Faculty from all CSU campuses discussed current research and ideas to promote better learning in the classroom. (John Michael Uba | The Poly Post)

Symposium teaches productive disruption

Joint Conference provides insights and innovations that help change the ideas and methods within university teaching.

The very idea of education and teaching methods are under discussion when the annual PolyTeach and the 20th CSU Symposium on University Teaching joint conference took place last Friday and Saturday at the Bronco Student Center.

The PolyTeach conference theme was “Productive Disruption.” The joint conference showcased innovations, technology and ideologies to students and faculty.

Faculty from all CSU campuses discussed current research and ideas to promote better learning in the classroom. (John Michael Uba | The Poly Post)

“I found this session really engaging and practical, which I appreciated,” said Lisa Berry, an instructional consultant from UC Santa Barbara. “Not only did the presenter have great ideas to share, but she created space for us to ask questions and make meaning and apply it to our own situations.”

“And it’s nice talking to other people who come to these,” said Brian Self, a mechanical engineering professor from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. “A lot of these are about networking and getting to know other people in the CSU and UC systems.”

The two-day event was made up of sessions where faculty presented their work.

Robert Talbert, a mathematics professor from Grand Valley State University, Michigan presented “Flipping the Classroom” at Ursa Major.

“In a flipped method, if there isn’t any lecture at all, it’s done before class through a pre-recording of a lecture, or a structured reading assignment or a game to play,” said Talbert. “By removing the lecture from the classroom, it frees up a lot of time in the classroom to repurpose for other things like active learning on more complicated concepts.”

Deb Pires, a life science professor from University of California, Los Angeles presented “Active Learning with Clickers.”

Pires presented her experience and the idea of using iClickers in the classroom to provide a more engaging learning environment.

This is done by utilizing the iClickers to transform the lecture-heavy sessions into active-heavy sessions.

Her class gets involved with the material presented by Pires while also encouraging the students to work together to brainstorm ideas, analyze data, create items or identify the poll results.

Faculty from outside the CSU system presented their ideas. (John Michael Uba | The Poly Post)

The only Cal Poly Pomona presenters on Friday were Bo Choi, an instructional designer from eLearning, Catherine Schmitt Whitaker, an Accessible Technology Initiative and Ann Loomis accessibility specialist from the Disability Resource Center.

They presented “Accessibility: Creating Productive Materials, not Disruptive Experiences.”

They proposed ideas and practices to help people with disabilities be more self-sufficient in creating, learning and understanding accessible documents by themselves.

“If it’s not an accessible document, then for example, a student on campus would need to go to the Disability Resource Center and then somebody would need to modify that document so it can be accessible for the individual as an accommodation,” said Whitaker.

Another highlight was the Wall of COOL (Celebrating Outstanding Opportunities for Learning) 2018 by eLearning which awards Cal Poly Pomona faculty members for enhancing student success with innovative use of technology.

The winners were professors Kristen Schiele of E-Marketing, Chitra Dabas of Retail Buying II, L. Lin Ong of Principles of Global Business and Juanita Jellyman of Physiology of Human Reproduction.

The event ended with a plenary address by Janine Kremling, a criminal justice professor from CSUSB and the co-editor of the book “Why Students Resist Learning” which correlates with her presentation entitled “Overcoming Resistance to Productive Disruption — What We’re Learning from Our Students.”

The plenary address goes with this year’s PolyTeach’s theme “Productive Disruption” in which Kremling emphasized sympathy for both the student’s and the faculty’s obstacles within the principles of education.

“That’s why they are in college they want to be successful,” said Kremling to the audience. “They have dreams and insecurities and challenges and their dreams were our dreams when we were young and their insecurities were our insecurities when we were young and their challenges were our challenges.”

Kremling presented the integrated model of student resistance, sharing power with the faculty and the student and the idea of removing the letter grading system for an alternate method.

“Test scores, SATs, GREs and then in college — all that matters is the right bubble, except that in the real world they will never see a bubble. There is nothing standardized in the real world,” Kremling said.

The Friday event of the PolyTeach CSU Symposium joint conference ended with a reception & mixer at the Kellogg Art Gallery.

“Each faculty member here is doing these things everyday; we are all trying to change and make courses great learning experiences,” said Victoria Bhavsar, Director for the Faculty Center for Professional Development & eLearning. “Faculty has a tremendous amount of freedom to have their classes the way that they think they should be and faculty members are very thoughtful about what they do and try to benefit their students as much as they can.”

The next day Uri Treisman, founder of the University of Texas at Austin Dana Center and professor of mathematics gave the keynote plenary.

The Saturday event of the joint conference placed greater emphasis on the CSU Symposium where more than 60 faculty members from the CSU system addressed ideas in simultaneous presentations throughout the Bronco Student Center.

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