Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Understanding Learning Styles: A Conversation with Dr. Bill Cerbin

This interview of Dr. Bill Cerbin by Dr. Nancy Chick is about the concept of "learning styles."  They cover research on learning styles, myths and problems associated with them, as well as best practices for using the fundamentals of what we know about learning in the classroom.  Dr. Bill Cerbin is Professor of Psychology and director of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse Center for Advancing Teaching & Learning.  He also directs the College Lesson Study Project, which supports instructors across the University of Wisconsin System campuses to use lesson study to improve their teaching and advance the practice of teaching in their fields. His received his Ph.D. in Educational Psychology with an emphasis in Cognition and Language from the University of Chicago.

In 1998 and 2003 he was a Carnegie Scholar with the Carnegie Academy for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. His past work in the scholarship of teaching and learning focused on the development of the course portfolio as way to document scholarly inquiry into teaching, how students learn in problem-based learning environments, and teaching and learning for understanding. His recent work explores how the practice of lesson study—in which instructors jointly design, teach, observe, analyze and refine individual class lessons—can be a training ground for the scholarship of teaching and learning. He is particularly interested in methods such as lesson study that explore how and why students learn or do not learn what we teach.

--Jen Heinert, VTLC Director

Stereotypes, Expectations, & Students At Risk: A Conversation with Professor of Psychology Cyndi Kernahan

Dr. Cyndi Kernahan is the Chair of the Psychology Department at UW-River Falls. She is a social psychologist specializing in race and racism. I've worked with Cyndi on a few research projects and have done diversity presentations with her around the state and at various conferences.  In these contexts, I've heard her talk about the phenomenon described by social psychologists as "stereotype threat," or the "fear that the stereotypes about one’s group will be applied to him or her in a given situation (women and girls in advanced math; blacks in academic endeavors; whites and athletic ability)."

While this topic directly connects with the UW System's broad concept of Inclusive Excellence, we can use it to think more inclusively and specifically about a set of students we frequently encounter in the UW Colleges.  As our 13 campuses increasingly address the needs of its "at-risk" students (those at risk of disappearing from our classes, dropping out altogether, or ending up on academic probation or suspension for a variety of reasons), I wondered how this concept of stereotype threat was related to our attempts to help such historically under-represented and underprepared students succeed on campus, so I asked Cyndi for an interview.

--Nancy Chick, 2011 VTLC Director

Using Popular Culture to Engage Students in Your Discipline: A Conversation with Dr. Joseph Foy

In the spring, I attended a workshop at UW-Stout on how teachers are portrayed in film. Mary Dalton, the workshop leader and author of The Hollywood Curriculum: Teachers in the Movies, challenged attendees to think about how we could use these representations to talk about teaching and learning with our students, who are so familiar with these stories.  This use of popular culture as a way to nudge our students toward thinking more deeply and critically about their college experience reminded me immediately of the work a handful of our colleagues (Greg Ahrenhoerster, Timothy Dunn, Dick Flannery, Dean Kowalski, Craig Hurst, Margaret Hankenson, and Nathan Zook) have been doing in a series of books edited or co-edited by Dr. Joseph Foy, then Associate Professor of Political Science at UW-Waukesha and now assistant professor at UW-Parkside.  

The authors in Homer Simpson Goes to Washington: American Politics through Popular Culture (University Press of Kentucky, 2008), Homer Simpson Marches on Washington: Dissent through American Popular Culture (University Press of Kentucky, 2010), andSpongeBob SquarePants and Philosophy: Soaking-Up Knowledge Under the Sea (Open Court, 2011) demonstrate the academic relevance and even significance of using pop culture across the curriculum.  I wanted to hear more, so I sat down for a conversation with Joe. 

--Nancy Chick, 2011 VTLC Director