Posts Tagged ‘SoTL’

I was asked yesterday how I would evaluate students’ digital projects, and today I just came from #AHA2015 #s195, where a lot of the discussion centered on the challenges of having your work evaluated for promotion.

Regarding the question of evaluating student work: I was quite prepared to be asked that, but probably didn’t answer it as fluently as I might have because to my mind this question, which everyone asks, gets it backwards. Essentially, I regard the appearance of a digital project in a similar fashion to the cover and contents of a book: it might look interesting and well done, but I can’t tell from a quick glance whether it is logically and analytically rigorous. I need to dive in, look at the structure, understand the argument, examine where the choices were made, and assess how it has been received at large.  In other words, I’m more concerned with logic and argumentation than with the way in which a particular work is packaged or presented. Perhaps it’s due to my training in debate, and then going on to medieval studies, but I want to see how you’re reasoning and arguing. In the Middle Ages, the “humanities” as such didn’t exist; history and literature weren’t courses, and the social sciences hadn’t been invented. Instead, you learned the mechanics, process, and metaphysics of reasoning, which you then applied to politics, history, theology, philosophy, etc. At the same time, foregrounding argument and debate is also a touch democratic, since audience always matters. You stand or fall by your ability to convince, and anything that promotes democratic habits of mind is a plus, in my opinion.

So, asking how I would evaluate a digital project versus a typed paper, while a necessary question given the (improving) reception of DH in academia, just doesn’t make sense in my way of approaching the problem. The biggest challenge, to my mind, isn’t whether I have a grasp of genre, it’s awakening my students’ minds to the excitement and challenge of reasoning from concept to data and back to concept. Another way of putting it is that my criteria for a successful project do not derive from the discipline of the project itself. Mills Kelly just said more-or-less, in essence, the same thing in #s195, which suggests to me that I’m on the right track. It’s not about content and discipline, per se, it’s about showing me (and even better, your wider audience) how you’re using your intellect. It might be a semi-“medieval” approach, but that’s my two cents, for what it’s worth.

Interesting array of articles, this time drawn heavily from InsideHigherEd.

–Could this be a “game-changer,” as they say?  Not sure: Academics Launch Torrent Site to Share Papers and Datasets.  Could definitely lead to some interesting legal situations.

–Perhaps THE most interesting and read article from this past week: “Keep the ‘Research,’ Ditch the ‘Paper,” by Marc Bousquet, from Feb 10.  He makes a lot of valid points, including some that I’ve noticed over the years in teaching history-based writing courses. If I had more leeway in terms of assigning homework and making demands on my students’ time, I would try more of his and Rebecca Schuman’s suggestions for making students’ efforts worth their while.

–Interesting article about issues in Canada’s newspaper digitzation initiatives.

–Great article, as always, from the Dean: if you see a search is running again, after you’ve already been rejected once, don’t hesitate, apply to the job: When Searches Fail.

–Purdue University’s IMPACT site, Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) page and resources.

–Really good article by Elizabeth H. Simmons from Friday the 14th, “A Scholarly Approach to Your Career.”  I think the bottom line of the article is “figure out what you need to be successful, and then go make it happen.”  Common sense, but still, you’d be surprised how many people go to grad school without realizing they’re responsible for their own professional development.

“Let’s Scramble, Not Flip, the Classroom,” by Pamela E. Barnett. We shouldn’t make every class a discussion-based, interactive format.  Lecture has a place as well.  Good to hear that–there is a tendency among pedagogy folks (including SoTL enthusiasts, I’ve sensed) to roll the eyes at the thought that lecture could be an effective teaching/learning tool.  Given that a lot of schools do not have the luxury of making every section a seminar-sized one, I’m glad there’s recently been a push to show that lectures are effective learning tools.

The University of Maine at Presque Isle is dropping “grades” and moving to “proficiencies” in its curriculum. Look forward to seeing how this works.

–Post from GradHacker: “Maximizing Methods Courses.”  Good advice: you don’t want to come out of these feeling that you lost time.

“How Should Big-Time College Sports Change?”  Good grief, don’t get me started…

–Thoughtful article, “There Is No Demand for Higher Education.” Key quote toward the start of the article, about the assumption that there is a huge demand for education (and hence the need for MOOCs, etc.):

[T]he more I think about MOOCs and consider the nature of this demand, the more I come to believe that there is no inherent demand for education, and definitely not for the education they’re peddling as a possible substitute for the traditional system of higher education.

Because the demand isn’t for education, per se. It’s for what we believe education can provide: a secure, stable life. This narrative may not even be true, as Freddie DeBoer argues in a recent post, but we cling to it anyway, because what choice do we have? If we instead believed that painting ourselves purple from head to toe had the same effect, we’d all be walking around looking like Barney the dinosaur.

Have a great week, everyone.