Repost Wednesday: This Simply Won’t Do

I believe the best education comes when you get a chance to sit down on a log and have a conversation with someone who has interesting stuff to say. It is in those moments of exchange that ideas come to life, assumptions are challenged, experiences shared and people transformed. Without this sort of dialogue learning is ephemeral, only superficial memorization of facts and theories: Let’s call that a PowerPoint education.

So, it is with great concern that I reviewed our most recent results from the National Survey on Student Engagement. Relative to seniors at our benchmark institutions, UCF College of Business Administration seniors reported high levels of academic challenge and a supportive campus environment. But far too few students have meaningful interactions with faculty or engage in co-curricular experiences: Less than half of our students discussed a grade or assignment with an instructor; less than a quarter talked about ideas from the readings or class with a faculty member outside the classroom; less than fifteen percent say they experienced a culminating project, exam or thesis; less than five percent say they worked with a faculty member on a research project. I could go on, but you get the point.

If you are a student, I will not let you hide in the back of the classroom. If you are a faculty member, I will not let you hide behind lecture capture. If you are a department chair, I won’t let you hide behind budget cuts. If our value proposition rests on the high returns to face-to-face learning, we need to make sure it happens…all the time and everywhere. If we don’t figure it out, on-line formats are going to eat our lunch.

So, I’m looking for ways to create more opportunities for students to sit on logs and talk to faculty without breaking the bank: Digital, Styrofoam or wood logs; during breakfast, lunch, dinner and after-hours. If you are like me and want education to be transformative, not transactional, I want your ideas. How can we get more faculty and students talking to each other, working more together, and creating a culture of engagement? I know incentives are important here too…so suggestions for carrots and sticks are also welcome.

Warning: If you don’t help me generate good ideas, I will just have to implement the ones I come up with on my own. Accepting the status quo simply won’t do.

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7 thoughts on “Repost Wednesday: This Simply Won’t Do

  1. Reviewing the previous comments (https://pauljarley.wordpress.com/2012/08/06/this-simply-wont-do/) I have to say there’s been some great ideas posted.

    One that I’ve heard in various student circles as well as brought up by you that I would love to see happen is a TEDxUCF. I believe that the First In Last Out mentioned in the other comments is even more effective with the context of creativity and excitement that events like TED or The Joust bring. Additionally, if Tegrity video streams embedded a 60 second clip from the event, a thought of the day if you will, it could be used to spur innovative thinking for a full calendar from the event itself.

  2. I think you bring up a great point. The classroom is in many ways like any other professional or academic environment. If you feel emotionally safe in your environment you are more likely to open up and relate to your leader, in this case the professor teaching the course. Relating to your leader is key to student engagement.

    I found an article (link below) that suggests several strategies that at the very least are a starting point to bridge the gap in low student engagement between faculty and students. It addresses some of your concerns. I would love to hear your feedback.

    http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/teaching-and-learning/engaging-students-friendly-but-not-their-friend/

  3. Tim (and Paul),

    I would love to see a TEDxUCF happen here as well. It would bring great recognition to our school. I do know that there is a nascent student group (led by Jacob Meyer, a political science major) that has been trying to garner interest across the university community – https://www.facebook.com/TEDxUCF. I don’t know how far they’ve gotten, however.

    Glancing over the TEDx rules, it looks like a TEDx license is free (with approval from TED). It might be something to look into.

  4. I would absolutely love to see a TEDxUCF! As TEDx shows, there doesn’t have to be one-on-one time/conversations. It’s about having inspiring people in the front of the classroom. TEDx people are so passionate about whatever the topic, and naturally connect to their audience. If we had professors like this, students would have the aforementioned “meaningful interactions.”

    • I dont believe the relationship between a TED audience and a speaker is the same as the one between a student and a faculty member. It is one thing to give a twenty minute Ted talk on your passion to an audience and quite another to do 45 hours of educational content over fifteen weeks. Then there is testing, coaching, exercises in skill development etc.

      Everybody needs to engage in the education process, especially the student. If you are not willing to get out of your comfort zone and engage and instead want to just be in the audience, the COB is going to be the wrong place for you..

  5. Clayton Pritchard (@claytonpritchard) answered “How can we get more faculty and students talking to each other, working more together, and creating a culture of engagement?” on Google+:

    “Something that would be good would be networking events for faculty, students, and some area professionals to come together.

    Also, getting faculty more involved with student events. Just getting them to see each other outside the classroom and office can start to build that relationship.

    What about a mentorship program? It could including faculty and area professionals. It could also include some networking events and workshops where they can come together.

    Obviously, it’s going to take some work to find a way for faculty to buy in. I think students will be a bit easier because they can see the value of building connections (especially if they are about to enter the workforce). Free food always helps too.”

  6. I would have loved to have more interaction with my professors and other students during my time at UCF. I greatly appreciate the professors who provide a phone number to call them. Due to my work schedule, I am not always able to take time off to go see a professor during their office hours, but I have been able to take a break at work and call them. At work, we have weekly virtual meetings to keep our onsite and offsite people in contact with one another. I think professors should have virtual office hours in addition to their “in-person” office hours. Why not offer virtual group chats/discussions among professors and students. There could be a schedule chats/discussions by topic or course with shared facilitator responsibility. As an example, if you had a virtual chat for Strategic Management, any student currently taking the course could go to the virtual chat session at the designated time to engage with other students and professors on material covered in the course. Since the course has several lab Instructors, then the facilitator duties could be rotated among the Instructors.

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