What Is a Seminar?

…here pedagogy  seems to be invisible: seminar participants run the conversation themselves, pursuing the unfolding dialogue ideally through non-hierarchical interactions.

This post was written by Sarah D’Adamo* and Christien Garcia**, PhD candidates in English & Cultural Studies at McMaster University.  
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Students Can’t Multitask. Or Can They?

Lecture notes on display at the Hamilton Warplane Heritage Museum, uploaded to sketchnotearmy.com last Monday.

Lecture notes on display at the Hamilton Warplane Heritage Museum,
uploaded to sketchnotearmy.com last Monday.

Two weeks ago I shared part of a post by Maryellen Weimer, titled, “Students Think They Can Multitask. Here’s Proof They Can’t.

Today I’d like to meander in a slightly different direction. A post I came across by blogger and associate professor of psychology, Erica Kleinknecht, suggests otherwise. It seems that students can multitask, in a way, if, as Kleinknecht phrases it, the task they are engaged in is “rich with detail that can serve as cues for later memory retrieval.”

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Show & Tell

Two things I wanna share with you.

First, a colleague of mine, Jocelyn Sakal Froese, tells about her first-tutorial tactics here, on her blog Surviving Till Sunday. This is a TA who won the CUPE 3906 TA award in 2012 (for which she was nominated by her students). This is a TA who is constantly giving me new ideas and insights into teaching & learning. She is a thoughtful, reflective, and intentional teacher. As she half-jokingly puts it in her “First Day Jitters, Redux” post, she “advocate[s] for DOING A THING” in tutorials, because she wants “dynamic” activity and learning in her classrooms.

Second, delightfully snarky Katherine Firth writes a blog called Research Degree Voodoo. She has embarked upon a project she dubs “Writing the Article Series,” in which she live blogs the writing of an academic article. The first post of the series can be found here, but my favourite post so far is the one in which she sums up her “progress” mid-way through the process with:

So this series so far seems to be: and then I made a plan, and then the plan didn’t happen, and then I made a plan and then I did less work than I planned.

Ha! Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?! I love Katherine’s blog for this scathing honesty, and for her incredible ability to write a “scholarly” blog in a non-scholarly style. She writes just as you imagine she might speak; her voice is conversational, witty, and a downright relief amidst all the academic “mumbo-jumbo”–the term she uses to describe academic-speak in her “About” page.

Students Can’t Multitask

From, "Your crotch can kill, claim Alberta ads." Feb. 21, 2013, cbc.ca/news

From, “Your crotch can kill, claim Alberta ads.” Feb. 21, 2013,
cbc.ca/news

I found myself completely confused, mouth agape, as I stood in line at McMaster’s Wellness Centre this week. I was looking at one ad of what I now know is a series produced by the Alberta government. The ad reads: “Crotches Kill.” I stood there at the Wellness Centre, eyes darting from the bold letters (can we call it a slogan?), to the image of the lady looking really happy about (with?) her crotch; then my eyes dropped a bit, taking in the assortment of free condoms placed just below and to the left of the ad, and then they darted right back to “CROTCHES KILL.” WTF, right? W. T. F.

Okay, so eventually I figured it out. Texting can be a fatal distraction when you’re DRIVING! (I was worried for a minute there, that it might be catching, or something. But no (phew!), texting is not an STI!).

A great post from blogger Maryellen Weimer compels us to ask, however: Can texting be a fatal distraction from LEARNING?

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Empathy, Resistance, & Curiosity

On the limits of empathy in pedagogy, this post starts with a query from Deborah Britzman before moving into a consideration of a 1993 article by Anne DiPardo, Professor of Education at the University of Colorado. DiPardo’s account of a semester-long relationship between a student writing assistant at a college writing centre and a student learner is thought-provoking.

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The Photosponse

Oh joy of joys, today I came across a wondrous thing: a public exhibition showing just how incredibly engaging and productive creative response assignments can be in higher ed. Please, please check out Photosponse, English 365: Photographic Responses to 18th-century Texts. Photosponse, English 365 is a portion of a private class blog made public because, as the “About” page states, the student artwork is “just too good.” I swear, people, the proof is in the pudding, and this pudding is delicious. Creative assignments, especially ones that ask for some sort of critical reflection to accompany them, work.

“With this photo I tried to capture the wonder of discovery that was so apparent in Robert Hooke’s Micrographia and in science in the eighteenth century in general. I used my cellphone camera to take this picture with the help of a focussing lens taken out of a laser pointer (picture). Using my camera enhanced with tweezers and elastic bands, I set off about my house taking extremely close-up pictures of whatever I could find. I took pictures of fruit, plants, soap, napkins, and dozens of other things around the house, but my favourite is the one that you see here: salt.” From: Photosponse, English 365