Published by the CFCC Teaching/Learning Institute.
Contact Person: Joe Zimmerman, Building 1,Room 103A
Ocala Campus, Extension 1782 or 1708
Energetic, purposeful, creative, Central Florida Community College
promotes learning in an open, caring, inclusive environment which encourages
individual and community development inspired by shared values of
integrity, service, responsibility and diginity
By Joe Zimmerman, T/LI Coordinator
As the end of the term approaches, I am forced to accept the fact that I have been teaching at CFCC for over twenty years. Here are a few things I have learned along the way.
I have learned that over time students don't change as much as the teacher. It is just a fact of human nature that as we grow older we imagine that the past was better. Teachers imagine that they were better students when they went to college; they also imagine that students were more responsive and disciplined when they first started teaching. I don’t agree. I think we just grow less patient; less able to cope with our young students. I also think we grow vain: we can't imagine how any student is ever going to survive at college, in life, without knowing what we have to teach them. But they seem to manage.
Surely our younger students are growing up in a different culture. But this fact should be a wonderful opportunity to creatively teach them. I have learned that if we want to get our message across, we must better understand the mediums that our students use. We have to keep up. We have to sometimes admit that we have become obsolete and start all over. In short, we have to learn, which, ironically, is what we want our students to do.
I have learned that in the classroom, once the door is closed and the drama begins, that it is the teacher who makes things happen. And the attitude and mood of that teacher on any given day can mean the difference between a mediocre class and a successful class.
And I have also learned that my job is to help students sharpen their critical thinking skills; it is not to teach them to think what I think. I have become much more tolerant of students who hold different views than I do, and I know this has made me a better teacher.
I have learned that encouraging a young writer by pointing out solid, sincere writing in an essay does a lot more good than pointing out all of the minor errors.
As a young, inexperienced teacher, I was too concerned with my students liking me. I wanted to be their friend--the pitfall of many inexperienced teachers or even experienced teachers who lack confidence. I have learned over the years that having boundaries is very important to the learning process. Failing a student for doing unsatisfactory work is never an easy thing, but it will teach that student something essential and real.
I have learned that students perform better when they have a clear idea of what is expected of them.
I have learned that asking students to write down specific goals at the beginning of the term (excluding goals like “I want to earn an A in this class”) helps them to focus. I have also learned to pay attention to my own goals for the class.
I have learned to never underestimate the intelligence of a class, and to pay attention to the better students as I encourage the weaker students.
I have learned that an encouraging word in the hallway to a student can turn around their semester. And that a kind word from a student can turn around mine.
I have learned that students learn more than we think they do. They learn things one would never think they learn.
What I have learned in 25 years of teaching can be summed up like this: what teachers teach is extremely important, but what students learn is more important.
College Art Association Conference
by Michele Wirt, Citrus Humanities
The College Art Association (C.A.A.) held its 95 th annual conference in New York this past February 14-17 th . Over 200 sessions were offered this year, and more presentations than ever were aimed toward pedagogy, course design, and alternatives to the traditional classroom in both studio and art history courses.
A new organization has emerged to address the concerns of community college art faculty, CCPAAH (Community College Professors of Art and Art History). Many faculty within this group are facing elimination of their studio courses altogether, as local universities dictate their curriculum, and stress theory rather than creative problem solving.
Similarly, many of these faculty are concerned that now, finally, there is a PhD for studio art, unprecedented in the world, with the current terminal degree being the MFA. While this should be happy news, indicating an acknowledgement of the worthiness of the discipline for an advanced degree, for many it means new pressure to “measure up.”
Like many two-year schools here in Florida, there is a national shortage of students declaring art as a major in community college art programs. There are about three majors for every eighteen students enrolled. Those fifteen non-majors’ two-year stay is often an end, rather than segue. This is an all too familiar yet potentially welcome challenge for community college art faculty (if you only get one shot, better make it a good one!). For both majors and non-majors, transferability of cc studio art courses upon entering a university continues to be problematic .
Co-author of Art In Renaissance Italy Dr. John Paoletti spoke on engagement in the art history classroom, about integrating our personal histories with those of the students and with the course material. In another pedagogy session for studio art, an important question arose around the topic of engagement that bears many repetitions: do we care as much about student learning as we care about our subject? In a sort of sad irony, the final speaker at this particular session, who was to address “assessment” didn’t attend to present his session--frustrating attendees and underscoring a perceived lack of closure and accountability in studio art pedagogy.
“Connectivism” was a new term for me, one that surrounded the sessions for on-line course design in studio art and art history. Students create “avatars” (appropriated from Hinduism referring to computerized “personalities,” typically associated with gaming) that morph in a virtual learning space. These spaces accommodate both digital “natives” (those that have grown up with digital technology) and “immigrants” (those who have come to digital technology more recently). They promote “expanded conversations” (multi-dimensional vs. linear, with many participants on many levels) with team projects and “live” critiques.
Courses offering study abroad are growing to greater numbers. Schools such as Jacksonville University are advocating “lean-mean immersion models” where students live the local culture and language, as opposed to the “grand tour” model in which students peruse museums and monuments without an applied awareness of the cultural context.
The AHPT (Art Historians interested in Pedagogy and Technology) session was nearly empty (another sad irony!) but the results of a course design competition among five teams were compelling. The top two models were: an art history course which allowed the college students to communicate with local 5 th graders on a weekly basis as well as act as docents for them in a nearby museum; and a curatorial program in which art history students created an online exhibit (the winner).
Other exciting presentations included:
- Psychoanalysis of Michelangelo’s Medici and Leonardo’s London Madonnas;
- Marcel Duchamp’s fascination with alchemy and self-actualization;
- Tomb Design in Iran;
- The Huastec culture’s “el adolescente” (for all the world a Mesoamerican “kouros,” only with body modification and ear plugs) linking the culture to that of the Maya through the cult of the feathered serpent;
- Humor in American Art, namely certain works of the great Peale family of painters.
“The MFA is the new MBA” or so I heard more than once during this year’s conference. Maybe they meant the new MFA, with its emphasis on digital media and marketable skills within a variety of technologies. The rest of us must continue to stay current with these developments, and be active in these new media and pedagogies to better serve today’s students.
Top book recommendation from CAA’s 95 th conference: A Whole New Mind by Dan Pink. http://www.danpink.com/aboutwnm.php
Institute on College Student Values
by Richard Kirk, Humanities & Social Science
I attended the 17 th annual Institute on College Student Values at Florida State University February 8-10 th . The theme of this year’s conference dealt with college student conduct and ethical behavior on campus. Some of the better sessions focused on the need to promote critical thinking among our students. Unfortunately, this is a task made more difficult by the prevalence of short attention spans and the desire to be entertained which is engendered by a world of video games, sound bites and Super Bowl commercials with which our students have grown up. A number of institutions have followed a similar path as we have done at CFCC, encouraging service learning as a means of engaging students and helping them to see larger issues that impact the world around them, and how they can make a difference in those areas themselves. A highlight of the conference was the presence of Art Chickering, whose Education and Identity has long been a standard text for student affairs professionals. Chickering shared personal insights from a career spent trying to help students achieve academic success while also developing character and a desire to serve others.
“Bringing it All Together”
by Cynthia Ehrhardt, Health Occupations
This conference, held in Gainesville at Santa Fe Community College on March 1, was designed for nurse educators. Other CFCC nursing staff in attendance were Gwen Alcorn, Polly Millet and Carol Snyder.
The workshop brought together the concepts of evidence-based curriculum and the use of clinical simulations, which included discussion about the nurse educator role(s) related to evidence-based curriculum within programs as well as creative demonstrations of clinical simulations with Laederal’s simulation models (adult and child). In addition, the keynote speaker, a well known and widely published nurse educator named Donna Ignatavicius, MS, RN (she is author of one of our major text books in the AND program) addressed the audience on bringing together the concepts of evidence-based curriculum and the use of clinical simulators in the nursing education environment. This worthwhile conference has given me many new ideas for use in the education of the nursing student.
Anger, Love and Forgiveness
by Polly Millet, Health Occupations
Held in Orlando on March 13, this was an excellent seminar put on by the National Institute for the Clinical Application of Behavioral Medicine. I attended, curious about new approaches to anger management resulting from the explosion of brain research in the last decade, and was not disappointed. The speaker, Dr. William DeFoore, PhD, proposed techniques to us that he has been successfully using that meld known brain function, humanistic and transcendental psychology, and our old friend Carl Jung in ways that appeal to the unconscious mind, the keeper of these deep emotions. Students are interested in anger when they study psychiatric nursing in my class, and I will have new information to share with them.
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By Karla Wilson, Humanities and Social Science
The “nontraditional student” is often placed at the center of many discussions at this institution. I would argue all students are non-traditional, in that each of them comes to our campus with unique needs, experiences, and expectations. I identify myself to my students as a learner throughout the semester and support the ideal that learning is life-long. I encourage my students to see themselves as responsible for their learning and recognize each student as a valuable member of the learning community. I fully engage my students and encourage their achievement of the richest experience possible as a participant in our classroom. I begin classes each semester by investing time in getting to know my students as individuals and connect with them on that level whenever possible.
As we endeavor this journey together, I expect my students to find personal relevance and application to life from the classroom experience. I continually challenge my students to think beyond the terminology and facts presented in the text and other material utilized in class. In assessing their knowledge, I seek to measure critical thinking and concept development skills. The concepts of Psychology and Human Growth and Development should lend themselves to the enrichment of their daily lives, even beyond the conclusion of the semester.
As a student at CFCC, I was not a stellar performer. I did however, develop important skills and was inspired to continue with and excel in my further academic pursuits. I share those struggles and triumphs with my students to help encourage their personal and academic pursuits. I believe in the community college philosophy and this institution specifically. I feel every student can succeed, but I also believe in requiring a high academic standard of each of them. I love being in the classroom and working with my students!
by Wendy Neeld, Learning Support Center Supervisor, Citrus campus
For Christmas, my friend’s daughter bought a cow. A bright-eyed nine-year-old, Elayna had heard on television about a charity that sends livestock to families third-world countries in order to help them “get ahead” and gain an advantage in their lives. She loved the idea that she was helping people gain independence – that her gift would not only help others for a few weeks, but that it might be the start of a new life for them.
When she grows up, Elayna wants to be a teacher, and I think she’s already well on her way. She has already grasped one of the most important concepts of education: the gifts we strive to give our students are ones that stretch beyond the walls of our classroom and the immediate subject matter. They are gifts that might be the start of a new life.
A few years after I began working at CFCC I was invited to teach preparatory classes as an adjunct – first in English, and then in reading. In my years instructing those classes, I developed a passion for teaching, but more than that, I developed a growing understanding of my students’ needs. As the years rolled on and I became a humanities instructor, I came to a realization: the class I was teaching had changed, but the essential missing element among my students’ skills remained the same. My students were intelligent, and many of them had a passionate dedication to learning, but they were stumbling because they had never been taught how to think critically.
We all know the importance of training and practice in physical coordination and fitness. Few of us can boast that we learned how to tie our shoes or do a handstand on our first attempt. (Heck, I still can’t do a handstand.) But we learned our basic life skills – walking, writing, driving – after a lot of practice and patient instruction from individuals who had already mastered those skills. Training and practice in mental coordination and fitness is equally important, if not as easily measured. Each semester, I am amazed and distressed by the number of students who have never been taught to think critically. Many of the talented, passionate minds in our classrooms, although able to accept the gifts of knowledge we give, are not prepared to step out on their own, seeking out and amalgamating information into wisdom that they truly own and understand. They have the ability to think critically, but their mental muscles have never been trained to perform that particular exercise.
For several years now, I have had a slip of paper pinned to my office wall as a message to bring me back to the reason I am here. Its bold print reminds me that “In the case of the community college, we are not changing abstract theories through our experimentation, but theories about the learning process itself. It takes courage to challenge our long-held assumptions and beliefs about how students learn best, but such courage is part of the tradition of the role of educator.” In all honesty, I cannot even remember the article or publication in which Dr. Dassance wrote the statement, but it reminds me, every time I think I am too tired to face my class or feel that I am not making any progress in teaching, that my goal is to reach beyond this class period or the next, and into a lifetime.
That is my goal: I want to go beyond traditional classroom learning, to be the more experienced individual who teaches my students how to master a new mental skill. They may forget the date of the French Revolution or the definition of an infinitive, but if they learn how to seek out information for themselves and are capable of drawing wisely thought out conclusions from raw information, I have given them a gift that far exceeds names or dates. In order to truly succeed, I believe that all of us at the community college level – staff, administrators, adjuncts, and faculty – must have the courage to learn our students’ needs and seek out new ways to provide them with intellectual habits that can start a new life for them. The learning we provide must be a mental lifestyle change – a sustainable resource that will allow the individuals who leave CFCC to face life with a new skill that allows them to excel.
In a world saturated with sound bytes and propaganda, far too many fail to look beyond the bright colors and easy conclusions to understand the deeper workings of the society in which they must function. They expect education to come prepackaged with a side of media. As an adjunct, I want to put those students on mental fitness plan that emphasizes critical thinking, to challenge their expectations of learning, and to teach them the same lessons about self-reliance that relief workers have already learned are vital for a people’s survival. Certainly if my friend’s little girl can see the importance of giving gifts that help others help themselves over a lifetime, we as educators can see the necessity of giving the same gifts to our students – just without the hooves and the smell.
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Student-Faculty Forum on Learning
By Joe Zimmerman, T/LI Coordinator
The T/LI steering committee, along with our Student Life group, organized a “Student -Faculty Forum on Learning” which took place on March 26, 2007 in the Patriot Dining Room. About 15 students (all, I think seeking AA degrees), and eight faculty attended, along with Dr. Cooper and Dr. Dassance. While we munched on our salads and pizza, I had participants jot down answers to a few questions about learning to help focus our discussion. Here is just a quick summary of that discussion and the answers written on the questionnaires.
Which teaching strategies do you find most (and least) beneficial? There were really no surprises here. The answers seemed to almost balance out: when several students talked about the benefits of collaborative learning, others countered that they couldn’t stand working in groups. (One student added that she didn’t appreciate group work because she was the one who ended up doing all the work while the others in the group who did nothing got the same grade). Lecture, always a hot topic among the faculty, balanced out as well: some students favor lectures, others find them boring and unproductive. The most significant comment, I think, was by a student who said that the strength of a specific teaching strategy depended on the strengths of the instructor. We agreed, too, that it depends heavily on the subject being taught. The medium is still the message, and vice versa.
What are things that instructors should do more of to help you learn? This discussion quickly turned to office hour visitation. Several students complained that instructors either were not in their office during office hours or not receptive to student visits. “Instructors should try harder to make students feel welcome in one on one situations,” suggested one coed. Of course the students who didn’t know Tammi Viviano, who was there at the forum, were surprised when she told them she encouraged students to come to her office by offering extra credit. I didn’t mention it at the time—and this small forum should not be indicative of the campus as a whole—but I remembered how low our college scored on “approachability of faculty” on the community college survey of student engagement survey several years ago. (It turns out we all think we are approachable but the students don’t see it that way).
Besides receiving good grades, how do you know you are learning? Several of the participants suggested that they know they are learning when they can teach somebody what they have learned, or apply the concept they have learned to the real world. One student blithely wrote “When I remember what was taught to me days, months or even years later.” The instructors knew that their students were learning when they asked good questions about the material and were involved with class discussions.
How would you define a good instructor? We were running out of time when we got to this question in the forum, but looking at the answers on the questionnaires is telling: five answers include the word “passion;” “He or she should be passionate, interested, and happy,” wrote one student. Another wrote that not only should a teacher have passion for the subject but “passion for teaching.”
The last question on the list was How would you define “learning college?” I put this question on the list because many faculty members were concerned—when we discussed O’Banion’s 14 benchmarks earlier in the school year—that students didn’t know about the philosophy of learning at the college. The answers here were various: “Engaging students” was one; “Driven by the question—‘how does this encourage learning?’” was another. One student wrote “A place dedicated to knowledge—top priority should be learning and not catering to the athletes. Be more open to free thinkers.” I think we will be examining this issue more specifically as a college next year.
Thanks again to Marjorie McGee, Coordinator, Student Life, for helping with the forum, and to the faculty who participated. The complete answers to the forum questions can be found on the T/LI website.
Hitting the Trail
One of the events held in conjunction with the college wide learning theme of sustainability recently was a hike along the Yearling Trail in the Ocala National Forest. The hike was organized by Richard Kirk. Here are a few thoughts about the walk from some of the hikers:
“We live in a time and place where growth and development is forever changing the local environment. It is nice to visit a place where the wilderness of Florida is being preserved. The Yearling Trail is a place where we can reconnect with the real Florida.”
“The guide [Johnnie Pohlers, a retired U.S. Forest Service ranger] really helped to make the hike more interesting. The sandy pine scrub was more beautiful after learning which pines were which, why they grew here or there and what the people could find in this environment to sustain them. On a personal note, I enjoyed the interactions with colleagues and students outside of the CFCC setting. I appreciate opportunities for this type of interaction and would like to participate more often.”
“For me, it really helped to add depth to my appreciation for The Yearling …..and the harshness and tenuousness of life at that time and place.”
“For me, the realization that there was a thriving (albeit tiny) group of settlers in a setting that feels so isolated and lonely today was one of the overriding feelings. The graveyard in the midst of the forest helped to reinforce this.”
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Your Mini-Grants at Work
Dr. William Brewer, a certified sex therapist practicing in Ocala, visited the CFCC Ocala Campus on April 7 and April 8, 2007, sponsored by a TL/I Mini-grant written by Judy Davis.
Brewer attended two of Judy’s Marriage and Family classes and answered students’ questions anonymously submitted earlier in the semester. The session was open to all interested CFCC students and staff. According to evaluation surveys, the audience was impressed by Dr. Brewer’s level of knowledge, his organization, and his direct and thorough answers. Several students said they appreciated the opportunity to ask questions they might not feel comfortable asking in any other setting and to gain new and practical information.
“A way to: Advertise, Market and Expand Your Business”
Lorraine Gerrity, Personal Service & Paul Rossiter, Workforce Development
The first part of this project was to develop a marketing tool for the Personal Services Institute. Secondly it was to benefit the Personal Services Institute students to show them another way to advertise or market their business when and if they go into their own business. It attempts to show the students another advertising tool that may be used to bring in more clientele or allow them to expand their future business.
This project allowed the students to see the setup preparations needed to accomplish the video taping and allowed them to participate as actors in the video. There was also input from Automotive Technology students who volunteered to help in lending support, ideas and technical advice in accomplishing this video.
Lorraine Gerrity discussed this project prior to the video taping to gain support and to see if it was acceptable to the students. Students and instructors from both the day and evening programs participated. The students all seemed to have enjoyed the video taping sessions and had fun participating. The students participated in an informal evaluation. They thought the project was a success and that the video was a very good advertising and marketing tool. The feedback from the students was excellent and they all seemed to enjoy participating in the project.
The long-range goals of this project will be accomplished sometime in the future. With this alternative marketing and advertising video, the program will see increased student enrollment. In addition, future graduates of the program will see a new way to market and advertise their own personal business, when that time comes.
Electrochemistry Activities in the General Chemistry Lab
Ken Capps, Science
The mini-grant award to purchase additional Vernier probes/sensors for the chemistry lab has been very successful. With these additional probes/sensors, students have been able to complete reactions and experiments not previously possible in the lab. Students have enjoyed using them and overall, the use of these additional probes/sensors has increased the opportunity for students to see the applications of electrochemistry in the real world.
“Specialty Tools for Special Projects”
Paul Rossiter, Mike Bannester and Tim Ingram
There were several goals molded into this project, which we completed this spring. The first was to have our students work together to fabricate special tools and tool pieces; second, to show the students that all of these tools can be made in the “normally” equipped mechanical type shop; third, that fabricating these tools can save the shop owner quite a bit of money over the purchase of them; and finally, to use these fabricated tools within our own automotive, welding and collision programs for specialty jobs.
Instructors and students from each program discussed what kind of specialty tools could realistically be designed and built with the material available. The project material was laid out and distributed to volunteer students who wished to participate in the layout, design and building of these specialty tools. Throughout the semester the students worked with the instructors to get the project completed.
In an approximate cost comparison, we created a detailed list of what the specialty tools would have cost commercially. Some tools were so specialized that pricing was not available. With our mini-grant allowance of $343, we made our tools; commercial cost was estimated at $1,195.00.
The students agree that the project was worthwhile. It provided an insight that not all specialty tools need to be costly, and that if ideas and concepts are shared with others, a major project can be easily accomplished and can save money. All the students appreciate that these tools can be used and shared in our own programs to make our job a little easier.
During a 2-week intensive Spanish for Law Enforcement class, Judy Haisten had Ocala’s Finest practice description techniques using props. The Potato Heads were purchased with mini-grant funds several years ago, and this popular teaching activity is enjoyed by SPN 1121 students every semester. Students put together a Potato Head and give it a name. Each student introduces the Potato Head and using vocabulary, such as body parts and colors, provides a description to the class.
Mini-grant funds allow faculty member to try new and creative teaching techniques that increase student learning.
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