Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Book Review: Helping College Students Find Purpose

Nash, Robert & Michele Murray.  2010.  Helping College Students Find Purpose.  San Francisco:  Jossey-Bass.  320 pages.

This book examines the quarterlife generation—the transition between late teens into one’s early thirties—and how the seek meaning and purpose.  The book seeks to develop a rationale for faculty and administrators to see themselves as mentors of meaning-making, and to provide the tools for this to be a successful endeavor, both inside and outside of the classroom.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Book Review: Rethinking Education in the Age of Technology

Collins, Allan & Richard Halverson.  2009.  Rethinking Education in the Age of Technology:  The Digital Revolution and Schooling in America.  Columbia, NY:  Teachers College Press.  176 pages.

“We are not going to fix education by fixing the schools.  They have served us very well in the past, but they are a 19th-century invention trying to cope with a 21st-century society” (p. 142).  This is the conclusion that these authors make.  This text, focused more on K-12 than post-secondary education, lays out some very interesting arguments for the implementation of life-long, multi-generational learning experiences that are the antithesis of our current public school system.

I found many interesting ideas in this book, which in many ways mirrors my own thoughts about our current educational system.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Book review: Davis & Arend (2013) Facilitating Seven Ways of Learning

Davis, James R. & Bridget Arend.  2013.  Facilitating Seven Ways of Learning:  A Resource for More Purposeful, Effective, and enjoyable College Teaching.  Sterling, VA:  Stylus.  300 pages.

Davis and Arend provide an introduction to seven ways, or theories, of learning.  These include behavioral learning, cognitive learning, learning through inquiry, learning with mental models, learning through groups and teams, learning through virtual realities, and experiential learning.  Within their discussion they suggest learning goals and activities that facilitate each type of learning.

I found the seven types of learning to be interesting, and their descriptions of various activities that enhance each type of learning were useful.  It is an excellent introduction to theories of learning for faculty who have not had any formal training in this area.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Book Review: Doyle & Zakrajsek's _The New Science of Learning_

Doyle, Terry & Zakrajsek, Todd.  (2013).  The New Science of Learning: How to Learn in Harmony With Your Brain.  Sterling, VA:  Stylus.  126 pages.

Advances in brain science have opened up our understanding of how the brain makes and retains memories—i.e., learning.  This book, written for students, examines how the brain processes new information, what makes us pay attention, and how important sleep and exercise are for memory.  An excellent book for any student--or faculty member, for that matter!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Book Review: John Shank's Interactive Open Educational Resources

Shank, John.  2014.  Interactive Open Educational Resources:  A Guide to Finding, Choosing, and Using What’s Out There to Transform College Teaching.  San Francisco, CA:  Jossey-Bass.  176 pages.

Open Educational Resources (OERs) are an important instructional tool that are growing in importance and sophistication.  This book provides a very elementary look at some of the most important OERs, focusing on interactive learning materials (ILMs).  Different repositories (such as MERLOT or PBS Teaching) are evaluated for the collection quality and quantity, the ease of searchability, and tips are provided for both basic and advanced searches.  

I found this to be an incredibly basic book that focuses too heavily on site-specific search strategies, rather than how ILMs can transform teaching.  The list of potential locations/repositories for ILMs was nice, but as with all books that focus on web-based resources, I worry that some of this information is already out of date or inactive.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Classroom Techniques to Assist Students with Hearing Loss

By Carlee Andress

When a child has a communication disorder, a language barrier exists that can cause deficits in all areas of life ranging from interpersonal relationships to academic success. As educators we have the responsibility to implement learning based accommodations so that each student can access information despite their possible language and learning barriers.  It is difficult to understand which accommodations are appropriate and how to facilitate them effectively in the classroom. This article will address strategies and technological tools that promote learning in the classroom for people with hearing loss.  
Hearing loss or hearing impairment is the most prevalent disability with 360 million people affected by it world-wide.  Furthermore, the main impact is found in communication, which is closely linked to learning, writing, reading, speaking, and understanding the world around us.   Imagine you are at rock concert or a major sporting event and a friend (who is sitting down the row from you) is trying to tell you something.  Can you comprehend every word your friend is trying to say?  No, probably not.  Can you write down what your friend is trying to say?  Nope.  If you were to read a passage later in the day, could you identify that text as something that was said to you before? No.  Chances are excellent that you cannot identify, process, retain, or apply your friend’s message simply because the sound signal was not clear.  For people with hearing loss, every conversation, lecture, or dialogue is unclear.  Every time someone speaks to them, the quality of the message is similar to the quality of your friend’s message at the rock concert or sporting event. 
People with a hearing loss are not of lesser value, intelligence, or competence; however, they do need to be able to hear in order to interact socially and participate academically.  The student and the professor are both responsible for employing communication strategies to facilitate learning in the classroom.  
The first, and perhaps most important, communication strategy is to reduce background noise.  Even in a quiet environment, students miss some speech sounds and other sounds are ‘muffled.’ When noise is added to the environment (i.e. humming computers, fans, buzzing lights, open windows, hard floors), more sounds and therefore language is eradicated and the learning barrier strengthens. 
The second strategy is to speak just a little slower and a little louder.  If you speak too slow or too loud, the message will become distorted thus making it difficult to comprehend.  Speaking slightly slower and louder is beneficial to a person with hearing loss.  Slowing down your rate of speech gives the person more time to fill in the ‘unheard’ sounds with contextual clues.  Speaking louder overcomes the ambiguity of sound signals associated with background noise.
The third strategy is to stay at a close distance from the person with a hearing impairment.  In fact, a good rule of thumb is to stay an arm’s length away at all times.  People with hearing loss become experts at filling in ‘sound gaps’ with lip reading and facial expressions.  To achieve competent communication with people who have a hearing loss, we must give maximal visual support.  This includes everything from gestures to written communication.
The fourth strategy is to use technology.  Clearly, the person with a hearing impairment needs to visit with their audiologist for a full assessment, and it is their responsibility to wear and properly maintain their hearing aids.  With that being said, professors and teachers alike should be familiar with the many features and unique qualities of a FM system.  One FM system that audiologists on our campus support is the Phonak Roger Pen FM system.  This pen can be pointed at the speaker/professor or can be worn by the speaker/professor.  The pen will only pick up the professor’s voice and then direct it straight into the receiver on the hearing aid.  The pen eliminates the hearing difficulties associated with background noise and distance.  Sometimes wearing a hearing aid alone is not enough, because the hearing aid amplifies all sounds and this taxes the listener. In short, the pen (or other FM devices) filters out unnecessary noises and picks up the communication partner’s voice.
If you have a student with a hearing loss, please encourage them to:
1.)    Set up an appointment with an audiologist.
2.)    After the results come in, the student must visit with disability services.
3.)    The student should present their diagnosis (from doctor) and classroom accommodation plan (from disability services) to the professor.
4.)    The professor and the student should work together to incorporate appropriate strategies and tools in the classroom.

Contact information for the University of South Dakota’s Audiology Program:
Communication Sciences and Disorders – Noteboom Hall
Noteboom Hall
Phone: 605-677-5474
Email: csd@usd.edu
Website: www.usd.edu/csd

Contact information for the University of South Dakota’s Disability Services:
Phone: 605-677-6389

For more information on the Phonak Roger Pen FM system, please visit the following site:   

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Book Review: Husten, Therese. Teaching What You Don't Know (2009)

Husten, Therese.  2009.  Teaching What You Don’t Know.  Cambridge, MA:  Harvard University Press.  305 pages.

One of academia’s little secrets is that almost everyone, at some point in their career, will be asked to teach a course that covers content that is unfamiliar.  This book takes on this topic with authenticity and humor, and in the end conveys much about great teaching in general, and in particular with courses that may lie outside your comfort level.

I found this to be a very good read--at times I was thinking "I wish I had thought of that!" with the new course I taught this past spring.  Highly practical, and grounded in theory.  I strongly recommend it!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Book Review: Generation on a Tightrope, by Aruther Levine and Diane Dean (2012).

Levine, Arthur, & Diane Dean.  2012.  Generation on a Tightrope:  A Portrait of Today’s College Student.  San Francisco, CA:  Jossey-Bass.  227 pages.

Generation provides a portrait of the values and needs of today’s college students.  It is based on the research of 5,000 college students from 270 college campuses.  It explores the similarities and differences between this generation of students and previous generations.  

On a personal note, I found the book disappointing.  Books that explore "generational" trends can sometimes be so broad as to lose meaning, and at times this book ventured in that direction.  In addition, there were very few significant conclusions as to what to do to better education this generation. In addition, I found the tone slightly negative--both about the world at large, but also about the students themselves.

Multicultural Education in the Classroom.

American schools and learning environments are becoming more and more diverse. This rich diversity requires that teachers adopt instructional methods and strategies that reflect the learning needs of all students. The University of South Dakota is home to a growing number of international students. The university also hosts students of different social and economic backgrounds. This diversity necessitates an environment that works for all and mirrors the cultures of all the people it serves, hence the field of study known as multicultural education.
Multicultural education answers the questions of the new challenges brought by the demographic transformations in U.S. schools. With a set of strategies and materials at its disposal, multicultural education moves beyond the one-size-fits-all type of teaching. It seeks to promote collaboration among students, decision-making, and critical thinking while moving toward cultural pluralism. Multicultural education is comprised of three major dimensions: content integration, prejudice reduction, and equity pedagogy. Each of these dimensions ensures that all students benefit equally from the lessons taught in the classroom.
Content integration deals with the extent to which teachers use examples and contents from a variety of ethnicities, races, religions and cultures to illustrate key concepts, generalizations, and issues within their subject area. This is evidenced by the books that are read, the activities that are completed, and the lessons that are taught. The prejudice reduction strategy, on the other hand, works to remove the negative views students have about their peers. In effect, in their communities, students grow up with many misconceptions about people they are not familiar with. Prejudice reduction describes the lessons and activities teachers use to help students develop positive attitudes toward different racial, ethnic, and cultural groups. Teachers that seek to reduce prejudice in the classroom promote inter-group cooperation, monitoring, and equal treatment of all students. Finally, equity pedagogy seeks to modify the instructions to facilitate academic achievement from all subgroups. To achieve this goal, instructors make use of a variety of teaching methods and instructional strategies in order to meet the learning needs of all students. Those methods and strategies include checking for understanding, cooperative learning, direct instruction, and hands-on learning.
Overall, multicultural education uses a variety of tools that help to accommodate the unique aspects of having students of different origins, ethnicities, and social background in today’s schools and learning environments. 

 PowerPoint of Multicultural Education

                                                                         Prosper Zongo
                                                                         Graduate Teaching Assistant
                                                                         Center for Teaching and Learning