SELF EVALUATION, Karen Goodlad, Assistant Professor, 2014
Come to the edge.
We can’t. We’re afraid.
Come to the edge.
We can’t. We will fall!
Come to the edge. And they came.
And he pushed them. And they flew.
― Guillaume Apollinaire 1880-1918
This year I spent a significant amount of time thinking about this quote written over 100 years ago, its continued relevance resonates, implying that with the right direction a person can fly though they are on the edge of learning something new. Inspired by this quote I spent a lot of time thinking about and implementing strategies to build trust with my students, peers and Living Lab Fellows in order for them to feel comfortable approaching the edge of their own learning and then taking a chance to fly. This thought process was important to me throughout this year and remains so. However, it was not until I organized a seminar for the Living Lab Fellows to work with Judith Summerfield, Professor Emerita, English Department, Queens College, and Urban Education, Graduate Center, CUNY, that I felt myself at the edge as well and I was prepared to fly.
Teaching Practices: Building Awareness and Enhancing General Education at City Tech
There are numerous efforts to increase and improve General Education happening at City Tech right now. The Living Lab and First Year Learning Communities are just two integral parts of this movement. As the college continues to hire new faculty and seeks to have 440 total faculty by the 2014/2015 school year (Steven Soiffer), supporting effective teaching practices remains vital to our successful growth as an institute of higher education. Both as the Co-director of the General Education Seminars for the Living Lab and as a Workshop Facilitator with First Year Learning Communities (FYLC), I take pride in my leadership role in these efforts.
Though there is much to write about in regard to the Living Lab Grant initiatives. A new success of the Living Lab General Education Seminar is how we share our work throughout the college. As the full-time faculty grow in numbers so do the part time faculty. Part time faculty are often busy and isolated from collaborative efforts on many college campuses I made efforts to change this reality here at City Tech. I designed and lead, with the support of Living Lab Fellows and Steering Committee, an interactive series of workshops on General Education, HIPs, place-based learning, and open digital pedagogy for a cohort of Twenty Associate Fellows, three quarters of which were part-time faculty. They participated enthusiastically in the Associate Fellows program, which was redesigned based on feedback from the previous cohort and benefited from the focused attention I was able to provide. The results of the Associate Fellow’s efforts can be seen on the OpenLab: https://openlab.citytech.cuny.edu/groups/living-laboratory-associate-fellows/files/
A student even found their way into our learning process and was impressed with the efforts that his very own teachers were making to improve instruction: https://openlab.citytech.cuny.edu/groups/living-laboratory-associate-fellows/forum/topic/inspiring-our-students/. The student, Phil Mitch, read our reflections and stated “It’s good to know that you guys look forward to something when picking reads for us. I’m a student and I think these discussions are fun to read because I just think you guys are doing your job. Passion is contagious and we can pick up on it.” Reading this was truly a momentous moment that proved that sharing our work and reflection in an open way leads to a more engaged student body. We as faculty were flying.
As the college continues to hire new faculty and as the student body increasingly sees themselves as baccalaureate earning students with an eye on graduate school I am thrilled to be a change maker here at City Tech, breaking down fear and stepping to the edge, so many of are flying.
More can be read about the Living Lab in the Nucleous Article from Spring 2014: http://issuu.com/facultycommons/docs/nucleus_vol_5-issue_1_spring_2014_f
High Impact Educational Practices in My Courses: Students Stepping to the Edge and Flying
I had the pleasure of teaching HMGT 1101 as a FYLC with John Akana, HMGT1102, and Laura Westengard, ENG1101. What we knew at the start of our planning was that we would incorporate George Kuh’s High Impact Educational Practices (HIEP) of FYLC, Academic Service Learning and Writing Intensive Courses because that is what was required as part of our various efforts on campus. We later added Collaborative Projects. What we didn’t know, but I guess we hoped, was whether or not our students would embrace the challenge we were presenting. Including as many HIEPs as we did is proven to lead to a successful college education but that research result is conducted over a span of a student’s entire time in college, not necessarily in their first semester! But we proceeded knowing that our efforts included some risk of expecting too much. Well our students took the challenge head on, approached their edge, they flew! They created #theguide https://openlab.citytech.cuny.edu/theguide/.
Accomplishing this was not an easy feat. Each of our courses had Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs) that varied so we started with what was common among all our courses and worked from there.
In this learning community, we asked our students to lead the way in creating a valuable online tool to serve their fellow students at City Tech by exploring various aspects of service—in their career, at City Tech, and in our community. This was facilitated through field trips, event planning, lots of collaboration and creativity. In the end, the students created a public OpenLab site that has been used as a guide for new City Tech students, faculty and staff focusing on our campus, the Brooklyn Waterfront and surrounding communities. Since its release, other students and faculty have even joined in by adding to the content of #theguide. In addition, it has been used for new faculty orientation.
An essential tool utilized for achieving our objectives is the OpenLab – the digital learning platform initially conceived as part of the Title V Living Lab grant as a way to make general education visible and actively integrated across the curriculum. The OpenLab has grown to over 9000 users and continues to expand rapidly as users take advantage of its communicative possibilities. It is these 9000 plus members of our community that can benefit directly from #theguide.
We knew and the students knew that all our work would be very visible to the college community, raising the level of expectation had positive results. With that in mind, reflection was a key component of the learning process, sure the student’s work was visible on the OpenLab and throughout the college but I wanted to know what the students developed personally in the process. Their reflections showed that they learned a lot! They took a step to the edge and their college career was flying in a beneficial way.
“As I was writing I analyzed my own thoughts specifically my first experiences walking through the doors of City Tech even before I was officially a freshman.” (Kaveesh Sign, Student)
“After this project, I have become more interested in the tourism industry and my research skills are improving tremendously in my other classes.” (Alicia Ngai, Student)
“In my “36 Hours” I focused on ecotourism, responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and sustains the well-being of the local people. I was surprised to discover how many organic food facilities are located in Brooklyn, they also provide fresh local produce.” (Brianna George, Student)
“This project helped me to venture out and explore the fast growing Brooklyn Water front.” (Dianna Kilby, Student)
Research: Peering Over the Edge Personally.
With the work I have been leading, may it be in my classroom or with my peers; I have focused on expanding my developing skills as a researcher and writer. I am well underway of gathering research, analyzing survey results and writing about the change I am making here at City Tech.
Lead by mentors and peers with similar goals and expectations in 2014/2015 I seek to finalize the research I have started on FYLC, General Education and HIEPs in wine courses. The next edge to peer over and fly: The AAC&U Summer Institute to develop these concepts even further.