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Don’t Use Zoom Fatigue as a Convenient Scapegoat for Exhaustion
Todd Zakrajsek University of North Carolina School of Medicine Key statement: The term “Zoom fatigue” masks other relevant and overwhelming sources of fatigue (life demands, screen, and social) that need to be addressed to restore physical and mental well-being. “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” -Inigo Montoya, The Princess Bride Background “Zoom fatigue” and “videoconference fatigue” first began appearing in print in the Spring of 2020. Interestingly, Zoom was founded in 2011, WebEx dates to 1999, and Polycom dates to 1990 (before the internet). It seems strange that for decades we made it through videoconferencing, video-based online courses, and daylong meetings without writing about videoconference fatigue. Even the name “Zoom fatigue” is interesting. Why Zoom? Is Zoom worse than the other platforms? Researchers at Stanford even developed a Zoom Exhaustion & Fatigue Scale, so it seems we have settled on Zoom being a primary culprit (Ramachandran, 2021). It is likely that as Zoom was the most widely used videoconference platform at the time, and as people were tired while on Zoom, people attributed the tiredness to Zoom. As Zoom fatigue is the term frequently used, I’ll use that term, rather than videoconference fatigue, throughout this article. Confounds and Generalizations Individuals have been under an incredible amount of pressure during the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result of this pressure, it is not surprising at all to see increases in responses such as burnout, depression, and anxiety. These are independent constructs and not considered to be the same thing (Koutsimani et al., 2019). Treatment plans for burnout are very different from those for depression or anxiety. How does one know which treatment to seek out? By identifying the cause and symptoms, one begins to address the root cause of the issue, not simply finding something to blame when experiencing increased feelings of irritability, finding it difficult to solve problems, lacking motivation or energy, or other symptoms. “Zoom fatigue” presents the same issue. Individuals are feeling increased levels of physical and emotional exhaustion. The question is not whether we are fatigued. The question becomes, why are we fatigued? We are on more videoconference calls than ever, so it feels reasonable to put increased fatigue and increased Zoom together and claim Zoom causes fatigue. But is that accurate? If Zoom is to blame for our increased fatigue, we can identify behaviors to reduce fatigue resulting from many online meetings. However, if our fatigue, or even some of our fatigue, is from another source, then reducing tiredness means uncovering the root cause(s). To open the conversation, let’s break Zoom fatigue into three categories: life demands, screen time, and social demands. Types of Fatigue Fatigue From Life Demands The first category is life fatigue. I have been in education for over 35 years—and for most of that, I have been tired. Naturally, this fatigue is worse in a pandemic or other natural disaster. When very tired people log into a Zoom meeting, it is natural to attribute the fatigue to Zoom. However, a break from Zoom will not address life fatigue. An article in The New York Times stated, “By April of 2020, during the first big Covid spike, homebound working Americans were logging three more hours on the job each day” (Covert, 2021, para. 4). In addition, we were homeschooling children, our routines were disrupted, colleagues were ill, and we spent an inordinate amount of time searching for toilet paper. Multitasking, such as cooking or ironing while on a conference call, was common. Multitasking can be particularly exhausting. Most individuals are extremely tired just trying to get by, Zoom or not. Addressing this category of fatigue requires much more than turning the video off during a Zoom meeting. Following are just a few suggestions: Try to schedule breaks at regular intervals across the day, even if they are very short. Two to five minutes can reduce fatigue and increase productivity. Resist the urge to let work fill the gaps in your day, such as clearing out a few emails before going to bed. Carve out a bit of time for self-care each day, such as yoga, meditation, a short walk, or just sitting quietly. To find that time, increase efficiencies where possible. Save a minute or two when fixing dinner, while picking up the living room, or knowing exactly where your car keys are located. Those minutes will add up. Enlist help from your support system and delegate tasks when possible. Fatigue From Screen Time The second type of fatigue attributed to Zoom fatigue is being tired simply due to working with a screen. This is not a new phenomenon, and researchers were studying the effects long before extended Zoom sessions swept the nation. It is common to experience fatigue on a computer. The following are a few strategies to reduce screen fatigue. A computer search will reveal many more, but don’t spend too much time on the computer looking for ways to reduce computer fatigue. The 20-20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. It helps reduce eye strain and mental fatigue. Every hour stand up, get away from the computer, and take a five-minute break. Individuals often become dehydrated through a long day in front of the computer. Be sure to drink enough water throughout the day. Try reversing your computer documents so the background is black and the words are white. This reduces eye strain. Fatigue From Social Demands The third category of fatigue results from the social demands of participating in a videoconference. This, I would consider legitimate Zoom fatigue. This is different from general computer work, as social interactions with multiple people are involved. Video meetings, conferences, classes, or any other human exchange on the computer differs from being in person. When we are physically together, many cues help us interact efficiently. When someone in a group would like to speak next, they start to talk and stop quickly, shift in their seat, or hum in agreement. These signals are missing in videoconferencing, so it is more challenging to identify who will talk when. In addition, video conference calls with many participants cause faces to be small on-screen, and additional cues are lost. Because we are lacking cues, we overcompensate to find the ones we still have, which means we stare directly ahead at the screen and give our complete focus more than we would in an in-person meeting. Some individuals also find it exhausting to see their own image on their screen. Monitoring and participating in the chat is added energy, like having conversations with two people at once. Finally, it is much easier to mistakenly stack meetings one after the next so that we leave one meeting and join the next meeting seconds later with a click. Aside from removing breaks, that shift causes mental fatigue as we adapt to each changing event. Below are a few suggestions to reduce actual Zoom fatigue: Schedule breaks between videoconference meetings Reduce multitasking, such as answering email while on a conference call Turn off your self-view (if the situation allows) if seeing your own image is stressful Identify cues for speaking, such as raising virtual hands. Restorative Steps Many people talk about Zoom fatigue, but often the fatigue they feel is actually from life or other computer work. There is such a thing as Zoom fatigue, but not all fatigue experienced while on Zoom is Zoom fatigue. Zoom is a convenient scapegoat for the fatigue we are all feeling. Still, we need to identify the underlying culprits creating the fatigue we experience in order to reduce the stress and strain that leaves us exhausted. To break the cycle of fatigue, we must accurately identify the source(s) and implement healthy measures to restore balance. This may be as easy as modifying our behavior to include scheduled breaks and practicing self-care. It may also mean seeking professional help to restore and support our physical and mental wellbeing. Discussion Questions 1. Which factors during COVID-19 cause increased fatigue for you? If you could be granted access to resources that would reduce fatigue, what resources would you request? 2. The three types of fatigue noted in this article are certainly not an exhaustive list. Select one of these three, or one of your own, that has been particularly challenging for you. You do not have to share anything that you do not wish to share but think about how you have responded to that challenge. If you were to face a similar challenge in the future, what might you do differently to address the area of fatigue noted? 3. When the pandemic is over, and it will be one day, what can you do in the future to reduce fatigue due to being on Zoom calls or videoconference meetings? References Covert, B. (2021, July 20). 8 hours a day, 5 days a week is not working for us. New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/07/20/opinion/covid-return-to-office.html Koutsimani P., Montgomery A., & Georganta, K. (2019). The relationship between burnout, depression, and anxiety: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Frontiers in Psychology 10, 284. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00284 Ramachandran, V. (2021, February 23). Stanford researchers identify four causes for ‘Zoom fatigue’ and their simple fixes. Stanford News. https://news.stanford.edu/2021/02/23/four-causes-zoom-fatigue-solutions/ Additional Resources Sheppard, A. L., & Wolffsohn, J. S. (2018). Digital eye strain: prevalence, measurement and amelioration. BMJ Open Ophthalmology, 3(1), e000146. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmjophth-2018-000146
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Will You Still Respect Me If I Am Not Overwhelmed?
Todd Zakrajsek University of North Carolina School of Medicine My graduate degree is in industrial/organizational psychology. I spent years studying how to make organizations bigger and better and how to make workers happier, more efficient, and motivated to work harder. I also learned strategies to motivate workers who slacked off and wasted not only their time but also the time of others. Yes, there were certainly glimpses of concern for health and wellness of workers, but the overarching theme was clear: Successful people work hard, and hard workers tend to be successful. Common quips about ways to be successful include: “Keep your nose to the grindstone,” “put your shoulder to the wheel,” “the early bird catches the worm,” and “reach for the stars.” The message is clear and consistent: Successful workers are expected to keep busy. This bias is particularly salient in higher education. Including my time as a student, I have been in higher education for over 40 years. In all that time, if I asked someone how they were doing, the most consistent response was some variation on, “I’m really busy,” or “I’m swamped.” Higher education has a long history of expecting faculty members to do a lot, and then to do more—to accept one more committee assignment, advisee, or course overload. Many times in my career as a faculty member, a department chair or provost would make a request of me, knowing full well I was already taxed to my limits, to do one more thing that “wouldn’t take much time.” In such situations, nearly every request is deemed essential to the campus, an opportunity for career advancement, a personal favor to the person making the request, or aid to a student in a jam. As a result, faculty members find themselves mired in tasks that are vitally important to someone. The resulting busyness is taken as proof of one’s loyalty to the campus and commitment to the expected advancement of a career. The problem is that once excessive busyness is accepted as evidence of a faculty member’s commitment to the campus or a career, it can be weaponized. In the name of equity of effort, anyone not overwhelmed can be pushed to step up their commitments. Within higher education it raises eyebrows to see a faculty member who is not late for committee meetings, racing to get to class, carrying a stack of papers to grade, or displaying some other overt signs of being stressed by long hours of work. We may not like it, but we become so accustomed to faculty members being busy we begin to see being overwhelmed as the standard. In too many ways we respect the amazing amount of tasks some are able to accomplish. Unfortunately, excessive busyness can be counterproductive in the long run. Those who are completely occupied with tasks of today have little to no time to devote to strategic planning and forthcoming challenges (Schisow, 2018). Those who are busy to the point of fatigue frequently face emerging health challenges. It is time to seriously challenge the overworked = good academic citizen we find throughout higher education. Fortunately, there are those within higher education who already advocate for effective work with a reasonable expectation of time committed, rather than the idea of accepting additional assignments to the point of excessive busyness. Early into a new job of building a faculty development center at a medium-sized midwestern university, I had the opportunity to speak with the president in the hallway. He asked how I was doing. I told him I had many projects moving forward and that I was working long hours every day, seven days a week, to get the teaching center up and running quickly. He looked concerned and said, “That is unfortunate. When I approved your hire, it was because I thought you were an effective faculty developer. What is it that you are struggling with the most that would require such long hours?” That put me on my heels. Wasn’t I supposed to be grinding out accomplishments, gritting my teeth and foregoing a personal life, all to prove my value as a dedicated and hardworking member of the campus? I didn’t realize it at the time, but that president’s perception of effectiveness was what we need in higher education. My perception was misguided. Working to the point of exhaustion should not be a badge of honor, it should be a cause for concern. If working effectively across a regular workweek was the standard in higher education, rather than stacking one task on top of another, individuals could work a reasonable number of hours per week, without having colleagues look at them askance and question their commitment. Despite the longstanding expectations of being on many committees, having long lists of advisees, and teaching overloaded courses as necessary to being successful and showing loyalty, there is a solid, and growing, position that the best employees are not the ones who are putting in the longest hours and working on weekends. More leaders than ever are concerned about the sustainability of individuals engaging in excessive work and the resulting burnout. To be successful in the long run, working hard and efficiently for a reasonable number of hours should be desired over the metric of being overwhelmed. Summary It is imperative that we disabuse ourselves of the number of hours worked as some indication of commitment, duty, and loyalty. This is not a call to work less, to be less committed, or accept lower quality outcomes. It is a change in focus. We need to see individuals as successful when they work hard for a reasonable number of hours and maintain a strong track record of accomplishing work outcomes. We need to allow for a person to have a healthy work-life harmony and still be respected as a valuable and effective colleague. Discussion Questions 1. Where do you think we got the idea that being busy is expected of faculty members and that those who are not busy are somehow not “doing their fair share?” 2. Think of 3 to 5 of the most effective individuals you know at your institution. To what extent does the perceived amount of work they do impact your perception of their value to the institution? 3. Is there a person at your institution that you feel works at, or about, 40 hours per week during the academic year and is well respected by faculty, students, and administrators? If not, explain why you feel such individuals don’t exist at your institution. What would it take for the perception to change? If yes, explain what you think contributes to that individual holding such a positive reputation while working less hours than the other faculty members or administrators. References Fletcher, P. (November 13, 2020). Work-life balance is over: Let’s talk about work-life harmony. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbeshumanresourcescouncil/2020/11/13/work-life-balance-is-over-lets-talk-about-work-life-harmony/?sh=1d3df6565b48 McMillan, H. S., Morris, M. L., & Atchley, E. K. (2011). Constructs of the work/life interface: A synthesis of the literature and introduction of the concept of work/life harmony. Human Resource Development Review,10(1), 6–25. https://doi.10.1177/1534484310384958 Schisow, J. (2018). The ‘business of busyness’: How productivity keeps us from preparing for the future. B & T Weekly. https://www.bandt.com.au/business-busyness-productivity-keeps-us-preparing-future/ Wiggins, G., & McTighe, J. (2011). Understanding by design (2nd ed.). Association for Supervision & Curriculum Development.
Incorporating Virtual Instructional Strategies that Increase Student Engagement
Joanne Ricevuto, Harcum College Laura McLaughlin, Neumann University What do you do when you are on Zoom (or whatever platform you use) during a virtual meeting? Be honest. Do you pay attention the entire time, or do you multitask by doing other work or texting a colleague to say how boring the meeting is that it should have been an email? Well, if you're not paying attention during Zoom meetings, why do we expect our students to be any different? The pandemic has changed how faculty design courses, whether face-to-face, hybrid, hi-flex, or online. The challenge now is how to keep students on-task and engaged with the content. The following suggestions aim to help ensure student success and engagement in your next course. Asynchronous Instruction Asynchronous instruction increases flexibility. Research suggests that virtual environments are different from face-to-face teaching with respect to learning and need to be modified accordingly. When developed well, asynchronous instruction can provide valuable flexibility for both students and faculty, allow for deeper student learning, and result in more engaged learners. Synchronous Instruction Synchronous instruction supports a flexible environment when it is active, collaborative, and flexible. We also believe that synchronous sessions that can best support a flexible learning environment are dynamic and collaborative. Examples of an active synchronous session include using shared virtual spaces such as Google documents or Padlets that students can edit and interactive slides where students can answer questions (PearDeck or NearPod). Additionally, breakout rooms can be beneficial, allowing students to collaborate, share ideas, or complete assignments together during the live session. Plan Instructional Activities Determine which of your activities should be asynchronous, which ones should be synchronous, and which ones should be face-to-face. Consider dividing your classroom learning into two general categories: lectures/presentations/readings and active learning activities in real-time. Begin by considering how to deliver content and balance learning activities between synchronous and asynchronous instruction. Lecturing can be a prerecorded event that students would watch independently and come to class prepared for discussion. Students should be involved with the content from the asynchronous modes by being active participants in breakout rooms, polling, ed-tech platforms such as Jamboard, Nearpod, Pear Deck, Padlet, and the like. Plan Community Building Activities After more than a year in a pandemic, many students feel disconnected. Students feel more detached from professors and their fellow students than professors believe them to be (Otter, Seipel, Graeff, Alexander, Boraiko, Gray, Petersen, & Sadler, 2013). It's conducive to establish a trusting classroom community. As instructors, we should strive to humanize the classroom regardless of delivery modality. An icebreaker is a great way to start your class session and create a sense of belonging and community. It is a quick (5 - 10 minutes) way to check in with your students in a non-invasive way. Incorporate a simple, anonymous rating that asks how they are doing/feeling at the beginning of every class by using the chatbox, Google forms (or something similar), or a poll. Such surveys give students an opportunity to express how they feel and provide you with immediate feedback. Set up High-impact Learning Opportunities Assign High impact learning opportunities so learners are engaged with the course content and learning regardless of the instructional platform. Some characteristics of high-impact practices include opportunities for real-life learning, reflection, feedback, and active engagement (Kuh, 2013). One high-impact learning idea is to have students interview a professional in their field and share their findings in a presentation with the class. The live sessions can allow students to collaborate and discuss the projects they are working on and connect to the course content. Students learn to network in their field and become familiar with professionals who will hopefully connect them with jobs in the future. Provide Options: Promote Work/Life Balance Although we hope that all of our students will attend and participate during synchronous sessions, we suggest having options for times when they cannot be present. It is all too easy to forget that our students may have families (who may fall sick) and competing work obligations (Corbera, Anguelovski, Honey-Roses, & Ruiz-Mallen, 2020). If a student cannot attend a live synchronous session, they can still participate in learning through asynchronous engagement or completing alternative assignments. Likewise, we have found giving students choice when it comes to assessments is also a helpful way to provide flexibility. One student may prefer to present their project, while another may want to write a report. As long as students can demonstrate their learning, then flexibility only helps. Final Thoughts Learning environments work best when there is a mix of asynchronous and synchronous instruction and when learners feel connected to the content, to each other, and to their instructor. From our own experience and from working with faculty, we believe that long, extended synchronous sessions are ineffective and bring about frustration and fatigue for both faculty and students. Our research has shown "if done with purpose and intention using best practice to plan and implement online instruction, student learning outcomes improve along with retention and graduation rates, and access to diverse populations increases" (McLaughlin & Ricevuto, 2021, p. 21). Moving forward, we encourage you to be intentional about implementing virtual teaching and learning within our institutions as we continue to find new ways to engage our learners. Discussion Questions How can virtual learning be leveraged to provide supportive and engaging teaching and learning environments for faculty and students? How do you balance your synchronous sessions with asynchronous activities? What is one new way you might enhance class time by adding a meaningful active learning strategy? How do you, or how could you, chunk class time into segments that include community building, lecturing, and reflection to enhance student engagement and learning (provide specific examples). References Corbera, E., Anguelovski, I., Honey-Roses, J., & Ruiz-Mallen, I. (2020). Academia in the Time of Covid-19: Towards an Ethics of Care. Planning Theory & Practice, 21, 191-199. https://doi.org/10.1080/14649357.2020.1757891 Kuh, George D. & O'Donnell, K. (2013). Ensuring quality & taking high-impact practices to scale. Washington, DC: Association of American Colleges & Universities. McLaughlin, L. & Ricevuto, J. (2021). Virtual instruction support for faculty. Issues in Informing Science and Information Technology, 18, 1-30. https://doi.org/10.28945/4792 Otter, R., Seipel, S., Graeff, T., Alexander, B., Boraiko, C., Gray, J., Petersen, K., & Sadler, K. (2013). Comparing student and faculty perceptions of online and traditional courses. The Internet and Higher Education, 19, 27-35. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.iheduc.2013.08.001
Rethinking Composition - Writing Outside of the Rubric
Jason DeHart Appalachian State University Many metaphors are sandwiched into what it means to be a writer and what it means to write. Some teachers insist that composing is like baseball, while others suggest the process is like swimming. These are comparisons I have tried out when teaching writing with middle schools and with university students. I think they are true, like all metaphors, at least in part. Writing Beyond the Rubric To Create Identity Yes, learning to write requires one to write. What is frightening at times about writing instruction is how this artwork is miscommunicated as only a series of menial steps or as a golden prize to be achieved only after crossing through some gates. Johnson and Dehaan (2021) noted this dynamic of resistance to claiming a writer's identity. For my work as a literacy scholar, this resistance holds implications for the students I encounter in clinical practice – and sometimes for the preservice teachers who are working with these children. Part of the impetus for sharing about writing stems from my concern that much of composition instruction is either ignored or reduced to a series of by-the-numbers steps to broach academic writing. I fear that composition has been chained by seemingly well-meaning individuals, often in positions of power. In 2012, the school district I was working in was flooded with a range of writing standards, focused on expository, argument, and narrative composition. Because the state in which I taught incorporated a writing assessment, these changes were taken very seriously and resulted in many school-wide assessment practices throughout the academic year. Storytelling as a Foundation for Composition Composition, like so much of instruction, cannot become a casualty of over-testing culture. There is too much beauty and too much power in storytelling to be withered. While I do not have a comprehensive answer to this issue, I suggested a few steps pedagogically. Redefine what counts as an error. Suppose I start a new paragraph with a broken line of enjambment. In poetry, this is acceptable, but not in prose. Suppose I dare to write in which the way I speak (for example, I rarely use prepositional phrases like "in which" mid-sentence). Understanding the balance of prescriptive grammar, those principles that must be held to, and student voice are important and thoughtful work in writing instruction. Reconsider the red pen approach, even when a mistake is made. Lindblom (2020) noted that it is not always helpful to correct writing errors for six reasons, including the effect on the student's view of themselves, as well as the danger of creating dependence. When possible, I advocate for holding off on swift correction, especially considering the multiple goals that might be part of writing instruction. Continue being critical. No one owns writing. No one owns what quality writing looks like, and opinions differ greatly. For example, consider the wide range of feedback that might occur surrounding one student paper. The subjective nature of writing makes the evaluation process majestically difficult – often because the composition is forced into the confines of a rubric that does not always fit the intention of the exercise. Composing, like all art, is living and active, is changing and transformative. Frawley (2018) noted cultural influences and further suggested the relationship between writing and practice. Writing is powerful and personal, and I learned this best from working with middle-grade writers for almost ten years and then taking my experiences to the university classroom and clinical literacy space. Sometimes I find this reminder tucked in the need to write a poem or two after drafting out pages of research. Sometimes, I find this reminder when a child's drawing or bit of writing falls out of a used book that I have just purchased. If we are going to teach writing in a meaningful way, we have to go there, too. Sometimes that means we negotiate our vulnerability and our willingness to share. We choose and edit what we want to say and self-disclose, and this is a move that I have documented from teachers I have worked with who use filmmaking in their classrooms. In Conclusion In the rush to college readiness, my final note hinges on the importance of hearing student stories, sharing our stories, and keeping the beauty of writing as a central element. At the same time, we can step back, reconsider and rework, and ask ourselves about the curricular intentions of honoring certain styles of writing (even certain styles of grammar) over others. Above all, I desire to keep writing alive as a process that is never really done, just as I want to make sure my reading instruction is focused on keeping the world of literacy alive. To teach reading and writing, I believe we have to love this content and develop an appreciation for student voice. This passion, alongside our belief in our students and our desire to honor their voices and experiences, is the heartbeat of what we do. Discussion Questions: 1. Where are you in your development of writer identity? 2. What are your concerns about teaching writing? 3. How do you invite student voices? References: Frawley, E. (2018). Are you a writer? Literary and cultural influences on writer identity uptake within subject English. English in Australia, 53(3), 64-72. Johnson, K., & Dehaan, K. (2021). Real writers: Perceptions of writer identity. English Journal, 110(5), 80-86. Lindblom, K. (2020). 6 reasons not to correct student errors in writing. https://edukention.com/6-reasons-not-to-correct-errors-in-student-writing/
Team-based Learning as a Hybrid Teaching Strategy: Increasing Engagement During COVID Parameters
Becky Tugman Clemson University A current challenge that many instructors face is keeping students engaged during the pandemic. Professors and students have had to adjust to the many challenges posed by courses being either hybrid or fully online. However, even synchronous sessions do not always increase the engagement of the students. Therefore, requiring students to be engaged through non-traditional classroom methods needs to be explored. One of these methods is Team-Based Learning, a proven strategy to increase student engagement and connection to the content due to its collaborative nature. Team-Based Learning (TBL) combines both conceptual and procedural knowledge while encouraging collaboration within the classroom (Michealson & Sweet, 2008). This method follows a set of guidelines, including team formation by instructor, individual learning components, and a team application exercise for each module (Clark et al., 2018). This student-center teaching method applies to various disciplines. It is an ideal approach to use during the pandemic due to its ability to be adapted to in-person, online learning, or a hybrid method. Several health professional curriculums include TBL due to its ability to promote problem-solving while working collaboratively (Parmelee et al., 2012). There are five steps to TBL. The first step is an “advance assignment,” an out-of-class assignment, like other flipped classroom methods, where the student reviews content from reading material, videos, labs, etc. (Michealson & Sweet, 2008). Next, completion of an individual readiness assurance test (iRAT) gauges understanding of the pre-class assignment. Immediately after taking this short quiz, students gather in groups to retake the same quiz while discussing the answers to each question. If students miss a question, they have the opportunity to appeal the question with justification for their response (Michealson & Sweet, 2008). The instructor then meets with the class to cover material surrounding the concepts missed. The final step is a team application where students work through a real-world scenario, and they come together to present a viable solution. I recently used TBL In an undergraduate health science course. Introducing the format to students during the first class, they were referred to the website Team-Based Learning Collaborative to watch a short video to learn more about the method. I grouped teams based on education level, major, and gender. Teams were encouraged to meet and discuss personal strengths that each member could bring to the team before the first module. Every team was assigned a group class Zoom link for meetings, using recordings to increase member accountability. The TBL format needed only slight modifications from the original steps to fit the needs of a hybrid method, employing it in the following manner for each of the eight modules covered during the semester: • Class period 1 – Assigned chapter(s) readings: Students were given a handout to guide them on key concepts covered in the chapter. Students had the option to complete study notes independently, with a peer member, or with the professor during class time if clarification of content was needed. Most students worked alone, consulting with the professor occasionally. • Class period 2 – Each student completed an individual readiness assurance 10-question quiz through a learning platform (i.e., Canvas). These quizzes were open-note but timed (eight minutes) to encourage students to learn the content. After completing the quiz, the students returned to the classroom (some physically and some through Zoom) to discuss questions related to the content. • Class period 3 – Dedicating the first few minutes to cover any additional content questions, and then groups met to retake the same quiz to discuss their understanding of the material. With 15 minutes remaining in class, quiz answers are revealed and students can argue through an appeal process to gain back points. • Class period 4 – The team application was a problem-based learning question (PBL) that is likely to be asked in a healthcare/public health setting. Teams encourage creative freedom for finding solutions and posting them to a discussion board by the end of class period 5. • Class period 5 – Team applications wrap including final solutions with students' reflection on individual contributions, teamwork, and the value of the problem posed. All thirty-five students gave feedback on each component of the process, giving a quantitative rating (0= not fair or beneficial, 1= fair, but not beneficial, 2= fair and beneficial) and qualitative comments. The group components were the most valued part of this approach (group test average – 1.87 and team application – 1.88). The comments highlighted benefiting from team discussions and looking at the material from different perspectives. Students also found benefit in individual learning (average – 1.67) and quiz (1.68) with the common theme that they were held accountable for learning the information. The reflective component was the least valued (average 1.33). Some students had trouble doing metacognition and found reflecting on every module to be tedious. Overall, students were pleased with the experience as one student commented, “At first, I was skeptical about the prospect of team-based learning, as I had never had a class with this format before. However, after a month of it, I believe that this format was the key to my success in this class and I deeply enjoyed working on each PBL. It is obvious that the strength of this class lies in its requirement to apply the material to real-life scenarios, which makes learning it more enjoyable.” During the pandemic, students have been encouraged to limit in-person contact to decrease the spread of COVID. Using Zoom or other platforms, instructors can use TBL to get all students to engage in collaboration regularly. “The PBLs were my favorite parts of the course, especially with the reduced amount of interaction right now due to COVID; it was nice having a group throughout the semester.” Gaber et al., (2020) found similar benefits to TBL during the pandemic, with an 85% satisfaction rate. Several research articles explain how to do TBL for those who want to try it. Fatmi et al. (2013) conducted a literature review of TBL used in health profession education and found that TBL increased students’ knowledge; however, some students still preferred traditional methods. COVID has caused education to have to step away from the traditional lecture. Therefore, now might be a good time to try this method. Discussion Questions 1. What aspects of TBL do you see as most beneficial for courses set up in a hybrid format? 2. Students often struggle with seeing the value of reflections, as they did in this situation. What can be done to help students to have a more positive experience with (or perception of) reflection? 3. What potential barriers would you anticipate experiencing in trying TBL in your course? References Clark, M., Merrick, L., Styron, J., Dolowitz, A., Dorius, C., Madeka, K., Bender, H., Johnson, J., Chapman, J, Gillette, M., Dorneich, M, O’Dwyer, B., Grogan, J., Brown, T., Leonard, B., Rongerude, J., & Winter, L. (2018). Off to On: Best Practices for Online Team-Based Learning. Team-Based Learning™ Collaborative (TBLC) conference. Fatmi, M., Hartling, L., Hillier, T., Campbell, S., & Osward, A. (2013). The effectiveness of team-based learning on learning outcomes in health professions education: BEME Guide No. 30. Medical Teacher, 35(12), e1608–e1624. https://doi.org/10.3109/0142159X.2013.849802 Gaber, D. A., Shehata, M. H., & Amin, H. A. A. (2020). Online team-based learning sessions as interactive methodologies during the pandemic. Medical Education, 54(7), 666–667. https://doi.org/10.1111/medu.14198 Michaelsen, L. K., & Sweet, M. (2008). The essential elements of team-based learning. New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 2008(116), 7–27. https://doi.org/10.1002/tl.330 Parmelee, D., Michaelsen, L. K., Cook, S., & Hudes, P. D. (2012). Team-based learning: A practical guide: AMEE guide no. 65. Medical Teacher, 34(5), e275–e287. https://doi.org/10.3109/0142159X.2012.651179
Incorporating Digital Outcomes in a Course
Bart Ganzert Winston-Salem State University Many years ago, reading and writing literacies appeared. Then came Cultural Literacy, Media Literacy, and Information Literacy. Somewhere in the midst of these came Digital Literacy. Digital Literacy essentially means the ability for people to access and utilize technology to promote or enhance their daily lives. The American Library Association has defined Digital Literacy as "the ability to use information and communication technologies to find, evaluate, create, and communicate information, requiring both cognitive and technical skills." The effect of technology on our daily lives, particularly the past 20 or so years, is indisputable; however, technology is currently changing at its fastest pace ever. Consequently, the definition of Digital Literacy continues to evolve, which today encompasses not just how we interpret but how we employ and utilize the digital world to create needed items. Our 21st-Century Employee Digital resources are a necessity in the modern age, and the way we employ them is integral to our success. Knowledge of digital platforms is not enough. The reality of the contemporary workplace is proficiency with digital understanding, being able to pivot among multiple platforms to generate the needed product, and, of course, adapt to the next new "thing" in technology as it emerges. Studies now show a notable gap in digital knowledge and digital expectation between employees and employers. In an Internships.com survey of students' confidence in being digitally prepared for work, 44% responded that they felt "well-prepared" or "very prepared." In contrast, only 18% of surveyed employers responded that students demonstrate competency for entry-level positions. In a Hart Research Associates study, 80% of employers found electronic portfolios fairly or very useful in identifying useful job skills, compared with only 45% of employers who found traditional college transcripts helpful. John Jolliffe, a senior manager with Adobe, described changes in how we define Digital Literacy by describing today's students and workers as "becoming content makers, fluent in expressing and presenting their ideas to external audiences. They don't just want to understand problems but to produce solutions to problems; likewise, they don't want to know how to merely use technology but apply it imaginatively to perform a task or create something new. "This presents an important challenge today in higher education: How do we teach these skills and how do we leverage them effectively and efficiently within the curricula of our disciplines?" Digital users and digital composers Some of the most remarkable changes in the way we store and access information have come in the past 20 years. These changes include wholesale digitization of assets, including infrastructure, connected machines, data, and data platforms. These changes affect how we interact with that information, as the digitization of operations, including processes, payments, and business models, and customer and supply chain interactions have followed suit. The changes above have led to digitizing the workforce, requiring workers to use digital tools, digitally skilled workers, and entirely new digital jobs and roles. New Goals for Education This new digital paradigm requires new skills from educated individuals both working and navigating the world. Digital literacy development, as a whole, helps contribute to that knowledge society. Learners are able to interpret and make meaning of an abundance of information and navigate how they share data online. However, in addition to supplying the confidence to address a digital world, these digital literacy skills would enable workers and citizens to become efficient consumers of the digital and composers of the digital. The new Digital Literacy should be, in fact, a skill set of creative as well as analytic. Recognizing and developing Digital Literacy skills is a primary task right now. These will be as crucial for everyone moving into the 21st century as any literacy skills that have come before. It's important that we invest wide attention to it. Implementing Digital Literacy Outcomes in Classroom Assignments As noted above, Digital Literacy is the ability to ethically use information and communication technologies to find, evaluate, create, and communicate information effectively. This is a broad definition that covers the basic literacy of our digital age and indicates a higher order of fluency to understand and navigate digital mediums and apply them aptly, appropriately, and effectively. This definition is not meant to supplant any concept of literacy that has come before it but to determine that the Digital encompasses separate skills and demands that determine fluency in Digital modes. And Digital modes are a venue of their own to be navigated by a different fluency than any other literacy. A key point of understanding for the Digital Mode is that it both requires a different fluency to be successfully used and that items in a Digital Mode project themselves in a different way than other modes of communication. Digital communications are read in different ways; Digital Modes are projected in different ways. Digital skills and understanding how to incorporate digital modes as a means of effective communication and a source of knowledge are critical proficiencies for students as a key to understanding the digital world and navigating a career within it. Coursework can exhibit important skills to ensure students are proficient digital users and creators. Creating a Digital Assignment Following is an example of an assignment from an introductory humanities course. It asks students to incorporate multiple digital modalities into a presentation. The format for this assignment can be adapted to fit assignment objectives in other disciplines by changing content or altering objectives to fit student learning needs. A Digital Humanities Assignment Example In this assignment, you will: • Evaluate or analyze a major work in the course • Utilize digital modes to construct an argumentative narrative This semester you have read, discussed, and offered short analyses of three principal works: Great Expectations (Charles Dickens), Guerrillas (V.S. Naipaul), and The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith (Thomas Keneally). Each of these novels is set in a different country and in a different time frame. Using Adobe Spark, put together a presentation that touches on a social condition in one of the above works. This presentation may focus on any issue evidenced or discussed in the work, but must contain the following elements: 1) At least three digital modes. A digital mode can include: video, text, text links, photograph, simple graphic, interactive or animated graphics, and Infographics. 2) A developed narrative that addresses one of the following themes: • A discussion of the issue, describing its place as a point of conflict in the novel. • A reflection on the relevance of the issue. Is this issue present with us today? If so, where and how is it exhibited in the world? Does it appear in different degrees or variations? 3) A clear integration of the digital mediums you chose above. To do so, you may choose to video record sources (interviews) who can speak on the issues. You can use audio or links from appropriate media to substantiate your points. However, be sure to make clear reference to each medium and how it serves as a part of your whole presentation. Expand this basic assignment by adding objectives and digital outcomes, which students may implement in other activities that may fit a particular class or discipline. Summary Teaching digital skills as a proficiency and critical thinking process is essential for developing students who will be navigating the 21st century as capable digital citizens and as effective thinkers. Incorporating these skills in course assignments will add to a student's general skill set and strengthen a student's ability to navigate and create in a digital realm. Discussion Questions • How can or are digital outcomes implemented in your primary discipline? • Describe ways digital outcomes can enhance critical thinking skills? • Explain how digital modes can be used to enhance analysis or evaluation? References Hart Research Associates, Falling Short? College Learning and Career Success (Washington, DC: Association of American Colleges and Universities, 2015), p. 13. Internships.com, (16 July 2014 ) “New Skills Gap Survey Reveals Increasing Student Demand for Digital Skills, Employer Appetite for Tech Savvy Hires,” press release. Jolliffe, J. (2016, Nov 22). New Approaches to Digital Literacy and the Digital Skills Gap. Adobe Blogs. https://blog.adobe.com/en/publish/2016/11/22/its-time-to-rethink-approaches-to-digital-literacy-and-the-digital-skills-gap.html#gs.6yqo70
Five Tips for Launching an Online Writing Group
Kristina Rouech, Central Michigan University Betsy VanDeusen, Central Michigan University Holly Hoffman, Central Michigan University Jennifer Majorana, Central Michigan University Making time for writing can be difficult at any stage of your career. Pushing writing aside for grading, lesson planning, meeting with students, and committee work is too easy. However, writing is a necessary part of our careers and has the added benefit of helping us stay current with our practice and knowledge in our field. Lee and Boud (2003) stress that groups should focus on developing peer relationships and writing identity, increasing productivity, and sharing practical writing. Online writing groups can help us accomplish this. With the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, working online has become a necessity, but it can take time to figure out what works best for you and your writing colleagues. We recommend five tips to help you establish an online writing group that is productive and enjoyable for all participants. Tip 1: Establish Group Norms This first step is critical in order for all participants to understand the purpose and format of the group. A facilitator can help establish norms, send communications, host the meeting, and keep the group on task. The role of facilitator can be assigned and permanent or rotate among group members. Each member needs to commit to the group and hold each other accountable. Create an agreement within the norms that addresses being present at each meeting and identifying when it is understandable to be absent. We provide the example of our norms to model the types of agreements that helped us be productive during our writing time. Our Group Norms: Leave the camera on – with mute. Set a standing meeting, giving grace for major life events and unavoidable appointments. Share goals to begin, recap work done at the end. Make it known that pep talks are always available. Continue to work on research projects by memoing: - Types of activity - Progress - What worked well, what was a struggle Tip 2: Structure Your Time Together Decide your meeting time. We set a once weekly schedule for two hours each time and decided on virtual meetings, which broke down geographic barriers and widened possibilities for group membership. Then, decide on a meeting structure. One option is to set up a share – write – debrief schedule: • 10 minutes: Have each person share their current project and specific goals for the writing block today. • 100 minutes: This is focused writing time (a method helps, see Tip #3). Each group member commits to working on writing during this time. This is a commitment we make for ourselves. Put other tasks aside—give yourself the time to focus on your writing and the important things you have to say. • 10 minutes: Debrief with group. This is the time to share what you accomplished, solicit advice, and provide support. It is also a good space to share target journals and writing outlets. Keeping the group small (we had four people) will allow this time frame to work most days. Tip 3: Find a Writing Method that Works for You There are many writing methods and formats to utilize as a group or individually. Not everyone needs to use the same format; however, you do need to find what works for you in order to use your time wisely. Here are three options to consider: • Pomodoro Technique: This was developed by Francesco Cirillo in the 1980s as a time management method. Select a task, set a timer for 25 minutes and work only on that task, then when the timer goes off take a 5-minute break. Use this break to grab a snack, walk around, pet the dog, or do whatever you need to provide your brain a rest. After four rounds of this, take a longer break (Cirillo, 2020). • Brain Breaks: Some writing group members would opt to write until the flow slowed and then take brain breaks as needed. These breaks should be limited to about 5 minutes. • Set Word, Page, Reading Goals: Some writing group members would set word, page, or reading goals for the day depending on the task. Word or page count goals can be more concrete and therefore, more productive, than time goals. Many more methods are available with a quick internet search. Most important is to try a variety and find the method that works for you. Tip 4: Write! This should probably be the most obvious step of a writing group; however, it is also the most critical! There are so many tasks that get in the way of writing, so how can we ensure words appear on the paper? • Close out email and turn notifications off for everything. Any ding coming from your computer or phone will likely distract you from writing. • Keep cameras on for accountability to stay on task. • Most importantly, put those words on paper (Lamott, 1995)! Even if you delete them later, you never know what may appear. We sent motivating quotes about writing to one another to help on the dry days. Tip 5: Keep a Writing Journal We opted to keep a writing journal to document our progress, which allowed us to save snippets for potential writing about the process we developed (like this blog post) and make writing progress visible. Take a few moments at the end of each session for notes. Consider: • What went well with your writing today? What there something about the process that worked well? • What needs improvement? Is there something about the process, the piece you are working on, or your overall demeanor that needs adjustment? • What did you accomplish today and what needs to be done next? This will help set goals for your next writing session. • What ideas do you have for future projects? Group discussions may spark new ideas. Keep record of these thoughts for when you are looking for the next project. • Share with others. Don’t be afraid to share your thoughts, fears, joys of writing with others. Conclusion: Faculty members often do “not see themselves as full members of the ‘club’ in which they seemed to be inadvertent participants” (Lee & Boud, 2003, p. 198) when it comes writing. Participating in a writing group can help you develop your identities as a writer. Furthermore, it can help you make connections, stay motivated, and feel a greater sense of belonging within your college or university community. The 5 Tips above represent just a starting point and it is important to find what works for you and your colleagues. Discussion Questions 1. How might establishing an online writing group increase your productivity? 2. What are the advantages and disadvantages of an online writing group for your context and writing needs? 3. What writing groups have you been a part of and what aspects can you take to an online writing group to be more successful? References Badenhorst, C. M. (2013). Writing relationships: Collaboration in a faculty writing group. All Ireland Journal of Higher Education, 5(1), 1001-1026 Cirillo Consulting GMBH. (2020). The Pomodoro Technique. Retreived from: https://francescocirillo.com/pages/pomodoro-technique#part01 Houfex, J. F., Kaiser, K L., Visovsky, C., Barry, T. L., Nelson, A. E., Kaiser, M., & Miller, C. L. (2010). Using a writing group to promote faculty scholarship. Nurse Educator, 35(1), 41-45. doi: 10.1097/NNE.0b013e3181c42133 Lamott, A. (1995). Bird by bird: Some instructions on writing and life. Anchor Books. Lee, A., & Boud, D. (2003). Writing groups, change and academic identity: Research development as local practice. Studies in Higher Education, 28(2), 187-200. doi: 10.1080/0307507032000058109
Sharing Your Pandemic Teaching and Learning as the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning
Milton D. Cox Founder and Editor-in-Chief Emeritus, The Journal on Excellence in College Teaching and the Learning Communities Journal For many of us, the effects of the pandemic immediately changed our teaching and our students’ learning. It became a time of survival and creativity in new virtual classrooms. Suddenly there was little time and energy for scholarship with respect to teaching and learning. However, now that we have had an opportunity to engage in pandemic-related teaching and learning for a year, it is time to seize this unusual opportunity for scholarly teaching and the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL). The topic of teaching and learning during a pandemic has not been available during the 30-year existence of Boyer’s (1990) scholarship of pedagogy. The opportunity is available for SoTL scholars and those who may be new to such scholarship. This issue of the Scholarly Teacher describes seven steps for taking advantage of this opportunity. Before describing this process, are there examples of such articles that have been published already? It may be too early to have and assess published research about the effectiveness of teaching and learning due to Covid-19 as well as remedies to address long-term impacts. For example, the Journal on Excellence in College Teaching has not yet published such an article as of July 2021. It takes time for articles in the pipeline to be reviewed and published. Meanwhile, we can look back on what related research previous to this crisis has revealed about topics connected to the pandemic. Because my area of research is faculty learning communities, I’ll share a published article about a virtual faculty learning community (FLC) that was a structured community of practice (CoP). This CoP/FLC effectively created among its faculty participants a sense of belonging using a virtual-only approach and structure. “There is evidence that virtual CoPs are beneficial to the faculty participants’ sense of belonging based on feelings of validation, community, and teacher efficacy. Participants also stated that this experience would improve their teaching practices” (Cottom, Atwell, Martino & Ombres 2018, p.38). The authors indicate what structures and approaches made this virtual CoP effective. An article by Dickie (in press) provides additional SoTL research on what makes virtual CoPs successful. If we can build community for our students and faculty through creating a sense of belonging using virtual-only efforts, then let’s create and publish research that confirms these processes and structures, especially during times of crisis. Now, here are seven steps that can lead to SoTL about teaching and learning during the pandemic. 1) Select a project, a teaching/learning/institutional problem or opportunity (the research question) Describe your project: what you observed in your students’ behavior or institution’s approach that changed and what you did to address it: for example, aspects of content (topics, related test scores), process (ability to work in a group), or climate (morale, motivation). What did you do during your pandemic teaching that was different from your previous teaching? List learning objectives that you hoped students would achieve in your course before the pandemic and after implementing your project during the pandemic. Use active statements, such as, “After completing this course during the pandemic, my students were able to define (analyze, identify, etc.).” Do not use “understand” or other outcomes that cannot be directly measured. 2) Literature search and context What have others done (at your institution, in your discipline, at other places) with respect to your project to address this problem or opportunity? What was different from others about your approach during the pandemic? If your project involved a particular course or program, briefly describe it (context). What will/did you investigate on databases and search engines? For insights, look at the programs of recent Lilly Conferences or use the search engine of the Journal on Excellence in College Teaching at http://celt.muohio.edu/ject/ Ask librarians, your Teaching & Learning Center colleagues, and Google Scholar. Because the pandemic is so recent, there will be few articles addressing pandemic teaching and learning projects. This scarcity is also a reason that your manuscript could be welcomed and valued. 3) Proposed solution (intervention) Design: How do/did you propose to address and solve the problem, opportunity, or question? Why did you conjecture that your approach would succeed better than other attempts or would work better with your students, course, or institution? 4) Baseline Design: What do/did you plan to use for comparison to show project change and impact: results from a previous course before the pandemic or institutional process or behavior in a course before initiation of your project during the pandemic? Pre- and post-surveys in your course? Retention change? Writing? Student work? Use of a control group (your own or another colleague)? 5) Assessment Design: How will/did you determine the effectiveness and impact of your solution? Triangulate: select from use of surveys, Classroom Assessment Techniques, grades, retention, learning portfolios, student evaluations of teaching, and focus groups. If appropriate, use rubrics. Online items could include design, participation, and quality of discussion. Because the course you were teaching during the pandemic is probably completed at this time, you may need to look back and compare course outcomes of teaching and learning before the pandemic with teaching and learning in the course during the pandemic. 6) Presentation Prepare and submit a proposal for a campus presentation, get feedback, then submit for peer review for a conference presentation. Use steps 1-5 as outline. There are productive and supporting venues at Lilly Conferences. 7) Publication Prepare and submit for peer review a manuscript leveraged, aligned, and informed by the feedback from your conference presentation. The Journal on Excellence in College Teaching has been publishing the scholarship of teaching and learning since 1990, and four issues are published each year. The call for manuscripts and manuscript guidelines are at http://celt.muohio.edu/ject/ In conclusion, I acknowledge that the pandemic has offered new and perplexing challenges to teaching and learning. However, it has also opened an unusual opportunity for new scholarship of teaching and learning. I encourage you to present and publish your teaching and learning projects, changes, and outcomes that the pandemic has presented you. Discussion Questions 1. What one strategy did you employ during the pandemic that was different from your previous teaching? Why did you select this strategy? List learning objectives that you hoped would be realized as a result of the strategy you employed. 2. What one or two articles in the scholarship of teaching and learning literature are relevant to the strategy you employed? Summarize the similarities of the article(s) you found and how your strategy is different. 3. How will/did you determine the effectiveness and impact of your solution? Triangulate: select from use of surveys, Classroom Assessment Techniques, grades, retention, learning portfolios, student evaluations of teaching, and focus groups. What data from prepandemic teaching might you be able to use as a baseline for comparison? References Boyer, E. L. (1990). Scholarship reconsidered: Priorities of the professoriate. Princeton, NJ: The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Cottom, C., Atwell, A., Martino. L., & Ombres, S. (2018). Virtual community of practice: Connecting online adjunct faculty. Learning Communities Journal, 10, 27-40. Dickie, M. v. G. (in press). The protégé effect and virtual communities of practice. Learning Communities Journal, 13.
Active/Engaged Learning During a Pandemic: Yes, It Can Be Done
Todd Zakrajsek University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill This fall, we face challenges as we return to onsite classrooms. Bringing students together with social distancing presents limits to the instructional strategies that engage students with their peers. We see students sitting together, some masked and some not. Putting students into groups based on their maskedness is undoubtedly awkward, and I suspect, not allowed on many campuses. Asking students to work together in small groups when some are masked and others are not masked poses health risks and increases tension in the classroom. Finally, distancing students within the classroom, yet having them close enough to work in groups, is highly problematic given the noise level in the room and how difficult it becomes for students within a group to hear each other. Taken together, I fear many faculty assume lecturing is the only option. Based on extensive evidence, we know that lecturing does not hurt learning (Zakrajsek, 2018); however, the evidence is unequivocal that students learn better using active/engaged strategies along with mini-lectures. Lecturing throughout the entire class shows the least amount of learning compared to just about every instructional strategy in use (Freeman, 2014). Active learning is an instructional approach where students are engaged in the learning process by thinking, discussing, investigating, and creating. A subset of active learning is collaborative learning. Collaborative learning consists of teaching strategies in which students work in groups to learn, often to solve a problem or search for information. There are ways to use active and collaborative learning techniques without having students sit in small groups or pair off and discuss. Rather than reversing instruction to lecture format only, we need instead to maximize student engagement when the limiting factor is space. I propose that active and collaborative learning teaching strategies continue to be practiced – with precautions in place. So, how might one teach in the current environment? The following includes strategies that embrace pandemic-era, mask uncertainty, vaccine unpredictable conditions in which faculty may implement active and collaborative teaching strategies during face-to-face formatted classes. Pandemic-era Active Learning Strategies Pause Procedure An instructional technique in which the instructor presents a mini-lecture of 7 – 10 minutes and then stops. During these strategically placed pauses, students are to review the material and complete a task. The task could be to summarize the main point in their own words, identify one key point noted, write out a possible multiple-choice or essay question, or just about anything that gets the students actively engaged in the material. As the instructor, you can call on one or two students following the pause and ask them to report out quickly. Calling on a few students holds them accountable during the pause. Depending on what the student does during the pause, this teaching strategy helps check for understanding, encourages critical thinking, and may enhance the transfer of learning. Interpreted Lecture Accuracy of content presentation by faculty and reception by students is highly dependent on a host of variables. Some of these variables include the difficulty of the content being taught, any differences between a faculty member teaching a class and students in that class, and instructor expertise in the field (highly experienced people often have very technical vocabularies on their subject matter). For the interpreted lecture, deliver a lecture of 5 – 10 minutes. Then ask to "translate" what they just learned into plain English that students in the class are more likely to understand. Expressing material in one's own words is an excellent way to check for understanding and encourage critical listening skills. Find-a-Flaw This teaching strategy can be set up as a game for students in any course. At the start of a mini-lecture, announce that there will be one flaw introduced in the material. Students are to raise their hands as soon as they think they have found the flaw. One way to play this classroom game is that if a hand is raised for something not a flaw, that person is "out" of that round. This keeps a student from simply raising her hand as each concept or idea is taught. The find-a-flaw strategy teaches students that there may be misinformation in any material. It also helps with listening skills, critical thinking, and the integration of material. This activity can be used in synchronous online classes by having students type into the chat as soon as they feel they have heard an inserted flaw. Graffiti Board Use Grafitti Board to bring online learning strategies into the classroom. Identify a prompt for a block of material pertinent to the learning outcomes for the day. Set up a Padlet (you can quickly get a free account at Padlet.com if you don't have one) and a project that Padlet onto whatever screens are available in the classroom. There are seven options for pads within Padlet. I would suggest a canvas pad (note this is a type of Padlet pad and NOT the Canvas LMS). Project the QR code and URL link to the pad for all students in the class. Have students independently post information on the pad related to whatever prompt you provided. This activity can help students think more critically about a topic, see what others see as important, and promote strategic web searching skills. Pandemic-era Collaborative Learning Strategies Caution: I would suggest NOT asking students to chat with one another using their phone numbers; please respect and maintain privacy. There are a host of chat apps that will allow students to communicate through a neutral platform. Graffiti Board The strategy noted above can also be done as a collaborative learning strategy. Instead of a canvas Padlet, use a shelf Padlet. Put students into groups and number or name each group. Each group is then to work on the column that matches their group number or name. The Padlet, with group names or numbers, will need to be set up before class. Students can communicate with one another through GroupMe or some other group chat app that does not require students to reveal their phone numbers. Ask your students which they recommend and have them help decide how to do this part. The point is to give students in the same room the opportunity to “speak” with each other without talking. Think two teenagers sitting at the dining room table, phones out, talking to each other about the meal while you are eating. Aside from Padlet, Google Jamboard can also be used. Just set up a different page for each group. Think-Pair-Share Most educators use this strategy regularly. Students are given 30 seconds to a minute to think about a prompt given, then turn to a neighbor to pair and discuss what they are thinking, followed by sharing information discussed with the entire class. The challenge here is to have the pair section that does not require students to sit close to one another. The share section can be done in class just as any student question or response might be done. For the pair part of the activity, students can communicate through GroupMe or another group chat app they prefer, just as noted above. The think-pair-share is helpful to check for understanding, think critically about the material, and teach each other challenging concepts. Note-taking Pairs For this teaching strategy, assign students in-class material to read or deliver a short lecture. Have students take notes on what they have read or heard. Give students ample time to read the material presented. Ideally, it is best to post the material before class to allow students who need more time to read the opportunity to read the material at their own pace. Then during class, those who have not read the material can read it, and those who have can reread it. Then have students compare their notes, pointing out the main issue presented or learned. It is also valuable to ask students to come up with one application or way in which they interpret the content. Students can communicate with each other through GroupMe or another group chat app that they prefer. They will have one they prefer. Classes with mixed maskers and no personal information about vaccines create an extremely stressful and challenging teaching environment. That said, there is no need to default to lecturing all of the time, as there are many ways to include active and collaborative teaching strategies into any course (Major, Harris, & Zakrajsek, 2021). The challenge is to identify ways to do that in classrooms that do not require students to talk in small groups or directly with one another in a way that might spread a COVID variant. I have seen my daughters have friends over to the house, all sit in one room, and interact with one another without uttering a word. If middle schoolers and teenagers can pull that off, so can we. Discussion Questions 1. What teaching strategy did you use previously that you found difficult to use in classrooms where students cannot be put into situations whereby they chat with each other? What is the limiting factor in using that strategy in classrooms during pandemics? 2. What is your favorite educational technology to use in the classroom? What does the use of that technology promote: critical thinking, reflection, or as a learning check? How might that technology be adapted to make it even more effective in your next class? 3. Once teaching during a pandemic is behind us, and it will be one day, what teaching strategy have you developed that might be used to benefit a classroom where students are freely able to get into groups or pairs to speak with one another? What will this strategy promote: web searching skills, application, listening skills? References and Additional Resources Harrington, C., & Zakrajsek, T. (2017). Dynamic lecturing: Research-based strategies to enhance lecture effectiveness. Stylus Freeman, S., et al., (2014). Active learning books performance in STEM courses. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 111, 8410-8415. Major, C.H., Harris, M., Zakrajsek, T.D. (2021). Teaching for learning: 101 intentionally designed activities to put students on the path to success (2nd Ed). Routledge. Zakrajsek, T. (2018). Reframing the lecture versus active learning debate: Suggestions for a new way forward. Education in the Health Professions, 1(1), 1-3.
Service-Learning During COVID-19: An Opportunity for Citizenship
Minna Ng Duke University I launched my first ever service-learning class - “Neuroscience Service Learning: Brain Connections,” in Spring 2021, during “the COVID-19 semester”. It was the highlight of my pandemic experience, and it almost didn’t happen. It was a no-brainer: we needed to do this. Starting up a new course is never easy, and it is bound to present unexpected challenges. I found that to be true when creating a service-learning course built on a balanced partnership with the community (Furco, 1996), and the pandemic would only make this more complicated. We would need to connect regularly and frequently, but pandemic restrictions could stunt any meaningful relationships from developing. I was unsure whether I should run it on Zoom or make it an in-person class. How would teamwork happen with everyone masked and 6 feet apart? With so many reasons to postpone the launch of my service-learning course, I took a couple of days to think it over and came to a crystal clear conclusion: we needed to do this. The extraordinary circumstances created an incredible learning experience for both my students and me. If ever there was a time for engaging the community, it was now. Offering my service-learning course during COVID-19 was one of the most rewarding decisions I ever made. Learning From Community Partner Experts We partnered with the YMCA and Durham Children’s Initiative (DCI) in Durham, NC. Both organizations had shut down their everyday operations and created novel ways to serve the community. The YMCA created programs to provide academic support, daycare, and food to children and adolescents throughout the day. DCI boxed care packages for families that included a variety of home goods. The original plan was to work directly on-site to learn about the organizations, operations, and student population. But because of the pandemic, this would no longer be possible. Instead, we had a couple of Zoom visits from the YMCA staff and DCI staff early in the semester. They told us about being short-staffed, reconfiguring rooms for social distancing, and having to change course at any moment’s notice. A collaborator cut a meeting short suddenly so that they could respond to a more urgent matter, and another Zoomed in from her car between appointments. The whole experience was incredibly inspiring and eye-opening. Instead of seeing ‘need,’ as criticized by some about service-learning (Eby, 1998), we had a valuable lens for seeing our community’s strengths. For example, the YMCA underwent significant restructuring. Reconfiguration of fitness spaces accommodated social distancing for children to play and do schoolwork. The staff learned new skills and took on multiple responsibilities. It did not matter their title or seniority - everyone rolled up their sleeves. They sanitized surfaces, moved fitness equipment, provided childcare, distributed snacks, helped students with homework, and anything else it took to support one another. Their strength was their capacity for growth and teamwork. Becoming Good Partners First, we had to figure out a meaningful way to serve. My students developed educational activities about neuroscience for 1st to 5th graders. Our partners described several factors to consider: the social distancing rules and risks, no on-site programming at DCI, limited staff at the YMCA, many predominantly Spanish-speaking households, and internet fatigue, to name just a few. Successful activities embraced solo work or could be completed 6 feet apart, with minimal adult supervision, in less than 20 minutes and without the internet. Our activity packets had to be easy to pass out, with all necessary materials, using English and Spanish instructions. We created a dozen or so “neuroscience learning kits”: activities and supplies placed in manila envelopes sorted by grade levels. For example, one kit for 1st to 3rd graders included a crossword puzzle about brain regions, a memory game, and visual illusions. Another kit for teaching students about the structures of a neuron included pipe cleaners and beads accompanied by picture guides. All our kits were interactive and pandemic-friendly. We partnered with another class from Duke in the Spanish Language Program to translate some activities into Spanish. By the semester’s end, my class packaged about 500 learning kits, which were given out in DCI’s family care packages and used on-site at the YMCA. Measuring The Impact The students in the class indicated they had a positive educational experience - they shared this in reflection papers, conversations, and end-of-course evaluations. My students also responded to these statements from the Community Service Attitudes Scale, which ranged from 1-7 where 1 is ‘strongly disagrees’ and 7 is ‘strongly agrees’ (Shiarella et al., 2000). Student ratings were reported as 5, 6 or 7: There are needs in the community. Our community needs good volunteers. It is important to be helpful to people in general. There are people in the community that need help. There are people who have needs that are not being met. I will seek out an opportunity to do community service in the next year. It is critical that citizens become involved in helping their communities. I will participate in a community service project next year. My students likely enrolled in the class with a mindset for civic engagement, so I cannot take credit for these responses. Perhaps the course was a chance to channel their inclinations during a time of profound loneliness, distance, and helplessness experienced by so many in the world. Despite being over-extended, our community partners took the time to express their appreciation and feedback on the kits. Most importantly, they have enthusiastically agreed to continue partnering. Although we could not directly assess the impact on the YMCA and DCI students, we know that assessments are critical to the Evaluation Learning Cycle of a service-learning course (Gelmon et al., 2005). Thus, the next iteration of this course, planned for Spring 2022, will involve assessing experiences, analyzing strategies and execution, and planning improvements in collaboration with our partners. For me, this course had a huge impact. I observed our community’s resilience first-hand, as well as my students’ creativity and teamwork. I also developed heartfelt relationships with our partners. Perhaps I might consider appending my course name to “Brain & Heart Connections.” I am grateful we had this opportunity for citizenship to the Durham YMCA, Durham Children’s Initiative, and our university. Discussion Questions: 1) How can students feel both empowered and humble about their contributions to the community? What assignments or exercises can help achieve this balance? 2) According to Eby (1998): “Students sometimes use service-learning to make themselves feel good or to strengthen their resumes.” What is your reaction to this? Is this wrong or problematic? Why or why not? And if so, what can be done? 3) In addition to providing a direct service to communities we must also continually ask ourselves – what is giving rise to the need for all this service in the first place? How do those of us who teach service-learning classes help our students better understand this? How do we both “help others” while also at the same time address the root causes of inequities and injustices? (D. Malone, personal communication, May 27, 2021). References Durham Children's Initiative. 2021. Durham Children's Initiative – Building Pathways to Equity. [online] Available at: <https://dci-nc.org/> [Accessed 26 May 2021]. Eby, J. W. (1998). Why service-learning is bad . Agape Center for Service andLearning, Messiah College. Retrieved from https://servicelearning.duke.edu/sites/servicelearning.duke.edu/files/documents/whyslbad.original.pdf Furco, Andrew. (1996). "Service-Learning: A Balanced Approach to Experiential Education". Service Learning, General. 128. https://digitalcommons.unomaha.edu/slceslgen/128 Gelmon, S. B., Agrel-Kippenhan, S., Cress, C.M. (2005). Beyond a Grade: Are We Making a Difference? In Cress, C. M., Collier, P. J., Reitenauer, V. L. & Associates (Eds.), Learning Through Serving: A Student Guidebook for Service-Learning Across the Disciplines. (pp. 125-138). Stylus Publishing, L.L.C. Malone, D. (personal communication, May 27, 2021) believes that when engaging in “service”, we need to be intentional and humble as we enter communities. Shiarella, A. H., McCarthy, A. M., & Tucker. (2000). Development and construct validity of scores on the community service attitudes scale. Educational and Psychological Measurement. 60(2): 286-300. YMCA of the Triangle. 2021. Downtown Durham YMCA. [online] Available at: <https://www.ymcatriangle.org/locations/downtown-durham-ymca> [Accessed 26 May 2021].