Engagement in the classroom, at its best, benefits faculty as well as students, according to William White, director of faculty development. Promoting such engagement through improved pedagogy is the goal of this year’s Pedagogical Institute, which takes place May 18 through May 22. The institute will focus on engaged pedagogies and high-impact practices as defined by the National Survey of Student Engagement.
The theme for this year’s institute is engagement, inclusion, and student success. “Engagement happens when a class speaks to students in ways that are meaningful to them,” said White, who is also associate professor of social and psychological foundations. “Engaged students study, complete assignments, and participate in class, which in turn makes the classroom engaging for faculty. Students learn how intellectual discoveries are linked to their communities and their lives. You could think of it as ivory-tower-plus.”
Three campus initiatives informed this year’s program. The first, based on efforts led by University College, identified the challenges perceived by instructors who taught classes with a large percentage of first-year students. The second, informed by discussions in the College Senate, sought to clarify who today’s Buffalo State students are and who they will be in the future. The third draws from observations collected through the One Buffalo State conversation series held this year.
The Institute will share the input received from all three initiatives in the first session of the Pedagogical Institute at 1:00 on Monday, May 18. Findings suggest that Buffalo State students need to understand how to use technology for academic purposes, including the ability to identify credible resources and interact appropriately online. Other challenges, said White, led to questions such as “How can we help students develop stronger traditional literacy skills? How can we help students make the transition from high school academics to the rigors of college, including critical thinking and reflection?”
Tuesday’s sessions will focus on promising pedagogies. “Our goal ultimately is to make every class meaningful for both faculty and students,” said White. On Wednesday, Amitra Wall, assistant dean for Intellectual Foundations, will present “Assessing the Bengal Community of Scholars Program.” Other sessions will address co-curricular activities and reflections on teaching.
Buffalo State received the Community Engagement Classification from the Carnegie Foundation in January 2015. The institute will offer participants an opportunity to learn how this designation encourages creative efforts within classrooms and among numerous community partners.
National Service-Learning Expert Available for One-on-One Consultation
Lina Dostilio, director of Academic Community Engagement at Duquesne University, is a nationally known expert on service learning. She will present a morning workshop about connecting service-learning classes to academic scholarship and publication. In the afternoon, she will meet with individuals to help develop a research proposal involving service learning. “We want faculty to be able to connect their academic scholarship to the teaching they do in their classrooms,” said White.
On Friday, Joyce Shabazz and Bob Dongey of the National Coalition Building Institute will hold an all-day training session. “About 30 percent of Buffalo State’s students are underrepresented minorities,” said White. “When you look at projected American demographics, you realize that Buffalo State is teaching the future today.”
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