Hello Richard .
I want to talk about teaching--but first, you are the director of the Honors Institute. When did you take over?
I took over from Dr. Tom Weaver in 2001. At that time, I was also Phi Theta Kappa director. But in 2003 we split the two organizations.
That must have been difficult. PTK was very successful under your leadership.
Yes, we won several state and national awards when I was the advisor, but it was successful before that, too, under Tom. I just wanted to focus more time on the honors program.
We seem to have more honors students.
Yes, since 2001 our enrollment in honors classes is up 30%. I’m proud of that fact. The college has always been very supportive of giving scholarships-and that's helped out a lot. There is a lot of emphasis on college prep at CFCC, especially lately, but the administration is also supportive of the students who do come prepared and ready to do college level work.
You teach a large variety of classes—World Civ, Latin American Culture, African American History—but I want to ask you about your work with honors students. You teach the famous leadership class. Tell us a little about that course.
Leadership Development is a course that is required for all honors student who get a full scholarship. It’s also available to other honors students and regular students with permission.
What are some of the things a student learns in that class?
Well we look at a wide range of topics that potential leaders have to deal with—how to deal with conflict in an organization-- how to deal with change--how to listen to other people--how to create a vision..
Do you deal with ethics at all?
Yes we do. Developing a personal leadership style is also something we explore, and personal morals play a big part there.
What sort of things do you read in the class?
There’s a wide range—we read articles by current experts in the field like Peter Drucker and Stephen Covey which deal with the nuts and bolts of leadership…
But there’s also some readings from the classics as well…
Yes. We read parts of Homer’s Illiad and sections from Plato, which deal with the “philosopher king” idea. We read parts of Moby Dick ….
Yes, Captain Ahab. Well, he does have a vision.
Yes, but he’s not a good leader because he’s selfish and puts his people in extreme danger. As you know, the entire crew, except for Ishmael, ends up dead.
You also discuss some films in that class, don’t you? I imagine war movies display lots of leadership varieties. I heard one of your students talking about Twelve O’clock High ( and I’m pretty sure she was talking about the film).
One of the main themes of that story is developing a personal leadership philosophy. Gregory Peck is the new commander and he has to lead by not doing what he would like to do as a leader. He wants to be more like friends with the men he leads. But he has to take over a situation where the previous leader had been too friendly…
So he has to be tough even though that’s not in his everyday personality.
Right. So the film shows that sometimes you have to lead in a way that is uncomfortable to you. But at the end of that film he has a breakdown because he’s so hard even on himself. The story shows the pitfalls of leadership if you are not realizing whom you are deep down.
I am sure there is a lot to learn about leadership. But do you think all leadership skills are teachable?
That’s a great question. The first article we read discusses that issue. Plato believes that only a few people were destined to be leaders. I do think some people are more inclined to become good leaders. But many of the skills are learned skills—so you can teach people things to help them lead others. You can teach somebody good ways to resolve conflict, for example… As I said good leaders have to have a vision--and we explore that in class. And good leaders know that to accomplish a vision, they have to get that vision into people's minds. We explore ways of doing that, too. Good communication skills, a must for any good leader, are very learnable.
You mentioned change before. How does a good leader deal with it?
A good leader realizes that change can cause anxiety in a group and takes definite steps to ease the anxiety. Good leaders let their people know why change is happening and get them involved in the process.
Let’s talk about the honors students: when you walk through the door to an honors class, how is that different from a regular class?
Honors students are normally much better prepared to tackle the course material than are non-honors students. They usually read the assignments and are actually prepared for class discussions, and so such discussions are able to take place without one or two people dominating the conversation. I expect that these students take academics seriously and that they will be up to the challenge of the course material.
So do you use different teaching techniques in these honors classes compared to regular classes?
Honors courses are normally capped at 20 students, which allows more interaction between instructor and student. With leadership class, we talk about theories but use hands-on experience such as leading a project, interviewing a leader…to try to show how theory works in practice. The closer interaction and the connection between the classroom and “real world” are critical parts of the honors experience, in my mind.
Would you say that some of them are overconfident?
Yes, some are. I do tell them in their orientation there is going to be a point where they’re going to have to get off cruise control…
Do they believe that?
Some are ready to be challenged. But some really don't believe they will have to work harder here—until they get that first B or C in a class. Like other students, honors students are a balancing jobs, social life, and other activities—they have so much going on something has to give—and that can be academics. And truthfully, some can cruise through here and won't hit a wall until they get to the university.
I hope this question doesn't sound absurd, but do you think honors students are more intelligent than regular students?
Ahh, the old “nature versus nurture.” Some I think are inherently more intelligent. They are also interested in a lot of different areas. But let me put it this way, probably a higher percentage of them have parents who went to college or brothers and sisters who have gone through college and helped show them the way. Some do have advantages that others don't—in all of my classes I like to get them to realize that.
You have them do a collaborative leadership project. What are your goals there?
The purpose of the project is to make students understand what it means to actually put the leadership theories into practice, and be responsible for directing other people. A lot of these folks are used to handling things themselves because they know it will be “done right.” This project forces them to enlist the help of others and guide the project versus being able to just take care of it on their own.
Can you give us some specific examples of these projects?
The key is the experience itself (as opposed to being something huge), so something as small as a car wash or yard sale is acceptable, but larger projects have included redecorating a room at the Rape Crisis Shelter locally, organizing a college information day for potential students in a local neighborhood, and developing a worker safety program at a local business.
That sounds like valuable leadership experience. Have you tried anything new in the classroom lately?
Well, let’s see… OK. We already mentioned change and the anxiety it produces. I wanted them to experience some anxiety themselves, so last semester I had a colleague, Ron Cooper, come in and explain to the class that I was gone, and that he was taking over the class until the rest of the term. He purposefully pretended to be the tough cop—he did not explain why the change was happening, and he did not involve the class in the change. He gave them a “I don't care what you did thus far it's my class now” attitude. He told them he was changing the grading system and everything.
Did the students get uncomfortable?
Frustrated, yes. I let him go on for about ten minutes, which is all it took for the students to get really nervous…it drove home the point that change is scary, especially when people aren’t sure why it’s happening. We discussed what a good leader would have done in that situation to help the students accept the change.
Thanks for your time, Richard.
By the way, I always enjoy your reading of the graduate names at graduation.
17 th International Conference on
College Teaching and Learning
by Joe Zimmerman, T/LI Coordinator
The 17 th International Conference on College Teaching and Learning was held a few weeks ago in Ponte Vedro Florida. My experiences there were diverse and fascinating.
This conference is special because it emphasizes both university and community college teaching (the conference is put on by FCCJ). One of the highlights for me was learning about FLO (Facilitating Online Learning), a course used at the University System of Georgia for teaching teachers how to teach online.
By far the best presentation I attended was by CFCC’s own Peter Smith. His talk was called “Multimedia, Textuality, and Synesthesia in the Humanities Classroom.” While there, Peter picked up his trophy for the Award for Innovative Excellence in Teaching, Learning and Technology.
One of the highlights of the conference for me was sitting down and talking informally to Keith Campbell, the keynote speaker, who gave a lecture on cloning. Mac Dismuke, Josh Strigle and I sat with Mr. Campbell on the deck of the hotel bar after his speech and talked about living in England, the lottery, and the retro models of new cars. Mr. Campbell also taught us a lot about drinking Guinness.
Recital by Dr. David Kushner
by Sarah Satterfield, Fine Arts
This fall, I used a T/LI Mini-Grant to bring Dr. David Kushner in to my Introduction to Humanities and Music Appreciation classes for a lecture-recital. Dr. Kushner is the head of the musicology program at the University of Florida. He has lectured and performed throughout the Americas and in Canada, Israel, Kenya, Australia, and eastern and western Europe. This particular lecture was part of Dr. Kushner’s “Recitals in Schools” program–a program aimed at providing quality music performances to students aged K-college.
The lecture Dr. Kushner presented was entitled “Reflections on the State Songs of Florida.” In it, he compared the music and the text of past and present Florida state songs. His discussion raised thought-provoking questions like why legislators felt compelled to “sanitize” the original text. Most interestingly, Dr. Kushner, during the course of his research, interviewed a singer who performed a dialect-free version of the song at a ceremony honoring a prominent Florida politician. When asked why she had chosen the version she sang, the singer responded that she had been ordered to do so by individuals working with the politician’s campaign and her collegiate advisors. In the version she performed, phrases deemed “politically incorrect” were, upon the order of those in charge, rewritten or omitted entirely. As a result of the omissions and textual changes, one reporter present at the event noted that, though the singer’s voice was beautiful, her memory seemed faulty.
The lecture culminated in a performance of the state song by mezzo-soprano Samantha Barnsfarther, a Ph.D. candidate in musicology at the University of Florida. Ms. Barnsfarther sang both the original and “new” versions of the song, leaving students to decide for themselves whether Foster or political correctness should prevail.
Advanced Assessment Strategies for Nursing Educators:
Assessing Higher-Level Thinking
By Carol Blakeman, Health Occupations
This online course, taken 12/7/05-1/18/06, was helpful in trying to write higher level (application and analysis) multiple choice questions similar to the NCLEX examination that the graduates of our program take upon completion. This course assumes you have some knowledge of writing multi choice questions. There were exercises in which one could get feedback. There were discussion rooms. However, I took the course when I don’t think many people were interested in doing such a thing. No one was posting in the discussion room until at the end of my course. The main reason I wanted to take this course was to write alternate type questions similar as to what is on the NCLEX. These are questions that are fill in the blank, ordering, select all of the following, graphs. Unfortunately, this course did not address these types of questions. Another problem with this course is there was a final exam in which I was to take six currently used multiple choice questions and rewrite them to a higher taxonomy and write four new questions that were a high level taxonomy. This would have taken me many, many hours to do. Unfortunately, I did not have as much time to write these questions as I would have preferred. Even in the course, it says to write a question, review it one week later, and have someone review it as well. I believe the final exam was an unrealistic expectation from a continuing education course. Even a few questions would have sufficed.
College Media Adviser’s Convention
by Rob Marino, Fine Arts
Mix five students, one slightly anxious adviser about to turn 40, Saint Patrick’s Day festivities literally outside our doorstep, and real-world journalism issues. That about sums up what a group of Patriot Press editors and I experienced during the recent College Media Advisers (CMA) Spring National Convention in New York City.
If you want a longer version of events during our three-day trip, read the April 7 issue of the Patriot Press – pgs. 12-13. This is the abridged version. We’ll call it “CFCC’s CMA Cliff notes.”
NYC is really, really, really chilly in March. The night our group flew in, there were wind warnings throughout the New York City area and a few snow flurries, making for a slightly bumpy final descent into LaGuardia Airport. (that doesn’t include the handful of times we circled between NYC and Washington D.C. because it was too windy to land).
The conference itself was a bevy of sessions dedicated to issues such as prior review/prior restraint and censorship and First Amendment and page/layout design facing college newspapers, newspaper web sites, yearbooks and campus TV stations from across the country.
It was particularly applicable to the Patriot Press because of our recent conversion to the In Design software program (we attended a seminar by Adobe Systems, the makers of In Design .)
We had the Patriot Press critiqued by another newspaper adviser (the verdict: good pictures, but we need more consistency in our layout). The group also attended a “keynote session” by Bill Keller, executive editor of The New York Times .
But as another adviser remarked, “The most educational experience often for students is just getting to see the New York City culture.”
Though our group was in the city for less than 72 hours, we crammed in a lot of cultural experiences, starting with the atmosphere around our hotel, the Roosevelt. The hotel itself has just been renovated, but what was more noteworthy was that the hotel lobby doorsteps were literally the starting point for New York City’s Saint Patrick’s Day Parade. Throughout that day, folks wearing green “Kiss me, I’m Irish” shirts and guys in kilts were a common site. Many of the Irish bands and marchers even performed their routines (complete with bagpipes, etc.) in our lobby.
We also ate a “Pre-Broadway Dinner” at Tavern-on-the-Green restaurant followed by a Broadway show, topped off by a walk though Times Square just a few blocks from our hotel.
Then, it was back to Ocala, but not before the editors presented me with a tee shirt chiding me for turning 40!
173 rd Two-Year College Chemistry Consortium
by Ken Capps, Science
I attended the 173rd Two-Year College Chemistry Consortium (2YC 3) Southern conference at Georgia Perimeter College in Dunwoody on March 24-25, 2006. 2YC 3 is an organization comprised primarily of two-year college chemistry educators from across the United States. This was an excellent conference with speakers and informal discussions from chemistry instructors at various community colleges. Topics included laboratories for distance education chemistry courses, teaching with technology, online assessment, and inquiry-based final projects in the general chemistry lab. The conference also included a talk by a researcher from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Overall, this was an excellent conference and well worth attending.
by Patti Hooker, Health Occupations
This course, held on April 1 in Gainesville, was very interesting for my role of Academic Coordinator of Clinical Education. The PTA program, a member of the Florida Consortium of Clinical Educators, will be offering this program in the fall. The course is designed to help clinical instructors in educating our students. Highlights of the course include learning styles and educational goals as well as information on how to best facilitate a good clinical
experience and when to call for help with difficult or failing students. Interacting with clinical instructors helps me as an educator know how to prepare the students for their internship while in the classroom.
Making the Cyber Leap
by Joann Rivers, Health Occupations
On February 17, I attended a workshop at Valencia Community College, sponsored by the Florida Organization for Associate Degree Nursing, entitled “From Face to Face to the Online Environment: Making the cyber-leap.” I was interested in networking with other nurse educators and learning what and how others are transitioning into the online environment. One of the key points was encouraging student engagement. Some of the suggestions included developing “reusable” learning objects (online presentations) that required student discussion and/or activity. These initially did take a considerable amount of time to develop (with all the bells and whistles) but later could be easily updated and used in different semesters. The students are required to purchase some of the software needed to run some of the programs included in the online presentations. Some of it is available as free downloads online.
I also learned about the many software products that can help create some visual and auditory enhancements to the presentations. These can help stimulate the learning environment of the online course versus just reading the material as students normally would from the textbook. The workshop did allow us some time to “play” with the capabilities available with a couple of the software programs.
I hope to use this new knowledge to develop some creativity to the current online units as well as share this with the other interested nursing faculty. Some of the programs are:
Hot Potatoes - www.halfbakedsoftware.com
Inspiration - www.inspiration.com
Study Mate - www.respondus.com
Camtasia - www.techsmith.com
Impatica for PowerPoint - www.impatica.com
Overall, the workshop was very beneficial to me and hopefully will be even more beneficial to my students.
by Susan Monier, Citrus Communications
Teachers who made a difference in my life were those who showed an interest in my progress, convinced me that I had the potential and the skills to achieve, encouraged me to focus on my strengths, stimulated my creativity, and respected me and my goals. In turn, I strive to impart these same qualities and skills to my students. The highest reward an educator can experience is sensing the gratification and pleasure that students feel when they master a concept or achieve a goal. This is successful engaged learning, and for this to occur at any academic level, the teacher must provide a positive and nurturing atmosphere where the students are confident in the instructor, understand the goals of the class, and where there is a mutual respect between the students and their instructor.
In preparing community college students for their roles in the adult world, it is also necessary to instill in them an altruistic sensitivity for local as well as global conditions and concerns, and a love for learning, coupled with a command of critical thinking skills. I tell my students that, in order to succeed in the world, they first must know and like themselves before they can function as whole people. This sounds very trite, but I then explain that they need to be well-informed in order to formulate their own opinions about everything going on in the world and that we will be devoting much of the semester in English Composition classes exploring the ideas and opinions of others, then, through critical analysis, they will be making their own decisions on the issues. I select current events topics and editorials to which they react and respond.
The next step is to teach the students how to successfully argue an issue and persuade the reader to believe the same way. This is a growth process as well as a learning experience for many. They must learn to identify their reactions and communicate them to others clearly. I believe that if I accomplish this task in Comp. I, I have helped prepare my students to succeed in life.
I also believe that education never stops and that we should never want to stop learning. One should never lose one’s enthusiasm and zest for life or for learning. I pursued my liberal arts endeavor for self-enrichment, not as part of a career plan. I believe like many do, that the more I learn, the more I realize what I don’t know, and if the teacher can convey this attitude to the student, the teacher has made a difference in that student’s life.