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Writing in the Journal of Service Learning in Higher Education in January of 2018, Dr. T. Andrew Carswell of Gannon University, a Catholic university in Erie, Pennsylvania, describes a research project undertaken to discover the capacity of service-learning courses to change student attitudes about poverty. His premise is that we know through other research that Americans are as likely to attribute poverty to lack of effort among the poor as to circumstances beyond their control. Attitudes of attribution also affect views of social programs to address poverty.

Meanwhile service-learning courses have been shown through research to improve student outcomes for citizenship, empathy, compassion, and understanding of social problems. Students are more likely to exhibit greater "efficacy to make the world a better place" (Carswell). Though this type of goal makes sense for a course at a Catholic university such as Gannon, or Xavier, and many liberal arts schools do include such goals in their missions, traditional-classroom courses often bypass such goals in favor of more academically assessable outcomes.

Students in Dr. Carswell's upper-level capstone psychology class engaged in 30 hours of community service working alongside underprivileged people, while studying poverty in the classroom. One of the outcomes of the course was that students would have a more positive view of people living in poverty, and Dr. Carswell set out to measure whether this was achieved.

Students in the course chose from four community groups to work with, including an after-school program, a food bank, a group that worked with immigrants and refugees, and a group that worked with recently released criminal offenders. The option let students decide what type of work they wanted to do, and many worked with more than one group. Classroom contact hours were reduced, (perhaps a luxury of a senior capstone course) and writing assignments asked students to draw connections between scholarly articles on poverty and experiences at the sites. Attitudes were gauged using pre and post-course completion of what's called the Undergraduate Perceptions of Poverty Tacking Survey.

Dr. Carswell found that student attitudes improved toward social welfare programs, and toward their own willingness to take action to help those in poverty. Student belief that people in poverty have limited access to valuable resources also increased. However, there was no real change in student attitudes toward perceived differences between the poor and non-poor. Nor was there an increase in belief in rights to basic necessities. Dr. Carswell discusses several possible reasons for the non-change in perceptions of in-group/out-group differences, including research that suggests this type of intergroup contact best affects intergroup attitudes when the groups are of equal status and the contact is cooperative in nature.

This last point relates to the ongoing movement within service-learning to effect meaningful change and to avoid perpetuating a classist, "service"-based hierarchy. This broad goal may prove service-learning's most elusive. (See my interview with Dr. Randy Stoecker on this problem http://cat.xula.edu/food/conversation-63/.) And we should also keep in mind that Dr. Carswell's sample was 18 students in one class. Yet, his results are encouraging when we consider the degree to which misperceptions about the poor permeate our society and drive public policy. Dr. Carswell's students and many others who complete courses like these will go on to shape policy and help shift perceptions as they move into professional society.

Though there is much work to be done, examples like these affirm the vital work of service-learning and higher education.

Have you considered publishing work in the area of Pedagogical Scholarship or the Scholarship of Teaching? This is highly valued by the university if it reaches the stage of public dissemination. There are many topics we might have in mind to study, but just like any other scholarly endeavor, it must be planned out in advance, not just written up as an afterthought. There are things to consoder beforehand, especially if your discipline scholarship is very removed from the education and social science fields. Planning the project appropriately will help you avoid creating aspects that will significant affect, and even void, your data collection when tracing student learning and opinions. (IRB approval, anyone?)

If you missed the CAT+FD talk given by Megan Osterbur (Political Science) and Charles Gramlich (Psychology), they outlined the steps needed to be taken for successful scholarly teaching projects. The process begins with reflection and questions, then project design and data collection, and finally analysis and publication. The CAT+FD office is also uniquely qualified to help with this process, especially the project design and finding an appropriate journal as the new home for your brilliant work. The quote that Meg shared about this field really stuck with me and was so familiar when I think about my colleagues here at Xavier and what many of us do on a daily basis already.

“Scholarly teaching is what every one of us should be engaged in every day that we are in a classroom, in our office with students, tutoring, lecturing, conducting discussions, all the roles we play pedagogically. Our work as teachers should meet the highest scholarly standards of groundedness, of openness, of clarity and complexity. But it is only when we step back and reflect systematically on the teaching we have done, in a form that can be publicly reviewed and built upon by our peers, that we have moved from scholarly teaching to the scholarship of teaching.” (Shulman 2004, p. 166).

Please do not hesitate to contact the CAT+FD staff if you are thinking about advancing your scholarship in this field. Also, if you missed the presentation and believe this is a topic you would like to see offered again, please let us know in the comments below.
Cheers,
Stassi

So, have you started working on yours?  No?  Really?

Unless you have superhuman time management abilities, odds are you have not.  However, that doesn't mean that you can't do a few things now that will make that job easier next August (or next first week of September).

We at CAT+FD are NOT a Rank and Tenure advisory entity.  We do not offer suggestions or advice and ALWAYS refer you to your department for the specific culture and model of success they have defined.  And I will not breech that boundary here.  I will, however,  relay some of the points made by the Rank and Tenure committee last May in their open forum that relate to  CAT+FD in general.

CAT workshops were mentioned specifically be name numerous times!! (huzzah!!!) In reference to seeing you progress and develop as an educator, the current committee feels that one of your best resources are the NUMEROUS CAT workshops put on by Elizabeth, Jay, Tiera, Bart, Janice, Karen, and the whole CAT+ staff.  The R and T committee highly encouraged faculty to go to these and learn from them.  You can always find upcoming events here: http://cat.xula.edu/events/   More than simply attending, it is important to really think about the workshop ideas and suggestions and, if you choose to incorporate them, reflect on if they were successful or not in your hands.

As the center formerly known as CAT is developing into its new identity as CAT+FD, I am personally very excited to take advantage of all of the programming that will now be geared towards scholarly development as well as balancing all  faculty obligations with each other as well as with life.

So keep track of everything you attend this year and, as always, don't forget to sign in.  If something strikes you as particularly interesting we here at CAT+FD are more than happy to continue the conversation with you to help you successfully translate that workshop topic to success in the classroom.

Cheers,

Stassi DiMaggio

CAT+FD Faculty in Residence/First Year Faculty Mentor

by Karen Nichols

In a past blog, Enhance your (online) classes with virtual tours, I provided an overview of ways to take your students on virtual tours along with some sample sites.  Well, in order to help you find just what you're looking for, Google offers the Cultural Institute and the site has already been curated for you--Art Projects, Historic Moments, World Wonders.  You can also search for works by artist, artwork, collections and gallery.  Or just do a general search on a topic to see what you can find!  At present, the home page is chock full of Asian art exhibits of various media and from a variety of countries and regions.  A personal favorite from China is on Traditional Dress from the North.  But there is also an exhibit from Ford's Theater in D.C. and one on The History of the Italian Resistance in WWII.

But what is particularly useful, is that you can create your own gallery and then send your students to it.  You can tailor which parts of various museums they see as well as annotate the pieces.  For example, the user Obraza has put together a collection of Greek sculpture from several different museums and provided information on each work.  This collection has been made public for others to use as well.  So, when searching for certain topics, you'll find not only collections from the museums themselves, but from individuals as well.

In order to assist galleries, museums and archives to put their content online, Google also has created Google Open Gallery.  Here is a video showing how a comic strip gallery in Belgium used the tool:

I find this resource quite exciting and am already searching for exhibits for my French students this summer.  Please share with us ways you are using Google Cultural Institute.

Photo by Chase Clow

Here's a workshop/retreat for which combines two current CAT themes: contemplative pedagogy and the quest for sustainability.

Contemplative Environmental Studies: Pedagogy for Self and Planet
July 26 - August 1, 2015 Location: Lama Foundation, San Cristobal, New Mexico

How can higher education best address global environmental challenges? How can we most meaningfully teach and research about environmental issues? How can we cultivate our inner lives through active engagement with environmental challenges?

This workshop explores the contribution of contemplative practices to scholarly inquiry and teaching in environmental studies. Through discussions with distinguished scholars, focused conversations among colleagues, artistic exercises, and regular contemplative practice (meditation, yoga, journaling, and nature walks), participants will investigate ways to deepen their teaching, research, and lives at this historic moment of environmental intensification.

Part workshop and part retreat, this 6-day summer institute provides an opportunity to step back from the frenetic pace of our lives, and cultivate our inner resources and nurture the resiliency we need as teachers committed to education on a fragile and wild planet.

Learn more

(Photo by Chase Clow)

Click on the summit logo above for more information, to submit a proposal or to register for the conference.
Click on the summit logo above for more information, to submit a proposal or to register for the conference.

Looking for a conference that is exciting, collegial and a great value? Consider submitting a proposal to the Research on Teaching and Learning Summit. Formerly known as The Georgia Conference on College & University Teaching, the Research on Teaching and Learning Summit has been renamed to underscore the commitment to the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, with an emphasis on research and evidence. Now in its third decade, the Summit is designed to provide college and university faculty the opportunity to discuss and share experiences and innovative teaching techniques. It offers concurrent sessions on cutting-edge issues in pedagogy and higher education in a relaxed, congenial atmosphere. There are also opportunities for participants to network with fellow educators.

The deadline for proposals has been extended to December 12, 2014, and the conference will be held on February 20-21, 2015, at Kennesaw State University in Kennesaw, GA.