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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Chance's thoughts

1. What worked? What would you celebrate?
We got 10 or 12 faculty together for 10 weeks talking about teaching. That is a real achievement. I am motivated to know that so many others are interested in trying new ways of teaching and getting students engaged with something, anything.

The goal of defining the basic structure was successful. The group has a structure that will allow the sustain cohort to move forward. Scheduling has agreed to the scheduling challenge – no small miracle. Most of the departments have agreed as well.
2. What is missing or yet to be done in order for the 100-student freshman initiative to be successful?
The details. How will the different courses use the common time? How exactly will the different courses interact to create a better more integrated learning environment? How will courses incorporate the projects? I really wish the group had been able to talk more about the details of teaching together and interacting with the projects. I think it is important, and I would like to hear ideas about how to make it work. I’m sorry I am going to miss the conversation.
3. What are your reflections on our last day's conversation?
We tried to do three things this quarter: develop a structure that would house collaborative and project based learning, determine what it means to teach collaboratively and to teach with projects, and to convince people that these new methods are worth doing. The first and second goals I understood from the beginning. Until our last conversation, I didn’t realize how much “convincing” had been a part of our discussion. The clues were there at the beginning, but I didn’t understand them at the time. Our discussions were frustrating at times. I didn’t feel like we were solving the structure problem, and I didn’t feel like we were determining how the different disciplines were going to work together or interact with the project. In retrospect, I think this is because the convincing goal was running interference and adding confusion to the conversation.
4. What did you learn? Was there anything valuable?
We are always taught that it is important to know what people want, but the lesson I am walking away with is that it may be more important to know what they fear. After our last conversation, it felt like much of the conversation had remained under the surface. I can see that it is important find some way of bring the unstated fears and desires into the conversation or else you will have a different conversation. I don’t know how to do this, but I can see that it is important.


  1. I agree that there was a hidden conversation. I actually think there always is; it is just that in this group we were able to uncover it. Quite an accomplishment! I enjoyed getting to know you, Chance.

  2. Chance, I really like your insight about our fears. Please know that you're welcome to join any of the conversations at any time. And of course, we'll see you on the path of experimentation.