Composition Committee Meeting, 4/02/14

Minutes: Composition Committee Meeting, 4/02/14

Attendance: Benjamin Miller, Mike Dolan, Tanya Zhelezcheva, George Fragopoulos, Kat Alves, Joan Dupre, Matt Lau, Chris Leary, Stephen Tumino, Robin Ford, Peter Gray, Zivah Perel Katz, Aliza Atik, Elizabeth Toohey, John Talbird, Alisa Cercone, David Humphries, Mark Schiebe, Jean Darcy, John Yi, Kiki, Byas, Matt Koch.

The Meeting featured presentations on high-impact practices by Tanya (service learning) and Zivah (learning communities) and discussion of “High-Impact Educational Practices” (an AACU pub.) by George Kuh (who will be keynote speaker at this year’s CUE conference at LGCC (5/02/14)).

Tanya spoke about a service learning project, “Reading Fables in an Engaging Way,” she has used with her 102 course. The project comes out of a question she was curious about exploring with her students, “Who are the storytellers in our society?” She sees this as an opportunity for her students to explore where the personal and the professional overlap in their educational lives, using memory in their presentations to a public outside the 102 classroom.

The students work together to create a lesson plan for 2nd and 4th grade students at nearby Divine Wisdom Academy. Essentially, students are teaching younger students how to tell stories and, in the process, becoming more aware of how they—and their family and their society—tell stories. Tanya says that the service learning class has been a good experience, both for her and for her students. In fact, some have shared that the experience has inspired them to explore possible future careers as teachers.

Tanya said that she had a lot of support from the service learning office at QCC. In addition to helping connect her with the principal at DWA, they ordered vans for her students to transport them to the school on the day of the workshops. She also attended a summer institute (for which she was paid a stipend) where she was able to conceptualize her project.

Zivah, the Learning Community ( LC ) coordinator and a long-time teacher of LCs then presented her experience with LCs. She finds them especially useful for helping students engage knowledge and information from more than one disciplinary perspective, in fact, helps them begin to understand that there are different disciplines and that these different points-of-view affect the way we process information.

Unfortunately, at QCC now LCs are in flux. None are currently running though there are plans to pilot block scheduling for a small cohort in the fall which may, hopefully, lead to LCs.

Some common problems with LCs in the past have been that some profs in other disciplines view English as a service course and, due to a disconnect in advising, some students show up on the first day and don’t realize they’re in a LC (which means they don’t come w/ buy-in). Zivah passed out two handouts, one a chart which showed the Student Learning Outcomes, both for the specific course and also for the institution. She also shared a shared writing assignment—a requirement of all QCC LCs—the “Global America Synthesis Paper,” with the LC she taught with Amy Traver, a Sociology Prof. Although she felt that the students performed on the paper well, she’d like to revise the English portion of the assignment as the students tended to emphasize more the content from the Sociology course rather than the English class.

Over all, Zivah said that LCs were positive experiences for her personally, that so often we are kind of isolated in our classrooms and a LC is an opportunity to collaborate with a prof from another discipline. She said if you’re interested in running a LC, then you should contact Susan Madera (Smadera@qcc.cuny.edu) and fill out the dept. preference sheet notifying David who you’ll be paired with.

There was a brief discussion about the difficulty of running a LC (historically, some don’t fill, or only one class will fill which means they become “decoupled”). Kiki made a plug for SWIG (Student Wiki Interdisciplinary Group). She said that, since it’s asynchronous, there’s never the danger of a class not running. She said that, like service learning, SWIG has a summer institute to help with training, that it has a stipend at the beginning, and that, at least for her, it’s changed her pedagogy so that she can’t return to the way she taught FYW before. (She called SWIG “addictive.”)

We briefly discussed the Kuh article after the presentations. When John asked if anyone felt if they were teaching a HIP that wasn’t an official HIP, several faculty raised hands. Stephen shared a frustrating experience with a 102 class that he said would fit under the rubric for Global Learning and Diversity. It was posited by Zivah that when a faculty member tries an HIP that hasn’t been designated as such then they may be less likely to get institutional support when there is student resistance.

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