Point Project courses, Physics by Inquiry gives high school students a view of physics that complements that of most other physics courses by focusing on the scientific process. It also helps high school teachers present physics in a more appealing manner to a broader range of students. “The course gives teachers a way to challenge students beyond the formulas, problems and tests of traditional physics courses,” says Hsu. “It provides an alternative view of physics while preparing high school students for college.”
Rigor that benefits students and teachers
Human Anatomy and Physiology (PSTL 1135) allows CIS high school teachers to bring the rigor of a college science course to their students. “The pace and depth of the material is challenging and demands that students step up and take initiative for their learning,” says Nancy Cripe of Minnehaha Academy. She sees the impact: “Students develop ‘tools for their college toolbox’ – honing study skills, prioritizing study time, working effectively with lab partners, and learning to deal with occasional failure without quitting.”
The course curriculum, developed by Murray Jensen, associate professor in PsTL and CIS faculty coordinator, emphasizes critical and creative thinking in the classroom by engaging students in a wide range of learning tasks, such as Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning (POGIL), cooperative quizzes and group discussions. Students are expected to “fill the bucket at home” meaning the memorization typically associated with anatomy and physiology classes is done on the students’ own time. “Many of my students have not had a class this intense or difficult,” says Ann Marie Froehle of Cretin Derham Hall. “The real satisfaction comes when college students return, and say how ‘easy’ their anatomy class was due to the notes/labs we did while they were in high school.”
Ryan Lester of Hmong College Prep Academy agrees the course prepares students for life at the university level. He also sees the value it brings to his teaching practice. Lester explains, “I continue to teach the class because of the way it has pushed me to be a better teacher. Murray has done a great job challenging us as teachers. He holds us and our students to an extremely high standard, but provides a lot of support and trainings to help us.”