2009 Events Summaries


Title and Description

Feb. 19, 2009

Helping Students Become Better Writers: Two Approaches

Giving students constructive feedback on their writing that will help them improve is an ongoing challenge! Philosophy Professor Patrick Derr focuses on teaching students "concision" in writing over the course of a semester, and he demonstrated (with samples) how he edits student writing and its results. Jennifer Plante, Interim Director of the Writing Center and Writing Program, is famous for her approaches that encourage students to revise. The two strategies provide an interesting complement to one another, and led to some interesting discussion.

Pat Derr's materials:

Jen Plante's materials:

Friday, March 27

CETL Lunch: Supporting Students to Read and Discuss Challenging Academic Texts: A Brief Presentation on Teaching with Discussions

For those unable to attend the full-day workshop also given on March 27, we offered an abbreviated version of Don Whitfield, Director of Higher Education at the Greater Books Foundation and Sophie Haroutunian-Gordon's presentation.

Friday, March 27

Supporting Students to Read and Discuss Challenging Academic Texts: A Full-Day Workshop on Teaching with Discussions

Many of us — even those of us who are committed to learning through inquiry, or active learning —struggle to orchestrate rigorous and productive discussions around challenging academic texts (articles or book chapters). To address these struggles, we brought to Clark two internationally recognized educators who are experts at leading whole group discussions–in university settings. The workshop leaders are Don Whitfield, Director of Higher Education at the Great Books Foundation and Sophie Haroutunian-Gordon, Professor of Philosophy and Education at Northwestern University, and author of "Learning to Teach with Discussions: The Art of Turning the Soul" (in press, Yale University Press).

The workshop is open to 30 faculty, and advance sign-up is required. The workshop will cover:

• An overview of "Interpretive Discussion" (sometimes referred to as "Shared Inquiry");
• Techniques to get students ready, by marking up their texts (with factual, evaluative, and interpretive questions);
• "Sharing interpretive questions" among students, as a motivator for deep reading and preparation for discussions;
• Techniques and strategies for getting prepared as instructor: how to move from interpretive questions to an opening (or framing) question that gets at a place of genuine doubt for you as discussion leader, as well as techniques for developing a set of cluster questions.
• Facilitating a rigorous, coherent, and equitable discussion: Productive follow-up questions to keep things moving at a high level.

This workshop was conducted by Clark Professors Matt Malsky and Sarah Michaels.


TA Training: Spring Semester 2009

The 2nd installment of TA training is mandatory for graduate students who are TAing for the first time in the academic year, and is open to all other graduate students wishing to attend. First year TAs who attended the August training are required to attend this training, as the topics are different. The training program consists of sessions on ethics and legal issues, cross cultural communication, leading discussions, running effective office hours, and running an effective lab.

Session 1

Session 2