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Student Engagement and Reflective Learning

Vandana Thadani, Ph.D., Psychology, Faculty Associate 2011 - 2012

How can we help our students to enjoy and value their learning? How can we help them be better learners?  Vandana’s project theme,“Student Engagement and Reflective Learning" addresses these questions. Engagement keeps students persisting, even in the face of challenging work. Reflection (also called metacognition” or “self-regulation” in the research) can be a powerful vehicle to effective learning. Students who are reflective know what they know and do not know, use past experiences to steer future learning, and are better able to deliberately apply their knowledge to new problems (including social problems!). Through presentations, discussions, and sharing of innovative teaching practices, we will explore ways of enhancing student engagement and reflection in our courses.



References



NY Times article "What if the Secret to Success Is Failure?": http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/18/magazine/what-if-the-secret-to-success-is-failure.html?_r=2&emc=eta1&pagewanted=all
This terrific NY Times Article provides another lens for thinking about academic engagement … Psychologists unpackage "grit" -- the willingness to work hard and persist even in the face of challenge.

Halpern/Hakel, Applying the Science of Learning to the University and Beyond, Change, Jul/Aug 2003, 35/4, 36-41. JSTOR
Most of us want our students to be able to use the knowledge they learn in our classrooms in other contexts ¬ i.e., to transfer their learning.  Teaching for transfer is difficult.  This article describes the teaching conditions under which transfer is more likely to occur.
 
NPR article "IQ Isn't Set In Stone…":http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2011/10/19/141511314/iq-isnt-set-in-stone-suggests-study-that-finds-big-jumps-dips-in-teens?ps=sh_sthdl
This NPR article describes how teenagers' IQ scores change considerably depending on their experiences.  These changes in IQ actually correspond to neural (brain) changes!  Instructors can use this easy-to-read article to posit a view of intelligence as malleable ¬ a belief system that corresponds to improved motivation.
 
Nature Article on IQ Changes in Teen Years http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nature10514.html
For those interested in the original research behind the NPR piece, this is the original Nature paper. The paper found brain changes that corresponded to changes in IQ, with authors concluding "our results emphasize the possibility that an individual’s intellectual capacity relative to their peers can decrease or increase in the teenage years. This would be encouraging to those whose intellectual potential may improve, and would be a warning that early achievers may not maintain their potential."  

Thadani, V., Breland, W., Dewar, J. (2010), "College instructors’ implicit theories about teaching skills and their relationship to professional development choices," Journal on Excellence in College Teaching, 21 (2), 113-131. [Link]

Thadani, V., Dewar, J., Breland, W., "College Instructors’ Implicit Theories About Teaching Skills and Their Relationship To Professional Development Choices", AERA Poster.

Zimmermann, B.J. (2002), "Becoming a Self-Regulated Learner: An Overview", Theory into Practice, 41/2, 64-70. [HERE or HERE or  JSTOR]



Events



September 27, 2011, 12:15 – 1:15pm, CTE - UNH 3030
Cultivating Great Learners: Instilling Cognitive and Psychological Characteristics That Promote Students’ Success
Presenter: Vandana Thadani, Ph.D., CTE Faculty Associate 2011-12

Students who shine: They love learning, they work hard, they persist even in the face of challenges. And whatever they know about the subject when they enter your classrooms, these students always find a way to learn more and grow. What’s going on in these students’ heads? What cognitive and psychological variables put them above the rest? And how can we help many more of our students develop these qualities? In the first of a series of presentations and discussions in the “Student Engagement and Reflective Learning” program, we’ll explore the research on cognitive and psychological variables that help students excel.

Presentation Slides (.pdf)



Tuesday, October 25, 2011, 12:15 - 1:15pm, CTE - UNH 3030
Student Panel Discussion: Teaching Practices & Policies That Transform and Inspire
Presenter: Student Panel

If you talk with our students and it’s clear that they’re having some extraordinary learning experiences in their courses at LMU. In this panel discussion, students will share their perspectives about teaching practices that have transformed them: their learning habits, their views of themselves, or their views of the world. Our discussion will push beyond issues of professors’ personalities to explore specifics—the teaching practices and policies that have inspired students to stretch intellectually, embrace (or at least, not reject!) intellectual challenge and academic rigor, and love learning.


 
Wednesday, October 26, 2011, 3:45 - 5:15p, Marymount Institute - UNH 3002
Student Engagement and Reflective Learning Series Wine, Cheese, and Chocolate Discussion

Come share your ideas and experiences around the topics of teaching and learning. What goals do we have for student learning, and what challenges do we face in achieving them? What pedagogical strategies have we each developed that help us teach a particularly difficult concept, build the classroom culture we want, stimulate discussion, change our students’ capacity to learn, etc.? Through informal discussions, we’ll share successes, strategies, challenges, and barriers related to issues and questions like those above. Join your colleagues to chat, reconnect, eat and drink, or just absorb.



Tuesday, November 29, 2011, 12:15 - 1:15pm, CTE - UNH 3030
Training Students to Become Strategic Thinkers: Research, Theory, and Applications
Presenter: Timothy Cleary, Ph.D., University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee

Self-regulated learning (SRL) refers to a process involving the proactive and systematic planning, use, and adaptation of specific strategies during learning activities. Students who are more self-regulated tend to be more goal-directed, self-aware, and motivated to engage in the learning process. These students are also more likely to persist when faced with academic challenges and are highly strategic as they attempt to optimize their learning. Of particular importance is that over the past couple of decades many researchers have shown self-regulatory processes to reliably and consistently differentiate high and low achievers. Attendees of this presentation will learn about self-regulated learning (SRL) theory and its’ application to academic settings. Particular emphasis will be placed on illustrating the characteristics and key processes of the self-regulated learner as well as tips for optimizing and facilitating students’ strategic and self-directed behaviors in a college context. Attendees will be given the opportunity to ask questions about how self-regulation and motivation constructs can be applied to their areas of specialty.



Tuesday, November 29, 2011, 3:00 - 5:00pm, CTE - UNH 3030
Cultivating an Empowering Instructional Context: The Role of Self-Reflection and Process Feedback
Presenter: Timothy Cleary, Ph.D., University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee

Self-regulated learning (SRL) refers to a process involving the proactive and systematic planning, use, and adaptation of specific strategies in specific learning contexts. Across the developmental spectrum, SRL interventions have been shown to reliably improve students’ basic academic skills as well as their ability to study, manage their time, and to cope effectively with the complex demands of high school and college settings. These interventions have also been shown to improve students’ perceptions of self-efficacy, interest in school, and the extent to which they value learning. Instructors can impact these regulatory and motivation processes by teaching students how to reflect adaptively on their successes and failures and to provide students feedback that nurtures their strategic skills and motivation. In this workshop, attendees will learn how to translate SRL theory into simple yet powerful instructional tactics and practices. Real-world examples of “SRL in practice” will be provided, with particular emphasis placed on strategies for engaging in reflection discussions during class lectures and for providing process and self-regulatory feedback on assignments and projects. Attendees will also have the opportunity to actively participate in break-out group activities to practice applying self-regulation concepts to their instructional content areas and domains.



Wednesday, November 30, 2011, 3:30 - 5:00pm, Marymount Institute - UNH 3002
Student Engagement and Reflective Learning Series Wine, Cheese, and Chocolate Discussion

Come to the second in (hopefully) a series of wine and cheese events for connecting with colleagues around the topics of teaching and learning. What goals do we have for student learning, and what challenges do we face in achieving them? What pedagogical strategies have we each developed that help us teach a particularly difficult concept, build the classroom culture we want, stimulate discussion, change our students’ capacity to learn, etc.? Through informal discussions, we’ll share successes, strategies, challenges, and barriers related to issues and questions like those above. The last event was a low-key, lovely chance to sit and chat (over well-selected eats & drinks) about things we experience in our courses, but don't always have a chance to discuss with our peers. Join your colleagues to chat, reconnect, eat and drink, or just absorb.



Thursday, February 9, 2012, 12:15 - 1:30pm, CTE - UNH 3030
Engaging Students through Reflection: Examples from LMU Classrooms
Presenters:
Adam Fingerhut, Ph.D., Psychology Department
Jeremy McCallum, Ph.D., Chemistry & Biochemistry Department

Reflection is a cornerstone of learning and a critical component of effective learning environments. It is a means of building engagement, of supporting students to take control of their current and future learning, and simply of helping students become better learners. In this presentation, two LMU faculty members, Prof. Adam Fingerhut (Psychology) and Prof. Jeremy McCallum (Chemistry & Biochemistry) will describe their very different approaches to encouraging student reflection in their courses. This event continues the series in the Student Engagement and Reflective Learning Program. Through presentation and informal discussion, we will explore the wide variety ways in which we can support student reflection—ranging from informal, in-class discussions through reflection scaffolded through technology.



Tuesday, February 21, 2012, 12:15 - 1:30pm, CTE - UNH 3030
Framing Students’ Cognitive “Job” through Classroom Instruction
Presenter: Vandana Thadani, Ph.D., CTE Faculty Associate 2011-12

Researchers, reformers, and educators widely recognize the critical role that teaching plays in student learning—but what qualities of teaching really matter? In this talk, I’ll describe quantitative measures of teaching practices that I have developed. The measures (called “teacher tasks and questions” or “TTQs” capture the nuances of suggestions, tasks, questions, and instructions that instructors use—and then categorize the cognitive and learning strategies they elicit from students. My hypothesis is that TTQs are important to student learning because they shape the cognitive and learning strategies that students use; specifically, they can frame students’ cognitive “job” during lessons as involving the reproduction of information, reasoning, note-taking, thinking reflectively (metacognitively), thinking strategically, or all of the above. Research has shown that students’ cognitive strategies play an important role in learning. In this talk, we will discuss the implications of this work for intentionally ratcheting up the cognitive and learning strategies students use in our classes.



Tuesday, March 6, 2012, 4:00 - 5:30pm, Marymount Institute - 3002
Student Engagement and Reflective Learning: Wine and Cheese Get-Together

Come to the third in a series of wine and cheese get-togethers for connecting with colleagues around the topics of teaching and learning. What goals do we have for student learning, and what challenges do we face in achieving them? What pedagogical strategies have we each developed that help us teach a particularly difficult concept, build the classroom culture we want, stimulate discussion, change our students’ capacity to learn, etc.? Through informal discussions, we’ll share successes, strategies, challenges, and barriers related to issues and questions like those above. The last few events were a low-key, lovely chance to sit and chat (over well-selected eats & drinks) about things we experience in our courses, but don't always have a chance to discuss with our peers. Join your colleagues to chat, reconnect, eat and drink, or just absorb.



Thursday, April 19, 2012, 12:15 - 1:30pm, CTE - UNH 3030
Conjuring the Desert: Risk and Reflection in the Classroom
Presenters:
Doug Burton-Christie, Ph.D., Theology Department
Rubén Martinez, Ph.D, English Department 

How do we open up a space for reflection with our students that helps them to do their best, most thoughtful work; to risk engaging themselves and the material of the course as fully and courageously as possible? What does that space look like, feel like? How do you enter it? How does it affect your thinking, your sense of self, your relationship to the world around you? These questions among others, have formed a central part of a team-taught course on the desert taught by Ruben Martinez (English) and Douglas Burton-Christie (Theological Studies). Students are invited to enter the desert--imaginatively (through sustained engagement with the politically and culturally charged borderlands of the American Southwest and with the contemplative traditions of the ancient Egyptian monks) and concretely (through an extended trip to the Mojave)--and to think about how entering the space of the desert can help them engage the most serious questions of their lives with greater openness and honesty. It is in this sense that the contemplative work of the course opens out onto and informs fundamental questions of ethical engagement and practice, something that connects our work with the core mission of LMU.



Tuesday, May 1, 2012, 4:00 - 5:30pm, Marymount Institute - UNH 3002

Student Engagement and Reflective Learning: Wine and Cheese Get-Together

Come to the last wine and cheese get-together in the Student Engagement and Reflective Learning series. This is our last opportunity this semester to connect with colleagues around the topics of teaching and learning. Through informal discussions, we’ll share successes, strategies, challenges, and barriers related to student engagement, metacognition, reflection, self-regulated learning, and classroom teaching, and any other topic that interests people. I'd also love to take the opportunity to gather your suggestions, ideas, and requests as I plan this next year of faculty associate programming. The last few events were a low-key, lovely chance to sit and chat (over well-selected eats & drinks!) about things we experience in our courses, but don't always have a chance to discuss with our peers. Please join me and other colleagues to chat, reconnect, eat and drink, or just absorb.